Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Grand Opening for St. Lawrence County Wine Trail Set for Oct. 8

The St. Lawrence County Wine Trail is ready to officially open.

Go to this story to check it out.

Results of Northern New York Beef Survey Unveiled

From the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program:

Results of a beef industry survey in Northern New York have been released.

To assess the current state of the Northern New York beef industry, the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program funded a regional survey of cow-calf farmers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. 

The results of the survey will help guide regional beef industry educational programming and Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded research projects for the next five years.

Results are posted in the Livestock section at 

A snapshot of survey results shows:

** 96 percent of the NNY beef producers surveyed plan to expand or maintain their current size
** The predominant breed of beef cattle raised in Northern New York is Angus
** 52 percent of those surveyed sell direct to consumers by freezer trade
** 48 percent of those surveyed sell direct to a cattle buyer
** 8 percent of those surveyed sell breeding stock
** Increasing numbers of beef farmers are developing relationships with a veterinarian to help maintain herd health and quality beef production.

Cow-calf farmers in NNY maintain the permanent breeding herds that are the foundation of the beef industry. Cow-calf operations supply 500 pound to 800 pound calves to feedlots that grow them out for beef processors, sell breeding stock to other producers, and package beef for direct sale to local consumers and food buyers.

Beef producers in Northern New York are increasingly interested in research and educational opportunities to help them improve herd management, farm efficiency and profitability. 

Agricultural educators locally and at Cornell University are using the survey input to guide their extension and outreach efforts, says Northern New York Regional Livestock Team Leader Betsy Hodge, a livestock specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County.

Funding from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has provided regional farmers with access to the expertise of Cornell University Beef Extension Specialist Mike Baker. 

His recent efforts helped NNY producers develop better consistency in the cattle they raise and secured U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to help regional beef producers pool cattle to better meet buyer demand for supply and quality. 

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is a farmer-driven research and technical assistance program serving Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. 

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the state Senate and administered through the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Funding Available to Help School Districts Put Local Food in School Cafeterias

A new funding opportunity has been announced to help school districts across New York state connect to local growers and producers to increase the use of locally grown specialty crops. 

Through the Farm to School program, $350,000 in grants is now available for projects that will help pre-K through grade 12 schools procure and serve healthy, locally grown foods on school menus.

The deadline to apply is 4:30 p.m. Oct. 19. Awards will be made in November 2015.

The Farm to School program is aimed at developing and strengthening connections between farms and schools to help grow the agricultural economy and increase the amount and variety of specialty crops procured by schools for healthier meal options. 

New York state produces a wide range of specialty crops, such as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, herbs and spices, which rank highly in the nation in terms of both production and economic value.

Applicants for the program can include Pre-K through 12 school food authorities, charter schools, not-for-profit schools, and other entities participating in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs and/or operating Summer Food Service Programs.
Projects eligible for grant funding across New York’s school districts may include:

** Employing of a local or regional farm to school coordinator.

** Training programs for food service staff to increase knowledge of local procurement and preparation of locally produced specialty crops.
** Purchase of equipment needed to increase capacity of school kitchen and food service staff to prepare and serve locally produced specialty crops.
** Capital improvements to support the transport and/or storage of locally produced specialty crops.
The commissioners from the state Departments of Agriculture and Markets, Health and the Office of General Services joined leaders from the New York Apple Association, Farm Fresh First, Empire Potato Growers and New York State Vegetable Growers Association, Brockport School District and the New York City School Support Services, to discuss increasing the procurement of New York state food products in New York’s more than 700 schools. 

The discussion centered on the growers’ delivery system and the school districts’ needs and purchasing process, and how to make it easier to bring the two together.

For more information on the Farm to School Grant program, click on this link -- .

All applicants must register and apply through the Grants Gateway portal at this link and use the Program Identifier "FTSCG."

Indoor Farm in Onondaga County? Perhaps

A company has proposed opening an indoor farm in the northern suburbs of Syracuse.

Go to to read more about the company.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Deadline Extended to Nov. 20 for Dairy Margin Protection Program Enrollment

From the USDA:

The deadline to enroll for the dairy Margin Protection Program for coverage in 2016 has been extended until Nov. 20.  

The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.

“The fall harvest is a busy time of the year for agriculture, so this extension will ensure that dairy producers have more time to make their choices,” said Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack. “We encourage all operations to examine the protections offered by this program, because despite the very best forecasts, markets can change."

Vilsack encouraged producers to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Agency Service (FSA) online Web resource at to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. The secure website can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet.

He also reminds producers that were enrolled in 2015 that they need to make a coverage election for 2016 and pay the $100 administration fee. 

Although any unpaid premium balances for 2015 must be paid in full by the enrollment deadline to remain eligible for higher coverage levels in 2016, premiums for 2016 are not due until Sept. 1, 2016. 

Also, producers can work with milk marketing companies to remit premiums on their behalf.

To enroll in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, contact your local FSA county office.  

