After the long winter, spring’s warmer weather and the chance to get outside and enjoy the sunshine is something to look forward to.
Springtime isn’t just a cue to put away our sweaters — it’s also the start of the growing season for local farmers and another season of fresh produce for our communities.
It brings us longer days and more sunlight that allow many of us to get outdoors and enjoy recreational activities and all nature has to offer.
For farmers though, this brings plentiful hours in which they can accomplish much in the planting and subsequent harvest seasons. There are those in New York state government who seek to limit the amount of hours that farm workers can work while subsequently paying overtime for any additional hours.
Having grown up on a farm, we know that you “make hay when the sun shines.”
The imposition of factory-style labor mandates on family farms would undoubtedly have a negative impact on our ability to produce food locally and quite simply just doesn’t make sense.
I am vehemently opposed to this proposal, and I will vigorously fight to preserve our farming community and protect them from any adverse regulations.
Protecting the way our farms operate ensures that local milk and produce are available for purchase throughout our region.
With this change in season, in addition to finding local fruits and vegetables in our grocery aisles, we can also head over to the farmers market for locally grown options.
Now that it’s May, produce like asparagus, lettuce, parsnips and rhubarb are becoming more readily available from area farmers, and that’s just the beginning.
The closer we get to summer, the more options you’ll find to prepare locally grown meals with fresh, local ingredients while helping regional businesses thrive.
Several North Country communities have farmers markets that return each spring and summer, from Plattsburgh to Malone to Saranac Lake. These markets offer countless products from farms in our regions.
To find the closest farmers market to you, the United States Department of Agriculture has a national directory at www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets.
Another way to support agriculture in our community is to buy a share in a local farm, known as Community Supported Agriculture.
In a CSA, a group of individuals can pledge support to a farm so that the farmland becomes a community resource, with farmers and consumers sharing both risks and benefits of food production.
Members buy a share of the farm’s production before each growing season and receive regular distributions of its produce, contributing to financial security for farmers.
To find a local CSA, contact your Cornell Cooperative Extension or search online at www.localharvest.org/csa.
As your representative in Albany, I remain committed to supporting local farms and farmers markets, which make healthy and fresh foods readily available for North Country families.
In the 2019-20 state budget, I fought to secure $300,000 for the Northern New York Agriculture Development Program, a farmer-driven research program that helps North Country farms control pests, promote livestock health and use best practices for sustainability and profitability.
Additionally, the budget restores $1.2 million for the Cornell Pro-Dairy program and $600,000 for Harvest NY, which helps farmers develop methods to help their products thrive.
The budget funded many other crucial research and development programs for the agricultural industry, including providing support for apple growers, grape growers and maple producers.
I ran my family’s dairy farm after high school, so I know how hard farmers work and how much they dedicate themselves to making and growing the best products possible for their communities.
It’s vital that we support them in their work.
Assemblyman Billy Jones represents the North Country in the New York State Assembly’s 115th District. Reach him at 518-562-1986 or JonesB@nyassembly.gov. His district office is located at 202 U.S. Oval in Plattsburgh.