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Governor visits Madison County

The Monanfran Farm spent two busy days earlier this week preparing for a special visit. The farm, run by the Kelsey family in Canastota, was host to Gov. Eliot Spitzer Wednesday.

The visit is one of a number of stops the governor has made throughout Central New York in an effort to drum up support for his proposed $1 billion economic development fund, part of a plan to revitalize the upstate economy.

Spitzer said the state budget included $30 million to help farmers last year, an amount he wants to grow by $20 million next year. That $50 million is to be invested in farming to help grown and maintain agricultural pursuits over time, Spitzer said.

The needs of today's farms are changing and the demands on farmers are growing, Spitzer said.

"There is a lot of science, a lot of technology and a lot of investment," Spitzer said.

The $50 million allotment for agricultural will include the creation of the position of director of agricultural development, which will help distribute the money to best benefit agriculture. One thing Spitzer is pushing for is a clearing house for New York-grown produce and products.

There are plans to break ground on the Pride of New York Wholesale Market in New York City some time this year.

"We want to make sure to connect upstate products to the downstate market," Spitzer said. "We want to use this $50 million the best we can to invest in this sector."

Universal Broadband is another critical component of the plan, as is funding for research.

"Support for the Upstate Economic Development Fund is growing," Spitzer said. "We are building the political base to get the fund enacted. This is necessary for the upstate economy."

He said that the initiative needs to be a bi-partisan effort to preserve farming, one of the historic cornerstones of the state's economic industry.

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