To find your local FSA county office, visit

Oswego County Harvest Dinner Oct. 2

Always a great event. Get your reservations in now!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Morrisville State College Sells Record Number of Cows at Annual Autumn Review Sale

Stacia Beckwith, an agricultural science major from North Norwich, prepares a cow for Morrisville State College’s Annual Autumn Review Sale. (Photo by Franci Valenzano, public relations associate)
From Morrisville State College:

Morrisville State College’s Annual Autumn Review Sale set a record with the highest number of animals sold in the 33-year history of the event. 

The dairy cattle sale focused on Holsteins, but also two Jerseys, two Brown Swiss and one Milking Shorthorn were sold.

The sale grossed a total of $274,650 with 116 live lots sold, nine embryo lots, and five additional animals outside the formal sale. The live lots ranged from two days old to 5-year-old cows.

The average per live lot was $2,727 which is reflective of the quality of the animals gathered by the students despite the current economic struggles of the dairy industry, said Steve Mooney, co-adviser of the sale and assistant professor of dairy science at Morrisville. The high lot went for $5,500.

Run by Morrisville State College’s faculty and students in dairy, agricultural business, agricultural science and agricultural engineering classes affiliated with college’s dairy club, proceeds from the sale support dairy club trips, the dairy judging team, academic programs, and various activities and events.  

More than 100 students participated in this year’s event.

Jessica Currie, an agricultural business development major from Tully, Darin Bresett, an animal science dairy major from Gouverneur, and Connor Nesbitt,  an agricultural business development major from Byron, co-chaired the sale.

Also assisting as committee chairs were:
Drew Hill, of Cattaraugus, agricultural business development
Bryce Hamilton, of Castile, animal science dairy
Maryellen Wiley, of Whitesboro, agricultural business development
Adam Eick, of Medina, agricultural business development
Mike Cantwell, of Richfield Springs, dairy management
Matt Fletcher, of Southampton, Mass., dairy management
Elsie Jerzak, of Millerton, Pa, dairy management
Nora Williams, of Truxton, criminal justice
Shannon O’Sullivan, of Wappingers Falls, dairy management
Clay Frederick, of Cazenovia, agricultural business development
Karch Manley, of Hamilton, agricultural business development

“Despite low dairy prices, the high quality of the cattle in the sale ring lead to competition among the buyers and our prices were better than expected,” Mooney said. “As always, the students’ hard work, skills and effort as a team lead to an excellent sale.”

“The students had the cattle looking fantastic and worked as hard as I have ever seen,” said Dave Rama, sale auctioneer. “Every consignor I have spoken with complimented the entire sale.”

The Morrisville State College Dairy Club helps students extend their knowledge of the dairy industry through participation in activities like the annual autumn review sale and field trips.

3 More Days to Vote for New York State Fair as Country's Best

From the New York State Fair:

There are only three days left to vote for the Great New York State Fair as the Best State Fair in the country, announced Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner.

The Great New York State Fair is in the running for USA TODAY’s 2015 10Best Readers' Choice travel award contest, and New Yorkers and fairgoers are encouraged to continue to vote at  

Voting ends at noon Monday, Sept. 28.

USA TODAY’s expert panel selected the Great New York State Fair as a contender for Best State Fair contest, which launched Aug. 31. The contest gave voters four weeks to vote for their favorite choice.
The direct link to vote is at  A person can vote once a day for the run of the contest.  

Winners will be announced on 10Best at noon Friday, Oct. 2, then later on USA TODAY.

Cornell Study Shows Overweight Health Bloggers Have Shaky Credibility

From Cornell University:

A blogger’s weight affects her or his credibility with readers seeking food advice, according to a Cornell study published online and in a forthcoming print issue of the journal Health Communication.

The study revealed that when a blogger is overweight, as shown in the blogger’s photo, readers are far more skeptical of the information that blogger provides when compared with a thin blogger’s recommendations, even when the content is exactly the same.

The findings are increasingly important as more than half of smartphone users report that they use their device to look up health-related information, making the internet one of the top places people get informed about health issues. 

“When we search for health information online, there are a lot of related cues that can bias our perceptions in ways that we may not be consciously aware of,” said Jonathon Schuldt, assistant professor of communication and lead author of the study. “Awareness of these biases could help us better navigate health information online,” he said. It could also help us “avoid being swayed by nutritional information simply because it is posted by someone who is thin rather than heavy,” he added.

But the study also suggests that “weight bias and prejudice – which are so rampant in our society – can spill over and affect not only the inferences we make about people, but also objects that are associated with them,” Schuldt said.

In one experiment, 230 subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups. They were all shown photos of the same 10 meals – including black bean and cheese quesadillas, chopped salad with croutons, sliced beef with vegetables and so on. With each photo was also a thumbnail photo depicting the supposed author of the blog post. 

Participants were then asked to judge how healthy the meal was overall on a scale of one to seven. The only thing that differed between the two groups was the thumbnail photo of the blogger, which was a real picture of the same person before and after weight loss.

The researchers found that when the photo of the overweight woman accompanied the meal, “our participants perceived those meals to be less healthy” than the same meal presented with a photo of a thin blogger.

“People appear to assume that if a heavier person is recommending food, it is probably richer and less healthy,” Schuldt said.

