Saturday, December 31, 2016

No Such Thing as a Normal Harvest for Grapes in New York

From Jim Trezise at the New York Wine and Grape Foundation


This year's harvest once again proved that there is no such thing as a "normal harvest" in New York state, in contrast to some other regions where things are more predictable.

After a comparatively warm winter relative to the previous few years, what became the key issue was an unusual drought -- at one point classified as "extreme," beyond "severe"-- in the Finger Lakes and some other regions.  

But at the end of the day (or year), the 2016 harvest was generally one of superb quality, and the reduction in drought-induced quantity that was less than anticipated.  In the Lake Erie region (95 percent Concord and Niagara grapes for juice), the sugar levels were off the charts compared with "normal" years.

As always, Cornell Cooperative Extension's excellent "Veraison to Harvest" weekly e-newsletter during the fall was a valuable resource for growers and wineries to adapt to the conditions in order to maximize quality and quantity.  And the final edition included a great wrap-up of the year

At this point, the wines from the 2016 harvest are quietly developing in tanks or barrels, with great promise for great wines.

New York state now has 418 wineries and farm wineries, plus 82 branch offices/satellite stores, in 59 of the state's 62 counties. We're everywhere!

Urban Farming Teams with USDA Loans

Urban farming is becoming a big deal in the Big Apple.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini and New York State Executive Director James Barber recently went to Brooklyn to tour urban agriculture operations funded by USDA microloans.
 

As more urban farms start in New York City, consumers can find a wider variety of fresh, locally grown vegetables, year round.
 

“The USDA microloan has expanded funding and opportunities for beginning, niche and small farmers to start or expand their agriculture operations,” said Dolcini. “As urban agriculture continues to grow, FSA loan programs have evolved to keep up with the needs of these unique, creative and trend-setting urban farmers.”
 

Nine urban entrepreneurs worked with Square Roots and USDA to start their urban farming operation. Square Roots is an organization that promotes urban farming and coaches people with a passion for local food to grow and sell produce locally while building a sustainable business.
 

The urban entrepreneurs each used the USDA microloan program to secure a low-interest loan to lease a vertical farm from Square Roots and pay for operating expenses such as seed, water and electricity costs.
 

Vertical farms are repurposed shipping containers tailored for hydroponically growing vegetables and include a water system, heating and cooling units and light-emitting diodes designed to mirror sunlight. Each vertical farm is capable of producing the equivalent of what is grown on two acres of farmland.
 

Square Roots aims to connect local consumers to the urban farmers who grow a variety of greens and herbs that will be sold at local farmers markets and to local restaurants. The producers expect to harvest their first crop this month.
 

The urban farmers are growing green salad mixes, lettuce (green and red), spinach, chard and rhubarb chard, arugula, mustards, Genovese basil, shiso (an herb which is a member of the mint family), kale and watercress.
 

USDA microloans are low interest loans developed to better serve the unique financial needs of new, niche and small to mid-sized family farm operations. 

Microloans offer more flexible access to credit and serve as an attractive loan alternative for smaller farming operations, like specialty crop producers. Borrowers can use the microloan for operating expenses or to purchase, expand or improve a farm. The maximum loan amount is $50,000.
 

To learn more about the USDA microloan program, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/microloans or contact your local FSA office. To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov/.
 

Also, you can check out this http://www.businessinsider.com/usda-urban-agriculture-2016-12  story about the urban farming movement.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Changes Coming for Wine Industry in 2017

From Jim Trezise at the New York Wine and Grape Foundation


The 2015 holiday season seems like a month ago, and the grape harvest just yesterday.  

But here we are at the end of another year--and the beginning of the next.

Overall, 2016 has been a very good year.  In most regions, the harvest was excellent in terms of quality, and sufficient in quantity.  The number of wineries continued to grow in many parts of the State.  And New York wines kept getting ever more recognition for consistent quality.

2017 will be a year of change. Sam Filler will become executive director of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation on January 1, and I will continue as president until March 31 in order to fully orient him on the challenges and opportunities he will face.

I will move on as president of WineAmerica, the national organization of American wineries, and continue as president of the International Riesling Foundation, as well as judging in major wine competitions.  A new administration will occupy Washington, presenting many uncertainties related to programs and policies affecting the New York and American grape and wine industry.

