As New York’s agriculture commissioner since 2014, Richard Ball has had his hand in nearly each farming-related legislative change or coverage debate within the state. He’s made public appearances to debate farmworker labor shortages, kicked off the beginning of Dairy Month and touted the state’s spectacular array of agricultural merchandise on the Nice New York State Honest – which his company oversees. Throughout his free time, the veteran farmer from Schoharie finds forward-looking methods to assist the agricultural sector evolve and thrive within the face of assorted crises, most just lately the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though it was solely in 2019 that Meeting Member Donna Lupardo was appointed to chair the Meeting Agriculture Committee, the veteran lawmaker from Broome County has lengthy been a proponent of the state’s farming sector. She championed the state’s Industrial Hemp Agricultural Analysis Pilot Program in 2015, paving the way in which for a thriving new business. She has sponsored laws boosting the craft beverage business – together with final 12 months’s measure permitting liquor-infused ice cream. This 12 months, Lupardo teamed up together with her counterpart, state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, on one other measure easing regulatory restrictions for craft beverage producers. Hinchey, a first-term lawmaker representing an Albany-area and Hudson Valley district, additionally labored with Lupardo this session to go the state’s Soil Well being and Local weather Resiliency Act. As well as, Hinchey was a lead sponsor of laws to make the Nourish New York farm-to-food-bank program everlasting.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is thought nationally for her efforts to take away sexual assault circumstances within the army from the chain of command, however a lesser identified precedence is her advocacy for farmers and farmworkers. Gillibrand is a member of the U.S. Senate’s agriculture committee and is chair of its Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Native Meals Methods, and Meals Security and Safety. She has sought to attach farms to meals banks and supply aid for small farmers throughout COVID-19. As the primary New Yorker to serve on the agriculture committee in almost 4 a long time, Gillibrand has additionally pushed to reform dairy pricing and assist specialty crops.
Whereas New York is thought for its large downstate inhabitants, a lot of the sprawling state is residence to a thriving agricultural sector – which is why a number of members of Congress serve on the Home Agriculture Committee. The 2 New York Democrats presently serving on the committee are Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney of the Hudson Valley and Antonio Delgado, whose giant rural district is simply to the north of Maloney’s. Together with Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs of Western New York, who joined the committee upon taking workplace final 12 months, New York now has three committee members (and briefly had 4 till then-Rep. Anthony Brindisi misplaced his 2020 reelection bid.) The trio has joined forces on points reminiscent of crop conservation requirements, whereas Maloney and Delgado have pushed for aid for small farmers.
David Fisher oversees one of many largest organizations advocating on behalf of farmers on the state authorities stage. The New York Farm Bureau emphasised the wants of the agricultural sector in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic this previous 12 months, pushing for farmworkers to get entry to vaccines and highlighting the monetary struggles farms have confronted. Along with his management on the group, Fisher is a dairy farmer and served on the three-member state wage board that issued steering on additional time guidelines for farmworkers.
Hamdi Ulukaya already owned a small feta cheese firm, Euphrates, when he got here throughout a defunct yogurt manufacturing unit on the market in upstate New York in 2005. Ulukaya, a Kurdish immigrant from Turkey, took an opportunity and purchased it, launching Chobani. The corporate now generates greater than $1.5 billion in income yearly and has expanded its manufacturing past New York to Idaho. Ulukaya has cemented a status as a philanthropic chief as nicely, having launched initiatives such because the New York Metropolis-based Chobani Incubator, which funds meals and beverage product startups.
Benjamin Houlton is sort of a 12 months into his function overseeing one of many nation’s prime agriculture-focused faculties. Almost 5,000 undergraduate and graduate college students attend Cornell College’s School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which additionally hosts sturdy analysis initiatives. As an environmental scientist, Houlton has devoted analysis to understanding how a resilient agricultural system can be utilized to fight local weather change.
The dairy business makes up the most important share of New York’s agricultural sector, with the state main the nation within the manufacturing of cottage cheese, bitter cream and yogurt. John Dickinson, proprietor of Perfect Dairy Farms, oversees the Northeast Dairy Producers Affiliation’s work educating, supporting and advocating for dairy farms of all sizes throughout the state. The group has lended its assist to the Develop NY Farms coalition, which is pushing to maintain in place a 60-hour additional time threshold for farm laborers.
In 2019, state Sen. Jessica Ramos of Queens sponsored a groundbreaking legislation instituting new protections for New York farmworkers. Whereas many farmers opposed the measure as a consequence of elevated prices, Ramos teamed up with a few of them for months to ship meals to her struggling constituents in the course of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meals coverage wonk additionally held a listening to this spring on diversifying the agricultural sector and “addressing meals justice” and “persevering with inequalities on our meals programs.”
