Schoharie Valley Farms owner Richard Ball will serve as the state agriculture commissioner, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.
“Richard Ball is a lifelong farmer and advocate for sound farm policy who will bring fresh ideas and strong leadership to the Department of Agriculture and Markets,” Cuomo said in a news release.
“Agriculture is a vital sector of the state’s economy, providing thousands of jobs, food for people around the globe and a way of life for generations of New Yorkers. Richard embodies the proud tradition of farming here in New York state and will be a superb addition to this administration,” the governor said.
Ball’s Carrot Barn was the only place with power and hot coffee in Schoharie the day after Tropical Storm Irene inundated the valley, and the former Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce president opened his facility to serve as a drop-off and pick-up site for victim donations.
Ball also spearheaded a growing movement that’s supplying New York City residents with fresh vegetables and county farmers with additional markets for their goods.
He’s served in numerous other roles while running his family vegetable farm on Route 30.
Ball has served as a member of the executive and audit committees of the New York Farm Bureau and chairman of its labor committee.
He represents Schoharie County on the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council and served as chairman of Schoharie Recovery Inc., which began organizing assistance for victims of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton described Ball as an “outstanding selection” for the job in a prepared statement.
“[Ball] is a true statesman among farmers in New York, conscientious by nature, and his knowledge will serve the diversity of our farms well as he begins the next chapter of his career,” Norton said.
“As a farmer, Richard understands the needs and challenges we all face on our farms. That knowledge and the respect he has among his peers will serve the state’s agricultural community well,” he added.
The governor’s news release included statements from the heads of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, the New York Apple Association and the New York State Vegetable Growers Association.
“He’s watched his land flood, worked through blizzards, and watched the first green tips push their heads above soil every spring in spite of all the challenges. With the nomination of Rich Ball as commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, the New York State Vegetable Growers Association feels that 2014 is starting out on a positive note,” association President Mark Henry said in the news release.