In just its second year, the Agriculture Solutions Fair is growing noticeably, into an increasingly-comprehensive event. Though last year’s inaugural fair hosted agribusiness representatives, legal and policy consultants, and technical experts, the 2019 fair, which SUNY Cobleskill hosted on campus Thursday in cooperation with NYSERDA and National Grid, was a showcase of agricultural diversity.
Representatives from more than 25 resource agencies were on hand in Bouck Ballroom, as visiting guests made the rounds to display-tables for insights on projects ranging from lighting installation to grant opportunities. Breakout sessions, on topics including opportunities in the rapidly-expanding hemp industry, and successful outcomes for value-added agricultural enterprises, took place after guests met with representatives in ballroom in the morning.
More than a meet and greet, the morning provided farmers and agribusiness professionals one-on-one and group access to those in the specific industries that best-fit their needs. Many returning guests were able to provide updates on projects to which returning representatives offered consultation in 2018. Others took opportunity to explore the latest technological advancement to lighting and grow-equipment.
Tyler Beck, a fourth-generation family dairy farmer, attended for the first time. As he plans to expand his herd of dairy cows to 2,000, Beck scanned for and found representatives able to break down the grant opportunities he says he is coveting. That was not the only reason Beck made the multi-hour journey.
“Really I am looking comprehensively,” says Beck. “[Gaining] information on energy, resource, capital, and personnel efficiency all under one roof make this a great opportunity.” Beck adds that his goal, like farmers of all scales, is to remain competitive. He would like to be able to pass his farm onto his son, a prospective fifth-generation farmer.
Many, including Beck, made plans to stick around for the hemp industry session, if only to quench a growing curiosity of a growing industry. A discernible advantage of “one roof” is the ability for guests to explore topics in agriculture that may be nontraditional to a particular group or industry. At the Ag Solutions Fair, it is an expert who guides that exploration.
Taier Perlman, staff attorney for the Rural Law Initiative at Albany Law School is the one of those experts who was on hand. The Rural Law Initiative applies to a wide range of those in agriculture, and thus fairgoers, seeking information to make informed legal and policy decisions. The Initiative is both an invaluable resource and gateway to successful agricultural enterprise. The Institute for Rural Vitality at SUNY Cobleskill operates the Center for Rural Legal & Policy Services, in tandem with Albany Law School.
The fair’s organizer, SUNY Cobleskill’s Dr. Jason Evans, found time to take in the morning before preparing to join a panel in one of the afternoon breakout sessions. The spectrum of professional representatives and guests also resonated with Dr. Evans.
“What is so impressive and what is so beneficial is that we have agriculture represented both regionally and exhaustively,” says Dr. Evans. “On both sides we are really filled with people dedicated to agriculture, and eager to share and impart their wisdom for a collective wellbeing.”