Thursday, October 31, 2013

What Does The Farmer Say?

Another great farm parody.


State Provides Money for Farmland Protection Plans

From the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

The state is providing $150,000 to help four municipalities (3 counties and 1 town) develop local agricultural and farmland protection plans.

Planning grants, an integral component of the state’s Farmland Protection Program, are being provided to Jefferson, Steuben and Ontario Counties, as well as the Town of Milton in Saratoga County. 

Planning grants provide local municipalities with an economic incentive to develop local agricultural and farmland protection plans. These plans help maintain the economic viability of the State’s agricultural industry and its supporting land base and protect the environmental and landscape preservation values associated with agriculture. Under this program to date, New York has helped fund agricultural and farmland protection plans in 77 towns and 13 counties.

Any municipality, including cities, towns and villages, located in a county that has an agricultural and farmland protection board is eligible for a farmland protection planning grant. These funds can provide up to $25,000, or 75 percent of the cost of developing a local protection plan.

The planning grant program is also open to counties that have an approved agricultural and farmland protection plan that is ten years old or older. Those counties may receive up to $50,000, or 50 percent of the cost of updating the current plan or developing a new county plan.

For more information on funding, please visit: http// opportunities.

Agricultural and farmland protection plans should identify the location of farmland to be protected, the value of that land to the local economy, the value of that land as open space and the consequences of possible conversion. The plan should also describe the programs and strategies the local government intends to use to promote and protect continued agricultural use.

Jefferson County and Ontario County are receiving $37,500 each, Steuben County is receiving  $50,000 and the town of Milton is receiving $25,000.

Child Killed in Farm Accident

How sad.

A farm accident in Kansas.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Published on Muck Farms of Oswego County

Earl Sheldon, harvesting onions on his Route 176 farm, circa early 1940s. The

Sheldon family is part of the recently-published book on the muck farms of Oswego County.

A book about the importance of muck farming in Oswego County has been published and will be discussed by its writer at 3 p.m. Nov. 10 at Springside at Seneca Hill in Minetto.

Also during his program, writer Jim Farfaglia will include a slideshow with photos used in the book, an overview of why muck farming has been so important to Oswego County and stories told to Farfaglia by local muck farmers.

“The idea for this book started with an event at the Fulton Public Library in March 2012,” Farfaglia explained. “I was conducting a reading from my book of poems, Country Boy, which is about growing up in rural Central New York and working on my uncles’ muck farms. Members of several muck-farm families attended and, after my reading, these farmers started telling stories and comparing experiences from the mucks.

"I saw people nodding in agreement with each anecdote and noticed how one story built upon another. As I listened to the emotion underlying each farmer’s recollections, I knew I wanted to capture their memories,” he said.

Farfaglia proceeded to interview muck farmers, their family members, neighbors, workers and
agricultural specialists. Using the interviews, photographs and maps, he created the book.

“I like to say that I compiled and edited the book instead of saying I wrote it,” Farfaglia said. “About 90 percent of the book is the story of the mucks in the interviewees’ own words. After all, the people who lived and worked the mucks should be the ones to tell their story.”

Following the Nov. 10 program, a complimentary copy of the book will be given to each farm family he interviewed. He also will introduce the farmers to the audience and take questions about the book. Refreshments will be served.

Because of limited seating, reservations to attend the event are required. Please contact Farfaglia at 402-2297 or to register.

NYCAMH is 25!

Wow -- NYCAMH is 25 years old.

I remember when it was just a toddler.

Read here

Harvesting Opportunities in NY Program Nov. 20

The second annual "Harvesting Opportunities in NY" program is scheduled for November in Albany.

Go to to learn more about the program and how to sign up.

NOFA-NY Winter Conference Coming in January

Heads up, all.

Look what's coming up.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Farm Income Forecast at Highest Level since 1973

Go to to see the story.

Webinars on Food Safety Planned

Go to to see the list of webinars.

Senators Want No Cuts to SNAP

From U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:

Ahead of the first public meeting of the Senate and House 2013 Farm Bill conference committee members on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today led a coalition of 38 of her Senate colleagues urging the conferees to fight against harmful cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The senators also urged the negotiators to reject all eligibility changes that would prevent millions of children, seniors, and families facing a constant struggle against hunger from accessing nutritious food and hundreds of thousands of low-income children from accessing free school meals.
The 2013 Farm Bill conference committee members are working on a compromise between the two different pieces of legislation passed by the Senate and House earlier this year.
In June, the Senate passed a Farm Bill which included $4.5 billion in cuts to the SNAP program while the House passed legislation last month with even steeper cuts, slashing $40 billion during a 10-year period.
The 39 senators wrote in a letter to Farm Bill Conference Committee Members:
While we support efforts to improve the integrity of the SNAP program, we encourage conferees to reject all SNAP eligibility changes designed to erect new barriers to participation, preventing millions of seniors, children and families from accessing food assistance. 
"The eligibility changes also will mean an additional 280,000 children would lose free school meals because children in SNAP households are automatically eligible for school meals.
"Changes would also increase administrative costs by requiring states to re-determine eligibility for SNAP, even if a household was deemed eligible for other state and/or federal assistance programs… SNAP is a safety net program in the truest sense of the world; there is no other more fundamental human need than food. Please consider the needs of these struggling families, children, and senior citizens as you negotiate the final Farm Bill and the future of the SNAP program.
The letter was signed by Sens. Charles Schumer, (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Udall (D-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Angus King (I-ME), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Tim Johnson (D-SD).
“Families who are living in poverty – hungry children, seniors, troops and veterans who are just trying to figure out how to keep the lights on and put food on the table – did not spend this nation into debt, and we should not be trying to balance the budget on their backs,” Gillibrand said.
"They deserve better. Millions more won’t be able to put food on the table if draconian cuts to food stamps become law. I stand with my Senate colleagues urging committee members to reject harmful cuts for the most vulnerable,” she said.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Deadline Nov. 1 for Submitting MILC Paperwork

From the USDA Farm Service Agency:

The deadline is Nov. 1 to submit final production evidence and supporting documentation for the Milk Income Loss Contract program.

