Wednesday, May 27, 2015

More than 1,100 FFA Members Learn About Agriculture, Leadership at FFA Convention

From Morrisville State College:

More than 1,100 high school students came to Morrisville State College earlier this month for the annual State FFA Convention.

While there, they learned about farm-grown biodiesel, made a fence out of pine logs, figured out how to wire a circuit, and had the chance to climb a 120-foot turbine tower. They also gained a better understanding about leadership, personal growth, career success and the agricultural industry.

Even more commanding than the blue corduroy jackets with gold lettering -- widely recognized FFA-member attire -- was the enthusiasm they brought to campus. Hailing from as far away as Arkansas, Utah, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin, they came to share ideas and camaraderie and to learn more about agriculture. 
The convention, which helps the next generation of agricultural leaders reach their goals, featured a line-up of motivational and informational presentations. Students also had the opportunity to explore a career show, attend leadership and career workshops and view an array of exhibits.
“This convention was such a success thanks to so many people,” said Chip Ax, host site coordinator and Morrisville State College collegiate FFA adviser.

Morrisville State College gave them a ‘realistic college experience’ and showcased what Morrisville has to offer,” Ax said. “Morrisville State College was an incredible partner for our convention,” said Juleah Tolosky, NY FFA executive secretary. 
“From lodging and meals to real-life settings for career development events, workshops and tours, the facilities and support available to us made the convention an incredible experience.”
Benjamin Ballard, Morrisville's assistant professor of renewable energy, hosted a biodiesel workshop which allowed students to learn the process of extracting oil from locally grown sunflowers, test the oil and then make their own biodiesel.
A half-day workshop hosted by Philip Hofmeyer, assistant professor of renewable energy, provided information about tower climbing for small wind systems and the opportunity for participants to climb a 120-foot-tall turbine tower at the Morrisville State College Dairy Complex.
A. J. Fletcher, from the Cobleskill-Richmondville school district, learns about wiring at a career development contest held during the State FFA convention at Morrisville State College.
Others learned how to make their animals look better in the show ring with a seminar that gave them hands-on experience clipping live animals and even provided a top-line demonstration.
"It's been a great learning experience for me," said A.J. Fletcher, from the Cobleskill-Richmondville school district. "Today, I got to wire a 120-volt circuit and yesterday, I learned all about diesel motors and emissions. It's all so educational." 
Creed Ossont, 13, of Otselic Valley, was among those attending a tree climbing workshop presented by Rebecca Hargrave, assistant professor of environmental sciences. It's a little tricky," he said as he twisted rope into a knot that he planned to use later to climb a tree.

Many took advantage of the wide array of activities offered throughout the three-day event, including campus and industry tours, a performance by country artists, the Beadle Brothers, and competitions that tested their knowledge of subjects such as agricultural communications, veterinary science, agricultural issues, marketing plan and food science.
Speakers included Ryan Porter, inspirational author of “Make Your Own Lunch;” Victoria Maloch, National FFA secretary from Arkansas; and Tracee Schiebel, of Vernon, Miss Mohawk Valley 2015. 
Additional guests included state FFA officers from nine other states including Utah, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Oregon, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
There were numerous recreational opportunities including a Tractor U-Pull and additional activities like ice skating, a talent show, a career fair and an antique tractor exhibit. 
Most attendees earned their way competing at local, regional, and sub-state levels. The top students from the state convention will go on to represent New York and compete at the national competition. 

FFAs from the following New York schools participated in the convention:
Here are the New York school district FFA chapters that participated in the FFA Convention:
Albion High School
Alexandria Central School
Argyle Central School
Beaver River
Belleville Henderson Central School
Canton Central School
Career and Technical Center at Belmont
Carthage Central School
Cassadaga Valley Central
Cattaraugus-Little Valley
Cayuga Onondaga BOCES
Cazenovia Central School
Chateaugay Central School
CiTi -Center for Instruction,Technology & Innovation
Clymer Central School
Cobleskill-Richmondville High School
Fillmore Central School
Franklinville Central School
Genesee Valley
Gouverneur Central School
Granville Central High School
Greenville Central School District
Greenwich High School
Greater Southern Tier BOCES — Bush Campus
Hamilton Central School
Hartford Central School
Indian River High School
John Bowne High School
Lowville Academy and Central School
Madison Central School
Marcus Whitman
Medina Central School District
Moravia Junior-Senior High School
Northern Adirondack
Northwest Technical Center
Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central Schools
Ormsby Educational Center
Otselic Valley Central School
Oxford Academy & Central School
Penn Yan Academy
Pine Plains
Randolph Central
Salem Central School
Schoharie Valley
Sharon Springs
Sherman Central School
Sidney Central Schools
South Jefferson High School
South Lewis High School
Southern Cayuga Central School
Springville-Griffith Institute
Stockbridge Valley
TST Career and Tech
Tully Central School
Unadilla Valley Central School
Warwick Valley
Wilson Tech at Huntington
Wilson Tech HHC FFA
Washington Saratoga Warren Hamilton Essex BOCES Southern Adirondack
WSWHE BOCES, F. Donald Myers Education Center

