Cortland County farm gets state environmental award

SENECA FALLS, N.Y. –McMahon's EZ Acres farm in Homer took home the 2015 New York State Agricultural Environmental Management Award during a ceremony Wednesday at the Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls.

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The honor is considered the state's top environmental award for farmers, recognizing efforts to protect soil and water quality.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Empire State Potato Growers, and the American Agriculturist Magazine presented the award to EZ Acres Farm "for its environmental ethics, progressive production practices, and community service work," the governor's office said in a press release.

The McMahon family operates a 680-cow dairy farm on 2,500 acres of land in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed in Homer. They also raise corn, alfalfa and grass hay crops.

EZ Acres

The McMahon family at the Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls, N.Y. (photo courtesy of the Empire Farm Days Facebook page)

The farm has received several honors over the years, including the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program’s "Environmental Steward of the Year" award in 2013 and the  Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District's "Farmers Partnering to Protect the Environment" acknowledgement in 2007.

Michael McMahon, owner and partner of McMahon’s EZ Acres, said he was humbled to receive the award.

"At McMahon’s EZ Acres, it’s about doing things right and not about doing it for the awards," McMahon said. "Like many in our business, we believe if we take care of the environment, the environment will take care of us.”

EZ Acres also 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.

State officials praised the farm's environmental efforts in a press release sent out Wednesday:

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. In addition, 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 throughout the farm.

"The protection and conservation of our soil and water is increasingly important to farms across the state and I applaud the ongoing efforts to ensure they are being good stewards of the environment," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “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."

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