The HVADC Cultivator
The Local and Regional Food System in the Hudson Valley
The economic impact of the local and regional food system in the Hudson Valley cannot be underestimated. When we talk about the local and regional food system, we are referring to the relationship between all of the different elements that contribute to the delivery of food goods derived from within the Hudson Valley, such as food production, processing, distribution, marketing, and consumption. Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) believes in consciously investing in resilient agriculture and viable local food systems that develop and provide innovative solutions, create dynamic agricultural entrepreneurship, and enhance economic growth in the Hudson Valley.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2012 Census of Agriculture, there are 3,983 farms totaling 694,125 acres within the seven counties HVADC service area (Columbia, Dutchess, Orange, Rensselaer, Sullivan, Ulster and Washington). The total market value of the agricultural product from those farms was estimated to be over $491.5 million.
In addition to the farms in the Hudson Valley, there are myriad of businesses which form a tightly knit network related to local food. This market segment continues to grow, with the rise in popularity of eating locally and sustainably. People want to know where there food comes from, and in the Hudson Valley that has propelled the growth of related small businesses, such as caterers, distributors, wholesalers, distilleries, breweries, cideries, wineries, food and beverage trails, farm-to-institution, gleaning groups, agritourism, retail and grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and restaurants, who rely almost exclusively on local produce whenever possible. These industries also contribute to the positive economic impact of agribusiness in the region. According to a 2015 report by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the total estimated agricultural impact from agriculture and related businesses throughout the state was $37.6 billion in 2011.
Supporting the local and regional food economy is essential as the health of the system has ripple effects that spread throughout the region. As outlined in a 2010 report authored by Glynwood which uses statistics from the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture, Hudson Valley farming is a player within the large and agricultural state of New York:
15% of New York State’s farms are in the Hudson Valley.
12% of New York State farmland is in the Hudson Valley.
12% of New York State agricultural sales are from farms in the Hudson Valley.
17% of New York State farms selling directly to consumers are in the Hudson Valley but those farms receive 33% of the value of all direct sales in NY State.
A 2014 study published by the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences examining the impacts of agriculture in New York State stated that “agriculture, incorporating agricultural production, support services, and manufacturing, represents a $63.8 billion industry in New York, with over 251,000 jobs when the value of interindustry linkages is considered.” The report’s accounting includes backward-linked supply chain business-to-business transactions (indirect effects) and household spending out of labor income (induced effects).
These figures highlight why services beyond traditional farming are important ways to help the local and regional food systems become more viable and sustainable. As illustrated by the 2010 Glynwood report: Farming generates economic impacts that are not revealed simply by the value of sales. Farmers’ use of services from many other businesses (suppliers, labor, manufacturing, processing, distribution, etc.) results in an amplified economic impact. Farmers tend to spend locally as much as possible, so the impact of their spending in their local community is often much higher than that of other industries. The money that farmers spend has a strong “ripple effect.” Farms in the Hudson Valley generate a third of the statewide value of direct sales. Farming creates jobs: many farms, of course, rely on hired labor. And farming’s reliance on a range of support service providers and suppliers means that agriculture supports the jobs created in those businesses. Farming has an impact on job creation in many other sectors too, including retail, wholesale, manufacturing, tourism, housing, banking, and real estate.
HVADC supports the development and broadening of the regional farm economy, expanding agriculture with economic development tools, programs and training, while helping new and existing businesses grow and diversify. As a voice for agribusiness within the Hudson Valley, HVADC is involved in policy development, programs and strategies on both a regional and state level. It offers technical assistance through the Incubator Without Walls program, helps local agricultural businesses refine business plans and find capital opportunities through its Food and Farm Business Accelerator Program, and works closely with county planning and economic development offices on regional farmland protection plans and other projects. HVADC educates consumers and tourists about local food options within the Hudson Valley through its Hudson Valley Bounty initiative. Hudson Valley Bounty serves as a primary resource for consumers who wish to connect to the full local and regional food system. It does this by providing an online directory portal that is searchable by business type, county, product, production method, and method of distribution, offering quick and easy access to all that the Hudson Valley has to offer.
According to a 2013 Scenic Hudson report, conserved farmland offers substantial economic benefits. It is critical to the region's $4.2 billion tourism industry. It supports local economies, with an estimated $4 returned to communities for every $1 invested in conservation. And conservation practically ensures agritourism, with city dwellers travelling to and spending time in rural areas for their beauty and tranquility.
HVADC recognizes the importance of the agricultural based economy in the lives of the residents of the Hudson Valley and plays an integral role in supporting, diversifying and developing this economy in the Hudson Valley. Contact HVADC to learn more about its programs and outreach, and to find out how HVADC can support your farm or farm-related business. Visit www.hvadc.org.