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21st Annual Dutchess County Agriculture Breakfast Farmers Award "Tractors" to Three Honorees

The 21st Annual Agriculture (Ag) Breakfast was held at the Cornell Cooperative Farm & Home Center recently in Millbrook. With 140 people in attendance, it was standing room only.  In addition to farmers, Dutchess County officials, legislators, town board members, the Pine Plains chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) leadership team members, and agricultural agency personnel were also in attendance.

The Ag Breakfast featured keynote speaker Jean O’Toole, the new Executive Director of the New York Beef Industry Council. Executive Director O’Toole spoke about the importance of all farmers telling their story about farming and agriculture. It’s what’s for dinner!

Harry Baldwin, recently retired Chair of the Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, received proclamations from both the Dutchess County Legislature and the Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, recognition from the Dutchess Land Conservancy, and was honored with a standing ovation from the entire audience at the Ag Breakfast.

During Mr. Baldwin’s time as Board Chair (2005 – 2016), 25 purchase of development rights (PDR) projects have been completed through partnerships between Dutchess County, towns, federal and state government, and private land trusts, resulting in the conservation of over 3,000 acres of farmland. An investment of approximately 2.5 million dollars by Dutchess County's Partnership for Manageable Growth has leveraged combined investments of municipal, state, federal, and private dollars totaling over 21 million dollars - representing a key source of funding in support of Dutchess County's farm economy.

Read the State of Agriculture in Dutchess County 2017. The number of acres in our Agricultural Districts has grown from 164,380 acres to 196,164 acres; a 19% growth over the last 8 years. Livestock sales have increased by $13 million, and crops sales have improved by $5 million during that time. Find out our top commodities by acres! Can you guess the top commodities by sales value? Hint – not everything that’s farmed grows in the ground or on a tree, and not all animals or crops are raised to provide food....Dutchess County has among the highest rankings in New York State in inventory numbers of livestock and sales value.

Each year, the Ag Breakfast Committee chooses up to three Tractor Award recipients, honoring those involved in an aspect of agriculture for the work they do not only on the farm, but throughout their community. This year’s Tractor Award recipients were: Curtis Schmidt, Steve van Tassel and Uplands Farm (Verbank), and Ronny and Rick Osofsky and Ronnybrook Farm (Pine Plains).

Curtis Schmidt is the General Manager of the Northern & Southern Dutchess Newspapers. The Northern Dutchess News provides coverage of local town, village and school news, the Dutchess County Legislature, county legal notices, coverage of 4-H clubs, farming news, agricultural businesses and area organizations. Curtis was recognized as a great friend of local agriculture.

Steve van Tassel is involved with the Dairy Herd Improvement Program, the Junior Holstein Association, the Holstein Association, and serves as the chair of the Dutchess County Dairy Committee. Steve is known worldwide for the caliber of his dairy cattle. In January of this year, his cattle swept the awards at the Dutchess County Dairy Herd Improvement Awards banquet, with highest herd in pounds of milk, fat and protein.

Ronny and Rick Osofsky took a small dairy farm to new heights and beyond when they took the family business back to basics, milk in a glass bottle. That simple move created a storm of new milk lovers. Now Ronnybrook Farm milk products are found all over the United States. The farm, which straddles Dutchess and Columbia counties, also participates in Dutchess County’s Purchase of Development Rights program.

Food for the 140 guests was provided by several local farms, including Malafy’s Meat Processing, Milan (sausage); Thunderhill Farm, Stanfordville (eggs); Hudson Valley Fresh (milk); and Ronnybrook Farm, Pine Plains (drinkable yogurt).

The Ag Breakfast is sponsored by the Dutchess County Dairy Committee, Dutchess Putnam Westchester Farm Bureau, Dutchess County Agricultural Society, Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, Dutchess County Soil and Water Conservation Service, and Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County.

Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, Former County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board Chair Harry Baldwin, County Legislator and Current Chair of the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board Gregg Pulver, and County Legislature Chairman Dale Borchert. Photo: Ruth Moore


Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities. The programs provided by this agency are partially funded by monies received from the County of Dutchess.




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