Friday, February 28, 2014

Maple Weekends Coming Soon

Can't wait for the weather to warm a tad because I've got a hankerin' for some new maple syrup.

Maple Weekends this year are March 22-23 and March 29-30. Producers across the state will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to show folks how maple syrup is made, sell their products and some will even host pancake breakfasts.

Some Onondaga County Felfies!

I've been told that there is a new thing all a twitter on Twitter called the Felfie.

It's a selfie, but taken by a farmer with one of his or her animals.

I've gotta a hold of a couple from Onondaga County farmers Erin Luchsinger Hull of Tully and Meg Schader in Jordan.


Erin and Friend

Meg getting a kiss from one of her adorable Jerseys

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dairy Promotion Board Seeks New Members

New York State Acting Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said nominations for the New York Dairy Promotion Advisory Board, which administers the State’s Dairy Promotion Order and evaluates dairy marketing and promotion programs.  

Nominations must be received no later than April 1.

The Advisory Board consists of ten New York milk producers appointed by the Commissioner to oversee and make recommendations on the appropriate expenditure of assessments collected from New York dairy farmers that make up the State’s Dairy Promotion Order. 

Members serve a three-year term, beginning May 1. They do not receive a salary, but are entitled to reimbursement of actual expenses.

Any individual producer marketing milk in New York may be nominated to serve on the Dairy Promotion Advisory Board. Nominations can only be made by individual New York milk producers and must be submitted in writing and signed by the individual producer making the nomination. Cooperatives and other farm organizations are not authorized to nominate individual producers to the Advisory Board, but may endorse producers who are nominated.

Each nomination should provide the name and address of the producer being nominated and his or her cooperative or other organizational affiliation. Other information that is helpful in evaluating a nominee’s qualifications to serve on the Advisory Board include the producer’s herd size, milk market, participation in farm organizations or programs, and experience or interest in dairy marketing activities.

Authorized organizations can endorse nominees by submitting to the Commissioner, no later than April 8, a resolution of the board of directors or other governing body endorsing the nominations of at least two of its members whose nominations have been received.  

Authorized organizations are: Agri-Mark, Inc., Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.; Niagara Frontier Cooperative Milk Producers Bargaining Agency, Inc.; New York Farm Bureau, Inc.; New York State Grange, Inc.; and Rochester Cooperative Milk Producers Bargaining Agency, Inc.

Nominations by individual producers and endorsements by the designated cooperative and other farm organizations should be sent no later than April 1, 2014 for nominations and April 8, 2014 for endorsements to:

      New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
      Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services
      Attn: Bert Lue
      10B Airline Drive
      Albany, NY 12235

For further information on the New York State Dairy Promotion Advisory Board nomination process, please contact the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services at 518-457-5731.

Milk producers pay 15 cents per hundredweight of milk produced for dairy promotion. The New York State Dairy Promotion Order, established to promote the consumption of New York milk and dairy products, retains 10 of the 15 cents paid by producers for contractual milk promotion activities and dairy research in the State.  The remaining 5 cents is used for national program activities. Last year, $13.4 million was collected through the State Dairy Promotion Order.

Wind Power Topic of March 3 Oswego County Farm Bureau Coffeecake Meeting

The Oswego County Farm Bureau will host its March Coffeecake Meeting at 1 p.m. Monday, March 3 at the Oswego County Federal Credit Union on Scenic Ave./Route 3 in Mexico.

The featured speaker will be UnitedWind, a wind power company. They will have a presentation on windmills for farm and landowners. As always, light refreshments will be served.

The coffeecake meetings are free and open to the public as well as Farm Bureau members.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More on the Dairy Cow Birthing Center Changes at the Fair

From the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition:

The New York Animal Agriculture Coalition has announced the Dairy Cow Birthing Center exhibit that debuted at the 2013 New York State Fair will return in the same location in 2014, only bigger and better.  


The exhibit, which showcased 30 dairy cows giving birth to baby calves, was one of the most popular exhibits at the New York State Fair last year, attracting over 160,000 fairgoers.

