Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Message from In-Coming President of the NY Grape and Wine Foundation

A message from Sam Filler, in-coming president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation:

Hello New York Grape and Wine World, and our Supporters.

I officially joined the New York Wine & Grape Foundation Jan. 1, and I spent my first week at the foundation's offices in Canandaigua. 

I received a warm and gracious greeting from Jim Trezise and our colleagues: Dana Alexander, Kim Hughes, Jenn Cooper, Susan Spence and Teresa Knapp.  I quickly learned that the staff is the heart of the organization. Their professionalism, hard work and positive attitudes drive forward everything we do at the foundation. 

I am excited to join their team and work with them to propel the New York grape and wine industry to new heights.

Jim will remain as president through March 31, and he kicked off the transition process with a thorough briefing on the ins and outs of how the foundation operates and an overview of its core programs.  Our foundation colleagues got me up to speed on their roles and functions; and they provided more in-depth detail about the programs that they manage.  

I am impressed at the breadth and scope of support that the Foundation provides to the industry each year.  I intend to continue this long tradition of support, and I plan on seeking out input on how the Foundation can build upon and expand its programming.

The foundation hosted its annual meeting of wine trails Jan. 5. The meeting provided me an opportunity to connect with the key leaders and representatives from our state's wine regions.  During the meeting, the trails' leadership exchanged best practices to boost member participation and marketing tactics to reach and attract more visitors. 

From my experience at Empire State Development and working with the I Love NY and Taste NY teams, I recognize the important role that trails serve to promote our wine regions and tasting rooms.  To that end, I plan on touring every wine trail and attending trail membership meetings during the first half of this year.

There will also be opportunities provided by the State this year for the foundation and wine trails to collaborate even more.  
Gov. Cuomo has proposed in his State of the State policy book several new initiatives to promote the craft beverage industry and agritourism.  For example, he pledges to make available $2 million through the Market NY REDC grant program for projects focused specifically on promoting destinations, attractions and special events related to the craft beverage and agritourism industry.  Additionally, he proposes to boost Taste NY's budget by $500,000 to support its presence at key food and beverage events.

These new investments will be complimented by the launch of New York State's first-ever New York Craft Beverage Week. This new promotion will be supplemented by a grant program for craft beverage producers to engage in joint marketing campaigns and stipends to enter products in national and international competitions.  

And, Gov. Cuomo proposes to establish the Taste NY Culinary Trail System, which will assist New York's branded trail systems with additional statewide promotion, as well as a one-stop shop within the Taste NY program to provide technical support.
This is going to be an exciting year of continued growth for the grape and wine industry.  It helps greatly that our state government remains committed to supporting our industry in many ways.  

I look forward to meeting many of you over the course of the year, and I welcome your ideas and questions, so feel free to email anytime at

Conference on Farm Transfer and Management Set For Feb. 15, 16

A two-day conference on Farm Transfer and Management is scheduled for Feb. 15 and 16 at the Double Tree by Hilton in DeWitt, east of Syracuse.

The conference, put on by NY FarmNet, will include discussion and education about how to manage the risks of farm business transfer, such as:

** Human Resource Management
** Strategies for managing the agricultural market
** Crop insurance options for your farm
** Developing a risk management plan for your farm

Gary Schnitkey will give the keynote address. Schnitkey, a professor and farm management specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, focuses on farm and risk management, specifically crop insurance evaluation, and aiding farmers in understanding the risk and return tradeoffs of different crop insurance policies. 

Admission to the conference is free as are all meals and materials. Hotel accommodations are NOT included. Travel scholarships are available for veterans.

Tickets are available at this link.

You also can register at at this link. Registration does not include hotel reservations.

Also sponsoring the conference are Farm Credit East, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Ag Analytics.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Haskins Named President, CEO of New York Apple Association

New York Apple Association is starting the new year off with Cynthia Haskins at the helm as its new president and chief executive officer.

“I am thrilled to partner with New York Apple Association’s dedicated board, committed staff and critical partners to expand brand recognition and consumption of New York apples and products,” said Haskins.

“This is an ideal leadership opportunity to marry my passion for working with growers and industry to expand markets locally, nationally and globally.”

Haskins joins the association with extensive background in the produce industry, having worked with organizations such as The Oppenheimer Group, Washington Apple Commission, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, Dole, Sunkist, Missouri Department of Agriculture, and most recently Illinois Farm Bureau.

“We welcome Cynthia’s vast experience and leadership to the New York apple community,” said Jason Woodworth, chairman of the New York Apple Association’s board of directors.

“Cynthia has a results-oriented approach and a broad background that will serve our diverse industry well,” he said.

The New York Apple Association promotes demand for New York state-produced and -packed apples and apple products, through promotional and educational work with retailers and other handlers, consumers, processors and others. The association also works with state and federal legislators and regulators.

