Schoharie County farmer Richard Ball is officially the new commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Ball has served as acting commissioner since Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated him for the role in January. He breezed through final hurdles in the state Senate on Tuesday to take the word “acting” out of the title.
Ball owns and operates Schoharie Valley Farms on Route 30 with his family. He grows fruits and vegetables and sells at farm markets and his own Carrot Barn.
Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, praised Ball as the Department of Agriculture and Market’s new leader. Seward said not only is Ball a constituent, but he has known him personally for years.
“He walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to agriculture,” Seward said. “His roots are very deep in the industry and he is very active in agriculture organizations, such as the Farm Bureau. I think he will be a great commissioner.”
Dean Norton, president of the state Farm Bureau, said he is “extremely happy” Ball was tapped as commissioner. Norton said Ball’s experience running a farm and being engaged in the local community makes him an ideal fit for the role.
“As a longtime friend and colleague, I have full confidence in Commissioner Ball and the passion he brings to his new role,” Norton said. “New York Farm Bureau looks forward to working with him in supporting the exciting growth happening on farms throughout New York.”
Ball was exposed to farming at a young age. His grandparents owned a dairy farm when he was a child, which they sold when he was 8. Even though he didn’t grow up on a farm, he loved farming so much that he worked 20 years until he could establish his own farm in Schoharie.
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets works to expand New York’s agriculture industry by promoting local farmers’ products, overseeing agriculture’s environmental impacts and safeguarding the state’s food supply.