Thursday, January 30, 2014

Farm Bill Pie Chart

If you've ever wanted to know what the Farm Bill is all about, check this out.

Go to to see a pie chart about where the Farm Bill money goes. Some people may be surprised.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

House OKs Farm Bill Conference Report

The House of Representatives has approved the conference report on the Farm Bill.

Here is a statement from the New York Farm Bureau:

“This is a significant day for New York’s farmers who are seeing the cloud of uncertainty that has hung over the Farm Bill lifting away in Washington.  The House has passed the Farm Bill conference report in a bi-partisan fashion, a bill that takes into account many of New York’s diverse agricultural needs.

The improved safety net for our dairy farmers as well as many of our fruit and vegetable growers who have had little recourse following a natural disaster is a worthy investment into our food system. The sensible approach not only saves taxpayers billions of dollars, but also reassures farmers and consumers alike that our food system is protected during times of need.

The Farm Bill also invests in a number of important research and support programs that will assist the state’s growing organic and local food movement, encourages the expansion of maple production, and provides for rural economic development that will help get healthy food from the farm to the dinner table. In addition, the Farm Bill extends a number of critical conservation and farmland protection programs that are widely used in New York.

New York Farm Bureau would like to thank the members of the New York delegation who have supported this bill and worked hard for its passage.  We are encouraging the Senate to quickly follow suit for the benefit of New York agriculture,” said Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau.

New York Now Third Largest Milk Producer in the Country

News from the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

New York state has passed Idaho and is now the third largest producer of milk in the entire country.

Data just released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that this is the first time since 2009 that New York has ranked third nationally in milk production after previously holding the number 3 spot from 1972 to 2009. It bypassed Idaho in 2013 by 57 million pounds of milk produced.

Compared to 2012, New York’s milk production increased by 2.2 percent in 2013, compared to growth of 0.4 percent nationwide. This strong growth represents the fourth consecutive year that New York has registered an increase in milk production. 

This growth is due to increased demand for milk, thanks in large part to the state’s booming yogurt industry, coupled with higher milk production per cow which increased by 10.2 percent from 2009 to 2013. New York is also the number one producer of cream cheese and cottage cheese in the country. 

“Milk production is fueling thousands of jobs across Upstate New York, revitalizing communities and providing a variety of nutritious products for millions of consumers across the country," Cuomo said. "This year, we will continue working together to grow our thriving agricultural sector, and I congratulate New York’s dairy industry on this achievement.”

The dairy industry is New York’s leading agricultural sector, accounting for more than one-half of the state’s total agricultural receipts. The increased milk supply has been very important in helping to meet the tremendous growth in the production of yogurt by plants located in New York state. 

In 2012, New York’s yogurt production was 695 million pounds. Compared to 2007, at 234 million pounds, production has nearly tripled. As a result, New York became the number one producer of yogurt in the country in 2012. 2013 data is not yet available. 

Man Dies in Farm Accident

Sad news out of Otsego County.

Read the story here.

Please be safe out there.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Conference Agrees to New Farm Bill

A new Farm bill has been agreed to in conference.

Go to to read more about it.

Here are some comments about the conference agreement:

“New York Farm Bureau is supportive of the Farm Bill that made its way out of conference committee in preparation for a final vote in both the House and Senate.  Our farmers have worked hard for the past three years advocating for a sensible bill that balances savings with an appropriate safety net for farmers and consumers alike. We appreciate the efforts of New York’s Congressional delegation who serve on their respective agriculture committees as well as those who fought hard in Washington for New York’s diverse agricultural community. The Farm Bill will be a benefit to New York agriculture and we encourage lawmakers to swiftly pass it for the greater good of America’s food system,” said Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau.

“The bill includes reforms that could sow the seeds for a sustainable food and agriculture system. Programs that incentivize increasing access to healthy foods, developing regional food systems, and promoting sustainable agricultural practices are included and funded at higher levels. But these programs should be the core of this legislation instead of on the periphery. This Farm Bill, like many before it, still reinforces a food system rooted in overproduction of ingredients for processed food that tax our health and our environment.

