The HVADC Cultivator
HVADC Board Member
Walter Garigliano has been a member of the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation’s (HVADC) Board of Directors for the better part of a decade. The Sullivan County attorney is not just a legal expert in economic development; he’s also an entrepreneur and farm owner himself. His professional knowledge and authority has been foundational to HVADC’s success.
Garigliano practices law as a partner in the firm he founded, Garigliano Law Offices LLP in Monticello, New York. He is also the General Counsel for the Sullivan Industrial Development Agency. He was born in Liberty, New York, and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration in Real Estate and Construction Management from the University of Denver, and his law degree from Syracuse University. He is also the father of six children with wife Barbara Nanovic. The couple co-owns of Catskill Mountain Sugar House, a 60,000 tap maple syrup operation located in Grahamsville, New York. Walter also enjoys skiing, hunting and fishing.
“Walter’s legal expertise as well as his first-hand knowledge running a successful agricultural business has made him a integral member of HVADC’s Board of Directors.” Said Todd Erling, HVADC Executive Director. “Our board members represent a diverse range of talents and worldviews. Strong voices like Walter’s provide HVADC with guidance, grounding and perspective.”
“When HVADC asked me to join I said yes,” Garigliano recalled. “I have a good day job but my involvement in policy is where I get to make up for the failings of state government. New York State is dominated by downstate interests. We need to offer local assistance to make up the slack.” HVADC Board of Directors President Mark Doyle says that Garigliano’s specialty has been helpful to HVADC initiatives in that he has been “introducing us to many of the same type of tools and emphases employed in urbanized sectors of the state to apply to our regional agricultural industry, and add to our own innovations and uniquely successful strategies.”
Grigliano is currently, personally concerned about how the recently passed Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act’s mandated overtime requirements will impact small farms. He believes it doesn’t properly take into account the unpredictability inherent in farming. He says, in his view the state’s change to the rules incentivizes farmers to pay more employees for fewer hours to avoid hitting the cap of weekly hours. “It’s disconnected with the reality of agriculture,” he said, commenting on how the weekly time caps resulting in lower income, could force workers to seek more than job, abandon the premise of loyalty to one farmer, and therefore disrupt the workforce by reducing promotions and opportunities.
Like everyone else, Garigliano has also been closely watching the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agriculture industry, as well as his own business. He said his maple farm has been following the trend of increased sales online and at market but wholesale and restaurant sales are way down. He says 75 client restaurants in the New York City closed, sales of which were a big part of his business.
“It’s become a situation where every farm needs to manage for the day rather than the future,” he said.
Garigliano sees the pandemic-driven human migration from New York City up into the Hudson Valley as a potentially major shift in the market over the coming years, with decreased buying power in the city but many more affluent customers moving into local communities. There was similar movement after 9/11, but Garigliano says the current situation has the potential to be much more transformative. He believes the biggest factor now is the stability of work from home platforms and how comfortable businesses have become with remote employees.
“I think this will be much more permanent,” he said. “I have a vacation rental business that has become an escape from New York City business.”
While Garigliano’s international sales model may be intriguing, he cautioned other farms from considering it as he is in a unique position, able to contract his law firm’s paralegals to undertake the navigation of the complex import regulations.
It’s this type of out of the box thinking and skillful business knowledge that has made Garigliano such an asset to the HVADC board. He has also been a strong link between HVADC and Sullivan County, an agricultural ambassador constantly working in the interest of his neighbors.