Jan. 21, 2016

CALS research key to New York farming growth

Thomas Bjorkman at expo
Matt Hayes/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Professor Thomas Bjorkman explains findings from the Eastern Broccoli Project, a research effort he is leading to establish a broccoli industry in the eastern United States.
Betsy Bihn at expo
Matt Hayes/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Senior extension associate Betsy Bihn gives an overview of changes farmers can expect to make in order to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The ground may be covered in snow, but New York farmers already have their minds on growth.

Agricultural producers from across the state are meeting in Syracuse Jan. 19-21 as part of the 2016 Empire State Producers Expo. The three-day showcase brings together Cornell scientists and Cornell Cooperative Extension specialists to share the latest in research and technical advances, from crop management and food safety compliance to the best practices to aid the industry’s newest farmers to those working the land for generations.

New York agriculture is at a point of ascendency, said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). She said the potential growth for farmers and producers of all sizes is aided by research conducted on the Cornell campuses in Ithaca and Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York.

“This is an opportune moment for local agribusiness. We are on the cusp of a new era with potential for sustained agricultural growth in New York,” she said during her keynote speech Jan. 19. “We have the land, water, specialty and dairy agriculture, educated producers, and research and development support in Geneva and in Ithaca to grow specialty food production and processing here in our state.”

Boor said CALS’ land-grant mission drives agricultural innovations across New York. That research turns into real economic benefits for all New Yorkers, she said: “You can count on Cornell as a partner to work with you to help shape critical investments in agricultural innovation to achieve the vision of New York state as a forward-looking leader in food and agriculture system innovations in the U.S.”

The annual expo brings together fruit and vegetable growers of all sizes and from different regions of the state. Cornell scientists and Cooperative Extension specialists led a range of information sessions, from talks detailing fruit pest management to information from Betsy Bihn, senior extension associate in the Department of Food Science, about new federal food safety mandates.

New York State Vegetable Growers Association President Brian Reeves, whose organization co-organized the event, said the research and leadership from Cornell has been an asset to farmers across the state.

“CALS has been a wonderful ally. It’s so important for farmers of the state to have world-class educators teaching and doing research in our climate with our soils,” he said.

Reeves, a fourth-generation farmer who co-owns Reeves Farms in Baldwinsville, New York, said farmers and producers are crucial stewards of the land and major drivers of the New York economy.

Matt Hayes is managing editor and social media manager for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.