Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cornell University Awarded Food Safety Grants

Cornell University is receiving nearly $1 million in grants from the U.s. Department of Agriculture to study and research food safety issues.

Here are the two grants awarded to Cornell:

Cornell University, Ithaca
$479,764  |  Examine the significance of water films and droplets on the initial retention and attachment of foodborne pathogens to the surface of fresh produce and explore potential steps to modify conditions of the initial attachment process so that pathogens can be washed off more easily.

Cornell University
$499, 997  |  Execute a three-pronged, interdisciplinary, mechanistic approach involving engineering modeling, microfluids, and microbiology validation to study active and passive attachment and internalization at produce surfaces during exposure to contaminated water during irrigation/washing, as well as passive infiltration into produce from hydro- and vacuum-cooling.

These were part of nearly $19 million in grants announced Tuesday by USDA. The 36 food safety grants are aimed at research that will protect consumers from food issues.

Monday, March 30, 2015

New State Budget Includes Record Ag Funding

This comes from the office of state Sen. Patty Ritchie:

The new state budget includes record funding for agriculture programs designed to connect consumers with locally produced farm products, increase farmers’ yields, boost rural economies and strengthen the future of family farms.

The final budget adds more than $12 million to the governor’s original plan unveiled in January, restores budget cuts to 33 different programs, and includes funding for key components of state Sen. Patricia Ritchie’s “Grown in New York” plan to strengthen connections between farmers and consumers increasingly looking to buy locally produced foods.

“With more than 100,000 people working on 36,000 family farms, agriculture is our most important industry, and supporting farmers means a stronger economy for rural communities all across Upstate New York,” said Ritchie, chair of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee.

In addition to restoring budget cuts for programs designed to aid in research, marketing and agriculture education, the new budget adds funding for six new programs, including components of the “Grown in New York” plan. Also included is $650,000 more to expand the state’s “Young Farmers” program, first created by the Senate last year to encourage the next generation of new farmers.


Programs to help farmers market products ranging from dairy to apple, and maple syrup to award-winning New York-produced wines, among others, will benefit from new and restored budget funding. 

In addition, the budget creates new programs first outlined in the  “Grown in New York” plan to connect consumers with locally produced products, like developing a series of new farm-to-market hubs to help farmers in regions like the North Country more easily move their products to markets in New York City and other urban centers across the state ($1.064 million), new programs to bring more locally produced fruits and vegetables to schools ($250,000) and low-income seniors ($2.3 million), and expansion of the successful “Harvest NY” program to the region ($600,000).


The final budget restores funding cuts to key research programs that are already producing results in the form of increased yields and profits for farmers, helping to reduce pesticide use, and find ways to combat diseases that can decimate crops and livestock. 

The restored funding includes two programs especially important to North Country and Central NY farmers — the farmer-led New York Farm Viability Institute ($2.12 million) and Northern New York Agriculture Development Program ($600,000). Both programs are involved in key research that especially benefits dairy farmers and others in this region.


The final budget continues and expands programs tied to the “Young Farmers” plan to encourage the next generation of future farmers, including FFA, the Future Farmers of America program that has recently expanded to include new schools across the state, and support for ag educators and programs to introduce students to the farming life in local school districts.


The “Young Farmers” program is expanded with increased funding for college loan forgiveness and $1 million to fund grants (up to $50,000 each), and a new business planning program, administered through Cornell’s FarmNet program, to help beginning farmers get on their feet and ensure success.

A full list of programs funded under the State Budget Agriculture plan can be found at this link: https://www.scribd.com/doc/260374369/Record-Funding-for-NY-family-farms

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ritchie: Cuts Restored to State Ag Budget

This just posted on state Sen. Patty Ritchie's Facebook page:

Our new state budget restores cuts by the Assembly Majority and Executive, and include key provisions of my "Grown in NY" plan to boost family farms. Stay tuned for more info.