Top 10 Ag Stories of the Year

Here are the top 10 stories in agriculture according to agriculture.com

Go to http://www.agriculture.com/news/top-10-stories-from-2016 to check out the story.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Big Battles Over Farm and Food Policies May Be Brewing in Trump Administration

Interesting story from National Public Radio.

Check it out http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/12/28/506592753/big-battles-over-farm-and-food-policies-may-be-brewing-as-trump-era-begins at this link.

Craft Distilleries and Cideries Have Great Two Years

From New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets

Since the Craft New York Act was enacted Dec. 13, 2014, the number of farm distilleries has nearly doubled. 

This growth is a direct result of the Craft New York Act, which provided significant benefits to farm distillers. There are now 107 farm distilleries operating in New York state, with 50 new businesses opening over the last two years.
 
"By cutting red tape and easing regulations on farm distilleries, we are supporting the growth and expansion of small businesses that create new jobs and drive economic growth across New York," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

"From farm distilleries to breweries to cideries, the craft beverage industry is thriving, strengthening the agricultural and tourism industries, and providing real economic benefits to communities in every region of the state," Cuomo said.
 
As a result of New York supporting the industry, the growth of small craft beverage producers is leading to increased tax revenue, job opportunities, increased demand for farm products, such as corn, grains and apples, and a bolstered tourism impact for the state. 

A full list of the new farm distilleries established in New York since December 2014 is available by going to https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/Farm_Distilleries_2016.pdf .  

In all, the number of farm-based distillery businesses in New York state has increased 10-fold since 2011, from 10 to 107.
Regulatory and legislative reforms implemented to support the development and expansion of New York craft distillers include the Craft New York Act, which provided New York farm distilleries with the opportunity to:

** Conduct tastings and serve “by the bottle” and “by the glass;”  
** Increase the retail outlets where they can sell and offer samples of their products;  
** Lower the food requirement that must be met by manufacturers when offering tastings and consumption on premises; 
  ** Open offsite branch stores, eliminating the need for a separate license; and 
  ** Increase production by raising the annual manufacturing cap while maintaining low cost licensing fees.

In addition to the growth of farm distilleries, nine distilleries opened branch locations since the Craft Act went into effect.
 
Cuomo championed several additional reforms previous to the Craft Act that benefit New York distilleries, including the elimination of a brand label registration fee, saving New York distilleries $687,000 in fees since 2014, and the elimination of a duplicate licenses for farm distilleries, providing substantial cost savings and reducing paperwork for businesses across the State.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Farm Bureau Presents Awards

From New York Farm Bureau

At its state Annual Meeting in Albany, New York Farm Bureau presented a number of awards to members and counties that have excelled in the Farm Bureau mission to “serve and strengthen agriculture.”  

The Young Farmers and Ranchers program handed out three awards for their annual contests. Winners of these awards will represent New York at the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting this January in Phoenix, Az. 

The New York State Discussion Meet champion is Marc Silva from Cayuga County. The Excellence of Agriculture award was presented to Emmaline Long from Genesee County, and the 2016 New York State Achievement Award winners are Bret and Johanna Bossard from Madison County.

Membership is a crucial part of Farm Bureau and many individuals took an active role in the campaign to increase numbers. Many individuals worked tirelessly to recruit new members and over 20 people were awarded for their efforts. 

Chenango County Farm Bureau received the coveted “New York Farm Bureau Trophy for Membership Excellence.” It goes to the county Farm Bureau that ranks the highest in six membership categories.

The Promotion and Education Award which recognizes a county Farm Bureau’s efforts, program and creativity was given to Seneca County Farm Bureau for its “Why I Farm” series of articles featured in local newspapers and websites.

Lastly, New York Farm Bureau awarded the “Farm Bureau Key” to counties that excel in overall program accomplishment. Four counties won the 2016 Gold Key Award. They are Allegany, Chenango, Washington and Onondaga County Farm Bureaus. 

Farm Credit East was also recognized at the awards banquet for its 100 years of service to New York’s farmers.

Fantasy Farming Gives Students Chance to Get in the Game

Something interesting out of Nebraska.

