For These New York Farmers, Harvest Time Means High Times
A look at the growing farm and market season in New York City.
With more farms than any other place in America, the New York region is home to about 2,500 licensed farmers.
But most are small-scale, seasonal operations that rely on small-town economies. A quarter of them can’t grow enough crops to feed themselves and their families, and 40 percent can’t make enough money to make ends meet.
These farmers, who sell their produce from year to year, don’t have the same protections from the markets and policies that the big-time producers have enjoyed for decades.
It’s a far from a perfect system.
In New York, that means fewer protections for their prices and less security for their customers.
If more farmers were to come into the market place, they could add to the overproduction of food that already fuels the system, as well as the more than 50,000 tons of CO2 that is dumped into the atmosphere annually by the farmers and the oversupply of meat that is available.
While the state has put in place some mechanisms to better regulate the farmers, in practice it has been difficult to make progress on the issue.
“This is not easy,” said Mark O’Brien, the executive director of the New York Farm Bureau. “I think we’d really like to see some real reform in what’s going on,” from the state and Federal level.
“It’s a real challenge for New York,” he said. “If this was a state where they would see the benefits [of regulating] and would have an opportunity to make the money back, there would be a much different situation.”
O’Brien’s organization represents 1,000 farmers around the state and spends $20 million every year in the field representing them, but he says he doesn’t see a single farmer who is willing to do the hard work necessary to change the way New York farms.
“It’s not that they don’t want to do it, it’