The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership has released the first-ever Saratoga County Agricultural Index, which identifies the agriculture sector as a critical component of the county’s economy, generating more than $500 million in annual economic impact.
That figure includes nearly $300 million produced by equine interests, including Saratoga Race Course, and more than $200 million in agricultural products, support services and commodities sold, according to the agency.
Business leaders, farmers and industry stakeholders gathered at Ellms Family Farm in Ballston Spa in September for the unveiling of the inaugural index.
“The Saratoga County Agricultural Index paints a vivid picture of the vital role agriculture and agribusiness play in creating a vibrant Saratoga County economy,” said Marty Vanags, president of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. “We are committed to lending our support to sustain and grow this important sector by providing business and technical resources, enabling access to markets and capital, and promoting collaboration through incentives and marketing campaigns aligned with the needs of the farming community.”
According to the Agricultural Index, Saratoga County ranks third among Capital Region counties in the number of farms, at 583; in annual agricultural output, at $83 million; in annual value of agriculture products and support services, at $125 million; and in market value of agricultural land and buildings, at $378 million.
Dairy products represent the top-selling agricultural commodities in Saratoga County, with the $772,000 per-farm value of milk produced at 23 dairy farms ranked first in the Capital Region and sixth in New York state.
Total direct farm wages in Saratoga County were $27 million in 2017, the index said..
Meanwhile, the equine industry is a significant player in the county’s agribusiness sector, according to the index. Saratoga Race Course accounts for 2,600 on-site jobs, generates $101 million in earnings and $237 million in sales. In addition, 64 private horse farms boast a total market value of $59 million.
“The agricultural industry has been an important part of Saratoga County’s economy for many years, and its positive impact is just as vital today,” said Edward Kinowski, chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. “We are committed to lending our support to ensure our agriculture and agribusiness sector continues to grow and prosper in the years ahead.”
The index also included the results of a Pulse Survey that showed 71 percent of industry leaders and stakeholders described themselves as optimistic about the future of agriculture in Saratoga County. In addition, 94 percent strongly agreed or agreed that providing new incentives or creating mechanisms to support agricultural collaboration were needed, and 70 percent strongly agreed or agreed with the need for new branding concepts or marketing campaigns to sustain agricultural growth.
“The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership has a key role to play in helping to sustain and build the agricultural assets that are so important to Saratoga County,” said Kevin Hedley, chairman of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. “We look forward to working closely with the farming community to provide access to the resources, network and markets that are critical to its success.”
A panel discussion featuring industry leaders and community stakeholders followed the presentation of the index. Panelists included Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner; Bill Peck of Welcome Stock Farm and Northumberland supervisor; Rachel (Czub) McDermott of Whole Feeds of the Hudson Valley and Z-Hub in Moreau; and Jennifer Koval of Koval Brothers Dairy of Stillwater.
The event’s presenting sponsor was Adirondack Trust Co. The gold sponsor was NYSTEC. National Grid, Stewart’s Shops and Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP were the silver sponsors and the bronze sponsor was Farm Credit East.