Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ag Grant Workshop Set for in Dec. 12 Watertown

From the office of state Sen. Patricia Ritchie: 

In an effort to help farmers and others in the agriculture industry grow their businesses, state Senator Patty Ritchie — in conjunction with the Jefferson County Agricultural Development Council — will host a free Agricultural Grant Opportunity Workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County office in Watertown.

Information about grants and funding opportunities in the following areas will be available:
** Wineries, cider and craft brewing
** Dairy profit teams
** Research and development grants
** Energy efficiency
** USDA grants and loans

For a full schedule of events, please visit

Those interested in attending must register by Dec. 9 by calling the Jefferson County Local Development Corporation at 782-5865 or by emailing

Friday, November 29, 2013

What Can We Learn from Small Family Farms in the U.S.?

Check out this story at this link.

Taste the Best of NY Wines and Chocolate Nov. 30 at the Fairgrounds

  From state Ag & Markets:

Many of the best wines made in New York state will be available for sampling Saturday, Nov. 30 at the AmeriCU Credit Union Wine & Chocolate Festival in the Horticulture Building at the state Fairgrounds in Geddes.

Advance sale admission is $20, or is $10 for any designated driver or for those not intending to sample alcohol. Advance sale tickets are available at Advance sale prices end at 9 p.m. Friday.

Admission at the door will be $25 and $15 for designated drivers or those not intending to sample alcohol.  The full admission price includes a commemorative wine glass, to be used for sampling wines and spirits.

The festival features more than 100 vendors, most of which are providing either food or drink. A total of 29 state wineries and one spirits distiller will offer free samples of their products and also sell their wines and spirits.

The wineries range from the well-known and long-established to the new and up-and-coming. A complete list of vendors can be found on the event’s website.

New York Farm Bureau Annual Meeting Begins Dec. 3

The New York Farm Bureau annual meeting begins next week in Salina.

There will be a number of events over the course of three days with the highlight being the delegate sessions where members vote on proposed public policy resolutions that originated from their local County Farm Bureaus. 

According to Farm Bureau, this is a proud tradition of farmers coming together to debate and decide positions on legislative and regulatory initiatives with the aim of supporting all of agriculture. 

According to Farm Bureau, agriculture remains a leading economic engine in Upstate New York and Long Island, and our farms are the primary source for local food, fuel and fiber.  The important work at State Annual Meeting will chart the path for the next year as NYFB advocates for policies and laws that allow for the economic viability of farms across the state. We must ensure farming remains a way of life for future generations.

Here is what is in store for the annual meeting:

What: New York Farm Bureau State Annual Meeting

Where: Holiday Inn, 441 Electronics Parkway (off Thruway Exit 37) Syracuse/Liverpool, NY

When: Opening Ceremony begins at 1 p.m. Dec. 3. The event wraps up noontime on Dec. 5.  There will be delegate sessions throughout the three day event along with two evening banquets.

Highlights in the three-day schedule:

Dec. 3 :   1 p.m. Opening Ceremony featuring FFA Color Guard &  introduction by Sen. John DeFrancisco
                 2 p.m. Delegate Session with an address from Dale Moore, AFBF Public Policy Exec. Dir.
                 4:30 p.m. Young Farmer Discussion Meet Finals
                 7 p.m.  Farm Credit East Dinner & Awards Programs

Dec. 4 :   9 a.m.  Delegate Session
                 11:15 a.m.  President and Executive Director Reports
                 2 p.m.   Delegate Session
                 7 p.m.   Nationwide Banquet and Evening Program featuring: Keith Eckel, Chairman of Nationwide Insurance, Dean Kathryn Boor, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Science, Distinguished Service Awards to John Dyson and David Tetor, NYFB Foundation Auction led by Assembly Agriculture Chairman Bill Magee

Dec. 5 :   9 a.m.  Delegate Session
                 9:30 a.m.  Elections

Annual Meeting of the New York Agricultural Society set for Jan. 9

The 182nd annual meeting of the New York State Agricultural Society is scheduled for Jan. 9 at the Holiday Inn in Salina.

The topic of this year's day-long forum is "Next Generation of Agriculturists." “We will hear from a national expert on leadership and farm business management, and from a panel of young farmers and agribusiness persons, sharing perspectives on their future in New York agriculture,” said Penny Heritage, public coordinator for the society.

This meeting is one of the largest agricultural meetings in the state, bringing together all sectors of the food system to explore topics critical to the future of New York agriculture. More than 400 participants are expected to attend.

The meeting is open to the public. Early registration is strongly encouraged, and discount applies for registrations received before Dec. 20.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Check Pride of New York Website for Local Foods During the Holidays

From Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is encouraging New Yorkers to take advantage of the state’s revamped “Pride of New York” website, located at, to search for the best in locally grown and produced New York state food and beverage products this upcoming holiday season.

