The results of Nick Kossmann’s ag survey are in.
With some surprising finds—and others that are not:
Among the respondents, hay has replaced dairy as the top product, 60 percent of them are willing to give agritourism a try, and in maybe the biggest take-away, there’s a need to get information about the help that’s available—everything from financing to product development to land trusts—in the hands of the right people.
Mr. Kossmann, Schoharie County’s Agriculture Development specialist, launched the survey in January; it’s the first time since 2017 that farmers have been asked what’s on their minds and nearly a decade since they were polled by Schoharie County.
In both issues and opportunities, the top five identified this time were around were also in the top 10 in 2017.
Among the issues farmers are facing are the cost of production supplies, property taxes, local, state, and federal regulations; lack of processing facilities; and availability of skilled labor.
But they also see opportunities to lower taxes, increase demand for local products, embrace all size farms, including homesteads; promote family-friendly zoning, and increase meat processing facilities.
The idea of embracing all size farms is already something that emerged at January’s Ag Roundtable—especially when it comes to sharing information on available services.
The county has more, smaller farms than it did five years ago, Mr. Kossmann said, often run by people with fulltime, off-farm jobs who can’t get to places like his office or Cooperative Extension during the day.
They tend to go online for their information, he said—but often don’t have a good handle on what’s out there.
At the same time, the larger, more traditional farmers prefer on-farm visits, and while they are more familiar with agencies like the Farm Service Agency and the Farm Bureau, sometimes they miss help that’s available from places like SEEC or Visit Schoharie County.
“It’s critical to provide services to both of them,” he said.
In a perfect world, there would be a physical place everyone could go for all of that, but for now, Mr. Kossmann sees something that’s web-based as the most practical solution, envisioning a place where the Ag Roundtable members and others could share information on their services.
He also sees an opportunity for those agencies to collaborate more—another idea also embraced at the Roundtable.
While some of the survey results echo those of 2017’s, the use of online marketing and a shift in the type of products, with hay, eggs, beef, and vegetables over-taking dairy, are new.
“Big, small, new, old, everyone still sees the value of agriculture and that’s key,” Mr. Kossmann said.