Thursday, January 18, 2018

NYS Offers Money for Farmland Protection Programs

A total of $5.5 million is available through two new grant opportunities to advance farmland protection efforts throughout the state. 

Both programs will help preserve viable farmland in agricultural production, protecting it from development and conversion to non-farm uses. 

The funding will also help farmers identify available land and expedite the process of permanently protecting agricultural properties through perpetual conservation easements. 

These new initiatives are the result of the Governor's pledge in his 2017 State of the State address to improve regional collaboration to enhance farmland conservation efforts statewide.  

"Agriculture remains a critically important part of New York's economy, and the protection and preservation of farmlands is crucial to the continued growth and future success of this industry," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "These new grant programs will help maintain the economic viability of our farms, preserve our agricultural landscape and help ensure the strength of our food supply for current and future generations of New Yorkers." 

Expanding New York's Farmland Protection Implementation Program

For the first time, the state's farmland protection program has been expanded to allow eligible applicants to implement an Option to Purchase a Perpetual Conservation Easement, also called an Option Agreement Project. 

This Option Agreement Project will lay the groundwork for landowners interested in permanently protecting their farms by pre-determining the value of development rights, which expedites the process when a formal application is submitted for the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement. 

This new initiative provides a total of $5 million to eligible applicants, including municipalities, counties, soil and water conservation districts and land trusts. Grants of up to $500,000 will be awarded to cover costs associated with obtaining and administering an Option Agreement Project.

All applicants must submit their proposals through Grants Gateway at 

Applications can be submitted starting today and will be accepted until the available funding is fully committed. 

More information about the application process is available on the Department of Agriculture and Markets website at For questions, contact David Behm at

This new funding opportunity builds on the State's Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program, which helps cover the costs of buying a perpetual conservation easement, ensuring that valuable farmland remains in agricultural production forever. 

The state has revitalized this program and committed historic funding to safeguard one of its most vital resources. 

Since 2011, the state has invested more than $62 million in 82 conservation projects statewide. The 2017-18 State Budget includes another $20 million for the program and the governor proposed another $20 million for the program this week in his 2018-19 budget proposal.

Advancing Regional Farmland Conservation Strategies

The new $500,000 Land Trust Grants program was created to advance farmland protection strategies identified by counties and municipalities throughout the state. The program provides competitive grants of up to $50,000 to land trusts. 

The funding will help develop local inventories of viable farmland and inform landowners of programs and opportunities to protect their properties from conversion to non-farm uses.  It will also help expand outreach efforts to better connect willing landowners with farmers interested in leasing or buying their properties for agricultural production.

Applicants must apply through starting today through March 5, 2018.

More details on eligibility and the application process are available at  or buy emailing Jeffrey Kehoe at 

Improving Outreach to Enhance Farmland Protection

"Through Governor Cuomo's innovative strategies, we can eliminate some of the major barriers facing current and future farmers," said Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball. "Access to land is one of the biggest hurdles. Without land, they can't farm and without farming, we have no food.  

"I am excited to implement these new opportunities to encourage conservation efforts and keep agricultural operations up and running for generations to come," Ball said..

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Court Grants Farm Bureau's Request to Dismiss Collective Bargaining Lawsuit

Message from New York Farm Bureau

New York Farm Bureau learned today that Judge Richard McNally has granted farm bureau's request to dismiss the New York Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit that sought to create collective bargaining rights for farmworkers. 

The court’s decision is a major victory for New York’s family farms, said Farm Bureau President David Fisher.

"New York Farm Bureau argued in State Supreme Court in Albany, last July that our system of government requires that the legislature change state law, not the courts.   

The court agreed," Fisher said.

In his decision, Judge McNally wrote, “…the plaintiffs and the State have not demonstrated that the Labor Law statues are racially discriminatory or that farm workers are a suspect class entitled to constitutional protections. Any changes to the SERA (State Employee Relations Act) should emanate with the New York State Legislature as ‘the legislative power of this state shall be vested in the senate and the assembly.’”

The court previously granted New York Farm Bureau intervenor status in the lawsuit. "Our organization petitioned the court in 2016 to become a defendant only after the Governor and Attorney General refused to uphold and defend the State Labor Relations Act from the lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union," Fisher said.

New York Farm Bureau has long opposed farmworker collective bargaining for one simple reason. Farms do not have a standard eight-hour workday.  

Last year’s growing season demonstrated that. Weeks of heavy rains followed by shorter bouts of sunshine forced farmers and their employees to squeeze in weeks of work into just a few dry days. Work never stops inside the barn. For instance, cows need to be fed and milked multiple times every day, Fisher said.  

"A farmworker strike or confining work agreements could jeopardize a crop or the health of an animal. Everyone who works in farming understands this, including farmworkers," Fisher said. 

