Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cow Manure Powers Indiana Farm -- Nothing New In Central New York

Nothing new here. But a good story all the same from The New York Times.

Hey, why didn't they come to Upstate New York to do story this instead of going all the way to Indiana? A number of farms in Central New York do this same thing -- the Pattersons in Aurelius come to mind.

Anyway, here's the story. 

Onondaga Auction Brings Top Dollar for Jersey Cow

Go to to see a story about a Jersey selling for a whopping amount of money.

By the way, it's the second time the Rohe Family has been involved with a top champion bovine.

Cayuga County Milk Plant to Get Cheap State Power

Go to to check out the story.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Poor Cherry Crop in 2012 Leads to Lack of Cherry Pastries

Has anyone noticed a lack of cherry-filled pastries and other goodies in their favorite bakeries?

Well, a sign at my neighborhood bakery Wednesday stated there would be no more cherry-filled goodies because of the high price of cherry filling.

I asked a worker about this and she said a bucket of filling soared to $72 in the past couple of weeks.

Luckily, cherry items might be back in the bakery case soon, as this worker said the price of the same bucket of cherry filling this week was down to $37 and the bakery owner placed an order.

Seems the high prices stem from the horrendous cherry crop from parts of the U.S. in 2012. Places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and of course, New York, all went through the high temperatures in March 2012 and then freezing temperatures in April. Trees started to bud in March with the warmth, but then the buds froze in April.

In Central New York, both tart and sweet cherry growers were hit hard, with many losing nearly all of their crops.

So, if you can't find cherry pastries or if the cost of them goes up a lot, just remember what Mother Nature did to the growers last year.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

State Budget Includes More Money for Ag

Here is information on the state ag budget from state Sen. Patricia Ritchie:

The new state budget restores cuts to key agriculture programs, while adding new funding and a new marketing initiative to help farmers grow, state Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said this week.

Ritchie, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said for the first time in years, the budget not only restores some cuts made to agriculture but also includes new funding, and a new initiative that makes it easier for farmers to market products to government agencies, creating an opportunity for dramatically expanded markets.

“For two years, my focus has been on stopping budget cuts and ensuring that farmers continued to receive the support they need to make their businesses more productive and profitable,” Ritchie said. “Now, New York’s farmers are poised to grow, and state government is stepping up with new and restored funding, and initiatives to help them take advantage of expanding markets and new opportunities.” 

On Sunday, the Senate gave its approval to a budget bill that encourages state agencies to purchase more local food, by giving them expanded authority to spend up to $200,000 for “food commodities that are grown, produced or harvested in New York.”

The Legislature is expected to act shortly on budget bills that increase funding for key agriculture research, marketing, education and promotion, including:

**         More than $1.7 million for the New York Farm Viability Institute, a farmer-led nonprofit that sponsors dozens of agricultural research and other programs across Central, Northern and Upstate New York to help bolster farmers’ bottom lines. The total is more than $1.2 million above than the Governor originally proposed, and includes $220,000 to expand so-called dairy profit teams to help boost farmers’ bottom lines;

**         $884,000 for Cornell University’s FarmNet program — an increase of nearly $400,000 — to help struggling farmers with services, counseling and assistance;

**         $500,000 restoration for Northern New York Agricultural development. The program was eliminated in the Governor’s budget;

**         $40,000 for research aimed at helping farmers who want to take advantage of the state’s growing microbrewing niche, under provisions of a new law sponsored by Senator Ritchie;

**         $1 million each to state apple growers (an increase of $794,000 above the Governor), to help farmers who suffered significant weather-related crop loss last year, and for expanded marketing of New York wine and grape products (an increase of $287,000);

**         $125,000 for promotion of New York maple products, representing a restoration of $100,000 and a $25,000 increase from last year;

**         $100,000 restoration to continue the state’s highly successful tractor rollover prevention program. Tractor accidents are a leading cause of on-the-farm injuries and fatalities, and funding was eliminated in the Governor’s budget;

**         $200,000 in new funding to help berry growers combat invasive species that are destroying their crops;

**         $150,000 in new funding for turf growers, and $100,000 in new funding for Christmas tree farmers. New York ranks seventh for Christmas tree production in the US;

**         Increased funding for prevention of rabies, following growing incidences of the disease on farms and among wildlife, and the mosquito-borne EEE virus.

