Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Magee Bill Would Extend Property Tax Exemption on New Farm Buildings

A bill written by Assemblyman William Magee to extend the current real property tax exemption for new farm buildings until 2029 recently passed the Assembly.

The bill, A-10057, extends the property tax exemption for increases in value due to construction or improvement of buildings needed for farm operations by 10 years.

“Farmers work from sunrise to sundown to produce everything from crops to dairy products for our families,” Magee said. “But the cost of running and maintaining a farm is a lot to keep up with. This tax exemption is critical in helping farmers update their buildings and infrastructure and invest in businesses so they can afford to stay open and keep growing.”

Farm upkeep can be very costly, and building or upgrading vital structures like milking parlors, barns and stables is an expense many family farms can’t afford, Magee noted. The structures must abide by regulations that can drive these costs up even further. The bill helps lessen this burden, Magee said.

“Many farmers have invested in newer style milk barns which are more open, airy and efficient,” said Nelson Town Supervisor Roger Bradstreet. “Property tax assistance for this investment is helpful. I encourage the New York Senate to pass this important legislation, as the New York state Assembly has done in recent weeks.”

As the chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Magee has been a vocal advocate for farmers. Expanding the real property tax exemption and lowering the cost of production encourages farmers to invest in their farms, helps make farms more profitable and makes it easier to pass farms down to the next generation and keep them in the family, Magee noted.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the farm moms out there.

And also to these moms!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trying to Boost NY's Concord Grape Industry

The first-ever New York State Concord Grape Summit was held in April in hopes of revitalizing and expanding the state's Concord grape industry. 

Concord grapes from Western New York
Farmers, researchers, and industry leaders met with state officials to discuss industry growth challenges and explore new opportunities for Concord grape growers in New York. 

During the summit, several initiatives were announced to help strengthen the industry, including expanding research, investing in new product and new market development, and expanding marketing and promotional programs to encourage increased growth in this sector.

"Western New York's Concord grape industry exemplifies the very best of this state's diverse agriculture," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "By expanding research and marketing opportunities for both Concord grape growers and processors, we can provide a boost to the agricultural community, grow business, and create new jobs in this region and across New York."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul opened-up the summit at the Grape Discovery Center in Chautauqua County, the heart of Concord grape growing in the Eastern United States.

"As a lifelong visitor to Chautauqua County, I know there is tremendous local pride in the fact that it is the world's largest contiguous Concord grape growing region," she said.

"Concord grapes grown across the Lake Erie shoreline are an important part of the diverse agricultural landscape of New York state. The Governor and I are committed to doing everything we can to support the grape industry and agricultural products across the state."

Hochul said those at the summit heard from stakeholders including farmers, researchers and industry leader. "Now we can move forward with solutions to address the challenges facing the Grape Belt here in Western New York," she said.

New York is the nation's second largest Concord grape producer, and the Lake Erie Concord Belt is the oldest and largest Concord grape growing region in the world. About 30,000 acres of grape vineyards are located along the belt with the majority, more than 18,000 acres, growing in New York state. 

The Concord variety is used in the production of many value-added products, including grape juice, jellies and marmalades, and wine.

New York's Concord Grape industry has a significant impact on the state economy and beyond. A study conducted by the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association, with assistance from Cornell University and Pennsylvania State University, estimated that each year, growers in the Concord Grape Belt produce 150,000 tons or more of Concord grapes on 30,000 acres of vineyards. 

Dozens of value-added products are processed locally and sold across the United States and exported around the world. Overall, grape-related production activities like growing, processing and winemaking support nearly 2,000 jobs and contribute $340 million in total economic impact.

In recent years, New York's Concord grape growers have experienced challenges due to a combination of changing consumer preferences for juice products and oversupply of product that has reduced grape prices. Juice and jelly production businesses are also being impacted, with many closing or reducing production as a result.
The Concord Grape Summit brought together agriculture, research and business leaders to discuss new developments and strategies to reinvigorate New York's Concord grape industry and boost the state's agricultural economy. 

