By Cornell Cooperative Extension- Madison County
When you think of Madison County, what do you think of? Rolling hills, hay fields, Holsteins and horses. Madison County prides itself as a rural area with a beautiful landscape. That landscape is preserved by the agricultural businesses that steward the land through crop and animal production. Here in Madison County, there are over 830 farms which span 61 square miles of landscape containing about 187,500 acres dedicated to farming; this includes cropland, pastureland, and forestland.
At the top of the list of agriculture in our county is dairy. Total agricultural sales in Madison County lands around $118 million and raw milk from our dairy farms contributes $74.8 million to that total. Not only do dairy farmers support the local economy with their operations, but they also support other jobs and related industries. For example, Madison County is home to two dairy processing plants including HP Hood and Queensboro. So, when you buy milk you are not only supporting dairy farmers but also real job creation and investment into our communities.
You might be surprised to know that almost half of the farm operations in Madison County are part time operations. Part time operations are still very important to our county as they add to the landscape with smaller farms that often contribute to additional infrastructure such as new homes with or without additional barns. In fact, when you break out farms to less than 50 acres and over 500 acres, there are over 240 farms in our county that are less than 50 acres, but only about 70 farms that are over 500 acres.
While dairy is clearly at top, our agricultural landscape is diverse. Rolling hills of corn and hay, grazing equines and beef cattle, and rows of fruits and vegetables are spread across our land. And agriculture looks different at every farm. From vermiculture (the farming of worms – yep worms!) to beverage and hops, our agricultural diversity continues to add to the value of our County.
Each time you ‘buy local’ you are truly making a difference in the kind of landscape we have in Madison County – by supporting local farms you ensure their longevity. Open Farm Day, held annually in July, is an excellent way to visit local agriculture, buy local, and learn more about the stewardship of farm animals and farm land. New this year we are organizing a winter version of Open Farm Day — we are excited to be offering a new Celebrate Madison: Holiday Edition event! It’s another great opportunity to support agriculture by buying local for those holiday dinners and gift giving celebration. So, mark your calendars for Dec 8th and plan to join us at our CCE Madison County location at 100 Eaton Street in Morrisville to pick up farm fresh, hand-made items!
For more information on CCE or how we can assist you in finding a farmer or learning more about farming in our county, visit MadisonCountyCCE.org or call 315-684-3001. We’ve also recently launched a new website to make it easier for you to find local farmers year-round: Madisoncountyfarms.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.