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Grants Available to Help Farmers' Markets Accept SNAP Payments

From the USDA:

Up to $3.3 million in competitive funding is available to support the ability of farmers' markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

These grants will help expand SNAP  participants' access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods found at farmers' markets, while supporting the nation's farmers and producers.

Applications to apply for the grants are due June 18. Grant funds will be awarded in September. For further information about the grant application, visit

"We have seen an unprecedented growth in the number of farmers' markets accepting SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards in the past six years," said Kevin Concannon, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary of Agriculture. 

"These awards support the markets that may need administrative help in implementing and managing EBT service and informing customers that they can use their SNAP benefits at farmers markets," he said.

He also said there are more than 6,200 farmers' markets and direct marketing farmers authorized to accept SNAP nationwide – an eightfold increase since the beginning of this administration. In fiscal year 2014, about $18.7 million in SNAP benefits were used at farmers' markets, an increase of 7.5 percent over 2013. 

The Farmers Market SNAP Support Grants will range from $15,000 to $250,000 and must be designed to increase SNAP client accessibility and participation at farmers' markets, and support the establishment, expansion, and promotion of SNAP EBT services at farmers markets.

Friday, May 22, 2015

New York State Fair Selects Vegan-Vegetarian Vendor

The first vegan-vegetarian menu is coming to the New York State Fair this year.

Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner said Syracuse’s Strong Hearts Café was chosen from four proposals to provide food that would appeal to vegans and vegetarians. 

The restaurant’s stand will be in the International Building, which is next to the State Police exhibit at the fair.

“We are thrilled to have an operator of the quality and commitment of the Strong Hearts team as part of the family of vendors at the State Fair,” Waffner said. “I know this will be a home run for fairgoers, who come to the fair to find great new foods to taste.”

In addition to serving 100 percent vegan fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Strong Hearts offers more than 40 milkshakes at its popular restaurant on East Genesee Street in Syracuse and its satellite location on the Syracuse University hill.

The restaurant will offer some of its milkshake lineup at the fair and will create a new milkshake especially for the fair.
Strong Hearts’ menu also will include smoothies, salads, sandwiches, wraps and side dishes. And, in keeping with state fair tradition, will offer a deep-fried delicacy — vegan chicken wings.

“People are ready for these fun and healthy alternatives,” said Strong Hearts co-owner Joel Capolongo. “We know what people like and want, and we’re ready to prove it to the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Great New York State Fair.  I know fairgoers are going to love this food.”

The effort to find a vegan/vegetarian food vendor is part of the fair’s ongoing effort to diversify its food choices. As openings occur in food vending spots, the fair seeks new vendors with diverse menus.

Surveys of fairgoers find year after year that the number one reason they go to the fair is for the food. There are about 200 food vendors at the New York State Fair.

The New York State Fair runs from Thursday, Aug. 27, to Monday, Sept. 7.

Onondaga County Will Choose New Dairy Princess May 29

The Onondaga County dairy princess for 2015 will be crowned at an event from 7 to 9 p.m. May 29 at the Tully Train Station.

The event, put on by the Onondaga County Dairy Promotion Committee, will include dinner with Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 5 to 11 and under age 5 are free.

Please RSVP by May 26 by calling Jean Reed at 683-5409 or Trisha Rohe at 492-1510.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Nineteen Farm Businesses Receive State Grants

From New York State Ag and Markets:

The New Farmers Grant Fund is providing more than $610,000 in grants to help support new and early-stage agricultural businesses across New York state. 