Check it out http://netnebraska.org/article/news/1055165/fantasy-farming-gives-students-chance-get-game at this link.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

New York Certified Organic Sets Dates for Winter Meetings


New York Certified Organic has set the dates for its Winter 2017 meetings, bringing grain and dairy farmers together with guest speakers on the organic crops and dairy production. 

The 2017 dates are Jan. 10, Feb. 14 and March 13. Each program begins at 10 a.m. in Jordan Hall, 630 W. North St. at the New York State Agricultural Experimental Station, Geneva.

There is no cost or need to register to attend the meetings; participants are asked to bring a dish to pass at the potluck lunch. 


Roundtable discussions after lunch provide farmers the opportunity to ask questions and hear from the combined experience of the group. These sessions help advance organic production in New York and have been helpful to new and transitioning farmers as well as long-time organic producers.

A brief description of how crop insurance can benefit organic farmers will be included at each of the meetings.

The Jan. 10 meeting will feature presentations by Bob Quinn of the Quinn Organic Research Center, Big Sandy, Montana; Mark Sorrells of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University; organic producer Tim Christensen of Penn Yan; and Sandra Wayman with the Cornell Sustainable Cropping System Lab.

Quinn's organic research center includes a 2,800-acre farm in Big Sandy. The fourth generation farm transitioned to organic production in 1986. Work on organic grain varieties led to the redevelopment of Kamut, an ancient grain grown by the Egyptians. The farm also grows soft white wheat, durum wheat, buckwheat, lentils, peas, sweet clover, and flax.

Quinn, a sought-after speaker on marketing and development of organic grains, will present his vision of where organic markets are going and how New York’s producers can prepare for the future at the January 10 NYCO meeting.

As part of a research team there, Mark Sorrells worked on the ‘Accelerating Production of Organic Grains in Western NY’ project sponsored by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and Wegmans, the family-owned supermarket chain. Sorrells will review the results of this study conducted at the Cornell University Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora.

Tim Christensen farms with his father, Guy in Penn Yan and has been experimenting with different cover crops in his corn and small grain rotation. His decisions are based on the multi-layered objectives of protecting soil health, adding green manures, and qualifying for annual Conservation Stewardship Program payments. Christensen will share some of the success and failures he has had on his farm.

Cornell Sustainable Cropping System Lab Research Technician Sandra Wayman will review work with the newly-developed perennial grain Kernza.

The Feb. 14 NYCO meeting will focus on how to diversity farm business with organic poultry. The March 13 session will feature speakers on nutrient balancing, crop production and alternative forage production.

Producers, educators and agribusiness representatives are encouraged to mark calendars for these meetings. 


For more information, contact Fay Benson at (607) 391-2699 or email afb3@cornell.edu

Information on past meetings is online at http://blogs.cornell.edu/organicdairyinitiative/.

Vilsack's Eight Years as Ag Secretary Draw to an End

Vilsack
A look back at Thomas Vilsack's eight years as ag secretary.

Check it out here: http://www.omaha.com/news/politics/his-eight-years-as-agriculture-secretary-are-over-but-tom/article_c726a5b1-d434-596a-a92d-b030c7bd848b.html

Friday, December 23, 2016

But Maybe This Woman is the Next Ag Secretary

But then again -- Politico is saying this woman is in line for Ag Secretary.

Read the http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-susan-combs-20161222-story.html story at this link

Report: Former Texas A&M President Interviewed for Ag Secretary

Dallas Morning News reporting another candidate for Agriculture Secretary being interviewed by President-Elect Donald Trump.

Check out the story http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2016/12/22/elsa-murano-former-am-president-consideration-trumps-agriculture-secretary here.

Sufflolk County Project Receives Federal Funding

USDA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Dec. 21 that 88 high-impact projects across the country will receive $225 million in federal funding as part of the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
 

In addition, partners have proposed to contribute up to an additional $500 million to improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability.
 

With the announcement, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is investing a total of $825 million in 286 projects, bringing together more than 2,000 conservation partners who have committed an estimated $1.4 billion in financial and technical assistance.
 

By 2018, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and its partners, including Indian tribes, nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, private industry, water districts, universities and many others, will have invested at least $2.4 billion through RCPP, which was created by the 2014 Farm Bill.
 

