The Ag Society: Since 1832

Introduced in 1832, The NYS Agricultural Society was formed to facilitate collaboration at its most basic level. By physically bringing farmers together, ideas, experiences and techniques could be shared and improved upon to feed farm families and a growing nation.

A NYSAG Society History by Bob Bitz

A Remarkable Legacy

  • Played an instrumental role in establishing the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University in the 1860s
  • Conducted educational Farmer Institutes until Cornell Cooperative Extension was founded in 1914.
  • Established the Great New York State Fair and managed it for nearly 6 decades.
  • Promoted the creation of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
  • Developed and sponsored the Empire State Food and Agricultural Leadership Institute (LEADNY)
  • Established the NYS Agricultural Society Foundation, a 501c3 organization, to support agricultural programs for future generations

Dating back nearly 200 years...

How do you encapsulate the monumental changes to the agricultural industry and the NYS Ag Society over nearly two centuries? “The changes that have taken place in NY’s agriculture undoubtedly extend beyond the wildest imagination of any of its founders,” said Bob Bitz in his 2012 History of the NYS Ag Society. “The purpose in founding the Agricultural Society was ‘to improve the condition of agriculture, horticulture and household arts,’ which is as valid and important today as it was in 1832. 

In 1832, NY was an agrarian state. Agriculture was the livelihood of the majority of the state’s residents, and most of the state’s leaders had close ties to the soil. Additionally, NY was by far the leading state in agricultural production, producing the majority of agricultural products used by its residents as well as exporting a wide variety of agricultural products throughout the world.  Although NY’s agriculture isn’t as dominant a force in the US today as it once was, it still is a vibrant industry that is on the cutting edge in innovation and in the production of high-quality food for millions of people. Thus, the need for the NY State Agricultural Society continues and it is still playing an important role for agriculture today.”