back                   Distinguished Cornell '79 Classmates Honored at the 40th Reunion                    next

James E. Barber &
Cynthia Roehrs Barber

Jim & Cindy were engaged at Cornell after a 21-day courtship and married in 1980. They raised their children -- Grace, Ford and Elias -- on the 500-acre Barber Family Farm in the Schoharie Valley near Middleburgh, NY. Over 39 years, they worked as a team to guide this fifth generation farm through significant changes.

Cindy expanded the retail vegetable operation and established a thriving greenhouse enterprise with a reputation for high-quality plants and stunning hanging baskets. She contributes to the future of agriculture by sharing her knowledge with students and serving on statewide industry boards. Cindy volunteers with local organizations, is passionate about promoting the Schoharie Valley, and has been a leader in facing down threats from pipeline companies and NYC agencies. Cindy is respected by all, for her love of community and boundless energy.

Jim worked beside his father, Roger, managing the family farm and actively serving in leadership positions in several local and state agricultural organizations. Notably, he served as President of NY Farms, an organization he helped found with non-traditional partners in the food system, resulting in the creation of the first-ever Farm to School program.

 In 2007, Jim was appointed Special Assistant to the NYS Commissioner of Agriculture.  In 2009, he was appointed by President Obama as NYS Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Here, he directed significant improvements to program delivery, some of which were adopted nationwide, and he initiated significant changes in federal farm policy. He created the first-in-the-nation FSA Urban Agriculture Outreach position in New York City. Jim is currently the Agriculture Economic Development Specialist for CCE of Otsego County and helps manage a new family enterprise, Barber’s Farm Distillery – 1857 Spirits, producing award-winning vodka and gin from potatoes grown on the family farm.

Jim and Cindy live their shared values of working to improve conditions for farmers, serving community, commitment to their family farm and devotion to family.