New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball on January 12 delivered the State of Agriculture Address at the 191st New York State Agricultural Society Annual 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 “Disruption Eruption: Discovering New Opportunities in Agriculture,” the Commissioner spoke about the many groundbreaking initiatives designed to boost the agricultural industry and strengthen the food system that were outlined by Governor Kathy Hochul in her State of the State Address earlier this week. These include making the 20% Investment Tax Credit for farmers a reimbursable refund for five years; increasing institutional and agency buying of New York State food to 30% by 2028; investing $50 million to support ‘scratch’ cooking facilities that will facilitate the use of fresh New York State farm products in meal preparation for K-12 school children; strengthening the agricultural workforce pipeline through the creation of internships and apprenticeships and increased collaboration with key stakeholders; and more. Additionally, the Commissioner discussed opportunities for agriculture to further contribute to New York’s aggressive climate targets under the Climate Act, including an incentive-based approach for agriculture and forestry and a Cap-and-Invest program that offers flexibility to families, farms, and small businesses and helps to ensure sustainable, competitive farming.
Commissioner Ball said, “Our farmers are essential. Their work growing food for everyone and our work supporting this industry is essential. While we still have much work to do, I am incredibly proud of the way our agricultural community has risen to meet the challenges of the last few years with incredible strength, creativity, and innovation. For this reason, and despite all the change and uncertainty we face, I remain optimistic about the future.”
In his address, Commissioner Ball also highlighted the Department’s continued work alongside its many partners to ensure a strengthened food supply chain through several programs and initiatives, including the Nourish New York program; the Urban Farms and Community Gardens grant program; the Farmers’ Market Resiliency Grant Program; the Farm-to-School initiative; the 30% NYS Initiative; and the New York Food for New York Families program. Finally, the Commissioner spoke about the Department’s ongoing activities to promote New York producers through the Taste NY and NYS Grown & Certified programs and to maintain its essential functions to protect public health and the food supply; ensure animal and plant health; and protect consumers and businesses.
A recording of the speech will be made 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 at https://www.agriculture.ny.gov/2023-state-agriculture-address. Additionally, please find the two videos mentioned by the Commissioner during the speech on the Department’s YouTube channel, and the Department of Labor’s YouTube channel.
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 the many disruptive forces shaping the agri-food system and natural resource industry in small and seismic ways, and examined how disruption is creating new opportunities for agricultural industry stakeholders. The Forum also recognized and honored the contributions of industry stakeholders in eight award categories.