January 08, 2010
Commissioner Hooker Gives State Of Agriculture Address
Annual Address Asks “What do you want agriculture to look like in the year 2020?”
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker gave the 11th annual State of New York Agriculture address at the 178th Annual Forum of the New York State Agricultural Society last night in Liverpool. In his third address to the Forum as Commissioner, he asked the group what they want agriculture to look like in 2020 and bluntly told the crowd that no can sit on the sidelines. He said, “Our responsibility at this critical time is too important to ignore.”
The Commissioner opened the annual address by acknowledging the fact that 2009 was one of the most difficult years in New York, but especially for those in agriculture. “Our farmers have been hit with a prefect storm of high operating costs, low prices for their products and decreased demand, both nationally and overseas. The state of agriculture, like the state of our state, is tough indeed. But the state of our character and the state of our resolve is even tougher.”
With nearly 300 people in the audience, the Commissioner took the opportunity to recap Governor Paterson’s message on the State of the State given the day before and explain steps Governor Paterson has taken to help address the crisis, including an immediate $500 million cut to state spending. “Governor Paterson, once again, has taken decisive action to put our fiscal house in order. While his decisions are not popular with special interest groups, they are necessary, and they are honest.”
“Yes, it is a difficult time,” the Commissioner added. “The worst consequence of our current economic condition is that, through no fault of their own, so many of our best farmers have seen their life’s work and equity slip through their fingers. Behind all the numbers are real people who have built their lives, their businesses and their families upon their love of the land and a faith in the future. That’s why fiscal discipline is essential to our state’s recovery.”
“No one gets to sit on the sidelines,” he said in relation to the challenges we face as an industry and the opportunities that are presented. The Commissioner commented on the current dairy situation, expressing appreciation for the federal assistance provided, but recognizing that it does not solve the structural problems of federal dairy policies. He also expressed his concern in ensuring that the right person is sought for the new dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, one who will be committed not only to the land grant mission, but the future of agriculture in New York State.
“Ten years from now, I want us to look back and see we did not let petty differences stand in the way of steady progress – that we looked past our own differences and rebuilt the Upstate economy – put productive farmland back into production and farms and agricultural businesses back in the black.”
Referring to the ‘miracle on the Hudson’, the Commissioner concluded that the last decade has been a rough ride for agriculture. “But in the last year, we realized not only can we rise above floodwaters, it turns out we can land safely on ice-cold waters.”
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2010 Press Releases