Saturday, January 30, 2016

It's National Seed Swap Day

It's National Seed Swap Day (always the last Saturday in January).

This has always been an important day for gardeners, who are always looking for new seeds to plant.

The website states the seed swap is a fundamental part of human history. Seeds were one of the first commodities valued and traded. Today, modern gardeners collect and exchange seeds for many reasons ranging from cultivating rare, heirloom varieties to basic thrift. 

The exchange of seeds perpetuates biodiversity. It is an act of giving and the ultimate form of recycling.

Go to for more information.

Exchange seeds with friends and use #NationalSeedSwapDay to post on social media.

The first annual Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange was held in Washington, DC, on Jan. 26, 2006. Kathy Jentz, the editor/publisher of the magazine had the last Saturday of January named an official holiday and National Seed Swap Day was born. 

After that event’s success, seed swaps in other cities across the nation have joined in celebrating National Seed Swap Day each year on (or around*) the last Saturday in January.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

New York Farm Bureau Lists Priorities for 2016; Stopping Minimum Wage Hike is Number 1

From the New York Farm Bureau:

New York Farm Bureau released its 2016 state priorities Jan. 27 that focus on improving conditions in New York state to allow for agricultural growth. 

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton laid out the legislative agenda during a press conference call with the media that included NYFB’s Public Policy Director Jeff Williams.

The number one issue for New York Farm Bureau this year is to strongly oppose the $15 minimum wage. The plan would dramatically impact farms competitiveness and cost farmers an estimated $500 million in additional annual labor costs alone. That would be crushing in a year like this one, when milk and commodity prices are significantly lower.

New York Farm Bureau members let Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the rest of the state Legislature know they are against the $15 an hour minimum wages. Back row left to right are Chris Kelder, Darin Hickling, Dean Casey, Patrick McCormick, Jake Schieferstine, Richard Kimball and Robert Nolan. In front, left to right, holding Assembly banner is David Fisher, John Sorbello and Phyllis Couture, holding governor banner is New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton and Vice President Eric Ooms, and holding the Senate banner are Paul Fouts, Alex Wright and Ashur Terwilliger.
Norton said the average agricultural wage in New York state is $12.39 an hour, well above the current minimum, but an increase will force wages up across the board, including those already making more than the minimum based on skill and experience. Additional costs will rise as well for payroll taxes like unemployment insurance and FICA. 

Other expenses will come from increased costs for goods and services that farms must purchase.

“The governor’s minimum wage proposal makes New York completely uncompetitive with the other agricultural states,” Norton said.  “When Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is $7.25 and New York’s is $15, how can our farms and other businesses compete? The answer, unfortunately, is to reduce labor costs or shut down.”

Norton added New York Farm Bureau will hold lawmakers accountable on this issue, and remind its members of how their representatives voted. The minimum wage proposal is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget plan.

State funding for critical farm programs is also a top priority for New York Farm Bureau. The governor included a number of items in his budget plan to help the farm industry, including money for the Environmental Protection Fund, which will assist farms with water quality, conservation and farmland protection programs.

New York Farm Bureau also remains committed to securing money to assist schools in starting up new FFA programs as well as for agricultural education programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates there will be 60,000 new jobs a year in the farming and food industries, and the state will need to have a workforce ready to meet those demands to help grow the industries right here at home.

“We have an abundance of school districts looking to add chapters and this funding would help get those chapters off the ground and started,” said Norton.

A third priority related to the budget is the investment in roads and bridge for upstate New York. The governor is committing $20 billion to match infrastructure efforts happening in and around New York City. The parity in upstate-downstate funding remains a priority because our farms need access to good roads and safe bridges in order to transport their goods to market.

“Many of the bridges that cross the Erie Canal are no longer accessible to agricultural equipment and vehicles because of the weight limit and restrictions,” said Norton. “This increases time and costs for farmers who may have to travel miles out of their way to get to a farm field or deliver milk.”

Another new priority for our members this year is support for transferring farm assessment functions from the Department of Taxation and Finance to the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Agricultural land assessments are determined by Agriculture and Markets under Agricultural District Law. However, when it comes to administering the assessments, it falls to Tax and Finance, which can create some confusion for assessors not well versed in Agriculture District Law.

Moving the process to be entirely housed within the Department of Agriculture and Markets will not only streamline the process, but it would be a common sense move to improve a valuable program for our farms.