Deadline is April 7 for Choosing Crop Safety-Net Programs

News from the USDA:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today provided farm owners and producers one additional week, until April 7, to choose between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), the safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill.
The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres also will be April 7. 
Nearly 98 percent of owners already have updated yield and base acres, and 90 percent of producers have enrolled in ARC or PLC.  
This additional week will give producers a more time to have those final conversations, review their data, visit their local Farm Service Agency offices to make decisions.
If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by the deadline, the farm's current yield and base acres will be used. If a program choice of ARC or PLC is not made, there will be no 2014 crop year payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage for the 2015 through 2018 crop years. 
Producers who have an appointment at their local Farm Service Agency offices scheduled by April 7 will be able to make an election between ARC and PLC, even if their actual appointment is after April 7.
These safety-net programs provide important financial protection against unexpected changes in the marketplace.  
Online tools, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc, allow producers to explore how ARC or PLC coverage will affect their operation. 
Covered commodities under ARC and PLC include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.
Producers need to contact the Farm Service Agency by April 7. To learn more, farmers can contact their local Farm Service Agency county office. To find local offices, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sunday March 29 is Your Last Chance to Experience Maple Weekend

Just look at those pancakes
Your last chance to hit a spot for Maple Weekend is Sunday, March 29.

I mad the trip out today for pancakes and sausage at Red Schoolhouse Maple in Palermo, Oswego County. Then checked out the FFA students and their maple operation at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School, Oneida County.

Go to nysmaple.com for information.

The VVS FFA evaporator boiling away making syrup

Potsdam Farmers' Market Seeks Vendors

The Potsdam Farmers’ Market is seeking vendors for its season that begins May 9 in Ives Park.

Vendor applications can be obtained at www.thepotsdamfarmersmarket.org , under the “Become a Vendor” tab. Rules for the market are available there as well.

The market is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 31. There is also potential for a Wednesday market held at the same times.   

The pre-season meeting is at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 18 in the 2nd floor community room at the Potsdam Civic Center. All interested are welcome to attend. Vendors can hand in their application, necessary paperwork and vendor fee at that time. 

The full season vendor fee is $60 if paid by May 1, $70 if paid after May 1, $120 for double stall and $15 for a single day set-up.

Farmers, meat-producers, value-added (wine, baked goods, jams, jellies, etc.) and handmade crafters are welcome as vendors.  On-site food sales are also welcome, with proper health department standards followed. 

For any questions regarding the market, please contact Laura Popielski, Market Manager at thepotsdamfarmersmarket@gmail.com or call (716) 725-7782.

New York Companies Win at Largest Cheese Contest in the US

Great Lakes Cheese in Adams won a first place at the 2015 United States Championship Cheese Contest held March 17 through 19 in Milwaukee.

Great Lakes won the gold medal for sharp cheddar with a score of 99.5. Great Lakes also placed third gaining a bronze medal in the cheddar (two years or older) category with a score of 98.75 and placed fifth in the cheddar (one to two years old) category with a score of 98.

Also winning a gold medal was Upstate Niagara Cooperative out of West Seneca for its high protein cow's milk flavored yogurt. It scored 99.5 on its blueberry Greek yogurt. 

Upstate Niagara also placed fifth in lowfat cow's milk plain yogurt with a score of 98.05, third for its lowfat blended cow's milk flavored for its orange cream with a score of 98.4 and fourth place (score 97.85)  with its lowfat blended cow's milk flavored yogurt for its sugar cookie.

The largest cheese, butter and yogurt competition in the United States set a new record with 1,885 entries from 28 states. The 2015 United States Championship Cheese Contest has been hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association for 34 years.

A total of 32 experts in dairy product testing from 18 states worked two days to judge the entries for best cheeses, butter and yogurt. Working in teams of two, they had to sniff, taste and examine each entry before scoring the entries and awarding gold, silver and bronze medals in each category.
The following New York companies won medals:

The participating U.S. states include cheese, butter and yogurt from New York, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

The overall best of show was a Swiss wheel from Team Guggisberg, Sugarcreek Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, with a score of 98.496.  

Other New York winners were:

Provolone: Sorrento, Buffalo, mild provolone, 99.2, third place; Empire Cheese, Cuba, NY, mild provolone, 99.15, fourth place

Aged Provolone -- Empire Cheese, Cuba, 98.5, fourth place

Smoked Provolone -- Sorrento, Buffalo, smoked mild, 98.85, second place; Empire Cheese, Cuba, 98.6, fifth place

String Cheese -- Kraft Foods/Pollio Italian Cheese, Campbell, 99.35. third place

Ricotta -- Sorrento, Buffalo, whole milk based ricotta, 99.2, second place; Sorrento, Buffalo, whole milk deli whey based ricotta, 99, fourth place; and tied for fifth place, Losurdo, Heuvelton, and Sorrento, Buffalo, 98.95.

