Local lawmakers attend agriculture tour

By Keryy Longobucco

August 22, 2014 Updated Aug 22, 2014 at 7:07 PM EDT

Whitney Point, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Broome County lawmakers toured local farms Friday morning to learn about the area’s agriculture.

Agriculture is one of New York State’s most significant financial contributors, accumulating more than $5.4 billion into the economy every year.

Broome County’s agricultural businesses and farms generate $30.7 million in sales and more than $100 million in business investments annually, according to Broome County Farm Bureau.

Republican Chairman Jerry Marinich, and Republican legislators Ron Keibel and Scott Baker, began Friday's agriculture tour at Whittaker's Dairy Farm, where they got to experience local farming and agriculture firsthand.

Whittaker’s is a family-run business in Whitney Point. The farm will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. Whittaker's is a major supplier for Chobani Yogurt, as well as many grocery stores.

Judy Whittaker said she was happy to help the officials understand the business, as well as the difficulties that farmers face, such as high property taxes.

"We own almost a thousand acres of land, so we're taxed pretty heavily. There's always some issues that come up that need a little tweaking when towns go through and do reevaluations,” said Whittaker. “So we just keep that conversation going with them, and it's always good to have open conversation with your representatives."

Whittaker said that the most important way for the public to support their farms is to buy locally whenever possible.

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