“Transitioning to a sustainable food and farm system will not happen overnight. The Farm Bill is still the best avenue to start making this transition and this bill at least contains nuggets of improvement. There is always more work to be done, but for now, we urge Congress to put an end to the almost two years of uncertainty and pass the Farm Bill.” From Daniel J. Brito, senior Washington representative for Union for Concerned Scientist's Food & Environment Program

Friday, January 24, 2014

Areas Farmers To Show Off Their Goods to Buyers

Here's a great event coming up right here in Central New York.

A group of local farmers and meat producers are gathering at Piggy Pat's BBQ in New Hartford to share what they grow and produce with local representatives who buy food.

The event is from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27. 

Made possible in part by the New York Farm Viability Institute, the event will be filmed for a project report. Local growers and meat producers will display products and samples and there will be a buffet with all local products and beverages.

Buyer representatives are expected from Sodexo Foods, St. Elizabeth Medical Center, St. Luke's Healthcare, at least four area colleges, Oneida County Tourism, Turning Stone Resort and Casino, New York Restaurant Association, and area grocers, restaurants and caterers

Project leader Pat McCann says he is amazed at how excited some of the big food buyers are about buying local and this opportunity for regional producers to bring their A game to their attention before the spring 2014 season.

Football Not the Only Competition on Feb. 2

So, which Greek yogurt do you like best?

Well some of the better known brands, including Chobani and Yoplait, are going to be duking it out in Super Bowl ads this year.

So keep an eye out on Feb. 2 for the new ads. Who will come out on top??

Here's a report about the upcoming yogurt battle

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New York Farm Bureau Comments on Cuomo's Budget Proposal

Here is a statement from New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget:

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo is moving quickly on key tax reform proposals, including raising the estate tax threshold to match the federal level of $5.25 million. 

He also supports expanded funding for water quality and farmland protection programs within the Environmental Protection Fund. These initiatives will serve farm families well who are looking to preserve the environment, as well as their farms, from one generation to the next. 

The programs are widely used by farmers across New York who are always looking for ways to become better caretakers of our natural resources.

As New York Farm Bureau continues to examine specific details in the proposed budget, we believe the proposed funding for programs housed within the Department of Agriculture and Markets is a good start by the Governor and we appreciate his support. 

We are confident there will be many opportunities to work over the coming months to expand business and market funding opportunities for New York’s farmers. This includes promotional support and enhanced access for farm products in New York City and other urban markets, where consumers are increasingly wanting locally grown,” said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau.


Program on Improving Farm Websites Set for Feb. 4

A program on how to improve your farm's web presence is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 4 at the SUNY Oswego Phoenix Center, 70 County Route 59, Schroeppel.

The program, titled "Improving Your Farm's Web Presence," will show attendees how to create or improve their web presence for their agriculture business. 

The three main topics that will be covered are: how to create and publish a website, or perhaps improve an existing one; how to interact with social media sites like Facebook or YouTube; and what web applications are out there for farms to connect with buyers.

“Having a web presence is an essential part of marketing in this day and age” stated Lynnette Wright, Agriculture Economic Development Specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Oswego County. She continued “This workshop will help farmers understand how to use social media sites like Facebook, as well the essentials of website design and content.”

The price of the workshop is $15. Refreshments will be served. Pre-registration is required. To register please call 963.7286 or send payment to CCE of Oswego County, 3288 Main St., Mexico, NY 13114. Registrations are due by Jan. 31 and space is limited so reserve your spot today!

Wine Competition Season Kicks Off With Wins for NY

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

The 2014 wine competition season was officially kicked off recently at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the country's largest with 5,825 wines submitted by more than 1,500 wineries from 25 states. 

I had the pleasure of judging, and of learning about the New York wine winnings after today's Sweepstakes round.

New York wines garnered more than 150 awards, including 7 Best of Class designations, 3 Double Gold, 22 Gold, 77 Silver and 42 Bronze medals.

Best of Class (which also won Double Gold) went to Dr. Frank 2012 Gruner Veltliner; Goose Watch 2012 Diamond; Swedish Hill 2012 Cayuga White, Viking Red, and 2012 Marechal Foch; Keuka Spring 2012 Vignoles and 2012 Apres Dessert.

Other Double Gold medals were awarded to Chateau Frank 2008 Blanc de Blanc; Vinditti Vineyards 2012 Vino Rosso E Dolce, and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Solera Sherry (see below).

