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JAMESTOWN, N.Y.: – Chautauqua County has seen significant changes in the agricultural community since the adaptation of the 2000 Farmland Protection Plan (FPP). The County has a diverse farm production sector, farm input and service sector, and sectors related to food processing and value-added output. To understand how agriculture has changed in the County and how it can be supported and maintained in the future, an update to the FPP entitled, Chautauqua County Agricultural Development and Enhancement Strategy (CCADES, aka the Plan), was recently completed.

In 2019, the Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Development (CCDPD) was awarded a $50,000 grant from the New York State Department of Agricultural and Markets and a $30,000 grant from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to update the Plan. Agricultural and Community Development Services, LLC (ACDS, LLC), through a partnership with CCDPD and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County, was the County’s consultant tasked with developing the update. ACDS, LLC engaged with local farmers, agribusinesses, and officials throughout the County to gain an understanding of the agricultural economy in the County.

Using the latest 2017 Census of Agriculture data, the updated Plan explores the agricultural economy and land uses to identify trends and patterns. What emerged from this data, tours, interviews, and multiple focus groups, is a host of recommendations to protect and enhance the agricultural industry by encouraging economic and community prosperity. The recommendations are separated into five focus areas: agricultural markets; labor and workforce; business and financing; education and outreach; and land use.

“I am really proud of the work our Department of Planning & Development undertook to get this project to the finish line, especially Rebecca Wurster and Lauren Sharp, not to mention the Ag Board and other community stakeholders that participated in the process,” said Mark Geise, Deputy County Executive for Economic Development and Director of Planning & Development. “What I really like about the plan is that it is action-oriented and results-focused in the sense that the proposed projects are not only meaningful but feasible as well. No one wants to spend all of this time, effort, and resources on creating a plan that sits on a shelf and collects dust. Our agriculture sector is extraordinarily important to this county, and we need to do everything we can to support it.”

The final version of the Plan was presented to the County Legislature and was unanimously approved on May 25, 2022. Final approval was given by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in August of 2022. The plan is available on the CCDPD website at https://planningchautauqua.com/wpcontent/uploads/2022/05/Chautauqua-County-Report-v18-Pages.pdf.

The Plan is intended to support farmers and enhance profitability, but also a strategy for County leadership to identify opportunities and provide guidance in municipal planning in agriculture. Over the next 10 years, the CCDPD hopes to partner with other agencies around the County to implement the top priority recommendations.

“I thank our Department of Planning and Development, Chautauqua County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, and the many stakeholders across our county who helped develop this important update,” said PJ Wendel, Chautauqua County Executive. “Their work will guide agricultural development in our county for the next decade and ensure our agriculture sector continues to grow and prosper.”

For more information on the CCADES, please contact Lauren Sharp at (716) 661-8245 or sharpl@chqgov.com.