Cornell Berry Resources
New York Berry News
Berry Crop Guidelines
Berry Diagnostic Tool
The New York State Berry Growers Association (NYSBGA) was begun in 1988 and incorporated in 1993 in its present form, a 501 (6) (c) not for profit educational association. The purpose of the Association is "to promote the growing and marketing of berries by the exchange of information and to represent the Berry Growers in the areas of labor, research and technology, to advertise and promote the eating of berries". This is accomplished by providing information and education to its grower members, and through yearly meetings with faculty and extension staff to discuss berry industry research and educational needs. While not a direct lobbying association, berry industry issues can be represented in public hearings and agency forums. NYSBGA has a board of directors that meets two or three times per year, and has an executive secretary.
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and other berries are indeed the fruit for the new millennium. More and more, berries are being recognized for both their nutritional and health value. Demand for berries continues to increase, and they receive favorable reviews in public media. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), in 2010, the value of berry production in NYS was $15,000,000 for the three major berry crops (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries). In the last ten years, blueberry acreage has increased 29%, raspberries 11%, and strawberry acreage has declined slightly. In those same ten years, the combined value of these three crops has risen almost 50%.
Since its inception, the Berry Growers Association has granted $35,000 in research grants, primarily to Cornell researchers and extension staff, to address issues important to NYS growers. Originally, research dollars were collected from members on a voluntary basis. In 2009, the Board of Directors placed an even higher value on research, and changed the dues structure so that $50 of every member's dues would automatically be put into a research fund.
The NYSBGA was instrumental in Cornell receiving NYFVI grants for Improving Production Efficiency in Berry Crop Production in 2007 and 2009. The Board proposed the idea, reviewed and suggested changes for the proposal, and members have served as advisors, collaborators, and participants. Unfortunately, state funding cuts prevented the 2009 project from getting under way. In 2009, the Association also applied for, and received funding from the Farm Credit Ag Enhancement grants program to develop a new logo to act as a catalyst for a renewed effort on marketing. During the summer, press releases are sent out to alert consumers when the different "berry seasons" have begun. In the 1990's, the association also received a grant from EPA to develop and implement an IPM certification program with standards and a point system that a third party auditor used to verify that berries were IPM-certified.
For the future, the association would like to develop a way to guarantee that enough funds are raised to at least supply Cornell researchers with a summer technician to assist with berry research, thus ensuring a consistent research program that addresses the needs of NY growers. We are always interested in creative solutions that produce a benefit for both the industry and our partners in research and Extension.