“NYAAC is pleased to return this educational exhibit to the New York State Fair, and expand upon the success we achieved last year,” said Jessica Ziehm, executive director for NYAAC.  “The dairy industry couldn’t have been more pleased with the overwhelmingly positive response we received from fairgoers who visited the Birthing Center last year.  Our tent was filled to capacity during most births and the level of interest exhibited by the public was impressive.”

The Dairy Cow Birthing Center will return to the New York State Fair in the same location, on the west end of the fairgrounds, inside Gate 9 and adjacent to the FFA exhibit. In doing so, the exhibit will be housed in a 40 percent larger tent and will offer double the seating for those who wish to observe the birth of a baby calf. In addition to seating, NYAAC will also add large TV screens to enhance the viewing. The TVs will display the live births, as well as show scenes from the featured dairy farm that day.

The Birthing Center will continue to provide a 24-hour live webcam so people can view the births at home, courtesy of Cornell University. Even more exciting, fairgoers this year will have the opportunity to sign in at the exhibit to be alerted via text or email as to when labor commences. These improvements and others made to the Dairy Cow Birthing Center this year are all being done to improve the experience and environment for both fairgoers and animals.  

“During this day in age when good information is hard to find, NYAAC wants consumers to know they can go right to the source when they have questions about dairy farms and milk produced in New York State,” Ziehm said.  “Having real-life dairy farmers and veterinarians available for questions was the second most popular aspect of the Birthing Center and we are thrilled to report that they too are planning to return to the State Fair this year.”

The Dairy Cow Birthing Center is a free, educational exhibit that provides fairgoers the opportunity to witness the live birth of baby calves daily.  Over 100 dairy farmers, veterinarians, affiliated business representatives and agricultural students volunteer their time at the exhibit to assist with the births, explain the process to the public, and answer any questions.  The exhibit also offers calves for petting and educational exhibits about the dairy industry.  Another new feature this year will be year-old calves that were born last year during the State Fair.

NYAAC organizes the exhibit in partnership with the New York State Fair and Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. NYAAC is a farmer founded and funded organization that strives to enhance the public’s understanding of and appreciation for animal agriculture and modern farm practices by engaging the public in conversations about animal agriculture and empowering farmers to tell their story firsthand.

If you or your organization cares to support this initiative by either making a contribution or volunteering your time at the State Fair, contact Jessica Ziehm with NYAAC at or at 518-527-3949.  Visit NYAAC’s website at for regular updates about the Dairy Cow Birthing Center, along with other dairy farm advocacy efforts taking place around the state.

New York Works to Help Those Losing Some SNAP Benefits

From the governor's office:

New York state is taking steps to preserve nearly $457 million a year in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that would otherwise be cut by the recently enacted federal Farm Bill. 

The bill was slated to cut SNAP benefits an average of $127 per month for affected households in New York, including those that live in government subsidized housing or in certain congregate care settings. This action by the state will save benefits for nearly 300,000 households in New York.

New York state, through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, will dedicate about $6 million in additional federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding to maintain SNAP benefit levels for affected households. 

The funding will be used to increase the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) benefit of SNAP recipients in certain living situations for whom heat is included in the rent. By receiving the higher HEAP benefit, these households will remain eligible for the highest SNAP allowance for their energy costs, which enables them to continue receiving SNAP benefits at the level for which they are currently eligible.

How Does the Farm Bill Change Crop Insurance?

Go to to find out.

Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County Conducts Beef 101 Program

Not sure what you want to do in your retirement?

How about farming?

Go to to find out more about a series of programs being conducted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County that might help you in your decision.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Milk Ad is Out

Here is the new milk ad!

Enjoy it with a tall glass of milk!

Obama: We're Not Trying to Regulate Smaller Farms

Obama says he is not trying to regulate small farms.

Read it here at

More on the Chipotle and Farming Issue

Found this interesting blog called Iowa Corn sTALK.

On it, this

Got Milk? Not Anymore

Beginning today, the iconic "Got Milk?" and milk mustache campaign to get people to drink more milk is history.

