National Agriculture Day taking place this week
National Agriculture Day happens annually at the end of March. This year, Ag Day is set for March 21. The day takes place during National Agriculture Week, happening from March 21 to 27.
The theme for this year is “Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow”. Each year, this day highlights the importance of agriculture in the United States, and works to increase awareness. This becomes especially important for the Chautauqua County region.
“Agriculture is another substantial part of the region’s economy,” Shannon Rinnow, Master Gardener Coordinator with Cornell Cooperative Extension said. “There are over 1,600 farms in Chautauqua County, with 35% of the county’s total acreage devoted to farmland. The county ranks third in the state for sales of fruits and berries, reflecting our heritage as a major grape growing region in the United States.”
Rinnow added that dairy production sales in Chautauqua County total over $69 million annually, and that while grape and dairy production tend to dominate the county, there are also substantial sales of cattle, vegetables, other fruits, timber, and maple products.
Executive Director for CCE, Emily Reynolds added to this, saying that there are more than just dairy farms in New York State.
“Although Dairy is the largest economic impact for New York State, the Equine Industry is actually number two,” Reynolds said. “Here in Chautauqua County grapes are a leading commodity, but we also have meat, grain, vegetable, hay, fruit, maple and honey producers, and homesteads and hobby farmers.”
4-H Lead Educator, Lindsey Crisanti, said that Ag Day is especially important for those who do not know much about agriculture, allowing them to take the time to learn more about it.
“There is so much more to agriculture than milking cows,” Crisanti said. “Farmers dedicate their lives to their farm, land, and/or animals. Everything we know, love, and enjoy would not be anything without agriculture.”
Cassandra Skal, Agriculture Program Coordinator, said that while locally there are plenty of farms around, farmers do not make up that much of the population.
“Most everyone in Chautauqua County has a friend or knows a farmer, however farmers make up only one percent of the nation’s population and they are responsible for providing everything from the food on your plate to the shirt on your back,” Skal said.
Locally, there are agriculture based events happening all of the time, not just on Ag Day. Many are producer focused or community education events. They can be found on CCE’s website,
One such event happening this week, from March 20 to 24, is Agriculture Literacy Week.
“Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County is partnering with 15 Chautauqua County School Districts, and over 35 volunteer readers to read to over 2,500 elementary youth about Agriculture,” Reynolds said.
Ag Literacy Week is also an annual event.
Another way to get involved or to learn more about agriculture includes CCE’s Master Gardener Program.
“Did you know, horticulture is one form of agriculture?” Rinnow said. “Horticulture is a great opportunity for residents to give back to their community. If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener volunteer, please contact Cornell Cooperative Extension for more information.”
Most importantly on this year’s Ag Day and every day, CCE encourages people to get out and learn more about the agriculture industry in the area.
“If you have any misconceptions of agriculture, get involved and get educated,” Crisanti said. “There are so many resources and farms in this county alone.”
To help support local agriculture during Ag Day, visit https://chautauqua.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua-grown to see products available from over 80 producers in Chautauqua County.