The Senate is expected to act on the agriculture portion of the state budget in the next few days. The Assembly is scheduled to act on the bills later this week.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Wisconsin's Interesting Ag PR Idea

Go to to read about an cool thing done in Wisconsin.

Deadline Extended for Hispanic, Women Farmers to File Claims

This comes from the USDA:

The deadline has been extended until May 1 for women and Hispanic farmers and ranchers to file claims of discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have faced discriminatory practices in the past from the USDA have additional time to file a claim in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness," said USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack. "USDA urges potential claimants to contact the Claims Administrator for information and to file their claim packages on or before May 1, 2013."

The process offers a voluntary alternative to litigation for each Hispanic or female farmer and rancher who can prove that USDA denied his or her application for loan or loan servicing assistance for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.

As announced in February 2011, the voluntary claims process will make available at least $1.33 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments, plus up to $160 million in farm debt relief, to eligible Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers. There are no filing fees to participate in the program.

Call center representatives can be reached at 1-888-508-4429. Claimants may register for a claims package (by calling the number or visiting the website) or may download the forms from the website.

All those interested in learning more or receiving information about the claims process and claims packages are encouraged to visit the website at any time or to contact the call center telephone number Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Yogurt Craze Growing in NY, but Not Herd Size

Interesting story Sunday from The Associated Press -- see it

But for all you farm bloggers, you might remember I did pretty much the same story last year. Go to to read my story.

Vilsack Writes About Agriculture's Impact on the U.S.

This week's column by Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack:

On March 19, USDA joined millions of Americans in celebrating National Agriculture Day.

National Agriculture Day provides an important opportunity each year to say “Thank You” to America’s farmers, ranchers and growers. It’s a time to recognize their productivity and to celebrate their abilities.

Their work has real impacts for every American. Our abundant food supply means that we spend a lower portion of our income on food than the people of any other developed nation. Meanwhile, America’s agricultural exports support more than one million jobs here at home.

As we celebrate their achievements, it’s important for all of us to understand the uncertainty faced by our farmers, ranchers and growers. In the past year, they have endured the worst drought in generations – putting an extra strain on farmers, and raising input costs for livestock and dairy producers. The drought continues to impact many areas of the nation today.

Unfortunately, Washington has only added to this uncertainty. Congress has failed to provide a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Additionally, as a result of the sequester, budget cuts will reduce funding across the board for services that USDA provides to farmers, ranchers and rural Americans.

Even in the face of these challenges, our agriculture sector has achieved great things. Thanks to the willingness of our producers to innovate and embrace new methods, production has remained strong even in the face of drought and other challenges. We’ve had the four strongest years for agricultural exports in history, with more than $478 billion in exports from 2009-2012. This year, American agriculture is projected to set another new export record.

At USDA, we’re proud to support America’s farmers and ranchers. We don’t just owe them our gratitude. We owe them dependable, modern service, which is even more important during these uncertain times.

That’s why we’ve been working hard for years to make improvements, to streamline operations and to find budget efficiencies. In recent years, we have achieved more than $700 million in targeted, common-sense savings. These efforts put us in a better position to support agriculture and strengthen the economy in rural America.

As we recognize and celebrate American agriculture this week, I want to give special recognition to the resilience and commitment of the greatest farmers and ranchers on earth. USDA will continue to do all we can to support their work.

Today is Last Day of Maple Weekend

Today is your last chance to visit a maple producer for Maple Weekend.

The event last until 4 p.m.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scientists Develop Flying Robots to Replace Bees

This is cool.

Go to Another way technology helps agriculture.

Anyela's Vineyard in Skaneateles Wins Honor

Another honor for a Finger Lakes winery.

Go to to check out the story.

Cold Temperatures Freeze Sap Run in New York

Tree where workers at Red Schoolhouse Maple demonstrate drilling taps.

Well, the calendar says spring. 

It should be the height of the maple syrup season.

But these cold temperatures have brought things to a halt, some producers say.

Saturday and Sunday make up the second of two Maple Weekend events in New York state. Maple producers open their doors for tours, sales and some even put on delicious pancake breakfasts.