“Whether you’re looking for a bakery on Long Island or a winery in the North Country, the ‘Pride of New York’ website offers an extensive collection of New York’s finest local producers to help complete your holiday season,” Cuomo said.

“Buying food and beverages that are grown and produced right here in New York is an important way to support local vendors as well as the state’s agricultural industries. I encourage every New Yorker to use this valuable resource as they prepare for the upcoming holidays and taste the very best that New York has to offer,” he said.

“Pride of New York” is the state’s branding program for the promotion of New York food, beverage and agricultural products. It is an important component of Governor Cuomo’s Taste NY initiative, which is dedicated to bringing to New Yorkers the best products grown and made in the state.

In October of this year, Cuomo unveiled the “Pride of New York” Pledge, a new initiative that encourages restaurants and chefs across the state to increase their use of New York products by 10 percent or more.

The newly-redesigned “Pride of New York” website allows people to conduct specific searches of databases from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in a user friendly format. Searchers first choose from among the main categories, such as Agritourism, Baked Goods, Dairy, Nursery/Plants and Seafood.

They can then choose the type of business they’re looking for, whether it’s a retail outlet, a restaurant, a farm, a manufacturer or several other classifications. They then give their zip code and choose how far they’re willing to travel. There is an additional option for those who would like directions to the location.

The website also features a map and list showing various search results, which include addresses and contact information of each establishment. There are more than 3,000 members of the “Pride of New York” program listed in this database along with numerous other agribusinesses.

Grants Available for Value-Added Products

From the USDA -- This is a great opportunity for agricultural ventures in Central New York and farmers' markets.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week the availability of nearly $10.5 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities designed to give them a competitive business edge.

"U.S. agriculture is connected to one in 12 American jobs, and value-added products from homegrown sources are one important way that agriculture generates economic growth," Vilsack said. 

"Supporting producers and businesses to create value-added products strengthens rural economies, helps fuel innovation, and strengthens marketing opportunities for producers – especially at the local and regional level."

The funding is being made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. Grants are available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products.

They may be used for working capital and planning activities. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000.

Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Funding priority is given to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, and to small- to medium-size family farms, or farmer/rancher cooperatives.

The Value-Added Producer Grant program is one of many USDA programs that support the development of strong local and regional food systems as part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. 

Launched in 2009, the initiative strengthens ties between agricultural producers and their local communities, helping meet growing consumer demand and creating opportunities for small business development. Initiatives like this create new income opportunities for farmers, generate wealth that will stay in rural communities, and increase access to healthy, local foods in underserved communities. All of these actions boost local economies.

The announcement comes as more than 1,400 communities nationwide gear up to support Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to championing small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. This year's Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30.

Annual Thanksgiving Shopping Basket

This is from New York Farm Bureau:

The 2013 Market Basket Survey reveals large price differences for a typical turkey dinner when comparing different regions of the state.

As always, shoppers in New York Farm Bureau’s 11 districts try to get the best prices available, as most shoppers would, but do not use promotional coupons or special deals such as “buy one-get one free.”  The shopping list includes 12 Thanksgiving food items ranging from turkey and rolls to fresh carrots and celery to whipping cream.

The 2013 Thanksgiving survey displayed considerable price variation across the state as well as within districts. The purchase of all items ranged from $19.28 in Canandaigua to $36.17 in Broome County.  No District had the highest or lowest in every category.

The moral to this story…watch the prices and you can save.  Some examples include:

Market Basket Survey Comparison
Price Range
Average Price
Frozen, Self-Basting Turkey
.88 cents to $2.59 per lb.
$1.53 per lb.
Herb-seasoned cube stuffing 14oz.
.99 cents to $2.99
Enriched Brown & Serve Rolls 12 oz./12 per pkg.
$1.50 to $3.39
Gallon of Whole Milk
$2.19 to $4.29
Frozen Green Peas 16oz. pkg.
.99  cents to $2.61
Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Mix 30oz. can
$2.29 to $3.97
Whipping Cream ½ pint carton
.94 cents to $2.99
Package of Fresh Cranberries
$1.98 to $5.00

This survey is one of the responsibilities of the NYFB State Promotion and Education Committee which also participates in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Quarterly Market Basket Survey. AFBF’s 28th annual informal national price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.04, a 44-cent price decrease from last year’s national average of $49.48.

More information on the national survey can be found at

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tractors Get a Holiday Workout North of Albany

A great event from out north of Albany.