Gold medals went to Sparkling Pointe 2010 Tokaz Imperial; Goose Watch Naturel; Hazlitt 2012 Gruvee, 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay, and 2012 Oaked Chardonnay; Glenora 2012 Gewurztraminer; Keuka Spring 2012 Riesling (last year the 2011 Riesling won Best White Wine of the entire competition), 2012 Riesling Humphreys Vineyard, and Celebrate; Swedish Hill 2012 Dry Riesling, 2012 Riesling, and Blue Waters Riesling; Wagner 2012 Dry Riesling Caywood East and 2012 Riesling Select; Knapp 2012 Dry Riesling KV Estate; Benmarl 2012 Semi Dry Riesling; Dr. Frank 2012 Dry Riesling and 2012 Riesling Reserve; Fox Run 2012 Semi-Dry Riesling; Ventosa 2012 Semi Sweet Riesling; Merritt Estate Bella Rosa; and Venditti 2012 Marechal Foch.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Strike Force for Rural Growth

Weekly column by Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack:

Rural America faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to combating poverty in our towns and communities. 

Too often, rural people and places are hard to reach or otherwise underserved — but not forgotten.

I believe that USDA and its partners have the tools and the wherewithal to expand opportunity and better serve those living in poverty, but it is imperative that these resources reach the areas where they are needed most.

That is why USDA has undertaken a broad commitment to rally available tools and technical assistance through our StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative.

Since its launch in 2010, we’ve extended StrikeForce into more than 700 rural counties, parishes, boroughs, tribal reservations, and Colonias in twenty states. We’ve partnered with over 400 community organizations, businesses, foundations, universities and other groups to support 80,300 projects and ushered more than $9.7 billion in investments into rural America.

StrikeForce support will help leverage USDA resources with the unique expertise of community leaders, business, foundations and other groups working in Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia. In less than four years, we are seeing promising positive results from this model in other StrikeForce states.

For example, in Arizona, we helped an entrepreneur start a successful apiary business for crop pollination and honey sales. Thanks to USDA assistance, he was able to purchase 1,000 bee colonies and needed equipment, eventually growing his business by 200 percent.

In Alabama, we provided a loan to help a young farmer purchase a 53-acre farm for his existing cattle operation. This support allowed him to purchase his own land as opposed to renting or leasing.

And in Alaska, we helped to fund a primary care center that will create 200 jobs from entry level to skilled healthcare workers, in addition to construction jobs. The clinic will provide services to the local community including primary medical and dental care, behavioral health, optometry, health education wellness and traditional medicine.

These are just a few of our StrikeForce success stories. From increasing access to healthy, affordable food; to closing farm loans; to building housing, libraries, hospitals and clinics; to expanding the productivity of our farmers and ranchers, we are working hard to ensure that USDA programs are available and accessible to those in need.

Yet many of our efforts to combat poverty and create opportunity in rural America rely on the passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. USDA continues to push for Congress to finish the work of a Farm Bill as soon as possible to continue these important efforts and provide tools that grow the economy, create jobs, and provide opportunity for all Americans.

I know that there is still a lot of work to be done, but StrikeForce is an important step forward. This is a strategy that is working to combat poverty in rural America, and we will continue to build on these efforts to bring assistance to areas that need it the most.

Happy National Cheese Lovers Day

How could I have missed this?

Check out this link.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

NY Apple Association President Testifies in Washington, D.C.

Go to and then scroll to about 41 minutes in to see New York Apple Association President Jim Allen testify to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee about overseas trade.

Glowing Reports for Hudson River Region Wines

From Jim Trezise at the New York Wine and Grape Foundation:

The Hudson River Region has been in the news a lot lately, with a glowing Wall St. Journal piece about Hillrock Estate; Hudson-Chatham Winery's appearance on the Food Network's Farmhouse Rules show; a feature on Aaron Burr Cidery in Town & Country magazine; a huge feature on the Shawangunk Wine Trail in edible Hudson Valley magazine; and Whiskey Advocate magazine's mention of Ralph Erenzo (Tuthilltown Spirits) as one of the 10 most influential people in the spirits business.

In addition, the "Fall in Love With Hudson Valley Wine" campaign featured more than 100 events attracting more than 16,000 people, concluding with the Pride of New York Harvest Fest in Albany.

Finger Lakes Cheese Festival Seeking More Vendors

Saw this on Facebook and had to pass it along.

