Based on results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture performed by the USDA, Chautauqua County ranks 11th in the state in market value of agricultural products sold. Agriculture brings in $161.84 million dollars in sales with $73.78 million from crops and $88.06 million from livestock, poultry and their products sales. The County contains 1,515 farms occupying 236,546 acres, or 34% of the County. The average size of farms was 156 acres, a 10% increase from the previous census in 2007.
Chautauqua County ranks number one out of 62 counties in the state for acres of grape production, and 13th out of 2,040 counties in the country, with 22,276 acres dedicated to this crop. Also, forage production totals 56,990 acres in the County, ranking 6th in the state. Corn for silage represented 13,876 acres and corn for grain was at 12,937 acres for 2012. Soybeans for beans rounded out the top crop items in the County with 4,619 acres being dedicated to their production.
Farmers have long been regarded as the original stewards of the land because a farm’s livelihood directly depends on the health and vitality of soil and water resources. Due to the strong presence of agriculture in the economy of the County, the District recognizes the need for maintaining sound agricultural practices to maintain farm productivity for future generations.
Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) is a voluntary, incentive based program designed to help farmers to make science-based, cost-effective decisions to further protect water and soil quality as well as other important natural resources. By participating in the AEM Program, farmers can document their environmental stewardship and contribute to positive impression of agriculture in Chautauqua County. The AEM assessment, planning and implementation process helps to target limited local, state and federal technical and financial resources to farms with the greatest potential for impacting the environment. To learn more about this program, contact Water Quality Technician, Robert Halbohm.
Under the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) framework, Conservation Districts are competitively awarded Ag Nonpoint Source Control and Abatement grants to address water quality challenges facing farms in priority watersheds. Funded projects reduce or prevent polluted runoff originating from agricultural sources. Across the State, $13 million was administered to 185 farms in 2014. Districts administer the cost-share funds to farmers, provide planning expertise for designs, and provide oversight of each project.