Go to this link to watch a report on it from ABC.

Go to this link to read a story about it in Business Week.

And here is the story from Medical Daily.

Vacation at the New York State Fair

Looking for something to do close by this summer?

A family vacation website has listed a bunch of state fairs that make great vacations during the summer. And our own New York State Fair is on the list.

Go to to see the story.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dairy Cow Birthing Center to Expand at NYS Fair

Acting State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today (Friday) announced a number of initiatives underway at the Great New York State Fair which will bring even more of a focus on New York agriculture in 2014 and increase the Fair's profile as a premier destination for agritourism in the Northeast. 
"Last year, the Fair did a great job refocusing on its core mission to promote New York agriculture," Ball said. "This year we're going to do it all over again, except bigger and better.  With these initiatives already locked in and much more on the horizon, the 2014 Great New York State Fair is well on its way to being a memorable one."
The theme of the 2014 Great New York State Fair is "Summer's Best in Show," which brings the Fair straight back to its agricultural roots. The Fair runs Aug. 21 to Sept. 1. 
One of the changes coming to the 2014 fair is an expansion of the Dairy Cow Birthing Center.
In 2013, the Dairy Cow Birthing Center, hosted by the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, debuted on the west end of the Fairgrounds and showcased the live birth of 30 baby calves over the course of the Fair. The exhibit was one of the most popular new exhibits on the Fairgrounds, and will be returning this year in its same location - only bigger. 
The Birthing Center will be held in a larger tent, and will offer twice the seating, as well as large screen TVs for improved visibility. Farmers and veterinarians will once again be on hand to discuss the birthing process and New York's modern dairy farms. Two calves born at the State Fair in 2013 will also return for petting.  
The New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, in conjunction with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, will again offer a live web feed of the exhibit for those unable to attend the Fair.
"We were blown away with the level of interest in the Dairy Cow Birthing Center last year, and are pleased to offer this exhibit once again at the Great New York State Fair," said Jessica Ziehm, coalition executive director. "We are in the process of making several improvements to the exhibit to ensure everyone has the opportunity to witness a calf be born and learn about New York's dairy industry."
Other changes coming to the fair is the return of the Wine Village to the Colonnade, more competitions and building renovations.
Concerning competitions, the first-ever watermelon carving competition will take place on the first two days of the Fair. Fairgoers will have the opportunity to bring in their own watermelons and carve them right at the Fair near the Horticulture Building. Fairgoers must pre-register for this competition, which they will soon be able to do by going to the Fair's website or calling 487-7711 for an entry form.
Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, said visitors will welcome the wine industry's move back to the Colonnade.
"The decision to move the New York wine industry back to the Colonnade is great news for the New York State Fair, our industry, and consumers" Trezise said. "The wine industry occupied this location for many years before it was moved to a more remote area which was hard for consumers to find, while the Colonnade is center stage.  This is another example of State officials listening to industry and then acting, which is very refreshing and encouraging."
In addition, the "Taste NY" Wine and Cheese competition will return in 2014.  Last year,camembert cheese from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, paired with strawberry wine from Baldwin Vineyards took home the blue ribbon.  
This competition will return in 2014, as will the entire "Taste NY" experience, including the "Taste NY" trail, tasting tent and at least two wine and cheese seminars daily in the Horticulture Building.   
"People look forward to the Fair all year long, and this new theme describes the Fair as both the true peak of summer and the absolute best of what New York State agriculture has to offer," said Ball. "Every summer, a variety of blue ribbons are awarded during the Fair's annual competitions, highlighting the 'best in show' among all New York agriculture.  But the Fair itself is a cut above the rest and it truly will be this summer's best in show.  What a fitting theme for 2014!!!"  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

GMOs Don't Harm Your Health

Even Dr. Oz has gotten into the debate recently about genetically modified organisms and whether they are OK to eat.

Here is another take on the issue.

Find Out What Farm Agencies Can Do For You at Mexico Workshop

Farmers usually have great plans on what they want to do with their operations.

