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agriculture

Georgia company breaks ground on $16 million egg hatchery on Route 3

in Local News 249 views

WATERTOWN — A Georgia company is making the biggest investment in its 60-year history with a $16 million egg hatchery in the agribusiness park on Route 3.

The company, CWT Farms International, broke ground Wednesday morning on a 50,000-square-foot hatchery in the Thousand Islands International Agriculture and Business Park that will produce 800,000 chicks a week.

The developer, economic developers and Jefferson County and town of Watertown officials came together to celebrate the start of the project and the agriculture industry in the north country.

“This marks an important milestone,” said Stephen M. Hunt, regional director for Empire State Development.

Jeffrey Lee Pierce, CWT’s vice president of marketing and strategic alliances, credited the company’s partnership with those entities to bring the project to Jefferson County.

With difficulty getting construction materials and having to make changes in the project, Mr. Pierce said they worked together to overcome those issues and make the hatchery happen.

“It’s the biggest investment in our company’s history, biggest single investment,” Mr. Pierce said.

He said CWT Farms decided it made better financial sense to immediately go forward with an expansion of 28,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet, and 400,000 eggs to 800,000.

The plant is slated to be in operation in early spring. The company will employ 20 full-time workers.

“They’re good jobs,” Mr. Pierce said, adding that workers will receive “good, fair health benefits and retirement.”

Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay M. Matteson said the hatchery will strengthen the north country’s agricultural industry.

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Economist says agriculture has been ‘resilient’ through pandemic

in Enviroment 169 views

WATERTOWN — Agriculture’s output in much of the north country went up by roughly 12% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to an agriculture economist and Cornell University associate professor who gave a presentation to farmers on Friday.

Professor Todd M. Schmit said he’s still trying to wrap his head around the increase from 2019 to 2020 in the agriculture economy in Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Oswego and Lewis counties. Mr. Schmit gave a presentation to a group of farmers at the Hilton Garden Inn on the economic contributions of agriculture to the Northern New York economy.

Toward the end of the presentation, he said the output of agriculture in the four counties went up 12% in 2020 compared to 2019. Jobs went up 2%, and labor income went up about 38%. While other industries saw significant decreases across the board, agriculture thrived, according to Mr. Schmit.

“Agriculture was resilient in the economy and facing these structural changes,” Mr. Schmit said. “I found that fascinating.”

These increases might shock many, and farmers in the room listening to the professor almost paused before accepting that conclusion. There might be more context to these numbers, they said, like how some of the increase is likely due to relief payments or subsidies for lost milk in 2020.

“I think the story is not written yet,” said Doug Shelmidine, a farmer in Belleville. “I think you have to wait for them to do the final analysis, but generally, agriculture fared better through 2020 than anybody expected it to.”

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