The Long Island Farm Bureau celebrated 100 years of service Friday night at its annual awards gala, where locals Karen Rivara and Vito Minei were honored.
“It is a pretty proud accomplishment to be in existence for 100 years, while doing the work to protect agriculture,” LIFB executive director Robert Carpenter said. “In this day and age, it’s pretty rare to see any organization survive for 100 years.”
About a dozen elected representatives from all over Long Island attended the celebration at Polish Hall in Riverhead to present proclamations to the award winners and the farm bureau, including county Legislator Al Krupski, Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy and Southold Councilman William Ruland.
“I grew up with the farm bureau; it’s always been a fixture and has always been important in the farming community,” Mr. Krupski said. “One hundred years, that’s really impressive. That kind of commitment and energy is just going to continue in the future.”
Karen Rivara, president of Aeros Cultured Oyster Company Inc., received the Amherst Davis Memorial Farmer Citizen Award. She earned a marine science degree from Southampton College in 1981 and has advocated on behalf of shellfish growers for access to underwater lands through the Peconic Bay Leasing Program with Suffolk County. She is also a former Long Island Farm Bureau president, having served from 2013 until 2016.
“I’m very proud to receive the award,” Ms. Rivara said. “When I first started in the farm bureau, I’ve just always been amazed by the people who received the award and never thought of myself as someone who would win.”
Vito Minei, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, was awarded the Long Island Farm Bureau Citizen Award. He has held his current position since 2010. Before that he was director of the division of environmental quality at the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. In that capacity, worked with pollution control, wastewater and environmental management and ecology. CCE also celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.
“[Vito] has been a great advocate for agriculture,” Mr. Krupski said. “ We’re very impressed with your commitment, your work and attention to detail that’s certainly helped everyone in the industry.”
Mr. Carpenter said Suffolk County is one of the largest agricultural communities in New York State, with over 40,000 acres of farmland still in use.
“The Long Island Farm Bureau is definitely the best advocate for maintaining agriculture on Long Island,” Ms. Rivara said. “If we didn’t have them, I think our ag community would be very different.”
The farm bureau started in 1917 when 333 farmers joined together for the purpose of increasing food production during World War I.
“Looking forward, we definitely have our challenges for the future, like preserving the farmland, finding farmers who are willing, and regulatory issues, and I’m hoping to meet the challenge going forward as we’ve met them for the past 100 years,” Mr. Carpenter said.
Photo: Vito Minei and Karen Rivara. (Credit: Rachel Siford)