As part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Budget Road Show, New York State Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball visited the East End on Friday, May 17, where he gave a presentation on the Governor’s proposed 2020 budget. A farmer himself, Commissioner Ball hails from Schoharie, a rural town in Central New York, where he farms 200 acres of vegetables, fruits and greenhouse products.
After opening remarks from Legislator Fleming and Legislator Krupski welcoming Commissioner Ball to the East End, he made his presentation to an audience consisting mostly of members of the farming community, representatives of NGOs and government officials, stressing the importance of the agriculture industry to the economy and the culture of Suffolk County and the entire state.
Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Agriculture on Long Island is critical to the local and state economy, employing thousands of people and supporting a growing agri-tourism industry. I was pleased to share with the Suffolk County Legislature and the East End community details about the New York State budget, highlighting the funding for agricultural research, educational, and promotional programs that will benefit Long Island’s producers, including Taste NY and Farm-to-School, which help further connect New York’s farmers to new customers and increase their competitiveness.”
With over 35,000 farms on over 7 million acres, New York is one of the leading agricultural producers in the nation and contributes $2.4 billion to NY’s gross domestic product through the cultivation and sale of a number of diverse crops including vegetable and fruits, dairy and meat products, shellfish, honey and nursery stock.
Legislator Krupski, who is a fourth generation farmer himself, thanked Commissioner Ball for keeping the lines of communication open between Governor’s office and local government and for taking the time to visit Suffolk County, one of the top agricultural producing counties in the state. “By sending the Commissioner of Ag and Markets as his representative to the County Seat, he is acknowledging the importance of Suffolk County’s agriculture industry to New York State.”
“I thank Governor Cuomo and the members of the New York State Legislature for their support of issues critical to Suffolk County, such as increased aid for public transportation and essential support for the County’s Septic Improvement Program. We are particularly appreciative of the continuing attention paid by our leaders in Albany, such as Commissioner Ball, in recognizing the economic and environmental importance of maintaining our heritage,” explained Legislator Fleming.
While the top spending priorities for the executive budget are education, health care, statewide infrastructure improvements and making the 2% tax cap permanent, $300 million has been allocated to the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) which can used for projects preserving farmland, remediating invasive species and improving water quality among others. The executive budget also highlights the governor’s continued commitment to shell fish restoration on Long Island, as it includes $3.6 million for this purpose.