Monday, September 30, 2013

Cuomo Signs Bills Enhancing New York State Wine Industry

This news comes from the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

Bills were signed today that will allow wine to be sold at roadside farm markets and will designate portions of state highways near wineries and vineyards as "Wine Trails."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said his signing of these bills continue the state's efforts to better market and promote New York wine.

“These new laws will build on our continuing efforts to promote New York’s wine industry across the state and beyond, boosting tourism, local economies and job growth,” Cuomo said. 

“We are increasing market opportunities for local producers and farmers and expanding our wine trails to attract tourists to communities across Upstate New York," he said. "Our state is home to hundreds of wineries that produce some of the best wine in the world, and we want both New Yorkers and visitors to come and enjoy them.” 

The farm markets legislation (S.267/A.1512) will create a new site for New York wineries to sell their products by allowing roadside farm markets to sell wine manufactured and produced by up to two licensed farm wineries, special wineries or micro-wineries located within 20 miles of the roadside farm market. 

The governor also signed four wine trail laws: one establishes a new wine trail; one expands an existing wine trail; one both expands two existing wine trails and changes their names; and one simply changes the name of an e
xisting wine trail.

Wine trails help guide tourists to local attractions, vineyards, and wine tasting rooms, and to experience all that New York’s wine regions have to offer.

There are currently 16 wine trails designated by state law. 

“By allowing New York’s wide variety of quality wines to be sold at roadside farm markets, we are opening another door for this important industry," said Assemblyman William Magee, of Nelson, Madison County, chair of the state Assembly agriculture committee. "This is a measure that will support the growth of local businesses in our communities, and provide an important boost to wine producers across the state.”

New York is home to nearly 500 wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries. Producers account for more than $22 billion in annual total economic impact in the state and support tens of thousands of jobs statewide.

The state ranks third in the nation in wine and grape production, has the second-most distilleries, and three of the top-producing 20 brewers in the United States are located in New York.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Some More Good Dairy News

Go to to check out the story.

A Reflection on What FarmAid Really Means

Hello all.

The FarmAid concert was last Saturday. I couldn't attend, but I saw on Facebook that a number of my farm friends did attend.

So I asked one -- Rebecca Schuelke Staehr of Cayuga Pumpkin Barn -- to write about it. So here's her report.


Ed and Rebecca Staehr as "farmer heroes" in the ASA booth at Farm Aid's Homegrown Village. The group encouraged everyone to become "farmer heroes" by supporting farmland conservation.
We’ve just returned from Farm Aid – a daylong celebration of farmers, “good” food, and music – held, Sept. 21 in Saratoga, NY.

It was Farm Aid’s second trip to New York State. My husband, Ed, and I are pleased to say, “we were there” – this time around, as well as at the 2007 event on Randall’s Island in New York City.

Now in its 28th year, Farm Aid is an annual concert and much more. Born out of the farm crisis of the 1980s and conceived as a fundraiser to help farmers remain on their land, Farm Aid has evolved to include a Farmer Resource Network, a sort of
clearinghouse that offers information and contacts to hotline callers. Farm Aid runs an annual grant program, mostly for agricultural nonprofits, and has reportedly raised more than $43 million.

For years, the show has been anchored by performances from Dave Matthews Band, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and Willie Nelson – peppered with a revolving door of musicians that donate their time to the cause. This year’s lineup included Jack Johnson, Kacey Musgraves, Carlene Carter, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and many others.

Despite a heavy downpour that began shortly after John Mellencamp took the stage, the Indiana singer-songwriter’s performance was among the evening’s highlights. It really wouldn’t be Farm Aid without the seminal “Rain on the Scarecrow,” a
haunting song that describes a multi-generation farm lost to foreclosure that Mellencamp released in 1985.

Food was center-stage at Farm Aid, too. Farm Aid’s trademarked Homegrown Concessions seeks to bring the good food movement to rock stadiums. The $11 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and nachos with “cheese-like” goop were still there, but so too were veggie burritos, “non-confinement” hot dogs, organic French fries, and antibiotic-free chicken tenders.

A big difference in Farm Aid from the 2007 show was the expanded role thatfarmers and agricultural organizations played, thanks to the Homegrown Village.

Fifty or so groups, including Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Northeast Organic Farming Association, found creative ways to reach out to concertgoers while describing their work.