'We know it seems ridiculously early, but here's a heads up to our Finger Lakes Cheese Festival (July 26 at Sunset View Creamery) vendors: we'll be getting out the vendor kits by Feb. 1. If you haven't been a vendor before and would like to be, email us at and we'll be sure to get you a vendor kit too!"

People Salivating at Cornell for the Return of Ice Cream

Check out this link to find out what is back at Cornell University.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bill Introduced for St. Lawrence County Wine Trail

State Sen. Patricia Ritchie just posted this on Facebook:

"I've just introduced my bill (S.6321) to create the St. Lawrence County Wine Trail. Stretching from Lisbon to Brasher, the Trail will help promote quality North Country wines, boost tourism and help farmers and this new industry grow, just as trails in Jefferson County and across the state have already done."

Here's a map to go with the post: 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

State Makes $20 Million Available for Dairy Programs

From Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office:

Nearly $21 million is being made available to farmers in New York state to help them produce renewable energy and improve their business operations.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday the money will help dairy farmers convert farm waste to energy and develop individualized business and environmental plans to reduce operating costs and increase profitability. 

The funding for these efforts stem from recommendations made at Cuomo’s Yogurt Summit in 2012 to ensure the industry continues to grow and create jobs in New York state. 

In his 2014 State of the State Address, Cuomo pledged a second Yogurt Summit to identify additional economic growth opportunities within this growing sector of the economy. 

“The state is committed to creating new economic opportunities for our dairy farmers, who have helped make New York the Yogurt Capital of the nation,” Cuomo said. “With this funding, we are providing significant financial assistance to farmers so they can cut their energy costs, increase efficiencies in their operations, and develop plans to expand their businesses and contribute to cleaner communities."

Here is what is planned:

Waste-to-Energy Anaerobic Digesters

Starting Jan. 17 (Friday), $20 million will be available through NYSERDA to install anaerobic digester technology that produces renewable biogas used to produce electricity and heat from organic wastes. 

Farms, food processing manufacturers or municipal wastewater sites would be eligible for up to $2 million per project.

Biogas-to-power technology has several steps. Dairy manure and other organic wastes are pumped into digestion tanks where bacteria break down the waste, creating a methane-rich gas called biogas and a nutrient-rich effluent that can be applied to crops as fertilizer. The biogas is burned in engines to produce electricity and heat. 

Through this process, farmers can often eliminate a significant portion of the electricity they would otherwise purchase from the utility grid, and periodically export surplus electricity onto the electrical grid in exchange for credits. Furthermore, farmers can realize operational savings in other areas as well.

During the past 10 years, NYSERDA and the New York Power Authority have awarded nearly $30 million toward anaerobic digestion projects and related technology, resulting in significant energy savings to New York-based businesses while reducing the use of fossil fuel. 

Currently, this funding supports 20 operational digester projects. The digester technology funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for eligible projects. 

Dairy Acceleration Program

Funding for the Dairy Acceleration Program (DAP) will be increased by $850,000, which is in addition to the $1 million announced by the governor this past August. 

DAP is jointly funded by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and DEC. DAP is resonating very positively with dairy farmers across the state, most with herds of fewer than 300 cows. 

Combined with some funding still available under the current program, this new funding will serve at least 100 more dairy farms across New York. 

Payments under DAP may include: up to $5,000 per farm to write a business plan or develop a combination of a business and facility growth plan; and up to $4,500 to update an existing Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) or $6,000 to develop a new one. 

Additional funds also will be available to design farm practices described in CNMPs. CNMPs are a conservation system for animal feeding operations designed to address soil erosion and water quality concerns. 

The CNMP encompasses the storage and handling of manure as well as using and applying manure nutrients on farm land. Through DAP, the state awarded dozens of projects already for farms with an average herd of about 140 cows. 

Business planning may include financial analysis, farmstead development planning, facility planning and capital investment planning for increased milk production per cow. Environmental planning includes CNMP development and updates. Farms without an existing CNMP can hire a certified Nutrient Management planner to develop a new CNMP.

To be eligible for DAP, a dairy cattle farm must have complete financial records. Preference will be given to farms with fewer than 300 cows. DAP funding will cover up to 80 percent of a project’s cost.

To apply for DAP, visit

Restaurateur Buys Farm to Supply Produce for his Business

If you can't find enough fresh veggies for your restaurant, do what this enterprising guy did.

