During his surprise appearance at the recent New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association’s Summer Crop Tour, New York Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball stated that he was “excited about what’s going on” in the Empire State’s work in improving land stewardship on farms.

“In New York, I see decades of conservation work,” Ball said.

In addition, many more farms are adopting management methods that consider water and soil conservation measures.

“This year with climate resilient farming, I’m seeing interest and funding strong,” Ball said. “It’s the biggest ag budget in history.”

NYS Ag Commissioner ‘excited’ about land stewardship

Richard Ball is the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Ag & Markets. Photo by Deborah J. Sergeant

For Fiscal Year 2023, the New York State executive budget earmarked approximately $272.9 million for the Department of Ag & Markets, a boost of more than $78 million from 2022.

“I see alignment with national trends,” Ball said. “There’s standing room only in soil health meetings.”

But this interest doesn’t surprise Ball. “‘Sustainability’ has been in the front of our minds since we were born,” he said of himself and fellow farmers.

Ball noted that “regenerative” is the new word for “sustainability,” as the verbiage changes about every decade.

He said that in Albany, the New York State Climate Action Council (of which he is a part) has been very successful in tackling their goals. One of these is the adoption of the NYS Climate Action Council Scoping Plan, passed in late December after a 19-3 vote by the council. The council spent three years working on the measure with input from their advisory panels and working groups since the enactment of the Climate Act in 2019. The plan lists recommendations to help accomplish the goals of the national Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, also known as the Climate Act.

“We got to consensus on the way forward,” Ball said. “We’re the only Action Council that did. We come away with a large number of opinions. There are a lot of things to worry about, but our soil and water people see a lot of solutions.”

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant