Monday, March 30, 2015

New State Budget Includes Record Ag Funding

This comes from the office of state Sen. Patty Ritchie:

The new state budget includes record funding for agriculture programs designed to connect consumers with locally produced farm products, increase farmers’ yields, boost rural economies and strengthen the future of family farms.

The final budget adds more than $12 million to the governor’s original plan unveiled in January, restores budget cuts to 33 different programs, and includes funding for key components of state Sen. Patricia Ritchie’s “Grown in New York” plan to strengthen connections between farmers and consumers increasingly looking to buy locally produced foods.

“With more than 100,000 people working on 36,000 family farms, agriculture is our most important industry, and supporting farmers means a stronger economy for rural communities all across Upstate New York,” said Ritchie, chair of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee.

In addition to restoring budget cuts for programs designed to aid in research, marketing and agriculture education, the new budget adds funding for six new programs, including components of the “Grown in New York” plan. Also included is $650,000 more to expand the state’s “Young Farmers” program, first created by the Senate last year to encourage the next generation of new farmers.


Programs to help farmers market products ranging from dairy to apple, and maple syrup to award-winning New York-produced wines, among others, will benefit from new and restored budget funding. 

In addition, the budget creates new programs first outlined in the  “Grown in New York” plan to connect consumers with locally produced products, like developing a series of new farm-to-market hubs to help farmers in regions like the North Country more easily move their products to markets in New York City and other urban centers across the state ($1.064 million), new programs to bring more locally produced fruits and vegetables to schools ($250,000) and low-income seniors ($2.3 million), and expansion of the successful “Harvest NY” program to the region ($600,000).


The final budget restores funding cuts to key research programs that are already producing results in the form of increased yields and profits for farmers, helping to reduce pesticide use, and find ways to combat diseases that can decimate crops and livestock. 

The restored funding includes two programs especially important to North Country and Central NY farmers — the farmer-led New York Farm Viability Institute ($2.12 million) and Northern New York Agriculture Development Program ($600,000). Both programs are involved in key research that especially benefits dairy farmers and others in this region.


The final budget continues and expands programs tied to the “Young Farmers” plan to encourage the next generation of future farmers, including FFA, the Future Farmers of America program that has recently expanded to include new schools across the state, and support for ag educators and programs to introduce students to the farming life in local school districts.


The “Young Farmers” program is expanded with increased funding for college loan forgiveness and $1 million to fund grants (up to $50,000 each), and a new business planning program, administered through Cornell’s FarmNet program, to help beginning farmers get on their feet and ensure success.

A full list of programs funded under the State Budget Agriculture plan can be found at this link:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ritchie: Cuts Restored to State Ag Budget

This just posted on state Sen. Patty Ritchie's Facebook page:

Our new state budget restores cuts by the Assembly Majority and Executive, and include key provisions of my "Grown in NY" plan to boost family farms. Stay tuned for more info.

Deadline is April 7 for Choosing Crop Safety-Net Programs

News from the USDA:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today provided farm owners and producers one additional week, until April 7, to choose between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), the safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill.
The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres also will be April 7. 
Nearly 98 percent of owners already have updated yield and base acres, and 90 percent of producers have enrolled in ARC or PLC.  
This additional week will give producers a more time to have those final conversations, review their data, visit their local Farm Service Agency offices to make decisions.
If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by the deadline, the farm's current yield and base acres will be used. If a program choice of ARC or PLC is not made, there will be no 2014 crop year payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage for the 2015 through 2018 crop years. 
Producers who have an appointment at their local Farm Service Agency offices scheduled by April 7 will be able to make an election between ARC and PLC, even if their actual appointment is after April 7.
These safety-net programs provide important financial protection against unexpected changes in the marketplace.  
Online tools, available at, allow producers to explore how ARC or PLC coverage will affect their operation. 
Covered commodities under ARC and PLC include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.
Producers need to contact the Farm Service Agency by April 7. To learn more, farmers can contact their local Farm Service Agency county office. To find local offices, visit

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sunday March 29 is Your Last Chance to Experience Maple Weekend

Just look at those pancakes
Your last chance to hit a spot for Maple Weekend is Sunday, March 29.

I mad the trip out today for pancakes and sausage at Red Schoolhouse Maple in Palermo, Oswego County. Then checked out the FFA students and their maple operation at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School, Oneida County.

Go to for information.

The VVS FFA evaporator boiling away making syrup

Potsdam Farmers' Market Seeks Vendors

The Potsdam Farmers’ Market is seeking vendors for its season that begins May 9 in Ives Park.

