New York ag commissioner becomes group's leader

State moving ahead with alternative fuel

By Janet Kubat Willette

Minnesota Agriculture Secretary Gene Hugoson hosted the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture annual meeting in Minnesota last week.

The meeting came to Minnesota because Hugoson was president of the organization. Next year, the meeting goes to New York because their agriculture commissioner, Nathan Rudgers, is the organization's new president. The presidency rotates by region, Hugoson said.


Rudgers, who took the reigns of NASDA Sept. 28, has served as New York's agriculture commissioner since 1999.

New York may not seem like an agriculture state, but it is, Rudgers said. It's the nation's No. 3 dairy state producing 11 billion to 12 billion pounds of milk a year.

Green beans, sweet corn, pumpkins, onions, potatoes, apples and grapes are other leading crops.

"We are a diverse agricultural economy much like Minnesota," he said.

The state is also moving ahead in the production of biofuels, with the nation's third-largest ethanol plant now under construction. The 100 million gallon plant is expected to be operating by this time next fall.

New York doesn't have an ethanol mandate, Rudgers said, but it does ban MTBE. As a result, ethanol is the oxygenate of choice.

Biodiesel is also becoming popular in the state as the number of soybeans grown continues to increase. Soybean acreage is growing faster than any other crop, Rudgers said.

NASDA allows agriculture secretaries, directors and commissioners to develop relationships and share information, Hugoson said. Many of the issues in common revolve around the states' relationships with the federal government.

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