Unsalted Butter -- OATKA, Batavia, 98.6, fourth place

Mozzarella -- Sorrento, Buffalo, second place, 98.05, whole milk high moisture; Sorrento, Buffalo, third place, 97.7, whole milk low moisture

USDA to Begin Survey on Labor

From the USDA:

During the second half of April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct its biannual Agricultural Labor Survey. 

The survey will collect information about hired labor from more than 1450 northeastern farmers and ranchers.

“The beginning of the growing season is usually the perfect time to look at farm labor,” said King Whetstone, Director of the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office. “The data that farm operators provide through NASS’s Agricultural Labor Survey allows northeastern state governments and federal policy-makers to establish labor policies based on accurate information and help ensure farmers can get sufficient hired labor for their operations.”

USDA and the Department of Labor will use statistics gathered in the Agricultural Labor Survey to help establish minimum wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs, and assist legislators in determining labor policies.

In the survey, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about hired farm labor on their operations, including total number of hired farm workers, the average hours worked, and wage rates paid for the weeks of January 11-17 and April 12-18. For their convenience, survey participants have the option to respond online.

“Due to seasonal variation and despite collecting farm labor data twice a year, we publish data on a quarterly basis,” Whetstone said. “This approach helps us ensure that anyone using our data can perform more accurate analyses.”

NASS will compile, analyze and publish survey results in the Farm Labor report, to be released on May 21. All information NASS collects in this survey will be kept strictly confidential, as required by federal law. This and all other NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov.

For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office at (800) 498-1518.

Friday, March 27, 2015

New York State Fair Seeks Vegetarian Food Vendor

News from the New York State Fair:

New York State Fair officials are recruiting to fill an open space in a permanent indoor restaurant with a qualified company offering vegetarian and vegan foods and beverages, 

Acting State Fair Director Troy Waffner announced today.  Information spelling out the requirements and the process for applying has been posted on the Fair’s website at:

The space is a 20 feet by 20 feet restaurant in the southeast corner of the International Building, one of the fair’s prime destinations for food.  

The winning vendor supplies his or her own equipment and pays an annual rent, $7,160 for 2015, based on a cost per square foot. The vendor will be chosen based on the number and variety of vegetarian and vegan items on the proposed menu, with extra consideration given to those who will commit to using New York state-grown and produced ingredients and products where possible.  

A bidder must be currently in the restaurant or food service business, and have been in business for the past three years. The bidder must also have a demonstrated knowledge of preparing vegetarian and vegan food items. Applications will be accepted until May 1

The fair provides water and sewer services, electricity and trash removal. Natural gas service is available, but is the vendor’s responsibility.

Food Trucks to Compete at New York State Fair

This is way coooool.

News from the New York State Fair:

The first-ever Taste NY Food Truck Competition will premiere Sunday, Sept. 6 at the Great New York State Fair in Geddes.

This first-of-its-kind competition will see as many as 20 chefs from across the state surrounding Chevy Court with their trucks and offering samples of their most creative and tastiest offerings for fairgoers and judges.

Entrants will be required to use foods primarily grown and produced in New York state. Judges will sample each truck’s signature entrée to determine a winner of the judged portion of the competition and to rank each competitor.  

Fairgoers also will help pick a winner in a separate competition.  Samples of the competition entree will be available at each truck for $2 per sample for fairgoers.  

The entrée receiving the most votes from fairgoers, who will receive a ballot with each $2 sample they purchase, will be crowned the People’s Choice winner. 

Each winner will receive a trophy and a gift card for $750 from a New York State food supplier or distributor.  The second place finisher in the People’s Choice category will receive a trophy and a portable 3500-watt generator.

Entries will be accepted until all 20 slots have been filled.  The application form is available only on the Fair website, at http://www.nysfair.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2015-NYSF-Food-Truck-Competition-Application-and-Rules.pdf.  Food trucks will not be serving food to the general public beyond the entrée samples.

The day of competition will conclude with each truck taking part in the fair’s daily 6 p.m. parade.

The Fair Hits the Road

In the meantime, the fair will soon roll out a truck of its own. A mobile vending truck with the fair logo will spread the word of the fair at public events around the Central New York region this spring and summer, offering information about advance sale tickets to the fair along with information about the fair itself.  