Check it out at this link.

THe Affordable Care Act and Farming

Check out this information from about Obamacare and farmers.

Monday, January 13, 2014

More Schools to Serve Chobani Yogurt

The pilot program to put Chobani Greek yogurt in New York schools is being expanded.

Read about the expansion at this link.

The Farm Bill Fights Hunger at Home

Ag Secretary Thomas Vilsack's weekly column:

America’s farmers and ranchers work hard every day to put healthy food on our tables. 
Thanks to their incredible productivity, we have the capacity to produce enough food not only for every American family, but for much of the world.

In a nation with such an abundance of food resources, it is unthinkable and unacceptable that any American go hungry. Unfortunately, even as the economy recovers and more Americans get back to work, millions of hardworking folks still need help putting food on the table.

America’s food insecure families are just one group of Americans counting on Congress to finish the work of a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that adequately invests in America’s nutrition safety net.

To help families in need, the U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains a nutrition safety net through a wide range of programs. These include the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which helps ensure adequate stocks at food banks and food pantries; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps families put food on the table; and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children which is focused on mothers and their young families.

For example, right now, many food banks and emergency food centers are dealing with increased winter traffic and their resources are stretched thin. To help support these food banks and pantries, USDA this week was able to purchase an additional 155.6 million pounds of wholesome, high quality, domestically-grown fruits and vegetables to be donated through TEFAP. 
Last year, the program resulted in more than 640 million pounds of extra food in food banks across the nation and added $498 million to the farm economy.

Meanwhile, USDA remains focused on delivering a reliable and modern assistance effort through SNAP. Our efforts to crack down on fraud and abuse while modernizing the SNAP program have led to one of the lowest error rates in history for the program, and a fraud rate of 1.3 percent.

And while we have worked hard to provide even healthier meals to the 31 million kids who eat school lunch and 13 million who eat school breakfast, USDA has established ambitious goals to expand the reach of summer nutrition programs that feed more than three million low-income children daily when school is out.

Many of these efforts to provide a strong, dependable safety net for American families rely on passage of a new Farm Bill that supports strong nutrition programs.

Although the holiday season and its focus on giving have passed, this is no time to forget that too many American children and families are still struggling to make ends meet, particularly in the wake of an automatic SNAP monthly benefit reduction that began late last year. 
Millions of folks count on the nutrition safety net as they strive to get back to work – and they’re counting on Congress to pass a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to maintain this important effort.

Crops and Soil Health Meeting Feb. 18 in Auburn

A meeting concerning cover crops and soil health is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 18 at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County in Auburn.

The meeting is being held so the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service can kick off a National Soil Health Initiative. The National Conference on Cover Crops & Soil Health in Omaha, Nebraska kicks off this major effort.

The NY USDA-NRCS State Conservationist Don Pettit will start the meeting and then there will be a live broadcast by webinar concerning the soil and crop initiative.

Howard G. Buffett, an Illinois farmer, conservatonist and philanthropist, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will lead the webinar by discussing: The Big Picture: Conservation, Cover Crops and Soil Health.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Beezie Madden Named Equestrian of the Year

Another great honor for Beezie Madden of Cazenovia.

Go to to see the story.

Does Ice and Cold in Northern New York Harm Alfalfa?

From the Northern New York Cornell Cooperative Extension Field Crops Team:

Cornell Cooperative Extension offices in Northern New York have fielded several questions regarding ice and risk of winterkill in alfalfa recently.  

It’s a good topic for discussion right now as much of the Northern New York landscape was covered with an inch or two of solid ice.

The ice coating outdoor surfaces in early January was the result of freezing rain and sleet that fell just a few days before Christmas. 

The storm caused lots of immediate damage in the form of downed tree limbs and power outages and it continues to bruise knees, but many are now wondering if the ice also poses an additional risk to alfalfa.

Ice sheeting is associated with increased risk of winterkill in alfalfa, but the conditions now in the North Country are probably not likely to worsen winterkill and may actually be a protective feature for alfalfa.

Alfalfa is an enormously important perennial legume across Northern New York because of its high yield potential and high feed value for high-producing dairy cattle.

