County Farms Benefit From ARPA Funds

A Chautauqua County farm was able to purchase this robot vacuum called a Lely Discovery Collector, with assistance from Chautauqua County’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. The unit helps improve the farm’s labor efficiency, cleaning the barn and managing the manure and keeps the cow’s cleaner, resulting in higher quality milk. Submitted photo

Chautauqua County was able to help 32 farms in the county implement new projects, using federal money designed to help communities recover financially from COVID-19.

That was the summary report of the Chautauqua County Agricultural Improvement Program by Cornell Cooperative Extension.

During the legislature’s Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting, Emily Reynolds and Lisa Kempisty with Cornell, gave a summary report of how they administered the American Rescue Plan Act funds that were allocated to agriculture.

About $250,000 was originally designed to the Agricultural Improvement Program. Fifty farms sought funds. Of the 32 farms that were approved, each was awarded $7,700.

Improvements included:

— Improved soil health and crop production by applying lime and fertilizer.

— Improved soil drainage: Less nutrient losses, increased crop yields, better for the environment.

— Agricultural building improvements: Used in marketing locally produced meats, fruits, vegetables and cheese; improved livestock management and new technologies resulting in increased farm production and profitability.

— Upgraded agricultural equipment: Improved labor and fuel efficiency; Improved safety for farm workers and livestock.

Some specifics noted by Kempisty included a newly constructed greenhouse, a farm that installed an automated calf feeder, a grainery from the 1800s that was restored, a bunker silo was increased in size, newly vinyl-coated fencing replacing barbed wire fencing, a manure vacuum that operates like a Roomba called a Lely Discovery Collector, a new utility vehicle for a grape farm, and paving for a parking lot.

Overall, $82,896 was invested in 12 dairy farms, which had a total project investment of $905,513; $13,273 was invested in three livestock farms, which had a total project investment of $76,113; and $110,439 was invested in 17 fruit/vegetable farms, which had a total project investment of $110,439.

According to Reynolds, the 32 farms estimate that they increased their profitability in total by more than $1 million. “Approximately $8.90 went back into the community for every dollar of ARPA money that was spent,” she said.

Legislator Tom Harmon thanked Reynolds and Kempisty for the update. “I think what you’re doing and how you’re doing it is huge. It’s great to see how the money is being spent and where the money is being spent,” he said.


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