At selected events, Acting Director Troy Waffner plans to drive the truck himself so the fair’s many fans can give him their suggestions personally. Fair mascots Pop and Candy will also be on hand at selected events to pose for photos and greet the fair’s youngest fans.

Appearances by the truck will be announced as they are confirmed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Apply by April 1 for DairyFAN

Next week (April 1) is the deadline to apply for the Dairy Food Advocate Network program.

Go to http://fluidsurveys.com/surveys/kerryb-rg3/2015-adadc-dairyfan-application/ to sign up and find out more about the program. 

According to the website, "DairyFAN is a year-long social media advocacy program designed for college students and young professionals who are interested in engaging in the growing public dialogue about our farms and our food."

Beef Seminars Coming Up This Week

Two spring beef seminars are coming up later this week:

1) Held by Cornell Cooperative Extension, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26, Cornell Cooperative Extension Learning Farm, 2043 Route 68, Canton. To register, call or email Betsy Hodge, 379-9192 or bmf9@cornell.edu.

2) Held by Cornell Cooperative Extension, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, USDA Building, 151 Finney Blvd., Malone. To register, call or email Diane Dumont, 518-483-7403 or drd9@cornell.edu.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New York Farmers Oppose Hike in Minimum Wage

From New York Farm Bureau:

During a conference call today with reporters, New York farmers spoke out against plans to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 or higher. 

The farmers stated the increase would strain farmer income and place farmers in this state at a further competitive disadvantage.

New York Farm Bureau has compared other minimum wage rates across the country, including those states New York directly competes with in the dairy industry.  

California is the only large dairy state with a similar minimum wage.  California stands at $9.  However, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Idaho are all at the federal standard of $7.25. 

But this isn’t just about rising wage rates for those earning the minimum. Farmers in New York routinely pay well above current rate. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farms in New York already pay an average agriculture wage rate of $12.15.  Farmers said increasing the New York minimum wage would lift all wages on their farms.  

They said a worker, who already earns a higher hourly rate based on experience and time on the farm, would also expect a bump in salary to match. 

Sandie Prokop, a dairy farmer with Crossbrook Farm in Schoharie County, estimates a $1.75 wage increase and additional payroll taxes for her six employees would add an additional $44,354 to her payroll. This is at a time when the income her family’s farm receives for milk has dropped dramatically in recent months. 

Because of dropping milk prices set by the federal milk marketing order, she said her milk income has fallen more than $40,000 in the first two months of the year and expects the March check to be even lower.  Prokop said they have already cut costs where they can and do not know where else to trim should labor costs climb again.

“You can’t give one employee a raise and not another,” said Prokop. “It’s a significant amount of money without any time to prepare. We are price takers and not price makers.  We do not have that $45,000 available. The choices become very dark and very serious for everyone that is milking cows and farming in New York.”

Brian Reeves of Reeves Farms in Lysander in Onondaga County, runs a vegetable and fruit farm, including a U-pick operation. He said this increase would drive up wages across the board for his employees, estimating a $10.50 rate and added payroll taxes would cost his farm an additional $50,000 a year.

“This isn’t a story of “gee, we have minimum wage workers and can’t give them another quarter.” We are already paying well above it. Our entire payroll creeps up when the minimum wage goes up and has a profound impact on your bottom line,” said Reeves. 

“Where the rub is for me is I compete with Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, states that typically have fewer expenses to farm than we do in New York,” Reeves said.

New York Farm Bureau has continually supported keeping the state minimum wage linked with that of the federal minimum wage, as our farmers are competing in a global marketplace. Farmers can’t pass along the increases to wholesalers, processors and grocery stores because of competition from farms in other states and countries.

“Farmers can’t simply raise our prices because labor prices are going up.  This is not a wise strategy to support agriculture or business in the State of New York,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

New York Farm Bureau Officials to Discuss Minimum Wage Increase

From New York Farm Bureau:

New York Farm Bureau will host a press conference call at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 18 to discuss the minimum wage proposals in Albany. 

During the call with reporters, Farm Bureau President Dean Norton will highlight the analysis of wage rates on farms in New York and how they compare to other states. In addition, two farmers will discuss the financial impacts to their individual farms should lawmakers approve another minimum wage increase.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

National Agriculture Day is March 18

The Agriculture Council of America wants everyone to join in celebrating National Ag Today, Wednesday March 18.

Check out these two videos for more information.

