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CCE launches Harvest New York

Harvest New York​ is a pilot program in Western New York designed to expand and enhance existing regional agriculture extension programs with the addition of three new areas of expertise: agriculture economic development, dairy modernization, and dairy food processing.

Maximizing connections to the research and resources of Cornell and Cooperative Extension, responding to emerging issues, and developing new opportunities, CCE’s newest regional team members will help increase the profitability of the New York agricultural industry.

The Harvest New York agricultural team specialists, housed at separate locations throughout the region, will work in close consultation with Cornell faculty members, local and regional extension staff and grower groups. They’ll bring new information and resources to the table, particularly in areas where there is potential for industry growth and expansion. 

The increasing popularity of dairy-based products like Greek yogurt and artisanal cheese represents an opportunity for farmers if they can meet production demands and identify and connect with markets. CCE’s newest regional specialists will also work with economic development councils, to help attract manufacturers and train a qualified workforce for emerging businesses.

The work of the Harvest New York team will build on the successful, focused regional approach of existing regional agriculture teams.

Meet the team

Megan Fenton, Agriculture Economic Development Specialist, is the daughter of a Yates County grape farmer. She has a wealth of agricultural work experiences which she says helped reinforce her formal education at Cornell University. At Cornell, she conducted agricultural research and explored international agriculture, participating in soil health research in New York and in India. Fenton has also worked as a CCE agriculture educator in Yates County.

Tristan Zuber is the new Dairy Processing Specialist, who will work with faculty advisor Martin Wiedmann in the Department of Food Science. His research is focused on developing and communicating the scientific knowledge need to prevent and control food borne bacterial diseases. Zuber grew up on dairy farm in Western NY and attended Cornell University, where the majored in Animal Science and Food Science. She worked in the Milk Quality improvement program and interned at Leprino Foods.

The team will be rounded out with dairy modernization specialist Beth Dahl who will work with faculty advisor Tom Overton in the Department of Animal Science. The primary responsibility of Dahl's position will be to help enhance farm-level economic development and grow milk production to meet increasing demands of dairy processing plants in western New York.

Three faculty advisors are involved in the agriculture economic development work. Stephen Reiners in the Department of Horticulture, whose research and extension efforts are designed to enhance the profitability and sustainability of New York vegetable crops. Miguel Gomez and Todd Schmit are both faculty members in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Food marketing and distribution and price analysis are among Gomez’s areas of expertise. Schmit is an expert in agribusiness management, agricultural marketing and economic development.