The Empire State’s agricultural promotional arm is revamping one of its marketing tools and working to help grower-shippers send more of their products to the state’s food purchasers.

After several years of inactivity, the Albany-based New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is breathing new life into The Pride of New York program.

Empire State revitalizing Pride of New York programIn the past, the program promoted the state’s commodities via advertisements through a “Buy local. Buy Pride of New York” slogan.

In recent years, efforts have focused on encouraging retail and foodservice buyers to purchase New York products.

After the recession of 2008, states including New York placed many discretionary programs on the shelf, said New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball.

“We are at a good time now, and I think in the produce world in particular, because we have such a vibrant number of growers in the Northeast,” he said.

“We have great resources and some of the best growers in the country, and here we are with this great marketplace in the Eastern Seaboard that wants to know what we do.”

The agency is revamping the Pride of New York’s website,

It plans to make the site more user-friendly and retool it to allow buyers — including wholesale customers — to search for New York growers, Ball said.

The agency expects to introduce the new site in December.

In February, the department started an initiative to connect growers with institutional buyers.

The effort began with apples, potatoes, onions and dairy and staff plan to expand the purchasing model to help growers of other commodities sell to educational institutions and other state facilities, Ball said.

The effort began with the state’s corrections and mental health departments but soon expanded to agencies serving the elderly, children and the State University of New York, he said.

The effort should work well in the downstate markets and involve distributors on the Hunts Point Terminal Market, Ball said.