Patty Ritchie

June 14, 2011

Ryan and Cheryl Chaif have a recipe for success that could help businesses and farms across New York State.

At their Sackets Harbor restaurant and pub, “The Hops Spot,” the couple are showcasing breads made with locally grown wheat, Central New York meats, Jefferson County cheeses, beer, wine and produce raised at nearby farms.

I had the privilege of visiting with Ryan and Cheryl last week and hearing how they are building their own business and helping to increase sales at neighboring farms.

As the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, it’s clear to me that harnessing what’s being produced at New York State’s 36,000 family farms is critical to any effort to revive upstate’s economy.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how diverse our agricultural economy is in Central and Northern New York. For a reminder, you just need to stop by the growing number of restaurants and stores that have found it’s good business to showcase what’s being produced at our New York family farms.

“Buy local” is more than just a fad. It’s a way to help our neighbors and friends grow their local businesses and farms. That’s why I cosponsored Senate Bill 2468, the “Buy From the Backyard Act,” that will require state agencies to “buy local,” and purchase 20 percent of their food from New York producers.

Every year, New York State spends millions of dollars to feed people at state-operated psychiatric centers, colleges, prisons, treatment centers and other kinds of state agencies.

Buying locally produced food will boost sales from our farms and many other agribusinesses that make dairy products and process food.

Agriculture is already a major industry across New York State, but encouraging more purchases from our farm sector should help create new jobs and help expand existing markets.

If you know a local business that is showcasing locally produced products, I'd like to thank them for helping to revitalize our upstate economy. Please drop me a note at ritchie@nysenate.gov.