Check out this story from the Glens Falls paper. And thanks to farmer friend Jessica Chittenden Ziehm for tipping me off to this. And great creativity award for her family farm (Tiashoke Farm) tractor -- Rudolph the Red Nosed John Deere.

New White House Rural Council Report Highlights the Economic Importance of Passing a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

This is really long, but includes some good information about the Farm Bill.

In June of 2010, the Obama Administration began providing input to Congress regarding the prospective features and policy of contents for a reauthorized farm bill. Over a period of more than three years, the Administration has supported reauthorization efforts aimed to help build a better safety net for farmers and families, and to build a better farm, food, and energy policy for the nation.

However, 43 months later and despite the best efforts of many in Congress, work on reauthorization on the Farm Bill remains incomplete. While some programs have been simply extended, others remain either unfunded, unauthorized, or without enactment of needed reforms.

The Administration has made clear that passing a comprehensive farm bill is a priority, and of importance for every American. The White House today is releasing a new report, which explains what is at stake in this debate. You can read the full report HERE.
Today's report outlines the many benefits of a new Farm Bill for all Americans. Passage of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would:
  • Build on recent momentum of the U.S. agriculture economy, a key engine of economic growth.
  • Promote development in communities across the country, by expanding new opportunities for American agriculture, increasing manufacturing potential and supporting businesses across rural America.
  • Protect our vital food assistance programs, which benefit millions of families and individuals – in rural, suburban and urban areas alike
  • Create a reliable safety net for our farmers and ranchers, including a strong crop insurance program, a long term extension of disaster programs and retroactive assistance for livestock producers.
  • Continue federal conservation efforts, working alongside a record number of farmers and ranchers to conserve our soil and protect our water.
  • Promote new markets for U.S. producers abroad and at home, honor our trade commitments and assist our farmers and ranchers to export a record amount of product around the world.
  • Support research, and ensuring that our long history of agricultural innovation continues.
  • And reduce the deficit, by enacting reforms saving billions of dollars in the coming decade.
The report highlights the economic benefits – for the domestic agriculture sector, its workforce, rural American communities, and families and businesses across the country – that would result from these changes, and the imperative to passing a comprehensive Food, Farm, and Jobs bill as soon as possible.

A Comprehensive Farm Bill Will Build On Recent Momentum Of The U.S. Agriculture Economy

The U.S. agriculture sector is a key engine of economic growth. Not only does it put food on the table of American families at affordable prices and provide raw material for a range of vital purposes—it also supports millions of jobs and is a key economic driver in many rural communities.

In recent years, the agriculture sector has seen strong growth, with farm income and agriculture exports both reaching historical highs not witnessed in decades.
  • After adjusting for inflation, net farm income – at $120 billion for 2013 – now stands at its second-highest level since 1973.
  • Farm asset values are expected to rise 7.1 percent in 2013, as farmland values are expected to continue rising; farm equity is expected to increase by 7.6 percent in 2013.
Since the President took office, agriculture exports have had the strongest five-year period of growth in our nation's history, and hit a record level in the last fiscal year:
  • In the 2013 fiscal year, exports reached over $140 billion -- exceeding the previous high of $137 in FY2011, and setting a new record.
  • The average volume of bulk commodities exported increased by nearly four million tons per year over the past five years.
  • U.S. farm exports have supported about one million American jobs.
Between 1948 and 2011, total farm production more than doubled, and U.S. total agricultural output grew at an average annual rate of 1.49 percent over this period. Almost all of this growth in U.S. agricultural output was due to increased productivity growth.

The Farm Bill offers an opportunity to build on this progress, providing long-term certainty about the next five years of U.S. farm policy for America's farmers, ranchers and producers.

A Comprehensive Farm Bill Will Invest In Rural Development

The Farm Bill authorizes and directs the work of USDA-Rural Development, with a mission of improving the quality of life in rural America by financing long-term investments in the future of rural communities through loans, loan guarantees, grants, and technical assistance.

While there is a vibrant agricultural economy today, rural America continues to face a number of unique challenges:
  • Eighty-five percent of persistent poverty counties in America—counties where poverty has been high for at least 30 years—are in rural areas.
  • Additionally, rural America faces a growing demographic challenge due, in part, to lowering birth rates and an aging population: between 2010 and 2012, rural areas experienced the first recorded period of population loss.
A comprehensive Farm Bill with funding for water and wastewater investments would help tackle the $2.1 billion backlog of shovel-ready water/wastewater infrastructure projects in small towns across the country
  • Since 2009, Farm Bill rural development programs have financed 3,898 rural water and wastewater projects, putting people to work and providing clean water for nearly 14 million rural Americans.
  • During the same period of time, investments that farm bill programs authorize have supported improvements to 276 hospital and medical clinics, 166 schools and 401 libraries in rural America; the agency has awarded 15,727 grants and loans to aid 65,636 businesses expand opportunity and create jobs.
  • The Farm Bill also will help keep rural communities safe and connected, through the expansion of 911 access and by supporting access to broadband telecommunications services in rural areas through project loan guarantees.
  • Between 2009 and 2012, Farm Bill authorized programs helped create new market opportunities for rural producers and businesses by supporting over 800 local and regional food projects, including new product development and critical infrastructure like food hubs.
A comprehensive farm bill will allow USDA-Rural Development to work in partnership with local governments and organizations to align public investments, leverage private dollars, and respond to local priorities.

