On behalf of the readers of Edible Long Island, I would like to thank Gov. Andrew Cuomo for directing the formation of a task force that seeks to ensure New York State agencies, which deal with farmers, communicate regularly and efficiently with the intent of unsnarling the labyrinth of regulations on farms. In other words, allowing farmers to focus on farming will yield more growth, jobs and an overall stronger agricultural climate in New York.
For starters, the task force, named the Strategic Interagency Task Force on Lessening Obstacles to Agriculture will go by the acronym SILO, a considerably more farm-friendly moniker. SILO will bring together representatives from the State departments of Agriculture & Markets, Environmental Conservation, Labor, Transportation, Health, Energy Research & Development, Public Service, Liquor Authority and Tax & Finance along with agriculture industry representatives from all over the Empire State. Long Island will be represented by Melville native Ken Schmitt, a retired vegetable farmer. Schmitt served as president of the Long Island Farm Bureau — of which he’s been a member since 1964 — from 1987 to 1990 and served on the New York Farm Bureau board of directors for three separate terms.
Preferring to call conferences, “summits”, the governor has already established himself as a friend-of-the-farmer with his Yogurt Summit in 2012. Representatives from various State departments sat down with representatives from the dairy industry and worked on easing regulations, which has in turn led New York to surpass California and wear the crown of “America’s Yogurt Capital”, as well as reclaim its status as the 3rd largest producer of milk in the country.
It’s not just yogurt. New York and Long Island also are entitled to other edible bragging rights: New York State ranks No. 1 in cabbage production, No. 2 in both apple and maple syrup production and No. 3 in wine and grape juice production. Long Island is the state’s largest producer of tomatoes, cauliflower and pumpkins and ranks No. 3 in production of grapes, peaches and strawberries.
Gov. Cuomo launched the Taste NY initiative a year ago as part of a campaign to focus on the state’s expanding food and beverage industries and to promote agribusiness throughout the state by spreading the message to choose locally grown and produced food and beverage products. SILO is another example of the state’s commitment to this initiative.