Suffolk Analysis Projects Spending Only $17.60 Per Week on Locally Grown Food Could Generate $33 Million in Economic Activity.
Suffolk County, NY - July 13, 2018 - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the launch of ChooseLI.org, a collaborative effort that seeks to raise awareness, advocate and inspire the community to support local and independent businesses on Long Island. Residents can “Take the Pledge” and commit to spending 10 percent of their weekly food budget on local and seasonal food and beverages across Suffolk County.
“Suffolk County is home to some of the most diverse and exciting agricultural and fishing selections in the entire state of New York,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “I encourage all our residents to take the pledge with me and shop local, investing in products that were grown and harvested right here in our own backyard.”
Legislator Bridget Fleming said: “Suffolk County has a long and rich history of agriculture production. As residents we are blessed to have access to such diverse and freshly harvested foods that are part of a healthy and nutritious diet. By choosing local and independent options you not only get some of the freshest options on the market, but you also support local and independent businesses. Locally owned businesses, such as farms and fisheries, are the backbone of our local economy. They are owned by, and employ, our neighbors, our families, and our friends. Always choose the local, fresh, and independent options, and always Choose Long Island.”
In addition to the County, the initiative partners include the Long Island Farm Bureau, Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, Long Island Wine Council, Peconic Land Trust, Discover Long Island, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Island Harvest, Long Island Food Council, NY Sea Grant, and NYS Agriculture and Markets. The coalition asks local residents and visitors to choose goods from local and independent farmers and fishermen to preserve Long Island’s heritage industries and cultivate a vibrant, diverse and robust economy.
The Choose LI website will include a complete mapping and inventory of all the farmstands, farmers’ markets, fish markets, vineyards, breweries, and cideries in Suffolk County for residents. Additionally, the website provides residents with information on what types of products are available during the season.
Residents are encouraged to “Take the Pledge” and commit to spending 10 percent of their weekly food budget, approximately $17.60, on local and independent food goods. The website also has a section for local Suffolk County food businesses to sign up as partners with ChooseLI, completely free of charge. Businesses can consider creating promotional specials using the #1760 and #ChooseLI hashtags to help pledgees meet their weekly commitments. Eleven local food businesses, including HOG Farm, Haskell’s Seafood, OurHarvest.com, Milk Pail Fresh Market, Southold Bay Osyters, Lenny Bruno Farms, Three Village Farmers Market, Sacred Gardens, Jamesport Farm Brewery, Gabrielsen's Country Plant Farm and North Fork Chocolate Company, have already joined.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Yorkers spend approximately $176 a week on food. An analysis done by Suffolk County’s Department of Economic Development and Planning states that if just 10 percent of the over 450,000 household located in Suffolk County commits to spending 10 percent of their weekly food budget on local food and beverages over a typical harvest season for Suffolk County, that spending would add an estimated $19 million into the Suffolk County economy. This $19 million in direct spending would create $33 million in total economic activity and create nearly 1,000 local jobs.
Suffolk County’s rich agricultural and fishing heritage helps sustain the County’s economic growth by generating tourism dollars, supporting local restaurants and service industries, and providing fresh produce for residents. Suffolk County has 39,000 acres of farmland, 36,000 of which are actively farmed, and 20,000 of which are permanently preserved through County, Town, and private land preservation programs. Suffolk County is home to over 600 farms, which employ more than 5,000 people. The County’s fisheries contribute to Long Island’s $5.5 billion tourism industry with ocean-related businesses generating over $1 billion in goods and services for the County and employing nearly 32,000 people. Currently, there are over 700 Suffolk County commercial fishing establishments, which are responsible for over $35 million in direct revenues, creating nearly $92 million in economic activity and over 1,600 jobs. The County has approximately 60 vineyards and tasting rooms, 34 craft breweries, 2 cideries, and 4 distilleries.
Kristen Jarnagin, President & CEO, Discover Long Island said: “Culinary and agricultural focused travel is one of our industries largest growing segments and lend to the $5.6 billion industry and critical tax revenues generated by tourism here on Long Island. These farmers and fisheries are our neighbors and we encourage all residents to join us in taking this pledge which ultimately will positively benefit the region as a whole.”
John v.H. Halsey, President, Peconic Land Trust said: “Long Islanders are fortunate to have a diverse agricultural community that grows healthy and delicious food. By supporting our local growers and fisheries, we make our communities and agriculture stronger.”
Randi Shubin Dresner, President, and CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank said: “We commend Suffolk County Executive Bellone’s efforts to encourage residents to spend 10 percent of their weekly food budget on locally grown, and seasonal food goods across the county. The initiative, which is expected to create nearly 1,000 local jobs will have a positive impact on the region, which, in turn, may help many Long Islanders transition from uncertainty to stability, thus ensuring that this important project can be part of the solution to help end hunger on LI.”
Michael Tucker, President, Long Island Food Council said: "The Long Island Food Council is excited to partner with Choice LI initiative to foster local buying. This is an important program that will help local Food & Beverage companies grow."
Anthony Sannino, President of the Long Island Wine Council said: “We sincerely appreciate this important initiative of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. Our region’s wines are always the perfect accompaniments to the wide range of great local foods harvested in – or in the waters off of -- Suffolk County.”
Bonnie Brady, Executive Director, Long Island Commercial Fishing Association said: “We at the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association are all hands on deck to ‘Take the Pledge’ alongside County Executive Bellone and Choose LI fish. Our local fish doesn’t get any fresher than the species landed on Long Island, where 99 percent of NY’s catch is brought to port. We look forward to educating consumers toward healthy, wholesome and delicious future meals.”
Vito Minei, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension- Suffolk County said: “Cornell Cooperative Extension is enthusiastically supportive of County Executive Bellone’s effort to once again provide an initiative to promote our local farms, vineyards and commercial fishing operations . We hope that local residents and visitors recognize that by spending a modest amount of their overall food budget represents important support for the agricultural and fishing businesses that add so much to our quality of life.”