Nineteen businesses were awarded grants Wednesday, May 20. The grant fund, enacted in the 2014-15 budget, will be used to assist early-stage farmers and encourage them to consider farming as a career, adding to the continued growth of New York’s agricultural sector. 

This money will allow these farmers to employ the use of innovative agricultural techniques on commercial farm operations throughout the state.
The award recipients, by region, are:
Western New York
· H & H Meadows, Cattaraugus County: $43,219 · Providence Creek Farm, Erie County: $15,104
Southern Tier
· Painted Goat Farm, Otsego County: $29,121 · Mauer's Mountain Farms, Delaware County: $50,000
Finger Lakes
· Silver Thread Vineyard, Seneca County: $20,123
Central New York
· Main Street Farms, Cortland County: $33,000 · New Moon Farms, Madison County: $50,000 · Common Thread CSA, Madison County: $23,969
Mohawk Valley
· Arabeth Farm, Herkimer County: $50,000 · Falls Pride Dairy, Oneida County: $32,765

North Country
· Blue Pepper Farm, Essex County: $34,000 · Full and By Farm, Essex County: $18,576 · Fledging Crow Vegetables, Essex County: $37,248
Hudson Valley
· Alewife Farm, Dutchess County: $16,332 · Yellow Bell Farm, Dutchess County: $50,000 · Raven & Boar, Columbia County: $50,000 · Ironwood Farm, Columbia County: $17,748
Long Island
· Condzella Hops, Suffolk County: $17,009 · Browder's Birds, Suffolk County: $22,045

Empire State Development, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, is administering the fund and has received more than 100 applications for the program. 

Projects were scored competitively based on specific criteria, including demonstration of project readiness. Grant funds will be used for project costs associated with the expansion of production, construction of farm buildings, purchase of equipment and seed, or upgrades to increase efficiency and boost production. 

“I couldn’t be happier with the number of applications that were submitted for the New Farmers Grant Fund, indicating there is truly an excitement around agriculture in New York state," said Ag and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball. 

"The next generation of farmers are passionate and driven, and have the opportunity to use innovative solutions to expand their operations. With some assistance from New York state, these farmers will now be able to grow, benefiting the agriculture economy for years to come,” Ball said.

Governor Cuomo and the legislature committed an additional $1 million in the 2015-2016 New York State Budget to support a second round of the New Farmers Grant Fund program in an effort to continue to expand New York State’s agriculture industry.

“Having access to capital to either start or grow a farm is one of the greatest challenges facing new farmers today, and today's announcement will help the recipients clear that hurdle," said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau. "Ultimately, these grants are an investment into New York agriculture. The farms support their local, rural economies upstate and on Long Island and will contribute to the state's rich agricultural history."

Report: School Cafeteria Vendor Collaborates with Humane Society of the US

Interesting story.

What do you all think?

Here is the original blog entry from the Humane Society of the United States President Wayne Pacelle.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Some Regulatory Burdens Being Lessened for Farmers in New York

New initiatives were announced Tuesday May 19 to streamline regulatory burdens placed on farmers in New York. 

The first-ever Strategic Interagency Task Force on Lessening Obstacles to Agriculture identified new opportunities for improving the regulations for pesticide registration and certification without compromising current environmental protections. 

Additional regulatory changes for the benefit of New York agriculture as a result of the Task Force will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
The Task Force is comprised of leadership from state government and representatives from the agriculture industry. It met five times during 2014 to develop recommendations to streamline the regulatory process so the state’s agricultural economy to grow. 

During these meetings, farmers identified concerns on a variety of current regulations and posed them to the task force, which responded with the following solutions:
Easier Pesticide Registration Process In response to feedback from farmers, the Department of Environmental Conservation improved its pesticide product registration processes by scheduling pre-application meetings with registrants, reducing potential delays. It has also improved notification of new pesticide registrations to applicators and distributors.
Faster Recertification Process for Pesticide Applicators Farmers using pesticides are required to be certified as private pesticide applicators and take either continuing education courses or a recertification exam every five years to remain current. The Department of Environmental Conservation now tracks applicator certification status in a new database, which improves the renewal notice process. Later phases will allow farmers to view and update their own information online.
Simplify Categories for Pesticide Applicators New York State has seven private pesticide certifications. To make it easier for farmers to diversify the commodities they grow, the Department of Environmental Conservation now allows an applicant to request to switch their category, in most cases, and will propose consolidating the categories to simplify certification requirements.
"Based on these recommendations, the Department of Environmental Conservation has identified actions that will reduce the regulatory burdens on farmers and help them use approved products without weakening environmental protections," said state DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens.

