MILLBROOK – Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County (CCEDC), together with several agricultural organization partners, hosted Dutchess County’s twentieth annual National Agriculture Day Breakfast on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The breakfast is a celebration of agriculture in Dutchess County and its importance to the local economy.
Guest speaker Richard A. Ball, New York State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, spoke about the Department’s recent accomplishments and new initiatives being launched to help promote and grow the state’s agricultural industry.
Commissioner Ball said, “It was fantastic to celebrate National Agriculture Day this morning with so many from Dutchess County who care about the future of agriculture in our great state. New York farmers and producers have a great story to tell. They are top producers of a wide variety of agricultural products in the country, and contribute billions in direct sales to the state’s economy. This is an exciting time for the agricultural community and we look forward to continuing to promote our producers and agri-businesses who produce some of the best, high-quality products in the world.”
Mr. Ball is a lifelong farmer and advocate for the agricultural industry. He has been the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets since 2014.
A native New Yorker, Mr. Ball’s inspiration to become a farmer came from his grandparents, who were lifelong dairy farmers. For the past 20 years, he has been the owner and operator of a 200 acre farm in Schoharie, NY, which produces a wide range of vegetable crops, small fruits and greenhouse crops.
Mr. Ball has held a number of positions within agriculture and community organizations at the local, state and national level. Mr. Ball, his wife Shirley and his three children are actively engaged in farming with a growing number of future farmers among the grandchildren.
County, state and local officials, as well as many local farmers were in attendance, including Douglas Hart, DVM (Pine Plains Veterinary Hospital), Dirk Coon (Smithfield Guernseys), and Marcus Molinaro (Dutchess County Executive) who all received Tractor Awards.
County Executive Marcus Molinaro spoke about the history and importance of agriculture to Dutchess County’s economy while accepting the award. County Executive Molinaro said, “Agriculture is one of the vital industries that makes Dutchess County thrive, and its long, successful history in our county is something in which every resident can take pride. To help keep agriculture in Dutchess thriving, it’s important to have advocates in county government looking forward and protecting the future of family farms. By passing and enacting the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan last year, my partners in the Dutchess County Legislature and I demonstrated our commitment to ensuring the preservation of farmland for future generations. I am grateful to Dutchess County’s farmers who struggle and thrive every day and Cornell Cooperative Extension for their unyielding support of our agricultural community.”
The event was co-sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County, the Dutchess County Dairy Committee Inc., Dutchess County Soil and Water Conservation District, Dutchess-Putnam-Westchester Farm Bureau, Dutchess County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board, the Dutchess County Agricultural Society, and Hudson Valley Fresh.