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Schumer wants Port of Oswego to receive USDA designation

Gino Geruntino
Sen. Charles Schumer says he wants the Port of Oswego to earn a designation that will allow it to export grain. SUNY Oswego is expected to help the port get that necessary designation.

About 10 million bushels of grain come through the Port of Oswego each year, but the port cannot export that grain to other countries by ship because it doesn't have the necessary designation from the USDA.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says he is going to try to change that. Schumer says he believes the port could qualify for the USDA designation, with some help from SUNY Oswego.

"The Port of Oswego and SUNY Oswego have come together, because actually SUNY Oswego has the tools, talent and technology to conduct the required weighing and inspections," Schumer said. "The Port of Oswego has the need. And to boot, it would give the students who are learning here real practical hands on experience."

SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley said the college is always looking for ways to promote the local economy.

"SUNY Oswego has always been a partner with economic development and in partnering with businesses, especially like Perdue, that has been such a great partner to us just to think through some of these issues," Stanley said.

She noted that the college also strives to provide its students with more hands-on learning opportunities.

"We're really involved with students learning through experiential-based operations," Stanley explained. "They can actually work on testing and becoming part of it. We have experts in our faculty who care about the region and care about their students. We have wonderful facilities."

Companies like Perdue AgriBusiness currently have to ship grains by rail down to Virginia for export to other markets. Schumer, who visited one of the lab rooms in the Shineman Center at the SUNY Oswego campus, says by allowing Perdue and other companies to export grains from Oswego, the port and the companies it works with could expand even further.

"Three words -- jobs, jobs, jobs," Schumer explained. "And instead of shipping goods and jobs down to Virginia, Perdue could create jobs here in New York and they want to. It's not, we're begging them. They want to. It makes economic sense."

Dennis Lard, with Perdue AgriBusiness agreed. He says by allowing the port to send grain shipments out, Perdue can keep more money local, too.

"This would be kind of an economic boom for the area," Lard said. "And it certainly will allow Perdue and other folks, other competitors, to export grain directly out of New York to Indonesia, Vietnam, that type of thing."

Schumer says the designation could lead to hundreds of direct and indirect jobs throughout the area.