Industry members of the Task Force are as follows:
· Jeff Williams, Director of Public Policy, New York Farm Bureau
· Jim Bittner, President and General Manager, Singer Farms, Appleton, NY
· Ken Schmitt, retired vegetable farmer, Melville, NY
· Brian Reeves, co-owner, Reeves Farms, Baldwinsville, NY
· Dave Fisher, Owner, Mapleview Dairy, Madrid, NY
· Tim Stanton, Owner, Stantons Feura Farm and Markets, Feura Bush, NY
· Tonya Van Slyke, Executive Director, Northeast Dairy Producers Association
· Karin Bump, Professor, Equine Studies Business & Management Program, Cazenovia College
· Jeff Fetter, President of Scolaro, Fetter, Grizanti, McGough & King, P.C

State agencies taking part in the Task Force are as follows:
· New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
· New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
· New York State Department of Labor
· New York State Department of Transportation
· New York State Public Service Commission
· New York State Department of Health
· New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
· Empire State Development
· New York State Department of Tax and Finance
· State Liquor Authority

Lively Run Goat Dairy Receives State Award

Lively Run Goat Dairy, in  Interlaken, which sells many of its artisanal cheese at Wegmans, recently received the 2015 New York State Agricultural Business of the Year award. 

The dairy was recognized by the state Small Business Development Center for expanding its cheese plant, adding products to its line and promoting its business with a tasting room and retail store. Marketing Director Katie Shaw said the business's net income increased about 450 percent with all the improvements.

Lively Run Goat Dairy consists of French Alpines and Swiss Sanaans goats. Their milk is used make 12 different goats' milk cheeses. 

Lively Run also makes three varieties of cows' milk cheese and is working on a new cows' milk Swiss.
of French Alpines and Swiss Sanaans.
of French Alpines and Swiss Sanaans.
of French Alpines and Swiss Sanaans.
of French Alpines and Swiss Sanaans.
ur herd consists of French Alpines and Swiss Sanaans. - See more at:
ur herd consists of French Alpines and Swiss Sanaans. - See more at:

Avian Flu Ditches All Fowl Competitions at Fairs in NYS

From the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has issued an order banning all live fowl competitions at the New York State Fair and at all county fairs in New York.

The order is the direct result of the continuing spread of strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the Midwest. 

“Avian influenza has not yet been detected in New York state, but it is a very serious threat to poultry and all breeds of fowl and is continuing to spread," said Ag and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball. 

"Despite the efforts of the best poultry health experts in North America, we do not fully understand the cause of the rapid spread of this virus. This commonsense step will help limit the spread of the influenza to other farms and chickens,” Ball said.

The ban covers all breeds of fowl, including chickens, pigeons, turkeys, pheasants, guinea fowl, bantam poultry, geese and ducks. Exhibitors who have already registered fowl for the 2015 New York State Fair will be contacted and will receive a refund of their entry fees.

“This is a disappointment to us as well as to fairgoers and our exhibitors, who look forward to this competition every year. But we believe people understand that we are stewards of the animals in our care and I know they understand that we’re doing what’s best for everyone, and especially for the birds,” said Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner.

The State Fair has already made plans to fill the space in the Poultry Barn normally used for displaying chickens with rabbits and cavies, and the daily rooster crowing contest will be replaced by a rabbit hopping demonstration on seven days. There will be a special demonstration on Tuesday, Sept. 1 of combing and cutting fur from angora rabbits and spinning the fur into yarn to make hats and mittens.

The Rooster Crowing Competition is one of the highlights of each day at the fair. The winners from each day of competition would square off at the end of the fair's run.

While the current strains of avian influenza circulating in the Midwest are extraordinarily deadly to birds, experts stress that the H5N2 and H5N8 strains are not a threat to humans. Officials also stress that chicken and eggs are safe to eat. 

The ban extends to all chartered county fairs and youth fairs in New York state. There are 45 county fairs and 6 chartered youth shows for the fair season that runs from June through October. 

“We believe the public will be very receptive to this. They know that we want to do the right thing.  We want to do what we can to prevent the spread of this disease to our local farms,” said Doug Hanno, President of the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs and an official of the Lewis County Fair.     