A Comprehensive Farm Bill Will Invest In The Bioeconomy And Clean Energy

The Farm Bill also is a key opportunity to advance the bioeconomy through continued investment in the next generation of advanced biofuels, construction of advanced biorefineries, top-notch research, support for farmers establishing new biofuel crops, and the manufacture of biobased industrial products.

A strong bioeconomy means producing manufactured goods, fuels, and power using plant materials, rather than petroleum, chemicals, or other extracted materials as the fundamental building block. More than 3,000 companies produce bio-based industrial products – everything from chemicals, to auto parts and beverage bottles – from homegrown, plant-based materials.

The Farm Bill includes several energy programs that correspond with the various components of the energy chain—from the field and the research lab to the factory and the generator. A comprehensive Farm Bill would:
  • Reauthorize and fund the Renewable Energy for America program, which provides grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for the purchase of renewable energy systems and the implementation of energy efficiency projects. Since 2009, 9,166 awards have been made through this program, saving or generating a total of over 9.8 million megawatt hours of energy
  • Jumpstart the production of the next generation of advanced biofuels by helping communities and companies invest in building advanced biorefineries, funding regional research, and continuing to help farmers to establish those biofuel crops.
  • Continue USDA's BioPreferred program, which has helped to create thousands of new jobs in rural communities and added jobs across the value chain even in larger manufacturing cities by using agricultural and forestry commodities as the base feed stock for everyday products.
  • Support domestic investment, development, and production in the emerging bio-based industrial products industry through expanded eligibility for loan programs and directed research.
A strong bio-based economy will improve the bottom line for farmers while creating good manufacturing jobs in rural America. 

At the same time, these investments reduce our use of foreign oil, reduce the trade deficit by replacing imported crude oil with home-grown, fuel, and contribute to a healthier planet by reducing emissions.

A Comprehensive Farm Bill Will Support Vulnerable Families By Protecting Our Vital Food And Nutritional Assistance Programs

For the past 40 years, the Farm Bill also has authorized the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), one of our nation's strongest defenses against hunger and poverty. SNAP helps families and seniors put food on the table, while also benefitting farm and rural economies.

In 2012, SNAP kept nearly 5 million people, including 2.2 million children, above the poverty line.
  • SNAP benefits led to an average annual decline of 4.4 percent in the prevalence of poverty from 2000 to 2009, and led to even greater reductions in the depth and severity of poverty.
  • Program benefits are targeted to those most in need: the vast majority of SNAP participants are children, the elderly, or people with disabilities.
  • Over 91 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with income below the poverty line, and 55 percent go to households with income of less than half of the poverty line (about $9,500 for a family of three).
  • Most SNAP recipients who can work do so. Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work – and more than 80% work in the year before or after receiving SNAP.
Administrative costs for the program are very low: about 95 percent of federal spending on SNAP goes directly to helping eligible households purchase food.

In addition to helping American families during tough economic times, SNAP provides a fiscal boost to the economy during economic downturns.
  • The independent Congressional Budget Office estimates that every SNAP dollar generates up to $1.80 in economic activity.
  • Every $5 in SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 of economic activity for the over 230,000 retail food outlets – supermarkets, grocers and farmers' markets – that participate in the program
In addition, reforming our largest international food aid program would provide a much greater impact without additional budgetary resources, helping up to 4 million more people each year in emergency food crises abroad.

A Comprehensive Farm Bill Will Provide A Safety Net For Producers To Manage Risk

The Farm Bill represents a key opportunity to further reform and improve farm programs to provide assistance to those that need it and to restore much needed disaster funding for livestock producers, while also providing deficit reduction for the American taxpayer.