Juan M. Garcia, administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency, reminds producers this paperwork for the Milk Income Loss Contract program for eligible months (including fiscal years 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013) that MILC payments were available must be submitted by the deadline.

“The MILC program helps dairy producers get through tough economic times, and is another reason we need a new Farm, Food and Job bill," said Garcia. "When low dairy prices create a hardship for dairy producers, payments are made to those who participate in the program to ensure they have the financial assistance they need to maintain their business. An additional benefit is the stimulation of local economies.”

Statutory authority for the MILC program expired Sept. 30, 2013. New legislation must be enacted before the MILC program, or its replacement, can provide assistance.

Dairy operations can obtain more information on MILC by contacting a local FSA office or search “MILC” at

Friday, October 25, 2013

USDA Provides Grants for Broadband in Rural Areas; No Grants in NY

From the USDA:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday announced 14 awards for projects to bring broadband to unserved rural communities.

None of the awards were in New York state.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino made the announcement on the Secretary's behalf while addressing a regional meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in San Antonio.
"Access to broadband is one of the most important investments in rural communities today," Vilsack said. "These awards will help create jobs, and give rural residents greater access to educational, health care and social services."

USDA is providing $20.3 million in grants through the Community Connect Grant program.

October is National Cooperative Month

From the USDA:

In recognition of October as National Cooperative Month, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week announced that U.S. farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives set records for sales, income and assets in 2012.

The records were boosted by strong prices for grain, farm supplies and many other agricultural commodities. Sales by agricultural and fishery co-ops of nearly $235 billion surpassed the 2011 record by $18 billion, an 8.3 percent gain. Record net (pre-tax) income of $6.1 billion was up nearly 13 percent over the $5.4 billion recorded in 2011.
USDA's annual survey of the nation's more than 2,200 agricultural and fishery cooperatives shows that grain and oilseed sales by co-ops increased more than $7 billion in 2012. Taken together, bean and pea, fruit and vegetable, nut, poultry and sugar sales by co-ops increased at least 3 percent over 2011 levels.

Farm and ranch supply sales by co-ops were up by $7 billion, primarily due to rising energy prices. Fertilizer, feed and petroleum sales by co-ops each increased by at least $1 billion.
Net assets owned by agricultural co-ops – which range from local grain elevators and farm supply stores to major food and beverage processing plants – also showed a dramatic increase in 2012, rising to $82.9 billion, up 4.4 percent from $79.4 billion in 2011. Owner equity gained $1.8 billion. Equity capital remains low, but is clearly showing an upward trend, with a 6.5 percent increase over the previous year.

USDA recently released its annual list of the nation's 100 largest agricultural cooperatives. The list shows that Farmway Co-op Inc., a grain co-op based in Beloit, Kan., made the largest upward jump on the Top 100, rising from 114th place in 2011 to 62nd on the 2012 list.

The next biggest "gainer" was West Central Cooperative, in Ralston, Iowa, a co-op that handles grain and farm supplies, which climbed from 69th to 41st place in 2012. As a sector, the biggest upward jumps on the Top 100 list were made by grain and grain/farm supply co-ops.

The 100 largest agricultural cooperatives reported revenue of $162 billion in 2012, a new record and an increase of more than 9 percent over 2011, when revenue was $148 billion. Net income for the 100 top cooperatives also set a new record in 2012, reaching $3.5 billion, up from the previous record of $3.1 billion in 2011.

Getting More Local Foods into Schools

Here's a good video report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture about efforts to get more local food from farms into schools.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Agricultural Land Assessment Cap Bill Signed by Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today signed a law to cap agricultural land assessments at 2 percent per year.

This is a bill New York Farm Bureau has been lobbying for months.

The governor's office said signing this bill into law ensures a more predictable tax climate for the state's agricultural sector. And putting this bill with the 2 percent property tax cap, farmers will be able to stay on their land and reinvest some of the money that would have gone for taxes into their operations.

“Protecting our farmers from unsustainable tax hikes is part of our work to change our state’s reputation as the tax capital of the nation by controlling spending while reducing the tax burden on New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.

“Agriculture is big business in New York and our state government is committed to doing everything we can to help this vital industry thrive and continue to create jobs and economic prosperity, particularly Upstate, he said. "This new law is a great example of just how far we’ve come and will help ensure that agricultural lands remain in the hands of hard working families for generations to come.”

According to the governor's office, during the past seven years, the base assessment value for agricultural lands has nearly doubled, leading to skyrocketing property tax increases. This, coupled with increases in municipal and school taxes, has led to a difficult business climate for some farmers. 

Previously, the annual change in the base agricultural assessment property value could not exceed 10 percent. The new legislation provides for an annual assessment increase of no more than 2 percent.

New York Farm Bureau was thrilled the bill was signed into law.