Last year, sows with piglets were banned from the State Fair due to a relatively new virus known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has a high mortality rate among piglets.

Several states have banned poultry competitions and exhibitions at fairs, including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Minnesota. Ohio has banned poultry entries from states affected by the virus outbreak and may consider a complete ban on competitions and displays.

Beef Tours Begin Today

From the New York Beef Industry Council:

The New York Beef Industry Council “Farm to Fork” tours begin today in the state.

The tours are an opportunity to connect producers to consumers as part of Beef Month, held each May in New York state. 

Dozens of representatives from the retail food and restaurant industries, as well as culinary instructors and dieticians, have signed up for a Farm-to-Fork tour this week, which will provide an educational opportunity for consumers to learn more about the growing beef industry in New York state and encourage consumers to know more about where their food is coming from.

“There has been increased demand for locally grown beef over the last few years. These tours will give consumers a window into cattle farm operations across Upstate New York and the dedicated farmers behind them," said state Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball. 

"Consumers want to know where there food is coming from and these tours will help restaurant owners and retail establishments learn more about the products they’re selling and better understand the importance of the local beef industry to New York state’s agricultural economy as a whole,” he said.

The tours will take place in the Hudson Valley, Capital Region, Central New York and the Finger Lakes Region. All events will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the following locations:

        Tuesday, May 19 – Millbrook, NY/ Walbridge Farms (Hudson Valley)
        Wednesday, May 20 – Westerlo, NY/ Golden Acres (Capital Region)
        Thursday, May 21 – Earlville, NY/ Drover Hill Farm (Central NY)
        Friday, May 22 – Medina, NY / SK Hereford (Finger Lakes)

In New York state, there are more than 13,559 cattle farms with 1.45 million cattle supplying nutritious, wholesome beef to consumers. These farms contribute to New York State’s economy by generating more than $294 million in sales. 

Thousands of people — from cattle producers and feed manufacturers to equipment dealers and food marketers — play a role in bringing beef from pasture to plate. 

"Our goal is to educate influencers about the beef industry in New York state and we hope in turn they will spread the message about beef production in the state,” said Jean O’Toole, director of public relations for the New York Beef Industry Council. 

“We want them to have a better understanding about all the segments of our industry and the types and brands of beef that our offered to their consumers. New York state beef producers are proud to be able to offer a variety of beef choices and proud to raise the safest beef in the world,” she said. 

For more information about May Beef Month tours, please visit:

Soon You Might See Walnut and Birch Syrups on that Breakfast Table

Walnut tree
From the office of state Sen. Patty Ritchie:

Legislation has been passed aimed at tapping into the potential of the state’s many walnut and birch trees for making syrup.

State Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, chair of the state Senate Agriculture Committee, said according to researchers, there are 22 types of trees that can be tapped for syrup, with the most common in New York state -- after maple -- being black walnut and birch.  

In recent years, Cornell University has been working to help maple producers explore the use of these trees to expand and add value to their businesses, and extend the season for “sugar makers,” as birch and walnut saps typically run after maple stops flowing. 

Birch tree
“We’ve seen the popularity of maple products explode in recent years and while there’s still room for the industry to grow, there’s also untapped resources contained in the millions of other trees throughout our state, namely birch and walnut trees,” Ritchie said.   

“This legislation will help us to build upon the success of New York’s maple industry, expand markets for syrup producers and help to ensure that those who purchase birch and walnut syrups are buying the best product possible.”

Under Senate bill 3669, purity and quality requirements would be established for birch and walnut syrups and sugars, similar to those that exist for maple.  

This legislation would help grow the walnut and birch syrup industries by safeguarding consumers from inferior products and by helping to protect producers from unfair competition, posed by those making imitation syrups. 

The bill has been approved by the Assembly and now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

In recent years, New York’s maple industry has grown from 1.3 million taps in 2007, to more than 2 million today. While the state is second only to Vermont in maple syrup production, millions of trees across the state remain untapped.  

Ritchie’s legislation seeks to add birch and walnut trees to the ranks of those used by sugarhouses for syrup production. Similar to maple, walnut syrup is described as being sweeter, with a hint of nuttiness. Alternatively, birch syrup has more of a fruity, tangy flavor. 