While crop insurance is a critical component of the farm safety net, the Government's cost of providing crop insurance has increased dramatically over the past decade as the subsidies for crop insurance and the prices of commodities have increased.
  • In 2012, farmers paid about $4.3 billion to insure almost 282 million acres through the Federal crop insurance program.
  • Elimination of direct farm subsidies, as proposed by the Administration, would save taxpayers $5 billion per year.
  • The Farm Bill also is an opportunity to reform adjusted gross income limit provisions to prevent producers that do not need assistance from receiving aid.
Due to Congressional inaction on the Farm Bill, some of the programs that could have helped mitigate the impacts of the severe drought conditions in 2012 and more recently during the South Dakota blizzard this past October are expired or currently have no funding – particularly safety net programs for livestock producers.
  • In 2012, had Congress acted to reauthorize the Farm Bill, the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) payments alone could have totaled between $500-$600 million, double the 2011 levels. A new Farm Bill would retroactively extend LFP payments to producers to cover those losses.
  • Continued delay of the Farm Bill not only leaves these producers on their own to cover their losses from the 2012 drought, but also renders essential programs unavailable to USDA in its work to provide assistance for new disasters, such as the October blizzard in South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming, which killed a large number of livestock.
  • Because Congress has not acted to reauthorize the Farm Bill, USDA is unable to assist producers and can only ask producers to keep accurate records for when a Farm Bill reauthorizes the LIP program.
Lack of action on a Farm Bill ultimately would result in the U.S. reverting back to dairy policy from the New Deal era, leading to the potential for milk prices to double for domestic consumers. This also would carry significant cost for the federal government of at least $12 billion per year.

A Comprehensive Farm Bill Will Enhance Conservation
  • The future of food and fiber production in the U.S. depends upon the availability of productive farm and ranch land and abundance of healthy natural resources. Towards this end, the Farm Bill represents the nation's largest investment supporting the voluntary and successful conservation, restoration and management of America's working lands.
  • Conservation compliance and sound conservation practices to commodity programs has been a successful tool in reducing soil erosion by more than 40 percent and preventing impairment of natural resources.
  • A comprehensive Farm Bill will improve, simplify, and strengthen key land conservation, protection, and wildlife habitat enhancement. The Farm Bill authorizes or makes changes to:
  • Working-land programs that provide technical and financial assistance to farmers who install or maintain conservation practices on land in production. These programs have enrolled 60 million acres of agricultural and non-industrial private forestland (through the Conservation Stewardship Program) and obligated nearly $1 billion in financial assistance for over 44,000 active and completed contracts (Environmental Quality Incentives Program).
  • Comprehensive conservation and habitat programs that help farmers, ranchers and private landowners protect and conserve environmentally sensitive land and produce wildlife habitat from agricultural production in exchange for rental or easement payments.
  • Agricultural land acquisition programs like the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, which provide assistance to cooperating partners to purchase land rights, helping sustain the ranching and farming way of life and their surrounding rural communities.
  • Linking crop insurance participation to conservation compliance, as supported by the Administration, could bring an additional 17 million acres into compliance practices, and ensure an additional 141 million acres remain in a conservation practices.
  • A comprehensive Farm Bill also supports the restoration of our nation's forests and ecosystems, for example by authorizing critical forest management tools, and providing funding for local governments to install high-efficiency, biomass-fueled heating systems that reduce energy costs, support rural income and employment opportunities, and address the risks of severe wildfire.
A Comprehensive Farm Bill Will Promote Markets At Home And Abroad While Meeting Our Global Trade Commitments

The agriculture sector and farm exports have been one of the brightest points for the U.S. economy.
  • The current value of U.S. exports is more than $140 billion, with the past five years representing the highest agriculture sales levels in the nation's history.
  • U.S. agricultural exports have out-paced U.S. agricultural imports since 1960, generating a surplus in U.S. agricultural trade.
Trade promotion provisions in a new Farm Bill and continued commitment to developing markets at home and abroad will be key to maintaining strong farm incomes over the next 5 years.
  • The Farm Bill authorized USDA's trade promotion efforts, which are estimated to generate a return of $35 in economic benefits for every one dollar invested. These programs help approximately 70 U.S. agricultural producer organizations, each representing hundreds or thousands of producers, expand commercial export markets for their goods abroad.
  • The Farm Bill also facilitates export financing of U.S. agricultural exports, which helped generate sales of more than $4.1 billion of U.S. agricultural exports in 2012 – including high-valued products like port, forest products, almonds, fish and fresh fruit.
A comprehensive Farm Bill will support the growth of global and domestic organic market opportunities by providing critical data, research and program supports for organic farming, sales of which doubled from 2002-2012. These investments also provide valuable information about drought-resistant and soil-conserving practices, which benefit all U.S. agriculture

Farm Bill-authorized programs support the development of physical infrastructure and technical assistance to locally-based organizations engaged in marketing, food safety and production research and training. Between 2009 and 2012, USDA supported over 2,600 projects nationwide to build new market opportunities in local and regional foods.

Passage of comprehensive Farm Bill also is necessary to resolve the Brazil WTO dispute, which if not resolved is likely to result in trade retaliation against the United States.