“There is a real sensitivity and understanding of our industry in the Department of Agriculture and Markets and we feel that assessment program and functions would be much better served in that department rather than Taxation and Finance,” said Williams, NYFB’s public policy director.

Finally, energy is another major priority for New York Farm Bureau. Reducing costs and increasing efficiencies for farms, while also helping farms transition to renewable energy sources, provide many benefits for agriculture. 

The governor’s initiative, known as Reforming the Energy Vision or REV, is looking to be a more market-based plan than current energy policy incentives. In the past, the New York State Energy Research Development Authority has worked with farms to open up opportunities for solar, wind energy and biomass as well as increasing the use of anaerobic digesters on dairy farms. The digesters convert animal nutrients into electricity that is returned to the grid.

New York Farm Bureau will work this year to ensure REV is implemented in a fair and effective way so that rural New York is able to take advantage of the programs available, and farms can contribute to a more resilient grid and power their neighborhoods.

“We are watching this process very closely, because at the end of the day, we want to make sure that farms who want to employ more renewable energy technologies are making out equally in rate pricing and that their efforts are economically viable,” said Williams. “At this time, we don’t know how this will impact farms or rate payers.”

New York Farm Bureau establishes its priorities every year beginning at the grassroots level. Members of 52 county Farm Bureaus voice their opinions and vote on public policy resolutions at the county level. Those make their way to State Annual Meeting in December where delegates cast their votes that determine the organization’s positions on legislative issues.  The State Board of Directors then established the priorities.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jefferson County Seeks Teens for Healthy Teen Ambassadors Program

Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Jefferson County’s 4-H Youth Development Program is recruiting 4-H Healthy Teen Ambassadors.   

This is open to all youth ages 14-17 in Jefferson County. There are no costs to participate, but space is limited. The deadline to register is Feb. 29.

The 4-H Healthy Teen Ambassadors will attend a training March 18 to 20 at the Amboy Center in Oswego County as part of a regional training with teens from across the state.  

Teens will be trained in the 4-H Choose Health:  Food, Fun and Fitness curriculum developed by Cornell University, Kids in the Kitchen curriculum developed by University of Missouri and the Up for the Challenge curriculum developed by the Department of Defense.   

Each curriculum is different, but they all offer research-based education on the benefits of nutrition and physical activity. Teens will be trained to deliver the healthy living curricula to youth in elementary after school programs, day camps, county fairs and other events.  

For additional information, on 4-H or the 4-H Healthy Living Teen Ambassador opportunity contact Cathy Chrisman at 788-8450 or go to

Winter Farmers' Markets Open for Business

Even though there is snow on the ground and it's cold doesn't mean farmers' markets are closed.

A number of sites across the state are open during the winter.

For example: The Chaumont Volunteer Fire Department is conducting an eight-week winter farmers market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays from Jan. 31 through March 20.

The department, at 11385 Route 12E, will hold the indoor market for the third straight year. Among other things, the market will feature fresh produce, baked goods and wines from area wineries. The department also will offer lunch specials.

For more information or to sign up as a vendor, contact Heather Jackson at 777-5442 or Holly Rubacha at 783-2838.

for more information on winter farmers' markets, go to and search by county.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Will the Upstate Revitalization Initiative Really Help Agricultural Growth?

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine


Late last year, the state announced three regions of the state would receive $500 million each during the next five years to help jumpstart their economies and create jobs.

Each of these regions — Central New York, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier — as well as those regions that did not win the competition (North Country, Mohawk Valley, Capital Region, Mid-Hudson) included agricultural components in their proposals.

So just what do the three winning regions want to do with their money in the field of agriculture? And which of these ideas does an agricultural economics professor at Cornell University think will provide the biggest bang for the buck?

Associate Professor Todd Schmit said he couldn’t talk about specifics in the plans, but looked at them overall and had some observations.

Schmit said what jumped out at him first was the regions’ proposals for food processing and beverages, areas that are adding jobs in New York state. He also liked proposals for “food hubs” and different ways to transport fresh products to other areas.

“What I took away from it is the key areas I see that will be fitting with the economic impacts in these regions and statewide economies,” Schmit said.

Schmit, who received his doctorate in 2003 at Cornell and teaches in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, focuses his research and teaching on agribusiness development, agribusiness management, agricultural marketing and cooperatives.

He said his research has shown that at the state level, the strongest growth is in food manufacturing. In that area, there has been a 53-percent increase in output sales and a 16- percent increase in employment.

