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Aubertine touts executive budget proposals as a means to boost farms

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CANTON - State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine is touting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s commitment to New York’s farmers.

In meetings with editorial boards and reporters across the state, including the north country, Mr. Aubertine said the governor’s 2013, $136.5 billion executive budget proposal proves he is dedicated to supporting the agriculture industry in a way few governors have been.

Small farms “are viable again,” Mr. Aubertine said in a meeting Tuesday at The Journal office.

In particular Mr. Aubertine said new Taste NY program is a positive step forward to bolster connections between local farm products and consumers.

“We’ve got 20 million mouths to feed just here in New York state,” Mr. Aubertine said, adding that the governor is advocating better ways of getting local food onto local tables.

The Taste NY program is a $2 million investment in the promotion of locally grown food, beer, wine and spirits and other New York-made goods.

The products would be sold across the state, sales tax-free.

Mr. Cuomo, in his Jan. 9 State of the State address, pledged to create duty-free stores all across the state to promote New York grown and produced products.

The stores will be largely established in train stations and airports.

Mr. Aubertine lauded the governor’s proposal and said it will help ensure the state’s agricultural supply gets delivered efficiently to the state’s consumers.

Mr. Aubertine also noted a shift in the public’s awareness of the benefits of local food as more people look to healthier diets.

Calling people focused on quality local foods “foodies,” Mr. Aubertine said, “it’s not a fad; it’s here to stay.”

To support the trend, Mr. Aubertine highlighted $3.6 million in proposed state funding that will be used to create four food distribution hubs across the state.

One of the hubs, to the tune of $350,000, will be opening in Canton.

Mr. Aubertine said the state has plenty of food supply and plenty of demand, and these food distribution hubs will help unite the two.

The hubs will also give small farmers another avenue to sell their products besides at local expos and from roadside stands.

Mr. Aubertine said the hubs will prove to be a source of economic stimulation and will help empower local, small-scale farmers by bundling their products.

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