A Comprehensive Farm Bill Will Promote Innovation And Productivity By Supporting Key Research Initiatives

Agricultural research and development generates high payoffs for farmers and the public: research shows that investing in agricultural R&D generates social rates of return of 20-60% annually.
  • Between 1948 to 2011, U.S. agricultural output grew at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent, and total farm production more than doubled– with innovation-driven productivity growth accounting for most of this growth.
  • Research programs today address a broad array of problems facing U.S. agriculture including food supply and security, bio-energy development, increased climate variability, plant and animal health, water availability and quality, food safety, and nutrition and childhood obesity.
A comprehensive Farm Bill provides the opportunity to recommit to targeted public sector investments in agricultural R&D, as supported by groups across the spectrum including the American Enterprise Institute and the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
  • The Farm Bill supports competitive grants programs as well as funds research, education, and extension activities that provide science-based solutions to address major agricultural challenges of national, regional, and multi- state importance.
  • With the help of one such grant, University of Illinois scientists combined ultrasound and chlorine washing treatments to reduce the number of E. coli 0157:H7 in spinach to 99.99 percent.
  • Another funded projected produced power and chemical products from an existing pulp and paper mill, protecting at least 100 jobs in North and South Carolina.
The Farm Bill would also help identify priority areas for new and continuing USDA research. A comprehensive bill specifically would support the study of Colony Collapse Disorder, which threatens the health of honey bees and the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations in the United States.

Farm Bill Will Help Growth of Marketing Opportunities for Agriculture

A weekly column by Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack:

One very important reason for Congress to expedite work toward a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is to continue today’s rapid growth in local and regional marketing opportunities for American agriculture.
From local farmers markets to regional food hubs, these new opportunities benefit a wide range of Americans from all walks of life.
They benefit farmers and ranchers who are looking to start selling locally or scale up to regional sales. Farmers markets and regional food hubs have a particularly positive impact for small and limited-resource producers.
Sales of local foods are growing rapidly, creating a multibillion-dollar market opportunity for producers.
Local markets also have an impact on our work to bring folks into the business of agriculture. As the average age of the American farmer increases, we need more new folks on the farm. Local and regional markets help these new farmers – who include returning veterans, immigrants and more women than ever before – get started and sell their product.
American families interested in buying local benefit as well. Under the Obama Administration, we have helped to create more than 2,800 new farmers markets that give families additional options in buying local foods.
In many areas of high poverty, low food security or limited access to healthy, fresh produce, farmers markets provide low-income parents with an important way to put healthy food on the plate for their families.
By more than doubling the availability of EBT technology in farmers markets – and supporting more than 450 projects to help farmers markets expand and grow – USDA has focused on amplifying these benefits for families.
Schools and school districts are working harder than ever to source their food locally and provide healthy meals at school – ultimately benefiting our young people. 
Across the nation, USDA is working with school districts under our Farm to School program, helping districts establish relationships with producers. During the 2011-2012 school year, school districts purchased and served more than $350 million in local foods – and that number is set to grow as we undertake even more efforts to support Farm to School projects.
To help show the rapid growth of the local food market across the nation, USDA created the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass – an online tool illustrating the many places USDA has supported these opportunities nationwide.
Local and regional marketing opportunities hold great promise for folks across the nation. They’re helping our producers grow and thrive. They’re bringing fresh foods to underserved areas. They’re helping our kids get good nutrition at school.
USDA intends to continue our record support for these markets – but to do so, we need a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible. 
A new Farm Bill would enable our continued efforts to expand farmers markets and food hubs, while expanding healthy food access for low-income Americans and kids in our schools. All of these efforts would benefit the rural economy, while helping to achieve new opportunity in agriculture in the years to come.

New York Farm Bureau Wins Awards

New York Farm Bureau once again received top honors for its outstanding work this year on behalf of farmers across the state.

The organization was given all six State Awards of Excellence handed out annually by American Farm Bureau Federation.

The high honors for 2013 signify success in the categories of member services, membership initiatives, education and outreach, leadership development, policy development and implementation, and public relations and communications. A panel of judges from throughout the country evaluated New York Farm Bureau’s applications and programming to determine the awards.

“The fact that the American Farm Bureau Federation has recognized the efforts of New York Farm Bureau, by awarding our organization all six State Farm Bureau Awards of Excellence, only confirms the effectiveness of our County Farm Bureau structure and the dedicated efforts of our individual Farm Bureau members," said Jeff Kirby, executive director of New York Farm Bureau.

"NYFB will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of New York agriculture, and we will need the support and involvement of every farmer going forward, in order to continue having great success in representing New York’s agricultural community,” he said.