"In recent years, farmers have carried an increasingly heavy property tax burden that is second highest in the country and more than triple the national average," said Farm Bureau President Dean Norton. "But today, we will begin to get those skyrocketing property taxes under control. The cap will limit increases of agricultural assessment to no more than 2 percent a year."

"This does not mean farmers won’t be paying their fair share of taxes. It simply will control the rate of escalation that will make it easier for our family farms to budget for and pay their taxes," Norton said.  "By putting pen to paper, Governor Cuomo has given another boost to our family farms that contribute greatly to both the physical and economic health of their communities, and New York Farm Bureau very much appreciates his continued partnership with us on critical economic issues."

New York Farm Bureau also worked closely with many agricultural organizations to make today a reality. In addition, Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, and Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, ushered the bill through their respective houses culminating in unanimous bipartisan victories.

To all of them, New York Farm Bureau expresses sincere gratitude for being our partners as well, Norton said

Cayuga Milk Plant Under Construction

Go to to see the story.

Report Released on Care of Agricultural Animals; Teleconference Today

This is from the Animal Agriculture Alliance:

The Animal Agriculture Alliance today (Monday Oct. 21) released a report detailing the efforts and progress America’s livestock, poultry and egg producers have made over more than a decade in ensuring animal well-being, protecting the environment, using antibiotics responsibly and producing the world’s safest food.

Titled “Advances in Animal Agriculture; What the Center for a Livable Future, Pew Commission and Others Aren’t Telling You About Food Production,” the report will provide stark contrast to a report from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future, the organization that initiated “Meatless Mondays.”

Its report, expected to be released Oct. 22, is an update of a report issued in 2008 by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production that was highly critical of modern food-animal production.

“Many organizations -- including the Pew Commission -- have long criticized the animal agriculture community for not caring enough about their animals or environment or prioritizing public health,” said Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith. “While there’s always more progress to be made, the entire animal agriculture community has worked hard and has achieved results. Those results should be shared.”

Information for the AAA report was provided by organizations representing beef, chicken, dairy, egg, pork and turkey farmers and ranchers and showcase specific accomplishments in five areas: animal care, responsible antibiotics use, food safety, environmental sustainability and industry research initiatives.

One highlight of the report includes the illness rate from E. coli dropping to less than one case in 100,000 people, meeting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010 goal.

Additionally, in terms of sustainability, the United States is a model for sustainable livestock production, and less than three percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to livestock production.

The report also explains how agriculture has adapted to the changing landscape, including embracing technology to improve animal well-being and food safety and enhancing productivity to feed a world population that’s expected to increase by 30 percent 2050.

The Alliance will be hosting a teleconference from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday Oct. 22  with various third-party experts to discuss the efforts presented in the Alliance report.

The presenters also will be prepared to answer questions about the Center for a Livable Future’s re-release of the Pew Commission’s 2008 report.

Experts participating in the teleconference include:

* Dr. Richard Raymond, former Under Secretary, Food Safety Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture

* Dr. Scott Hurd, former Deputy Under Secretary, Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture

* Janeen Salak-Johnson, PhD, University of Illinois, Associate Professor Animal Science

* Dr. John Glisson, DVM, MAM, PhD, Retired Department Head of Population Health and former Head of the Department of Avian Medicine, University of Georgia; Vice President, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association

* Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Professor and Air Quality Extension Specialist, Department of Animal Science, University of California Davis

“The varied landscape of livestock and poultry production — farms of all shapes, sizes and production styles — is responsible for the abundance of choices we have at the grocery store and will also be responsible for feeding our growing population,” said Johnson Smith.

A full copy of the report is available on the Alliance website ( .

Taste NY Harvest Fest Tickets on Sale Now

From Gov. Cuomo's office:

Tickets are now on sale for the Taste NY Harvest Fest at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.

This event provides visitors with an opportunity to sample and purchase some of the best foods and beverages made in New York state. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3 in the Horticulture Building.
"Since it began earlier this year, Taste NY has been a catalyst to help us spread the word that products grown and made in New York are among the best in the world," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "Events like the Taste NY Harvest Fest not only create fans for homegrown food and beverages, but boost our economy by supporting our farmers, brewers, and manufacturers."

The event allows attendees to meet with vendors and sample their products, gather information, and purchase their favorite items. Dozens of companies from around the state will be on hand, from well-known brands such as Syracuse's Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Gianelli Sausage, McCadam Cheese of Chateaugay, and Utica's F. X. Matt Brewing Co., to companies aiming to gain better household recognition, such as Rome Grown Garlic of Rome, Ma Poole's Chutney of Skaneateles, Roger's Rustic Rubs & Sauces of Hudson Falls and Hungry Bear Farms of Middlesex.
Many makers of wine, beer, and spirits will also be on hand.  Among the companies confirmed so far, besides F. X. Matt, are Merritt Estate Winery of Forestville, Casa Larga Vineyards of Fairport, Adirondack Distilling Co. of Utica, Americana Vineyards and Winery of Interlaken, Three Brothers Winery of Geneva, and Thousand Islands Winery of Alexandria Bay.

Tickets are $15 for tickets purchased in advance or $20 at the door. Advance sale tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone, or by fax.

To purchase in person or by phone, visit or call the State Fair administration building during business hours on weekdays, where the receptionist will complete the purchase. The receptionist can be reached at (315) 487-7711, extension 1001.

Tickets purchased over the phone or by fax can be picked up at the reception desk during business hours, or can be picked up at the event, at the Will Call window. The form to fax is available on the New York State
Fair website,  All admissions include a free Taste NY beer or wine glass with which to drink samples.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Farm Burns, Cows Killed in the Albany Area

Sad story

Cornell Plant Breeder Wins Prestigious Award

From Cornell University:

Throughout his 43-year career, Cornell University plant breeder Ronnie Coffman has sown seeds of scientific and social change across continents and generations.