But sometimes, things don't go according to plan. Disasters and challenges can put a knot into the stomach of most farmers and a hole in the financial bottom line.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County in collaboration with Oswego County Soil and Water, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the United States Department Of Agriculture Farm Service Agency is sponsoring a workshop for agriculture producers on how each of these agencies can assist them when everything doesn’t go to plan. 

The four agriculture agencies that serve the farmers and residents in Oswego County will be together in one place from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the Oswego County Federal Credit Union Community Room, 5828 Scenic Ave, Mexico, 13114.

The day is geared toward beginning and experienced farmers alike who are looking for information on how to improve or expand their agriculture businesses. Federal and NYS programs will be discussed including some cost share programs. 

The goal is to improve the awareness of agriculture agencies that are available to address the challenges faced by agriculture producers in Oswego County There is no cost to attend but registration for lunch and to let us know if you have special needs is appreciated by noon on Tuesday, Feb. 25 by calling Brenda at 963-7286, ext. 201. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New York State Dairy Princess Crowned in Salina

Casey Porter, NYS Dairy Princess
Casey Porter of Jefferson County was named New York State Dairy Princess Tuesday night.

Second alternate is Mikayla MacNeil of Cortland County and first alternate is Lindsey McMahon of Rensselaer County.

Porter, who lives on her parent's dairy farm in Adams Center, goes to South Jefferson High School. For years, she and her family members have shown dairy cattle at the Jefferson County Fair and New York State Fair.

Mikayla MacNeil
The Porterdale Farm was honored in 2011 at Empire Farm Days with the state Agricultural Environmental Management Award. Porterdale Farms was started in 1938 by Glenn and Ruth Porter with 198 acres and 35 cows. The farm now has 1700 mature cows and 1300 replacement heifers. They crop alfalfa, grass, hay, corn silage and corn grain on 4,500 acres. 
Lindsey McMahon
About 35 young women from throughout New York state competed to become state dairy princess during a two-day pageant at the Holiday Inn on Electronics Parkway. Contestants are judged in a variety of categories, including performance on a written test, product knowledge test, prepared adult speech, impromptu questions and informal interaction with others.

The princess and alternates will  work throughout the next year making appearances throughout the state for milk promotion.

Blind Cows Find Friendship

Here's to Tricia and Sweety.

Go to to see the video.

Dairy Princess Remembers Year with the Crown

Check out this video from New York State Dairy Princess Courtney Luskin about her year as princess.

More About Chipotle's New Ad Series about Industrial Farming

The New York Times has written about Chipotle's new series of shows about how food is produced in the United States.

Read it

Also, ABC did a story about this Tuesday a.m. Go to to see the report. The series is called Farmed and Dangerous.

New York Farm Show Opens Thursday, Feb. 20

The New York Farm Show opens at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the New York State Fairgrounds in Geddes.

This year's event, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 20, 21 and 22, will include more than 400 exhibitors in six buildings -- Arts and Home Center, Center of Progress, Dairy, Horticulture, International Pavilion and Science.

The Farm Show also includes many seminars on a wide range of agriculture topics. Included will be 30-minute briefings in the Bistro Room of the Arts and Home Center beginning at 12:30 p.m. each day concerning changes in the recently adopted Farm Bill that will affect crop and revenue insurance options. These briefings are important because farmers must make decisions on insurance programs by the March 15 signup deadline.

These briefings are being put on by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. More details about the Farm Bill's impact also will be available at the Ag and Markets exhibit in the International Pavilion.

Some of the special displays this year include:

Robotics -- Daily Dairy Robotonomics mini-seminars put four robotic manufacturer experts on the platform.

New York Beef Producers -- Offers a pen-of-five beef improvement topics daily on cattle show fitting, fencing and handling, grazing and forage management and more.

Anaerobic Digesters -- There could be big money available for digesters this year, so the UEM Group (AD designer) and New York State Energy and Research Development Authority and the Antares Group (NYS digester ombudsman) are teaming up for a Dairy Anaerobic Digester Profits mini-seminar at 1 p.m. Feb. 21 (Friday) at the show.