 The American Stewardship Association encouragedpeople to don a cap and mask and pose for “farmer hero” photos of those that
valued farmland conservation. Somervile, MA artist Cheryl Hirshman asked peopleto decorate a glove with words that represented farming to each participant; the gloves will be part of an installation about the work of farmers.

As Farm Aid has matured it seems to have moved from its more centrist roots toward an idealism that glorifies the small, family farm while vilifying the “factory farm.” Food quality, environmental stewardship, and biodiversity – as Farm Aid
will tell you – are issues of critical importance to farmers, and all living beings.

However, it’s disappointing to see an organization promote division among farmers, even proposing that large farms are crowding out small farms – glossing over the pressure all farmers (good and bad ones, too) are facing from urban development, government regulation, business taxation, and more. Despite the diversity of
business and production practices, farmers are a really small group. It doesn’t make sense to direct the little energy we have in fighting each other.

Equally disappointing is to see the occasionally complex issues around farming over-simplified to good versus bad. Farm Aid, after all, has the nation’s ear.

I said this once already – Farm Aid is a concert and much more.

The greatest accomplishment of Farm Aid has always been its ability to raise awareness about farming, and farmers, among the general public. In the days before farmers and local food were trendy, the Farm Aid concert was among the few times each year
that the media might cast a light on agriculture that was positive.

For a few days, we might set aside our stereotypes about the millionaire absentee-owner whocollects farm subsidies, the alleged polluters and animal abusers, and a whole slew of stories that could be summarized as “the dumb farmer.” We could remember – or, learn – that the vast majority of farmers in the United States work pretty hard, for not a lot of money, but a great deal of love, to produce fiber, fuel, and food – the stuff we literally cannot live without.

** Rebecca Schuelke Staehr is co-owner of Staehr Family Farm and Cayuga Pumpkin Barn, a field crop and vegetable farm in New York’s Finger Lakes region. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New York Farm Bureau Announces New Director of Public Policy

News from New York Farm Bureau:

New York Farm Bureau is pleased to announce that Jeff Williams is being promoted next month to Director of Public Policy, overseeing the organization’s legislative efforts in Albany and Washington, DC. 

Williams has been with New York Farm Bureau for more than a decade, most recently as the public policy department’s Deputy Director and Manager of Governmental Relations. He is principal lobbyist on environmental, business and energy issues. 

Prior to his tenure at New York Farm Bureau, Jeff worked for the New York State Senate, where he handled similar policy issues for a number of senators.

Williams will move into the role being vacated by Julie Suarez, who has taken a new position as Assistant Dean of Governmental and Community Relations for Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Suarez has been an integral part of New York Farm Bureau’s success for 15 years.

Suarez’s last day at New York Farm Bureau is Oct. 4, at which time Williams will begin his new position.

“I am pleased to announce that Jeff Williams will be New York Farm Bureau’s next Director of Public Policy.  I am very confident that his knowledge and experience will serve him extremely well in his new role, and that he will do an excellent job in his new position,” said Jeff Kirby, New York Farm Bureau’s executive director.

“I would also like to thank Julie Suarez for all of her hard work and dedication to New York Farm Bureau and its members during her many years of service. Julie’s efforts have been extremely positive and effective, and her commitment to representing, advancing, and serving the needs of our farmer members has simply been extraordinary,” he said.

“I have always spoken highly of the staff at New York Farm Bureau.  Because of that, I have full confidence in Jeff Williams as he takes over the reins of NYFB’s effective public policy team," said Farm Bureau President Dean Norton. "It is also why I am not surprised that Julie is moving on to yet another high profile position where she can support agriculture in this state.  I would like to congratulate both Jeff and Julie, and wish them much success in their new roles.”

Ritchie Reports on Recent Ag Forum in Watertown

Oswego County onion farmer Morris Sorbello talks with senators at the ag forum.
A column from state Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, chair of the state Senate Agriculture Committee:

“God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.’ So God made a farmer.”

Delivered in a 1978 speech to the Future Farmers of America, these words uttered by legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey still ring true today; describing just some of the many virtues of our hardworking farmers. 

Here in New York state, agriculture is our biggest industry; generating billions of dollars annually and supporting countless jobs.  As with any business, farmers, and others in the agriculture industry experience many challenges, including burdensome red tape and numerous regulations (not to mention the weather!).

As chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, it’s a priority for me to support our farmers and help their industry continue to flourish.

In an effort to do just that, my Senate colleagues and I recently hosted agriculture leaders from across New York State at forum that allowed them to share their thoughts on how to cut red tape and expand their industry. 

The event — which also included Sen. Patrick Gallivan, Sen. David Valesky and Sen. Kathleen Marchione — was the second in a series of industry-specific public forums on regulatory reform organized as part of the Senate Majority Coalition’s bipartisan effort to identify and eliminate at least 1,000 of the most costly government regulations that strangle business and job growth and drive up local taxes.

More than two-dozen agriculture leaders — including many from Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties, as well as several who are members of my own Agriculture Advisory Council — attended the forum, and topics discussed included:

·         Ensuring farms are able to secure agricultural labor
·         Supporting initiatives that further the availability of improved technology     
·         Making power costs more manageable for farmers and others in the agriculture industry
·         Supporting initiatives that allow local farms to capitalize of New York’s growing yogurt industry
·         Making New York State regulations more compatible with Federal regulations

From long hours spent working in the fields and caring for livestock to harvesting crops and keeping a watchful eye on the weather, it’s often said that a farmer’s work is never done.  In an effort to support our farmers, I plan to work just as hard to provide them with the relief they need to continue to cultivate our state’s biggest industry. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cream Cheese Festival Today in Lowville

Today is the annual Cream Cheese Festival in Lowville, Lewis County.

If you've got nothing to do, head north for some music, vendors and of course, food. And there is always America's largest cheesecake on hand make of PHILADELPHIA brand Cream Cheese made right there in Lowville.

This year, though, Philly Cream Cheese and Charm City Cakes owner and reality TV star Chef Duff Goldman are preparing to break the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® record for the World’s Largest Cheesecake ever created. The cheesecake, which will benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign ™, will be unveiled at the 9th Annual Cream Cheese Festival.

Voluntary donations for No Kid Hungry will be collected at the festival while the cheesecake is served. In addition, members from the Share Our Strength team will provide information about how consumers can host their own bake sales to benefit No Kid Hungry. 

The Lowville Cream Cheese Festival draws more than 14,000 attendees to celebrate the city’s distinction as home to the nation’s largest cream cheese manufacturing facility, operated by Kraft Foods. The festival annually produces America’s largest cheesecake, a 1,200-pound PHILADELPHIA cheesecake served in 3,500 slices. 

This year, the brand’s goal is to create an even bigger cheesecake in an attempt to break the current GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS achievement, which weighs in at 4,703 pounds. The cheesecake planned for Lowville will be approximately 8 feet in diameter and about 20 inches thick and is estimated to weigh approximately 6,000 pounds. 

If you go to the festival, send me photos of the huge cheesecake if you can to

American Farmers Say They Feed the World -- But Do They Really?

OK, check this out.

Very interesting read from a public radio station.

Go to to see what I mean.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Christmas Tree Farmers Work in Summer to Make a Happy Holiday Season

Jack Beckwith uses his extension shears to shape the top of a tree.
The Christmas season may last only about six weeks or so, but that doesn't mean Central New York Christmas tree farmers don't work during the rest of the year.

Even when it's 90 degrees and the sun is blazing above, farmers like Jack Beckwith of Hannibal and Mark Himes of Mexico are out getting their trees and land ready for the busy season ahead.

“I've been doing shearing and mowing all summer,” said Beckwith, who has been a Christmas tree grower since 1985 and runs Beckwith Family Christmas Tree Farm with his wife, Faye. “You have to continue shaping the trees – every tree has to be shapes every year.”

Without shaping, customers wouldn't see the beautiful evergreens ready to grace the living rooms of homes throughout Central New York. Beckwith said tree branches grow at different intervals, so without shaping, the trees would look haphazard and not at all appealing to the eye.

Beckwith walks many of the 39 acres of forest land he has, checking with an eagle eye each tree's growth pattern. He takes his handy extension shears and will clip back he tops and sides of trees towering 8 to 10 feet tall or even taller.

Beckwith also spends a good part of his summer mowing all of the tall grass that grows in between all the Christmas trees. This year was especially trying, as all the June rains made the grasses grow like wildfire. But the rain also helped newly planted trees, as the soil was moist and the water helped them grow.

