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Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Genesee

Genesee County: Agricultural Development Plan PRODUCE ‣ Per capita consumption of fresh produce increased 12 percent during 1987-97. ‣ During the 1989-98 period, the per capita consumption of apples dropped 10%, peaches 17% and grapes 8%. ‣ Growers and shippers who provide consistent volume, packaging and grading can receive improved prices and long term buying relationships. ‣ Growers can reach markets that were once not accessible in a matter of one or two days with improved technology from the field to the packing shed and transportation system. ‣ The demand for value-added, fresh cut, and ready to eat prepared foods continues to increase dramatically due to the high cost of labor and the importance of home meal replacements. ‣ Consumer demand for local, retail farmers markets and direct farmer interaction is increasing. This trend is led by the consumers desire for high quality fresh products as well as a desire to understand how the crop was produced. REGULATIONS ‣ The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 established a strong, health-based safety standard for pesticide residues in all foods and has had the most profound impact on the production practices of fruits and vegetables. o A major component of this Act is the Consumer Right to Know. The Consumer Right to Know requires distribution of a brochure in grocery stores on the health effects of pesticides, how to avoid risks, and which foods have tolerances for pesticide residues based on benefits considerations. o The re-registration process with the new tolerance levels and reduction in benefits will and has reduced the number and types of pest management tools for the agricultural community. o The primary change in food safety management is the early adoption of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) planning in both fresh produce marketing and value-added processing. Despite the fact that the produce industry is not subject to mandated HACCP planning, many institutional and large wholesale buyers have made it a requirement. Copyright©, 2001: Agricultural & Community Development Services, Inc, Columbia, MD 11

Genesee County: Agricultural Development Plan RECOMMENDATIONS The following recommendations should be considered a menu of options for agricultural development opportunities. The study team realizes that the County will not be able to implement all aspects of the recommendations, but expects that this list should spark a debate that helps to further classify, refine, and prioritize agricultural development initiatives. As priorities are developed, key agencies should adopt them as part of their individual work plans, and the County should integrate them into its Master Plan. It is also noted that the commitment and support of the County along with the towns and industry is critical to the success of this plan as well as the land-use recommendations included in the “Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan”. Note: Each recommendation includes a priority ranking which is based on the frequency and urgency of issues identified during the study; cost considerations address funding issues, exclusive of personnel requirements, based on the study team’s experience; and responsibility which is based on the logical agency(s) to oversee implementation. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Ten-Year Objective Create an economic environment where traditional and non-traditional agricultural operations thrive using a full complement of economic and business development tools. Economic Development initiatives will focus on developing value-added agricultural production, strengthening industry profitability, integrating farming and non-farming communities, encouraging agricultural operations with high returns to the community, increasing wages and proprietor’s income, supporting supplier/vendor networks, and enhancing the quality of life. Five-Year Action Plan Recommendation 1: Promote Innovative Financing Options Genesee’s agricultural industry shows signs of outgrowing the region’s existing capital resources, which consist mostly of community banks and the Farm Credit System. This is due largely to the concentration of large, diversified farming operations as well as the presence of numerous entrepreneurial agricultural and agriculturally related business. As farm size and agricultural innovation continue, the region’s lack of equity and equity/debt hybrid financing may become a limiting growth factor. In an effort to support these businesses, the County, lead by the Industrial Development Authority, should examine methods to enhance private investment as follows: 1. Support the development of a regional capital network focused on linking regional investors with agricultural entrepreneurs and providing alternative financing for agricultural and agriculturally related businesses. Specific functions of the network should include “deal making” as well as: a. Angel investor training. Copyright©, 2001: Agricultural & Community Development Services, Inc, Columbia, MD 12

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