Date ArticleType
9/17/2017 Chamber News
Local Agriculture Is an Economic Driver

Chautauqua County has a diverse agricultural base as well as a long and proud history of farming. There are several remarkable statistics associated with agriculture in Chautauqua County. Did you know that Chautauqua County ranks #1 in New York State for number of farms at over 1,500, or that the total market value of agricultural products from Chautauqua County is over $161-million annually?  Those are substantial numbers, considering that just 35% of the county’s total acreage is farmland.

Our location in the midst of the Lake Erie grape belt is important economically and agriculturally.  250 grape growers in our county produce 90,000 tons of grapes in a typical year, with a value of over $22-million.  While the beverage industry is flourishing here, mainly due to our excellent grape growing season, wine is just one of many products to result from Chautauqua County grapes.  Others are used to produce juices, jellies, and other products worldwide.

Dairy farmers in Chautauqua County produce enough milk to exceed the local demand.  Production of milk here can serve nearly 700,000 people, with much of our local product being shipped to processing plants in Northwestern Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio.

This past week, our region added aquaculture to that list, with the opening of Timberfish Technologies in Westfield.  This new “fish farm” uses waste materials from the adjacent Mazza winery and distillery to help raise fish in a high technology, environmentally friendly way. 

Our natural resources, such as rich soil and a climate fed by our proximity to the open waters of Lake Erie, make Chautauqua County one of the most important agricultural counties in all of New York State.  Our farm products are dominated by dairy and grape production, but don’t stop there.  We are also a significant source for the sales of cattle, vegetables, fruits, and maple products.

The beautiful rolling hay fields and grape vineyards are pleasing to the eye and an amazing backdrop for lakes and commerce centers, yet in reality these landscapes represent a major economic driver.  In the spirit of our branding initiative Shoptauqua, we encourage you to look for locally grown agricultural products when shopping, and to support our local wineries and beverage producers.

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