The Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture at Alfred State College will develop entrepreneurs who will sustainably and profitably manage natural resources to produce healthy food and renewable energy.
Agriculture is a significant industry in New York State and it plays a major role in quality of life in our region. These are some of the changes in NYS agriculture which precipitated the creation of the new center:
- Plant genetics have changed - Radically new plant genetics and new farming technologies facilitate improved agricultural production on the colder, wetter soils of Western New York.
- Market structures have changed - consumers are increasingly asking for locally grown products. Consumers are asking for greater involvement in the production of food. And consumers are demonstrating a willingness to pay higher prices for specialty products that satisfy these new desires.
- Nutritional concerns have changed - American consumers are blessed with easy access to abundant, nutritious, safe, and inexpensive food. But consumers are requesting new choices when they go to the grocery store. We now hear baby boomers asking for increased food-derived health components such as omega-3 fatty acids, phytochemicals, nutriceuticals, and lycopene. Organic agriculture is growing in response to that consumer demand. The Organic Trade Association reports that retail organic sales were a $14 billion business in 2005 comprising 2.5% of all US food sales. Sales in the organic dairy sector grew 23.5% last year alone.
- And the cost of energy has changed. Agriculture is increasingly becoming a source of renewable energy. As an alternative to current fuel acquisition practices, we will help farmers produce home-grown energy. The development of NYS ethanol plants, biodiesel facilities, photovoltaic and wind generation operations demonstrates how farmers can help New York State lessen its dependence on fossil fuels. We will help farmers learn how to "grow your own."