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About The Plan

The Chautauqua County Agricultural Development & Enhancement Strategy (CCADES) is an update to the County’s Farmland Protection Plan. The objective of the update is to provide an accurate reflection of the current agricultural conditions in Chautauqua County and devise strategies to increase the economic viability of the agricultural industry, encourage farmland protection, and to increase public interest and awareness of local agriculture.

Farming and agribusinesses represent a significant component of the County and regional economy. The purpose of CCADES is to protect the County’s agricultural resources by identifying strategies to encourage and increase the economic viability of the agricultural industries and all of its components in Chautauqua County. The planning process will focus on countywide agricultural issues and resources, in relation to regional, national, and international markets.

The plan provides support for farmers to enhance profitability of agriculture and assess farmland and agricultural resources.  It also provides a strategy for County leadership to identify opportunities and issues for preservation, provides guidance to municipal planning and direct Countywide and regional planning and investment.

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Key Findings

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Farm Transition Concerns

An aging farmer population and the growing cost of labor complicate farm operations and contribute to pressures to consolidate or exit the industry, Further, there are barriers for new farmers to access the industry. Farmland value has increased by 89% since 2002, making it difficult for new entrants to buy land. Additionally, those who do manage to remain in business face a range of challenged, depending on their sector.

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Grapes

Chautauqua County remains the number one grape-producing county in the state. However, changing consumer trends will affect demand for grape juice, which drives most of the current production.
While efficiency is improving, real sales are the sale today as they were in 2007. Expanding away from grape juice and exploring new markets will be important. Opportunities exist for blended and sparkling juices, wines, table grapes, and organic products.

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Equine

Equine activity makes up a significant part of the local agriculture community. It industry is diverse and growing. THis is driven bby twp main groups. The first is the plan sect community who need about 600 new horses each year just to accommodate teenagers entering into adulthood. The second is an emerging group of your and adult participants who took up riding.

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Local, Value-Added, and Organic

Many consumers are drawn to local food. Farmers can connect to consumers through farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer channels. These opportunities help farms increase revenues. Similarly, farms that offer value-added and organic products can attract more consumers. Consumer demand trends show that this is an area where Chautauqua County can continue to see a growth in sales.

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Dairy

Dairy remains an important industry in the County, with close ties to the grain and animal feed industry. There are challenges as the number of diary farms decrease and the remaining farms face consolidation pressure. Still, there are opportunities for dairy operations to explore full-fat and flavored diary products as consumption of butter, yogurt, cream, and cheese grow. Grass-fed and organic products, along with niche products like locally produced ice cream, also prove promising.

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Forestry

Forestry is an important pat of agriculture. It provides timber, non-timber products, and a variety of ecosystem services. About 52% of the County's and is categorized forest.

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Loss of Farmland

Chautauqua County, like the rest of the Southern Tier West region, is experiencing a loss of farmland (especially pastureland and woodland) and a decline in the number of operating farms. This indicated a need for farmland protection and increasing market access and business support for farms to increase profitability.

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Hay

The hay sector is vital for the livestock and equine sectors. However, farms are shifting to production of soybeans and grains. Although hay remains important, hay acreage has seen a 33% decrease since 2002.

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Other Livestock

Dairy, beef cow, and cow-calf operations in the County make up the majority of livestock ranching. Other livestock, like poultry, sheep, and goats, make up a small part of the sector bust has been slowly increasing. The biggest barrier in the livestock sector is the limited processing capability.

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Agritourism

Agritourism is a vital part of Chautauqua County's economy, and many tourists visit the area to partake in a variety of agriculture-related activities. Craft beverage (most prominently wineries) make up the biggest stream of revenue for agritourism activities. Other popular activities include trails, tours, festivals, and participatory farm operations.

Top Priority Recommendations

The Plan has 89 recommendation actions within five focus areas: agricultural markets, labor and workforce, business and financing, education and outreach, and land use. Below are the top priority recommendation actions in each focus group.

Recommendation

Create supportive market infrastructure

Support entrepreneurial market access

Purpose

Help farms and food businesses access markets through increased access to critical processing, manufacturing, storage, and distribution infrastructure.

