By Michael Gurecki (SCA Intern) for the Mid-York Weekly
Pastures and pocketbooks of upstate farmers will be seeing a bit more green in 2010 thanks to U.S. Representative Michael Arcuri (NY-24th) securing $400,00 in federal funding for the popular Graze-NY Program.
This funding continues a legacy since 1996, of grazing technical assistance and education for farmers started by former Congressman James Walsh (NY-25th), in partnership with USDA-NRCS, as a way to promote wise use of on-farm grazing resources.
The Graze-NY team is comprised of 13 County Soil and Water Conservation Districts and affiliated local agencies within the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 29th Congressional Districts that span the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes and Hudson River Watersheds.
These grazing professionals have worked with more than 6000 family farmers to develop grazing management systems that help lower feed costs, retain topsoil and improve water quality as well as enhance the wildlife and tourism capabilities of the 3 million acres of native grasslands in the state. The Graze-NY staff has also used their knowledge to garner over $7 million in matching grazing funds for installing on-farm, best management practices that enhance farm profitability and water quality.
"Look over in the canal or the Mohawk River along the Thruway on a rainy day and you'll see your next generation's future going out to sea, never to return. Lose the topsoil and you lose the lifeblood of a farming community," said Deansboro farmer and "Grass Whisperer" Troy Bishopp at the recent press conference. "It's this loss of legacy sediment as to why the Graze-NY program was born here in Central New York as a model for the nation."
"The Graze-NY Program will continue to provide key resources to upstate farmers who are looking to improve the grazing management of their livestock and ensure the healthiest herds possible," Arcuri said. "I am looking forward to this program continuing its growth across New York State and being able to foster resources for our local farmers."
Michael Gurecki, a Student Conservation Association/Central New York Resource Conservation and Development Council intern, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.