Governor David A. Paterson today announced that he has signed Executive Order No. 39, establishing State policies for the promotion of sustainable local farms and the protection of agricultural lands. Currently, there are seven million acres devoted to agriculture throughout the State, and New York's 36,000 family farms generate $4.4 billion in annual sales.
"The protection of New York's agricultural lands is a fundamental principle enshrined in our State Constitution and has been a priority of my Administration," Governor Paterson said. "Agriculture is a bedrock of New York's economy and this Executive Order will set forth provisions to aid in the protection of agricultural lands for our State's long-term economic and environmental prosperity."
Maintaining agriculture helps ensure healthier soil and cleaner waterways, and aids in the absorption of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. State agencies are directed to consider these issues when reviewing and revising policies relevant to the purchase of agricultural products. The Executive Order also designates the first week in October as "Agriculture Week," during which individuals, restaurants, institutions and markets are encouraged to celebrate the benefits of New York's fresh and nutritious food products, and of agricultural land as a vital natural resource.
Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker said: "I am very excited that the Governor is continuing his strong support for New York's hard working family farmers. As the original guardians of the landscape, agriculture in New York will continue to provide fresh, safe, healthy food for New Yorkers and the world at large. This is a most worthwhile initiative."
Frederic C. Rich, Chair of Scenic Hudson and Head of the New York State Environmental Leaders Group, said: "We are all delighted with the Governor's action. Never before has the public, both urban and rural, been so aware of the importance of healthy local food, and of the need to protect New York State's ever-shrinking base of farm land. His Executive Order makes clear that a commitment to sustainable farming in New York is not optional -- it is mandated by the Constitution and the law. We applaud and thank the Governor for this important Order."
Robert Morgenthau, Former Manhattan District Attorney, said: "The order is extremely important and significant. It should be a great economic benefit to the farmers of New York State, and the Governor is to be congratulated on taking this major step toward supporting sustainable agriculture. New York State will continue as a leader in extending the benefits of agriculture to all of its citizens."