Now his efforts are being recognized with the inaugural World Agriculture Prize, awarded by the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA), an organization that represents more than 600 universities worldwide.

As a rice breeder at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines in the 1970s, Coffman, helped one generation survive the ravages of war by ensuring food security throughout Southeast Asia.

As leader of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative – and the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development – he is helping another generation combat new strains of wheat rust that threaten to devastate world food supplies.

As the professor behind Cornell’s popular Agriculture in Developing Nations course, director of International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP-CALS), and organizer of Ph.D. training courses at the West African Center for Crop Improvement, he is mentoring the next generation of plant breeders and international development professionals.

“The world’s farmers need access to the best science that the many great institutions of GCHERA can deliver in order to produce crops that are nutritionally adequate and best adapted to future challenges,” Coffman said during his acceptance speech at Nanjing Agricultural University in China Oct. 20.

New technologies – including biotechnologies – must be made accessible to all the world’s farmers so that nutritionally superior seeds that are well-adapted to climate change are put in the hands of farmers with limited resources, he added.

Coffman also advocated for the advancement of women in agriculture and science, and he committed the $50,000 proceeds of the prize to AWARE (Advancing Women in Agriculture Through Research and Education), a new initiative to ensure that gender is considered in all IP-CALS activities, from events to funding proposals.

“Women hold the greatest potential to make significant impacts in rural development,” said Coffman. “Colleges of agriculture and life sciences need to empower women as future champions around the globe so they can become the entrepreneurs of their own future as well as the planet’s.”

Coffman was nominated for the award by Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS, who said he embodied the college’s mission of “knowledge with public purpose.”

“Ronnie excels as an agent of change. He has spent his career ensuring that people with scarce resources in some of the world’s most populous countries have access to the agricultural science they need to produce crops best adapted to the challenges they face,” Boor said.

A Kentucky native, Coffman had never even seen the ocean prior to coming to Cornell as a graduate student in 1967. His first trip off the continent was to Puerto Rico as a participant in the class he now leads. Coffman now travels more than 150 days and 250,000 miles a year in pursuit of advancements in agriculture and rural development.

Coffman joined the Cornell faculty in 1981, and has served as director of IP-CALS since 2001. Previous positions include chair of the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, CALS associate dean for research and director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cuomo Signs Farm Cideries Bill

From Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Thursday signed the Farm Cideries bill that establishes a new license for farm cideries similar to the licenses already available to farm wineries, breweries and distilleries.

This legislation follows through on promises made to farm cideries after the NYS Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit.  Today's signing also coincides with the beginning of CiderWeek NY, featuring nine days of events throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley, aimed at promoting New York?s ciders.

For more information on CiderWeek NY, which will last from Oct. 18 to 27, visit
"New York's agricultural products are some of the best in the world, and today we are delivering on our promise to help growing farm cideries succeed in this state," Cuomo said.

"The Farm Cideries bill, coupled with events like CiderWeek NY, promotes the sale of hard cider made from crops right here in New York and add to the tourism experience that is fall in the Empire State.  We will continue to use the TasteNY brand to help all of our agricultural entrepreneurs thrive and stay in New York," Cuomo said.
Sen. David Valesky, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development, and Small Business said, "This is a great opportunity to further leverage New York State's extraordinary agricultural assets. New York state apples are high-quality and delicious, and expanding the market through cideries is win for everyone."

The Farm Cideries bill authorizes the establishment and licensure of farm cideries for the manufacture and sale of cider made from crops grown in New York state and would exclude licensed farm cideries from the sales tax information return filing requirements. In order to obtain a farm cidery license, the hard cider must be made exclusively from apples grown in New York state and no more than 150,000 gallons may be produced annually.

Farm cideries will be allowed to offer tastings of and sell not only cider, but also beer, wine, and spirits made from New York products. In addition, because farm cideries may also sell products such as mustards, sauces, jams, jellies, souvenirs, artwork, crafts and other gift items, these businesses, much like farm wineries, will become destination locations that will promote tourism within their communities.

Also, the need for apples in the manufacture of New York State labeled cider would create a sustained demand for products from New York's farmers.

The Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, hosted by Cuomo identified an increased interest in the production of hard cider in New York State. New York has already established licenses for farm producers of wine, spirits and beer, but not for cider.

This bill provides small craft cider makers with additional opportunities to highlight and market their products. The provisions of the new bill are modeled on similar provisions for farm breweries enacted in 2012. The farm winery and farm distillery licensing programs have been an integral part of promoting these industries in New York.

The law will take effect in 90 days.

Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau said, "The new Farm Cidery License is a boost for our local orchards and cider makers who are looking to diversify and offer value added products to consumers. It is an exciting time to be a New York farmer, and New York Farm Bureau thanks Governor Cuomo for providing additional market opportunities for the state's outstanding apple orchards."

Empire Farm Days Contest Winners Announced

Winners of contests and competitions at Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls have been announced.

Lyons, NY, dairyman Dan Wolf won the Kubota RTV 400 sponsored by Kubota and Empire Farm Days.

“We go to Empire Farm Days see what’s new, talk to specific product dealers, and see people we do not cross paths with anywhere else,” Wolf adds. “It was a great surprise to win. It will get used a lot in varied ways because it is so convenient to jump on and go. It is a fair distance between the dairy complex and the shop, so the RTV is already saving us a lot of jogging back and forth,” Wolf says.

