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Outstanding Alumni Awards - Patrick Hooker

Patrick Hooker
Patrick Hooker ’84

Patrick Hooker has become a powerhouse of New York agriculture. His career started in the New York State Assembly, where he was a rural affairs adviser in the Office of the Minority Leader from 1985-87. He later served as director of the Senate Agriculture Committee, where he oversaw the renovation of the milk dealer licensing system and the first New York state farmland protection program. He then provided leadership to the New York Farm Bureau for 16 years as director of the Division of Governmental Affairs and as deputy director of public policy. In those roles, he worked on the farm real property tax credit and the sales and use tax exemption clarifications.

The education graduate became the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture in 2007, steering the Department of Agriculture and Markets through turbulent economic times with a focus on the core mission of protecting farmers, animal and plant health, and the food supply. He also created the Governor’s Food Policy Council, which continues to contribute to agriculture and food policy. He left the agency in 2011 to serve as director of agribusiness development for Empire State Development Corporation, where he targeted resources to revitalize food processing, creating markets for family farms and supporting the state’s booming yogurt and farm-based beverage initiatives. He was recently appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo as deputy secretary for food and agriculture, where he oversees the Department of Agriculture and Markets and the State Liquor Authority.

In each of his roles, Hooker has capitalized on Cornell’s research and extension resources to serve the interests of New York agriculture and benefit the public. He has also shown great commitment to Cornell and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In addition to serving on the CALS Dean’s Advisory Council, the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station Advisory Council, and the New York Sea Grant Board of Governors, Hooker has been a member of the College of Veterinary Medicine Advisory Council and the Statewide Integrated Pest Management Grower Advisory Committee.

Wine lovers also owe Hooker a debt of gratitude: he was instrumental in bringing a specific clone of Riesling grape from Germany to New York to be planted at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s vineyard, earning him an industry award from the New York Wine and Grape Foundation in 2011.

Hooker, his wife Karen and their two children – Erika ’13 and Mitchell – live on a 360-acre farm in Herkimer County where they harvest hay, keep horses and produce maple syrup.