21st Annual Dutchess Co. Ag Breakfast

Recent event was standing room only, with 140 people in attendance

County Executive Marcus Molinaro, Former County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board Chair Harry Baldwin, County Legislator and Current Chair of the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board Gregg Pulver, and County Legislature Chairman Dale Borchert. (Photo: Ruth Moore)

MILLBROOK, N.Y. — The 21st Annual Agriculture (Ag) Breakfast was held on Thursday, March 23, 2017. The event was standing room only, with 140 people in attendance. In addition to farmers, Dutchess County officials, legislators, town board members, the Pine Plains chapter of the Future Farmers of America FFA leadership team members, and agricultural agency personnel were also in attendance.

The Ag Breakfast featured keynote speaker Jean O’Toole, the new Executive Director of the New York Beef Council. Executive Director O’Toole spoke about the importance of all farmers telling their story about farming and agriculture.

Harry Baldwin, recently retired Chair of the Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, received proclamations from both the Dutchess County Legislature and the County Executive, recognition from the Dutchess Land Conservancy, and was honored with a standing ovation from the entire audience at the Ag Breakfast.

During Mr. Baldwin’s time as Board Chair (2005 – 2016), 25 purchase of development rights (PDR) projects have been completed through partnerships between Dutchess County, towns, federal and state government, and private land trusts, resulting in the conservation of over 3,000 acres of farmland. An investment of approximately 2.5 million dollars by Dutchess County’s Partnership for Manageable Growth has leveraged combined investments of municipal, state, federal, and private dollars totaling over 21 million dollars – representing a key source of funding in support of Dutchess County’s farm economy.

Also, each year, the Ag Breakfast Committee chooses up to three Tractor Award recipients, honoring those involved in some aspect of agriculture for the work they do not only on the farm, but throughout their community. This year’s Tractor Award recipients were: Curtis Schmidt, Steve van Tassel and Uplands Farm (Verbank, NY), and Ronny and Rick Osofsky and Ronnybrook Farm (Pine Plains, NY).

Curtis Schmidt is the General Manager of the Northern and Southern Dutchess newspapers. The Northern Dutchess News provides coverage of local town, village and school news, the Dutchess County Legislature, county legal notices, plus coverage of 4-H clubs, farming news, agricultural businesses and local organizations. Curtis was recognized as a great friend of local agriculture.

Steve van Tassel is involved with the Dairy Herd Improvement Program, the Junior Holstein Association, the Holstein Association, and serves as the chair of the Dutchess County Dairy Committee. Steve is known worldwide for the caliber of his dairy cattle. In January of this year, his cattle swept the awards at the Dutchess County Dairy Herd Improvement Awards banquet, with highest herd in pounds of milk, fat and protein.

Ronny and Rick Osofsky took a small dairy farm to new heights and beyond when they took the family business back to basics, milk in a glass bottle. That simple move created a storm of new milk lovers. Now Ronnybrook milk products are found all over the United States. The farm, which straddles Dutchess and Columbia counties, also participates in Dutchess County’s Purchase of Development Rights program.

Food for the 140 guests was provided by several local farms, including Malafy’s Meat Processing, Milan, NY (sausage); Thunderhill Farm, Stanfordville, NY (eggs); Hudson Valley Fresh (milk); and Ronnybrook Farm, Pine Plains, NY (drinkable yogurt).

The Ag Breakfast is sponsored by the Dutchess County Dairy Committee, Dutchess Putnam Westchester Farm Bureau, Dutchess County Agricultural Society, Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, Dutchess County Soil and Water Conservation Service, and Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County.

–Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County

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