When Gov. Kathy Hochul took workplace, some hoped she would velocity up former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s gradual tempo in rolling out New York’s leisure marijuana program. Her nominations of former Meeting Member Tremaine Wright to chair New York’s Hashish Management Board and of Chris Alexander to run the state Workplace of Hashish Administration reveals the brand new governor means enterprise. The pair will implement the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which covers leisure and medical marijuana in addition to hemp. They can even make sure the legislation’s emphasis on benefiting communities of shade that had been disproportionately harmed by enforcement efforts when marijuana was unlawful. Wright isn’t solely a former lawmaker but in addition an entrepreneur, whereas she helped draft the MRTA invoice as a state Senate Democratic staffer.
Throughout his tenure because the eponymous grocery store chain’s CEO, Danny Wegman performed a serious function remodeling agriculture within the Finger Lakes area. Beneath his management, the Rochester-based firm linked suppliers, researchers and producers to at least one one other – a number of household farms have credited the corporate with serving to them keep afloat – and even began its personal farm and eating places. Colleen Wegman has carried on that work at Wegmans since turning into president and CEO in 2017.
Because the CEO of Cayuga Milk Components, Kevin Ellis runs an Auburn-based operation that produces almost a billion kilos of milk yearly in a wide range of types – liquid, condensed, powdered, blended and extra. However past Cayuga County, he has continuously delved into worldwide commerce coverage through the years. Through the Trump administration, Ellis criticized Canadian commerce insurance policies that barred sure dairy imports that damage his backside line. Additionally, in 2015, he joined a New York delegation to Cuba within the hopes of boosting commerce.
Brian Reeves isn’t any stranger to the challenges vegetable growers face in New York state. He and his brother run Reeves Farms in Onondaga County, which produces strawberries, zucchini, squash and different vegetables and fruit. His expertise as a farm proprietor and vegetable grower inform his management on the New York State Vegetable Growers Affiliation, the place he has spearheaded efforts towards decreasing the additional time threshold for farmworkers.
The Torrey household can hint its farming roots in Genesee County way back to 1803. Now, alongside her husband Paul Marshall, Maureen Torrey co-owns a farm that spans greater than 13,000 acres and produces cabbage, cucumbers, pumpkins and different greens. On the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she and different farmers coordinated with state Sen. Jessica Ramos to donate tens of 1000’s of kilos of meals to New York Metropolis.
New York farmers planted about 330,000 acres of soybeans this 12 months and greater than 1 million acres of corn. These growers look to Colleen Klein, govt director of the New York Corn and Soybean Growers Affiliation, for the most recent data on public coverage affecting their work. Along with educating and advocating for its members, the affiliation sponsors analysis on corn and soybean manufacturing, utilization and advertising and marketing.
Many Cabot Creamery Cooperative’s standard cheese and butter merchandise, that are bought across the nation, originate from tons of of dairy farms in upstate New York, together with these making up Agri-Mark. Agri-Mark, a cooperative of dairy farmers shaped over a century in the past, merged with Vermont-based Cabot Creamery Cooperative within the early Nineties. In 2003, Agri-Mark additionally merged with New York’s Chateaugay Cooperative and bought its McCadam Cheese model. This summer season, Agri-Mark CEO William Beaton joined then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to announce the beginning of development on a $16 million growth of the corporate’s Chateaugay plant.
In line with a report from the New York Wine & Grape Basis launched final 12 months, New York ranked because the third-leading producer of wine within the nation in 2019. Sam Filler leads the group’s efforts to make sure the state’s wine business maintains its power. Earlier than becoming a member of the muse in 2017, Filler was director of business growth for Empire State Growth, the place he served as a liaison between the state authorities and the wine, beer, spirits and cider industries.
After stints as a producer for the Nationwide Baseball Corridor of Fame and Museum and Farmers’ Almanac TV, Paul Leone developed TV pilots about craft beer – and whereas they weren’t picked up, Leone adopted a brand new profession. Since 2013, he has headed the New York State Brewers Affiliation, which advocates for an business that’s now the nation’s second largest. He just lately referred to as on the governor to signal laws that would offer a brief allow to craft brewers in the course of the monthslong course of to safe a full allow.
It’s been fairly a 12 months for the Hunts Level Produce Market’s Phillip Grant. He guided the nation’s largest wholesale produce market via a lethal pandemic that disrupted the meals provide chain, reached an settlement on a brand new contract with hanging employees and was promoted from the place of normal supervisor to chief govt officer. “If we realized something from this pandemic, it’s the significance Hunts Level Produce Market performs in distributing protected produce to the New York area,” Grant mentioned throughout a state legislative listening to in December.
Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched the Nourish New York initiative final 12 months to attach farmers and their merchandise to meals banks serving to to combat rising starvation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless it was Meeting Member Catalina Cruz and state Sen. George Borrello who crossed celebration traces and geographic divides to emphasise the significance of continuous this system. Cruz, together with state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, sponsored laws to make this system everlasting. Borrello joined Cruz in selling the invoice, which handed the state Legislature this Might and awaits Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature.
The New York State Maple Producers Affiliation represents the greater than 700 members who make New York the state producing the second-highest haul of maple syrup within the nation. Because the affiliation’s govt director, Helen Thomas has pushed for continued state funding of Cornell College’s program centered on maple analysis. She has additionally drawn consideration to the challenges maple producers have confronted as local weather change results in hotter winters in New York.
It won’t be the rationale some folks name New York Metropolis the Huge Apple, however New York nonetheless produces extra apples nationally than all however one different state. As head of the New York Apple Affiliation, Cynthia Haskins represents greater than 600 apple growers statewide. She brings together with her 35 years of expertise working with growers, having beforehand managed enterprise growth for the Illinois Farm Bureau earlier than becoming a member of the affiliation in 2017.
As New York picks up the tempo on implementing the state’s leisure marijuana legislation underneath Gov. Kathy Hochul, Curaleaf Holdings is among the many firms who seem like greatest positioned to capitalize on the key new market. The corporate, which is broadly thought of as one of many prime multistate hashish firms within the nation, already has a foothold in New York because of its medical marijuana license. Curaleaf Holdings Regional President of the Northeast Patrik Jonsson oversees the Massachusetts-based firm’s operations in New York and half a dozen different states.
Together with Curaleaf Holdings, Inexperienced Thumb Industries and Trulieve Hashish Corp., Cresco Labs is likely one of the prime hashish firms within the U.S. And like Curaleaf Holdings, it already has a medical marijuana operation in New York, whose just lately legalized leisure market is projected to exceed $4 billion. Chicago-based Cresco Labs, which closed on its acquisition of medical marijuana firm Valley Agriceuticals LLC in New York in 2019, is led by Charles Bachtell, who applauded the “inclusive framework” put ahead when the state legalized leisure use this spring.
Columbia Care is probably not the most important hashish firm within the nation, however it’s one of many main gamers. The New York-based firm operates in 18 jurisdictions within the U.S. – together with its residence state, the place it already has a medical marijuana license and is among the many probably contenders for a leisure one. The corporate, led by CEO Nicholas Vita, introduced this spring the acquisition of a 34-acre cultivation website on Lengthy Island to bolster its medical marijuana provide.
Allan Gandelman received his begin in agriculture as a vegetable farmer earlier than happening to co-found a CBD processing firm. As head of the New York Hashish Growers and Processors Affiliation, he has advocated for hemp laws within the state and assisted growers, processors, retailers, potential license holders and others concerned within the state’s rising hashish business. With leisure marijuana lastly legalized, Gandelman has advocated for the state to permit small and midsized farmers to start rising as quickly as doable and to rapidly set up laws.
Feeding New York State helps 10 regional meals banks throughout the state, partially by partnering with farmers and others within the meals business to encourage donations. For instance, the New York Farm Bureau’s Younger Farmers & Ranchers program donated greater than 8 million kilos of meals to the group final 12 months as starvation rose in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dan Egan, who beforehand served as a division administrator on the state Division of Well being, has overseen Feeding New York State’s work since 2019.
Luis Jiménez along with a number of different immigrants engaged on dairy farms in Western New York based Alianza Agrícola in 2016 to advocate for his or her wants. The group has efficiently pushed for the state to permit undocumented immigrants to use for driver’s licenses in 2019. Extra just lately, the group has turned its vitality towards ensuring farmworkers throughout the state are being protected all through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greater than 300 dairy farms personal the Upstate Niagara Cooperative, which produces milk, yogurt, bitter cream, cottage cheese and different dairy merchandise for New Yorkers. Along with his function as normal supervisor at O-AT-KA Milk Merchandise, Lawrence Webster serves because the dairy co-op’s CEO. He has overseen the corporate’s current growth, which incorporates settling into a brand new company headquarters in Erie County and getting ready to take over a plant in Batavia, a city in Genesee County.
