Pandora Davis, Saratoga P.L.A.N.; NYS Assemblyman Michael Benedetto; Eliza Topham-White, Peconic Land Trust; Renee Bouplon, Agricultural Stewardship Association
Last week’s No Farms No Food® Rally was well-timed as Governor Cuomo and state legislators are in heated negotiations that are anticipated to result in a new state budget by March 21st. On Wednesday, March 13, 16 No Farms No Food® lobby teams deployed to meet with over 70 state legislators to talk about the importance of protecting the farmland that lies at the foundation of New York’s vital farm and food economy. The No Farms No Food® Rally, held in the Legislative Office Building, was sponsored by Senator Patty Ritchie, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The message legislators heard was all the more powerful because it came from so many different vantage points. “One of the No Farms No Food® Rally’s greatest strengths is the cross-section of people,” said David Haight, New York state director for American Farmland Trust, during the day’s opening remarks. “We are joined by young farmers, mature farmers, land trusts and conservation organizations, hunger relief and public health advocates and local food groups to tell our elected officials that farms and growing food in New York State matters.”
Darrel Aubertine, New York’s Commissioner of Agriculture, spoke at the No Farms No Food® Rally in support of farmland conservation. “One thing they are not making any more of is farmland,” said Commissioner Aubertine. “Too often farmland’s final crop is a house. And, once farmland is developed it is out of production forever. Governor Cuomo understands the importance of agriculture here in New York. Under his leadership, state government is making sound investments in food hubs, farmers’ markets and agricultural and farmland protection. “