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Richard Ball, owner of Schoharie Valley Farms. Photo: NYS Dept. of Agriculture & Markets
Richard Ball, owner of Schoharie Valley Farms. Photo: NYS Dept. of Agriculture & Markets

A vegetable farmer to head dairy-heavy NY agriculture

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The people who run New York's department of agriculture and markets tend to have close ties with the state's huge dairy industry. The last commissioner, Cape Vincent's Darrel Aubertine, was a dairy farmer himself.

Governor Cuomo broke that mold when he nominated Schoharie county vegetable farmer, Richard Ball, to be the next agriculture commissioner.

Ball is a poster child for the "locally grown" movement. His roadside stand, the Carrot Barn, sells a full range of vegetables and fruits grown on his farm. It also sells local beef and dairy products, and even has a farm-fresh lunch counter. Ball also sells wholesale to brokers and restaurants in New York City.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

Ball says that connection with consumers is essential for 21st century farming. "There’s a place for all different kinds of agriculture,"Ball says, "but the one thing that diversifying and direct marketing has helped some of us with is an opportunity to look our customers right in the eye, and get a real sense of what the marketplace wants and feels that they would like in the future."

Richard Ball does have a connection to dairy, though. He grew up on a dairy farm. "My mom was the fifth generation on the farm in a little town called Halcott Center, which is on the edge of Greene county where it meets Delaware county in the Catskills," Ball says.

Ball went on to manage a vegetable farm for 20 years before starting his own Schoharie Valley Farms. He told David Sommerstein he’ll draw on that range of experience to serve the state’s diverse agricultural mix. Click listen to hear the whole interview.

Ball’s confirmation is not expected to be controversial. He has the support on the New York Farm Bureau, which said “his knowledge will serve the diversity of our farms well”. Ball served on the Farm Bureau’s board of directors until he stepped down upon being nominated.



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