But some producers, like Kim and Kevin Enders at Red Schoolhouse Maple in Palermo, Oswego County, didn't have any sap to boil during their open house Saturday.

"It it's not above freezing and there is no sun, the sap doesn't run," she said while taking a short break during Red Schoolhouse Maple's pancake breakfast. "We're hoping for a slight gradual warmup this week."

The Enderses tapped their maple trees about Valentine's Day and boiled for the first time March 1. For a while, the weather was cooperating, with temperatures in the 40s during the day and a bit below freezing at night. These fluctuations in temperature are needed to build up pressure in the tree and force the sap out of the taps.

Folks enjoying a pancake breakfast during Maple Weekend festivities at Red Schoolhouse Maple March 23.

Helen Thomas, executive director of the New York State Maple Producers, said these cold temperatures are not hurting the season, just putting it on hold a bit. She said what producers really are praying for is for temperatures to warm gradually -- a quick warmup to 60s or above would make the trees bud, and once that happens, the sap stops flowing and the season is over.

That's what made last year such a disaster. The days and days of 70s and 80s in March brought the buds out on the trees and ended the season after only about three or so weeks. New York producers made only 360,000 gallons of syrup in 2012, down from 564,000 gallons in 2011, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service New York office.

U.S. maple syrup production in 2012 was down 32 percent from 2011 -- from 2,794,000 gallons to 1,906,000 gallons.

Thomas also said the large amount of snow in the Tug Hill area and snow that has fallen elsewhere in New York since the first day of spring on March 20 also will not hurt maple production. In fact, she said it should help, as the snow cover will provide more water for the trees.

Thomas reported that in Central New York, producers have harvested about half a crop to date. Other parts of the state are behind -- Western New York has seen about a quarter of a crop so far and the Tug Hill area has harvested about 10 percent of a crop.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ever Changing Technology on the Farm

Here's a great story about technology on the farm.

Sustainable Power Webinar Begins March 29

Interested in sustainable energy for your farm?

Go to to get information on a webinar series beginning March 29 and offered through Cornell.

Sign up for the series now. 

Final New York Maple Weekend is March 23 and 24

Your last chance to get out and enjoy locally made sweet maple syrup is Saturday and Sunday.

The last Maple Weekend is March 23 and 24. Many maple syrup producers throughout the state will open their operations for tours, sales and even pancake breakfasts.

I'll be heading out again Saturday morning for pancakes somewhere in Oswego County. 

Go to to find a maple producer near you. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Money for Northern New York Ag Program Included in State Senate Budget

This was submitted by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program:

The New York State Senate Budget proposes including $500,000 for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.

The program conducts research, provides best management practices outreach and technical assistance projects in the state’s six northernmost counties: Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Lewis, Franklin, Essex and Clinton.

“The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, the steering committee of North Country farmers from across the region, and the farm businesses we serve are pleased to see the Senate budget that recognizes how critical agriculture is to the Northern New York economy and to the state economy,” said program co-chair Jon Greenwood, a dairy farmer in St. Lawrence County.

“The New York State Senate funding of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has provided the means for farmers to access the best academic and field research expertise to solve problems such as alfalfa snout beetle, to develop new farm-based enterprises such as bioenergy crops, and to enhance our agricultural environmental stewardship through precision targeting of nutrients, fertilizer and manure resources,” said program co-chair Joe Giroux, a dairy farmer in Clinton County.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program  received $500,000 in last year's approved Senate and state budgets.

New York State Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie recently announced the $5.2 billon "Grown in New York" plan designed to strengthen the state’s agricultural industry by expanding markets for New York-grown products.

Current projects focused on by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program include:
·     boosting the dairy industry feed supply
·     enhancing agricultural environmental stewardship with tile drainage,
·     cold climate calf feeding and housing
·     coping with diseases and pests such as brown root rot and alfalfa snout beetle in field crops and leaf mold and leek moth in vegetable crops,
·     improving irrigation in NNY apple orchards, and developing amelanchier as a new berry crop for NNY
·     increasing maple sap yields
·     developing bioenergy crops, and
·     controlling parasites in NNY sheep flocks and goat herds.

The Northern New York agricultural industry contributes nearly $600 million in farm product market value to the local economy and has a local payroll of approximately $53 million.