Spring on the Christmas tree farm is filled with planting new seedlings that will turn in about eight years into grown trees to be adorned with ornaments and lights. Last year, many Christmas tree farmers, including Beckwith, lost seedlings due to the lack of spring and summer rain.

Mark Himes, who runs Three Seasons Farm in the town of Mexico with his wife Amy, grows and sells white spruce; balsam, Fraser and Canaan fir and white pine trees. They also make and sell  wreaths and boughs for holiday decorations.

“I start trimming trees sometime in June or the first of July,” he said. “Then I trim trees throughout the summer. Trimming, or pruning, helps keep the shape of the Christmas tree without longer branches sticking out. You want to be sure the tree is growing straight.”
Beckwith mows the high grass in between the Christmas trees

He, like Beckwith, also spends a good time of the summer on the mower, cutting back the grass growing near the trees. “We also have to keep checking to keep track of any bugs or disease on the tree,” Himes said.

There are 850 Christmas tree farmers in the state growing the following species of trees: Austrian pine, balsam fir, blue spruce, Canaan fir, Colorado spruce, concolor fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, Norway spruce, Scotch pine, white pine and white spruce.

More than 17,000 acres of Christmas trees are  grown in the state and 98 percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms. Planting and growing Christmas trees are good for the environment as they remove more than 2,000 tons of carbon from the air and release about 5,800 ton of oxygen into the air.

According to the Christmas tree farmers website, Christmas trees remove dust and pollen from the air and an acre of trees provide the daily oxygen requirements for 18 people. Two to three seedlings are planted for every tree harvested at Christmas time. And often, new trees sprout from stumps left after other Christmas trees have gone off to grace area living rooms.

For more information on where to find a fresh Christmas tree this coming holiday season, go to and then click on your county to find a grower near you.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

More than 20 Ag Leaders Speak at Ag Forum in Watertown

From state Sen. Patricia Ritchie:

Morris Sorbello, an onion farmer and county legislator from Granby in Oswego County, speaks to the panel of senators. Photo from JJ Schell of Cooperative Extension

Agriculture leaders from across New York state shared their thoughts on how to cut red tape and expand their industry at a forum hosted by state Senator Patricia Ritchie and her Senate colleagues Thursday in Watertown. 

The event — which also included Sen. Patrick Gallivan. R-Elma, Erie County, Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, Madison County, and Sen. Kathleen Marchione, R-Halfmoon, Saratoga, County — was the second in a series of industry-specific public forums on regulatory reform organized as part of the Senate Majority Coalition’s bipartisan effort to identify and eliminate at least 1,000 of the most costly government regulations that strangle business and job growth and drive up local taxes. 

“As with any business, farmers, and others in the agriculture industry experience many challenges including burdensome red tape and numerous regulations,” said Ritchie, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. 

“The input provided at today’s forum will truly be invaluable as we move forward and continue the work we have already done to provide relief from mandates, rules and regulations that negatively affect our state’s biggest industry.”

More than two-dozen agriculture leaders attended Thursday’s forum, and topics discussed included:

·  Ensuring farms are able to secure agricultural labor
·  Supporting initiatives that further the availability of improved technology
·  Making power costs more manageable for farmers and others in the agriculture industry
·  Supporting initiatives that allow local farms to capitalize of New York’s growing yogurt industry
·  Making New York State regulations more compatible with Federal regulations

Additional forums are scheduled for Syracuse (manufacturing), Long Island (construction), Saratoga Springs (hospitality and tourism), Rockland County (small business), New York City (insurance and banking), Corning (manufacturing) and Rochester (biotechnology).

Go to for more information on the forum.

NY Orchards Star on YNN

This from the New York Apple Association Facebook page:

Watch your local YNN station for the "Getaway Guy" series on New York orchard getaways. They will air every Thursday (beginning today Sept. 19) for the next three weeks at 6:24 a.m., 9:24 a.m., 12:24 p.m., 3:24 p.m., 6:24 p.m. and 9:24 p.m.

The Getaway Guy's first stop: Beak and Skiff in LaFayette.

Agriculture Forum Being Held Today in Watertown

This news comes from state Sen. Patricia Ritchie:

Agriculture leaders from across New York State will share insights on regulations and mandates affecting their industry at a public forum being held today (Thursday) in Watertown. 