A part of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ political persona is his shift to a vegan weight loss plan, which spurred him to write down “Wholesome at Final: A Plant-Primarily based Strategy to Stopping and Reversing Diabetes and Different Power Diseases.” His expertise with veganism has additionally formed the coverage positions of the probably subsequent mayor of New York Metropolis. He sponsored laws to create a complete, citywide city agriculture plan and just lately launched a report, “The New Agrarian Economic system,” calling for neighborhood farming investments following meals provide disruptions as a consequence of COVID-19.
Samantha Levy spearheads the American Farmland Belief’s efforts to assist shield and protect farmland in New York state. The group scored a hit on this 12 months’s state price range by way of elevated funding to its program connecting retiring farmers to new farmers. Earlier than becoming a member of American Farmland Belief, Levy labored for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on federal agriculture coverage and for Blue Hill at Stone Barns, GrowNYC and All the way down to Earth Markets.
Onika Abraham, who heads Farm Faculty NYC, which trains folks in city agriculture and pushes for cities to assist the sphere, is a powerful proponent of city farming. She has spent greater than 15 years within the nonprofit sector and honed her experience in sustainable agriculture on the Heart for Agroecology & Sustainable Meals Methods in Santa Cruz. As an advocate for diversifying agriculture and serving to farmers of shade, she is likely one of the co-founders of Black City Growers.
The subsequent era of farmers in the US is counting on the Nationwide Younger Farmers Coalition for coaching, steering and assist. Erika Rincon, who leads a lot of the group’s work in New York, has labored on farms within the Hudson Valley, Lengthy Island and Brooklyn. Rincon has additionally labored on meals justice initiatives and presently serves as a farm-to-school coordinator for the Beacon Metropolis Faculty District in Dutchess County.
Bethany Wallis has been with the Northeast Natural Farming Affiliation of New York since 2006, educating and supporting natural and sustainable farmers throughout New York state. The 38-year-old nonprofit group is energetic in Albany, the place it just lately backed laws selling soil well being within the face of local weather change and a invoice proscribing the usage of pesticide-coated seeds, which some analysis signifies may damage bees and songbirds.
The Empire State Council of Agricultural Organizations brings collectively associations and establishments throughout New York’s numerous agricultural business underneath one umbrella to collectively advocate for insurance policies. Elizabeth Wolters chairs the council and oversees its work, whereas additionally serving as deputy director of public coverage on the New York Farm Bureau. The council’s coverage targets this previous 12 months have included prioritizing agricultural employees for COVID-19 vaccines and giving the agricultural sector extra enter on the state’s rollout of its adult-use hashish program.
Laurie Griffen chairs the board of Farm Credit score East, an establishment offering credit score and different monetary companies to farmers in New York and half a dozen different Northeast states. Griffen and her husband additionally function the 600-acre Saratoga Sod Farm, the place they set up sod, promote seed and fertilizer in addition to develop soybeans, corn and barley. “I stay and breathe it day-after-day,” Griffen recently told Lancaster Farming of her work in agriculture. “It’s actually a enterprise for us, however it’s a way of life as nicely.”
The Minnesota-based hashish firm Vireo Well being differentiates itself from its opponents as a physician-led operation, with Dr. Kyle Kingsley on the prime of the company ladder. Vireo Well being began out in Minnesota and shortly after started offering medical marijuana to sufferers in New York via a subsidiary, Vireo Well being of New York. The corporate is amongst a variety of probably contenders for a leisure marijuana license in New York.
New York-based Acreage Holdings already operates in main marijuana markets in states reminiscent of Illinois and Massachusetts, however it’s prone to be within the combine for a leisure license in its personal state now that it has been legalized there. Like a number of multistate opponents, Acreage Holdings already has been working a medical marijuana operation after securing a license in New York. The corporate is led by Kevin Murphy, the founder and chair with an in depth background in finance, and Peter Caldini, who has labored within the pharmaceutical sector.
Earlier than craft distilling took off in New York, Brian Facquet was making Bootlegger model vodka and gin at his Roscoe-based Prohibition Distillery, which has since been renamed Do Good Spirits. Whereas enterprise has taken off, Facquet has additionally taken on the function of president of the New York State Distillers Guild, which represents licensed distillers throughout the state. He helps state Sen. Michelle Hinchey’s proposed laws that might enable distillers to market and promote their merchandise the identical means breweries and wineries do.
Dan Barber’s restaurant, Blue Hill, has lengthy been a vacation spot of the New York Metropolis restaurant scene, however he has made his mark in a associated space as nicely: sustainable meals. After Blue Hill was invited to associate with the nonprofit Stone Barns Heart for Meals & Agriculture within the Hudson Valley, Barber grew to become invaluable in driving and drawing consideration to sustainable meals practices. Final 12 months, he introduced that he would step apart as chef and implement a diversity-driven residence program with a brand new chef within the kitchen every season.