Go to for more information on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.

Vilsack Touts Childhood Nutrition, Preventing Obesity

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack spoke recently about the importance of childhood nutrition and alleviating obesity.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring News from Elderberry Pond

Go to to see what's up at Elderberry Pond, a certified organic farm located outside Auburn. The farm produces a wide array of fruits, vegetables and herbs along with meats from pigs and chickens.

This Week is National Ag Literacy Week

This is National Ag Literacy Week.

This year, the event is celebrating that sweet nectar of the flowers and bees -- honey.

The event runs today through March 22 and focuses on two books on honey production:  "The Beeman," by Laurie Krebs and Valeria Cis and "The Honeybee Man," by Lela Nargi and Kyrsten Brooker.

Go to this link for Ag in the Classroom to learn more about this annual event and how you can volunteer to read to an elementary school class.

1 Week Left for Hispanic, Women Farmers to File Discrimination Claims

Only one week left for Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers to claim discrimination claims against the U.S. government.

Go to for more information.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Study Shows How Red Wine Helps the Heart

This is from Jim Tresize of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation:

Resveratrol has long been cited as the key component in red wine that benefits cardiovascular health by dozens of peer-reviewed scientific studies from around the world.

But a new study conducted by Harvard Medical School and published in Science provides major breakthroughs in understanding how resveratrol works to keep cells healthy, which in turn is a big step toward developing effective drugs to treat diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.

Senior study author David Sinclair called it "the killer experiment"  because it verified that resveratrol was the sole source of the benefits; identified the exact location of a protein (SIRT1) which helps fuel the power-producing parts of cells that fight age-related illnesses like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes; and will allow the development of new treatments.  In effect, resveratrol helps to slow aging.

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring fungicide on the skins of grapes to help ward off plant disease, and is also the most potent naturally occuring chemical for combatting heart disease.  It is found predominantely in red wine because of the prolonged skin contact in producing it, whereas white wines with virtually no skin contact contain very little.

Years ago, former Cornell researcher Dr. Le Creasy showed that red wines from humid winegrowing regions like the Finger Lakes generally contain more resveratoral than those from dry regions because more resveratrol is needed to protect the grapes during the growing season.

Read more about the Harvard study by going to  this link.

Oh, and by the way, chocolate also contains resveratrol.  Who says there's no good news?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy National Agriculture Week

This is from the Agriculture Council of America:

Today (March 17) is the first day of National Agriculture Week. Check out some FAQs about Ag Week and Ag Day:

National Ag Day FAQs

What Is Ag Day?

It's a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Every year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture.

When Is Ag Day?

Ag Day is celebrated on March 19, 2013. National Ag Day falls during National Ag Week, March 17-23, 2013.

Who Hosts Ag Day?

The Agriculture Council of America hosts the campaign on a national level. However, the awareness efforts in communities across America are as influential - if not more - than the broad-scale effort. Again this year, the Ag Day Planning Guide has been created to help communities and organizations more effectively host Ag Day events.

What Is Ag Day All About?

Ag Day is about recognizing - and celebrating - the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:
  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

Why Celebrate Agriculture?

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. This is particularly the case in our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.
By building awareness, the Agriculture Council of America is encouraging young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture.
Each American farmer feeds more than 144 people ... a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more - and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.

What Can I Do to Help?

Put simply, get involved! Your participation in Ag Day is critical in helping us spread this positive message about agriculture. If you are interested in planning an event, download your Planning Guide today. Of course, there are other ways you can lend your support, including sending a letter to your local newspaper, calling your Congressional representatives or simply sharing information about agriculture with youngsters in your community.

Where Can I Find More Information?

Go to

The Agriculture Council of America believe every U.S. resident should:
  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry

Support Maple Producers during Maple Weekends

Remember to support maple syrup producers Sunday and next Saturday and Sunday during Maple Weekends in New York state.

Here is some of the elaborate tubing laid out to bring sap from the trees to the sugar house where it will be boiled to make maple syrup. These trees and tubing were found at Red Schoolhouse Maple in Palermo, Oswego County.

Merrigan Resigns From USDA

Go to to read a story about Kathleen Merrigan's abrupt resignation from the USDA.

