NY Ag Chief At Conference Emphasizes Safety, Quality


In Cooperstown, NY Ag Chief 

Emphasizes Safety, Quality

More Than 1,000 Breweries Now In State, Ball Adds
After delivering this morning’s Update from Albany at The Farmers’ Museum fifth annual Conference on Food & Farming, the state’s Ag & Markets commissioner, Richard Ball, Cobleskill, right, chats with Extension Agent David Cox, Cobleskill, center, and Farm Bureau Field Advisor Todd Heyn, Jefferson.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Madison County Extension Agent Steve Miller, “Mr. Hops,” delivers this morning’s hops keynote.

COOPERSTOWN – He began by noting there are now more than 1,000 microbreweries in the state, but Ag & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball’s focus this morning was the Cuomo Administration’s efforts to continue expanding the diverse offering and reach of the New York farms.

We may be familiar with the Pride in New York brand (now being phased out), and Taste NY, the shops that have been opening in rest areas on the Thruway and other Interstates.  But Ball told how he and state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker were called out by Governor Cuomo about standards at a cabinet meeting several months ago.

What are quality standards for New York crops, the governor asked, and how can we apply “better standards to a marketing campaign?”

Ball and Zucker put together a team that included farmers and supermarket executives.  The results was a new brand: New York Grown & Certified, aimed at leveraging good farming practices to sell farm products.

To apply that brand to its crops, an operation must be an in-state family farm.  Second, crops must meet safety and quality standards.  Third, the farms must have an environmental-management plan that controls runoff into nearby lakes and streams.

So far, 1,000 crop-growers have signed up for the voluntary program, which is currently being expanded to shell fish and apples.  “I’m very excited about this opportunity,” said Ball, himself a vegetable grower in Schoharie County, who also operates the Carrot Barn attraction near Cobleskill and employs 50 people.

At today’s conference, Ball’s role was also to set the stage for what is following through this afternoon at the museum’s Louis Jones Center, an exploration of “Hops & Brewing,” which is “on the edge of a renaissance.  I don’t know where the end of that market is,” he said.

“Mr. Hops” Steve Miller, the Madison County extension agent who has been at the center of the crop’s rebound for the past decade, delivered a hops keynote this morning. Ommegang President Doug Campbell will be the brewing keynoter at 1:30 this afternoon.

A panel discussion, “Growing Hops In Central New York,” is due to start at 11:30, and includes Cooperstown Brewing’s Ian Porto and Dustin Wood of Muddy River Hops, Unadilla.

The programs, free and open to the public, will continue through a 3:30 p.m. panel, “Being a Successful Brewer in Central New York,” featuring local brewers Phil Leinhart (Ommegang), Roger Davidson (Council Rock) and David Olson (Red Shed), as well as Aaron MacLeod, director of Hartwick College’s Center for Craft Food & Beverage.

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