Dairy farmer Brad Almeter of Strykersville in western New York won the Savage 10 Trophy Hunter XP bolt action, accutrigger rifle with a Nikon 39x40 BDC scope sponsored by Beikirch’s Ammunition of Rochester.

Almeter says, “I try to go to Empire Farm Days every year. I was very surprised to win the rifle this year and plan to use it to hunt deer and small game.”

Joanne Schoonmaker of Manlius, Onondaga County, won the Empire Farm Days Equine Center saddle sponsored by Empire Farm Days.

Schoonmaker, who grew up on a small farm in the Hudson Valley and now own three horses, says, “I have always been interested in agricultural enterprises and Empire Farm Days is a wonderful place to be among the farming community, to see the equipment, and attend the different equine demonstrations each year.”

The top three winners of the 2013 New York State FFA Welding Contest, sponsored by Haun Welding, Briggs and Stratton Yard Power Products Group, Clinton Tractor and Implement, and the Calidonna Family, at Empire Farm Days received Morrisville State College scholarships. Dakota Pingrey of Pioneer Central School, Yorkshire, NY, earned top individual honors, followed by Perry Lewis of Penn Yan Central School and Hewitt Meeder of Sherman Central School. Meeder and Gabe Rater of Sherman Central School earned the High Team Performance honors.

The New York State Tractor Driving Safety Contest, sponsored by John Deere, Kubota, H&S Farm Equipment, New Holland Case International, the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, Massey Ferguson, Java Farm Supply, Mabie Brothers, and the NYS FFA Leadership Training Foundation at the 2013 Empire Farm Days welcomed students from across the state. The winner of the Junior Division for 14-16-year-olds was Hadley Palmerton of Pioneer Central School. Dakota Pingrey of Pioneer Central School won the Senior Division for 16-18-year-olds.

Michael Murphy of Wayland, NY, received the 2013 Empire State Potato Growers Association Scholarship at the 2013 Empire Farm Days Ag Leadership Luncheon. The scholarship provides $500 per academic year for up to four consecutive years of agricultural education. Murphy has begun studying agricultural science with a business minor at Cornell University.

Sheland Dairy Farms, owned and operated by the Donald, Doug, and Todd Shelmidine of Jefferson County, was presented the NYS Agricultural Environmental Management Award, co-sponsored by the Empire State Potato Growers, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and American Agriculturist magazine at the 2013 Empire Farm Days Leadership Luncheon.

Melanie Wickham, who manages the Northeast’s largest outdoor agricultural show, says, “We thank the Empire State Potato Growers Association, all the agribusiness sponsors, and FFA leaders who make the annual Empire Farm Days prize giveaways and youth contests possible. The prize winners are always thrilled to receive the practical items they can put to use right away on their farms and the students can add their successful competition performances to their resumes.” 

Planning for the Aug. 5-7, 2014 Empire Farm Days is already underway.

For more details, contact Empire Farm Days Manager Melanie Wickham, 877-697-7837,

Some USDA Stat Reports Canceled, Delayed

From the USDA:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) have canceled or postponed publication of selected USDA statistical reports impacted by the lapse in federal funding. 

NASS's Crop Production and Cotton Ginnings reports and the WAOB's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) scheduled for Oct. 11 are canceled. The next scheduled release for these reports is Nov. 8.

Additionally, NASS's Crop Progress reports scheduled for Oct. 7 and 15 are canceled. NASS's Cattle on Feed and Peanut Prices reports scheduled for Oct. 18 are postponed.

While the lapse in federal funding has ended, NASS has not been able to engage in the necessary data collection and analysis over the past few weeks. NASS is assessing its data collection plans and evaluating the timing of upcoming reports.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

North Country Farmer Says He's Lucky to be Alive

North Country farmer injured in accident talks about his ordeal.

Cornell Researchers Study Bird Cheater

Cool story from Cornell University:

A common, chickadee-sized Australian bird is one of the most prolific cheaters in the avian world — and new research suggests that choices made by straying females may actually be keeping the species from diverging into two.

The research, by Daniel Baldassarre and Michael Webster of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, will be published online on Oct. 2 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The researchers tested how female fairywrens responded to two different types of males — a scarlet-backed form that occurs in northwestern Australia and a more flame-orange form in eastern Australia. The two forms were once geographically separated, but now occur together in northeastern Australia. The scarlet-backed form is steadily making inroads into the range of the orange-backed form, and the researchers wanted to learn why.

“They had all the building blocks to get going on the classic speciation process,” said Baldassarre. “But then they came back into contact too early, and they’re still able to mate with each other. Interestingly, we found that happens only when they’re deciding who to cheat with.”

Working in an area of Queensland where only orange-backed forms occur, the researchers used nontoxic red markers to turn orange-backed males into scarlet-backed males. Then they watched as the birds paired off and nested.

They found that females chose to form social bonds with orange-backed and scarlet-backed males equally. 

But regardless of which form the females paired with, they overwhelmingly chose scarlet-backed males to cheat with. DNA tests revealed that because of these dalliances, scarlet-backed males fathered more than double the number of young than orange-backed males.

 And that level of gene flow is more than enough to keep the two forms from continuing on the path to becoming different species, Baldassarre said.

Many birds cheat on their mates, but fairywrens display some of the highest rates of extrapair paternity in the bird world.

