Niagara County Agriculture

Niagara County, New York

The Census of Agriculture for 2007 recorded 865 farms in Niagara County, an increase of 8% from the 2002 Census. These farms utilized 142,636 acres of land, a decline of 4% from the last Census. Average farm size declined from 185 acres to 165 acres.  These averages utilize the Census definition of farms with $1000 in sales or greater.

Market value of ag products sold increased from $59,906,000 in 2002 to $103,644,000 in 2007. With the next Census not until 2012, Census estimates for 2008 for market value of ag products is $118,515,000. There are between 54-61 counties reporting in various categories for the following:

The county was 5th among counties in the State in value of production of fruits and berries (1st in acreage of peaches, 1st in pears, 1st in sweet cherries, 2nd in tart cherries, 5th in apples and 7th in grapes).

Niagara County is the top popcorn producer in the state!

Niagara County ranked 9th in the State in the value of production of grains, oilseeds and dry beans. Individually, the County was 8th in grain corn, 12th in wheat and 8th in soybeans.

The County was 10th in value of vegetables and 8th in nursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod.  It produced the 15th highest tonnage of hay.

Among the 61 counties with agriculture, Niagara ranks 17th in sale of all agricultural products; 6th in crops (including nursery and greenhouse).

The 2007 Census of Agriculture shows Niagara to be 8th in the state for “Value of agricultural products sold directly to individuals for human consumption”.

Types of Farming in Niagara County

Dairy

While Niagara is 30th in the State in milk production, the less than 40 herds and 8500 dairy cows in the County have one of the highest averages in production per cow per year.  21,300 pounds per cow per year translates to over 9900 quarts! Herds range in size from 25 to over 1000 cows.  Milk is shipped to  Dairylea and Upstate Milk Cooperatives.  Hoover’s Dairy in Sanborn processes glass bottled milk for their store and for home delivery.

Horses

Niagara ranks 18th among 58 counties in New York with some 1700 equines counted in a 2005 survey. These animals were valued at $12,000,000 (25th in the State). Farms featuring western, English, dressage, draft, rodeo, and trail riding can be found. For youth, a trip to the county fair, the first week in August, will give a good cross-section of interest in horses in Niagara County and some good contacts.

Farm Raised Meats

Though production practices vary, some farms are meeting customer demand for hormone-free, locally-grown, pasture-raised beef animals for meat. Retail meat producers listed at this site (natural or conventional) sometimes sell at village/city markets or take orders at the farm.  One custom meat market is listed but interest is being shown in others.

Poultry

Other than some large backyard flocks there are few of the many poultry farms that once existed in Niagara County still here although one wholesale producer still contracts egg sales with a larger operation in Western New York. This web site does list a few operations with retail eggs,chicken meat and a fresh turkeys.  If you find other retail/roadside sellers of locally-produced poultry or eggs, invite them to be listed at our site!

Fiber

On these farms you’ll find llama, alpaca, and sheep raised for their fiber. Contact them individually if you are interested in tours.

Field Crops

As indicated above, Niagara ranks high in grain and hay production. Cooperative Extension can identify a number of retailers for persons looking for large or small quantities of grain and hay. A significant quantity of hay is sold in the Southern Tier and a few cash crop growers have markets in other states.

Horticulture

In Niagara County, it’s possible to find locally grown trees and shrubs, bedding plants and other ornamentals. But the term “horticulture” also includes our many and diverse fruit and vegetable producers found in the city markets as well as with roadside stands. Niagara County is 10th in the State in vegetable production and since most of our acreage is for fresh market sale rather than processing, this is significant. Sometimes it takes searching but one can find in this website a grower who specializes in garlic and another who has over 20 kinds of basil!

Orchard & Small Fruit

New York State ranks 2nd among states in apple production and Niagara County is 5th among New York counties in this crop.  A uniqueness of New York apples is the many choices consumers have from bountiful orchards specializing in flavorful varieties for eating or baking. Get out at blossom time or in the fall. In the fall, experience the joy of picking a crispy juicy apple right from the tree. Don’t forget the other tree fruits, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries earlier in the summer. During a hot summer, nothing tastes better than a Niagara County free-stone peach from a roadside stand! Agri-tourism opportunities tie together well for some of these farms.

Woodlot, Christmas Trees

Many Christmas tree grower in Niagara County have chosen to be listed on this web site. Start a new tradition or revive an old one for your family by visiting a cut-your-own or dug tree farm. You can’t get a fresher tree than that! Beyond some of the Tuscarora Nation maple sugar-making activity and a BOCES demonstration site, Niagara County has a maple producer in the Town of Royalton and maple stands supplying producers in Orleans County.  Maple production requires a period of freeze-thaw cycles in the spring – something we don’t have as much as in the true maple-producing regions of New York. In time, if there is demand, we could list firewood producers and woodland products at this site.

Wineries

Farm and estate wineries have come on like barnstormers in the last 8 years with 12 wineries in Niagara County up and running and more in the works. Each has its uniqueness and collectively make for a nice day trip out into the country.

Specialties and Agri-tourism

Lest we leave anyone out we provide this category to recognize honey producers and others. A typical beehive produces 80 pounds of honey. Bees are responsible for pollinating one out of three foods we eat and yet they are under threat from parasites and sometimes pesticides. One beekeeper does educational presentations on bees and honey.  This group of businesses may have some of the products above but they offer wide-ranging goods and services such as cornstalks, llama rides, pumpkin villages, tours, talks and value-added foods and decorations. It’s all part of the farm experience.

For more information contact:

Cornell Cooperative Extension, Niagara County
4487 Lake Avenue
Lockport, NY 14094
Phone: 716-433-8839
Fax: 716-438-0275
e-mail: jaf21@cornell.edu