An example in the dairy industry is the explosion of yogurt manufacturing in the state. Although there is a “question on supply issues” in yogurt right now (an oversupply of yogurt) along with depressed milk prices, this still should be an area of growth.

(One yogurt plant, run by Muller in Batavia, recently closed due to poor production expectations). New York has been the top U.S. yogurt producer for several years because of the booming Greek yogurt sector. Other plants in the state are run by Chobani, Fage and Byrne.

Schmit also said the specialty beverage industry is booming.

“A good chunk of that is in the wineries and the growth in hard cider and craft brewers,” he said.

In 2008, there were about 240 wineries in New York state. Today, there are more than 400.

Fruit growers are not just selling fruit today. Many have expanded into fruit spirits (alcoholic beverages), such as Beak & Skiff’s 1911 distillery in LaFayette in Onondaga County, which uses apples to make gin, vodka and a number of hard-cider products. 

Apple Country Spirits in Williamson, Wayne County, also uses its apples and other fruits to make spirits and hard cider.

“All the investments in manufacturing will provide opportunities,” Schmit said. “There are strong multiplier effects with this manufacturing. I see that as encouraging.”

Schmit also was excited about infrastructure improvements, mostly to improve ways to transport New York grown and manufactured foods to areas that need it.

“We have to get foods to urban areas,” he said. “These types of investments are worthwhile.”

For example, one proposals in the Southern Tier plan lists the desire to develop and use new technology to transition the Southern Tier from a highly seasonal, occasional provider of food products to a reliable source of supply for the East Coast. 

The Central New York plan includes indoor agriculture, so vegetables and fruits can be provided to customers year-round instead of just in the summer and fall.

Lastly, Schmit said he likes the proposed investment for workforce development. He said workers should be trained for these food manufacturing and beverage jobs so when companies hire them, they stay and become invested in their workplace and what it is making.

“Right now, there isn’t a commitment or work ethic,” Schmit said. “With the right incentives, (which he said is more than just wages) people will have a commitment for what they do and are engaged with the organization.”

Here are the winning regions and what agricultural proposals are in their plans. Most of the wording is taken right from the plans:


Transform the Food and Agriculture Industry

The Southern Tier will be a world-recognized leader in agriculture technology and serve as a key food supplier for the East Coast of the United States.

Leveraging the global reach and strengths of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, together with the region’s natural assets and strong private sector investment, a strategic mix of projects will transform and grow agriculture and food production, processing and distribution across the region, while also strengthening links to growing tourism and manufacturing industries.

** Develop and deploy new technology to transition the Southern Tier from a highly seasonal, occasional provider of food products to a reliable source of supply for the East Coast.

** Promote and leverage existing and new support structures for growers and producers in the region to help expand farms and increase their profitability.

** Increase the diversity of and access to food processing facilities around the region, including slaughterhouses, meat packing and poultry processing facilities, dairy processing facilities and aseptic packaging facilities for vegetables.

**Leverage our location at the crossroads of Upstate New York via the creation of a “food hub” network that facilitates market connections and distribution of food products for production centers in regions across the state.

** Pioneer workforce development programs designed to bolster food and agriculture industries.

The plan also states job creation for agriculture would be about 2,800, the average annual food and agriculture wage would go from $50,491 to $55,541 by the year 2020, the regional output of crops would increase 15 percent and the output in animal products would increase 5 percent.

Game-changing investments

** Plant Science Innovation and Business Development Center at Cornell University

** Southern Tier Agriculture and Food Development Cooperative

** Southern Tier Agriculture Development Fund, which will provide support to pioneering workforce development programs, with a focus on regional residents, hard-to-place workers and veterans

** Southern Tier Agriculture Education Fund

** Beef and Cattle Research Program

** Groundswell Farmer Incubator Capacity Improvement and Regional Expansion

** Basic infrastructure projects necessary to support expansion of food processing facilities such as the Waverly WWTF update to support the expansion of Leprino Cheese and the Village of Walton Biogas Project to support Kraft Food

** New construction or expansion of processing facilities for dairy, value-added foods, slaughter and meat packing, aseptic packaging and ultra-premium wine and beverages

** Investments in crop production such as the Vineyard Reclamation and Replacement Program

n Network of distribution hubs


Further investment in the Finger Lakes region’s food ecosystem will help spur growth and create jobs. Examples of potential upcoming projects include:

AquaTerRen, a controlled environment agriculture start-up, is planning to build a hydroponic/recirculating aquaculture facility at Eastman Business Park in Rochester. The facility will produce fish, organic vegetables and organic fertilizer using renewable energy from anaerobic biodigestion.

