Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Senate unanimously confirmed Richard A. Ball as Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets.
"Over the last few months, Richard Ball has done an exceptional job as Interim Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets," Governor Cuomo said. "He has been pivotal in addressing industry needs, raising the agency's profile among our partners in the private sector, and ultimately helping to create jobs and grow the State's economy. I congratulate Richard on this well-deserved confirmation and thank the New York State Senate and its leadership for their unanimous confirmation."
Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "I thank Governor Cuomo for the opportunity to lead the Department of Agriculture and Markets and thank the State Senate for confirming my nomination as Commissioner. As a lifelong farmer, my main goal as Commissioner is to work with industry to help New York agriculture get to that next level. I've had a busy first few months working with the talented staff at the Department of Agriculture and Markets and have a new appreciation of the agency's role in helping New York agriculture. This industry is on the cusp of great things and I look forward to working with our partners to help facilitate this growth in the months ahead."
A native New Yorker, Commissioner Ball has made a living in agriculture his entire life. His inspiration to become a farmer came from his grandparents, who were lifelong dairy farmers. At 18 years old, Mr. Ball began his career in agriculture as a farm worker at a vegetable farm in Rhode Island. He later became operations manager of that same farm. After 20 years in Rhode Island, Commissioner Ball moved back to the Empire State with an opportunity to become a farm owner. For the past 20 years, he has been the owner and operator of Schoharie Valley Farms in Schoharie, NY, which consists of 200 acres and produces a wide range of vegetable crops, small fruits and greenhouse crops. The farm serves both retail and wholesale consumers through an onsite farm market known as "The Carrot Barn" and ships to brokers and restaurants in the local area as well as New York City.
Commissioner Ball has held a number of positions within agriculture and community organizations at the local, state and national level. He and his wife Shirley, as well as his three children are actively engaged in farming with a growing number of future farmers among the grandchildren.
Senator Patty Ritchie, chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture, said, "Even since meeting Richard Ball several years ago, I've been impressed with his passion for agriculture-farming is in his blood, he's not afraid to dig in and get the job done, nor does he hesitate to lend a hand and help his fellow farmer. Throughout his career in agriculture, including his running of the successful Schoharie Valley Farms and "The Carrot Barn," Richard has proven to be someone who knows the ins and outs of agriculture. I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for this excellent appointment and am looking forward to working with our new commissioner to help New York's biggest industry continue to grow."
Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush said, "As the Ranking Republican Member of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, I look forward to working with Commissioner Richard Ball on the important issues facing our family farmers. I appreciate Ball's vast personal experience in farming, and I hope we can work cooperatively to develop solutions to help agriculture thrive in New York State."
Senator Terry Gipson said, "As Ranking Member on the State Senate's Agricultural Committee who represents a district in Hudson Valley with a proud history of hard working family farms, I firmly believe that Commissioner Richard Ball is the right person at the right time for the Department of Agriculture and Markets. Commissioner Ball's impressive resume and hands on experience will be valuable in moving New York's agricultural economy forward and he will be a strong advocate for our farming community."
Assemblyman Bill Magee, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for nominating Richard Ball to be New York State's Agriculture Commissioner. Commissioner Ball, besides being a farmer himself for many years, has held a number of positions involving agriculture at the local, state and national level, making him the best candidate for the job. As chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, I am looking forward to working with Commissioner Ball and I am confident that he understands what needs to be done and will be very active statewide."
Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President, said, "I am extremely pleased to see Richard Ball confirmed by the full Senate to become the new Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets. He is a farmer through and through and understands the needs of the state's thriving agricultural community. New York Farm Bureau looks forward to continuing to partner with the Commissioner for the benefit of every farmer in the state, and I personally would like to offer my sincere congratulations."
For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Markets, please visit www.agriculture.ny.gov.