The event is one of a series of industry-specific public forums on regulatory reform, being held in a bipartisan effort to identify and eliminate costly government regulations. 

Those in attendance will share their opinions with Ritchie, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, as well as Sens. Patrick Gallivan, David Valesky and Kathleen Marchione.

“There are so many businesses—including many in the agriculture industry—who are finding it difficult to succeed due to costly regulations and bureaucratic red tape,” said Senator Ritchie. 

“This forum will provide excellent opportunity for agriculture leaders to offer their opinions on what changes can be made that will enable this industry to grow, create jobs and boost our state’s economy as a whole.”

The forum will be place from 1 to 3 p.m. in the 11th floor conference room of the Dulles State Office Building, located at 317 Washington St. in Watertown.

In total, 10 regulatory reform hearings will be held across the state, with a goal of helping identify 1,000 specific, job-killing regulations that can be eliminated.  A link to video of the first hearing, which focused on medical technology and health can be found at

Panel at Colgate University to Address Past, Present and Future of Dairy Industry

Go to to see the story about this panel discussion scheduled for Sept. 27.

Torreys Win Grower Achievement Award

Check out this great story from Growing Produce about the Torrey farm in Elba, Genesee County.

They farm more than 10,000 acres, growing cabbage, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, winter squash, mini pumpkins, potatoes, onions, butternut squash, jack-o-lantern pumpkins, giant pumpkins, acorn squash, yellow squash and wax beans.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Morrisville State College Yearling Sale Set for Sept. 22

This news is from Morrisville State College:

The Morrisville College Equine Institute will hold its 24th annual Fall Yearling Sale at noon Sept. 22 at the college’s Nancy Sears Stowell Arena on Swamp Road.

The preview day for the sale, the largest of its kind in New York State, is Sept. 21.

A total of 133 yearlings are up for sale. Fifteen of them are being sold by the Morrisville Equine Institute: two yearlings of Conway Hall; three yearlings of Cash Hall; six yearlings of RC Royalty; three yearlings of Kenneth J, and one yearling of American Ideal. 

Conway Way (eight total yearlings in the sale) and Cash Hall (14 total yearlings in the sale) are first and second respectively, among the leading money-winning stallions in the New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-olds in 2013. They both also rank among the national leaders, both on an absolute and average, per foal, basis. 

RC Royalty (17 total yearlings in the sale) became the fastest 2-year-old trotting colt ever in the NYSS on a half-mile track by virtue of his 1:58.2 score at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway in 2005.

RC Royalty also holds the Massachusetts Sire Stake record for 3-year-old trotting colts of 1:59.4. One of his sons, 3-year-old trotter, Royalty for Life, was this year’s Hambletonian champ and Canadian Trotting Classic Champion.

The yearling sale, which features year-old Standardbred horses sold on consignment by the college, is organized and run by Morrisville State College Equine Department faculty, staff and students.

Equine students will be working the event, participating in every aspect of it from bedding stalls, grooming, leading and showing horses, to setting up the business office and assisting with cleanup.

Last year, the sale grossed nearly $1.4 million.    

Profits from the sale go toward general maintenance and enrichment of the college’s equine programs. There is no admission charge and the public is welcome to attend.

For more information, go to or call 684-6355.

Quarter Horse Show This Week at State Fairgrounds

Photo from Empire State Quarter Horse Association
This news is from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

As many as 800 quarter horses will be at the New York State Fairgrounds Wednesday (today) through Sunday as the Empire State Quarter Horse Association holds its Empire Fall Show.

This competition is the largest in the state and one of the largest in the country.  Several thousand quarter horse owners and fans are likely to attend the five days of competitions. 

Some horses and riders will tackle difficult obstacle courses, while others will compete in various riding, jumping, showmanship, and appearance categories. Winners will be named in more than 120 events. Some of the winners will divide more than $20,000 in prizes.

The event also features vendors selling all kinds of horse and riding equipment. Admission is free. Events begin at 7 a.m. each day.

Farmers Take on Chipotle Restaruants for New Ad

OK, now another restaurant company is taking it on the chin for one of its ads.

Chipotle has put out an ad and a mobile game that can be played on iPads and iPhones that seems to take on factory farms and farms in general. Go to to see a story about the campaign and watch the ad for the mobile game.

