McMahon's E-Z Acres progressive farming practices stand out for environmental stewardship, noted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday. "I congratulate the McMahon Family and the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District for receiving the Agricultural Environmental Management award. These types of forward- thinking solutions are helping to not only ensure agricultural sustainability, but also increase economic opportunity."
"The protection and conservation of our soil and water is increasingly important to farms across the state," added the governor. "I applaud the ongoing efforts to ensure they are being good stewards of the environment."
And N.Y. Ag Commissioner Richard A. Ball noted, "The McMahons have made good environmental and animal care practices a top priority for their farm. We congratulate them on their commitment to agricultural sustainability.
"Their environmentally conscious practices, with critical support from Cortland County SWCD, are a model for other farms. They are good partners to the community. We wish them continued success going forward."
McMahon's E-Z Acres Farm was recognized, along with the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District during Wednesday's New York Ag Leadership Luncheon at the Empire Farm Days near Seneca Falls. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Empire State Potato Growers and American Agriculturist magazine presented the award to E-Z Acres Farm for its environmental ethics, progressive production practices and community service work.
"We're humbled to receive this esteemed award," said Michael McMahon co-owner and partner of the farm. "At McMahon's E-Z Acres, it's about doing things right and not about doing it for the awards. Like many in our business, we believe if we take care of the environment, the environment will take care of us."
The family, led by brothers Michael and Peter McMahon, operates a 680-cow dairy farm on 2,500 acres of land in the Skaneateles Lake watershed near Homer, N.Y. They raise corn, alfalfa and grass hay crops. As early adopters of the principles of agricultural environmental management, E-Z Acres farm has implemented several conservation practices that have also increased productivity.
The farm has replaced the traditional alfalfa-corn silage rotation with intensive grasses, which enhances soil conservation while also benefitting dairy herd health. With E-Z Acres' land resting over Cortland County's sole-source aquifer, the McMahons are also dedicated to quarterly monitoring of the water quality through stream and well testing.
The farm uses a monitoring system and liner for the farm's three million gallon manure storage, cover cropping of corn silage fields annually, and precision feed management to protect soil health. The farm has also taken energy efficiency measures by replacing lighting with energy efficient fixtures.
The McMahons were the first animal welfare-approved farm in New York, and have been leaders in the community representing the farm and the agriculture industry's interests. E-Z Acres hosts several annual community events, including an annual farm field day for Cortland County fifth graders and a Cornell University farm management class. They also partner with the Syracuse Rotary Club to provide farm tours for low-income families.
The farm has worked closely with the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District, which provides technical assistance. District Manager Amanda Barber, said, "We are fortunate to have a population of farms and agricultural producers who by and large have embraced environmental stewardship as a way of doing business. Innovative, informed and proactive farms like McMahon's EZ Acres have helped make both district conservation programs and agricultural environmental management successful in Cortland County."
E-Z Acres received several other honors over the years, including Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District's Farmers Partnering to Protect the Environment acknowledgement in 2007 and Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program's Environmental Steward of the Year award in 2013. For more about the farm's best management practices, click on E-Z Acres.
New York's agricultural environmental management framework is a model for the nation as a voluntary, incentive-based approach to protect natural resources and meet the economic needs of the agricultural community.