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Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

APPENDIX C: SWOT

APPENDIX C: SWOT ANALYSIS Weaknesses As with any industry, region, or product, Genesee County agriculture has weak elements that must be addressed while planning for agriculture’s economic future. Ironically some of Genesee County’s most significant weaknesses count among it strengths as well. Tax Structure: Despite recent changes in sales tax laws and school tax treatment, farmers in New York and specifically Genesee County face significantly high tax burden than farmers in other parts of the County such as the Mid-Atlantic region. The primary issue for most farmers is the property tax rate, which is variable across the County and accounts for a significant annual cost of carrying the land. Other taxes of note that impact agribusiness competitiveness include utility taxes and workers compensation. Regulatory Burden: Increased regulatory burden, specifically related to nutrient management planning; transportation; and labor, contributes to higher costs and in some cases operational inefficiency. Many farmers feel that regulatory pressure will continue to grow making farming in Genesee County more difficult. As a result some operations are considering relocation: Development Patterns: Development patterns in Genesee County show weaknesses that will jeopardize the agricultural industry as regional development pressure intensifies. Some of these patterns are already evident in the towns of Bergen, Byron, and LeRoy where large lot developments and lots by right are carving up large sections of farmland and extensive road frontage. This type of development has several negative impacts. First, extensive development of frontage increases the interaction farm (industrial) and non-farm uses leading to increased land-use conflicts. Second, large lot sizes take unnecessarily large units of agricultural land out of production, which has a negative impact on the industry as well as a negative fiscal impact on the jurisdiction. Third, the existing pattern leaves farmland fragmented and more difficult and less economical to farm. Finally, dispersed development spreads commuter traffic over a larger road network making it more difficult to move equipment on local roads. Complicated Political Structure: This issue relates specifically to taxes and the overlay of jurisdictions with taxing authority. Farmers indicate that the presence of multiple jurisdictions with taxation authority creates an imbalance in the carrying costs of land and restricts their ability to be represented during the political process. Regional Planning: Genesee’s agricultural industry is strongly linked to the success of the region, however, there are no regional planning efforts addressing the needs of the industry in general or by sector. Risk Capital / R&D Funding: As the level of consolidation, entrepreneurship and innovation rises in Genesee County, access to risk capital (equity and equity/debt hybrids) is limiting local development options. This is in part due to the capital markets recent focus on technology investment and in part to limited access to equity financing networks. Copyright©, 2000: Agricultural & Community Development Services, Inc, Columbia MD 5

APPENDIX C: SWOT ANALYSIS Labor: The Genesee County labor market is tight and will continue to be so in the near future. A mixture of local and migrant laborers of varying skill levels fills the current labor pool. Competition for skilled labor is high, a fact that is complicated by the rising age of this group. Replacement of retiring skilled labor is critical if labor costs are to be maintained at acceptable levels. As the market continues to tighten, retention of the existing labor force will become more difficult. Utilities: Utility issues in Genesee County revolve around issues of: 1.) Access, 2.) Quality, and 3.) Affordability and apply to electric power, gas, and telecommunications. The primary utility problems involve electric power. Farmers across the County pay highly variable rates for electricity consumption (up to an $.08/KwH differential), rates which exceed regional averages by as much as $.02/KwH. IN addition, many complain of lack of responsiveness to service calls, and unreliable “end of the line” service. AS farmers seek to replace electricity with natural gas, they have encountered pipeline access problems or lack of service. Telecommunications infrastructure suffers from similar problems in that service conditions are sometimes poor, access is slow, and high-speed data connections are unavailable. Water Supply / Access: Farmers in various parts of the County indicated that ground and surface water access may become limiting factors as the needs for crop irrigation and livestock watering grow. Of primary concern are limits on access, resource capacity, well pressure in proximity to mines, and water quality (pollution, sulphur, and salt water intrusion). Land Competition: The County is fortunate to have a high quality land base. Competition for this land base is high. In some areas, the competition for the resource is between agricultural and nonagricultural uses. In other areas this competition is between competing agricultural uses. In light of this condition, it is unlikely that the current trend of stable agricultural land values will continue. Land Fragmentation: In a recent analysis conducted by the Genesee Soil Conservation District, farms are becoming highly fragmented. This is due, in part, to local development patterns and high levels of competition for prime soils. While by itself this condition is not indicative of a systemic problem, it does stretch limited farm resources and adds to operational inefficiency by increasing transport, machinery, and labor needs. Worker Education: In a transitional economy such as today’s agriculture, labor force training is a critical success factor. This is especially true when the labor force itself is transitioning from a local base to a non-English speaking base. Public training infrastructure has been slow to adapt to this need. Transportation Corridors: The County road infrastructure consists of several main arterial roads and a wide system of secondary roads. As commuter density and farm equipment sizes have changed, several issues have surfaced. Main arterial speeds and traffic volumes are restricting farm equipment access. Secondary roads and rural bridges Copyright©, 2000: Agricultural & Community Development Services, Inc, Columbia MD 6

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    Table of Contents Introduction 2 Me

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    Methods The methods used to prepare

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    Summary (continued) As Genesee Coun

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    Dairy and Cattle Sales Fuel Growth

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    Farm Income Strength Keeps Farmers

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    Farm Cropland Falls Modestly in Gen

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    Dairy Farm Numbers Plummet. Number

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    Dairy Farm Size Expands in Genesee

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    Traditional Crops - Harvested Acrea

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    Specialty Crops - A Few Crops Domin

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    Expenditures by the Vegetable Farm

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    Appendix: IMPLAN Analysis and Resul

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