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Op-ed: Cuomo shouldn't short farms

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An op-ed in the TU argues that Cuomo shouldn't cut budgets for apple growers and maple producers.

The partnership between Cornell and New York's farmers shouldn't get shortchanged in the state budget, opines Frank LeBrun at the Times Union.  LeBrun argues that plans by the Cuomo administration to zero out budgets for industry organizations like the apple growers and maple producers are "questionable:"

Instead of giving each individual funding in the budget as in the past, they've been zeroed out. Instead, they can all compete for a share of a minuscule $1.2 million pot to be distributed by the Ag and Markets commissioner. There are two major problems with this approach; well, three. First, even if the money in the pot is distributed fairly, there just isn't enough to keep most of these organizations or programs alive. They operate on a shoestring as it is. Second, most can't survive beyond the end of this fiscal year, March 31, without dedicated funding. So the Wine and Grape Foundation, for example, which for 30 years has been a strong promoter and persuasive voice for the state's multibillion-dollar grape and wine industry, will cease to exist before it can make a bid for a share of the pot. Third, how appropriate is it for the state to take an approach that's like a Roman emperor dangling a paltry handout, forcing colleagues to claw each other to death over it?

Cooking up advocacy
LeBrun's op-ed is well-timed to tomorrow's "Farm Bureau Lobby Day" in Albany.  Debra Groom reports at the Post-Standard that farmers and culinary arts students are hitting the road to tempt lawmakers with Oswego County produce:

Farm Bureau Lobby Day is Tuesday and involves organization members from across the state “sitting down with legislators to get them on our side on our priority issues,” said Peter Gregg, speaking for New York Farm Bureau. But the night before, legislators visit the convention center for the Taste of New York event to sample and taste the diversity of New York’s agriculture. Lobby Day has been going on for about 30 years and Oswego County has participated since the beginning. But this is the first year they joined with BOCES and Cooperative Extension to put on a feast of foods from Oswego County. On Feb. 18, BOCES students were busy doing prep work for all the dishes to be served. They were chopping cabbage and onions and stirring some sauces. This morning, students will finish the prep by cutting potatoes and making a salad.

Farm power
New York has 202 farms engaged in some sort of renewable energy production, reports Larry Rulison at the Times Union's Buzz blog.  The data comes from the USDA, which says farmers saved about $5,000 on their energy bills in 2009.

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