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Listening tour for farmers in Riverhead

To better understand the problems of farmers across New York, State Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) will be in Riverhead Town Hall at 1 p.m. Thursday, meeting with local farmers to get their views on how the state can better help them in their businesses.

It is the third forum she has held, with the first two in the western and northern parts of the state.

“The perspective is different,” Ritchie spokesman Jim Reagen said. “Long Island farmers have different needs. ... In northern New York, they don’t have the development pressure Long Island has.”

In terms of the value of crops produced, Suffolk County is the No. 1 agricultural county in the state, officials from the Long Island Farm Bureau have said. That reflects the intense use of land, with greenhouses and vineyards creating far more wealth per acre than the vast stretches of wheat or corn found in northern or western New York.

Ritchie said she believes the state’s farm economy is strong but she is interested in ideas about how to cut back on red tape or help farmers break into new markets.

She said that she hopes to include some of the farmers’ views in bills that would be introduced when the legislature goes back into session next year.

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