In a second experiment, the researchers also included calorie and fat content information next to the image of the food and above the thumbnail of the blogger. “What we found is that even when we provided nutrient information that is much more relevant to the food’s health quality, people are still strongly influenced by the body weight of the recommender,” Schuldt said.

The researchers even went so far as to vary the fat and calorie content, so that some subjects saw a healthy nutritional label and others saw a label with approximately double the calorie content and triple the fat. They found that this increase in fat and calories influenced impressions to a similar extent as the heavy vs. thin blogger, all else being equal.

“When we dramatically increased the fat and calorie content, it had just as much impact as when we said the food was posted by a heavy person,” Schuldt said.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Morrisville State College's Standardbred Yearling Sale Brings in Nearly $1M

A yearling gets groomed prior to Morrisville State College’s Annual Standardbred Yearling Sale. Photo by Franci Valenzano of Morrisville State College
From Morrisville State College:

Morrisville State College took in close to $1 million at its 26th annual Standardbred yearling sale Sept. 20. 

The event drew a record crowd of potential buyers, sellers, trainers and owners from across the Northeast. The college's sale is the only one of its kind in New York state held on a college campus. 

A total of 62 yearlings, including 18 owned by the college, were sold at an average of $15,540, up 43 percent from last year’s average bid of $10,715. The sale topper was Royal Pinot, who sold for $55,000. 

Adding to the allure of the sleek and immaculately groomed horses up for sale was the professionalism, enthusiasm and teamwork of MSC faculty, staff and students.  All of the college’s nearly 250 equine students had their hand in some aspect of the sale and played an integral role in its success.

Alexis Cook, an equine science western major from Martville, Cayuga County, was among them. Clad in a professional black suit, she and four others led the yearlings into the sale ring.

In another barn, Amber Pruchnik, an equine breeding student from Connecticut, was showing horses to potential buyers and answering their questions.

Students also prepped the horses before they headed to the show ring, bedded stalls, groomed, helped set up the business office, braided manes and put a coat of shiny black polish on yearlings’ hooves.

Throughout the sale, potential buyers scanned their sale catalogs intently as bid spotters kept track of those who raised their hands and shouted out amounts. 

The sale is an all-around great experience for students, allowing them to learn in a real-life business setting. 

It’s also a momentous time for students as they have played a large role in the MSC-owned yearlings’ lives — many who have helped foal and raise them.  They even have a hand in naming them.  

The college’s Standardbred sale is a major industry-based entrepreneurial activity for its equine programs and a vehicle to showcase the campus and its array of equine programs, which are known throughout the industry in addition to the college’s top-notch equine facilities. Profits go toward general maintenance and enrichment of the college’s equine programs.

Morrisville State offers a bachelor of technology degree in equine science and two associate degrees in equine racing management and equine science and management. Students have many options as the college’s diverse equine offerings include specializations in breeding, western, hunt seat, draft/driving, Thoroughbred racing, Standardbred racing, business, and equine rehabilitation therapy.

For more information visit

Senate Majority Leader Visits North Country Farm

Jefferson County Farm Bureau member Mike Kiechle discusses agricultural issues with New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan of Long Island, right, and state Sen. Patty Ritchie, chair of the Senate Ag Committee, center, during a farm tour visit yesterday at Kiechle's dairy farm in Philadelphia. Photo from Jefferson County Farm Bureau.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

USDA Commits $2.5M to Expand New Farmer Education

From the USDA:

A total of $2.5 million in grants is now available for projects to educate new and underserved farmers about more than 20 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency programs that can provide financial, disaster or technical assistance to the agricultural community.

The grants will be awarded to nonprofits and public higher education institutions that develop proposals to improve farmer education on topics such as financial training, value-added production, recordkeeping, property inheritance, and crop production practices.

USDA will conduct four evaluation periods to review applications, with the deadlines of Nov. 20, 2015, Jan. 22, 2015, Mar. 18, 2016, and May 27, 2016

Awards between $20,000 and $100,000 per applicant will be available. 

To learn more about the funding solicitation and the related Farm Service Agency programs, details can be found at with the reference number USDA-FSA-CA-2015-001. 

For nonprofits and public institutions of higher education that are considering participation, an online informational session will be conducted on Sept. 28, 2015. Additional information is posted on the Web at

This funding builds on investments made in rural America over the past six years and supports programs enacted by the 2014 Farm Bill. For more information, visit

Monday, September 21, 2015

Apple Harvest Smaller This Year, But Quality is Great

Apple ready to be picked in a New York orchard.
Another story from Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:

Empire Farm & Dairy

New York state is in the heart of the apple harvest.

And the good news is there will be plenty of delicious apples for everyone this season, according to the New York Apple Association.

The harvest forecast is for producers to have a smaller number of apples than usual this year due to some problems caused by frost in May. But Julia Stewart, speaking for the New York Apple Association in Fishers, Ontario County, said there will be plenty of apples for all consumers, and the fruit will be of fantastic quality.

The forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Apple Association is for New York — the No. 2 apple-producing state in the country — to harvest 26.2 million apples this year, compared with 30.1 million in 2014.

“Last year was exceptionally above normal, and this year will be a little smaller than normal,” Stewart said.