Farmers are taking issue with this on blogs, stating the video -- which is all animation -- doesn't show how farmers really treat their animals. In fact, some say Chipotle had to use animation because they couldn't find real farms putting their cows in metal cages or injecting chickens with chemicals.

Here is what the Agriculture Proud blog is saying about the issue. Dairy Carrie, a long-time blogger who recently was embroiled in the Panera restaurant ad controversy, posted this about Chipotle.

But then there are those who defend the ad, even calling it brilliant. Go to or check out

Interesting stuff to check out. Is the ad brilliant or offensive? Are some farmers going to far with their criticism or are they right on the mark? 

Thoughts? Comment here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

HungerU at Cornell Today

This event continues today at Cornell.

Holy Squashed Squash!

From the Associated Press:

New York State police say eastbound traffic was slowed on the Thruway Tuesday a.m. after a tractor-trailer hauling squash crashed off the highway.

Troopers say the truck crashed through guide rail around 7 a.m. Tuesday on Interstate 90's eastbound side between exits 33 and 32 in the Oneida County town of Verona, 30 miles east of Syracuse.

Police say truck is off the highway but pieces of the guide rail and other debris from the crash has blocked the right lane. Traffic is moving in the left lane but troopers say it also could be closed while crews clean up the crash scene.

Police say the driver wasn't injured.

Dairy, Corn and Soybeans Topics of Today's Dairy Line

Today hear about dairy pricing and soybean and corn production on Dairy Line.

Gillibrand Hosts New York Farm Day

This news is from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., will host the 12th annual “New York Farm Day” on at 5 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Russell Senate Office Building's Kennedy Caucus Room.

Farm Day brings together producers of New York’s award-winning wines, farm-fresh products and seafood, as well as leading restaurateurs from across New York State to showcase some of New York’s very best in Washington, D.C.

“I’m proud to continue the Farm Day tradition in Washington, DC,” Gillibrand said. “As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I am focused on improving the health of our economy and the health of our families.

"From rising childhood obesity and outdated nutritional standards to the economic crisis facing our dairy farmers and specialty crop farmers, agriculture issues in Washington affect families in every corner of New York. Strengthening our agricultural sector and promoting good nutrition for New Yorkers are essential to our long-term health and economic growth,” she said.

“New York Farm Day is a tasteful and effective way to educate policy makers that New York is a major farm state, and that agricultural is a major part of the state economy,” said Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation.

“The grape, grape juice and wine industry now has production facilities in 53 of New York State’s 62 counties, and generates over $3.7 billion in economic benefits annually," Trezise said. "Our ability to grow and contribute even more depends on the business climate, which is shaped by public policy, so we thank Senator Gillibrand for hosting this immensely popular and effective event.”

Gillibrand is the first New York senator in nearly 40 years to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. In  her four years on the committee, Gillibrand traveled across New York state, visiting farms and holding listening sessions to hear concerns and ideas straight from farm communities with the most at stake in the Farm Bill.

The Senate Farm Bill included a number of provisions Gillibrand fought hard to strengthen, including specialty crops, expanding rural broadband, reform of dairy pricing, expanding markets, increasing access to capital and extending disaster relief to commercial fishermen, and other important measures. 

To see a list of which New York farms or businesses are presenting at Farm Day, go to 

New York Farm Bureau President's Statement on Immigration Letter To House of Representatives Leadership

Statement from NY Farm Bureau President Dean Norton:

“New York Farm Bureau very much appreciates the letter that four members of New York’s Republican Congressional delegation sent to their leadership in the House of Representatives, including to Speaker John Boehner.

"The letter signed by Congressmen Chris Gibson, Tom Reed, Richard Hanna and Chris Collins outlines the critical need for agriculture labor reform and underscores the harsh economic reality on farming in this state if nothing is done.

"The letter stresses that 'the inability of New York farmers to access a stable and legal workforce has cost New York jobs, and impacts the safe and reliable supply of food and fiber produced in this state.'

"We are seeing this statement ring true on our farms every day as major business decisions are put on hold out of worries we won’t have the workers needed for the basic farm duties like harvesting the crops or milking the cows. Some of our farmers have even scaled back food production because of a lack of labor.

"While our Representatives were back in their home districts during the August recess, New York Farm Bureau along with a number of other important stakeholder organizations had productive meetings with members of both parties who are eager to find a sensible solution that will not only help our farm economy prosper, but our country’s economy as well.