With proper management, alfalfa stands can last up to 5 years or more and a more persistent, longer lifespan generally means a better economic return.  All too often though, alfalfa stands can become thin and less productive after the third year and harsh winter conditions can exacerbate this decline.

Historically, risk of winter damage to alfalfa has been linked to several environmental and management factors: age of the stand, variety, disease pressures, soil pH and K, cutting schedule and soil moisture and drainage.

The risk of winterkill increases with advancing age of the alfalfa stand. Younger plants (1-2 years) are generally more stress tolerant compared to older plants (2+ years) because they’ve been exposed to less physical damage and disease organisms.  

Alfalfa varieties vary in winter hardiness as well as resistance to diseases and pests, and choosing a variety that resists diseases such as Phytophthora root rot and Verticillium, bacterial and Fusarium wilts, will reduce the risk of stand loss due to winterkill.

Soil pH below 6.0 stresses alfalfa plants and can exacerbate winter injury.  A soil pH of 6.6 or greater removes this risk.

High exchangeable soil K (>160 ppm) reduces risk of winterkill and conversely, a low exchangeable K (<80 ppm) can make winter injury much more likely by reducing root health and fall carbohydrate storage.

The timing of cutting (or grazing) affects the persistence of alfalfa too. Several factors come into play - stage of maturity, frequency and timing of cutting, and the timing and stubble height of the last fall cutting.  

Harvesting alfalfa at late bud to early flowering stage will optimize both forage yield and quality and results in better stand persistence. Leave a 6 to 8 inch stubble in the fall to effectively catch a layer of snow for insulation.

Finally, let’s talk about ice and its effect on winterkill. We know that alfalfa stands typically do not survive well on poorly drained soils. Poorly drained areas can suffer 2 types of winter injury as a result of the combination of cold and excess moisture.  

Where soil remains wet, frost can heave alfalfa plants out of the ground in late winter and early spring.  Heaved plants may have broken taproots, or the crown may be left up above the soil where it is exposed to cold, dry winds and mechanical injury later in the season. Diseases will often invade the weakened root and the plant dies during the summer.

If water accumulates and freezes on the plants and soil surface, this is referred to as ice ‘sheeting.’  Ice sheeting can occur in low areas as the result of a mid-winter thaw or from sleet and freezing rain as we’ve recently experienced. Ice sheets cause winter injury by smothering plants and by rapidly conducting heat away from the plants and soil surface leading to very low soil temperatures.  The longer the ice remains on the soil surface, the greater the risk of economic damage.

This winter, however, the 1 to 2 inches of ice is above several inches of snow that fell before the freezing rain and sleet just before Christmas. Right now, alfalfa crowns and roots may actually be protected by the ice because it has held an insulating layer of snow on the plants during some very cold temperatures and high winds. 

If ice formed directly on the alfalfa crowns and soil, no such protection would occur, and the plants would be at risk of smothering and loss.  In lab research trials, alfalfa plants directly covered with ice began to die after about a week, and most were dead within a month.

Our present situation here in Northern New York, though uncomfortable for humans, may be just fine for alfalfa.

The Northern New York Gardener

Very nice blog. This comes from just outside Mexico, NY.

Check it out at this link.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Meteorologist Says Recent Weather An Aberration

USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey says the recent frigid weather was an aberration and that the rest of the winter in most areas of the nation should be milder than normal.

In this clip, he also talks about the recent cold snap, the effect on agriculture, the current drought conditions, and the rest of the winter.

1- Rippey says this week’s weather, while severe, was an aberration. :22

2-Rippey says the cold’s effect on agriculture was minimal, but parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas may see some crop damage. :39

3-The rest of the winter should be milder than average in most of the nation, with some exceptions. :55

4-The drought situation in parts of the west is still severe. :42

Go to to see Rippey's report. Username is usdaftp and password is 1qaz2wsx

Ag Society Honors Farmers, Journalists, Ag Businesses, FFA

The 182nd annual meeting of the New York State Agricultural Society was held Thursday in Salina.

The theme of the event was the future of agriculture and young people going in to farming.

In addition, a number of businesses, farms, organizations and people were honored at the event.