Based on the input of these key stakeholders, several innovative actions were announced to increase opportunities for farms and businesses in this agricultural sector.
Advance Research
  • Support research on denaturing Concord juice to create a neutral blending juice for wine through a public-private partnership between Cornell University and Welch's.
  • Support, in partnership with Cornell University, a Vine Certification Program to ensure disease-free planting stock.
  • Provide $300,000 to Cornell University for food science research and development of new products using Concords.
  • Corrnell University's Breeding Program will release NY 98, a seedless, sweet table grape with the color of a Concord.
Develop New Products and Markets

The State will invest in several marketing strategies to support the development of new products made from Concord grapes and to introduce Concord grape growers to new markets, including: 

  • Host the "Grape State of NY Competition" to challenge New York food and beverage manufacturers to develop new product lines using Concord grapes and grape juice.
  • Launch a $100,000 Market Development Grants Program to support new Concord marketing opportunities.
  • Increase grape industry representation at domestic and international trade shows, including events in Chicago, Orlando and New York City.
  • Hold two workshops on export opportunities and marketing assistance.
  • Focus on institutional purchasing of grape juice.
Vineyard Improvement Program

New York will invest more than $1.2 million to help Concord grape growers renovate vineyards, plant new vines, or diversify vineyard operations.
Increase Grape Marketing and Promotions Programs

  • Launch a new Brandy Competition addition to the Governor's Cup, challenging winemakers to develop a unique New York craft beverage featuring Concords.
  • Showcase Concord grape products at Taste NY Welcome Centers.
  • Hold "It's a Grape Day" at the Great New York State Fair, which will feature a variety of grape vendors in the Taste NY Marketplace at the Fair. 
  • Expand the NYS Grown & Certified program to include grape juice and wine.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Program on Advancing Local Foods April 19 at State Fairgrounds

A program titled "Improving Our Local Food System" is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 19 in the Empire Room at the New York State Fairgrounds.

Anyone from farmers, processors, distributors, community partners, educators or policymakers should come to talk about how to advance the local food system in Central New York.

The program will consist of three panelist discussions on the topics of Food Distribution Models, the Emerging Brewing Industry and Accessing New Markets. Through this collaborative effort, all sections of our local food system will be brought together for an opportunity to learn, connect, share, and collaborate.

There is no fee to attend. To register,go to

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Beef Cattle Necropsy Workshop Set for April 18

A beef stocker cattle necropsy workshop is set for 6:30 p.m. April 18 at the Howard G. Sackett Technical Center (BOCES) in Glenfield, Lewis County.

Learning why an animal died is a good first step to preventing future losses. This class will review what the veterinarian is looking for and when it is an appropriate time to conduct the evaluation. The most valuable animal on your property is the one that just died, because there is much to learn from a necropsy.

Dr. Deanna Fuller, a veterinarian with Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Lowville will lead this workshop. Discussion will cover when it is appropriate to do a necropsy, your safety when doing a necropsy, and techniques and evaluation.

There is no cost to attend. Space is limited to the first 20 people. Contact Ron Kuck, dairy livestock educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County (315-704-8810, to register.

The event is sponsored by CCE of Jefferson and Lewis counties; New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets; and the Southern Tier Stocker Cattle Initiative.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Money Put Back in State Budget for ROPS Program

From the office of state Sen. Patty Ritchie:

A total of $250,000 has been put back into the new state budget for the lifesaving Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) Rebate Program, which equips tractors with special safety equipment to avoid tractor overturns.   

Funding for this program had been eliminated in the governor's Executive Budget proposal.

Tractor rollovers are the leading cause of death on American farms, claiming the lives of nearly 100 farmers across the country annually. While most tractors built after 1985 have built-in rollover protection, tractors manufactured prior to that date — which many farmers use — do not have the safety feature in place.
The ROPS Rebate Program helps protect farmers by covering about 70 percent of the expense of purchasing and installing ROPS, which typically cost between $800 and $1,200.

In the last 11 years, the program has outfitted more than 1,500 tractors across the state with the rollover-prevention device. However, nearly half of the tractors on New York state farms are still operating without it.