New York Farm Bureau will officially receive the awards in January at AFBFs 95th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Grain Corn Production Up in NY

From the USDA statistics service:

New York grain corn production is forecast at a record high 108.0 million bushels, up 19 percent from last year's output according to Blair Smith, State Statistician of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York Field Office.

Production is up from last year due to higher yields combined with an increase in harvested acreage. Acreage for harvest is expected to total 720 thousand acres, up 6 percent from a year earlier. Yields are expected to average 150 bushels per acre, 16 bushels higher than a year ago and tied with the record high yield of 2010.

U.S. corn production is forecast at 14.0 billion bushels, up 1 percent from the previous forecast and up 30 percent from 2012. If realized, this will be a new record production for the United States.

Based on conditions as of Nov. 1, yields are expected to average 160.4 bushels per acre, up 5.1 bushels from the previous forecast and 37.0 bushels above the 2012 average. If realized, this will be the highest average yield since 2009.

Area harvested for grain is forecast at 87.2 million acres, down 2 percent from the previous forecast.

Soybean production in New York is forecast at 12.8 million bushels, down 11 percent from last year. Acreage harvested for beans is expected to total 272 thousand acres, down 13 percent from a year earlier. Yields are expected to average 47 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel from last year.

U.S. soybean production is forecast at 3.26 billion bushels, up 3 percent from the previous forecast and up 7 percent from last year. If realized, production will be the third largest on record. Based on Nov. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 43 bushels per acre, up 1.8 bushels from the previous forecast and up 3.2 bushels from 2012.

Area for harvest in the United States is forecast at 75.7 million acres, down 1 percent from both the previous forecast and last year.

Study: Consumers Wants Negative Info on Food Labels

From Cornell University:

It’s no surprise that labels are becoming the “go to” place when people have questions about how food is produced.
But new Cornell University research finds that consumers crave more information, especially for the potentially harmful ingredients that aren’t included in the product.
The laboratory study of 351 shoppers found consumers willing to pay a premium when a product label says “free of” something, but only if the package includes “negative” information on whatever the product is “free of.”
For example, a food labeled “free of" a food dye will compel some consumers to buy that product. But even more people will buy that product if that same label also includes information about the risks of ingesting such dyes.
“What did surprise us was the effect of supplementary information,” said Harry M. Kaiser, a Cornell professor whose field of study includes product labeling. “Even seemingly negative information was valued over just the label itself.”
When provided more information about ingredients, consumers are more confident about their decisions and value the product more, Kaiser said.
Published earlier this month as “Consumer Response to ‘Contains’ and ‘Free of’ Labeling” in the journal, Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, the Cornell study might interest CEOs of food-processing companies, government policy makers and American consumers alike.
Other authors of the journal article were Jura Liaukonyte, Nadia A. Streletskaya and Bradley J. Rickard, all of the Dyson School. The study was supported by internal funds from Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

National Corn Growers Outraged Over EPA Ethanol Ruling

Whether you are for or against ethanol, this is an interesting read.

And by the way, Sunoco, which runs the ethanol plant in the town of Volney outside Fulton, NY, would not comment on this story.

The National Corn Growers Association expressed outrage last week in the wake of an announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that will significantly weaken the Renewable Fuel Standard by reducing the volumes for corn-based ethanol for 2014.
“This recommendation is ill-advised and should be condemned by all consumers because it is damaging to our tenuous economy and short-sighted regarding the nation’s energy future,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “Agriculture has been a bright spot in a failing U.S. economy, but current corn prices are below the cost of production.  EPA’s ruling would be devastating for family farmers and the entire rural economy.”

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed renewable volume obligations set the annual targets for the utilization of cellulosic, biodiesel, advanced and total renewable fuel within our transportation fuels. The proposed rule caps corn-based (or conventional) ethanol at 13 billion gallons. These proposed volume obligations are a drastic reduction from the mandated RVOs in statute. Today’s proposed rule cuts 1.4 billion gallons from the conventional ethanol cap that was set at 14.4 billion gallons.

Barbre noted the EPA proposal will make investments in new biofuels plants very risky, stagnate investment in infrastructure by petroleum marketers and send the wrong signals to automakers who want more direction on where they should be spending millions of targeted investments on research and development.

“Ethanol and the RFS have been a great success story. Now, the EPA is sending a terrible message that we no longer have a long-term energy policy for biofuels, which was the original intent of this forward-thinking legislation," Barbre said.

"The Administration has clearly backed away from their commitment to renewable energy and this proposal blatantly contradicts the President’s Climate Action Plan,” Barbre said. “The goal of the RFS is to reduce our dependence on imported oil to make our country more energy independent and more secure. It has done that while also revitalizing rural America.”
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. oil imports have decreased from 60 percent of our total usage to 45 percent. This was due to increased efficiency in our automobile fleet, the recession and the increased use of biofuels.

