Agriculture is a substantial aspect of Schuyler County’s economy.

Roughly $100,000,000 in economic activity is directly related to agriculture.  The three main lines of business in this sector are farms (i.e., dairy, crop, hay), forestry and vineyards.  This is a sector of the economy that continues to grow.  As consumer preference for locally grown products from small family farms increases, the demand for products produced in Schuyler County increases as well.  Farming activity in Schuyler County is diverse and ranges from forest grown shiitake mushroom to beef raised in the national forest to raising goats to orchards.  In addition, agri-tourism is a growing industry with people coming to visit and experience life on the farm.

SCOPED is working to foster the agriculture cluster by creating linkages between farming and other key clusters (tourism and fermentation).  We are also working to provide support to the larger agricultural cluster by supporting businesses that support the agricultural sector (suppliers, farm good customers, etc.).

Food Systems & Development Finance White Paper

Schuyler County Agriculture Diversification Initiative

As defined by the U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA), an economic cluster is a “geographic concentration of interconnected industries and supportive organizations that make regions uniquely competitive for jobs and private investment.” Put more simply, it is a concentration of related industries in a particular location.  Clusters are comprised of manufacturers, their suppliers, support providers, academic / research institutions and other key players.

Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) in conjunction with Antithesis Foods, Cornell Cooperative Extension Schuyler County, Cornell University, Ithaca Hummus, Kreher Family Farms and Carl Taber, exercising entrepreneurial initiative, have planted a three-acre Kabuli chickpea test plot for harvest in fall of 2020. The test includes cultivation with three varieties of Kabuli chick peas namely, Orion, Frontier, and Leader.


The demand for chickpeas continues to increase nationally and the opportunity to explore shortening the supply chain by engaging our Schuyler County farmers to grow chickpeas, solidified the opportunity. Antithesis Foods and Ithaca Hummus continue to expand their product offerings due to rising consumer demand. The potential of providing a “Grown in NY” option will have long term benefits for all involved. Following the fall harvest, the crop will be dried locally and tested by the participating companies for viability. Positive results may lead to larger crop commitments in 2021, reduction in transportation costs, and diversification of field crops in New York State while taking full advantage of the agricultural economic cluster in the heart of the Finger Lakes.

Google Chick Pea Test Plot

The Rural Initiative Reinvestment Fund

New York’s Southern Tier has the opportunity to grow and diversify its agricultural industry in a variety of ways ranging from implementation of new technology to extending the growing season, promotion of regional products, creation of value-added products to support for renewable energy, enhancing other regional industries such as agri-tourism and more.  In addition, there are numerous resources available to support this initiative, including the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with its nationally recognized research and technology, effective relationships with farm cooperatives and marketing associations, and Cornell Cooperative Extension.  And there is the national movement to consume locally made products and fresh foods that is providing a new and powerful driver for growing our value-added regional agricultural sector.

Loans made through the Rural InitiativeRe-Investment Fund  will accelerate diversification, new product development, efficiency improvements through application of modern technology and more.  Access to such capital will allow the farmers to leverage other sources of funding for capital investment and reduce the risk for traditional financing sources.

Program Description

The Rural Initiative Re-Investment Fund is a regional loan program designed to reduce financial risk and increase sustainability of agriculture and forestry ventures through:

  • Product development and promotion.
  • Business infrastructure development.
  • Utilization of new technology.
  • New farm start-ups and transfers to the next generation of farmers.

The Rural Initiative Re-Investment Fund will provide start-up and expansion capital through a low-interest loan. Examples of projects to be funded include:

  • Processing facilities for value-added agricultural products including facilities that could accommodate multiple producers such as commercial kitchens and mobile USDA certified meat processing facility.
  • Regional farmer’s markets.
  • Regional marketing initiatives, including wholesale markets and distribution businesses.
  • New farm start-ups and transfers to the next generation of farmers.
  • Investment in new technologies.
  • Renewable energy including biomass production and processing.
  • Production of sustainably certified forest products.

Application: STREDC Rural Initiative Reinvestment Fund Guidelines3.0 

Census of Agriculture

The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land – whether rural or urban – growing fruit, vegetables or some food animals count if $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year. The Census of Agriculture, taken only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. For America’s farmers and ranchers, the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity.


For more information visit:


Check out Schuyler County’s 2017 Census of Agriculture

2017 Census of Agriculture