New York Forest Owners Association -- Offers many workshops during the show on 14 topics ranging from forest/woodlot management, market outlook, low-impact harvesting, portable sawmills, wildlife habitat, feral pigs, timber pasturing and more.

For an exhibitor list by category, go to this link.

Admission is $ 5 at the door; children under 18 are free. Tickets are available for free from Northeast Equipment Dealers.

Parking is free, and shuttle buses run all day to the six farm show buildings.

New York Farm Show is co-sponsored by the Northeast Equipment Dealers Association and American Agriculturist magazine. 

Meeting March 11 Focuses on Increasing Forage for Dairy Cows

One way to improve cow health and lower production costs is by increasing the forage dairy cows consume.

This is the primary topic of a March 11 New York Certified Organic meeting in Geneva.

Tom Kilcer of Advanced Ag Systems will help farmers review their planting, harvesting and feeding systems to achieve better forage and more profitable dairy production.

Kilcer will make his presentation in person at 10 a.m. at the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station Jordan Hall auditorium in Geneva, and the program will be simulcast to the Cornell Cooperative Extension offices in Oswego, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison and St. Lawrence counties.

Kilcer will share the latest research on using wide swath haylage harvesting to capture plant nutrients to support dairy cow nutrition. The end goal of using the harvesting technique to produce high quality forage cover crops is to enhance milk production.

Kilcer received two New York Farm Viability Institute grants to evaluate the use of wide swath harvesting to help New York dairies and to reduce weather-related forage crop losses.

Kilcer, with 34 years of experience as a Cornell Cooperative Extension field crops and soils educator, will also share information on rapid dry-down methods for harvesting red clover for dairy cows in his March 11 presentation.

New York Certified Organic, a group of grain and dairy farmers that has been meeting since 1994, is celebrating its 20th anniversary of sharing practical knowledge and expertise with the organic production of crops and milk.

There is no cost to attend NYCO meetings. Participants are asked to bring a dish to pass at the potluck lunch.

For more information, contact NYCO facilitator A. Fay Benson with Cornell Cooperative Extension Cortland County, (607) 753-5213,

For more information on the simulcast locations, contact CCE Allegany/Cattaraugus, Tom Parmenter: 585-268-7644, Jefferson/Lewis, Ron Kuck: 788-8450, Madison, Karen Baase: 684-3001, Oswego, JJ Schell: 963-7286, St. Lawrence, Kimberley Morrill: 379-9192.

NYCO has received support funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute.

Monday, February 17, 2014

In Search of Protein

Sure, there are lots of good sources of protein -- eggs, meat and dairy.

Check out this graphic from the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council.

Ag Secretary Writes about Passage of Farm Bill

Here is this week's column at Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack:

The 2014 Farm Bill, passed by Congress and signed last week by President Obama, strengthens the farm safety net and ensures vital nutrition assistance for hardworking children and families during tough times. 

It closes loopholes and achieves much-needed reform, saving billions of taxpayer dollars.

Those accomplishments are significant and should be commended, particularly at a time when bipartisan victories in Washington are so rare.

We have already started work on a plan to implement the new Farm Bill. However, many of its provisions are new and complex. 

As we have done every step of the way in helping to craft this legislation, we will work to keep Congress and our stakeholders informed as we identify and prioritize everything — new regulations, guidance and other activities — that will be required so that we can implement the legislation in an efficient, timely and responsible manner.

Much of the debate leading up to the passage of the Farm Bill focused on the farm safety net and the food safety net — key provisions of the legislation, to be clear. Yet as we move forward with implementation, I am struck by the myriad ways the new Farm Bill also makes small, yet critical, investments that help foster the potential in our rural communities, long underappreciated and under-realized. 

It provides resources that give us the opportunity to restructure and revitalize the rural economy in ways that, without a farm bill, were out of reach.

The new Farm Bill invests in the endless possibility to use what is already grown and raised on our farms and ranches in innovative and unexpected ways. It expands the potential to strengthen rural manufacturing, particularly of products made from renewable materials from our farms and forests. 

Rural America desperately needs those jobs, and every American benefits from our expanded competitiveness in this globally emerging market.

It also recognizes the economic opportunity inherent in the changing dynamic of consumer tastes. The new Farm Bill provides new grants and loans for entrepreneurs — many of whom are just beginning to farm — that want to break into expanding markets for organic and locally- and regionally-grown foods. 

Money spent locally very often continues to circulate locally, expanding the potential for job creation in rural small businesses and spurring economic growth across the country.

The new Farm Bill takes an innovative approach to agricultural research, establishing a new foundation that will leverage private sector funding to support groundbreaking research. 

Our farmers, ranchers and foresters are increasingly facing the pressures of a growing population and extreme weather patterns due to a changing climate. Their job security — and the future security of our food supply and our nation — depends on how well we equip them for those challenges today.

We are fortunate as a nation because we have the ability to grow and create virtually everything we need to survive. Our farmers, ranchers and foresters, and those in supporting industries, give us the freedom to be whoever and accomplish whatever we want because we don’t have to worry about where our food comes from. Indirectly, the products of their livelihoods — our food, fiber and forest products — ensure a brighter, more stable future for all of us.

That is why this Farm Bill is not just a farm bill, or a food bill, or a “business as usual” bill. 

This Farm Bill is an investment in every American, no matter where they live.

Blog Entry Blasts Chipotle and its Feelings about Agriculture

Another story about Chipotle and the way it takes on agriculture in its ads. 

This issue first came to light when farm blogger Dairy Carrie in Wisconsin blasted the chain. Check out previous posts on this blog about Dairy Carrie and her take on Chipotle.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

NPR Story on Whole Milk Keeping Us Lean

I have never been able to understand this whole milk, lowfat milk, nonfat milk discussion.

And now NPR is putting it into perspective. Some people don't drink whole milk because of the fat, but instead drink 2 percent or 1 percent, that really isn't that much different. 

Whole milk has 3.25 percent fat, while 2 percent has, well, 2 percent and so on. Not much of a difference, really.

Farmland Coming in Spring

I can't wait to see this --

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ag Literacy Week Coming Next Month

Agriculture Literacy Week is coming.

Check out this report from Bridge Street with FFA students from Tully and Erin Luchsinger Hull of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County.

By the way, Ag Literacy Week is March 17-21. And this year's book is Who Grew My Soup,? a story about a boy who won't eat his vegetable soup until he knows who grew each of the ingredients.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Love this post on Facebook from the New York Apple Association.

Happy Valentine's Day. Eat a New York apple to celebrate.

Madison County Awarded $4M Grant for Business Park

Great news for Madison County:

Empire State Development is providing Madison County with a $4 million grant to support infrastructure improvements at the Madison County ARE (Agricultural & Renewable Energy) Park. 

The state’s investment will leverage additional funding from Madison County to support the park’s transition to becoming a shovel-ready location for new businesses to locate, grow and create new economic opportunities for the region. 

Like many areas in Upstate New York, Madison County has suffered a loss of manufacturing jobs that once formed the backbone of this region’s economy. Numerous studies and surveys have shown the need for locally based support industries for agricultural producers in Madison County. 

The county is seeking to create a shovel-ready business park near Canastota that will focus on targeting and attracting agriculture and renewable energy businesses to locate and grow. The Agricultural and Renewable Energy Park will provide an economically stimulating, environmentally sound and shovel-ready development area that would be beneficial to the surrounding community.

The $4 million grant will help extend municipal water service to the park, which is critical to creating a shovel-ready site for potential businesses. Madison County plans to invest as much as $5 million in the $10.3 million project. The state funds will come from NY Works, the governor's infrastructure program which is rebuilding roads, bridges, and parks across the state.

“This is great news for Madison County and is the latest example of Governor Cuomo's continued commitment to the Central New York economy,” said Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Becker. “These critical dollars will help us continue to grow the Agricultural and Renewable Energy Park and help us attract even more jobs and opportunities. On behalf of Madison County, I would like thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and continued support.”

