Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith (D-Queens) joined Sen. David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) for a tour of Morrisville State College with College President Ray Cross last week to discuss agriculture policy and to talk about ways to improve the economic outlook for Upstate farms. The first stop on the tour focused on Morrisville¢s effort to reduce energy costs for dairy farmers through the development of small-scale, on-sight methane digesters.
"The use of methane digesters on dairy farms has the potential to radically improve the economic outlook of family-owned farms by reducing energy expenses one farm at a time," said Sen. Valesky. "I commend Dr. Cross for his work on this technology and for his continued commitment to New York's farmers."
"This is incredible technology with implications far beyond Central New York," Sen. Smith said, "My colleagues and I in the Democratic conference remain committed to reigning in energy costs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil through creative energy alternatives like those being developed and perfected at Morrisville College."
During the visit to the methane digester, Senator Smith, Senator Valesky and President Cross also discussed other agriculture based alternative energy solutions, including biodiesel and wind energy.
After the agri-energy portion of the tour, the two Senators and President Cross visited Nelson Farms, where the college is engaged in the processing, distribution and promotion of New York State-based agricultural products. While there the three discussed initiatives to sell New York agricultural products in downstate consumer markets like Queens and across the globe.
"From milk to apples, vegetables to beef, we have outstanding products grown and processed right here in Central New York," said Senator Valesky. "We also have the largest consumer market in the country less than half-a-day¢s drive away, with state political leaders like Senator Smith who can help us sell our products in New York City."
Sen. Smith added, "Consumers in New York City want these New York products. We just have to work to open those markets and get New York food on New Yorkers' tables."
The visit to Morrisville College was part of a conference-wide effort to promote the agriculture industry and to focus on rural issues. As the ranking member of the Ag committee, Sen. Valesky will be leading this effort, with a special emphasis on the distribution of New York products, the development of agri-energy production and a focus on the continued viability of the family farm.