Here is a list of honorees:

Business of the Year: Red Jacket Orchards, Ontario County. In 1958, Joe and Emily Nicholson – owners of Nicholson’s Poultry Farm in Bethpage, NY – were forced to move their establishment to make way for an expressway. They then purchased Red Jacket Fruit Farms, on land well known for its fruit production. They set up an improvised one-windowed shed to display their cornucopia of harvested fruits to passersby. They offered grapes, pears, raspberries, strawberries, and, of course, apples. This became the site of the original Red Jacket roadside stand. 

Today, at peak season today, Red Jacket Orchards sells at over 25 markets per week, operating out of a warehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Today, much of Red Jacket Orchard’s connection to the world’s greatest food market is based on their Greenmarket operation. Fueled by their customers’ passion and the growth of market operations, Red Jacket Orchards demonstrates the innovation and leadership worthy of NYS Ag Society Business of the Year.

Business of the Year: Farm Credit East. Farm Credit East is a customer-owned lender and financial services leader committed to serving people involved in the business of agriculture, including farmers, nursery and greenhouse operators, forest products businesses, fishermen, lobstermen, part-time growers, agribusinesses and country home owners. Farm Credit East is part of the national Farm Credit System, which was founded in 1916 to promote the growth and prosperity of agriculture throughout the United States.

Cap Creal Journalism Awards: 
Printed News Story, Karen Miltner, Democrat and Chronicle, “A Lot Of Green”
Printed Feature Story, Karen Bjournland, The Daily Gazette (Schenectady), “Weaving A Spell: Fiber Tour”
Printed Series, Paul Post, The Saratogian, “Changing Face of Agriculture”
Printed Editorial, David Dudajek, Observer-Dispatch (Utica), “We Must Save The Family Farm”

Audio/Video for the Internet, Karen Miltner, Democrat and Chronicle, “Organic Farming Conference Focuses On Resilience”
Audio/Video News Feature, David Sommerstein, North Country Public Radio, “North Country Wines Survive The Cold, Please The Palate”

Blog/On-Line Feature, David Sommerstein, Julie Grant, North Country Public Radio, “The Dirt – Farm and Food Blog”
Howard Owens, The Batavian, “Genesee County Farms”

Photograph, Julie Lewis, The Daily Star, “Pushing In”

Ag Promotion Award: Isabel Prescott, Riverview Orchards, Rexford, near Clifton Park in Saratoga County.

Ag Promotion Award: Farm 2 Table Program, Erie County Agricultural Society

FFA Chapter of the Year: Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, Oneida County

Century Farm: Robb Farms, Spencerport, Monroe County, established on April 1, 1912 by George Robb, Sr.

Century Farm: Stocks Windy Acres, Owego, Tioga County, established Jan. 2, 1913 by Joseph Guy Stocks II 

Distinguished Service Citation: Bob Lewis, of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Richard Ball nominated as Commissioner of Ag and Markets

This is from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office:

Richard A. Ball has been nominated as commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. 

“Richard Ball is a lifelong farmer and advocate for sound farm policy who will bring fresh ideas and strong leadership to the Department of Agriculture and Markets,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. 

“Agriculture is a vital sector of the state’s economy, providing thousands of jobs, food for people around the globe, and a way of life for generations of New Yorkers. Richard embodies the proud tradition of farming here in New York state and will be a superb addition to this Administration,” Cuomo said. 

A native New Yorker, Ball has made a living in agriculture his entire life. His inspiration to become a farmer came from his grandparents, who were lifelong dairy farmers. 

At 18 years old, Ball began his career in agriculture as a farm worker at a vegetable farm in Rhode Island. He later became operations manager of that same farm. After 20 years in Rhode Island, Ball moved back to the Empire State with an opportunity to become a farm owner. 

For the past 20 years, he has been the owner and operator of Schoharie Valley Farms in Schoharie, NY, which consists of 200 acres and produces a wide range of vegetable crops, small fruits and greenhouse crops. 

The farm serves both retail and wholesale consumers through an onsite farm market known as “The Carrot Barn” and ships to brokers and restaurants in the local area as well as New York City. 

Ball has held a number of positions within agriculture and community organizations at the local, state and national level, including: 

** Vice president, New York State Vegetable Growers

** Board of directors, member of executive committee, member of audit committee, chair of labor committee, New York Farm Bureau
** Member of labor committee and past chair, American Farm Bureau
** Representative for Schoharie County on the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council
** Board of directors and past president, Schoharie County Farm Bureau
** Chair, Schoharie Recovery Inc., a nonprofit formed to help the recovery effort from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee
** Past president of the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce 

Ball, his wife Shirley and his three children are actively engaged in farming with a growing number of future farmers among the grandchildren.

Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau, said, “New York Farm Bureau could not be more pleased with the Governor’s outstanding selection of Richard Ball to be the next Commissioner for the Department of Agriculture and Markets. As a farmer, Richard understands the needs and challenges we all face on our farms. 

"That knowledge and the respect he has among his peers will serve the state’s agricultural community well. We look forward to continuing Farm Bureau’s strong partnership with Richard and Governor Cuomo to support every farmer in New York,” said Norton. 

Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, said, “On behalf of the faculty and staff at CALS, I extend my congratulations to Richard Ball on this appointment. We look forward to working closely with Mr. Ball on key issues facing New York State’s farmers and producers. This is an exciting time for agriculture, and I am confident that his experiences and expertise will help New York State continue to lead the way.”

Mark Henry, president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, said, “The New York State Vegetable Growers Association is proud and excited to hear about fellow vegetable farmer, Rich Ball’s, nomination as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. 

"Rich is first and foremost a farmer. He’s watched his land flood, worked through blizzards, and watched the first green tips push their heads above soil every spring in spite of all the challenges. With the nomination of Rich Ball as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, the New York State Vegetable Growers Association feels that 2014 is starting out on a positive note,” Henry said. 

Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, said, “I’ve known Richard Ball for a number of years and have worked with him on many different initiatives, including the Pride of NY program. He has an astute knowledge of all aspects of agriculture. His operation in Schoharie is a destination for thousands every year and I think he is an absolutely wonderful choice as our state’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets.” 

GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen said, “On behalf of GrowNYC, I’d like to congratulate Richard Ball on this well-deserved nomination as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. Richard Ball understands the importance of building relationships between upstate agriculture and downstate consumers, and we look forward to working with him to expand opportunities for New York agricultural producers across New York City in the future.”

Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, said, “Governor Cuomo’s selection of Richard Ball as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets is a strong choice, and great news for the state’s vibrant wine and grape industry. Mr. Ball understands that pro-growth agricultural policies lead to a robust farm sector. 

"We’ve seen it already with the growth of our farm-based beverage industry and in a number of other industries across the state. I look forward to working with Commissioner Ball on Taste NY and other state initiatives designed to promote New York products,” Trezise said.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New York Farm Bureau Discusses Cuomo's State of the State Address

Here is a statement from New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton concerning Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address:

Dean Norton
“New York Farm Bureau appreciates the continued efforts by Governor Cuomo to prioritize agriculture as a critical part of the state’s economy. In his State of the State Address, he laid out a number of standout proposals that matter to every farmer in New York.  

"This includes efforts to remove regulatory barriers that get in the way of growing our businesses. We also support his tax reform initiatives that include raising the estate tax threshold and finally phasing out the article 18A surcharge on energy bills.

"The governor also plans to capitalize on past successes, by proposing a second round of Yogurt and Wine, Beer and Spirits Summits. Just as exciting is news of a new summit looking to connect our farms with downstate consumers who are eager to purchase New York grown food and locally made products. Additional promotional efforts as well will keep the state’s outstanding farmers front and center in the eyes of tourists and New Yorkers alike.

"Hunting is also an important part of rural life in New York state. It helps farmers protect their land, crops and livestock from the damage caused by overpopulated wildlife. Governor Cuomo’s efforts to support and increase hunting opportunities throughout the state, including increased sportsmen access to state land and reforms to landowner liability, are positive steps to help safeguard farmers’ interests.

"New York Farm Bureau works on behalf of every farmer in this diverse state, and having a strong partnership with Governor Cuomo and his administration is imperative to growing New York agriculture.”

Friday, January 3, 2014

Attention, Cows.

Great Facebook post on Thursday from "The Wright Place" dairy farm in Maine:

"ATTENTION: To all cows who reside at the Wright Place Farm, due to sub zero temperatures and a bitter cold wind, there will be no cows calving tonight, I repeat no cows calving tonight, and if at all possible none tomorrow either. As a result your humans will be very grateful and your prenatal offspring will thank you for keeping them in the warm oven, that is your womb, for an extra couple days!

(Hopefully the girls all check their Facebook pages before bed tonight!)"