"It is time we have immigration reform, and we are hopeful the leadership in the House will take the letter to heart and act. As this country continues to have serious discussions about national security, having a safe and reliable food supply grown in the U.S. must be a part of that conversation. The only alternative to immigration reform is importing more of our food,” Norton said. 

New York Farm Bureau worked closely on this effort in conjunction with many others in support of immigration reform. They include the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA), Farm Credit East, New York State Vegetable Growers Association, Northeast Ag and Feed Alliance, Agrimark, Dairylea Cooperative, and Upstate Niagara Cooperative.

Monday, September 16, 2013

USDA: Unpredictable Autumn Coming Our Way

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials talk about what the weather is going to be like during the fall season.

November Deadline to Apply for Farm Bureau Agricultural Youth Scholarship

The deadline is Nov. 18 to apply  for the New York Farm Bureau Agricultural Youth Scholarship.

Scholarship awards are $1,500 for first place, $1,200 for second, and $1,000 for third place. 

Students applying must have a family Farm Bureau membership or a Student Farm Bureau membership (a membership application may be included with scholarship enclosures). Students are required to submit a brief essay answering the question, “If you had the power to change something in your community or on your farm, what would you change and why?”

The first place winner will be invited to present their essay at a NYFB Spring event.New York Farm Bureau is encouraging high school seniors who have been involved with agriculture and plan on continuing studies in this field to apply for the New York Farm Bureau Agricultural Youth Scholarship sponsored by the New York Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Committee. 
At the District level, a personal interview and essay presentation may be scheduled at the discretion of the district representative. The county winner will be the applicant scoring the highest for each county. The district winner will be overall highest county winner.

District winners will be notified on or before the district judging deadline of Jan. 18. The district winners will have an opportunity to make minor changes (i.e. grammar, spelling, additional awards etc.) to their applications prior to the Feb. 1 final deadline, at which time all applications must be into New York Farm Bureau for the state judging. 

The state competition is based solely upon the application and attachments.
To nominate someone for the scholarship or to request an application, call (800) 342-4143 or go to http:/  and then scroll down to “Farm Essentials” for scholarship information and the application.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lee's Feed Store Celebrates 200 Years in Business

From the Lee's Feed Store website
I don't know about you, but I find this just remarkable.

A store in the valley section of Syracuse (207 Milburn Drive) is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. The store put on a customer appreciation day Saturday.

Lee’s Feed Store opened in 1813 when a mill first opened to grind feed for animals at area farms, said owner Al White. Th store has been open continuously since 1813 and became Lee's Feed Store in 1954. Today, the store has one of the largest selections of animal feed and farm supplies in the area.

"Years ago, the farmers would come here by horse and buggy to pick up their feed," White said. Today, with the number of farms dwindling in Onondaga County and environs, the store sells animal feed to other sources, such as individuals, gentleman farmers as White calls them and even sells feed to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

According to the website, the store sells:

Pet Food including dog food, cat food, bird feed, food for small animals and exotic pet foods. Alsohay and straw, wildlife feed, horse feed and wild bird feeds. Pet foods are alll natural, holistic animal food from EVO, Science Diet, and Iams. Lee’s Feed Store has food for livestock, poultry, sheep, goats, pigs, llamas and more. The store even carries 50-pound bags of feed.

Pet supplies such as dog collars, training crates and outdoor kennels.

Farm supplies including grass seed, hay and straw, wood pellets, rock salt, topsoil and agricultural fertilizer.

Garden supplies including bedding plants, flowers and vegetables, lawn fertilizer, mulch and peat moss.

Equine supplies including stall mats and supplements and warmers.

Propane also is available, along with water softener, salt, welded wire and poultry netting. Seasonal items include live poultry such as baby chicks, ducks and geese.

For more information, call the store at 469-1481 or go to 

Do You Have Any Old NY Farm Photos to Share?

Such a cool gallery of old ag photographs from England.

Does anyone have old photos of New York agriculture like these to share with Empire State Farming? Send them along to Tell me where the photos were taken and what year and I'll share them on the blog.

Can't wait to see photos come streaming in.