There were no areas of the state this year with massive devastation due to the weather, but instead, small pockets were hit with frost in the spring, she said.

“It all depended on where you were,” Stewart said. “It was very hit and miss.”

She said some areas, such as the state’s largest apple area along Lake Ontario in Wayne County, are seeing great numbers of apples on the trees, while another spot in the same region could have fewer due to frost that killed fruit blooms.

“We’ve had some orchards with damage, mainly in Orleans County, and some in Wayne and some in Niagara County as well. But certainly not devastation,” said Craig J. Kahlke, an extension agent and a member of the Lake Ontario Fruit Team.

“These are a few orchards and only a few varieties in those orchards. We certainly have a very nice statewide apple crop, and there will be no shortage of excellent quality fruit (in) the fall,” he said.

The apple growers in the eastern part of the state — Clinton and Essex counties, as well as the Capital Region — did not experience frost damage that will have a significant impact on their crop,” said Anna Wallis, Cornell Cooperative Extension fruit specialist in Plattsburgh.

“Luckily, most of the orchards are close enough to Lake Champlain to benefit from a water-moderated climate,” she said. “The weather station in Peru, N.Y., recorded a low of 34.6 degrees May 23, not cold enough to have a significant impact.”

Some orchards in Northern New York also lost fruit due to freezing temperatures on May 23, when the mercury dipped into the mid- to high 20s.

“It’s devastating for those who lose fruit,” Stewart said. “But overall, the crop is very good, and statewide we’ve had very good weather.”

That weather includes plentiful sunshine and just the right amount of rain, she said.

“The red varieties need sun to color,” Stewart said. “Also, the cooler nighttime temperatures being experienced now also help apples get a beautiful bright red to the skin.”

Making a Corn Maze is A Lot of Work

2008 corn maze at Abbott Farms in Lysander.
Here is a story I wrote for our monthly ag magazine, Empire Farm & Dairy:

Empire Farm & Dairy

Corn mazes are scary, challenging and mind-blowing.

But most of all, they’re fun. And they’re becoming a greater part of the landscape for fall festivals at parks, farm stands and other agritourism ventures.

Just how, though, do you carve intricate designs into a field of corn?

At Abbott Farms in Lysander, just northwest of Syracuse, a corn maze has been a popular part of visitors’ stops there since 2006, according to farm production manager Michael Blair.

“We try to change it up from year to year,” he said, noting the different designs the maze has taken on in past years. “In 2008, we had our Abbott Farms logo on it. Then another year, we did the Giffords’ logo (the ice cream sold at Abbott Farms). One year we had a circle design with an apple in the middle.”

This year, the maze simply will be a square design with a cancer research ribbon in the middle. Blair said business owner Warren Abbott was planning to have a 5K run at the farm in late September in support of cancer research at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse; thus, the ribbon in the maze was a good choice this year.

So just how do you get those intricate lines and curves carved into a cornfield?

Blair says there are many ways to do it.

n Precision Mazes. This is a Missouri company started by Rob Stouffer, a businessman who saw the growth of corn mazes and developed a business to help. Abbott Farms has used Precision Mazes for the past few years.

Blair said the company has specialized equipment with a GPS on board that will cut out the maze design.

“He goes out in the field with reference points, uses the GPS, and the machine practically drives itself,” Blair said. “It’s a professional, high-quality product.”

Carving a maze out of the corn generally costs $3,500 to $5,500, Stouffer said.

n Grids. Blair said farmers also can go out in their fields in the spring as the corn begins growing and put in grids for the maze design they want. These grids normally require string lines that are set up to mark areas to be cut later. When it’s time, the farmer can use either weed killer to kill the unneeded corn or can mow it.

“This is very elaborate and takes a lot of time,” Blair said.

n Mowing. Blair said farmers also can wait for their corn to grow a bit and then simply go out and mow the areas for the maze.

“Some poor soul on a lawnmower goes out and drives around in circles,” he said.

Stouffer been turning cornfields into corn mazes since 2001. He did three mazes that first year in Missouri and estimates he now has done more than 1,000.

“We’re in 30 different states, Canada and Mexico,” he said. “Many we’re back to do on a yearly basis.”

This is true of Abbott Farms, which Stouffer called “a wonderful place” that owner Warren Abbott puts a lot of time and care into to give visitors a wonderful total experience.

Farmers normally charge admission — from $5 to $7 — to their corn mazes. Blair said the Abbott maze makes money for the farm.

“All of our mazes are custom designed,” Blair said. “They are a part of the American culture, and we have a role in creating them all over the country.”

The biggest maze he has done is 28 acres, a size he called a bit too big. The smallest is 2 acres, and the average size is 6 to 10, he said.

The Abbott Farms corn maze will be open for the business’s fall festival, which is Saturdays and Sunday through Columbus Day weekend and Monday on Columbus Day. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you are interested in more stories like this, subscribe to Empire Farm & Dairy magazine. Send $50 for one year or $75 for two years to Empire Farm & Dairy, 260 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Net Cash and Net Farm Income Expected to Drop

From the USDA:

Both net cash and net farm income are forecast to decline for the second consecutive year after reaching recent historic highs in 2013 (in nominal terms).