The New York state project is titled “Agricultural Stewardship in the Peconic Estuary” on Long Island in Suffolk County. 

A proposed investment of $1.212 million will be provided so a partnership among government agencies, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions and private farmers can provide technical assistance and financial resources to Suffolk County farmers within the federally-designated Peconic Estuary Watershed in New York.
 

According to a news release, “with these resources, farmers can conduct nutrient management plans and integrated pest management plans to adapt best management practices, which will improve water quality, soil vitality and wildlife habitat. The project will support an agricultural specialist at the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District whose primary responsibility will be to assist farmers with their nutrient and pest management plans.”
 

The project also will provide farmers with access to trained professionals who can provide information about additional Natural Resources Conservation Service funding needed to enhance agricultural stewardship efforts.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Organic Producers, Handlers Now Eligible to Apply for Federal Reimbursement

From the USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that starting March 20, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency offices to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.

USDA is making changes to increase participation in the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program  and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and at the same time provide more opportunities for organic producers to access other USDA programs, such as disaster protection and loans for farms, facilities and marketing. 

Producers also can access information on nonfederal agricultural resources, and get referrals to local experts, including organic agriculture, through USDA’s Bridges to Opportunity service at the local Farm Service Agency office.

Historically, many state departments of agriculture have obtained grants to disburse reimbursements to those producers and handlers qualifying for cost share assistance. Farm Service Agency will continue to partner with states to administer the programs. 

For states that want to continue to directly administer the programs, applications will be due Feb. 17. 

Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic or transitional certification fees to a  USDA-accredited certifying agent. 

Application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/ arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage are all eligible for a cost share reimbursement from USDA.

Once certified, producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope — crops, livestock, wild crops and handling.  

Today’s announcement also adds transitional certification and state organic program fees as additional scopes.

To learn more about organic certification cost share, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/organic or contact a local FSA office by visiting http://offices.usda.gov.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

State Awards Money for Regional Agriculture Projects

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball on Dec. 19 highlighted the nearly $27 million in funding awarded through the 2016 Regional Economic Development Council initiative that will support the growth of the agricultural, food and beverage industries in New York State.  

The awards were announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Dec. 8. A total of 68 agriculture-related projects were identified as key to advancing the state’s 10 regional economies.

“I’m pleased that the Regional Councils, who are made up of leaders representing our state's communities, businesses and universities, are supporting projects that will help the agricultural industry grow," Ball said. "From farm operation expansion projects to training programs, these projects are proving important to our regional economies."


A snapshot of the projects awarded include:

 

Western New York – $2.1 million for seven projects, including $1 million for the state-of-the-art expansion of Edelweiss Dairy Farm and $220,000 for a farmers’ market in the City of Olean.

 

Finger Lakes – $3.5 million for seven projects, including $2.3 million for the Livonia Agribusiness Park and $213,500 for a commercial kitchen incubator in downtown Rochester.

 

Southern Tier – $811,500 for four projects, including $250,000 for Fagan Engineers Land Surveyors P.C. to create a wine production, warehousing and distribution facility.

 

Central New York – $1.9 million for nine projects, including $200,000 to JD Farms to help build and equip an industrial biomass processing plant in Georgetown, which will be used to process commodity crops such as hay, wheat straw and industrial hemp.

 

North Country – $1.85 million for seven projects, including $1.2 million for CEI Greenhouses to establish greenhouses in Ogdensburg to grow leafy green vegetables using a hydroponic system.

 

Mohawk Valley – $3.9 million for six projects, including $100,000 for the Vets2Farm training program.

 

Capital Region – nearly $8.5 million for 11 projects, including $600,000 to support the expansion of Hawthorne Valley Farm in Columbia County and $325,000 to expand the Adirondack Pub Brewery and to establish a Craft Beverage Campus in Warren County.

 

Mid- Hudson Region – $1.9 million for eight projects, including $750,000 for the Star Estate Distillery, which will establish a craft distillery relocating its brand, Star Vodka, from Oregon, expand spirit production into whiskey, bourbon and gin along with private label products for new brands, and create a 25 room boutique hotel, event space and small organic farm in the Town of Esopus.

