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Aubertine sees promise in local agriculture

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With the legislative session wrapped up, state leaders are assessing where they've come and where they plan to go.

Agriculture commissioner Darrel Aubertine has been on the job for little more than half a year, after losing his Senate seat to Republican Patty Ritchie.

Aubertine is a lifelong farmer from Cape Vincent in Jefferson County. He's shifted from dairy farming to raising beef cows. And he tells David Sommerstein his sons are taking over.

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David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

"My boys are actually running the farm at this point. We are in the throws of transition not unlike a lot of farms here in the state.

"I think a lot of people in my generation are doing our damndest to keep the farms in the family. I think we are having a reasonable amount of success statewide. I think that farms themselves are changing - the way business is done is changing. You are seeing a lot more LLCs, things like that. Certainly agriculture is not diminishing in New York State; I'll put it that way. We've still got challenges of course. There will always be challenges with input costs at this point, but nevertheless the market input is good. People are looking at trying to buy more healthy local foods that they know where they are processed and where they originate from.

"I think that dairy is still and will remain king in New York State for some time to come. But there are a lot of different nuances whether it's organic in the dairy world. People doing things that I'm doing, trying to specialize in support of dairy or beef for other animal operations as far as raising feed. Some farms are transitioning into becoming heifer operations - replacement animals. So I think that to a certain degree there are areas of agriculture that are becoming more specialized.

"We have had talks with some of the regional markets and perhaps opening, expanding the role that regional markets play in some of the larger distribution. As a distribution point for farmers to supply other green markets in the state, facilitate movement of product from areas in the state whether it's radiant Northern New York or Western NY or Central NY to the more metropolitan areas of the state to supply those farmers' markets and green markets and so forth. So we have had extensive dialogue with grocery store chains to try to encourage them to more locally grown and produce products, and the chains here in NYS are certainly open to doing that."


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