Net cash income is expected to fall by 21 percent in 2015, while the forecast for a 36 percent drop in net farm income would be the largest since 1983 (in both nominal and inflation-adjusted terms).

Highlights of the U.S. Department of Agriculture report for August:

** Crop receipts are expected to decrease by over 6 percent ($12.9 billion) in 2015, led by a forecast $7.1 billion decline in corn receipts, a $3.4 billion drop in soybean receipts and a $1.6 billion drop in wheat receipts.

** Livestock receipts could fall by over 9 percent ($19.4 billion) in 2015, due to a forecast 29 percent drop in dairy and a 27 percent decline in hog receipts.

** Total production expenses are forecast to fall for the first time since 2009. Energy inputs and feed are expected to have the largest declines. Expenses are forecast to increase for labor, interest and property taxes.

** Government payments are projected to rise 16 percent ($1.6 billion) to $11.4 billion in 2015. At $11.4 billion, 2015’s payments would be the largest since 2010.

** Declining assets resulting from a modest decline in farmland values and higher debt are forecast to create a 4.8 percent decline in equity, the first drop since 2009.

** After several years of steady improvement, farm financial risk indicators such as the debt-to-asset ratio are expected to rise in 2015, indicating increasing financial pressure on the sector. However, debt-to-asset and debt-to-equity ratios remain low relative to historical levels.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cream Cheese Festival in Lowville Today

Cream Cheese Festival in Lowville is today.


Ontario Orchards Fall Jamboree Today and Tomorrow

Get out to Ontario Orchards today and tomorrow for the Fall Jamboree.

More Details on Expansion, Renovation at State Fairgrounds

Here is a more detailed story about renovations coming to the New York State Fairgrounds:

From the governor’s office:

Andrew Cuomo recently unveiled a sweeping $50 million redesign plan to transform the New York State Fairgrounds in Onondaga County into a year-round, premier multi-use facility that can attract more events and visitors from across the nation.

The plan includes a new multi-purpose exposition center with 110,000 square feet of flexible space, an expanded festival stage to bring in larger concerts, a larger Midway to accommodate more attractions and a 400-site RV Park, as well as various parking and pedestrian safety improvements.

The plan includes:


The existing grandstand, which was originally constructed in 1972, is outdated and not designed to function as an outdoor concert venue, and is not equipped to meet the needs of modern acts.

Additionally, with the opening of Onondaga County’s Lakeview Amphitheater in close proximity to the fairgrounds, the region will already have a premier, state-of-the-art venue capable of hosting large concerts.

The motor track is used only once per year for the annual Super DIRT Week. Like the grandstand, removing the motor track will also create room for crucial enhancements and modern facilities that can be used for a wider variety of events, year-round.

Removal of both the grandstand and the motor track is projected to cost $3 million.


The new Expo Center will be about 110,000 square feet, adding much-needed space that allows current shows to expand and new shows to be added in the future.
In addition to new concert and event space, the Expo Center will house new equestrian facilities. 


The construction of a larger, state-of-the-art stage will strengthen the fair’s longstanding reputation as a leader among free, quality music festivals. The new stage and roofing system will be built to modern standards and offer the capacity for larger production shows with video walls, lighting and sound. 

Safety and security enhancements include a full camera system, electronic access controls, fencing, gates and proper parking locations for tour buses and production vehicles.

Additional seating will be added to increase audience capacity by 20 percent, to a total of more than 30,000.

Completion of the new Chevy Court Festival Stage is expected in July of 2016 at a construction cost of $4 million.


Under the plan, the Midway will be expanded from 12.5 acres to nearly 16 acres and reoriented as the epicenter of the fairgrounds. 

During non-fair times, the new Midway will also allow for more organized parking for events, a much larger space for outdoor shows as well as an expanded camping area that will enable the Fairgrounds to continue hosting large rallies and camping shows.

Completion of the Midway enhancement is expected in July of 2016 at a construction cost of $2.5 million.


The front gate will be visually pleasing, with new streetscapes, seating, shade and other visitor amenities.

Additional improvements will allow for the creation of the “NY Experience” – a functional, park-like area that will highlight the past and future of New York state from perspectives that include its economic, cultural and historical significance. 

The NY Experience will be a living area designed to showcase facets of the Empire State each day during the Fair, such as through demonstration plots of New York specialty crops.

Completion of these improvements is expected in July of 2016, at a construction cost of $7.7 million.


The plan includes the creation of a new, 400-site RV Park. This will include full camper hook-ups with 50/30/20 amp electric options, the infrastructure to support communications/fiber, water and sewer connections, as well as bathrooms and showers. 

Security improvements include a full camera system and a blue light system in select locations.

Getting Serious About Food Waste

Cool story about food waste.

Go to to check it out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Why Dairy Cows Enjoy Being in Barns

Check out this blog entry from DairyGood.

Onion Production Forecast Down Slightly from 2014

New York state's onion production is estimated to be down slightly from last year, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The National Agricultural Statistics Services estimates New York will see an onion crop of 2.31 million hundredweight (100 pounds), down 2 percent from the 2.36 million hundredweight in 2014.