A typical three-egg clutch has about a 75 percent chance of containing eggs from at least two different fathers. In some cases, a female’s social mate fathers no eggs in his nest at all (though he may have young in other nests). Males even perform special displays for new females — carrying a bright-red flower petal in their bill — that they don’t do for their social mates.

The finding points to the growing understanding that female animals, by choosing their mates, can exert a strong force on the evolution of a species. And in red-backed fairywrens, that force is strongest in extrapair matings.

“Some males will get 10 extrapair young and others will get zero, so the females’ choices really matter there,” Baldassarre said. “But they’ll both probably have two within-pair young, so there’s not as much at stake.”

All that infidelity gives a female fairywren a second opportunity to make a choice, Baldassarre said. “With a social mate, a female is getting a territory and a mate that’s going to preen her and help feed the babies. 

When she chooses an extrapair mate, she’s going to see that guy for two seconds, get some genes from him, and that’s it. So she chooses different qualities.”

The researchers chose southern Queensland as their study site to simulate the arrival of the scarlet-backed form in a new population as it spreads eastward. They have not yet been able to do the reverse experiment, looking at how orange-backed males might fare in a region dominated by the red-backed form.

But results so far suggest that in situations where two closely related species appear to be diverging, a second look might be warranted. Even when birds behave socially as if they are reproductively isolated, there might be more going on than meets the eye. 

“There’s a lot of extrapair mating in birds,” Baldassarre said, “and that might be a hidden avenue that could work against the speciation process.”

The study was funded in part by the National Science Foundation, Sigma Xi, and Cornell Deparment of Neurobiology and Behavior.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Finger Lakes Rieslings Get Another Accolade

Jim Trezise of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation reports:

"Du riesling made in USA" is the headline of a major piece by wine writer Bernard Burtschy in Le Figaro, the largest circulation daily newspaper in France.

Bernard is one of the judges at our New York Wine & Food Classic, so has had the opportunity to sample a wide range of New York wines, and is particularly impressed with Finger Lakes Rieslings.

The lengthy article is accompanied by an iconic photo of vineyards above Keuka Lake, as well as one of me with Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the Governor's Cup Wine Tour.  Le vin de New York: c'est magnifique!

Will the FDA's New Food Safety Rules Harm Small Farmers?

Go to to check out the story.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Reports: Aubertine Resigns as Ag Commissioner

A couple of news outlets have reported that Darrel Aubertine, commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, has resigned effective next week.

Here is what one is saying.

No word yet from Ag and Markets, although says Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office has confirmed the resignation.


Statements on Government Shutdown's Effect on Farmers

Here is some comments on what the government shutdown means for the Farm Bill:
Andrew Novakovic, agricultural economist, Farm Bill expert and professor of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, discusses the impact of the current government shutdown on agriculture-related federal services.
Novakovic has acted as senior economist to the USDA Office of the Chief Economist since 2011. His activities included assisting in analyzing proposals made in connection with agricultural legislation and other issues related to dairy programs.
Novakovic says:
“With the biggest share of government spending mandated under ongoing law, Congress' failure to pass appropriations for Fiscal Year 2014 will have relatively little or no effect on the big ticket items of government. Most of the big-government programs that they believe are out of control will continue unabated because their funding is mandated, non discretionary.
“Instead, a large number of federal workers will get unpaid leave, visitors to D.C. and national parks will find doors barred shut, and all kinds of folks and businesses will find out how much we rely on a myriad of federal reports that are easy to take for granted.
"Retirement programs that calculate benefits based on changes to the Consumer Price Index won't have a new estimate of changes to consumer prices. CME futures markets that cash settle against a federal estimated price won't have a cash price announced. Farmers that had planned to finish that paperwork in their local FSA office will find the door locked.
“With each advancing day, compromise becomes both more necessary and more difficult. And, as the deadline for expanding the debt ceiling gets closer, the stakes are raised. It may be easy to stand by while government workers calculate how long they can go without a paycheck, but the prospect of the government of the world's largest economy and most powerful country reneging on its loan payments is punishing to advocates of fiscal responsibility.
Wednesday the U.S. Senate re-announced its Farm Bill conferees even as House Agriculture Committee Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson and Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack despair of being able to find a compromise. 
"The government shutdown in and of itself doesn't impact passage of the next Farm Bill, but the shutdown adds toxins to a political environment in which compromise feels almost impossible.”
This is from the Union of Concerned Scientists:
The Farm Bill officially expired as of Oct. 1. With Congress locked in a stalemate over fiscal and healthcare issues, there is no process to extend or reauthorize the Farm Bill in sight. 
Ironically, a handful of low-cost Farm Bill programs that could improve the health of Americans and save taxpayers billions in health care costs are among the political casualties. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the uncertainty caused by the expiration of the Farm Bill and Congress’ failure to legislate sows doubt, confusion and hunger.

Below is a statement by Daniel Z. Brito, senior Washington representative for UCS’ Food & Environment Program:

“Congressional inaction on the Farm Bill is hurting real people today. Without a new bill or an extension of the 2008 law, some programs will continue from now until December 31, ending only when their funding runs out. Then, the nation will feel the most severe consequences of Congress’ inaction. But in the meantime, there are quiet but very real impacts.

“For example, the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program was defunded on Monday. This cost-effective program provides coupons for low-income seniors that can be redeemed for fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. Congress’ failure to reauthorize this and other Farm Bill programs is keeping healthy food off the plates of hungry consumers, and money out of the pockets of hard-working farmers.

