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Wyoming County unveils 2018 Chamber of Commerce winners

“I just wanted to tell you how overjoyed I am to be back in Wyoming County,” said Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul. “You have always been so kind and so generous and you’ve opened up your hearts and your homes and your businesses…” “And so you ...

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NORTH JAVA — Though local farmers continue to struggle in the face of an adverse economy, trudging out to the barn in the early morning hours no matter sleet nor rain nor snow nor falling milk prices, they smiled Saturday night – the Pride of Wyoming County Agriculture Dinner is always a cause for celebration, and this weekend’s event proved no exceptionLocal representatives had one resounding message for the more than 300 attendees: We stand with you“I just wanted to tell you how overjoyed I am to be back in Wyoming County,” said Lieutenant GovKathy Hochul“You have always been so kind and so generous and you’ve opened up your hearts and your homes and your businesses…”“And so you need to know how much we value your many, many contributions to our economy, to creating jobs, but also those of you who do work on farms, just keeping the legacy of many of your families alive,” she continued“Because I can’t tell you how many farms I’ve been to where it’s generational and there’s a deep, deep pride to want to pass it on to the next generationThat is what makes these communities so vibrant and so important, and I want to do whatever I can to continue that.”Seated at tables artfully topped with glass bowls full of Upstate milk cartons on ice, an array of small, stress-relieving foam cows and a carefully positioned bag of NY Chips at each and every place mat, the many attendees sat and joked among friends and strangers alikeEveryone here is our neighbor, some said, yes, even if you live two towns awayAnd so they laughed and smiled and were merry together, clinking together bottles of beer and glasses of milk punch and breaking bread, glad, they said, to share a meal among friends, especially one catered by the Genesee Falls town supervisor, Mike Vasile, and his devoted staff“I was just down in Genesee County at their chamber (awards dinner) and they had about a third of the people that are here,” laughed RepChris Collins, R-Clarence“Congrats on this great turnout! I know we’re celebrating ag here — if I could make my wish, it’d be that dairy prices would go upI think that’s our wish for 2018, we’ve got to get our prices up a bit, but what a year this has been.” He spoke of the leaps and bounds the economy made in 2017, of low unemployment rates and of a booming stock market, but said he empathized with the plight farmers continue to face, and that he is working on legislation to combat their economic demise“We’ve got to talk care of our dairy farmers and the workers that we know right now are kind of stressed and pretty much aren’t leaving the farms,” Collins saidAnd Scott Gardner, president and CEO of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, acknowledged the dire situation, too“In years past I’ve spoken about shared legacies, family and stewardship,” Gardner said “While no one here needs to be reminded of the difficulties that exist today within the industry, it’s important to recognize the reality of the effect on Wyoming CountyWe’re very aware of the tough times many of you are facing and the trickledown effect on the economy to places especially like our county, which truly relies so much on the agriculture industryThe shared pain is felt by many, the impact is real and the effect on families is especially hard.”But still the attendees’ smiles did not waver, and they broke out in raucous, congratulatory applause when the night’s awardees were finally unveiled — “I love the drama, this is like the Oscars waiting to see who the award winners are,” Hochul saidWill and Louise Herrick received the 2018 Wyoming County Friends of Agriculture award, and were honored for their commitment to helping youth explore opportunities for the future in agriculture“Will and Louise have been active in Wyoming County 4-H for many years,” said Lyman Rudgers, vice president of the Wyoming County Farm Bureau“They’ve coached just about everything from Dairy Bowl to Junior Holstein Club and they’ve been doing the dairy princess thing for many years now (Their daughter, Danielle, donned her sash and tiara to pass out punch earlier in the evening)Frankly, you managed to get my brothers through Dairy Bowl so that’s a testament in itself.” Pete and Kristy Broughton of Broughton Diversified Farming were honored as the 2018 Wyoming County Good Neighbors “Pete and Kristy Broughton are generous neighbors in Wyoming County,” said Joan Petzen, Agriculture Department Program Leader at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County“Pete and Kristy give of their time and talents in many leadership roles.  They can also be depended upon when disaster strikes in their neighborhood to lend a helping hand.” From serving as president of the Letchworth Central School Board to leaders of a local 4-H club, and raising custom heifers, the Broughton’s willingly reach out when neighbors are in need, Petzen saidEver humble, the Broughtons could only say ‘thank you’ to those who had given them the awardAnd at the end of the night, everyone else said ‘thank you,’ too – for the food, friendship and funThey then bid their farewells and headed back out into the darkness, for many, the next day’s farm chores soon to be calling“Ultimately it’s about resilience and the ability to weather the storm,” Gardner said“I still believe that farmers are the most hopeful people that I knowYou focus on the what can I do, not the what can’t I do, because you believe in a brighter future. var forkkeys = document.querySelectorAll('.forkkey'); 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