 

Long Island – $825,000 for six projects, including $300,000 for Montauk Inlet Seafood, which will expand their ice making capacity by creating a production, storage and distribution system to support local Montauk fishing vessels.

New York City – $1.47 million for three projects, including $375,000 for Urban Farmers, a Swiss-based rooftop aquaponics developer and operator, which will build an aquaponics and hydroponics greenhouse on rooftop space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

To see the entire list of projects, http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/Press%20Releases/REDC_Grant_Awards_2016.pdf go to this link.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Trump Eyes North Dakota Senator as Ag Secretary

Go to http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/12/trump-eying-an-agriculture-pick-that-locked-horns-with-meatpacking-industry.html to see the story.

New York State Gift Baskets Available at Taste NY Stores

If you're stuck for a gift for someone for Christmas, why not try a unique and quality gifts from New York state such as Taste NY gift sets and baskets filled with the very best of New York made food, beverages and other products.  

Six Taste NY stores around the state and one in Puerto Rico are offering pre-made and customized gifts available in stores. In addition, select stores are taking orders by phone for pickup or delivery.

“During the busy holiday season, Taste NY makes it easy to find thoughtful, high-quality gifts that friends and family will love," said Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball. "The state’s hard-working farmers and agribusinesses produce some of the finest products out there, and the holidays are a perfect time to share those items with the people you care about most. 

"I encourage New Yorkers to stop by a Taste NY store to shop for great gifts and support their local community.  I also thank the managers and operators of our Taste NY stores and markets, who work hard to spotlight all of our great businesses and put these wonderful selections together.”

Gift sets and baskets range in size and price.  They feature a wide selection of gourmet food items, locally produced wines and liquors, New York made novelty items and bath and beauty products.

The following Taste NY stores are offering holiday baskets:

Taste NY Market at the Long Island Welcome Center
Customers can reach the Long Island Welcome Center at (631) 678-5227
Taste NY Store at Grand Central Terminal
The Taste NY store at Grand Central Station is across from Track 37.)  For inquiries, please call (212) 663-2212.
Taste NY Market at Todd Hill
For information, call (845) 849-0247 for more information.
Empire State Plaza Visitors Center
Shoppers can call ahead to the store at (518) 486-6858 or 473-0206 to have a basket made and ready for pickup. 
Taste NY Market at Lock E-13 Living History Rest Area
The Taste NY Market at the Lock E-13 Living History Rest Area is a one-stop shop for unforgettable, one-of-a kind gifts. The Market can be reached at (518) 922-6367.
Taste NY Market at Broome Gateway Center
Baskets can be picked up at the store or delivered.  Deliveries in the Binghamton area are free of charge; all others are shipped for an additional fee. Customers can reach Taste NY at the Broome Gateway Center at (607) 775-0156.
Taste NY Market at Old San Juan
Shoppers can also find New York gift sets at the Taste NY Market in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  

For a complete list of Taste NY store locations, hours of operation and contact information, visit the Taste NY website, www.taste.ny.gov


Friday, December 9, 2016

St. Lawrence County Dairy Farmer New President of NY Farm Bureau

From New York Farm Bureau

David Fisher
David Fisher, a dairy farmer from St. Lawrence County, is the new president of New York Farm Bureau.

He succeeds Dean Norton, who has been president for eight years. He was elected by voting delegates at the statewide New York Farm Bureau annual meeting held this past week in Albany.

Fisher and his family have operated Mapleview Dairy in Madrid for four generations. He has served on the New York Farm Bureau Board of Directors for the past five years and previously was president of St. Lawrence County Farm Bureau. A graduate of Cornell University, Fisher earned a degree in Animal Science.

“I am humbled that the farmer members of New York Farm Bureau have placed their confidence in me to lead this great organization," Fisher said. "My family has a long history with Farm Bureau, and I am excited to work on behalf of our diverse membership to increase the value and visibility of New York agriculture. I would also like to thank Dean Norton for his service and commitment to New York Farm Bureau.”

Vice President Eric Ooms, a dairy farmer from Columbia County, was re-elected to his position.

In addition, representatives to the state Board of Directors were elected, too. This concluded the annual two-day long meeting where resolutions were discussed and voted on to set NYFB’s 2017 public policy agenda.

