2016 NEAFA Annual Meeting, Forum & Photo Gallery
Over two hundred members of the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance attended two days of panel discussions, presentations and networking opportunities during the organization’s 2016 annual meeting and forum held February 2nd and 3rd in Albany, New York.
The Organization’s Distinguished Service Award was presented to Art Whitman in recognition of his lifetime of service to agriculture. Whitman, a resident of North Bennington, Vermont, has served as the president of the Alliance and the Vermont Feed Dealers and Manufacturers Association.
Richard Casler, charter Board member and long-serving secretary, was honored for his many years of service to the Alliance. Casler was presented with a plaque in appreciation for his service to the Alliance.
The Alliance Annual Meeting and Forum kicked off with a trip to the New York State Capital where five groups of Alliance members met with eighteen legislators, or their staff, to discuss their strong concerns about the proposed $15 New York minimum wage. The small group meetings provided Alliance members the opportunity advocate their positions and provide insight into the economic importance of northeast agricultural businesses.
The education portion of the meeting included updates on transportation issues provided by Randy Gordon of the National Grain and Feed Association and a review of compliance steps for the Food Safety Modernization Act provided by Richard Sellers of the American Feed Industry Association. Dr. Mark Stephenson of the University of Wisconsin provided a historical and future outlook on issues impacting commodity dairy prices.
The topic of the Alliance’s February 3rd Annual Forum was “Agriculture’s Workforce: Who Will Meet Our Needs?” Jason Karszes, of Cornell University Pro Dairy outlined a framework for providing professional growth to agricultural employees. Tonya Van Slyke, of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) described the Agriculture Workforce Development Council created through a shared effort by NEDPA and many other New York farmer organizations to prepare and retain a skilled farm workforce. Elizabeth Wolters provided an overview of the efforts by New York Farm Bureau to develop legal means to hire foreign employees for work on dairy farms.
Kylie Chittenden and Jeff True, dairy producers; Clayton Wood, regional sales manager for Cargill; Ed Staeher, NY FarmNet; and Jay Matteson, Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator; participated in a panel discussion facilitated by Larry Van De Valk, Executive Director of LEAD New York. The group discussed current and long-term labor needs for their varied businesses.