"Farmers have great respect for the people who they employ, and this court victory does not diminish that. They value their employees’ commitment, work ethic, and the partnership it takes to get the job done on the farm.

"New York Farm Bureau has represented farmers for more than a century, and today’s ruling will go down as another defining moment in Farm Bureau’s long history. 

New York Farm Bureau will always stand up for our members, either in court or at the Capitol, to ensure that their rights are protected and their voices are heard,” said Fisher.

New York's Melanie Wickham Receives National Award

Melanie Wickham, who is leaving the leadership of the Empire State Potato Growers, has received a national award.

Check it out at this link.

Congrats, Melanie.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Happy National Milk Day!!

It's National Milk Day!!

According to the National Day Calendar, National Milk Day commemorates the day that many think the first milk deliveries in glass bottles began in the United States.  

Alexander Campbell of the New York Dairy Co. professed to the New York State Senate that his company was the first to make these deliveries in 1878. 

Here is some milk trivia that you can share with your family and friends:
** Milk is a good source of calcium and many vitamins

** The first milk bottle was developed by a pharmacist from Potsdam, NY, Hervey Thatcher.

** The dairy industry is the largest part of New York's agriculture industry.

** Milk can come from other animals too, such as goats, sheep, reindeer, yaks and buffalo

**  The International Association of Milk Inspectors submitted a request to Congress in October of 1915 for a resolution naming an observance of National Milk Day.

So celebrate National Milk Day by having a big glass of milk or some other dairy product!!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Cuomo Announces Money for CAFO Waste Storage Programs

From staff reports

The state has awarded $20 million to implement water quality protection projects on 56 farms across the state.

The money was provided through the first round of the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Waste Storage and Transfer System Program. It supports projects that will allow livestock farms to better manage and store nutrients, such as manure, to protect ground water and nearby waterways.

The program is a part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 which invests an unprecedented level of resources for drinking water, wastewater infrastructure and other water quality protections statewide.

“Agriculture remains a key part of New York’s economy and this funding will help farms in every corner of this state protect drinking water supplies and waterways, while also remaining competitive,” Cuomo said in making the award announcement Dec. 20. 

“With this program, we are supporting New York’s economy and ensuring our essential natural resources are preserved for years to come,” he said.

Through the program, 61 waste storage and transfer systems will be installed on CAFO-permitted farms in 25 counties throughout the state. Grants will help offset the cost of construction, site preparation and associated best management practices. 

Funded projects will also help farmers meet the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s new environmental requirements first announced in January of this year.

The money is being provided to County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which applied on behalf of eligible farmers, in the Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York Regions. 

A list of the award totals is available at

“The grant money under the governor’s water infrastructure plan will build on the agricultural community’s strong record of environmental stewardship,” said David Fisher, president of New York Farm Bureau. 

“The cost sharing assistance provides more flexibility on farms to manage nutrients, which helps protect water quality for all New Yorkers. New York Farm Bureau appreciates the public-private partnership, especially as livestock farmers are putting new environmental management plans in place to meet tougher CAFO regulations,” he said.

“One of the biggest responsibilities our farmers have is to be good stewards of the land and other natural resources they use. Through this funding, our state’s hardworking farmers can continue the important work they do to support New York’s leading industry, and at the same time, continue their efforts to be leaders when it comes to implementing environmentally safe practices,” said state Sen. Patty Ritchie, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“The governor’s historic clean water initiative is critical to ensuring the quality and sustainability of our natural resources and our farms,” said state Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Richard Ball. 

“We received more applications than we were able to fund through the first round of this program, which shows the strong commitment of our livestock operations to environmental stewardship," Ball said. "We look forward to releasing the second Request for Proposals in the coming year to benefit even more farms as they strive to maintain nutrient recycling year-round.”

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New York Farm Bureau Names 'Circle of Friends'

New York Farm Bureau has released its annual “Circle of Friends,” naming 172 New York State Legislators to the distinguished list. The award is an indication of the individual lawmaker’s support of New York agriculture and Farm Bureau.

The “Circle of Friends” honor is based upon each legislator’s voting record on issues of agricultural importance as well as other evidence of legislative support, including sponsorship of bills that New York Farm Bureau has either supported or opposed during the most recent legislative session.

“New York Farm Bureau selected these Senators and Assembly members because of their commitment to the hard working farm families in New York," said New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher. 

"We appreciated their support on a whole host of bills and budget items this year, and we look forward to collaborating with them as a new session is about to begin," he said. "It is imperative that we work together to support local food production and the agricultural economy that benefit all New Yorkers.”

The “Circle of Friends” is not an endorsement, and this distinction only recognizes the 2017 legislative session.

