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Corn Close to Becoming Official State Vegetable

11:00 AM, Jun 23, 2011   |    comments
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ALBANY -- Corn won a huge victory Tuesday as the state Senate overwhelmingly passed making it the official state vegetable.

It's not the hottest topic at the Capitol as lawmakers debate adopting a property-tax cap and legalizing same-sex marriage, but for farmers it's an important one to help recognize the importance of agriculture in the state.

"It's certainly not the most pressing issue in Albany, but it is an important issue for us. It gets one step closer to giving vegetables the props they are due," said Peter Gregg, spokesman for the state Farm Bureau.

The debate over whether to make corn or the onion the state vegetable has been simmering for months. But polls showed significant support to make it corn.

And even Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, conceded defeat over his efforts to make the onion the state vegetable, voting instead for corn. He represents the Black Dirt region in Orange County where onions are grown.

"The importance of this legislation is not whether we have sweet corn or onion or any other vegetable, but it is important that we do recognize and have a state vegetable for New York," Carlucci said on the Senate floor. "Agriculture is the leading industry in the state of New York."

Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, Seneca County, has long sponsored making corn the state vegetable. Sweet corn is the lead fresh-produce vegetable sold in the state, Nozzolio has argued, and he has worked with students from the Port Byron, Cayuga County, school district, who developed the idea.

But the bill may be wilting in the Democratic-led Assembly. It is sponsored by Assembly Republicans and hasn't moved out of the Assembly Governmental Operations Committee since April 1.

A NY1/YNN-Marist Poll in April found that 71% of New Yorkers want corn as the state vegetable and just 25% voted for the onion.

Corn isn't the only state symbol making its way through the Legislature. On Tuesday, the GOP-led Senate passed making the Herkimer Diamond the official state mineral.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, Otsego County, aims to recognize the distinctive quartz crystals from the Mohawk Valley.

"Formed almost 500 million years ago and known worldwide, the Herkimer Diamond deserves to be properly recognized across New York," Seward said.

It too has been sent to the Assembly for approval.

Joseph Spector/Gannett Albany Bureau

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