Those elected include Pat McCormick of Wyoming County, re-elected as District 2 Director; Lin Davidson of Tompkins County was elected as District 4 Director; Jacob Schieferstine of Oneida County was re-elected as District 6 Director; Dean Casey of Rensselaer County, re-elected as District 8 Director; Chris Kelder of Ulster County, re-elected as District 10 Director; Kristen Brown of Orange County as the new Young Farmer and Rancher Chair on the State Board and Phyllis Couture of Cattaraugus County was re-elected as the Promotion and Education Chairperson on the State Board.

In addition, New York Farm Bureau handed out the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Awards to two worthy individuals who have made an impact on New York Farm Bureau and agriculture in this state. 

The awardees were Chris Fesko of Spafford and a member of Onondaga County Farm Bureau, and Michael DellaRocco of Melrose,  a member of Rensselaer County Farm Bureau.

Finally, New York Farm Bureau announced two recipients of the James Quinn Award that recognizes extraordinary efforts by individual Farm Bureau members during the course of a given year “to serve and strengthen agriculture”.  The honorees were Joe and June Swyers of Livingston County Farm Bureau and Brad and Carolyn Almeter of Wyoming County Farm Bureau.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Discusses Ag Export Forecast

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently issued the following statement on the forecast for U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 2017.

Vilsack
"U.S. farmers and ranchers continue to rise to the challenge of supplying the world with high-quality, American-grown products. At a projected $134 billion in 2017, U.S. farm exports continue to rally and remain on the record-setting pace of the past eight years.

"Since 2009, the United States has exported more than $1 trillion in agricultural products, far more than any other period in our history, thanks to the productivity and ingenuity of American farmers and ranchers, aided in part by the work of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service to arrange and support trade missions and of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to break down trade barriers.

"The $134-billion forecast represents an increase of $4.3 billion from 2016 and would be the sixth-highest total on record. U.S. agriculture is once again expected to post a trade surplus, totaling $21.5 billion, up nearly 30 percent from the $16.6 billion surplus in 2016.

"The expected volume of 2017 exports is noteworthy, with bulk commodity exports expected to surpass last year's record levels - led by soybeans at a record 55.8 million metric tons, and corn, up 11 percent from last year, to 56.5 million metric tons. The volume of cotton exports is expected to begin recovering and most livestock and poultry products should see moderate increases in export volume as well.

"Exports are responsible for 20 percent of U.S. farm income, also driving rural economic activity and supporting more than one million American jobs both on and off the farm," he said.. 

"USDA has made support for exports and production agriculture one of the Four Pillars of a 21st century rural economy, along with local and regional food systems, the biobased economy, and conservation and natural resources, and has made significant, targeted investments in these areas. 

"The ag forecast report showing growing exports and stable farm incomes reflect the strategic, consistent work of the Obama Administration since 2009 to help rural America thrive. We must continue promoting a favorable trade environment for American exports and making targeted investments that drive the rural economy forward to ensure this progress continues."

For the full ag forecast, go to https://www.fas.usda.gov/data/quarterly-agricultural-export-forecast

Thursday, December 8, 2016

USDA Surveying Sheep and Goat Operations

Starting in late December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will measure sheep and goat inventories and wool and mohair production during a nationwide survey.
 

Operators surveyed will be asked to provide information about their sheep and goat inventories, counts of lambs and kids born during 2016, and production and prices received for wool and mohair.
 

“Accurate data on sheep and goat inventory and production is a significant decision-making tool for USDA and the industry to be more responsive to domestic and international markets and consumer needs,” said King Whetstone, Northeast regional director of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

“The information can also help create public appreciation for the many benefits of U.S. sheep and goats and their needed products,” said Whetstone.
 

To make it as easy as possible for producers to participate in the survey, the statistics service offers the option of responding online, by telephone, mail, or a personal interview with a local representative.
 

The statistics service safeguards the privacy of all responses and publishes only state- and national-level data in aggregate, ensuring that no individual producer or operation can be identified.
 

Survey results will be published Jan. 31 in the Sheep and Goats report. This and all statistics service reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov. 

