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James Barber Joins Farm, Source, Thrive Otsego

Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie and Otsego Counties is pleased to introduce its new Agriculture Implementation Specialist for Otsego County, Jim Barber.

Supporting the Farm,Source, and Thrive Otsego brand that represents the efforts of the Otsego County Ag and Farmland Protection Plan, Jim said, “I see this position as an opportunity to serve farmers at the ground level. I hope to use my years of experience farming and in public service, to build connections with farm and non-farm partners. Partnerships at all levels are key to helping Otsego County farmers adapt to changing circumstances and create a resilient food and fiber industry.“

The vision for Otsego County agriculture is to maintain, grow, and initiate new agricultural concepts, practices, and opportunities that are achievable; and to help strengthen existing and new farming operations in order to preserve and nurture the viable farming sector of the County, today and in the future.

Jim brings a wealth of experience from the public and private agricultural sectors. He is the fifth generation to operate his family’s 450-acre farm in the Schoharie Valley. He married Cindy soon after they graduated from Cornell University’s College

of Agriculture and Life Sciences. They raised their three children on the family farm. Together, they worked to shepherd the farm through a gradual transition from a commercial dairy, hay, and whole-sale vegetable operation, to its current incarnation as a highly diversified farm including a 200-acre vegetable operation, 14,000 sq. ft. greenhouse space, another 14,000 sq. ft. of high tunnels, and a distillery, producing award winning vodka and gin from potatoes grown on the farm.
As was his father, Roger Barber, before him, Jim has been an active participant and leader in several community and agricultural boards and organizations. Jim was elected as President of the NY State Vegetable Growers Association, District Director for NY Farm Bureau State Board of Directors, and Pres-ident of NY Farms, an organization he helped found to bring together non-traditional partners in the food system to work toward common goals. He also served on the Cornell College of Agriculture Advisory Board, his local school board, and several other committees.

In 2007, Jim was appointed as a Special Assistant to the NYS Commissioner of Agriculture. In this position he worked on marketing and environmental issues and served as the Commissioner’s liaison to the fruit and vegetable industry.

In 2009, he was appointed by President Obama as NY State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency. During his service there, he directed significant efficiency improvements to the delivery of farm loans and farm programs, while managing the NY Farm Service Agency though significant budget cuts and staff reductions. Jim’s appointment in the USDA ended with the change in Presidential Administrations and he returned full-time to the family farm. In December Jim began his new role as Otsego County Ag Implementation Specialist.

With Jim’s guidance, the Farm, Source, Thrive Otsego initiative will continue to provide a pathway for Otsego County to increase successes and sustainability of its farms and agricultural sectors.
If you are a farmer, potential partner, or would simply like to learn more about the plan, please contact Jim at or call 607-547-2536 ext. 227.


Jim Barber
Ag & Farmland Implementation Specialist
607-547-2536 x227

Last updated January 7, 2019