The new spending in the state budget for agriculture also contains funding specifically aimed at expanding New York’s growing maple industry, including $125,000 for maple research at Cornell University and more than $200,000  in funding for the Maple Producers Association.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tuesday Webinar Focuses on Transitioning to Organic Dairy Farming

From the New York Organic Dairy Initiative:

A webinar to help conventional dairy farmers switch to organic dairy farming is being conducted from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday May 19.

With the current downturn in milk pricing, demand for organic milk outpacing supply and stable pricing for organically-produced milk, now is the time for conventional dairy farmers to think about transitioning to organic milk production, says NY Organic Dairy Initiative Project Manager Fay Benson with the Cornell University South Central NY Regional Team.

The transition to organic production can be challenging to plan and may take up to three years to complete, Benson said. The ‘Tools for Transitioning to Organic Dairy’ webinar is for those who work with dairies interested in becoming organic producers and farmers considering the transition.

In addition to Benson, the webinar will feature presenters with the Northeast Organic Farming Association, USDA Farm Services Agency, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Presentations will cover the requirements for organic certification, tools to adjust conventional farming practices to meet those requirements, and the types of federal loans and Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative resources that can help with transition costs.

Other topics include how to develop an Organic System Plan, spreadsheets for figuring the cost of transitioning cropland, other tools for making the switch to organic dairy crops production, and return on investment data.

Register for the webinar at For more details, contact Benson at 607-753-5213.

The NY Organic Dairy Initiative receives funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute and support from Cornell Cooperative Extension dairy extension teams statewide.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thursday Morning Cold Temps Don't Harm Fruit

It seems apples and strawberries in NY came out of the cold morning temperatures Thursday morning unscathed.

A quick review of growers in Central and Northern New York showed no damage. 

That's good news for them and us!!

New York Veggie Growers Plant Cooperative Fund

From Cornell University:

A group of vegetable growers are helping pay for crucial research in breeding, growing and protecting vegetables across New York state.

Through the “Agriculture Research Fund” which was launched in 2014, the group of processing vegetable growers from Western New York put in about $100,000 to support the research. Their hopes are to improve vegetable growth and the production of vegetables in the state to produce more food for New Yorkers and increase their bottom lines.

“We’re hoping this fund will grow significantly, with additional support from the industry,” said Tom Facer, president of Oakfield-based Farm Fresh First and a former Birds Eye Foods executive.

Farm Fresh First includes growers and managers who work from Canada to the U.S. Midwest and Southeast. Facer said vegetable growers and processors throughout New York anticipate increasing demand as consumers choose healthy and locally grown food. 

He said the industry also faces an “ever-changing” set of challenges – from new weeds and diseases to steadily increasing insect pressures. Facer said the Agriculture Research Fund’s supporters believe ongoing basic and applied agricultural research must be continued and expanded for growers to stay ahead of these challenges, stay in operation and continue to deliver top-quality produce to consumers.

He said it is the kind of work that has been going on for years at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. Research from the experiment station is shared with producers throughout the state through Cornell Cooperative Extension.

“All of our efforts are for the improvement of the production of vegetables in New York,” Facer said. “This isn’t for marketing, this is for research and this is for growers; what benefits them.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Efforts Announced to Fight Emerald Ash Borer

From state Ag and Markets:

The state of New York on Thursday announced new efforts to combat and slow the spread of the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive beetle that damages and kills ash trees in forested and urban settings.  

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets and state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have revised the state’s EAB management regulations, providing greater protection for un-infested communities and forests, allowing municipalities opportunity to prepare and better plan for future infestation, and easing restrictions on the forest products industry.

After conducting extensive outreach to the industry, New York state has revised its regulations and will create 14 restricted zones — which include a buffer area of five miles — that allow the free movement of infested materials within the new boundaries without compliance agreements or permits.

This will make it easier for municipalities, homeowners and the forest products industry to remove, treat and dispose of infested materials in these areas. The revised regulations will help slow the spread of EAB, providing opportunity for un-infested communities to better plan for the management of the insect.

Since the initial discovery of EAB in New York, the invasive species has been detected in portions of 23 counties. Although the county-by-county quarantine along with enhanced firewood regulations has been highly effective in slowing the spread of EAB, it has also regulated significant portions of the state that are not currently infested with EAB.  

In some instances, the quarantine and associated regulations have made EAB management more challenging. 