The Employee Justice Heart of New York speaks out on behalf of farmworkers and different low-wage employees in upstate New York whereas offering authorized companies and different types of assist. Two longtime staff, Diana Saguilán and Andrea Callan, are actually heading the group on an interim foundation. Beneath their management, the nonprofit has advocated for larger COVID-19 security measures and protections for farmworkers. In December, they joined then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in calling for stronger federal efforts to vaccinate folks of shade and low-income New Yorkers.
Whereas hemp could also be a small a part of the general state agricultural economic system, Eaton Hemp CEO and Co-Founder Daniel Dolgin has been on the forefront of advocating for the promising business. A veteran of the safety and intelligence industries, Dolgin shifted his ambitions to extra agricultural ones in 2016 when he began Eaton Hemp, which produces a variety of hemp- and CBD-related merchandise. That very same 12 months he launched JD Farms, which was awarded the primary license to develop industrial hemp in New York.
Olivia Watkins co-founded the Black Farmer Fund in 2017 after discussing the shortage of economic help out there to Black farmers. With Black farmers constituting lower than 1% of the state’s producers and sometimes incomes lower than white farmers, Watkins’ New York group gives capital to Black farmers, restaurant house owners and meals distributors and advocates for coverage adjustments. The difficulty is being taken significantly by the state Division of Agriculture and Markets, which launched a report in August outlining avenues to enhance variety and racial fairness.
The Northern New York Agricultural Growth Program funds analysis and technical help for the agricultural sector within the North Nation, which ranks second in agricultural gross sales within the state. The small grants program funds every little thing from manufacturing effectivity to environmental stewardship for farms concerned in dairy, livestock, crops and extra. Jon Greenwood, who owns a dairy farm in Northern New York, guides this system’s work alongside Joe Giroux and Jon Rulfs.
Oscar Vizcarra and his spouse Melinda Vizcarra have spent a long time overseeing Becker Farms, a sixth-generation fruit and vegetable farm in Western New York. They’ve spent important time rising it right into a premier vacationer vacation spot through the years, opening up a vineyard and brewery and providing numerous excursions across the farm. The enterprise has typically drawn as much as 100,000 guests a 12 months, not together with the many individuals who’ve their weddings there.
John Gaus wears many hats: pc and electrical engineer, entrepreneur and natural farmer. His expertise led him in 2014 to co-found Agbotic Inc., an natural farming firm aiming to reimagine managed environmental agriculture by way of automation, know-how and environmentally sustainable practices. The corporate, situated in Sackets Harbor, close to Lake Ontario, is now increasing operations to conduct enterprise throughout Europe.
Farming is in Gail Hepworth’s blood. Her farm, Hepworth Farms, has been within the household for seven generations, and he or she has been overseeing operations together with her twin sister Amy. She has transferred her agricultural expertise to deal with rising hemp, having based Hempire State Growers, a producer of organically grown hemp that sells CBD merchandise as nicely. Her hemp enterprise is prospering, with 150 staff throughout peak season, however she desires the state to permit her to maneuver into marijuana manufacturing as nicely.
Carie Telgen co-owns a veterinary apply in Washington County, the place she cares for cattle. Her experience each as a veterinarian and as somebody who grew up on a dairy farm led her to turn into the president of American Affiliation of Bovine Practitioners, which represents greater than 5,000 veterinarians and veterinary college students desirous about bovine drugs. Telgen has been an energetic voice on animal care points in New York, together with opposing efforts to limit the usage of antibiotics whereas caring for animals.
Ben Dobson’s Stone Home Grain isn’t any atypical farm. Not solely is it an natural farm, however its operations are aimed toward combating local weather change via numerous methods to maintain carbon contained within the soil. Dobson’s efforts prompted Meeting Member Didi Barrett to sponsor laws making a pilot program to check so-called carbon farming. Dobson additionally helped launch the nonprofit Hudson Carbon to check carbon farming practices and based Hudson Hemp, an industrial hemp firm.
Dan Rao was impressed to create Assured Edge Options, which repurposes numerous produce into fruit and vegetable powders, in 2011 after he used misshapen apples slated to be discarded to create fruit powder. As well as, Rao additionally spearheaded the creation of the More healthy Manner model, which options merchandise reminiscent of frozen vegetable noodles and candy potato flour. This 12 months, Assured Edge Options obtained native and state funding to develop its manufacturing operations on the Cornell Agriculture and Meals Know-how Park.