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Joe Gergela’ Ex Dir. LI Farm Bureau

April 8, 2005 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Each week people at LIMBA learn surprising facts. This morning was as good an example as any. Our guest was Joe Gergela, Executive Director of the Long Island Farm Bureau.

Agriculture in Suffolk County is the largest revenue producer of all of the counties in New York State. I knew that was true in 1988, but I was surprised that it was still true today. The Farm Bureau’s interests are broadly defined and encompasses fruits, vegetables, aquaculture, greenhouse growers, fflowers, nurseries, and other related industries. while Suffolk it is credied with being the largest agtriculture county in the state, it is grossly under estimated. According to Mr. Gergela the gross product may be close to a billion dollars.


Joe spoke about the effort to maintain the value of the land by keeping it in line with all other land uses. He pointed out that by zoning farm land in a way that is unfavorable to farmers it deprives them of what may be the only lasting value for a lifetime of work.


There was a creative solution involving transfer rights that was worked out with the farmers, and while I did not exactly understand the mechanics of the planning, the resulting benefit to the public was 200 acres of prime Keyspan property on Long Island Sound being converted to parkland.


The farm bureau gets into the issues that effect farmers viability. Gergela made a case that the economic security of the farming community has a net positive effect on the rest of us. Having a functioning farming industry keeps a certain amount of open land, which in turn retains some of the rural nature of Long Island.


One of Joe’s  important issues issues is “grown on Long Island” This copyrighted label is enforced by the farm bureau and is currentlly being embraced by one of Long Island’s biggest grocers, namely, King Kullen. The emphasis in the label is more than local loyalty, it is better quality.


At LIMBA we appreciate the diverse nature of our economics,and this was an enlightening discussion. Thank you Joe Gergela.