Vendor applications can be obtained at , under the “Become a Vendor” tab. Rules for the market are available there as well.

The market is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 31. There is also potential for a Wednesday market held at the same times.   

The pre-season meeting is at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 18 in the 2nd floor community room at the Potsdam Civic Center. All interested are welcome to attend. Vendors can hand in their application, necessary paperwork and vendor fee at that time. 

The full season vendor fee is $60 if paid by May 1, $70 if paid after May 1, $120 for double stall and $15 for a single day set-up.

Farmers, meat-producers, value-added (wine, baked goods, jams, jellies, etc.) and handmade crafters are welcome as vendors.  On-site food sales are also welcome, with proper health department standards followed. 

For any questions regarding the market, please contact Laura Popielski, Market Manager at or call (716) 725-7782.

New York Companies Win at Largest Cheese Contest in the US

Great Lakes Cheese in Adams won a first place at the 2015 United States Championship Cheese Contest held March 17 through 19 in Milwaukee.

Great Lakes won the gold medal for sharp cheddar with a score of 99.5. Great Lakes also placed third gaining a bronze medal in the cheddar (two years or older) category with a score of 98.75 and placed fifth in the cheddar (one to two years old) category with a score of 98.

Also winning a gold medal was Upstate Niagara Cooperative out of West Seneca for its high protein cow's milk flavored yogurt. It scored 99.5 on its blueberry Greek yogurt. 

Upstate Niagara also placed fifth in lowfat cow's milk plain yogurt with a score of 98.05, third for its lowfat blended cow's milk flavored for its orange cream with a score of 98.4 and fourth place (score 97.85)  with its lowfat blended cow's milk flavored yogurt for its sugar cookie.

The largest cheese, butter and yogurt competition in the United States set a new record with 1,885 entries from 28 states. The 2015 United States Championship Cheese Contest has been hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association for 34 years.

A total of 32 experts in dairy product testing from 18 states worked two days to judge the entries for best cheeses, butter and yogurt. Working in teams of two, they had to sniff, taste and examine each entry before scoring the entries and awarding gold, silver and bronze medals in each category.
The following New York companies won medals:

The participating U.S. states include cheese, butter and yogurt from New York, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

The overall best of show was a Swiss wheel from Team Guggisberg, Sugarcreek Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, with a score of 98.496.  

Other New York winners were:

Provolone: Sorrento, Buffalo, mild provolone, 99.2, third place; Empire Cheese, Cuba, NY, mild provolone, 99.15, fourth place

Aged Provolone -- Empire Cheese, Cuba, 98.5, fourth place

Smoked Provolone -- Sorrento, Buffalo, smoked mild, 98.85, second place; Empire Cheese, Cuba, 98.6, fifth place

String Cheese -- Kraft Foods/Pollio Italian Cheese, Campbell, 99.35. third place

Ricotta -- Sorrento, Buffalo, whole milk based ricotta, 99.2, second place; Sorrento, Buffalo, whole milk deli whey based ricotta, 99, fourth place; and tied for fifth place, Losurdo, Heuvelton, and Sorrento, Buffalo, 98.95.

Unsalted Butter -- OATKA, Batavia, 98.6, fourth place

Mozzarella -- Sorrento, Buffalo, second place, 98.05, whole milk high moisture; Sorrento, Buffalo, third place, 97.7, whole milk low moisture

USDA to Begin Survey on Labor

From the USDA:

During the second half of April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct its biannual Agricultural Labor Survey. 

The survey will collect information about hired labor from more than 1450 northeastern farmers and ranchers.

“The beginning of the growing season is usually the perfect time to look at farm labor,” said King Whetstone, Director of the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office. “The data that farm operators provide through NASS’s Agricultural Labor Survey allows northeastern state governments and federal policy-makers to establish labor policies based on accurate information and help ensure farmers can get sufficient hired labor for their operations.”

USDA and the Department of Labor will use statistics gathered in the Agricultural Labor Survey to help establish minimum wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs, and assist legislators in determining labor policies.

In the survey, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about hired farm labor on their operations, including total number of hired farm workers, the average hours worked, and wage rates paid for the weeks of January 11-17 and April 12-18. For their convenience, survey participants have the option to respond online.

“Due to seasonal variation and despite collecting farm labor data twice a year, we publish data on a quarterly basis,” Whetstone said. “This approach helps us ensure that anyone using our data can perform more accurate analyses.”

NASS will compile, analyze and publish survey results in the Farm Labor report, to be released on May 21. All information NASS collects in this survey will be kept strictly confidential, as required by federal law. This and all other NASS reports are available online at

For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office at (800) 498-1518.