Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mid-Hudson Region Gets $2.5 M for Farmland Protection

From Gov. Cuomo's office:

About $2.5 million has been awarded to five projects in the Mid-Hudson Valley through New York state's Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program to help farmers protect more than 700 acres of valuable and at-risk farmland. 

The funding, which was announced during the Governor's Mid-Hudson Regional Sustainable Development and Collaborative Governance Conference, supports ability of farms to maintain the land for agricultural purposes and protect it from development through the use of perpetual conservation easements.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Farmland Protection program and New York state has committed historic funding levels to farmland preservation. Since 2011, the state has invested nearly $40.9 million for 58 projects statewide.
"New York's hard-working farmers are essential to our economy, employing thousands across the state and growing produce that is second to none," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “With this funding, we continue to invest in the next generation of farmers in the Mid-Hudson Valley and help to ensure a sustainable future for the entire industry."
The Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program is part of New York state's Environmental Protection Fund, which New York State’s 2016 Budget more than doubled, raising the funding level to $300 million. 

Funding for the program increased by $5 million this year. It also built on last year's historic investment in farmland protection, including the $20 million Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program.

Meeting Oct. 26 Features Information on Water, Drought

From state Sen. Patty Ritchie's office:

Farmers and other interested individuals in Central and Northern New York who have been affected by the summer’s drought should attend a special presentation at 1 p.m. Oct. 26 featuring groundwater expert M. Todd Walter of Cornell University.

The meeting featuring Walter — a hydrogeologist who serves as director of the New York State Water Resources Institute, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University — will feature a discussion on the impact the drought has had on local aquifers, how long it may take wells to recover and insights on how farmers can rebound. 

In addition, those attending will also be able to ask Walter questions.The meeting will be in the first floor conference room at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown.

“The effects of last summer’s unprecedented drought are still being felt by farmers across our region,” said state Sen. Patricia Ritchie, who is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. 

“The goal of this meeting is for Dr. Walter to offer expert advice on how our hardworking farmers can recover from the drought and protect themselves from damage caused by dry weather conditions in the future.”

Walter’s visit is the result of suggestions from farm tours organized by Senator Ritchie in recent months to assess the drought’s impact on the agriculture industry.

Those interested in attending meeting should pre-register by calling (315) 782-3418. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Happy National Farmers Day!!

If you do just one thing today, be sure to thank a farmer.

Without them, we have no food on our table, no fruit beverages or wines or beer, and no natural fibers for our clothes.

In reality, we'd have pretty much nothing of any importance without farmers.

So thank a farmer today.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Check Your Yoma Myanmar 'Tea Salad Snack' for Peanuts

From New York State Ag and Markets:

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today (Monday Oct. 10) alerted consumers to undeclared peanuts in Yoma Myanmar “Tea Salad Snack – Spicy,” packaged and distributed by Yoma Myanmar Tea Co., 5 N. Beacon St., Boston, MA 02134.  

People who have severe sensitivity to peanuts may run the risk of serious or life-threatening reactions if they consume this product.  No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this product.

The recalled “Tea Salad Snack – Spicy” is packaged in a 7 oz. plastic bag coded EXP: 15 June 2018.  The product was sold at various retail stores in New York State.
Routine sampling by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets’ food inspectors and subsequent analysis of the product by the state Food Laboratory revealed the product contained peanut allergens, which were not declared on the label.
Consumers who have purchased “Tea Salad Snack – Spicy” may return the product to the place of purchase.   Consumers with questions about the recalled product may contact Yoma Myanmar Tea Co. at 617-783-1372 or, or the place of purchase.

Friday, October 7, 2016

FFA Membership on the Rise

Check this out, folks.

'Fall Into Farm-to-School' Campaign Begins in NYS

From the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball on Thursday Oct. 6 announced the ‘Fall into Farm-to-School’ campaign to encourage school districts across New York state to participate in the Farm-to-School program, which helps schools buy and serve locally-grown and produced foods on school menus. 

Throughout the month of October, schools are encouraged to learn more about starting the program in their district through the Farm-to-School website and related resources found, and

Districts already participating in the program are encouraged to share how they are celebrating Farm-to-School Month using the #FallintoF2S on social media.

Farm to You Fest
Farm-to-School Month is highlighted by the annual Farm to You Fest held Oct. 3 to 8

Farm to You Fest is a week-long annual celebration of local food and agriculture. During the promotion, school officials, parents, nutritionists, farmers and others are encouraged to organize fun and educational activities focused on New York agriculture. 

To celebrate, many schools feature New York farm products on their school lunch menus, hold taste tests of locally-grown fruits and vegetables, take field trips to nearby farms, conduct hands-on cooking demonstrations using local ingredients, and much more.  

New York State Farm-to-School Efforts

New York state’s Farm-to-School program is aimed at developing and strengthening relationships between farmers and schools to increase the amount of New York-made products offered to students and to expand markets for local farmers. 

The program also looks to educate students about New York’s specialty crops and increase their preference for these healthy meal options.

Since 2015, New York state has provided $850,000 for its Farm-to-School grant program, including $500,000 announced this past September, a nearly 43 percent increase over last year. 

Kindergarten through grade 12 school food authorities, charter schools, nonprofit schools, other nonprofit entities and Indian Tribal Organizations may apply for this funding to increase their use of homegrown specialty crops. 

Last year, six Farm-to-School programs in the state were awarded funds, benefiting 45 school districts and thousands of students. The funding helped the districts employ local or regional Farm-to-School coordinators, purchase equipment needed to increase the capacity of the school kitchen and food service staff, and make capital improvements to better transport and/or store those crops. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average New York State school district spends 11 percent of its budget on local foods. To date, those schools have invested more than $45 million, with the majority being used to buy New York fruits, vegetables, and milk.

The New York State Office of General Services also recently announced that school districts across the state have made a commitment to dedicate at least $2.5 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture funds toward the federal agency’s Pilot Project for the Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables during the 2016-17 school year. 

This investment represents a 400 percent increase over the $500,000 commitment by schools in 2015-16.
The state has also been a key partner in the New York Thursdays program, a new approach to bringing locally grown or produced foods directly to students in New York City Department of Education schools every Thursday

Part of a nationwide initiative being spearheaded by the Urban School Food Alliance, New York Thursdays boosts student health and education, while improving the district’s budget, strengthening the local agricultural economy, and cutting carbon emissions. 

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets is working to bring a similar program to schools throughout the state.