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LEADERS DISCUSS FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE

Price floors to help small farmers compete and more efforts to promote agriculture as a worthwhile pursuit were suggested Friday when Wyoming County community leaders discussed the future of the industry.

The breakfast and round table discussion in Howlers Lumberyard restaurant was sponsored by the Wyoming County Business Education Council and the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors Agriculture Committee.

Sharon Grugel, the council's executive director, said many careers have links to agriculture, careers ranging from accounting to warehouse managers.

"Fewer and fewer people are going to agriculture," she said during the meeting in the Village of Perry.

She said careers in the agriculture industry need to be promoted as worthwhile ventures and teachers need help from the community to get the message out about the importance of agriculture in Wyoming County.

"We keep branding agriculture careers as agriculture careers," Grugel said. "We have to stop doing that."

Doug Berwanger, board of supervisors chairman, said the county is in the process of putting together a proposed budget for 2005 that will probably include a tax levy of about $10 million. Of that, an estimated $7.8 million will go to the Department of Social Services, and an estimated $4.9 million will go to the Sheriff's Department and the jail.

Some farmers Friday countered that more money should be set aside for county roads instead of other departments. County officials said it costs $250,000 to $300,000 to renovate a mile of road.

Farmers also said price floors are needed so that small farms can stay in business with larger farms.

"We'll coexist if there is a floor under the milk price," said Bob Taylor, a Covington farmer. "We need a basic floor for all of us."

During the session, students from two Wyoming County school districts made presentations about the districts' respective agriculture programs.

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