“The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is just the latest program to be put out to pasture. The Farmers Market Promotion Program, a Farm Bill program that provides grants to open new farmers markets, roadside stands or other direct-to-consumer opportunities hasn’t been funded since 2012.
"Despite the missed opportunities in 2013, thankfully, many of the markets that received these grants in years past are thriving. They engage the surrounding community, encourage healthier eating, and often double the value of nutrition assistance dollars redeemed at these markets.

“These programs require only modest funding and have the potential to change communities and lives. Our recent report, “The $11 Trillion Reward,” shows that Farm Bill programs like the Farmers Market Promotion Program can increase access to fruits and vegetables — foods that can significantly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, the leading killer of Americans. Increasing the public’s consumption of these foods would save an astounding $17 billion in health care costs alone.

“Every day that goes by without a Farm Bill is another lost opportunity to help farmers and consumers, while our national nutrition and healthcare crisis goes unsolved. It’s time for Congress to stop fighting and get to work.”

Keep Farmland for Farmers

So what do you all think of this?

Thanks to FarmNet for sharing on Facebook.

Here's the story.

NYCAMH Goes the FarmAid

Here's what the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health was up to at FarmAid in Saratoga.

Cornell Researchr Says Corn Yields Could Be High

Good news about this year's corn harvest:

Margaret Smith, professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University and leading corn researcher, has encouraging news regarding corn yields.
“As the corn crop in New York and throughout the country matures, estimates of this year's grain yields are getting more concrete," Smith said. "Temperatures in N.Y. and throughout the major growing areas of the U.S. Corn Belt were generally favorable this summer, with heat accumulation at or just slightly above long-term averages. Combine that with plenty of timely rains in many areas, and we could be seeing some really high grain yields.
“Around New York, fields that did not get planted before about May 20 were mostly too wet to get back into until early June," she said. "This later-planted corn did not deal well with the frequent rains that prevailed through much of June and July. So those fields don't look great.  
“All that moist weather also favored northern leaf blight on corn, which hit some fields very heavily in late August.  At this point, however, the later planted fields and the leaf blight damage don't appear to be enough acres to really dampen what should be a strong corn grain harvest year for New York.”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Farmer's Wife

A great read.

See it here at this link.

Wine Trail Legislation Will Help Industry, Experts Say

Here are two statements about the new wine trail and wine selling legislation in New York state:

Bradley Rickard, assistant professor at Cornell and leading expert in the economics of horticultural markets, said this about new legislation allowing roadside farm market stands to sell wine as well as expand wine trails designations on state roadways.
Rickard says:
“Similar to laws that have allowed wineries to sell their products at farmers’ markets and that have created wine trails, the new legislative change allowing wine to be sold at roadside farm markets will enable more New York State wine to be sold to consumers and will benefit the industry in some capacity.”
The New York Farm Bureau commented on the law expanding the state wine trail system:

In a press release, it said "local wineries across Upstate New York now have new opportunities to lure in visitors with the recent expansion of the state wine trail system. Gov. Cuomo just signed legislation that will allow the Niagara Wine Trail Ridge and Niagara Wine Trail Lake to grow in western New York in addition to the expansion of the Shawangunk East Wine Trail in the lower Hudson Valley.

"The governor also put pen to paper creating the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail in Clinton County.

"We appreciate the governor’s support of New York’s vineyards and farm based wineries. The wine trail system has proven itself to be an economic generator drawing in tourists from around the state and the world to sample and purchase our award winning wines. The wineries themselves pay for the road signs marking the trail, and there is no cost to the state, only an economic benefit.

"The cross promotion and branding of a Wine Trail as a destination allows the state’s smaller farm and commercial wineries the opportunity to work together to capture new customers. Also, the additional visitors to the respective regions provide a spin-off boost to the rural economies as well.

"In addition to the expansions, a separate bill changes the name of the Chautauqua Wine Trail in Chautauqua County to the Lake Erie Wine Trail.

Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau, said “New York Farm Bureau worked closely with the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, a number of winemakers and their respective state legislators, as well as the New York Department of Transportation to make these important changes to the wine trail system.  We very much appreciate Governor Cuomo’s support and faith in our local wineries to provide an economic boost to their communities and to add to the quality of life in the state.”

Cornell Vet School Beginning Construction Project

News from Cornell University:

The College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell will begin a $63 million capital project to upgrade and expand its infrastructure and teaching facilities to accommodate increasing the pre-clinical (first three years of study) class sizes from 102 to 120 students.
Plans call for demolishing 68,000 square feet of existing space, replacing it with 65,000 square feet of new space, and renovating 33,000 square feet. 

Construction is scheduled to start next summer with completion in fall 2017.
Cornell currently has the smallest class size among top-tier veterinary schools, due in part to facilities that lack lecture halls and other spaces capable of supporting more than 102 students. The fourth-year class size is now 120 students; an additional 18 students, many from Caribbean schools, complete their clinical training during their final year at Cornell in the college’s veterinary teaching hospital, which already has capacity for the additional students.
Additionally, the project will support the growing needs of an annual veterinary conference held at the college that attracts about 700 people. Along with practicing veterinarians and students, the conference is attended by veterinary technicians who will have access to Cornell’s new facilities to augment their programs with experiential learning.
“The facility enhancements made as part of this project will enable the college to match the admission size of our veterinary student intake with the capacity of our hospital, thereby achieving the maximum benefit from our extraordinary teaching hospital,” said Michael Kotlikoff, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine.
“The program will also benefit regional veterinary technician programs, who need greater hands-on opportunities," he said.. "Having access to Cornell’s facilities will empower the State University of New York and other veterinary technician training programs to attract the most promising students to their programs, provide them with the most effective training and facilitate their ongoing success in practice.”
While uniting major teaching, clinical and research spaces of the college, the project enhances the sense of community and collaboration opportunities among students, faculty and staff.
The design includes creating a public auditorium; larger classrooms to expand pre-clinical education, including two additional tiered lecture halls; a dining facility closer to the hospital; renovating existing anatomy, tutorial and student surgery areas; and developing meeting and event spaces, an e-learning center and study spaces as well as a central student locker area.
Construction plans also include replacing James Law Auditorium with a new three-story structure: The first floor will house the Flower-Sprecher Veterinary Library, which is central to the teaching and research mission of the college. The second-floor will contain the modular resource center and E-learning Center, where students and others can access innovative learning tools. The third floor will be used for administrative offices.
The project is predominantly funded by New York state with the remainder coming from gifts and other college resources.

