SUNY Chancellor King and Senator Hinchey Convene First Agriculture Technology Workforce Readiness Summit at SUNY New Paltz

September 7, 2023

Summit Included Department of Labor Commissioner Reardon, Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Ball, Industry Partners, SUNY Campus Presidents, and Agriculture and Technology Experts

Photos Available Here

New Paltz, NY
– Recognizing that New York’s agricultural workforce needs are transforming as a result of emerging technologies and complexities of modern farming, such as the impacts of climate change, State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. and Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, Senator Michelle Hinchey hosted Department of Labor Commissioner Reardon, Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Ball, industry partners, SUNY campus presidents, and agriculture and technology experts for the first Agriculture Technology Workforce Readiness Summit.

From precision agriculture that utilizes drones for integrated pest management to autonomous tractors to improving food safety and sustainable production practices, the agriculture industry is undergoing a rapid change wherein more and more technology is becoming integral to a farmer’s toolkit. Modern AgriTech tools include hydroponics, drones/unmanned aerial vehicles, Geographic Information Systems, and climate monitoring and weather forecasting, to name a few.

The focus of the summit was to strategize workforce development and training actions that can be taken on climate change, connectivity, diversity, and other issues at the forefront of the minds of New York’s farmers, growers, and producers. Attendees discussed potential budgetary, legislative, and agency-rulemaking initiatives to bolster innovation and in-demand agriculture job creation; facilitate new campus-industry partnerships; and ways that SUNY campuses can partner in creating new academic degree and workforce credential programs to support the industry’s workforce development pipeline.

"The agriculture industry and its technology have grown exponentially over the last few decades. To keep up with advancing agriculture technology, it is important to cultivate a highly skilled workforce capable of utilizing these cutting-edge technologies to enhance production, yield, and sustainability," said SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. "SUNY is committed to strengthening and supporting the agriculture industry in New York State by dedicating resources to broadening agricultural education as well as research and workforce development initiatives in anticipation of future demands. I thank Senator Hinchey for her leadership and partnership, and I look forward to taking action with her, Commissioners Reardon and Ball, and our SUNY campuses to lead innovation and prepare a growing agricultural workforce."

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, Senator Michelle Hinchey said, "In a world where climate, weather, and food security pose some of the greatest challenges of our time, New York has a unique opportunity to harness technology’s potential, leading the way toward a more sustainable and efficient future for agriculture while preparing the next generation of workers for careers in the emerging sectors of Agri-Tech. I am incredibly proud to co-host the inaugural Agriculture Technology Workforce Readiness Summit in partnership with SUNY Chancellor John B. King. This summit is the first of many to help our State Legislature, local SUNYs, workforce, and ag partners identify the untapped landscape within Agri-Tech and leverage insights to drive innovation, bolster sustainability, and support our farmers now and into the future."

SUNY Chancellor King announced at the summit the first round of agriculture and technology grants of upwards of $300K to SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Morrisville, and SUNY Cobleskill. The grant funding was made possible by the $75 million Transformation Fund allocated to SUNY by Governor Hochul and state legislators in the SFY23-24 Enacted Budget.

Funding will be utilized by each campus for:

  • Soil regeneration for sustainable agriculture practices programming at SUNY New Paltz
  • Microcredentialing and training in meat processing at SUNY Cobleskill
  • The creation of the Agribusiness Innovation Training Center with a focus on precision agriculture and integrated pest management at SUNY Morrisville

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Building a strong agricultural workforce pipeline is a critical component of a resilient food supply chain and the continued success of our agricultural industry. We have tremendous programs in New York when it comes to agricultural education for our young people, but we need to make sure we are connecting the dots from secondary education to higher education and beyond. We are committed to doing that, and with the Governor’s leadership and with the help of our partners, we are committed to expanding our work and ensuring agricultural training and education programs are readily available for current and future generations. I want to thank SUNY Chancellor King and Senator Hinchey for spearheading this first-ever Agriculture Technology Workforce Readiness Summit; our conversations today will help guide us as we tackle growing a highly skilled agricultural workforce moving forward."

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "Agriculture is more than just a multi-billion-dollar industry, it nourishes every single household in New York State. I thank Chancellor King and Senator Hinchey for leading this collaborative effort to explore innovative ways to support the workforce needs of this valuable and evolving sector."

New York State is comprised of around 33,000 farms. The state is the fifth-largest dairy producer in the nation, representing the state’s largest economic sector. NYS ranks in the top ten in the production of over 30 commodities, with just over a quarter of the state's land mass dedicated to agriculture—about seven million acres. The dairy industry is the state's largest agricultural sector, and New York ranks first nationally in the production of cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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