For more information, call the Northeastern Regional Field Office at (800) 498-1518.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

CCC Interest Rates Set for December

From the USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) announced interest rates for December 2016.
 

The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for December is 0.750 percent, up from 0.625 percent in November.
 

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during December is 1.750 percent, up from 1.625 percent in November.
 

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for December are as follows: 

*** 1.125 percent with three-year loan terms, up from 1 percent in November
*** 1.375 percent with five-year loan terms, up from 1.250 percent in November
***1.750 percent with seven-year loan terms, up from 1.5 percent in November
*** 2 percent with 10-year loan terms, up from 1.750 percent in November and; 
***2 percent with 12-year loan terms, up from 1.750 percent in November.
 

The interest rate for 15-year Sugar Storage Facility Loans for December is 2.125 percent, up from 1.875 percent in November.
 

Further program information is available from USDA Farm Service Agency’s Financial Management Division at (202) 772-6041.

FFA Camp Looking for Summer Workers

The Oswegatchie FFA Camp in northern New York is seeking workers for the 2017 summer season.
 

Anyone who needs more information should go to this link http://www.oswegatchiecamp.com/employment.html

The application deadline is Feb. 9.

Monday, December 5, 2016

USDA Investments Result in Patents, Inventions


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released results of investments in scientific research, including 222 new inventions, 94 patents awarded and 125 new patent applications filed in 2015.
 

The USDA Annual Report on Technology Transfer includes new agriculture-related discoveries, inventions and processes made by USDA researchers, universities and small businesses with the potential for commercial application.
 

Highlights from the 2015 report include:
** A bio-refinery that turned a city landfill into an “energy park”
** Computer chips made from wood fiber
** Mosquito-resistant uniforms for U.S. military personnel
** A new biological control agent to combat a major citrus disease
** An on-line climate and weather tool to better manage farm pests and plant diseases
** Cost-effective solar-powered irrigation pumps for remote communities
** Flu eradication through genome editing in pigs
** Bacteria repellent cooking pan surfaces

** Robotic apple pickers
** Affordable tornado-safe rooms
** Virus-based fire ant control
 

The full 2015 Technology Transfer Report, as well as a look at previous USDA research and discoveries, is available at this website https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/ott/FY15-TT_9-30.pdf  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Red Meat, Corn, Soybeans Production Up in New York; Potatoes Down

Commercial red meat production for New York totaled 3.8 million pounds in October, up 12 percent from the 3.4 million pounds produced in October 2015.

Cattle slaughter totaled 3,300 head, up 10 percent from October 2015. The average live weight was up 6 pounds from the previous year, at 1,164.
 

Calf slaughter totaled 6,500 head, up 132 percent from October 2015. The average live weight was down 60 pounds from last year, at 115 pounds.
 

Hog slaughter totaled 5,500 head, up 15 percent from October 2015. The average live weight was up 4 pounds from the previous year, at 258 pounds.
 

Sheep slaughter totaled 4,100 head, 15 percent below last year. The average live weight was 103 pounds, down 3 pounds from October a year ago.

Corn production in New York is forecast at 83.8 million bushels, up 2 percent from the October forecast but down 1 percent from last year.
 

Based on conditions as of Nov. 1, yields are expected to average 133 bushels per acre, up 2 bushels from the October forecast but down 10 bushels from 2015. Area harvested for grain is forecast at 630,000 acres, unchanged from the October forecast but up 7 percent from 2015.
 

Soybean production in New York is forecast at 13.7 million bushels, up 2 percent from October and up 6 percent from last year. Based on Nov. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 42 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel from last month but down 1 bushel from last year. Area for harvest is forecast at 326,000 acres, unchanged from last month.
 

Fall potatoes production for 2016 is forecast at 3.31 million hundredweight, down 20 percent from last year. Area harvested, at 13,800 acres, is down 7 percent from the previous year. The average yield forecast, at 240 hundredweight per acre, is down 40 hundredweight from last year’s yield.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

USDA Surveying Cattle Operations

In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will survey more than 40,000 cattle operations nationwide to provide an up-to-date measure of U.S. cattle inventories.
 

“This information helps producers make timely, informed business decisions such as planning for herd expansion or reduction. It also helps packers and government leaders evaluate expected slaughter volume for future months and determine potential supplies for export,” said Northeastern Regional Director King Whetstone. “Obtaining the current count of cattle will serve as an important decision-making tool for the entire agriculture industry.”
 

