Agriculture has played a leading role in the economic history of New York. The trade of excess farm crops stems back to the first settlements of Europeans. Once they cleared the
land they began growing wheat for export trade. As wheat farmers moved west, their fields turned to pastures for sheep and cattle farmers. These fields eventually became the
base for a hay industry which supplied feed for horses in the states burgeoning cities.
At the close of the nineteenth century, dairy products became a leading market commodity in New York. Proximity to markets in the state's growing cities as well as the
technological advancement in refrigerated transportation allowed New York farmers to be competitive in the agricultural market.
Milk is still the state's leading agricultural product. New York State is ranked third nationally behind California and Wisconsin as a leading producer of milk. In addition to
dairying, the state's farmers have redefined their crop production to fulfill the demands of the agriculture market.
Question: What organizations have emerged to support the future of farming in New York?
- Discover the current issues confronting the New York State agricultural community. Visit the websites of organizations designed to promote agriculture in New York.
- Investigate how your local community has responded to the change in demand made upon the agricultural market. Collect brochures, newspaper articles and ads and flyers from
your local markets.
- Use the web information, brochures and articles to answer the following questions on the Preservation of Agriculture worksheet
- What are some of the issues facing local farmers? How have NY's farmers adapted their production to stay competitive in the agricultural market?
- Who sponsors your local farmers' market? Who supplies your local organic or gourmet market? When were the first farm and specialty markets opened in your community?
- Do these markets have a mission statement?
- Interview a market supplier, sponsor and customer to discover why they participate in the "specialty" market.