Why Dairy Farmers Are Important

The importance of dairy farmers in addition to providing wonderful, fresh milk.

Friday, March 15, 2013

First Maple Weekend Begins Tomorrow

The first of two Maple Weekends in New York state begins Saturday.

Maple Weekends this year are March 16 and 17 and March 23 and 24. Many maple syrup producers throughout the state will open their operations for tours, sales and even pancake breakfasts.

I'll be out at the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill FFA pancake breakfast Saturday morning. I LOVE maple syrup.

Go to to find a maple producer near you. 

Oswego County Looks at Starting FFA Chapter, Enhanced Ag Ed Program

State FFA Association President Amanda Rhodes and Oswego County Farm Bureau President Nancy Weber

Discussions are underway to begin an enhanced agriculture education program and FFA chapter in Oswego County.

Oswego County Farm Bureau President Nancy Weber and state FFA Association President Amanda Rhodes met recently with the Oswego County Board of Cooperative Educational Services to discuss the issue.

"Clearly the FFA has a place in the educational systems of our county schools,” said Oswego County BOCES Superintendent Christopher Todd. “With a lack of district led programs, it appears as though an opportunity has presented itself to bring this programming to our students.”

Oswego County BOCES will move ahead to review beginning an enhanced agricultural program and a FFA chapter.

FFA introduces leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education

Weekly Column From Ag Secretary Thomas Vilsack

Weekly column from USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack

This week, we are renewing our efforts at USDA to encourage a generational shift to improve childhood nutrition.

Today, too many of our children aren’t getting the nutrition they need. One-third of today’s children are at risk for preventable health problems because of their weight. Only a quarter of our 17 to 24 year old young people are eligible for military service, in part because many of them are overweight or obese.

Meanwhile, too many kids aren’t getting enough to eat in the first place – hurting their performance at school and their chances to achieve great things.

Unless we ensure that today’s young people grow up healthy and strong, we will see more and more negative impacts in the years ahead. Reversing this trend starts with our youngest generation, and USDA has joined schools and families across the country to take action.

We have helped increase the availability of healthy foods. USDA is working with parents, teachers and school districts to provide healthier school meals – a result of nutrition standards implemented under the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This is important, because many of our children get more than half of their calories during the school day.

We have also helped to promote school breakfast. According to a recent study released by Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, eating a good breakfast improves a student’s test scores and ultimately raises their likelihood to graduate from high school by 20 percent.

Through our Farm to School program, USDA has helped communities across the nation to provide locally sourced, fresh fruits and vegetables for our young people. And since 2009 we have helped establish nearly 1,900 People’s Gardens across the nation – including more than 150 school gardens.

Meanwhile, USDA has taken steps to expand the availability of information regarding nutrition. The MyPlate icon, for example, provides families with an easy reference to make healthy choices at mealtimes. We have also created the “SuperTracker” – an online tool used by more than two million Americans to track their nutrition and physical activity on a daily basis.

These achievements have come alongside our efforts to maximize program funding for child nutrition and other critical efforts by identifying more than $700 million in cost savings and efficiencies across the Department.

But we know that more needs to be done. Childhood obesity is not a minor issue with a simple fix. Childhood hunger continues to block the road to success for too many. Together, these challenges threaten our future, and they require bold solutions.

In the weeks, months and years to come, I hope that we can work together to achieve generational change in childhood nutrition, and help today’s youngsters grow up ready to lead the world.

New North Country Winery to Open in April

A new winery is set to open in Cape Vincent next month.

Go to to read the story from the Watertown Daily Times.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

More From the Maple Front

Go to to find out about a book written by my buddy Rich Finzer of Ira on how anyone can become a maple syrup producer.

It's Time for Maple!

Buckets hanging on trees at a maple producer in Lewis County March 9.

It's the sweetest time of the year -- maple sugaring time.

Remember to head out to visit your local maple syrup producer during Maple Weekends -- March 16 and 17 or March 23 and 24.

Go to to find a maple producer near you.

By the way, these shots were taken Saturday of buckets hanging collecting sap at a site in the town of Diana in Lewis County. Lewis County is the largest producer of maple syrup in New York state.