Ritchie Says Fall Means Apples and Pumpkins

A column from state Sen. Patricia Ritchie:

To many people, fall is more than just a change in the weather. 

It’s everything from apple picking and fresh cider to homemade pumpkin pie and taking a drive to see the change in colors.  Here in Upstate New York, we’re lucky to have an abundance of fall flavors and activities right in our backyard. 

This year, there’s no shortage of fall fun — and food — to be had.

A highlight this fall is one of the best apple crops in recent years.  Following last year’s warm spring and early frost that led to less than ideal conditions for apple growers, this year’s orchards are full of fruit that is crisp, flavorful and ready for picking.

New York State is home to more than 650 apple orchards — in fact, the Central and Northern New York regions boast more than a dozen places where you can pick your own.

For a full list of apple growers who sell directly to the public, visit  There, you’ll find not only a listing of orchards in our area, but also information on apple varieties, recipes, a history of New York State apples and so much more.

Along with apples, nothing says fall like a patch full of pumpkins.  Here in New York State there are an estimated 1,400 growers who produce roughly 50,000 tons of pumpkins annually.

Most of these pumpkins are for decorative use with a smaller number designated as “pie pumpkins.”  One of the most popular places pumpkins are popping up?  Craft beer.  With everything from pumpkin ales to Oktoberfest beverages, it’s estimated that eighty-four percent of people who drink craft beer, choose their drink depending on the season. 

As chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I’m working hard to make sure New York’s farm industry continues to grow — producing not only your favorite foods, but also the new businesses and jobs our state depends upon.

This year,  the state budget included key elements from my “Grown in New York” plan, including restored funding for vital marketing and research programs from apples to dairy and maple.

In addition, the Senate and Assembly also lent their support to my innovative new plan that connects state prisons, hospitals and agencies directly with New York farmers to boost purchases of locally produced foods, bringing better nutrition and boosting farmers’ bottom lines.

This year, I also sponsored new legislation that boosts production and sales of cider products by New York farmers, modeled on successful measures that have helped propel New York’s farm winery, distillery and craft brewing sectors.

With the season only lasting several short months, we have to make the most of fall while it lasts (and before the snow starts falling!). 

One of the best places to find everything the season has to offer is your local farmers market.  While many markets have closed for the season, there are a number that will still be open in the weeks to come.

Go to to find a list of farmers markets in your area of the state. There also is a list of winter markets at this site.

Best wishes for a happy — and healthy — fall! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Farm Bill Update: Senate Confirms Conferees

Go to to see what's going on.

It's Pumpkin Time in Central New York

Logan Hilbert, 1, of North Syracuse during his first pumpkin patch visit to Behling's Orchard in Mexico.

It's pumpkin time and farms across Oswego County have plenty of the orange fruits to buy.

But how the crops fared varies on where in the county a farm is located.

For instance, Will Ruby of Mexico said his half acre or so "look good" and the weather was great for raising pumpkins.

But Josephine Godfrey, of Godfrey's Last Stand on Route 264 near Phoenix, said the pumpkins her family planted early in June didn't do well.

"It was the wet weather," she said. "We planted, they started blossoming and then we were getting a lot of rain."

She said the pumpkins the family planted later, in early July, did much better. She said the farm will have enough pumpkins for its customers, but won't be able to ship any to any other locations.

"We have about half a crop," she said of the 4 1/2 acres planted with pumpkins.

Ruby said he planted his pumpkins late (beginning of June) so they are just turning orange in the field now.

Pumpkins are huge sellers this time of year the closer Halloween gets on the calendar. Most people throughout the region use them for either autumn decorations or carve them to make spooky adornments for their windows at Halloween time.

As pumpkin are grown lying flat in a field, they can be harmed by too much rain or not enough rain. Too much rain and either they won't develop when first planted or they will be subject to mildew or rot nearer harvest time.

Cornell Cooperative Extension says on its website that another concern for growers are several different viruses which can cause plants to not produce fruit at all or results in poor fruit quality (size or color). Striped cucumber beetles and squash bugs remain the main insect pests.

New York state ranks amongst the top three states (Illinois and Pennsylvania are the other two) in pumpkin production in the country with more than 6,800 acres of pumpkins produced with an estimated value of $24 million each year.

Nearly all of these are for fresh market use for either decorating or eating. The pumpkin industry is highly variable with fruit ranging from quarter pound to several hundred pounds each.

Pumpkins are grown throughout New York state and are marketed through roadside stands, nursery centers and farmers markets and are also important in areas that have lots of agritourism. Included in this group are also other fall ornamentals such as gourds and ornamental squash.