State Annual Meeting Elections and Awards

State Annual Meeting delegates elect officers and honor Distinguished Service to Agriculture recipients and James Quinn Award winners.

Syracuse, NY – New York Farm Bureau members wrapped up their 62nd State Annual Meeting Wednesday, December 5 with an evening banquet full of awards, state dignitaries and celebration for another successful meeting that sets the organization’s public policy agenda for 2019. The event highlighted this year’s theme, “Believe. Engage. Connect.”

Earlier in the day, delegates unanimously re-elected David Fisher, a dairy farmer from Madrid, NY, to his second two-year term as president of the state’s largest farm organization. Eric Ooms, a dairy farmer from Old Chatham, NY was also re-elected vice-president.

“It is an honor to represent such a large, diverse group of farmers. I am grateful they have once again put their faith in me. I believe in the effectiveness of this organization and the importance of having a strong agricultural community in this state. This week at State Annual Meeting, we connected with our fellow farmers and stressed how we can better engage with our neighbors, policy makers and consumers.  In the end, we will continue to have a strong, effective and sustainable Farm Bureau through transparent leadership, teamwork and strong partnerships,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.

The New York State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, Richard Ball, joined more than 300 members at the evening event in Syracuse. Dignitaries included Senator-Elect Rachel May, Assembly Agriculture Chair Bill Magee and Assembly members Carrie Woerner, Al Stirpe and William Magnarelli along with Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Markets, Patrick Hooker. Nationwide Insurance Board Member, Craig Adams, also spoke. Nationwide, NYFB’s insurance partner, sponsored the evening banquet. American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Scott VanderWal and his wife, Michelle, also attended the event.

New York Farm Bureau handed out its highest honor, the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, to three worthy individuals whose leadership has made a positive impact on New York Farm Bureau and agriculture in this state. The awardees include Bob Smith of Clifton Park, NY. Smith has served in many roles during his long career including at New York Farm Bureau, Farm Credit East and in New York State government advocating for strong agriculture policies that have improved the business climate for farmers.

Phyllis Couture of West Valley, NY received the award for her many decades of service to New York Farm Bureau and her community. She is currently the Promotion and Education Committee Chair on the New York Farm Bureau State Board of Director and helped to establish the national Pro-Ed Committee with the American Farm Bureau Federation. Couture and her husband, Chuck, operate a greenhouse business and sell fresh vegetables at farm markets in Cattaraugus County.

Finally, Lyle Wells, who passed away in January on his Long Island farm, was honored posthumously. Wells, known as the “Asparagus King”, was a huge cheerleader for agriculture, helping to establish the “Grown on Long Island” marketing program and worked to preserve farmland amidst growing development pressure on Long Island. He was also active on many community boards and organizations, including having served as Long Island Farm Bureau President.

New York Farm Bureau announced that four members received the James Quinn Award that recognizes extraordinary efforts by individual Farm Bureau members during the course of a given year “to serve and strengthen agriculture.”  The honorees include Amanda Barber of Cortland County Farm Bureau. Barber is a tireless advocate for agriculture, including spending many hours educating the public about farming and supporting a new agriculture education program at Marathon High School.

Bret and Johanna Bossard of Madison County Farm Bureau also received the James Quinn Award for their volunteer efforts. The couple offer tours of their farm, Barbland Dairy, and have been engaged at the local, state and national levels as strong communicators for farmers. Plus, they are active on multiple boards and promotion efforts to improve the economic conditions for farmers.

The final Quinn Awardee is Todd Giroux of Clinton County Farm Bureau. He has been proactive on sharing the story about the tough economic conditions facing dairy farmers and was instrumental in connecting with influencers and policy makers to bring attention to the issue in his county and across the state.

In addition, delegates re-elected district representatives to the State Board of Directors.  Those elected are Patrick McCormick of Java Center, NY in District 2, Lin Davidson of Lansing, NY in District 4, Jacob Schieferstine of Vernon, NY in District 6, Dean Casey of Schaghticoke, NY in District 8, and Chris Kelder of Accord, NY in District 10. Phyllis Couture of West Valley, NY was re-elected as Promotion and Education Chair. Kristen Brown, of Walden, NY was also elected again to serve on the State Board as the chair of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.

State Annual Meeting also serves as an important fundraising opportunity for the New York Farm Bureau Foundation for Agricultural Education. This year, through both a silent and a live auction, members raised money to support the Foundation’s efforts to inform and educate all New Yorkers regarding agriculture and to increase understanding of agriculture between the farm and non-farm public.

This concluded the annual two-day long meeting where public policy resolutions were discussed and voted on to set NYFB’s 2019 public policy agenda. The organization’s priorities will be released in January.