Also go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXPczJphJZ4

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Learn About New Dietary Guidelines at March 18 Event

Three Cornell University officials will discuss the recently released new dietary guidelines for Americans at an event March 18.

Dr. Tom Brenna, professor of Human Nutrition, Food Science and Technology at Cornell University and member of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Dr. Patrick J. Stover, professor and director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell and Dr. David R. Just, director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral
Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, will be part of a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. from noon to 1 p.m.

 Some of the questions the panel will address:
  • What is new in this year’s guidelines and why?  Why, for example, are eggs and coffee now OK?
  • What do we know this year about nutrition that we didn’t know last year?
  • What do the new dietary guidelines say about the role of nutrition in mental health? 
  • How will consumer behavior adjust to the new dietary guidelines?
  • Will the new dietary guidelines impact school lunches?
  • With all the nutritional information out there, how do consumers know what or whom to believe?
  • How will the food supply chain be impacted by the new dietary guidelines?
To check out the new dietary guidelines, go to http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015.asp.

Agriculture Literacy Week Begins Monday

By Debra J. Groom
Watertown Daily Times
The book for this year's Ag Literacy Week

The beautiful story of a young girl caring for her animals and then using their fleece to make a tapestry will be read to second-graders throughout the north country during Agriculture Literacy Week, March 16 through 20.

The featured book this year is called “Weaving the Rainbow,” by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Stephanie Anderson.

Now in its 10th year, Ag Literacy Week is sponsored by the New York Ag in the Classroom program. During Ag Literacy Week, volunteer readers go into second-grade classrooms and read that year’s chosen book about a certain aspect of farming.

The elementary schools are given copies of the book and teachers and the readers discuss the book with the students.

Volunteers who go into the classrooms to read the book usually are somehow connected with agriculture — such as dairy princesses, master gardeners, farmers, Cooperative Extension agents, etc. But anyone can volunteer to read.

Ag Literacy Week Coordinators in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties still are seeking more readers to help out in local schools.

St. Lawrence County coordinator Betsy Hodge said she is being helped by FFA members in the Gouverneur, Canton and Edwards-Knox school districts. “Anyone else who wants to get involved should call or email Bobbi-Jo at our office,” Mrs. Hodge said. The phone number is 379-9192 and the email is bmr37@cornell.edu

To be a reader in Lewis County, email coordinator Jennifer Karelus at jlbeckman34@yahoo.com.

“My volunteers and I will be reading in all the elementary schools in Lewis County, including Harrisville, Lowville Academy, Beaver River, River Valley Mennonite School, Glenfield Elementary, Port Leyden Elementary and West Leyden Elementary,” Mrs. Karelus said. She also said any teachers who would like to have a reader come to their class should drop her an email. 

In Jefferson County, coordinator Sue Gwise said she has lined up readers and 43 classrooms for Ag Literacy Week. Readers will be visiting Belleville Henderson, Antwerp Elementary in the Indian River school district, General Brown Elementary and Dexter Elementary in the General Brown school district, Lyme, Augustinian Academy in Carthage, Wilson and Mannsville Manor elementaries in South Jefferson, Immaculate Heart Central Elementary in Watertown and Ohio Street, North, Starbuck, Sherman Street and Knickerbocker elementaries in the Watertown city district. Readers from Jefferson County also will visit the Copenhagen school district.

Both Mrs. Hodge and Mrs. Karelus said in addition to having volunteers read the book, they also like to line up others to come to the classes to beef up what the children learn.

For example, the year the Ag Literacy Week book was about honey and beekeeping, a beekeeper visited with her bees, and some readers came dressed in full beekeeper gear. This year, the coordinators hope to have some people who can use a spinning wheel to spin yarn, some fleece recently shorn from a sheep to show to the children and a finished product (a knitted sweater or mittens) so the children can see that the fleece from the sheep was used to make the article of clothing.

Mrs. Hodge said demonstrations like this make it easier for children to learn about what is done on a farm and how farming affects them.

She remembers the year the Ag Literacy Week book was about poultry. She said the children learned about raising chickens and how chickens lay eggs.

“We talked about what eggs are used for,” Mrs. Hodge said. “Then in a moment of a light bulb going off, one little girl said, ‘Then without chickens, we wouldn’t have eggs to make chocolate chip cookies.’ This is the coolest part of this experience.”

When reading “Weaving the Rainbow,” children will learn all the steps to making a woolen or woven item, from shearing, carding, spinning and dying.