Producers are hoping for a better season this year than 2012. Remember last March -- sap had started to flow, but then most of the state experienced summer-like temperatures, which shut down the sap flow and virtually ended the maple season. Production in 2012 was down 36 percent from 2011, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

New York ranks second in the country in maple syrup production. Only Vermont produces more. Its producers made 1.14 million gallons in 2011, double that of New York. In 2012, New York producers made 360,000 gallons, down from the 564,000 gallons made in 2011.

Maple value
Most recent figures for value of maple syrup production in New York:
2005: $7,037,000
2006: $8,020,000
2007: $7,638,000
2008: $13,907,000
2009: $17,820,000
2010: $12,293,000
2011: $22,052,000
2012: Unavailable*
*Figures will be available June 2013.
Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Ultimate in Cow Comfort

Now, I'm sure cows like to have a massage as much as the next mammal.

So leave it to one farm equipment company to try to meet the bovines' needs.

Check it out.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

NY State Senate Ag Committee Meeting from March 5, 2013

Here is a video of the state Senate Agriculture Committee meeting from March 5. Testimony from New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton begins at about the 7 minute mark and testimony from Amanda Rhodes, president of the state FFA, begins at about 14 minutes and 33 seconds.

Farmers Increasing Crop Insurance Coverage

Go to   to read a story on AgWeb about this issue.

Youths Can Learn about Careers in June at Cornell University

A three-day program for youths entering grades eight through 12 next school year is being held at Cornell University in June.

The program helps students explore various career opportunities. Registration deadline is April 15.

Go to for more information on the program and how to sign up.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Senate Republicans Put Out Plan to Strengthen Agriculture

Here is a release sent out today by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, who is chair of the state Senate Agriculture Committee:

Growing the state’s agriculture industry and helping New York’s family farms prosper is the goal of the “Grown in New York” plan, unveiled today by Sen. Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Ritchie was joined at a Capitol news conference by other members of the committee, as well as leaders of the New York Farm Bureau to announce a plan to strengthen the state’s $5.2 billion agriculture industry by expanding markets for New York-grown products, improving the bottom lines of family farms, and investing in the future of farming.

“Over the past two years, we have worked to restore budget cuts to vital marketing, research, and educational programs farmers depend on to strengthen their bottom line," Ritchie said. "‘Grown in New York’ is the Senate Republican plan to build on that success and help farmers grow and build for the future.”

"NY Farm Bureau has long held to the proven belief that when you grow New York's farms, you grow New York's economy. The efforts put forth today by Senate Republican Leader Skelos, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Ritchie and their conference colleagues will do just that," said New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton.

The Senate’s Grown in New York plan would:

-- Reduce taxes on farmers;

-- Eliminate the burdensome 18-a energy tax surcharge;

-- Curtail red tape and outdated regulations;

-- Improve farmers’ access to customers by expanding farmers markets and food hubs;

-- Put more New York-grown products in schools and government facilities;

-- Encourage the growth of New York’s maple and wine industries;

-- Put idled farmland back in production; and

-- Improve farm safety.

Here also is a story to read about the plan:


Monday, March 4, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

'New York Drinks New York' Celebrates NY Wines

If you're going to New York City in March, the Big Apple is taking on wines from throughout New York in its  "New York Drinks New York" events.

It's important for New York state wine producers to get their products out into the New York City market. Jim Trezise of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation said "New York City is the world's most competitive wine market, and we get no break as New Yorkers; we have to prove ourselves like everyone else.  But we've got the quality, the passion, and the determination to get our slice of the Big Apple."

During March, New Yorkers will have the pleasure of sampling wines from their own state at free tastnigs, wine flights, winemakers dinners, and other events throughout the month. 

Here is more from Trezise:

The highlight of the month is the NY Drinks NY Grand Tasting on March 18 at Astor Center, with a special session for media and trade from noon to 4 pm, followed by a consumer tasting from 6 to 8 pm.  More that 200 wines will be presented by 40 wineries from the Long Island, Hudson River, Finger Lakes, Niagara Escarpment, Lake Erie, and Thousand Islands regions.

Complementing the wines will be a selection of all-New York cheeses, charcuterie and hors d'oeuvres provided by the New York Wine & Culinary Center based in the Finger Lakes.

The consumer tasting, including all food and drink, costs only $35, with tickets available at until they are sold out.  (People started buying tickets before the event was even advertised this year, since last year's event sold out.)

