A Cortland County dairy farm was honored yesterday (August 7) as the 2019 recipient of the annual State Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Award.
Whey Street Dairy in Cuyler has been owned and operated by the Young family for 60 years. Co-owners Marty and Mary Ann Young have been running it for the past 39.
They’re now being honored for their decades of dedication and community leadership in conservation.
The Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District nominated the farm for the award, which also has provided them assistance with their conservation efforts.
Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball:
“Congratulations to the Young family, Whey Street Dairy and the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District for this award, which recognizes the hard work they have put into protecting the land and water.
Whey Street Dairy has been implementing best management practices to protect the environment for decades. They have willingly shared with their neighbors what they have learned and hosted workshops and events to help other farmers improve their soil and water management practices as well.”
Marty and Mary Ann have been pioneering conservation practices since the ’90s when they initially took part in Cortland County Farm *A* Syst, a precursor to the State’s AEM program.
Martin even speaks at conferences and is always sharing his knowledge with fellow farmers. The Youngs have hosted workshops, tours, and many on-farm events to pass on what they have learned to the local officials, neighbors, the community, and other farmers.
“My wife Mary Ann, along with our family and staff, are pleased to be selected as the 2019 New York State AEM Award winner. It is humbling to look at the long list of innovative farm families that have received this award during the past two decades, and we are honored to join the list.
We strive to implement the best practices that will lead to healthy soils, productive farms and clean water, and we thank the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District, which is instrumental in the implementation of conservation practices that have improved our farm.
The challenge for us as individuals, agriculture, and society, is to continue to deepen our understanding of the science of crops, animals, and soils and to respond in thoughtful innovative ways to develop resilient solutions that help us provide affordable, healthy food for our people.”
Whey Street Dairy has 680 dairy cows and was one of the early adopters of soil erosion control and riparian buffer practices. The Youngs have also implemented nutrient management and conservation tillage practices, cover crops, diversions, roof water control, installation of both forest and riparian buffers, silage leachate control, water retention measures, and petroleum spill prevention.
According to Ag Department officials, their practices have improved soil health and nutrient efficiency, while reducing erosion and nutrient runoff on their 1,800-acre farm to protect land and water along the Tioughnioga River. The river is part of the Upper Susquehanna River watershed, which ultimately feeds into Chesapeake Bay.
The State Conservation District leads several outreach and education efforts for the agricultural and non-farm community. It sponsored a Conservation Resource Fair in 2018 and held a Fresh Opportunities in Agriculture event this year, highlighting new programs and practices to assist with farm viability and environmental protection.
The Cortland County Soil and Water District recently created a program called ‘Fresh Connections,’ which promotes urban agriculture and conservation.
It also offers farmers assistance with environmental planning and implementation through multiple local and state programs.
Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Amanda Barber:
“Marty drives the conversation for conservation on his farm and sets an example in our region.
The Youngs are motivated by their own ideals to manage their farm in an environmentally sensitive manner. They have been dedicated and committed leaders.”
State Soil and Water Conservation Committee Chair Dale Stein:
“AEM awards recognize our farmers for something they’re known for across the United States – their land stewardship. Our Soil and Water Districts take great pride in helping New York State farmers earn a national reputation for caring for the environment, while those farmers produce some of the best food and beverages around.
The Young family has worked for decades to find countless ways to make their farm sustainable and environmentally friendly. They have also proven themselves community leaders by sharing what they know, hosting forums, workshops, and tours at Whey Street Dairy, which produces milk for some of the best-known names in yogurt and cheese.
I congratulate the Young family, Whey Street Dairy and the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District for earning this award by working hard to care for the land and water on this dairy farm and for helping others learn about and implement best management practices, as well.”