NYAAC Leadership – History & Words from our New Chair and Vice-Chair

Apr 25, 2023 | Announcements

Meet the Leaders of NYAAC

There have been some changes in the leadership of our organization in the past few months. Joel Riehlman, a long-standing NYAAC board member and previous Vice-Chair, was appointed to Chairman during our annual meeting in March of ‘23. Joel was preceded by Steve Palladino, who now takes on the role of vice-chair. This change will allow the leadership of NYAAC to undergo a smooth transition while NYAAC continues working with farmers and advocating for animal agriculture.

Meet Joel: NYAAC Chairman

Mr. Riehlman was born and raised on a family dairy farm in Homer, NY. Riehl Holm Farm was owned by Joel’s great-grandfather, who purchased the farm in 1900 – they milked 82 cows. In 1986, Joel’s parents bought the farm next door, allowing his brother and cousin to join the family operation.

Joel attended SUNY Cobleskill and then Cornell University, graduating in 1991 and returning to his home farm in Homer. In ‘94, Joel married his wife, Lorrie, and in’95, they purchased his parent's dairy herd and moved to Cayuga County to start their dairy and raise their family. Between 1995 and 2002, Joel and Lorrie had five children, Emma, Owen, Toby, and twins Ella and Brody. During that time, Joel also started a new position on a farm in Fabius, NY.

Venture Farms is owned by the VanErden family, and they hired young Joel to manage their milk herd. Today, Joel is a managing partner. The farm has grown, and so has Joel’s role. He is now the “people and cow guy,” he said as he explained his responsibilities of caring for the farm’s day-to-day operations and assisting with the human resource side of the business.

For the past six years, Mr. Riehlman has served on the NYAAC board as the farmer representative from Cayuga Marketing, one of NYAAC’s core member organizations. Joining the board was an exciting next step in his role as an agricultural advocate. He understood NYAAC’s mission and wanted to support the initiatives NYAAC was working towards.

After three years as an active board member, Joel stepped into the role of vice-chairman. For three years, he served NYAAC well in this role, and we are thrilled to have him continue to lead our organization into 2023 and beyond.

Meet Steve: NYYAC Vice-Chairman

Steve Palladino has served the NYAAC board as Chairman since 2017.  He has watched the organization take on new adventures, challenges, and projects over the years, and with his leadership, he has watched the organization succeed.

Born and raised in Pompey, NY, Mr. Palladino was immersed in agriculture from a young age. His grandfather raised dairy replacement heifers while his father and uncle owned a farm equipment dealership. From 8 to 18, Steve helped his grandfather and other neighbors on their dairy farms.

From 1980 to 1884, Steve studied at SUNY Morrisville and Cornell University. He majored in Dairy Management, looking to work on a dairy farm after graduation. In 1984, Skip Hardie of Hardie Farm in Lansing, NY, interviewed Steve for the Herd Manager position. After four years in this role, making significant changes and increasing milk production, Steve was offered the opportunity to join the farm partnership. He became one of the owners of Hardie Farms in 1988. From there, the farm grew, the partnership expanded, and in 2013 the name was changed to Walnut Ridge Dairy. Today, Steve and partners John and Keith oversee the farm business. Steve’s role on the farm, other than co-owner, is General Manager.

The formation of NYAAC was in response to bad press and ill images of the dairy industry in the early 2000s. Steve and other dairy farmers noticed and decided to act. “We need to be proactive rather than reactive,” Steve said, and as the much-needed organization of NYAAC formed, Steve knew he wanted to be an active member.

Mr. Palladino has been on NYAAC’s executive committee since 2003. When founder and Chairman Dale Mattoon stepped down, Steve was appointed Chair, which helped to maintain consistency in the organization’s leadership. As a supporter and member of the NYYAC board for 20 years, Steve has seen a lot of changes within the organization.
“The biggest challenge during my 2 decades as a leader within NYAAC has been patience for the organization to become what we envisioned at our first meeting… Having goals and vision, but not quite knowing how and when we would get there. I’m excited to say we got there by joining forces with like-minded organizations, finding dedicated board members, and hiring amazing individuals to lead and achieve our goals. We are driven to use our funding wisely, collaborate with other organizations and professionals, and put agricultural messages out to the folks that need to hear them the most, the consumers! I am excited to see where the future of NYAAC takes us!”

As an organization and on behalf of the industry, we would like to thank Steve for his years of service and dedication to NYAAC’s mission. Additionally, we would like to thank Joel for stepping into the leadership role of Chairman and continuing to help drive our advocacy efforts further into the future.