Harvested acreage also is down, but yield per acre is projected to be up to an average of 335 hundredweight per acre from the 295 hundredweight per acre in 2014.

Nationally, 92,650 acres of onions are being harvested in 2015, compared to 93,200 in 2014.

Onions are primarily grown on muck soils found in Oswego, Orange, Orleans, Genesee, Madison, Wayne, Yates and Steuben counties. 

"The crop in general looked great so we should be on target for yields comparable to last year," said Jonathan J. Schell, agriculture team coordinator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County.

New York State Ag Experiment Station in Geneva Obtaining Equpment for Food Safety

The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva is receiving $600,000 in state funding for new food processing equipment.

The Ithaca Journal reports the money was used to purchase a Hiperbaric 55 High Pressure Processing machine, which uses high pressure instead of high temperatures to eliminate food-borne pathogens.

Officials say the new machine, unveiled Monday, will bring a higher quality to foods in addition to enhanced safety through its more effective elimination of germs.

The technology will be beneficial for the grape industry in addition to producers of dairy products.

Cornell President Elizabeth Garrett says the machine will enable researchers to "open new frontiers for food safety."

Video on GMOs

Check out this video.

Northern New York Apple Trials Help Orchard Owners

New York apples ready to be picked.
A Cornell University horticulturist said results of orchard management trials in the North Country are excellent.

Horticulture Professor Terence Robinson said the four trials, funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development, were designed to help regional apple growers increase orchard efficiency and profitability.

During the past 10 years, Robinson has developed a precision thinning system that provides apple growers with real-time data for the best timing and rates for growth inhibitor spraying applications that reduce bud count. Reducing the number of early season buds encourages the growth of a precisely targeted optimal number of apples.

Cornell University Horticulture Professor Terence Robinson, second from right, conducts a precision management tour in a NY apple orchard. Photo: Kevin A. Iungerman
Success with the precise management practice known as orchard thinning saves growers labor, time and expense.

The NNY regional apple industry harvests $16 million net revenue from about 5,000 acres of orchards. Growers are increasingly adopting practices that research data shows increase the percentage of crop harvested in the highest price categories based on fruit size, color and quality.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Fruit Specialist Anna Wallis assisted Robinson with field trials in Honeycrisp plantings at four orchards in Chazy and Peru, Clinton County. The growers counted flower buds, calculated the target number of fruits per tree to achieve a desired high yield and measured fruit diameter. 

The Cornell research team analyzed the data and within 24 hours provided each grower an exact assessment of orchard cropload with recommendations for the next thinning application to maintain harvest goals.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has granted new funding for precision apple orchard management trials in 2015. More details and the Precision Orchard Management Strategies for NNY Apple Growers to Increase Profitability research report are online at 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Morrisville State Yearling Sale Sept. 20

From Morrisville State College:

Morrisville State will hold its 26th annual Fall Yearling Sale at 1 p.m. Sept. 20 at the college’s Nancy Sears Stowell Arena on Swamp Road. 

There are a total of 69 yearlings cataloged for the 2015 sale. Eighteen of them are being sold by the college, including two yearlings of Cash Hall; six yearlings of RC Royalty; three yearlings by Conway Hall, three yearlings by Deweycheatumnhowe and one by first crop stallion, Archangel. 

Conway Hall (six total yearlings in the sale) and RC Royalty (21 total yearlings in the sale) are among the leading money-winning stallions in the New York Standardbred Sale for 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds in 2014. Conway Hall,

Cash Hall and RC Royalty, all rank among the national leaders for 2- and 3-year-old trotters, on an RC Royalty became the fastest 2-year-old trotting colt ever in the NYSS on a half-mile track by virtue of his 1:58.2 score at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway in 2005. RC Royalty also holds the Massachusetts Sire Stake record for 3-year-old trotting colts of 1:59.4.

The yearling sale, which features year-old Standardbred horses sold on consignment by the college, is organized and run by Morrisville State Equine Department faculty, staff and students.

Equine students will be working the event, participating in every aspect of it from bedding stalls, grooming, leading and showing horses, to setting up the business office and assisting with cleanup.

Last year, the sale grossed nearly $1.4 million.  

Profits from the sale, which is free and open to the public, go toward general maintenance and enrichment of the college’s equine programs. 

For more information about the annual event, visit or call 315-684-6355.

Farmers Fear $15 Minimum Wage in New York

New York Farm Bureau has commented on its displeasure of the $15 an hour minimum wage law.

Here is another story on the same subject and the law's effect on farmers:

Key Ingredients to Allergy-Free Kids Are Dirt and Cows

What do all my farmer friends think about this story?

Go to to check it out.

Cornell Sheep and Goat Symposium Oct. 2-4

The 2015 Sheep & Goat Symposium at Cornell University is set for 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 2-4.

The event will be chock full of speakers, tours to sheep farms and other learning opportunities.

