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New agriculture complex coming to Erie County Fair

Erie County Fair

With less than two weeks before the start of the Erie County Fair, construction workers yesterday were swarming across the new Agriculture Discovery Center.

The $8 million complex replaces three aging cow barns located near the grandstand.

Cows and generations of farm families won't recognize the new space with housing for 250 cows. In keeping with today's farming, the facility has 136 overhead power drops and Wi-Fi. 

There is also a display area providing everything from places to watch cows being milked by robots to a combine simulator giving people a chance to see what it's like to roll a combine harvester through a corn field.

Fair CEO and Manager Dennis Lang says agriculture remains a major industry in Western New York.

"There is a dairy farm ten miles from here, using robotic milkers that are milking approximately 5,000 cows a day," Land said. "So, if people that don't see agriculture here, it's kind of their fault."

Fair Agriculture Manager Jessica Underberg says this is like Disney World for farm families, a chance to show off their animals as she did as a farm kid and as her children are doing this week with their animals at the Chautauqua County Fair.

She notes how technology is changing the experienced. Computer tags help monitor everything from milk production to herd health. Farmers can now be notified of problems on their iPhones.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.