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New York Farm Bureau Celebrates Inaugural National Agriculture Month

New York Farm Bureau kicked off National Ag Month, a first for New York, with a celebratory brunch today in Elbridge, NY. Agricultural leaders from across the state came together for the exciting event that recognizes all of agriculture and what it means to farm families, rural communities, and consumers across the state.
 
Since 1973, New York has traditionally recognized National Ag Day which is on March 20, 2018, but there are too many great things happening in food and farming in New York to limit the acknowledgement to just one day. New York Farm Bureau invited a diverse group of leaders representing different commodities and organizatioins to join in on the festivities at the Bailiwick Market and Café owned by the Hourigan family whose dairy farm is nearby. New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher welcomed everyone and highlighted the strength and diversity of agriculture in New York.
 
“It is exciting to have a full month to celebrate all that is great about New York agriculture. Our farms generate $5 billion in farm sales and create nearly 200,000 jobs on and off the farm in the state. At a time when many farm families are struggling with low commodity and milk prices, it is more important than ever for the agricultural community to come together to support each other in these tough times while recognizing there is still much to be proud of in New York agriculture. New York Farm Bureau salutes all of the hard working men and women who carry on the strong agricultural tradition in this state,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.
 
In addition, the Commissioner of New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Richard Ball, and Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair, Bill Magee, took part in the program providing remarks to the dozens of attendees. Magee also read a resolution that he sponsored jointly in the legislature with the Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, Patty Ritchie. Senator John DeFrancisco also sent his regards to the attendees who came to his district for the event.
 
“Agriculture has a vibrant history in New York and continues to be a major contributor to our economy, the preservation of our natural landscapes and our food supply,” said State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball. “One day each year is not enough to acknowledge the tremendous contributions of the industry.  I am thrilled to join New York Farm Bureau as we extend the celebration all month long and give our hardworking farmers the recognition they deserve.”
 
“National Agriculture Month honors the men and women of our state who work long hours in the fields and barns, producing quality food and fiber. I’m grateful for all that farm families do to make our state a great place to live,” said Assemblyman Bill Magee, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
 
Senator John DeFrancisco said, “Agriculture is an integral part of our state’s economy and a major employer. It is fitting that we help recognize this important industry, and the people who work hard each day to provide New York with safe and nutritional products, by celebrating New York’s first-annual Agriculture Month Kickoff brunch.”
 
New York Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Chair, Phyllis Couture, emceed the brunch celebration and recognized her committee for their year round dedication to educating the public about farming.
 

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The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

Video: The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

The fledgling U.S. hemp industry is decades behind countries like Canada, France and China, but according to impact investor and this week’s podcast guest, Pierre Berard, it could flourish into a $2.2 billion industry by 2030 and create thousands of jobs.

To reach its potential, what the hemp industry needs most right now, Berard said, is capital investment.

Last month, Berard published a report titled “Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity — A Pioneering Venture for Investors and Corporations Driven by Environmental, Social and Financial Concerns” in which he lays out the case for investment.

It’s as if Berard, with this report, is waving a giant flag, trying to attract the eyes of investors, saying, “Look over here. Look at all this opportunity.”

Berard likens the burgeoning American hemp industry to a developing country.

“There is no capital. People don’t want to finance. This is too risky. And I was like, OK, this sounds like something for me,” he said.

As an impact investor who manages funds specializing in agro-processing companies, Berard now has his sights set on the U.S. hemp industry, which he believes has great economic value as well as social and environmental benefits.

He spent many years developing investment in the agriculture infrastructure of developing countries in Latin America and Africa, and said the hemp industry feels similar.

“It is very nascent and it is a very fragmented sector. You have pioneers and trailblazers inventing or reinventing the field after 80 years of prohibition,” he said. “So I feel very familiar with this context.”

On this week’s hemp podcast, Berard talks about the report and the opportunities available to investors in the feed, fiber and food sectors of the hemp industry.

Building an industry around an agricultural commodity takes time, he said. According to the report, “The soybean industry took about 50 years to become firmly established, from the first USDA imports in 1898 to the U.S. being the top worldwide producer in the 1950s.”

Berard has a plan to accelerate the growth of the hemp industry and sees a four-pillar approach to attract investment.

First, he said, the foundation of the industry is the relationship between farmers and processors at the local level.

Second, he said the industry needs what he calls a “federating body” that will represent it, foster markets and innovations, and reduce risk for its members and investors.

The third pillar is “collaboration with corporations that aim to secure or diversify their supply chains with sustainable products and enhance their ESG credentials. This will be key to funding the industry and creating markets,” he said.

The fourth pillar is investment. Lots of it. Over $1.6 billion over seven years. This money will come from government, corporations, individual investors, and philanthropic donors.

The 75-page report goes into detail about the hemp industry, its environmental and social impact, and the opportunities available to investors.

Read the report here: Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity

Also on this episode, we check in with hemp and bison farmer Herb Grove from Brush Mountain Bison in Centre County, PA, where he grew 50 acres of hemp grain. We’ll hear about harvest and dry down and crushing the seed for oil and cake.