The Agricultural and Renewable Energy Park will use 150 acres at the county’s Department of Solid Waste landfill facility, and the state funds will help pay for extending municipal water to the park, leveraging an investment by the Department of Solid Waste to extend a municipal sewer to the landfill and business park. 

The County Industrial Development Agency will target businesses that coincide with the areas regional strengths and likely include those that produce, process, store and ship a variety of meat, seafood and agricultural products, wood products, products manufactured from recycled materials, and specialty industries. 

The businesses in the park will have access to reliable, locally generated sources of green energy —including electrical energy from the Landfill-Gas-To-Energy facility and a solar energy cap located at the Madison County Landfill.

A green-lumber drying business and commercial greenhouse have already committed to the site, creating at least 13 new jobs, while a recycling business and a company that converts plastic waste into base petroleum fuels is also set to move into the park. These additional opportunities are estimated to represent up to 30 more jobs.

The water infrastructure improvement project will also assist the neighboring Town of Lincoln, which has had water problems for nearly four decades, by bringing municipal water service within reach. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Obama Signs Farm Bill

Well, this long drawn-out saga is over.

The nation finally has a Farm Bill.

Here is what some groups are saying:

President Obama's signature on the Farm Bill ushers in a new sense of security for New York's diverse agricultural community," said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau. "New York Farm Bureau is not setting its sights on working with the USDA on the implementation of the Farm Bill. We look to assure farmers that the programs in this legislation are properly carried out in the way they were intended.

"We also find the President's 'Made in Rural America' announcement today (Friday, Feb. 7) regarding efforts to boost agricultural exports promising for New York business," Norton said. "This initiative recognizes that farming is important to rural economies of this country, providing jobs along with the food and fiber that are in demand around the globe."

The National Corn Growers Association thanked President Obama for signing the Agricultural Act of 2014 today. The Farm Bill passed the House Jan. 29 and the Senate Feb. 4.

"This new five-year farm bill means certainty and stability for farmers. It means food on the table of hungry families. And it means taxpayers will save money," said association President Martin Barbre.

If you want a full look at the Farm Bill and the journey to get it passed, go to this link at the New York Times. Then click on the story to read, including a timeline of what has happened and the story from the Associated Press called "What Is the Farm Bill?"

Good News for Yogurt Lovers and the Farmers Who Supply Yogurt Makers

Go to to see the story.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

U.S. Senate Passes Farm Bill

The U.S. Senate passed the Farm Bill today by a vote of 68-32.

Here is a statement from New York Farm Bureau:

“This is a momentous day for New York’s farmers. The reforms passed in this Farm Bill will provide a critical safety net that truly takes the diversity of New York agriculture into account like never before. The changes to crop insurance should be seen as an investment in maintaining a reliable food supply in this country when disasters strike, while also savings billions of taxpayer dollars.

The Farm Bill is also important to rural economic development. It provides funding to improve the state’s infrastructure to help increase marketing opportunities for farmers while at the same time opening up access to local food for people of all income levels. The Farm Bill also enhances conservation efforts and research programs that will improve how we farm and better protect the environment.

New York Farm Bureau appreciates the hard work and support of Senator Schumer, who voted for the bill today.  His efforts included securing additional resources to expand our state’s maple industry and providing retroactive protection to fruit growers who suffered from a devastating early frost in 2012.

We encourage the President to swiftly sign the bill and begin the process of implementing the many reforms and programs that will benefit farmers and consumers alike,” said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New York Farm Bureau Releases its 2014 Priorities

From New York Farm Bureau:

New York Farm Bureau this week issued its priorities during the 2014 legislative session in Albany -- a group of items it wants the legislature to support and pass.

Following its annual grassroots development process involving its members from 52 county Farm Bureaus across the state, New York Farm Bureau has released its state legislative public policy agenda for 2014.

1) Raise the estate tax threshold.

