Meet Jim Barber

I am running for Senate in the 51st District, because I love this part of our country. I respect the people who live here and work hard every day to build a life for themselves and a future for their children. People who appreciate what our land provides to all of us. People who value self-reliance and independence. People who cherish their communities. I am motivated by the opportunity to improve conditions for everyone who lives here.

I have spent my life working with my hands, managing daily challenges with creative solutions, and serving as an advocate for farmers and rural communities. In addition to 

farming, I was Special Assistant in the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets for two years and the New York State Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency for seven years. In those capacities, I was an effective advocate for farmers—creating opportunities and streamlining government operations.

I know the good work that government can and should do to protect and serve every segment of our community, a government that protects our natural resources, respects personal choice and supports our farms and businesses. I understand that government, no matter the original intent, can create regulatory and policy burdens that inadvertently hold down our communities. I believe common ground and shared interests exists within the social priorities of the citizens in our District - I have a demonstrated history of identifying and articulating shared interests to work collaboratively and address challenges head on.

My wife and I are the 5th generation on a six-generation farm. We benefit from the work of prior generations to build a future for the generations to come. I believe government has a responsibility to protect what past generations have worked hard to build and to support our efforts today in building opportunity for future generations.

Serving in the Senate is an extension of what I have done all my life: get involved, fight for my community, bring people together and collectively make things happen!

"I believe common ground and shared interests exist within the social priorities of the citizens in our District."

Experience to get the job done

My public service experience includes seven years as the New York State Executive Director for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency, and two years in the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets as Special Assistant to the Commissioner. During my tenure, I gained a reputation at the state and national levels for initiating changes in federal policy and developing innovative program delivery systems. Throughout my life I have volunteered my service to organizations working to improve the future of the farming sector, the strength of our communities, and to build common ground.

We need a representative in the state Senate who has the experience to speak for all of us, someone who understands the needs of our communities and who will fight to strengthen our rural economies, protect our natural resources and support our farms and businesses. I have the experience to be that representative.

EXPERIENCE

Fifth generation farmer, small business owner

  • Owner and operator of 500-acre, highly diversified, six-generation family farm

  • Oversaw farm operation through several enterprise transitions and expansions

  • Our farm is one of the largest produce donors in NY to the Regional Food Bank system.

 

Government service

Presidential appointment to New York State Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency

  • Managed agency workforce of 240 employees and $15 million budget

  • Improved integrity and delivery of federal programs while sustaining a 20% reduction in budget and staff and a 10% reduction in the number of offices statewide

  • Reduced time for processing loan applications from 65 to 33 days

  • Developed innovative procedures to dramatically reduced training time and improve quality of performance for mandatory environmental reviews

  • Developed leadership training program to prepare employees for management positions

  • Established leadership role for New York in the development of national farm policy, initiating changes in federal programs to better meet the needs of New York farms

  • Initiated the majority of changes in the Farm Storage Facility Loan program to expand use by New York Farmers

  • Drove several improvements to federal programs for specialty crops

  • Created the first in the nation Urban Agriculture Outreach Specialist position

  • New York led the nation in adopting changes in federal farm programs to benefit our farmers

  • First state to implement the Chesapeake Bay Riparian Buffers Incentive Program

  • First state to establish criteria for implementing income safety-net program for organic growers

 

Gubernatorial appointment as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets

  • Developed pilot program for accepting EBT at farm stands

 

Farm industry leader

  • Co-Founder and President of NY Farms.

    • The organization was founded to initiate dialogue between farmers and non-agricultural groups, such as community organizations, environmental groups, and public institutions from upstate and New York City. Most of these organizations had never worked together and some were publicly in opposition on some issues. We were able to focus on common goals and achieved positive outcomes. The most significant was the creation of the first Farm to School program in the country. We worked with the state legislature, school districts and farmers to pass new legislation to enable schools to purchase directly from farmers. This program is now adopted nationwide. 

  • President of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association

  • New York Farm Bureau, county President and State Director

  • Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Advisory Committee

  • Congressman Antonio Delgado’s Agricultural Advisory Committee

  • Member of the Agricultural Transition Team for Governor Elect Eliot Spitzer

  • Served on External Review Committee for the Department of Fruit and Vegetable Science at Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 

 

Community leader

  • Middleburgh Central School Board of Education

  • Dam Concerned Citizens Inc.

    • Dam Concerned Citizens successfully worked with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC/DEP) and the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, on safety, and oversight issues regarding the Gilboa Dam.  Many of the outcomes generated by this organization have now been codified into standard procedure by the NYC/DEP.

  • Schoharie Valley Association

    • Cooperative organization of area businesses, focusing on agri-tourism, tourism, advertising, and promotion. 

  • Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee  

  • Schoharie County Farm Bureau, president and board member

  • Agriculture Advisory Committee for Cornell Cooperative Extension, Schoharie County

  • Coached several teams of students of Middleburgh Central School through the Odyssey of the Mind program, one team advancing to World Competition. 

 

Graduate of Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

 

Member of Class II of the Empire State Food and Agricultural Leadership Program (LEAD NY)

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