More Schools are Adopting the USDA Healthy Meals Standards

The USDA says nearly 80 percent of schools are participating in the USDA healthy school meals program.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Take New Steps to Care for Land and Water

This week's column from Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack:

Natural resource conservation is paramount to the ongoing strength of our nation.

Healthy soil contributes to agricultural productivity. Healthy forests clean our water and air. Vibrant waterways are critical for our health, for transportation and for trade. Investments into conservation spur job growth and community development, particularly in rural areas.
This is an uncertain time for USDA conservation activities. Congress has not yet passed a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that would continue to invest in conservation efforts, while providing rural America with certainty regarding many other important programs.
As we continue urging Congress to provide a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, USDA this week took several new steps to strengthen conservation across the country.
We invested in innovation by awarding new grants under USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants program.  New technologies and tactics are constantly emerging that help producers and landowners care for the environment. 
These 33 new awards will help organizations across the country carry out advanced new conservation strategies and share them with producers. For example, several projects will investigate the benefits of cover crops, which could help producers grow more while mitigating the impacts of a changing climate.
These new project awards are part of more than 260 projects funded since 2009, including a special group of Conservation Innovation Grants to help agriculture adapt to drought.
We also invested this week in the future of renewable energy from wood products. USDA announced a partnership with industry to work toward additional wood-to-energy projects, while awarding more than $1 million in grants for five statewide teams that will further develop these efforts. 
This builds on past work that has resulted in more than 230 wood-to-energy projects created under the Obama Administration.
Advanced wood energy provides a wide range of benefits for our nation. It encourages forest restoration by providing a new way to use wood byproducts. It contributes to an “all-of-the above” energy strategy, giving folks an alternative to costly energy sources. And it helps to create good jobs in energy and forestry for rural Americans.
Renewable wood energy holds tremendous promise for rural America, and the new investments made this week are yet another step forward for this technology.
To cap off a week of positive new developments for USDA conservation efforts, we announced today that the U.S. Forest Service will partner with Coca-Cola, the National Forest Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in a long-term effort to restore and clean waterways in our National Forests.
National Forests provide drinking water for more than 60 million Americans – and working together, USDA and Coca-Cola will undertake a range of projects in the coming years to restore forest waterways. 
These include working on the Angeles National Forest in California to prevent erosion caused by wildfire; restoring a stream in New Mexico that was previously impacted by industrial activity; and enhancing waterways within the Lake Michigan watershed.
Our hope is that these restoration projects will stand as an example for the benefit of public-private partnership to deliver results for the American people, even in a time of tighter budgets.
These new efforts complement the wide range of work we will continue to do with a focus on delivering record conservation results for Americans. With the right tools, including a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, there is much more we can achieve in the years to come.

Oswego County Harvest Dinner Oct. 18

There is one great way each year to savor all of the agriculture in Oswego County.

That's the Oswego County Harvest Dinner, this year set for 6:15 p.m. Oct. 18 at the American Foundry in Oswego. The event features local chefs using vegetables like onions, fruits like apples, various cuts of meat and other foods grown right in Oswego County to make delectable dishes.

This year boasts the fourth annual Harvest Dinner and believe me, the event has grown in popularity each and every year. Tickets sell out fast.

Tickets for the event are $35 for one or $65 for two and must be purchased ahead of time. Prepaid reservations can be made sending payment to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, Harvest Dinner, 3288 Main St., Mexico, NY 13114. No tickets will be sold at the door.

I went to this dinner last year and believe me, it is worth the price. The food is excellent and it really is thrilling to hear about the foods grown in Oswego County and the hard-working farmers behind them.

The evening begins with a social hour, including a sampling of Oswego County beverages. Guests will be served a six-course meal showcasing the scrumptious and diverse agricultural products grown and made in Oswego County.

Guest speaker for the evening will be Chris Fesko, an award-winning agricultural educator who runs her On the Farm Discovery Center in Spafford, Onondaga County, where she takes in school group tours throughout the spring.

She also is the creator and producer of the "On the Farm" video series that helps children and adults understand farming, the work that is done on the farm and how all of that work is responsible for the food we eat each day. Her videos have won four Telly Awards, three Parents' Choice awards and many other honors. She won the Ag Promotion Award this year from the New York State Agricultural Society.

There also will be raffle baskets featuring Oswego County’s finest agricultural products and more.

For more information on the Oswego County Harvest Dinner please call 315-963-7286 or e-mail