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Buerkle tours local agri-businesses, listens to farmers concerns

Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, second from right, recently visited Beak & Skiff Apple Farms during her Feb. 24 tour of local agricultural businesses. Also pictured, from left: Mark Burger, OCSWCD executive director, Walter Blackler of Apple Acres, Pete Fleckenstein of Beak n Skiff, Rep. Buerkle and David Pittard, President of Beak & Skiff.

Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, second from right, recently visited Beak & Skiff Apple Farms during her Feb. 24 tour of local agricultural businesses. Also pictured, from left: Mark Burger, OCSWCD executive director, Walter Blackler of Apple Acres, Pete Fleckenstein of Beak n Skiff, Rep. Buerkle and David Pittard, President of Beak & Skiff.

— “There’s nothing like personal testimony, and she deserves a lot of credit for coming out to see and hear the problems our producers are dealing with,” Podolak said. “She was very attentive, very concerned and listened to everybody.”

The Agriculture Advisory Task Force, which held its inaugural meeting at the state fairgrounds in Syracuse the day before the tour, covered many of the same issues as the tour itself, said Burger, who moderated the meeting.

Buerkle created the task force in late 2011 in order to discuss concerns and issues about agriculture in her 25th Congressional district.

The task force meeting started with a meet and greet but quickly jumped into discussing the major problems plaguing agri-business producers. The farmers present came up with three pages of issues, the top three being the need for labor, government over-regulation and the content of the upcoming federal Farm Bill, Burger said.

Buerkle said she has high hopes for the success of the taskforce, and she hopes to have hearings in Washington in the near future on agricultural business issues.

“In New York, agriculture is our leading business, and we better take a look at this,” Buerkle said. “The reason for the taskforce is to get feedback from the local farmers, to hear issues and concerns and to keep the lines of communication open. I want to make sure they know they have a voice in Washington.”

In addition to Buerkle, a representative from State Sen. John DeFrancisco’s office also was on the agriculture tour.

“Agriculture is not just a federal issue, but a state issue as well,” Burger said. “The senator has been very involved in agriculture ever since he’s been in office.”

The next Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District agricultural program will be a meeting to discuss the total maximum daily load for Onondaga Lake, followed by a manure application training class from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, March 19, at the LaFayette Fire House on Route 11.

The meeting will be done in partnership with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Cornell Cooperative extension.

For more information on the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District, visit their website at ocswcd.org or call 677-3851 ext. 5.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at editor@skaneatelespress.com.

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