Sarah Johnston (NYS Dept of Ag Mkts) Visits Campus

Alfred State College is hosting NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Organic Agriculture Specialist Sarah Johnston on Monday, Oct. 1, for a full day of conversation and dialogue on the needs of organic farmers in New York State and what role Alfred State's new Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture can play, now and in the future, at a WNY Organic Agriculture Roundtable. NYS Sen. Catharine Young is expected to attend.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide leaders in New York State's organic agriculture industry with an opportunity to express their concerns and needs to Johnston and the organizers of the Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture (COSA) initiative; to provide the opportunity for Johnston to discuss organic agriculture programs and initiatives being developed within the NYS Department of Agriculture; and to provide government and organic agriculture industry representatives the opportunity to shape the development of the Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture (COSA) initiative.

Attending this first meeting with Johnston will be several prominent local conventional and organic farmers who will be on hand to raise concerns and issues about organic and sustainable agriculture. 

Remarks will also be made on Introduction to Organic Agriculture in New York State by Greg Swartz; and an Introduction to Center for Organic & Sustainable Agriculture, by Dr. Matt Harbur, assistant professor, ASC Agriculture and Horticulture Department and coordinator of COSA.

Later in the day, Johnston will address a class, speaking on contemporary issues in organic agricultural policy; a Q&A session will follow.  The public is invited to attend this presentation which will take place in EJ Brown Hall, room 119 on the Alfred campus.  A tour of campus and the college farm laboratory is also planned.

Johnston formerly served as the executive director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Inc, a position she held since 1998.  Previously, Johnston worked as the environmental policy assistant for NYS Attorney General Robert Abrams from 1987-96.  She was the environmental director for the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater from 1981-85.  Johnston earned a master's degree in public administration from NYU and a BS from Empire State College, SUNY New Paltz.

New York State ranks among the top 10 states in the country in the number of organic farms.  In 2006, there were nearly 600 certified organic farms in New York State with nearly 70,000 acres in production.  Organic dairy farms are the largest segment of the organic farm community in New York State.  In addition, there were more than 100 organic food processors in the State.  According to the Organic Trade Association, the sale of organic foods grew 16 percent in 2005 in the United States, accounting for $13.8 billion at the retail level.