Registration now open at

The New York State Agricultural Society will host the 189th Annual Meeting and Agricultural Forum on Jan. 7, 2021. The Forum, which is traditionally the oldest and largest meeting of its kind in the state, will take place virtually in 2021. Bringing together representatives from all sectors of the agricultural industry to discuss topics that are crucial to the future of New York agriculture, this upcoming year’s forum will focus on building a resilient food system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum will also recognize and honor the contributions of industry stakeholders in eight award categories. State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball will deliver the 2021 State of Agriculture Address.

Commissioner Ball said, “While we won’t be able to gather together in person this year, as has been our annual tradition, I am pleased to still have the opportunity to come together as a community to reflect on what has undoubtedly been our most challenging year ever and to appreciate what has been a tremendous response to our local food system. I thank the New York State Agricultural Society for making this critically important meeting and forum possible. I look forward to seeing everyone virtually in early January to discuss the important issues and priorities that lie ahead and opportunities to move our industry forward with confidence.”

Judi Whittaker, President of the NYS Agricultural Society, said, “There’s no doubt that the NYS ag industry has been tested in 2020, and our non-farm neighbors are certainly more sensitive to the vulnerabilities of our food system as a result of the pandemic. How we navigate the future will be largely shaped by our individual and collective experience and our inherent ability to respond, absorb, and adapt to change. The Forum allows us to reconnect, exchange ideas, and renew our commitment to the industry. There’s no better time for this meeting than now.”

2021 program

Kicking off the forum at 9 a.m., the Morning Keynote session will welcome Tom Facer of Farm Fresh First, LLC and Martha Hilton of Wegmans Food Markets to discuss important lessons learned in 2020, including the pivoting or retooling necessary to strengthen core businesses and enhance customer confidence.

At 11:30 a.m., the Mid-Day Break will focus on emerging research sponsored by Cornell University’s Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture and Center for Regional Economic Advancement who are investigating big picture challenges facing New York agriculture and food production and the potential impact of innovative technology and entrepreneurialism.

The Afternoon Session at 2 p.m. will welcome the new CALS Dean Benjamin Houlton, who will address building resiliency in a changing time and finding new pathways to New York State collaborations.

Following the Dean’s remarks, Commissioner Richard Ball will provide his annual State of Agriculture Address. He will report on the state’s ongoing efforts to help New York’s farmers and agricultural businesses overcome today’s marketplace challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Honorees in eight award categories to be recognized

In 2021, the New York State Agricultural Society will honor individuals and businesses who have lifted the state’s agricultural and food industry to new heights in terms of environmental stewardship, consumer outreach, farm safety, and the production of quality, safe food. The Ag Society honors will be presented in eight categories including: farm safety, agricultural promotion, FFA chapter, journalism, next generation farmers, business of the year, distinguished service, and century and bicentennial farms.

In 2021, the presentation will include award videos featuring the unique stories of the winners. The Distinguished Service Citation honoree, who will be recognized as an individual who has dedicated a lifetime of service resulting in outstanding contributions to New York agriculture, will be interviewed on Facetime Live beginning at noon on the NYS Agricultural Society’s Facebook page.

The full day’s program and registration information are available at or contact Executive Secretary Ann Noble Shephard at or 315.727.5449.