“Circle of Friends” recipients for 2017 are:
New York Senate
Addabbo, Jr., Joseph
Akshar, Fred
Alcantara, Marisol
Amedore, Jr., George A.
Avella, Tony
Benjamin, Brian
Bonacic, John J.
Boyle, Philip M.
Breslin, Neil D.
Brooks, John
Carlucci, David
Comrie, Jr., Leroy G.
Croci, Thomas D.
DeFrancisco, John A.
Felder, Simcha
Flanagan, John J.
Funke, Rich
Gallivan, Patrick M.
Gianaris, Michael N.
Golden, Martin J.
Griffo, Joseph A.
Hamilton, Jesse E.
Hannon, Kemp
Helming, Pamela
Jacobs, Chris
Kaminsky, Todd
Kennedy, Timothy M.
Klein, Jeffrey D.
Lanza, Andrew J.
Larkin, Jr., William J.
Latimer, George S.
LaValle, Kenneth P.
Little, Elizabeth O'C.
Marcellino, Carl L.
Marchione, Kathleen A.
Montgomery, Velmanette
Murphy, Terrence P.
O'Mara, Thomas F.
Ortt, Robert G.
Peralta, Jose R.
Persaud, Roxanne
Phillips, Elaine
Ranzenhofer, Michael H.
Ritchie, Patricia A.
Rivera, J. Gustavo
Robach, Joseph E.
Savino, Diane J.
Serino, Susan J.
Seward, James L.
Squadron, Daniel
Stavisky, Toby Ann
Stewart-Cousins, Andrea
Tedisco, James
Valesky, David J.
Young, Catharine M.
New York Assembly
Abbate, Jr., Peter J.
Abinanti, Thomas J.
Aubry, Jeffrion L.
Barclay, William A.
Barnwell, Brian
Barrett, Didi
Benedetto, Michael R.
Blake, Michael A.
Blankenbush, Kenneth
Brabenec, Karl
Braunstein, Edward C.
Brindisi, Anthony J.
Bronson, Harry B.
Buchwald, David
Butler, Mark W.
Byrne, Kevin
Carroll, Robert
Castorina, Ronald
Crespo, Marcos A.
Crouch, Clifford W.
Curran, Brian F.
Cusick, Michael J.
DenDekker, Michael G.
DiPietro, David J.
D'Urso, Anthony
Errigo, Joe
Fahy, Patricia A.
Farrell, Jr., Herman D.
Finch, Gary D.
Fitzpatrick, Michael J.
Friend, Christopher S.
Galef, Sandra R.
Garbarino, Andrew R.
Giglio, Joseph M.
Gjonaj, Mark
Goodell, Andrew
Gottfried, Richard N.
Graf, Alfred C.
Gunther, Aileen M.
Harris, Pamela
Hawley, Stephen M.
Hevesi, Andrew D.
Hooper, Earlene
Hunter, Pamela
Hyndman, Alicia
Jenne, Addie A.E.
Johns, Mark C.
Jones, D. Billy
Joyner, Latoya
Kavanagh, Brian P.
Kearns, Michael P.
Kim, Ronald T.
Kolb, Brian M.
Lalor, Kieran Michael
Lavine, Charles D.
Lawrence, Peter A.
Lentol, Joseph R.
Lifton, Barbara S.
Lopez, Peter D.
Lupardo, Donna A.
Lupinacci, Chad A.
Magee, Bill
Magnarelli, William B.
Malliotakis, Nicole
Mayer, Shelley B.
McDonald, III, John T.
McDonough, David G.
McKevitt, Thomas
McLaughlin, Steven F.
Miller, Brian
Miller, Melissa
Miller, Michael G.
Montesano, Michael A.
Morelle, Joseph D.
Morinello, Angelo
Murray, Dean
Niou, Yuh-Line
Norris, Michael
Oaks, Robert C.
Otis, Steven
Palmesano, Philip A.
Palumbo, Anthony H.
Paulin, Amy R.
Pellegrino, Christine
Peoples-Stokes, Crystal D.
Perry, N. Nick
Pichardo, Victor
Pretlow, Gary J.
Ra, Edward P,
Raia, Andrew P.
Ramos, Philip R.
Rivera, Jose
Rozic, Nily D.
Ryan, Sean M.
Santabarbara, Angelo L.
Schimminger, Robin
Seawright, Rebecca A.
Simanowitz, Michael A.
Simotas, Aravella
Skartados, Frank K.
Skoufis, James G.
Solages, Michaelle C.
Stec, Daniel G.
Stirpe, Jr., Albert A.
Thiele, Jr., Fred W.
Titone, Matthew J.
Titus, Michele R.
Vanel, Clyde
Walker, Latrice Monique
Wallace, Monica
Walsh, Mary Beth
Walter, Raymond W.
Weprin, David I.
Williams, Jaime
Woerner, Carrie
Wright, Tremaine
Zebrowski, Kenneth P.