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Agriculture is a major component of the New York economy. [1] As of the 2012 census of agriculture, there were over 35,000 farms covering an area of 7 million acres (28,000 km2) which contributed $5.4 billion in gross sales value and $1.2 billion in net farm income to the national economy. [1] [2] [3] Dairy farming alone accounted for $2.5 billion or 45% of sales. [1] [4] The Finger Lakes region is the center of state agriculture, and the state is a top-ten national producer of cow milk, apples, grapes, onions, sweet corn, tomatoes, and maple syrup. New York places second in apples next to Washington. [1]


2009 US Sacagawea dollar coin depicting a woman in a buckskin tunic planting seeds among cornstalks and squash plants
The Three Sisters planting method is featured on the reverse of the 2009 US Sacagawea dollar

The majority of the New York soils were formed from glacial till and outwash deposits. [5] Iroquois agriculture from the 1300s onwards centered on the " Three Sisters"—beans, corn, and squash. [6] Extensive apple and peach orchards were planted by the Seneca people and Wyandot people, these were largely destroyed or taken over by colonists following the revolutionary war. [7]

By the 1840s and 1850s, the New York and Erie Rail Road was shipping fresh milk from the Hudson Valley to New York City, helping alleviate the city's scourge of swill milk, and New York state became the largest national dairy producer when dairy farming was becoming increasingly professional and industrialized. [8] Dairy producers have historically been widely distributed, weakening their bargaining power, and beginning in the 1870s became increasingly dominated by dealers. [8] [9] After an 1883 milk strike, dealers became increasingly consolidated, and after a failed milk strike in 1902, producer cooperatives became increasing consolidated; the 1907 Dairymen's League formed an alliance with the Borden Condensed Milk Company in 1922, who along with Sheffield Farms would become the "Big 3". [8] [10] [11] The interwar period saw the establishment then disestablishment of the state Milk Control Board, producers' bargaining agencies and dealers' bargaining agencies, and the establishment (still in use) of the New York–New Jersey federal–state milk marketing order and the system of milk pooling, classification and blended pricing. [8] [12] [13]

Major agricultural products

Of the $5.4 billion in sales value reported the 2012 census of agriculture, 58% was from the value of livestock, poultry, and their products, and 42% was from crops, including nursery and greenhouse crops. [3] Cow dairy alone accounted for 44.6% of sales value and ranked third nationally, and in 1998 the state was ranked second in apple production, third in corn silage, fourth in tart cherries, seventh in strawberries, and tenth in potatoes, and is also a top-ten national producer of grapes, onions, sweet corn, tomatoes, and maple syrup. [3] [6] [1]

A vineyard of the Seneca Lake AVA

Livestock, poultry, and their products

The New York cow dairy farming industry created over $2.5 billion in milk sales value in 2015 [4] and $2.4 billion in 2012, accounting for 44.6% of all agricultural sales value and making New York the 3rd largest cow milk producer in the country by sales. [3] Dairy products make up the majority of the state's foreign agricultural exports. [4]


New York ranks third in grape production by volume after California and Washington. [14] 83% of New York's grape area is Vitis labrusca varieties (mostly Concord). The rest is split almost equally between Vitis vinifera and French hybrids. [15]


New York is a top-ten national producer of apples, grapes, onions, sweet corn, tomatoes, and maple syrup. [1] In 1998, the state ranked second in apples, third in corn silage, fourth in tart cherries, seventh in strawberries, and tenth in potatoes. [6] Crops accounted for $2.25 billion in sales in 2012. [3] There are over fifty thousand acres of apple orchards and approximately 694 commercial apple growers, concentrated in the Champlain Valley, Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes and Niagara Frontier regions. [16]

Some sources rank potatoes as number one in economic value among vegetables. [17] New York is also top-two or -three nationwide in cabbage acreage and production, and it has also been claimed that cabbage is the highest earning vegetable in the state. [18] An upstate New York farm was the first to cultivate sugar snap peas at scale, after the cultivar was developed in Twin Falls, Idaho. [19]


The Finger Lakes region is the center of state agriculture. [1] The top five counties by sales value in 2012 were Wyoming, Cayuga, Suffolk, Genesee, and St. Lawrence counties. [1] In the Western New York region, Chautauqua County is the state's top producer of grapes while Allegany County is the state's top producer of hogs and pigs. [1]

Farmland in rural Steuben County

Honeoye soil, located mainly on the low plateau in the northern part of the Appalachian Plateau, in the southern part of the Ontario Lowland, and Mohawk Valley, is recognized as one of the most productive agricultural soils and as the quasi-official New York state soil. [20] [21] [22]

The Black Dirt Region is a super-fertile region of muck located in southern Orange County within the Hudson Valley region, northwest of New York City. [20] Muck soils are defined by the USDA as made up of relatively deep organic deposits of partially or almost completely decomposed plant material. [5]


The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets (Ag Department) enforces laws relating to agriculture, weights and measures, and the production, processing, transportation, storage, marketing and distributing of food. [23] [6] The Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC) is an independent agency within the department that supports natural resources management through the support of water and soil conservation districts. [24]

