Name Change To "Cornell AgriTech" Reflects Influence In Food, Ag Innovation

Cornell berry breeder Courtney Weber, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, inspects berries growing in a research trial at Cornell AgriTech. (Justin Muir photo)

Ithaca, NY (August 1, 2018) - The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences announced August 1 the renaming of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) to Cornell AgriTech.

Agriculture and food are multibillion-dollar industries in New York, and the name change underscores the value Cornell AgriTech brings to improving the health of the people, environment and economy of the state and beyond. Based in Geneva, New York, Cornell AgriTech is home to more than 300 faculty, scientists, staff and graduate students at the leading edge of food science, entomology and plant sciences research.

“Cornell AgriTech is an essential part of Cornell CALS and supports our mission of discovery that grows the agricultural economy in New York and makes food more nutritious, safer and better tasting for everyone,” said Kathryn J. Boor '80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS. “Cornell AgriTech is a global leader in food and agriculture research and innovation, as our scientists generate the breakthroughs and develop the technologies that improve the crops in our fields and the food on our plates.”

The New York State Legislature granted 130 acres in Geneva on June 26, 1880, to establish NYSAES. Researchers were charged with advancing scientific discovery and rapid communication of results to benefit the farmers and consumers of New York. The station became part of Cornell in 1923. Since then campus innovations have translated into new methods and technologies for growers and solutions that help farmers and businesses thrive. Cornell scientists have developed more than 280 new varieties of fruits and vegetables, pioneered insect attractants for pest control, and invented ultraviolet pasteurization and the gene gun to improve crops.

Today, Cornell AgriTech has expanded to more than 900 acres of fields, orchards and vineyards led by scientists dedicated to delivering solutions to farmers and business and propelling economic development in New York. With 12 research farms and 17,500 square feet of greenhouse space, Cornell AgriTech is a global leader in research, technology and education focused on food and intensively cultivated crops, with a major emphasis on fruits and vegetables. Researchers are also pioneering the study of plants that are engines of the future, from sources of bioenergy to emerging crops like industrial hemp that offer promising opportunities for growers in New York.

“Cornell AgriTech scientists continue to be on the cusp of new research, discovery and innovation, working together across disciplines to reimagine the future of food and agriculture systems in New York state and beyond,” said Jan Nyrop, the Goichman Family Director at Cornell AgriTech and associate dean at CALS.

New York is a farming state. More than one-fifth of the state’s land is dedicated to agriculture, and it contributes nearly 200,000 jobs and more than $37 billion in economic activity to New York. The state is one of the nation’s largest producers of apples, berries, grapes, onions, sweet corn, tomatoes, maple syrup, farm-based beverages like beer and wine, and a wide variety of other fruits and vegetables.

Researchers at CALS and Cornell AgriTech rigorously evaluate the profitability of production systems for diverse crops. Outreach is a major driver of activities at Cornell as part of its land-grant mission to bring knowledge directly to growers. Cornell AgriTech provides the latest research to New York farmers to improve their ability to adapt to changing environmental and economic conditions.

“Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station has long been recognized as a powerhouse of innovation, supporting the growth of the agricultural community in New York state and providing the research that drives the future of agriculture,” said Richard A. Ball, commissioner of agriculture at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. “I congratulate Cornell and its talented scientists and researchers on their accomplishments over the years and this exciting next chapter as Cornell AgriTech. The team at Cornell AgriTech will no doubt continue to impact our economy, paving the way for new opportunities for our farmers, enhancing the competitiveness of New York’s producers, and increasing the long-term success of the state’s agricultural industry.”

New York food manufacturing has been growing nearly 10 percent annually in recent years, and the industry supports more than 52,000 jobs in the state. Cornell AgriTech is a leading research and information hub for food manufacturing and safety. Since 1988, the Cornell Food Venture Center has helped more than 13,000 food entrepreneurs commercialize more than 20,000 products, while the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell supports the production of safe and novel foods that increase the economic viability and sustainability of the food industry in New York and beyond. The new Center of Excellence in Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech will work to accelerate business development and grow the New York agriculture and food economy.

School of Integrative Plant Science plant breeders based at Cornell AgriTech are working with some of the most popular food crops to improve flavor and nutrition and breed plants optimized to climatic conditions. The apple breeding program led by professor Susan Brown is one of the largest fruit breeding programs in the world, releasing 65 apple varieties including recent favorites RubyFrost and SnapDragon. The berry breeding program at Cornell AgriTech is the oldest in the United States, with more than 100 berries released in its history. Berry breeder Courtney Weber, associate professor of horticulture, has released numerous strawberries and raspberries in recent years, breeding for bold flavors and colors that resonate with consumers while meeting the needs of growers and helping support New York’s $20 million berry industry.

Cornell AgriTech experts in entomology, plant pathology, horticulture and plant breeding have been critical partners in establishing New York has a leader in grape and wine production. The grape breeding program directed by professor Bruce Reisch '76 has introduced 58 varieties of table and wine grapes, contributing tens of millions of dollars annually to the state economy.

At the same time, Cornell AgriTech scientists are looking to future food crops that will thrive in New York and along the East Coast. The Eastern Broccoli Project spearheaded by professor Thomas Björkman is working to create a $100 million broccoli industry that supports a year-round supply of quality, eastern-grown broccoli for East Coast markets.

“Our mission, simply put, is to grow things,” said Nyrop. “Our newly established identity will propel us forward as we work to grow knowledge, new techniques, new technologies, and the industries, economy and people they support.”

Greg Loeb, professor of entomology, and graduate student Samantha Willden analyze insects gathered from a research field. (Justin Muir photo)