The new approach to EAB management also will ease regulations on the forest products industry by eliminating bark, mulch and wood chips from the definition of a regulated article (except for the 30 days encompassing April 15-May 15, just prior to EAB emergence), and relaxing the chip size specification. 

The DEC will continue to survey for EAB statewide and coordinate with the Department of Agriculture and Markets to update the restricted zones as necessary. New York state and Cornell Cooperative Extension are available to assist municipalities with development of EAB management plans.   

In addition, the DEC will also be replacing its current EAB quarantine order with a parallel quarantine regulation. In coordination with these changes in state EAB regulations, the USDA has expanded its federal EAB quarantine to include all of New York state, and will continue to oversee the movement of ash regulated articles in interstate and international commerce. 

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “One of the best lines of defense we have against EAB is to continue to update our management strategy and be proactive in our planning. Giving our municipalities the opportunity to plan for future infestation will not only save them time and money, but will also go a long way in limiting the spread of this destructive insect.”

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said, “DEC continues to work closely with the Department of Agriculture and Markets and other state agencies, federal departments and regional partners to identify, contain and effectively manage the EAB.  By adopting regulations to tighten quarantine boundaries to include only areas with known infestation, we can isolate and better control the EAB, which will protect trees and forests and help mitigate environmental and economic impacts.”

New York Winter Wheat Production up from 2014

From the USDA:

New York winter wheat production is forecast at 7.36 million bushels, up from 2014, said Blair Smith, state statistician of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York Field Office. 

Based on conditions as of May 1, yields are expected to average 64.0 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel from the 2014 average. Area harvested is forecast at 115 thousand acres, up 21 percent from 2014.

Hay stocks on farms totaled 243 thousand tons, down 82 percent from the December 2014 and down 26 percent from May 2014.

Production forecasts are released on a monthly basis and do not reflect final production estimates. The next production forecast will be issued June 10.

The Crop Production Report and all other NASS reports are available online at

Decanter Magazine Talks Up Finger Lakes Wine Region

Great information from Jim Trezise of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation:

Decanter magazine's June edition includes a great, four-page spread by Howard G. Goldberg focused on experiencing the region's wine culture, compared with a 2011 piece which was more about general vacationing. 

 "The Decanter travel guide to Finger Lakes, New York State" includes a regional map, lots of great photos, and specific recommendations on winery visits, lodging, dining, and other attractions.
"Goldberg's ultimate Seneca Lake wine tour" cites Atwater, Chateau Lafayette Reneau, Red Newt, Hazlitt, Standing Stone, Silver Thread, Wagner, and Lamoreaux Landing on the east side (from south to north); and on the west side (north to south) Ravines, Billsboro, Fox Run, Red Tail Ridge, Kemmeter, Anthony Road, Hermann J. Wiemer, Glenora, and Lakewood.

Other Finger Lakes wineries recommended in another sidebar, "My perfect day in the Finger Lakes", include Dr. Konstantin Frank, Heron Hill, Heart & Hands, Goose Watch, and Sheldrake Point. 

"Your Finger Lakes address book" starts with lodging recommendations: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, The Inn at Glenora, Inns of Aurora, New Vines Bed & Breakfast, and The Inn at Gothic Eves.  For fine dining: Dano's Heuriger, Suzanne Fine Regional Cuisine, Ports Café, Moosewood, and Ginny Lee Café.  Other attractions include the New York Wine & Culinary Center, Lively Run Goat Dairy, Climbing Bines Craft Ale, Red Jacket Orchards, and the Corning Museum of Glass.

There is a huge amount of practical information efficiently presented, but another great attraction is the quality of Howard Goldberg's writing, and especially this description of the region:

"Some small folksy hometowns dotting the map evoke America at mid-20th century.  Panoramic sites are grandstands for spacious blue skies with lazy clouds and Impressionist sunsets, a serene atmosphere, sweet air, rolling hills, tree-bordered vineyards sloping down to sparkling waters, gorges and waterfalls, quilt-patterned corn, vegetable and berry plantings, fields of flowers, apple and cherry orchards, farmhouses, red barns, silos, dairies and graving livestock.  In autumn, scarlet, orange and gold foliage dazzles the camera."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Farmers' Markets Ready to Roll

I just posted an idea a couple of days ago about how it will soon be time to visit your local farmers' market.

Well, USDA agrees. Check out its video on the subject.

Again, to find a market near you, go to Then search by city, county or one of many other categories.