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Schoharie, NY — Situated between the beautiful Catskill Mountains and bustling Albany-Schenectady metro area, Schoharie County is home to 32 towns, villages and hamlets containing 33,000 New Yorkers. The county, dating back to 1795, is a rich agricultural community that produces everything from fruits and veggies to dairy and livestock to maple and honey.

And when one of the County’s new agricultural businesses required more robust infrastructure connections, county and state officials looked to freight rail. Pennsylvania-based Hoober Feeds, a feeds and services provider in animal agriculture since 1937, opened its second location in Central Bridge, NY in 2017.

In early 2018, local officials announced a state grant to install a rail siding along Norfolk Southern’s line in Central Bridge that will enable Hoober Feeds to receive ingredients more efficiently. Increased rail usage will also take heavy trucks off of I-88 and local roads.

“Modern, functional infrastructure is key to ensuring our businesses can compete and grow,” said Senator James L. Seward in a press release about the grant.

“This $200,000 grant will pay immediate dividends by boosting employment at Hoober Feeds and will create additional expansion opportunities at other Schoharie County businesses. This project has the added bonus of enhancing two heritage industries—agriculture and freight rail—that have meant so much to our region.”

Access to the freight rail network was one of the reasons Hoober Feeds decided to locate itself in Schoharie—and the county is very pleased, says Earl VanWormer, Esperance town supervisor and chairman of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors.

“We all realize the importance of rail in helping businesses such as Hoober Feeds locate to an area and keep growing,” says VanWormer.

In addition to its direct connections to three Class I railroads – Norfolk Southern, CP and CSX – the region (and its businesses) can access markets near and far using the 140,000-mile freight rail network.

The nationwide rail network, believe it or not, hauls about 40% of intercity freight and one-third of U.S. exports. So, when privately owned railroads spend massive amounts on their infrastructure and operations, about $25 billion annually over the last several years, they improve efficiency, productivity, safety, and the bottom line for U.S. businesses like Schoharie’s Hoober Feeds.

Chairman VanWormer believes that by looking to freight rail, Schoharie County is setting an example for rural America.

“When the siding opens, it will be an avenue for expansion in Schoharie County, attracting businesses and propelling the local economy.”