New York State today congratulated Whey Street Dairy, located in Cuyler, Cortland County, as the recipient of the 2019 State Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Award. Each year, the award honors a New York State farm and a nominating Soil and Water Conservation District for their collective efforts to protect the environment through the preservation of soil and water quality and to ensure farm viability for generations to follow. Whey Street Dairy, owned and operated by the Young family, received this year’s award for decades of dedication and community leadership in conservation. The Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District nominated the farm for the award and has provided assistance with conservation efforts at Whey Street Dairy.
Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Congratulations to the Young family, Whey Street Dairy and the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District for this award, which recognizes the hard work they have put into protecting the land and water. Whey Street Dairy has been implementing best management practices to protect the environment for decades. They have willingly shared with their neighbors what they have learned and hosted workshops and events to help other farmers improve their soil and water management practices as well.”
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Empire State Potato Growers, and the American Agriculturist Magazine presented the award to the Young family for implementing conservation best management practices that benefit the environment and protect the community. The award was presented at the annual Empire Farm Days event in Seneca Falls.
Marty Young, Co-Owner of Whey Street Dairy, said, “My wife Mary Ann, along with our family and staff, are pleased to be selected as the 2019 New York State AEM Award winner. It is humbling to look at the long list of innovative farm families that have received this award during the past two decades, and we are honored to join the list. We strive to implement the best practices that will lead to healthy soils, productive farms and clean water, and we thank the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District, which is instrumental in the implementation of conservation practices that have improved our farm. The challenge for us as individuals, agriculture, and society, is to continue to deepen our understanding of the science of crops, animals, and soils and to respond in thoughtful innovative ways to develop resilient solutions that help us provide affordable, healthy food for our people.”
Whey Street Dairy, owned by Martin and Mary Ann Young, was nominated by the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District. The farm sells milk to Dairy Farmers of America, which delivers to Hood, Chobani, Fage, and Leprino, where the milk is turned into yogurt and cheese.
The fourth-generation farm has been run by the Young family for 60 years. Marty and Mary Ann have farmed for 39 years. They have been pioneering conservation practices since the 1990s, initially by participating in Cortland county Farm *A* Syst, which was a precursor to the State’s AEM program.
The Youngs have 680 dairy cows and were early adopters of soil erosion control and riparian buffer practices. They have implemented nutrient management and conservation tillage practices, cover crops, diversions, roof water control, and installation of both forest and riparian buffers, silage leachate control, water retention measures, and petroleum spill prevention.
These practices have improved soil health and nutrient efficiency, while reducing erosion and nutrient runoff on their 1,800-acre farm to protect land and water along the Tioughnioga River. The river is part of the Upper Susquehanna River watershed, which ultimately feeds into Chesapeake Bay.
Martin Young is a leader on conservation stewardship, speaking at conferences and sharing knowledge with fellow farmers. The Youngs have hosted workshops, tours, and many on-farm events to pass on what they have learned to the local officials, neighbors, the community, and other farmers.
The Conservation District spearheads several outreach and education efforts for the agricultural and non-farm community. The District sponsored a Conservation Resource Fair in 2018 and held a Fresh Opportunities in Agriculture event this year, highlighting new programs and practices to assist with farm viability and environmental protection. The Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District recently created Fresh Connections, an initiative to promote urban agriculture and conservation. The District also offers farmers assistance with environmental planning and implementation through multiple local and state programs.
Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Amanda Barber said, “Marty drives the conversation for conservation on his farm and sets an example in our region. The Youngs are motivated by their own ideals to manage their farm in an environmentally sensitive manner. They have been dedicated and committed leaders.”
In addition to their work with the Soil and Water Conservation District, the Youngs have worked closely with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, which helped establish Whey Street as a business in the eyes of the non-farming public.
State Soil and Water Conservation District Chair Dale Stein said, “AEM awards recognize our farmers for something they’re known for across the United States – their land stewardship. Our Soil and Water Districts take great pride in helping New York State farmers earn a national reputation for caring for the environment, while those farmers produce some of the best food and beverages around. The Young family has worked for decades to find countless ways to make their farm sustainable and environmentally friendly. They have also proven themselves community leaders by sharing what they know, hosting forums, workshops, and tours at Whey Street Dairy, which produces milk for some of the best-known names in yogurt and cheese. I congratulate the Young family, Whey Street Dairy and the Cortland County Soil and Water for earning this award by working hard to care for the land and water on this dairy farm and for helping others learn about and implement best management practices, as well.”
Two additional farms were nominated by their Districts for notable commitment to proactive environmental stewardship on their farms. They include:
- Barbland Dairy, Fabius, NY, owned by Chip Engst, Luke Huysman, and Brett Bossard. The 2,600-acre-farm was nominated by the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District. Barbland hosts crops, as well as a 1,700-cow milking herd, while exceeding requirements for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) compliance with manure storage plus injection, cover cropping, rotational grazing and buffers.
- Milk Pail, Water Mill, NY, managed by 12th-generation farmer, Jennifer Halsey Dupree. The Long Island Sound farm was nominated by the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District. Milk Pail is home to 26 apple varieties, 1,200 peach trees, and vegetable crops. The farm works to protect ground water and soil with testing, crop rotation, cover crops, reduced tillage, irrigation, and pollinator habitat development.
The annual Agricultural Environmental Management Award is jointly sponsored by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, American Agriculturalist Magazine and the Empire State Potato Growers. Award winners are chosen from nominees submitted by County Soil and Water Conservation Districts from around the state. The first Agricultural Environmental Management Award was presented in 2002; prior to that, the award was known as the Agricultural Stewardship Award.
New York State’s agricultural environmental management framework is a model for the nation as a voluntary, incentive-based approach to protect natural resources and meet the economic needs of the agricultural community.