Collaboration is Theme of 185th Annual Forum

The NYS Agricultural Society celebrated its 185th birthday at its Annual Meeting and Forum on January 5, 2017 in Syracuse, NY. The Forum is the largest and oldest statewide agricultural meeting that brings together all sectors of the food system to explore topics critical to the future of New York agriculture, and to recognize the unique contributions of its stakeholders. “This is the agricultural family reunion of the year,” said Richard Ball, NYS Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, during his annual “State of the State” of Agriculture address. Collaboration was this year’s theme with panelists and keynote speakers providing successful models in finance, education and government that are impacting the ag and food industry in positive ways. Presented at mid-day, eight awards recognized producers, farm organizations and businesses that are leaders in their communities and specialization.

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CITATION – Jim Tresize, retiring president of the NY Wine & Grape Foundation, received the coveted Distinguished Service Citation.  For six decades, the NYS Agricultural Society has recognized individuals who have dedicated a lifetime of service, resulting in outstanding contributions to NY agriculture. Tresize has served growers and vintners in numerous posts within the state, and has an international reputation as a speaker, industry analyst and professional wine judge.

AG PROMOTION AWARDS – 2017 winners include Mel Chesbro, agriculture manager of the NYS Fair, and the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board. Chesbro organizes fair competitions for livestock, wine, vegetables, fruit, honey, maple syrup, flowers, forage and grain. This includes 38,000 total entries. The Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board, with the assistance of 60 volunteers, hosted 200 students from 14 school districts spring 2016 to build awareness of agricultural careers in the greater Geneva area.

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR – The award promotes our state’s food system by recognizing the quality, leadership and innovation demonstrated by NY farms and agribusinesses. The 2017 production category winner is Walnut Ridge Dairy, LLC of Lansing, NY, a multi-generational, multi-family dairy operation, milking upwards of 1,400 cows. Founded in 2011, Hudson Valley Harvest of Kingston, NY – the agribusiness category winner – aggregates and distributes fruits, vegetables, proteins, and shelf-stable products from over 50 Hudson Valley farms to restaurants, grocers, and institutions throughout NY, NJ, CT and MA.

CAP CREAL JOURNALISM AWARDS – Named for farmer, Society member, and Assemblyman Harold “Cap” Creal, the Journalism Awards were created to inspire more coverage of the positive aspects of agriculture in NYS. 2017 awards were presented in the following categories: Print – News Story (Debra Groom – Empire Farm & Dairy Magazine), Feature (Liz Robbins – The New York Times), Series (Sue Henninger – Tompkins Weekly Newspaper), Editorial (Bob Confer – Lockport Union-Sun Journal), Audio/ Video – News Feature (Brian Frey – WSKG), Audio/Video for the Internet (“Trellis to Table” Podcast for Farmers and Brewers). The award is sponsored by Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity at Cornell University.

CENTURY & BICENTENNIAL FARM AWARDS – The century and bicentennial program honors NY farms in continuous operation on the same land by the same family for 100 years or more. In 2017, farms in eastern NYS counties were recognized.

  • Kelder’s Farm, Whitfield, NY, Ulster County established in 1779
  • C&W Homesteads, LLC, Vernon, NY, Oneida County, established in 1916
  • Indian Ladder Farms, Altamont, NY, Albany County, established in 1916
  • Arnold Haven Farm, West Charlton, NY, Saratoga County, established in 1914
  • Pin Oak Percherons Farm, Southport, NY, Chemung County, established in 1917
  • Beekman Lane Farm, Beekmantown, NY, Clinton County, established in 1916
  • Brookby Farm, Dover Plains, NY, Dutchess County, established in 1850
  • Haroldy Acres, DeKalb Junction, NY, St. Lawrence County, established in 1910
  • Yancey’s Sugarbush & Dairy Farm, Croghan, NY, Lewis County, established in 1844

FFA CHAPTER OF THE YEAR – The 2017 winner of the FFA Chapter of the Year is Tri-Valley Central School of Grahamsville, NY. The only agriculture program and FFA in Sullivan and Ulster counties, the organization works with over 150 members in grades 6-12.

NEXT GENERATION FARMER AWARD – Launched in 2016, this award recognizes both a long-standing operation who is excelling under new leadership and owner/operators who are brand new to agriculture and food production. Shannon Mason, the sixth generation at Cowbella Creamery at Danforth Jersey Farm in Jefferson, NY was honored. The farm dates back to 1817. Shannon now operates the farm with family, and in 2010 created Cowbella – a farmstead creamery business, producing butter, yogurt, and bottled milk. The second award winner was Kyle Farms of Avon, NY. Matt and DJ Kyle, with cousin Nate Hatch, manage a flock of 3,000 ewes for meat and wool.

NYS FARM SAFETY AWARDS – 2017 honorees include Ideal Dairy Farms of Hudson Falls, NY and Will-O-Crest Farms, LP of Clifton Springs. Both operations are large dairies which operate with the assistance of numerous employees involved with livestock, machinery and field equipment. Farm safety programs do far more than reduce injuries and downtime. Rewards often include saving lives.

Stay tuned for details on the 2018 Annual Meeting & Forum this fall! For more information, contact Ann Shephard at 315-727-5449,