In the 1960s, Dr. Robert F. Lucey of Cornell University had a vision of Northern New York as an agricultural production powerhouse, and he set out to found a Northern New York agricultural research program that is today known as the NNYADP Small Grants Program.
In 1961, Dr. Lucey prompted the New York State Legislature to appropriate funds to Cornell University to establish a research station at the State University of New York Agricultural and Technical College at Canton. Dr. Lucey established strong working relationships with that college and with the William H. Miner Agricultural Institute in Chazy, NY, and the Cornell Willsboro Research Farm in Essex County. He connected researchers, students, farmers and Extension educators for the task of evaluating the Northern New York factors that affect dairy farming and field crops.
The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program received its initial formal name in 1982. Dr. Lucey had established a program advisory committee of the region’s farmers, agricultural leaders and educators. Today, the Program remains farmer-driven and funds projects determined to be the most needed for NNY farmers.
Here are some comments on Dr. Lucey’s accomplishment:
Bob Lucey was a man who could see fifty years ahead of his time. He had the foresight to see the opportunities and the research needed to move agriculture in Northern New York forward into the 21st century — Jefferson County beef farmer and NNYADP committeeman Don Holman
The goal behind Bob Lucey’s program was to find the right crops to fit the Northern New York climate, soils and harsh winters. Bob’s work was instrumental in improving plant genetics and crop selection to make farming viable in Northern New York — dairyman and NNYADP committee member Bob Andrews.
Dr. Lucey helped make this region a focus area for Cornell by opening a revenue stream in support of regional research — Town of Lowville Supervisor and NNYADP committeman Arleigh Rice.
NNYADP committee member Frances Moore worked with Dr. Lucey on variety trials on her Franklin County farm. She says, I think he would be pleased to see the continuing support between the college and the local farmers.
St. Lawrence County Extension Field Crops Educator Peter Barney says Dr. Lucey earned farmers’ respect with his practical approach, and by being a good listener and a concerned researcher who spent a lot of time in the North Country regularly checking his test plots.
Dr. Robert F. Lucey died May 7, 2004, leaving behind eight children, 11 grandchildren and a legacy of vision and success for NNY agriculture.