Support startups and entrepreneurs engaged in food processing and manufacturing, as well as local food marketing.

Action

Increase warehouse and cold storage.

Reactivate direct marking of all Chautauqua County commodities.

Recommendation

Expand workforce preparedness programs

Prepare industry for adopting automation

Purpose

Increase labor availability and to ensure the workforce has the necessary skills required.

Help farms manage the impacts of automation or plan for adoption of automation through demonstration, finance, trainings, and workforce development.

Action

Develop framework to determine high-level, non-industry specific skills and career pathways to fill workforce needs and skills gaps in agriculture and related fields.

Explore financing tools to help farms become more profitable.

Recommendation

Expand and provide business technical assistance

Purpose

Encourage individual business success.

Action

Encourage installation of best management practices that reduce farm impacts on the environment and increase efficiency.

Hire an ag. and food systems economic development coordinator in the Dept. of Planning and Development.

Recommendation

Educate the public about agriculture

Educate public officials about agriculture

Purpose

Help communities understand and appreciate agriculture as an economic and community asset.  Help mitigate neighbor conflicts.

Lead to good policies and initiatives that impact agriculture.

Action

Build on youth engagement in our school districts.

Provide information on the positive impacts of agriculture to elected officials.

Recommendation

Support landowner participation in conservation programs

Increase regional collaboration in working lands protection

Purpose

Increase landowner understanding of conservation programming and how conservation funding may be employed to increase profitability while achieving community goals.

Harmonize land use and development policies affecting working lands across areas with contiguous agricultural production in an effort to reduce confusion, streamline processes, and improve ecoomics.

Action

Educate landowners about the availability and use of land conservation programs as tools for financing, growth, and transition.

Create a common definition for agriculture that is modern and broadly inclusive of tourism, value-chain activities, and right-to-farm.

Agricultural Markets

Recommendation

Create supportive market infrastructure

Support entrepreneurial market access

Purpose

Help farms and food businesses access markets through increased access to critical processing, manufacturing, storage, and distribution infrastructure.

Support startups and entrepreneurs engaged in food processing and manufacturing, as well as local food marketing.

Action

Increase warehouse and cold storage.

Reactivate direct marking of all Chautauqua County commodities.

Labor & Workforce

Recommendation

Expand workforce preparedness programs

Prepare industry for adopting automation

Purpose

Increase labor availability and to ensure the workforce has the necessary skills required.

Help farms manage the impacts of automation or plan for adoption of automation through demonstration, finance, trainings, and workforce development.

Action

Develop framework to determine high-level, non-industry specific skills and career pathways to fill workforce needs and skills gaps in agriculture and related fields.

Explore financing tools to help farms become more profitable.

Business & Financing

Recommendation

Expand and provide business technical assistance

Purpose

Encourage individual business success.

Action

Encourage installation of best management practices that reduce farm impacts on the environment and increase efficiency.

Hire an ag. and food systems economic development coordinator in the Dept. of Planning and Development.

Education & Outreach

Recommendation

Educate the public about agriculture

Educate public officials about agriculture

Purpose

Help communities understand and appreciate agriculture as an economic and community asset.  Help mitigate neighbor conflicts.

Lead to good policies and initiatives that impact agriculture.

Action

Build on youth engagement in our school districts.

Provide information on the positive impacts of agriculture to elected officials.

Land Use

Recommendation

Support landowner participation in conservation programs

Increase regional collaboration in working lands protection

Purpose

Increase landowner understanding of conservation programming and how conservation funding may be employed to increase profitability while achieving community goals.

Harmonize land use and development policies affecting working lands across areas with contiguous agricultural production in an effort to reduce confusion, streamline processes, and improve ecoomics.

Action

Educate landowners about the availability and use of land conservation programs as tools for financing, growth, and transition.

Create a common definition for agriculture that is modern and broadly inclusive of tourism, value-chain activities, and right-to-farm.

Get Involved

Upcoming Ag. Events:

  • August 23rd – Chautauqua County Farmer Neighbor Dinner (more info coming soon)
  • November 30th – Chautauqua County Agriculture Forum (more info coming soon)