New York is the second largest apple-producing state in the country, after Washington state.

“Cynthia’s experience in the domestic and international apple industries – coupled with her skills in marketing, association management and government relations – will be strong assets as we look to the future,” said Woodworth.

Haskins succeeds Jim Allen, who retired Jan. 2 after a 20-year career with NYAA, including 16 years as president.

Check Out Winter Farmers' Markets

New Yorkers should remember that dozens of farmers’ markets are open across the state through the winter season.  

Winter markets provide shoppers the opportunity to buy farm-fresh foods and other products while supporting local farmers. 

For a second year, 14 winter markets are also issuing FreshConnect Checks, which allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to increase their buying power when they shop at farmers’ markets. 

Additional markets are encouraged to join the program to provide a greater number of FreshConnect checks to people and families in need.

“This is a terrific time to shop at your local farmers’ market and enjoy all they have to offer," said Richard Ball, commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.  "Despite the cold weather, New York farmers have plenty of fresh produce and high-quality products available during the winter. Our FreshConnect Checks also provide an added benefit for those in need and I encourage additional markets to join the program this season.”

There are more than 150 farmers’ markets, farm stands and mobile markets across the state that are open now, with additional markets set to open later this month and one scheduled to re-open Feb. 1.  

The markets operate on varying days and times throughout the week and weekend to fit a variety of schedules. They provide consumers with a wide selection of fresh vegetables and value-added goods such as craft beverages, all-natural skin care products, wool products, maple syrup and honey. 

Fourteen winter farmers’ markets are also participating in the FreshConnect program and additional markets have the option to join the program at any time. These markets issue FreshConnect Checks, which provide a $2 incentive for every $5 in SNAP benefits spent, increasing the purchasing power of SNAP recipients by 40 percent. 

For the first time last year, low-income families had the opportunity to use these checks 12 months a year. Previously, the checks were only available at participating markets during the spring and summer. Although the checks are issued at select markets, they may be redeemed at any of the more than 150 markets currently open, or the more than 750 farmers’ markets and farm stands open throughout the year.

Find a complete list of farmers’ markets, farm stands and mobile markets across New York state at this link. Check their operating months to find those open during the winter.

The following winter markets are participating in the FreshConnect Checks Program: 
Capital Region
Empire State Plaza Farmers Market (Albany County)
Saratoga Farmers Market (Saratoga County)
Schenectady Greenmarket (Schenectady County)
Veggie Mobiles Markets (Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady Counties)

Central New York
CNY Regional Market (Onondaga County)
Syracuse Farm Fresh Mobile Market (Onondaga County)

Finger Lakes
Brighton Farmers Market (Monroe County)
Rochester Public Market (Monroe County)

Beacon Farmers Market (Dutchess County)
Cold Spring Farmers Market (Putnam County)
Kingston Winter Farmers Market (Ulster County)
Rhinebeck Farmers Market (Dutchess County)

Mohawk Valley
Oneida County Public Market (Oneida County)

Southern Tier
Broome County Regional Market (Broome County)

Friday, January 13, 2017

New Farm Store Opening in Onondaga County

Dan Palladino of Palladino Farms in Pompey is opening a new farm store at 2 p.m. Friday Jan. 13 (today).

Palladino said "we will have product samples and tastings by Trinity Valley Dairy, Clean Slate balsamic vinegars and honey, breads by Alambria Springs farm and maple products from Dutch Hill maple."

Palladino said the primary reason for starting the store is he believes there is a "huge unmet need for a place selling local foods in our town and area. In addition, the town of Pompey passed a very farm friendly law in 2015 called the "farm business overlay", which allows qualified farmers to have commercial enterprises on their farm if they meet certain criteria."

One of the main criteria is a certain percentage of foods sold must be actually grown in Pompey.

"Our goal is to bring the connection between consumer and farmer even closer," Palladino said. "The store will give other small farms that only produce one or a few items an outlet to sell their products where they otherwise could not afford to."

Palladino also believes food should be affordable and some stores and retail sites sell healthy local foods at higher prices.

"While this is unavoidable with some premium and organic products, I plan to price as competitively as possible so that all people can enjoy shopping for local products at our farm store and not have to go to a large retailer or buy from unknown sources," he said.


Palladino said his goal is to carry as many made in Onondaga County products as possible, as well as some regionally produced products (from other counties and a few items from Pennsylvania) until he can find a local source of those products.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Happy National Milk Day

Happy National Milk Day!

Why this day isn't held during Dairy Month in June, I'm not sure. 

But according to the National Day Calendar, the first day milk arrived by delivery in bottles was on Jan. 11, 1878. National Milk Day commemorates this day and the delivery of this important staple beverage in America.