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Dean Boor: Governor Cuomo planting right seeds for continued growth

Dean Kathryn J. Boor, PhDI am very pleased that Governor Cuomo’s vision, as outlined in his 2016 State of the State and Budget Address, recognizes the importance of agriculture to the state’s economic vitality and community wellness. Governor Cuomo understands that agriculture has always been—and continues to be, more than ever—a vital component of the state’s character and economic health, especially as the dairy, beer and wine industries create fresh opportunities across the state. The Governor’s vision bolsters Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Land-Grant Mission—a mission of teaching, research and outreach—in several key areas.

First, having been privileged to serve on the Governor’s Anti-Hunger Task Force, I am very pleased to see several of the task force’s suggestions adopted. In particular, I applaud the Governor’s continuing support of Farm-to-School programs, building upon successful partnerships between the Empire State’s school districts, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) educators, and local farmers. Farm-to-School programs create vital conduits that bring local crops directly to school cafeterias and promote the wellness of our state’s school children. CCE educators are also working with adults throughout the state, from Wyoming to Nassau counties, in order to increase nutritional awareness and community vitality.

As an agricultural leader, New York depends on the hardworking farmers across this state to drive business while providing all of us with the bounty of their efforts. I applaud the Governor’s announcement that the state will no longer tax those farmers delivering healthy produce to communities throughout the state by eliminating New York State Thruway tolls for their vehicles.

New York has remained an engine of the nation’s economic growth in large measure thanks to its continued investment in science and research. Having just celebrated Cornell’s 150 years of academic excellence, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is tremendously gratified to see the continuation of the successful New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program, which encourages our best and brightest high school students to pursue their educations and their futures in New York. I am very proud to say that, in just its first year, CALS is home to 31 STEM Incentive Awardees, with 3 more on their way. Across New York, STEM careers are growing twice as fast than those in any other field, and our students will be leading the way in agriculture and the biological sciences.

Since its inception, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has been devoted to developing farming techniques that allow those who work the land to reap the maximum economic benefit with the lowest environmental impact, a spirit of stewardship that continues as CALS creates a sustainable future for generations to come. The Governor’s commitment to increasing the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) dollars has energized the college’s highly successful and well-regarded Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. In a time of increasing challenges from invasive insect species and ever-changing weather patterns, it has never been more important to ensure that our IPM program has the resources needed to continue working hand-in-hand with New York’s farmers on employing a common-sense, earth-friendly approach: utilizing pesticides only when necessary and focusing on good agronomic practices, as CALS forges a sustainable future focused on growth and prosperity.

Kathryn J. Boor, PhD
The Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

January 13, 2016