Fiber production is an important part of agriculture in New York state, although not a huge part of the industry. A few thousand farms in the state raise goats, sheep, alpacas, llamas and rabbits and take the fleece or hair from those animals to make fiber and, eventually, clothing or woven items.

Some of the previous topics covered by books during Ag Literacy Week are poultry; maple sugaring; nutrition and knowing your farmer; vegetable and fruit growing; apples; tree growing; bees and honey; and dairy and making cheese.

For more information, go to www.agclassroom.org/ny/programs/literacy.htm.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Wine" About the Winter at March 21 Event

Anyone fed up with this winter will have a chance to 'wine' about it at the upcoming "Wine About Winter" Festival in Syracuse.

The festival will be Saturday, March 21 at the OnCenter. Wines can be sampled from Pazdar Winery, Half Moon Cellars, Ashley Lynn Winery, Lakeland Winery, Merrit Estates, Thousand Islands Winery, Vetter Vineyards, Montezuma Winery, Miles Wine Cellars, Villa Verona Vineyard, Crooked Lake Winery and more. 

Tickets are on sale at all Wegmans grocery stores or at this website: www.syracusewinefest.com

Monday Deadline to Purchase Crop Disaster Coverage

From the Farm Service Agency:

Producers have until Monday, March 16, to purchase coverage through the Noninsurable Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). 

NAP provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters.

“Purchasing a crop insurance policy is an easy way for producers to mitigate risk,” said James Barber, state director of the Farm Service Agency. “The past few years have shown that natural disasters can severely impact an otherwise successful operation.”

In order to meet eligibility requirements for NAP, crops must be noninsurable, commercially-produced agricultural commodity crops for which the catastrophic risk protection level of crop insurance is not available. 

If the Risk Management Agency (RMA) offers coverage for a crop in the county, then NAP coverage is not available for that crop.

In the event of a natural disaster, NAP provides catastrophic level  coverage based on the amount of loss that exceeds 50 percent of expected production at 55 percent of the average market price. 

The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes additional coverage levels ranging from 50 percent to 65 percent of production, in 5 percent increments, at 100 percent of the average market price. 

Additional, or “buy-up” coverage must be elected by a producer by the application closing date. Producers who elect additional coverage must pay a premium in addition to the service fee. Crops intended for grazing are not eligible for additional coverage.

Producers must file the application and service fee by the March 16 deadline. The service fee for NAP is the lesser of $250 per crop or $750 per producer per administrative county, not to exceed a total of $1,875 for a producer with farming interests in multiple counties.

The 2015 NAP application deadline date for the 2015 coverage is March 16 for Spring Seeded Crops (artichokes, beans, broccoflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, buckwheat, cabbage, calaloo, canary melon, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, sweet corn, crenshaw melons, cucumbers, eggplant, gourds, honeydew, hops, Jerusalem artichokes, kohlrabi, Korean golden melon, millet, okra, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, rutabaga, safflower, sesame, sorghum forage, soybeans, squash, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, watermelon, yams).

For more information on sales closing dates and NAP, contact your local FSA office: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=ny&agency=fsa

New Alfalfa from Cornell University Combats Pests

This information is from Cornell University:

Alfalfa snout beetle
Dairy and other livestock farmers in the northern U.S. have three new alfalfa options this growing season – all pioneered by Cornell University researchers as a way to combat devastating pests, increase yields and improve forage quality.

Developed by Donald Viands, a professor of plant breeding and genetics in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University, along with senior research associate Julie Hansen, and research support specialist Jamie Crawford, these new varieties were grown in Cornell greenhouses and tested for resistance in farm fields across the state.

“The broader implications on agriculture revolve mostly around livestock producers, especially in the dairy industry, being able to economically produce forage for feed,” Viands said. “Higher forage yield and quality, combined with multiple disease and insect resistances, enable forage to be produced more economically, thus enhancing economic vitality of livestock operations.”

The first variety, SW 9558SBR, provides resistance to the alfalfa snout beetle, which can cripple root systems. Viands said this project was a collaborative effort among plant scientists Elson Shields and Tony Testa in the Department of Entomology at Cornell, extension educators and farmers.

In trials, researchers have found this variety provides a half-ton increase in yield per acre.

