Commissioner Richard A. Ball today delivered the annual State of Agriculture Address at the 189th Annual New York State Agricultural Society Forum. The Forum, which is traditionally the oldest and largest meeting of its kind in the State, took place virtually on January 7, 2021.
The Commissioner spoke about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on New York State agriculture and the State’s efforts to keep its food supply chain open and operating safely during the crisis. He provided a look back at the challenges of 2020 and reflected on the lessons learned.
Commissioner Ball said, “There is always a silver lining to every situation, no matter how hard, no matter how trying. We can build good things anywhere, under any circumstance. For me, if there is a positive outcome to have come from this year, it is this: we are seeing a new, deep appreciation for agriculture and our food system.”
Commissioner Ball also highlighted the Department’s work alongside its many partners to bring critical personal protective equipment to farmers and agribusinesses, provide COVID-19 testing to farm workers, create important guidance documents for grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and more, and implement the Nourish NY program. He spoke about the Department’s many initiatives to maintain its essential functions to protect public health and the food supply, ensure animal and plant health, protect consumers and businesses, and promote New York’s farmers and agricultural products.
In addition, Commissioner Ball provided a look forward to the Department’s focus areas in 2021, including the Produce Traceability Task Force, the Diversity and Racial Equity Workgroup, efforts to combat climate change, and more.
A recording of the speech is available here.
The NYS Agricultural Society Forum brought together representatives from all sectors of the agricultural industry to discuss topics that are crucial to the future of New York agriculture. This year’s forum focused on building a resilient food system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum also recognized and honored the contributions of industry stakeholders in eight award categories.