In 2012, New York received $6.01 billion in agricultural subsidies, ranking second with 10% of the total nationwide. [25] The Dairy Acceleration Program assists dairy farms, and is administered by the Ag Department and NYS Environmental Conservation Department and coordinated by the Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY program. [26] The Excelsior Jobs Program is administered by the NYS Economic Development Department and encourages creation of jobs and investments in industries such as agriculture. [27] [28] [26] The Ag Department also administers the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)/Good Handling Practices (GHP) Certification Assistance Program is a cost sharing and reimbursement program assisting with the cost of a GAP/GHP food safety audit. [26] The SWCC administers the Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Grant Program which can share up to 75% of costs for controlling agricultural nonpoint source pollution, and the Climate Resilient Farming Program for reducing agricultural impacts on climate change (e.g., agricultural waste storage cover and flare systems; on-farm riparian, floodplain, and upland water management systems; and soil health systems). [26] [29]

The US Natural Resources Conservation Service continues to set standards for water conservation best management practices (BMP) and administers farm bill conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). [24]


In 2012, there were 61,000 agricultural jobs resulting in $731 million in payroll expenses, from 10,000 farms (29% of all farms). [1] [2] There were also an additional 56,000 farm operators, with 75% being over 45 years old and the average age being 55 years old. [1] [2] In 2015, the dairy industry alone hired almost 20,000 people. [4]

Farm Credit East has reported that among those farmers that use the H-2A Visa program, which is already heavily regulated and burdensome, many have reported it has becoming increasingly unworkable due to significant and unexpected delays, and reiterated longstanding concerns with an inadequate labor supply. [30] The cow dairy industry uses permanent employees who are ineligible for H-2A Visas, causing problems with labor supply and making it a target for immigration enforcement. [31] Responding to the 2016 proposed $15 minimum wage increase, Farm Credit East argued that it would reduce farm net income by 31–51% due to farm's general inability to pass-on costs in a global market. [32]


Postcard showing the Great New York State Fair main entrance in the 1940s

Both 4-H and FFA are national youth organizations traditionally focused on agriculture and farming. [33] Farm Credit East maintains a scholarship program for those pursuing a post-high school education (including colleges and technical schools) who can demonstrate an intention for a career in agriculture, forestry or commercial fishing. [34] Farm Credit East also maintains a scholarship program for teachers attending an institute of the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE). [35]

Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) is an early college high school partnership between SUNY Cobleskill, Fulton–Montgomery Community College, Hamilton–Fulton–Montgomery BOCES, and other businesses focusing on agriculture and other pathways. [36] [37] The Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS or Ag School) in Ithaca is New York's land grant and statutory college of agriculture supervised by the State University of New York (SUNY) system. [6] The CALS PRO-DAIRY program focuses on educational programming and applied research for the New York dairy industry. [38]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "The Importance of Agriculture to the New York State Economy" (PDF). New York State Department of Audit and Control. March 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-22. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  2. ^ a b c NASS. "Volume 1: Geographic area series, Part 32: New York, state and county data". 2012 Census of Agriculture. OCLC  900732649.
  3. ^ a b c d e NASS. "New York state profile" (PDF). 2012 Census of Agriculture.
  4. ^ a b c d "Governor Cuomo Urges Federal Government to Address Canadian Trade Policies and Protect U.S. Milk Suppliers". Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. 18 April 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b Islander East Pipeline Project: Environmental Impact Statement. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 2002. p. 3-10–3-11.
  6. ^ a b c d e Darlington, James W. (2005). "Agriculture". In Eisenstadt, Peter; Moss, Laura-Eve (eds.). The Encyclopedia of New York State. Syracuse University Press. pp. 28–36. ISBN  081560808X. LCCN  2005001032.
  7. ^ Kerrigan, William (Spring 2008). "Apples on the Border: Orchards and the Contest for the Great Lakes". Michigan Historical Review. JSTOR  20174256.
  8. ^ a b c d Kriger, Thomas J. (2005). "Dairy Industry". In Eisenstadt, Peter; Moss, Laura-Eve (eds.). The Encyclopedia of New York State. Syracuse University Press. pp. 433–436. ISBN  081560808X. LCCN  2005001032.
  9. ^ Dillon, John J. (1941). Seven Decades of Milk: A History of New York's Diary Industry. Orange Judd Publishing. pp. xi–xii.
  10. ^ Reitano, Joanne (2016). New York State: Peoples, Places, and Priorities: A Concise History with Sources. Routledge. p. 202. ISBN  9781136699979. LCCN  2015005161.
  11. ^ Dillon 1941, p. 228.
  12. ^ Milk Control Law, L. 1933 c. 158, enacted April 10, 1933; reenacted by L. 1934 c. 126; expired March 31, 1937. Rogers–Allen Act, L. 1937 c. 383, enacted May 19, 1937; amended by Nunan Act, L. 1939 c. 760; amended by L. 1940 c. 696; amended by L. 1941 c. 8; amended by L. 1947 c. 883; amended by L. 1952 c. 712.
  13. ^ 3 FR 1945 (August 9, 1938); 3 FR 2100 (August 27, 1938); 3 FR 2102 (August 27, 1938); 22 FR 4643 (July 2, 1957).
  14. ^ "New York Wine Country". New York Wine Foundation. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  15. ^ Cass, Bruce; Robinson, Jancis, eds. (2000-11-09). The Oxford Companion to the Wine of North America. New York: Oxford University Press. pp.  125-179. ISBN  978-0-1986-0114-2. OL  3968247M.
  16. ^ "Apple Picking in Upstate New York!". Empire State Magazine. No. 4. Fall 2007.
  17. ^ "Crop Profile: Potatoes in New York". Cornell Cooperative Extension Pesticide Management Education Program. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  18. ^ Miltner, Karen (August 24, 2013). "Cabbage is worth a ton of money for New York". Democrat and Chronicle.
  19. ^ Wilson, Korsha (May 23, 2019). "The Inventor of the Snap Pea Has a Farm (and Story) You Wouldn't Believe". Saveur. Retrieved 2023-09-13.
  20. ^ a b McKinley, Jesse (March 26, 2013). "Picking New York's State Soil? Not So Fast". The New York Times.
  21. ^ "Official Soil Series Descriptions: HONEOYE SERIES". Natural Resources Conservation Service.
  22. ^ "HONEOYE". Series Extent Explorer. University of California, Davis.
  23. ^ Agriculture and Markets Law § 16
  24. ^ a b New Employee Orientation, New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, retrieved 2017-01-22
  25. ^ Rulison, Larry (August 4, 2014). "New York is No. 2 for government subsidies". Times Union.
  26. ^ a b c d Grants and Incentives for Northeast Agricultural Producers. Knowledge Exchange Partner (Report). Farm Credit East. October 2016. Archived from the original on 2017-02-16. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  27. ^ Economic Development Law article 17
  28. ^ "Excelsior Jobs Program". Empire State Development Corporation. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  29. ^ "Governor Cuomo Announces Launch of $1.4 Million Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program" (Press release). Albany, NY: Office of the Governor. October 9, 2015.
  30. ^ Increase in H-2A Usage Strains Program Capacity. Knowledge Exchange Partner (Report). Vol. 10. Farm Credit East. August 2016.
  31. ^ The Worst Job In New York: Immigrant America. VICE News. July 23, 2014 – via YouTube.
  32. ^ The Economic Impact of a Minimum Wage Increase on New York State Agriculture. Knowledge Exchange Partner (Report). Farm Credit East. February 2016.
  33. ^ Anderson-Holmes, Kathryn (21 March 2016). "Rural and Agriculture Groups". In Bronner, Simon J.; Clark, Cindy Dell (eds.). Youth Cultures in America. Vol. 2. Greenwood Publishing. p. 597. ISBN  978-1-4408-3392-2.
  34. ^ "Scholarship Program". Farm Credit East. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  35. ^ "Ag Education Teacher Scholarship". Farm Credit East. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  36. ^ "Agriculture PTECH". Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  37. ^ Office of the Governorof New York (October 29, 2015). "Governor Cuomo Announces Winners of Third Round of P-TECH Partnership Awards" (Press release). Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  38. ^ "About Us". Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences PRO-DAIRY Program. Retrieved 2017-05-22.

Further reading

  • Bills, Nelson, and David Gross. "Sustaining multifunctional agricultural landscapes: comparing stakeholder perspectives in New York (US) and England (UK)." Land Use Policy 22.4 (2005): 313-321.
  • Conklin, Henry. Through "Poverty's Vale": A Hardscrabble Boyhood in Upstate New York, 1832-1862, ed. Wendell Tripp (Syracuse UP, 1974)
  • Gardner, Kenneth, et al. "New York's Agricultural Districts---The Preservation of Farming Rather than the Restriction of Growth." (1977). online
  • Griffin, Matthew R., and Edward A. Frongillo. "Experiences and perspectives of farmers from Upstate New York farmers' markets." Agriculture and human values 20 (2003): 189-203.
  • Lane, David, et al. "Climate change and agriculture in New York and Pennsylvania: risk perceptions, vulnerability and adaptation among farmers." Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 33.3 (2018): 197-205.
  • McMurry, Sally. Transforming rural life: Dairying families and agricultural change, 1820-1885 (Johns Hopkins UP, 1995). in upstate NY.
  • Osterud, Nancy Grey. Bonds of community: The lives of farm women in nineteenth-century New York (Cornell University Press, 1991) online.
  • Osterud, Grey. Putting the barn before the house: Women and family farming in early twentieth-century New York (Cornell University Press, 2017).
  • Parkerson, Donald H. The Agricultural Transition in New York State: Markets and Migration in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America (Purdue University Press, 2002).
  • Tauer, Loren W. "Efficiency and competitiveness of the small New York dairy farm." Journal of dairy science 84.11 (2001): 2573-2576. online
  • Wermuth, Thomas S. "New York farmers and the market revolution: Economic behavior in the mid-Hudson Valley, 1780-1830." Journal of Social History (1998) 32#1: 179-196. online

External links