Based on results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture performed by the USDA, the market value of agricultural products sold in Chautauqua County was $160,967,000. The Dairy and Grape Industry continue to be the largest agricultural industries in the County. Of the $160,967,000, there was $74,993,000 in market value of milk sold and $42,556,000 in products sold from fruit farms. Maple syrup is also an important commodity within the County. Chautauqua County rated fourth among counties in New York Sate that produce maple syrup in 2017. Maple syrup production increased from 11,114 gallons in 2012 to 37,114 gallons in 2017. Acreage reports in 2017 revealed that 30,390 acres were used for corn production (corn for grain and corn for silage), 1,061 acres were used for wheat production (durum, spring and winter wheat), and 1,099 acres were used for oat production. It was also reported that, 46,042 acres of land were used for foraging (hay and grass silage) and 27,242 acres were used to produce dry hay in 2017.
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.
Conservation Districts are competitively awarded grants to address natural resource concerns faced by farms such as water quality, soil health, air quality, and irrigation water management. Across all of New York State, $19 million was allocated to the Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program and Agricultural Non-Point Source Control Abatement and Control Program in 2020. Other grants that Districts may use to assist farmers include:
- CAFO Waste Storage and Transfer Program
- Implementation of High-Efficiency Agricultural Irrigation Water Management Systems
- Implementation of Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Plans on New York State Grown and Certified Farms
- Source Water Buffer Program
Districts manage the cost-share funds for projects, as well as providing planning, design, and construction oversight, often in cooperation with private-sector engineers.
Each year one farm family in Chautauqua County is recognized for their conservation accomplishments with the Conservation Farm of the Year Award. These farms have built a track record of farming by using practices that help them to remain economically viable while protecting the environment. These farms are presented with an AEM sign and plaque to recognize their participation in the AEM program.