BALLSTON SPA — On Sept. 19 the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership economic development agency, released the first-ever Saratoga County Agricultural Index, which identifies the agriculture sector as a critical component of the county’s economy, generating more than $500 million in annual economic impact. That figure includes nearly $300 million produced by equine interests, including Saratoga Race Course, and more than $200 million in agricultural products, support services and commodities sold.
At the event that took place at Ellms Family Farm in Ballston Spa, business leaders, farmers and industry stakeholders gathered for the unveiling of the inaugural index.
“The Saratoga County Agricultural Index paints a vivid picture of the vital role agriculture and agribusiness play in creating a vibrant Saratoga County economy,” said Marty Vanags, President of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership.
“We are committed to lending our support to sustain and grow thisimportantsectorbyproviding business and technical resources, enabling access to markets and capital, and promoting collaboration through incentives and marketing campaigns aligned withtheneedsofthefarming community,” he said.
According to the Agricultural Index, Saratoga County ranks third among Capital Region counties in the number of farms, at 583; in annual agricultural output, at $83 million; in annual value of agriculture products and support services, at $125 million;andin market value of agricultural land and buildings, at $378 million. Dairy products represent the top- selling agricultural commodities in Saratoga County, with the $772,000per-farm value of milk produced at 23 dairy farms ranked first in the Capital Region and sixth in New York State. Total direct farm wages in Saratoga County were $27 million in 2017.
Meanwhile, the equine industry is a significant player in the county’s agribusiness sector, according to the index. Saratoga Race Course accounts for 2,600 on-site jobs, generates $101 million in earnings and $237 million in sales. In addition, 64 private horse farms boast a total market value of $59 million.
“The agricultural industry has been an important part of Saratoga County’s economy for many years, and its positive impact is just as vital today,” said Edward Kinowski, Chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. “We are committed to lending our support to ensure our agriculture and agribusiness sector continues to grow and prosper in the years ahead.”
The Saratoga County Agricultural Index also included the results of a Pulse Survey that showed 71 percent of industry leaders and stakeholders described themselves as optimistic about the future of agriculture in Saratoga County. In addition, 94 percent strongly agreed or agreed that providing new incentives or creating mechanisms to support agricultural collaboration were needed, and 70 percent strongly agreed or agreed with the need for new branding concepts or marketing campaigns to sustain agricultural growth.
A panel discussion featuring industry leaders and community stakeholders followed the presentation of the index. Panelists included Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner; Bill Peck of Welcome Stock Farm and Supervisor, Town of Northumberland; Rachel (Czub) McDermott of Whole Feeds of the Hudson Valley and Z-Hub in Moreau; and Jennifer Koval of Koval Brothers Dairy of Stillwater