So much of the rural economies in upstate and Long Island depend on agriculture with nearly 200,000 jobs connected to farming, according to Farm Credit East. It is imperative farmland stay in production. 

One way to help ensure that happens from one generation to the next is to raise the estate tax threshold. New York Farm Bureau is pleased to see Gov. Andrew Cuomo agrees, proposing in his State of the State to lift the current $1 million threshold to match the federal level of $5.25 million. Currently, around 3,000 farms in the state are above the $1 million mark and may be land rich but cash poor.

“We find this will be an opportunity to help farmers transition to the next generation to continue on with the farm.  If you have a farm with about 250 acres, at $4,000 an acre and maybe 150 cows and some equipment, they are over the $1 million exemption already," said Farm Bureau President Dean Norton. 

"So for that farmer to pass along the farm to his son or daughter, they have to get under that $1 million mark or do some estate planning to make that transition. This would make it easier and much less costly to do that,” he said.

2) Phasing out the surcharge on electric bills

This is something the governor has also proposed in his tax reform package. This is essentially a 2 percent energy tax and when considering how much energy it takes to run a milking parlor or power a barn, this could be a large savings for farmers to be able to reinvest into their operation.  

3) Start a refundable investment tax credit.

NYFB members said this will encourage investment back into equipment and farms.

“For beginning and young farmers, this would be a great way to invest in their farm operations and keep them moving forward instead of struggling with all of the start-up costs,” said Norton.

4) Extend the Start-Up NY program to farms.

The Governor initiated the Start-Up NY program which allows new businesses to operate tax free for 10 years. Farm Bureau proposes extending this to new farms which would encourage more young people and beginning farmers to become involved in agriculture. This would be a benefit for every new farmer…no matter the commodity or convention.

5) Increasing funding for the Environmental Protection Fund.

Much of the investment into New York agriculture will come with working with the governor and the legislature on a budget that reflects the critical need on farms in this state.  This includes securing funding for food safety, animal health and agricultural promotion and economic development programs. 

New York Farm Bureau is also advocating for increased funding for the Environmental Protection Fund that allows our farms to take part in important water-quality and farmland protection programs.  These are imperative especially as many of our dairy farms are looking to grow in light of the yogurt boom that continues to take place in upstate NY.

“These are very critical programs to agriculture and we are looking to continue the momentum that the governor initiated in his budget,” said Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau’s Public Policy Director.

6) New York should invest in a farm-to-market transportation system.  

It is necessary for farms to have access to safe roads and bridges that can handle large trucks and farm machinery. “We can grow the best products in the world, but if we can’t get them to market, it doesn’t do us any good,” said Williams.

7) Simplify the process for establishing or expanding wine trails.

Currently, it takes a bill making its way through the legislature for any changes to be made to a trail. We believe it would be better if state agencies like the Departments of Transportation and Agriculture and Markets have the authority to oversee the changes.  It would be more efficient and would better support the wine trail system which is a big boom to tourism and our farm based wineries Upstate and on Long Island.

8) Establish a Farm E-Z Pass.

New York Farm Bureau supports this to help reduce transportation costs and facilitate moving more local food into our urban centers, especially New York City.

9) Establish and increase involvement of regional food hubs.

These are places where farmers can pool their efforts for things like storage and transportation and make it easier to get our goods into many of the green markets and urban locations.  

10) Requiring state agencies buy food from NY producers.

We also support efforts in the legislature that would require state agencies to buy 20 percent of their food from NY producers and processors. This is a great way for New York to lead by example and support those who feed the state.

11) Supporting a tax credit for locally grown donations to food banks.

The generosity of New York farmers is demonstrated each year in their participation in the “Harvest for All” program. Last year alone, nearly 9-million pounds of food was donated to food banks across the state. 

To encourage even greater participation and get more food to low-income New Yorkers who need it, New York Farm Bureau supports a tax credit for locally grown donations by farmers to food banks.  This will help offset some of the production costs while also supporting some of New York’s neediest families who are looking to put healthy food on their dinner tables.

“We look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo and the legislature to support farming in this state and our rural economies,” Norton said.