During the first two weeks of January, Northeastern producers will have the opportunity to report their beef and dairy cattle inventories, calf crop, death loss and cattle on feed operations. 

To make it as easy as possible for producers to participate in the survey, the National Agricultural Statistics Service offers the option of responding via the Internet, telephone, mail or a personal interview with a local statistics service representative.
 

The statistics service safeguards the privacy of all responses and publishes only state- and national-level data, ensuring that no individual producer or operation can be identified.
 

The January Cattle report will be released Jan. 31. This and all statistics reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov. For more information, call the Northeastern Regional Field Office at (800) 498-1518.

Friday, December 2, 2016

USDA Proposes Amending Nutrition Label Regulations for Meat, Poultry

From the USDA:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service Dec. 1 proposed a critical step in ensuring that consumers have updated nutritional information for meat and poultry products, helping Americans make better informed decisions when purchasing meat and poultry products.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service is proposing to amend the nutrition labeling regulations for meat and poultry products to parallel the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's final nutrition regulations, which were published May 27.

The proposed rule will improve the presentation of nutrition information to assist consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices.

"This new rule will provide more transparency on nutrition labels so that American consumers can make informed decisions about the foods they eat and feed their families," said Alfred Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. "The new nutrition facts panel will complement the many other proactive, prevention-based food policies that we've put in place in recent years."

Specifically, the Food Safety and Inspection Service is proposing to:
  • Update the list of nutrients that are required or permitted to be declared;
  • Provide updated Daily Reference Values and Reference Daily Intake values that are based on current dietary recommendations from consensus reports;
  • Amend the labeling requirements for foods represented or purported to be specifically for children under the age of 4 years and pregnant women and lactating women and establish nutrient reference values specifically for these population subgroups;
  • Revise the format and appearance of the Nutrition Facts label;
  • Amend the definition of a single-serving container;
  • Require dual-column labeling for certain containers;
  • Update and modify several reference amounts customarily consumed (reference amounts); and
  • Consolidate the nutrition labeling regulations for meat and poultry products into a new Code of Federal Regulations part.
The proposal may be viewed on the FSIS website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/a8674ea1-0c26-4bf3-8413-43b6551c0680/2014-0024.pdf?MOD=AJPERES this link.

Should Hydroponic and Aquaponic Farms Still Be Eligible for Organic Certification?

Check out this story http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/18/opinions/hydroponic-and-aquaponic-farms-are-organic-cufone/ at this link.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New York State Fair Public Input Meeting Dec. 6

From the New York State Fair:

A task force recently was appointed to examine possibilities for a second round of investment in the New York State Fairgrounds of up to $50 million. 

To help shape future improvements, the task force will hold a public input meeting from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 6 in the Art and Home Center at the fairgrounds in Syracuse. 

The Task Force is also inviting New Yorkers to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair at statefairideas@agriculture.ny.gov

What is Going To Happen Now With Farming?

An Editorial from Lancaster Farming.

Check it out http://www.lancasterfarming.com/news/editorials/what-now-for-farming/article_88ddbaee-4edc-5bab-9280-5959ced290a4.html at this link.

Deadline Extended for Farm Service Agency County Committee Elections



The deadline to submit ballots for the USDA Farm Service Agency 2016 County Committee Elections has been extended to ensure farmers and ranchers have sufficient time to vote. 
Eligible voters now have until Dec. 13 to return ballots to their local Farm Service Agency offices. Producers who have not received their ballot should pick one up at their local Farm Service Agency office.
Farm Service Agency has modified the ballot, making it easily identifiable and less likely to be overlooked. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 13.
Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2017.
Nearly 7,700 Farm Service Agency County Committee members serve agency offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. 
County committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to help Farm Service Agency make important decisions on its commodity support, conservation, indemnity, disaster and emergency programs.
Producers must participate or cooperate in a Farm Service Agency program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. 
For more information, visit the Farm Service Agency website at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections . You may also contact your local USDA service center or Farm Service Agency office. Visit http://offices.usda.gov to find an Farm Service Agency office near you.