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New report highlights decline in NY farms: Where are they going?

A recent federal report has revealed a significant decline in the number of farms in New York State, with dairy farms experiencing a one-third reduction over the past five years. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, expressed concern over the shrinking agricultural landscape, highlighting a nationwide trend of farm consolidation and generational shifts away from farming as contributing factors. The state saw a decrease of 2,788 farms and 363,885 acres of farmland from 2017 to 2022, prompting discussions on the future of agriculture and food production in the United States.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The loss of farmland in New York is part of a broader national trend, with the United States losing nearly 142,000 farms and 20 million acres of farmland in the same period. This decline is attributed to both the development of farmland for housing and other constructions and decisions by some farmers to cease operations. The USDA’s Census of Agriculture report serves as a call to action for policymakers to address the challenges facing the agricultural sector, including the aging population of farmers and the need to adopt new technologies and practices to increase production.

In response to the decline, the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets is focusing on strengthening the supply chain and opening new markets for farmers, aiming to support both existing and new entrants to the farming industry. This initiative, coupled with efforts from the dairy industry to educate and find solutions for the future, underscores the importance of collaborative efforts to preserve and enhance agriculture in New York and beyond.