Officials Request Sullivan County Added to USDA Rural Tour - Invite Secretary Tom Vilsack for Personal Visit   

(Monticello) - County Manager David P Fanslau has announced that the County Legislative leadership issued a joint letter with his office to the Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), requesting that Sullivan County, New York be added to the USDA’s Rural Tour: Renewing America’s Promise.

President Barack Obama launched the Rural Tour, an effort to engage in a more robust dialog with folks living in rural America.  The USDA Rural Tour mission is in part, building a foundation for success and prosperity for the new, 21st century economy.  This will require a collective and collaborative effort amongst all stakeholders working together.

“The USDA’s Rural Tour will provide a much needed focus on Sullivan County’s uniquely situated location to provide farm fresh food and products to the New York City metropolitan area’s “food belt”.  Furthermore, providing an opportunity to link the farm to table needs of the metropolitan area will create agribusiness opportunities in Sullivan County,” said Jonathan F. Rouis, Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature.

“Our rural communities would be well-served by a Rural Tour visit by you and your staff.  In September of 2007, Sullivan County adopted a “Green Vision Statement” resolution that promotes renewable energy and farmland protection, among other initiatives,” added Legislator Kathleen M. LaBuda, Majority Leader of the County Legislature and Chair of the Planning, Environmental Management, and Real Property Committee.

Sullivan County, New York is uniquely situated to link local farm production to local consumption, and link local farm production to the supply chain of the NYC metropolitan area food belt, which would provide for farm fresh products and food security to the more than 21.2 million residents and businesses in the metropolitan region, including Connecticut and New Jersey area populations.

“We believe that a Rural Tour stop will also place a renewed spotlight on our tourism industry that capitalizes on our outdoor recreational opportunities, agribusiness opportunities, and ecosystem markets,” said Legislator Leni C. Binder, Minority Leader of the County Legislature and Chair of the Public Safety Committee. “A Rural Tour Stop in Sullivan County will strengthen the “food belt” initiatives and needs that have been highlighted by the New School and Columbia University of Manhattan,” added Binder.

Sullivan County has received notice of a recent federal EDA grant of $800,000 for the Southern Catskills “red meat processing facility” that  is expected to support the creation of more than 50 new agricultural jobs and three to five direct jobs at the plant itself.

“We have requested the personal assistance of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, U.S, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congressman Maurice Hinchey, to make a collective appeal directly to Secretary Vilsack to visit Sullivan County as part of the USDA’s Rural Tour,” said Rouis.

“We firmly believe that the USDA’s Rural Tour stop in Sullivan County will create jobs and improve the quality of life for Sullivan County residents, by placing a spotlight on our agricultural industry, and allowing our tourism industry to shine with such national attention.  We have recently reinstituted the Sullivan County Economic Development Corporation, with the Board of Directors representing government, businesses, tourism, and healthcare sectors, along with a specific representation of the County’s agricultural industry,” concluded Fanslau.

For more information, please contact Legislator Rouis, LaBuda, or Binder at (845) 807-0435, or David Fanslau at (845) 807-0450

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