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In a field rooted in tradition, where the demands are varied and risk is high, bringing people together to share ideas and experiences is essential to planting seeds of change and resiliency. Agriculture, including growing fruits and vegetables or raising animals for dairy, meat, or fiber, is one of Chautauqua County’s top industries, and is a foundation to the way of life in our local communities. But farmers face extremely difficult challenges; in addition to growing food or raising livestock, they often have to be their own business manager, bookkeeper, and mechanic. Weather and other factors beyond their control can make or break a season, which can be very stressful, but overwhelmingly, people who farm value the hard work, purpose, and connection to the land and animals that this lifestyle brings.

With a goal of growing and supporting local farmers, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Chautauqua County’s Agriculture Program is once again partnering with the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Development (CCDPD), the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at JCC, and Chautauqua County Farm Bureau to present the 2024 Chautauqua County Agriculture Forum. The Forum will be held on Thursday, March 7th at the JCC Carnahan Center (241 James Ave. Jamestown, NY) from 9:30 am – 3:00 pm. Everyone from the agricultural industry is encouraged to attend, including aspiring, beginning, and established farmers, as well as anyone interested in learning about or connecting to agriculture. Registration is required, with a $15 program fee to cover material costs and a light lunch. Register online at https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/2024agforum_206 or by calling Cornell Cooperative Extension at 716-664-9502 ext. 202.

This fun and informative event will draw agricultural leaders from across Chautauqua County for an opportunity to network, learn, hear industry success stories, and see what agribusinesses are doing to grow through innovation. Participants will also have the opportunity to help shape the future of agriculture in Chautauqua County as the lead organizations gather feedback for future programming to better serve the agricultural community.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director, Emily Reynolds, is looking forward to the opportunity. “Agriculture is such a principal part of our county’s economics that providing educational and networking opportunities for industry experts, producers, residents, and elected officials is critical to continued success. This agricultural forum is one opportunity for industry leaders and partners to work together to help advance the industry.”

The Ag Forum will feature a keynote panel discussion on Planning for Funding: Programs and Grants. The panel will include representatives from Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA’s Farm Service Agency, and some real-life examples of farms who have worked with these agencies to fund improvement projects. The panel will be moderated by Katelyn Walley, Business Management Specialist and Team Leader from the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program. Come and hear first-hand about the available programs and how they can work together to fund on-farm improvements.

Following a light lunch, participants will choose from a variety of interactive breakout sessions to attend. Multiple unique sessions are planned, and participants can choose to attend sessions which they feel will be of most benefit to their personal situation.

Agricultural Assessments will be led by Bob Wright, Real Property Analyst with Cattaraugus County. Learn the ins and outs of applying for agricultural assessments for your farmland.

Energy Efficiency on the Farm will be co-led by Lisa Kempisty, Agriculture Community Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County, and Emily Edmunds, Sustainability Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cattaraugus County. Come hear about energy efficiency measures that can have both economic and environmental benefits.

Farm Business Planning is a two-for-one session. Beth Reed, Senior Business Advisor from the NYS Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at JCC, and David Chamberlain, Financial Consultant from NY FarmNet, will discuss the business planning services their agencies offer.

Soil Basics to Carbon Credits will be led Katelyn Miller, Field Crops and Forage Specialist from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program. Explore soil properties and soil health to get the most out of your crops and know what red flags to look out for when selling carbon credits. 

Farm Succession Planning will be led by David Chamberlain, Financial Consultant from NY FarmNet. Explore about what steps you should take to ensure a smooth transition of your farm to the next owner. Food Safety for

Farm Markets and Stands will be led by Robert Hadad, Vegetable Specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Cornell Vegetable Program. This session will cover essential information on safe food handling including best practices.

Rural Mental Health Resilience will be led by Jeff Winton, Chairman of Rural Minds. This session will provide mental health and wellness information and resources for people in rural communities. 

So, You Want to Start a Farm will be led by Katelyn Walley, Farm Business Management Specialist and Team Leader from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program. This session will provide a broad overview of things to consider when starting your own farming operation.

Woodlot Management will be led Richard Silvestro, Stewardship Forester from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Does your farm have underutilized woodlots? Learn about management opportunities that can help you meet your goals.

Partner organizations will be set up in the vendor hall to talk with participants during registration, lunch break, and between breakout sessions. Agri-partners that will have tables include: Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Development, Chautauqua County Farm Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County, Small Business Development Center at JCC, Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District, Cornell Cooperative Extension Cornell Vegetable Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program, Farm Credit East, ACA, NYFarmNet, Southern Tier West Regional Planning & Development Board, USDA- Farm Service Agency, and more.

Registration for the event and for specific breakout rooms is limited. Early registration with the CCE Chautauqua office or online (https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/2024agforum_206) is encouraged. Registration must be in by Wednesday, February 28 to guarantee a lunch.

CCE-Chautauqua is a subordinate governmental agency with an educational mission that operates under a form of organization and administration approved by Cornell University as agent for the State of New York. It is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The association is part of the national cooperative extension system, an educational partnership between County, State, and Federal governments. As New York’s land grant university Cornell administers the system in this state. Each Cornell Cooperative Extension association is an independent employer that is governed by an elected Board of Directors with general oversight from Cornell. All associations work to meet the needs of the counties in which they are located as well as state and national goals. For more information, call 716-664-9502 or visit our website at www.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua. Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.

 CCDPD originates programs and activities aimed at improving the community, economy, and quality of life in Chautauqua County. The Department focuses on projects relating to planning, community development and economic development. Planning and community development initiatives support the intelligent and responsible allocation of resources, the promotion of sound growth, the protection and enhancement of the environment, and the advancement of high quality of life for all Chautauqua County residents. Economic development initiatives work to advance economic prosperity throughout Chautauqua County. For more information visits www.planningchautauqua.com.

 Administered by the US Small Business Administration, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Jamestown Community College (JCC) vision is to create economic sustainability for all New Yorkers – one business at a time.  The SBDC delivers high quality business counseling and training to clients looking to start a business or improve the performance of an existing business.  Services are free and confidential and include a range of management and technical assistance from business plan development, accounting guidance, productivity enhancement and export assistance to loan information, marketing, and financial planning among other services.

 New York Farm Bureau is the State’s largest agricultural lobbying/trade organization. Its members and the public know the organization as “The Voice of New York Agriculture.” New York Farm Bureau’s mission is “Supporting today’s agricultural needs and creating member opportunities for tomorrow through advocacy and education.”