Included will be:

** A workshop by Cornell Small Ruminant Specialist tatiana Stanton and Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County Livestock Educator Betsy Hodge who will talk about goat and sheep management skills, such as eartagging, hoof trimming, tattooing, drenching, vaccinating, body condition and FAMACHA scoring. Dr. Michael Thonney of the Cornell Sheep and Goat Program will cover hay evaluation

** Dr. Mary Smith, a veterinarian and co-author of Goat Medicine, will conduct a necropsy while discussing how farmers can do their own field necropsies to determine a cause of death in their sheep

** A pasture management talk includes Northwest NY CCE Livestock Educator Nancy Glazier presenting the steps of planning a grazing system; Northern New York Field Crops & Soils Specialist Dr. Kitty O’Neil focusing on pasture renovation and Stone Barns Farm Center Livestock Manager Craig Haney) reviewing the basics of electric fencing and how to determine your equipment needs. A pasture walk will help producers with forage plant identification.

** A session on poisonous plants with Dr. Dan Brown, Cornell Animal Science Nutritional Toxicologist, will show participants a simple test for measuring the amount of cyanide in cherry leaves and walk to the Vet School’s Poisonous Plants garden to learn to identify plants that commonly poison livestock. 

** Veterinarian Dr. Mary Smith will talk about preventing, controlling and eradicating diseases such as foot rot, CL abscesses, Johnes, CAE and OPP

** Veterinarian Dr. Jen Nightingale and Betsy Hodge will discuss nutritional and health management of does and ewes through the critical period from late pregnancy through early lactation.

Mary Rose Livingston from Northland Sheep Dairy, will discuss her experiences during 2015 studies evaluating whether grazing birdsfoot trefoil pastures can help control worms in sheep and goats

** An Integrated Parasite Management Course will also be offered for farmers and educators wishing to obtain FAMACHA certification.


2015 Cornell Sheep & Goat Symposium events on Oct. 3 will be at Morrison Hall on the Cornell campus. Sunday's programs will includes tours at Shepherds Way LLC in Locke, Cayuga County, a dairy sheep and goat farm where attendees will observe some of the newest technology available for artificially rearing suckling lambs and kids, and at Kyle Farms, Avon in Livingston County, which produces a large volume of lambs yearround with minimal stress.

The 2015 Cornell Sheep & Goat Symposium fees are Friday: $10 per person; Saturday: $50 for the first farm member with $40 for each additional farm or family member; Sunday tour is $10 per person if providing your own transportation or $30 per person in a Cornell van.

The 2015 Cornell Sheep & Goat Symposium schedule, registration forms and online registration are available online at <> or by calling Barbara Jones at 607.255.7712

Monday, September 14, 2015

New York Farm Bureau Comments on Minimum Wage Hike

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton commented late last week about the $15 an hour minimum wage law in New York state:

“New York Farm Bureau has serious concerns about Governor Cuomo’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15. Farmers in New York are already at a competitive disadvantage compared to those with lower labor costs in other states," Norton said.

"They cannot make up the increased spending by simply raising prices because they are competing in a global market where supply and demand dictate what consumers pay. For example, if Michigan growers can offer cheaper apples to grocery stores that is what largely will be purchased on the open market," he said.

"In turn, New York farms will be forced to absorb the higher labor costs. For those who sell directly to consumers, higher food prices will become the norm. 

"In general, farms in New York already pay more than the current minimum wage. According to the USDA, the average agriculture wage rate in the state is $12.15. Upping the minimum wage would lift all farm wages.  A worker who already earns a higher hourly rate based on experience and time on the farm would still expect a higher salary than those who are newly hired.  This proposal would likely force the average wage rate well above the $15 mark," Norton said..

"The impact will be clear. We have already seen farmers, who can afford it, turn to automation to milk cows and harvest crops in order to reduce labor costs. This trend will only be exacerbated by an extreme minimum wage hike thereby shrinking the agricultural workforce across New York," he said. "The wage hike will also be a bigger barrier for smaller farms who are interested in hiring new employees to grow their businesses. This will ultimately be bad news for the rural economy that depends on agriculture as its bread and butter.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gillibrand Hosts Farm Day

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is hosting Farm Day at 5:30 p.m. today in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Farm Day brings together producers of New York’s award-winning wines, farm-fresh products and seafood, as well as leading restaurateurs from across New York state to showcase some of New York’s very best.

“Farm Day is an opportunity for farmers, vintners, restaurateurs and producers across the state to remind Americans of all that the State of New York has to offer,” Gillibrand said. 

“From our dairy farms to specialty crops, vineyards to fine dining, Farm Day allows New York to show some of its best qualities and all we have to offer, all in one location in Washington, D.C. These displays encourage agricultural growth and promote good nutrition as essential parts of New York’s health, tourism, and our statewide economy,”‎ she said.