The developers said seed companies are interested in selling SW 9558SBR to combat the snout beetle following a dramatic increase in the insect’s population over the past decade. The alfalfa snout beetle, currently confined to northern New York state, has the ability to spread to surrounding states and Canada.

“It’s easy to overlook this problem,” said Hansen. “Beetles burrow in hay bales and if only one insect gets transported, populations can grow rapidly.”

A second new alfalfa variety, SW 315LH, combats the potato leafhopper – an insect Hansen called “the most furious pest on alfalfa in all of North America.” The pest does not overwinter but arrives each year from the south carried by early spring thunderstorms. While the insect is found throughout the central and northern United States, Hansen said SW 315LH is the first potato leafhopper-resistant variety of alfalfa that is well-adapted for New York.

The third variety, SW 215CR, is geared to bolstering New York’s alfalfa cultivation and is the culmination of a project spearheaded by the late Royse Murphy, professor emeritus of plant breeding. This “creeping rooted” variety helps alfalfa grow in adverse conditions because its root system swells and grows laterally.

“Creeping rooted is not really a new trait, but Murphy successfully bred it into Northeast conditions,” said Viands. “This variety will be effective in New York state and surrounding states, building pasture longevity.”

All varieties are available to farmers through the New York-based seed company Seedway, with limited availability of SW 315LH and SW 215CR this spring. Seeds are available to farmers throughout the northern United States and may be made available to Canadian farmers in the future. 

Hansen said the team has had early feedback indicating both higher yields and healthier plants.
“The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is unique for doing this type of work,” said Viands. “Through collaboration with researchers, extension educators and farmers, we can help advance the land-grant mission throughout the state.”

These varieties have been ongoing, collaborative projects for years and are funded primarily by Federal Hatch Funds through the Cornell University Agriculture Experiment Station as well as the Northern New York Agriculture Development Program and New York Farm Viability Institute.

New York State Senate Budget Adds Money for Agriculture

The state budget that has come out of the state Senate includes an additional $20 million for agriculture.

State Sen. Patricia Ritchie, chair of the Senate agriculture committee, said the additional money includes full support for her “Grown in New York” plan that links consumers and local farms and preserves the future of family farming in the state.

The senate’s budget plan (S.4203) increases support for agriculture by more than $20 million above the governor’s proposal. 

Included is additional funding for programs that have proven critical to the success of farmers in Central and Northern New York, including restoration of funding cuts to the well-regarded Farm Viability Institute and the Northern New York Agriculture Development Program, as well as for research and promotion of key farm products, from apples to dairy, maple syrup to onions.

The restorations and new funding are more than five times the amount included in the Assembly’s agriculture plan (A.6003), which restored about half of the cuts in the governor's budget.

The senate’s budget also includes new funding to expand the Senate’s “Young Farmers” initiative, a 2014 program designed by Ritchie, to encourage new careers in agriculture and to address a looming crisis facing agricultur when today's aging farmers begin to retire.

Below are some programs that are funded, with governor's budget amount followed by senate amount and then total in senate budget. A final budget is due April 1.

New York Farm Viability Institute: $400,000.....$1.5 million........$1.9 million

FFA:    $192,000.......$700,000,,,,....,,,$892,000

Maple Producers Association:  0..........$200,000..............$200,000

Apple Growers Association: $206,000............$544,000..............$750,000

Northern New York Agricultural Development: 0......$600,000..........$600,000

Berry Growers:    0..............$320,000.............$320,000

Christmas Tree Farmers: 0............$100,000...........$100,000

EEE-mosquito control: 0..............$175,000..............$175,000 

Pro-Dairy: $822,000..............$378,000          $1.2 million

Core Diagnostic Laboratory: $4,425,000.......$1 million....$5,425,000

Barley and Hops research: 0............$160,000.............$160,000

Integrated Pest Management: $500,000........$550,000............$1.05 million

FarmNet: $384,000.............$691,000.............$1.075 million

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

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Event March 12 to Tout Southern Tier Ag

Officials will gather at 9 a.m. March 12 to announce plans for the Southern Tier Agricultural Economic Development Initiative.

The $30 million plan is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed 2015-16 state budget. The new initiative will help farmers and agribusinesses in the region grow, create jobs and opportunities in the region.

Attending the event will be state Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball, Broome County Executive Debra A. Preston and Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County Victoria Giarrantano.

The event will be at the Cooperative Extension office on Upper Front Street, Binghamton.