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Niagara fruit grower recognized for distinguished service to NY agriculture

Staff Reports Posted 5 January 2018 at 6:29 pm

Provided photo: NYS Ag and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball, front left, congratulates Jim Bittner on being recognized with the New York State Agricultural Society Distinguished Service Citation on Thursday in Syracuse. Also pictured, front row, third from left: Margo Sue Bittner, NY Farm Bureau representative Sandy Prokop, and NY AG Society President Beth Claypoole. Back Row: Kevin Bittner of Barker, David Bittner of Lyndonville, Janet Walker of Holley, and Award Committee Chair Richard Church.

The New York State Agricultural Society, the oldest Agricultural organization in New York State, honored Jim Bittner of Appleton with a Distinguished Service Citation at its 186th annual meeting on Thursday in Syracuse.

New York State Commissioner of Ag and Markets Richard Ball thanked Bittner for his service on various committees and pointed out that the Ag Society is like a family reunion. Producers, academics, political leaders and others involved in some aspect of agriculture come to celebrate this vital industry.

After relating Bittner’s history on the family beef farm and with Bittner Singer Orchards, presenter Richard Church, quoted nominator David Grusemeyer, New York Farm Viability Executive Director, who said, “Jim was a founding board member and later led the NYFVI as its chair with a level head, steady hand, and inquisitive spirit.”

Commissioner Ball confirmed that adding, “The industry is stronger today because of his great work.”

Church then listed the various agricultural organizations in which Bittner is involved: Niagara County and NY Farm Bureau, US Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching, NYS Advisory Council on Agriculture, New York Specialty Crop Advisory Committee, Agricultural Labor Advisory Group, SILO committee, Cornell School of Ag and Life Science’s Deans Advisory Committee, and Council of Agricultural Organizations. In addition, he has served on the NYS Horticultural Society Board of Directors.

In the community, Bittner is a long-time member of the Barker Lions Club and works with the Lewiston Kiwanis to have Niagara County peaches at their annual festival.

New York Farm Bureau Executive Director Jeff Williams thanked Jim for his service pointing out that they have worked together since 1975 when they were NY Future Farmers of America officers together. Williams pointed out the numerous lobbying activities in both Albany and Washington in which Bittner has participated.

In his “thank you” speech, Bittner acknowledged those who helped and supported him along the way: his parents, Joe and Theresa Bittner; children Kevin, Janet and David; wife Margo; and the two farmers who gave him the opportunity to farm, Frederick Atwater and Tom Singer.

Bittner also encouraged the group to reach out to those outside of agriculture to promote understanding.

“If you aren’t at the table, you may be on the menu,” he said.

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