Here are companies and farms that have contributed to Farm Day:

Micosta Enterprises – Hudson Valley syrups and juices; black & red currants; blackberries; salad and vegetables featuring Micosta Green Supreme Dressing

Schenectady County Community College – Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho; Hudson Valley Duck Rillette on a Crostini with Pickled Red Onions; Carrot Cake.  Ingredients sourced from Old World Farm and The Carrot Barn at Schoharie Valley Farms

State University of New York (SUNY) at Cobleskill – Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with herbed Chevre and Ricotta Cheese drizzled with a Black Peppercorn Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette; Schoharie County Apple Cranberry Crumb Bars
Empire Brewing Company – Slo' Mo IPA, a new proprietary IPA brewed with a blend of New York State farm grown hops, with a full hoppy flavor and a crisp, dry finish
LI-LAC Chocolates – Butter Crunch and French Mint Chocolate, Non-Pareils, Almond Bark, and Caramel Squares 

Orwasher's Bakery – Morning Spelt, Levain Locale, Ultimate Whole Wheat, Cabernet Rustica breads made with flour from Farmer Ground and North Country Farms, and starters made with grapes from Channing Daughters Winery                                        

Wines & Spirits of New York City – A selection of award-winning products from Brooklyn Oenology, Brooklyn Winery, and Kings County Distillery
Jewel – Crescent Farm Duck Breast; Farro Salad; Blackberry-Coffee Coulis; Licorice Greens by Chef Thomas Schaudel

K & B Seafood – Fresh Oysters and Clams 

Wines of Long Island – A selection of award-winning wines from Bedell Cellars, Bouquet, Harbes Family Farm & Vineyard, Lieb Cellars, Macari Vineyards, Martha Clara Vineyards, McCall Wines, Osprey's Dominion Vineyards, One Woman Wines & Vineyards, Paumanok Vineyards, Pellegrini Vineyards, Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard, and Wolffer Estate Vineyard

Wines of the Hudson Valley – A selection of award-winning wines from Benmarl Winery, Brotherhood Winery, Millbrook Vineyards, Robibero Family Vineyards, Stoutridge Vineyard, and Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery

Cabot Creamery Cooperative – Cabot New York Vintage, Cabot New York Extra Sharp, and McCadam Empire Pepperjack Cheeses                                     

Mercer's Dairy – Strawberry Sparkling, Spice, Chocolate Cabernet, and Red Raspberry Chardonnay Wine Ice Creams 

North Country Specialties – Maple Mini's, Maple Straws, Tri-berry Jam over Philadelphia Cream Cheese with Crackers, and Sweet Tango Apples  

Seaway Trail Honey – Fresh Light Honeycomb, Three Village Cheese Company Cascadita Goat Cheese Drizzled with Light Honey, Honey Chocolate Cookies, Wixon's Honey Creamed Cinnamon and Creamed Apricot Honey on Baguettes, Catskill Provisions Honey Whiskey

Wines & Cider of the Thousand Islands – from Coyote Moon Vineyards, Kaneb Orchards, Thousand Islands Winery, and Tug Hill Vineyards 
Dessert & Ice Wines of New York – A selection of award-winning wines from Dr. Konstantin Frank, Harbes Family Farm & Vineyard, Heron Hill Winery, Hunt Country Vineyards, Lakewood Vineyards, Penguin Bay Winery, Sheldrake Point Winery, Thirsty Owl Wine Company, and Tug Hill Vineyards

New York Wine & Culinary Center – Charcuterie Board of Local Meats, Cheeses, and Accompaniments; Chocolate Bark with Seneca Salt. Ingredients sourced from Bostrom Farms, Ithaca Water Buffalo, First Light Farm & Creamery, Muranda Cheese Co., Old Chatham Sheep Herding Co, Artesian Foods, Jake's Gouda, The Piggery, Lively Run Goat Dairy Farm & Creamery, Oak & Osage Farm, Italy Hill Produce, Shimmering Light Farm, Doan Family Farms, Seneca Salt Co., and Luke's Mill Creek Farm

Wines of the Finger Lakes – from Atwater Estate Vineyards, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Fox Run Vineyards, Lakewood Vineyards, Lucas Vineyards, Red Newt Cellars, and Swedish Hill Winery

Wines, Spirits & Ciders of the Finger Lakes – A selection of award-winning products from Anthony Road Winery, Billsboro Winery, Buttonwood Grove Winery, Honeoye Falls Distillery, Hosmer Winery, Knapp Winery, Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars, Owera Vineyards, Penguin Bay Winery, Silver Thread Vineyard, and Wagner Vineyards
Chobani – All natural Greek yogurt

Cornell University – Consider Bardwell Rupert Reserve, Nettle Meadow Kunik, and Cornell University's Charter Day Cheddar Cheese
National Grape Cooperative/Welch's – Concord Grape Juice, and Red and White Sparkling Grape Juice 

Upstate Niagara Cooperative – Non-fat Greek Yogurt; Intense Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, and Flavor of the Month milks
Wines of Lake Erie and Niagara – A selection of award-winning wines from 21 Brix Winery, Black Willow Winery, Johnson Estate Winery, Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, Liberty Vineyards & Winery, and Schulze Vineyards & Winery 

Food Network – Chilled Tomato Soup with Corn Relish and Kale, and Goat Cheese Bread.  Ingredients sourced from Kelder's Farm & U-Pick, Flying Pigs Farm, Sycamore Farms, Painted Goat Farm, Hudson Valley Fresh

New York Apple Association – Fresh New York Apples and Red Jacket Orchards Cider    

New York State Maple Producers – Soft Maple Sugar Shapes