The Hudson Valley is home to some of America’s most productive, yet most endangered, farmland. Blessed with good soils and a long growing season, Hudson Valley farms produce a bounty of farm products for urban markets in the Northeast. Yet American Farmland Trust’s 1997 Farming on the Edge study ranked the Hudson Valley the 10th most threatened agricultural region in the country. Many factors have contributed to a steady decline in the region’s agriculture, including relentless development pressure, unpredictable weather and low prices for milk, apples and other farm goods. The challenges to Hudson Valley farmers are great, and some people worry that farming may even disappear from the region during our lifetimes.
However, such dire predictions don’t take into account the great resiliency of many Hudson Valley farmers. Hudson Valley agriculture is seriously threatened, but it is also changing in the face of adversity. Many innovative Hudson Valley producers are taking matters into their own hands by adopting creative farm survival strategies. Some producers utilize farm stands, farmers’ markets, community-supported-agriculture and direct delivery to reach their con-sumers. Other agricultural enterprises have diversified to increase their income. Agriculture must adapt in order to survive, and the good news is that many Hudson Valley farm operators are doing just that.
This study utilized a qualitative methodology, building on existing data to understand key trends in regional agriculture. The study also relied on over 100 individual interviews with farmers, agribusiness owners and others involved in the region’s agricultural industry. Not limited to presenting merely an analysis of data, the study also presents workable recommendations to strengthen Hudson Valley agriculture.