December 26, 2012 —
“I think the assets you have here, and the focus that’s being brought to agriculture, and the fact—and it’s not a fad—that people want to know where their food is coming today; they want to know how it’s produced, where it’s produced, who is producing it, and how it got from the farm to their dinner plate. People read labels today. And that puts Sullivan County, I believe, in a very unique position to be able to fill a lot of the niche markets that are out there for local food, to one of the largest marketplaces in the world.”
Those were the words from Darrel Aubertine, who was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as the commissioner of the NY Department of Agriculture and Markets in January 2011.
Aubertine was the featured speaker at the 98th annual meeting of the Cornell Cooperative Extension on December 12 at the CVI Building in Ferndale.
He is a former state assemblyman and state senator, and his biography says he has always been a strong advocate for farmers and rural areas. He and his wife still raise animals at their home in Jefferson County.
One of the points he made was that the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo, “more than any other, has recognized what agriculture means to places like Sullivan County, and all around the state in rural areas. For the first time, agriculture has had a seat at the table at those economic development councils.”
In the past, he said, officials in Albany funded programs related to education, healthcare and infrastructure and “if there’s anything left over, we’re going to do something for agriculture.” Now, he said, “Agriculture is being recognized as the economic driver that it really is.”