Several fine restaurants are also hosting wine dinners and offering special limited-release wines as well as wine flights, including Terroir Park Slope, Sample, and Seersucker.

In addition, more than 30 free in-store tastings have been scheduled at fine wine stores throughout the City such as 67 Wines, Brooklyn Wine Exchange, and Union Square Wines & Spirits.  A full listing of participating wineries, restaurants and stores, and more information about the special events, is available at

Improved Drought Picture Over Last Year

This week's USDA TV feature is about the drought outlook for this coming planting season.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Jefferson County Officials Recognized for Helping Ag

I picked this up off Facebook.

Congrats to all.

The Board of Directors of the Jefferson County Agricultural Development Corporation this week was recognized for its service to agriculture.
The corporation is being dissolved to order to comply with the state Comptroller's office concerns about IDA's staffing local development corporations. Many of the corporation board members have been appointed to the new ag advisory committee formed by Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Ag Secretary to Appoint Members to County Farm Service Agency Committees

Here is information from the USDA:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday he will appoint voting members from socially disadvantaged (SDA) communities to serve on Farm Service Agency county committees in county jurisdictions that lack fair SDA representation under the authority granted in the 2002 Farm Bill.

Appointments will be made beginning next week. The final rule that will be published in the March 4 Federal Register affirms the interim rule from June 4, 2012.

“For decades, county committees have played a critical role in delivering important federal farm programs to citizens of rural communities across our nation,” said Vilsack. “By strengthening county committees so that they fully represent the ethnic, racial and gender segments within the counties they serve, we are helping to ensure that these governing bodies play a vital and relevant role well into the future.”

Vilsack will use the authority granted in the 2002 Farm Bill to appoint SDA committee members with voting privileges. The appointed SDA committee members do not replace voting members who were elected but will supplement the existing election process. 

Currently there are 7,700 elected county committee members representing 2,244 county jurisdictions. Individuals who serve as non-voting minority advisers were encouraged to submit a nomination form indicating their willingness to serve.

Nomination forms also have been accepted from community-based organizations representing SDA producers. The Secretary will appoint SDA voting members from the nominations received.

FSA will continue outreach efforts to increase SDA voter participation and SDA representation on county committees through the regular election process. Additionally, each year, USDA will conduct a fresh statistical analysis, and appointments with voting authority will continue to occur in areas identified as under-representing the diversity of area producers.

County committees were formed in the 1930s to oversee federal farm programs, a tool for grassroots engagement whereby locally elected committees give farmers effective self-government authority.

That authority continues today, making farmers primary stewards of farm programs passed by Congress, including administration and outreach to all farmers and ranchers in their area.

For more information about FSA County Committee elections, visit the FSA website at

Finger Lakes Chees Trail Events for the Weekend

News from the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail Facebook page:

Several of our Creameries are out and about this weekend! Be sure to catch Vanillen Dairy at the Downtown Canandaigua Wine Walk Saturday, Sunset View Creamery at Sheldrake Point on Seneca Saturday, and Muranda Cheese Company at Studebaker's Grille in Lyons on Sunday. Plus our Associate Member, The Little Bleu Cheese Shop will be at Savor the Flavors of Fairport Sunday!

Life on a Hobby Farm in Wisconsin

Here is an article written by a 13-year-old about his life on a hobby farm.

Really well done.

March is Here!

Welcome to March, everyone.

With spring right around the corner, many farmers are thinking about the day when they'll be able to get their tractors in the fields again and ready the soil for this summer's crops.

The maple producers are gearing up for their season, which will start any minute now. The state's Maple Weekends are March 16 and 17 and March 23 and 24, with many producers across the state opening their sites for tours and pancake breakfasts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days.
Go to for more information. 

Honey producers also are awaiting more activity from their bees.

Speaking of bees and honey, also remember that Ag Literacy Week is set for March 18-22 and this year's focus is on that sweet nectar of the honeybee. The books to be read this year are about honey production -- "The Beeman," by Laurie Krebs and Valeria Cis and "The Honeybee Man," by Lela Nargi and Kyrsten Brooker.
Go to this link for Ag in the Classroom to learn more about this annual event and how you can volunteer to read to an elementary school class.