American farmers are currently harvesting their corn crops, and by the latest USDA projections, it will be a record 14 billion bushels. As a result of this record, corn prices are falling and currently stand close to where they were when the RFS was enacted in its current form in 2007.

While corn prices have returned to previous levels, the cost of producing the crop has continued to increase. In 2012, it cost $655 per acre to plant corn. Based on this year’s projected yields, a farm price of $4.25 per bushel would be required to cover production costs.

The psychological impact of EPA’s proposal is anticipated to push corn prices well below the cost of production.  To further put this into perspective, if corn prices dropped to $3.50 a bushel farmers and the rural economy would lose more than $10 billion.

“A shock of this magnitude to agriculture markets would send ripples throughout the entire economy. Congress must carefully weigh the ramifications any changes to the RFS would have on agriculture and related industries. The U.S. economy and consumers can ill afford a downturn in this sector,” Barbre said. “EPA is making a conscious decision to limit ethanol’s access to the market even with the significant price advantage of ethanol compared to gasoline.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

USDA Issues Grants to Get More Local Food in School Cafeterias

From the USDA:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday announced grants for 71 projects spanning 42 states and the District of Columbia that support the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School program.
"In rural and urban communities across the country, Farm to School programs teach students where food comes from, while providing healthy foods that are grown locally on farms and ranches across the nation," said Vilsack.

"These programs also create new market opportunities for local farmers and ranchers interested in partnering with nearby school districts – and by helping to create an even more diverse and thriving agriculture sector, Farm to School efforts hold potential to create new jobs in rural areas," he said.
Selected projects will serve more than 13,000 schools and 2.8 million students, nearly 45 percent of whom live in rural communities.

Two projects in New York state are being funded: The New York Botanical Garden and the Orange County Department of Health in Goshen.

Ag Secretary Urges Students to Get Involved in Agriculture

Go to to check out the story.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lawsuit Settled Against Group Caring for Retired Racehorses

This is from the Attorney General's office:

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the settlement of a lawsuit against directors of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Inc. (TRF), one of the nation's largest charitable organizations dedicated to caring for retired racehorses. 

The enforcement action charged that directors of the New York-based foundation’s board had neglected their duties by taking on more racehorses than the group could afford to care for, resulting in the neglect and mistreatment of many of these animals. 

Under the settlement, TRF will add a veterinarian, named by the Attorney General's office, to its board. A revamped board will also include a director nominated by an animal welfare organization and one nominated by members of the nation’s horse racing and breeding industry.

The settlement further requires the board to establish a five-person committee, consisting of the three new directors and two current board members not named as defendants in the lawsuit, charged with recruiting a new, full-time chief executive officer for the organization.

"New York needs the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation to be fiscally sound and responsibly managed. Our agreement to remake the board of directors will help put this important charity back on solid financial ground and able to care for the animals it receives – and it gives TRF a shot to reclaim its place as one of America's leading thoroughbred organizations,"Schneiderman said. "As it was previously constituted, the foundation's board proved unable to conduct necessary financial oversight and management."

Maple Workshop Coming to Palermo Saturday

From Cooperative Extension:

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County will sponsor a workshop for maple syrup producers from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 23 at Red Schoolhouse Maple, on the corner Red Schoolhouse Road and County Route 4 in Palermo.

The workshop is for people who want to expand their knowledge of the use of tubing in their maple syrup business. Employing a tubing system can improve the efficiency in maple syrup harvesting, therefore increasing production and profits.

Steve Childs, NYS Maple Extension Specialist, will run the workshop and engage participants in the latest methods of utilizing tubing to transport sap from the tree to the evaporator. The use of vacuum systems will also be discussed.

Topics to be covered include: preparing the sugar bush prior to tubing installation, site considerations, placing mainlines and setting the slope, installing the mainline support wires, installing main lines, sizing mainlines, installing lateral lines, tubing tools, sizing the vacuum system, dry line systems, boosters, tap hole sanitation, system maintenance, and working with sap ladders.

Participants will also learn how to lay out a sugar bush for vacuum, how to determine the right size and length of mainline and laterals and the selection of the correct size vacuum pump to run the whole system. The workshop is conducted as an open discussion and a variety of suggestions for any given tubing situation will be discussed. 
The cost of the workshop will be $10 and includes all workshop materials. Pre-registration is required no later than Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, by calling the Extension office at (315) 963-7286 ext 200 or email .

Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately with heavy shoes and outerwear, as the entire workshop will be offered outdoors.