EPA Launches Agriculture Smart Sectors Program in New York State to Achieve Better Environmental Outcomes
Cortland, New York – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday announced the launch of a Smart Sectors agricultural program in EPA Region 2, a partnership between the Agency and regulated sectors that is focused on achieving better environmental outcomes in partnership with key sectors of the economy in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as with eight tribal Nations in New York State.
EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez was joined today by more than 50 Southern Tier farmers, agriculture stakeholders, New York State Ag & Markets, the New York Farm Bureau and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition at a roundtable discussion in Cortland, New York. Based on EPA’s national Smart Sectors program, this approach will provide a significant opportunity for the agency to consider more forward-thinking ways to protect the environment. Prior to the roundtable, Regional Administrator Lopez toured several farms in the Cortland area to discuss environmental issues and listen to individual suggestions and comments from farmers about their views on environmental stewardship and how EPA’s actions impact their business practices.
Smart Sectors Region 2 is engaging with the agriculture sector initially, and plans to expand to other agricultural sub-sectors, such as food processing, and to manufacturing sectors in the coming year. Nationally, the Smart Sectors initiative engages with 13 sectors of the economy. For each sector, the program focuses on best practices, convening workshops to facilitate communication, raising public awareness and information sharing, and enhancing knowledge of federal environmental programs.
“Smart Sectors is a partnership program that provides a platform to collaborate with regulated sectors, such as agriculture, and develop sensible approaches that better protect the environment and human health, while also paying attention to its economic viability,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “Smart Sectors provides a great opportunity to think outside the box by encouraging collaboration between EPA and associations that represent the driving force behind the U.S. economy in order to create opportunities for environmental improvement.”
“Today’s launch builds on the success of our national Smart Sectors program,” said EPA Associate Administrator for Policy Brittany Bolen. “We’re excited to expand the program to Region 2, marking the third regional program to focus on agriculture. This program allows us to better understand the unique needs and challenges facing our sector partners, as well as facilitates improved communication between EPA and the regulated community.”
“A proactive partnership between the EPA and the farming community is a smart way to work together to safeguard the environment and build on the state’s agricultural record of environmental stewardship. New York Farm Bureau appreciates the outreach by Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez to launch the Smart Sector Program, and we look forward to working with him to find common sense initiatives that will help protect our natural resources as well as enhancing New York agriculture,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.
“The Upper Susquehanna Coalition (USC) and Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District were pleased to coordinate and host EPA and allow for an opportunity to engage with agricultural representatives as well as see our watershed first hand while touring some of our farms. We look forward to continued discussions regarding the issues that were discussed and developing long term relationships that will assist our agricultural community,” said Wendy Walsh, Watershed Coordinator, Upper Susquehanna Coalition.
A sector-based approach can provide benefits such as better long-term certainty and predictability, creative solutions based on sound data, and improved environmental policies.
Staff conduct educational site visits; host roundtables with EPA leadership; analyze data and advise about options for environmental improvement; and maintain open dialogue with trade association partners and their environmental committees.
Additionally, the program is releasing a series of interactive sector snapshots that provide historical environmental and economic data for industries participating in the program. Each snapshot is designed to help the general public, EPA, and sector partners gain a common understanding of sector performance to inform environmental improvement strategies going forward.
EPA launched the national Smart Sectors program in October 2017. This is the fourth regional program to launch, after EPA regions 1: New England, 8: Mountains and Plains, and 9: Pacific Southwest.
For more information about the sector snapshots, visit www.epa.gov/smartsectors/sector-snapshots