Commissioner Richard A. Ball on January 6 delivered the State of Agriculture Address at the 190th 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 at the OnCenter in Syracuse, New York.
In keeping with this year’s Forum theme of “Growing a Greener Planet,” the Commissioner spoke about the many actions that New York State’s agricultural industry is taking to mitigate the effects of climate change, including through the Climate Action Council’s Agricultural and Forestry Advisory Panel, the Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program, and more. He also addressed the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on New York State agriculture and the State’s efforts to ensure a strengthened food supply chain through several programs and initiatives, such as the Nourish New York program, the Restaurant Resiliency Program, and the Food Supply Resiliency Report. He provided a look back at the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2021 and reflected on the lessons learned that will move New York agriculture forward.
Commissioner Ball said, “We in this room are uniquely positioned to come together and effect positive change at a scale that few people can imagine. We have in this room the mindset, the sense of purpose, and sense of urgency, and the will to ensure that agriculture remains viable here in New York for this generation and for those to come. Ours is a noble profession, our cause is still correct. I like our chances and I look forward to working with you to build on our hard-won successes, and to develop new opportunities for agriculture in New York in 2022 and beyond.”
In his address, Commissioner Ball also highlighted the many groundbreaking initiatives focused on agriculture that were presented during Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State Address last week. Among them are creating new and enhancing existing tax credits meant to support food production; moving administration of the National School Lunch Program from the State Education Department to the Department of Agriculture and Markets; increasing support for Agri-Business Child Development Centers; funding the Urban Farms and Community Gardens Grant Program; establishing the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Farmer Engagement and Outreach Program; and more.
Finally, the Commissioner spoke about the Department’s ongoing activities 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.
A recording of the speech is available on the New York State Agricultural Society’s YouTube channel. A transcript of the Commissioner’s remarks as prepared can be found on the Department’s website.
The New York State 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 environmental stewardship as a win-win for communities and New York agriculture’s long-term viability as a competitive food and fiber provider globally. The Forum also recognized and honored the contributions of industry stakeholders in eight award categories.
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