This sustainable system would use shared utilities at the park and leverage state funding with a $250 million private investment, creating 400 jobs.

The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva in Ontario County plans to add a high-pressure processing (HPP) safety testing machine at its facility. HPP is a rapidly expanding technology and the equipment would be the only Hiperbaric testing machine in the U.S. 

This collaboration between New York state, Cornell University, LiDestri Foods, Wegmans Food Markets and others will enhance the ability of the ag experiment station to serve as a hub for product safety testing in the U.S., and will attract food start-ups and entrepreneurs.

The Organic Grain Farming Conversion Initiative will help farmers convert to growing organic grain and position the Finger Lakes region as the organic food capital of the eastern U.S. and spur further investments by food manufacturers. Organic breads from heritage grains and organic meat using organic grain for feed will be produced from the grain grown in the Finger Lakes region.

A cross-region wine marketing strategy and campaign, expanding and coalescing existing efforts into a unified plan, will substantially increase tourism to the region.

North American Breweries has proposed an Eco-Brewery District that would create a destination for marketing and enhance the quality and perception of New York state beer. The project will expand the Genesee Brew House concept and create a brewery incubator, beer education center and a museum.

Working in collaboration with Monroe Community College, the district would also support workforce development for the beer industry. In addition, the district would be marketed as a tourist attraction that aligns with Greentopia’s EcoDistrict plans for the High Falls district. The project is situated in the low-income El Camino neighborhood and would contribute to its revitalization.

A Sustainable Food Production Initiative will strengthen and expand the food production industry through applied research around the development of new technology, tools, skill sets, innovations and information necessary to address the most critical industry-wide challenges, including energy, water usage, waste and overall resilience.

A focused effort on sustainable food production will require collaboration between food production companies, research institutions including the ag experiment station and the Technology Farm, community colleges and economic development organizations. 

The initiative will be led by Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability and builds upon the existing Finger Lakes Food Production Cluster Initiative to further increase job and revenue growth in regional food cluster companies. 

Investments would focus on high-promise, applied research and development opportunities with the potential to drive innovation across large numbers of existing food production firms in the region.


The ag initiatives in Central New York’s plan are titled New York-Grown, New York-Certified — Safe and Market-Ready. Region officials want to establish a strong consumer preference for Central New York agricultural products grown locally and certified as safe and nutritious to respond to growing domestic and international demands for nutrition and food safety.

They also want to build a powerful brand identity — within the region to around the globe — utilizing the region’s natural resources and innovative technology to strengthen the state’s dairy, fruit and vegetable industries and enhance the region’s overall rural economy. These efforts will result in increased food production and processing, rapid sales growth and job creation.

Central New York’s OpportunityAgriculture has been a cornerstone of the Central New York and Upstate economy for more than 200 years. It has maintained the vitality of the region’s rural communities, provided food for urban and metropolitan areas and offered tourism opportunities for visitors.

Within Central New York are more than 3,500 farms and over than 200 food processing companies employing nearly 4,000 people.

On a global scale, the food and beverage industry has witnessed significant growth over the past five years. This trend is expected to continue, reaching about $5.8 trillion in 2017 with a compounded annual growth rate of 5 percent in the next five years.

Many experts consider the challenge of feeding the world’s population as one of the most critical in the 21st century and estimate humans will need to produce more food in the next 40 years than has been produced in the previous 10,000 years put together.

With its natural resources, proximity to the world’s largest consumer markets, new investments in logistics and transportation assets, education and research base and supportive technology and industry sectors, agribusiness within Central New York is positioned to build off its historic strengths by investing in major agricultural growth opportunities through Controlled Environment Agriculture (indoor) and aseptic/extended shelf life products.

These opportunities are driven by compelling factors such as: 

** The rise of the global middle class and increasing demand for protein-rich, nutritious and safe U.S.-produced food. The lack of widespread refrigeration in emerging markets means that most of these food products have to be processed, packaged and delivered in a way that keeps them fresh and safe. This can be accomplished through aseptic packaging processes;

** New York state’s position as a national dairy center and a leading producer of fluid milk in the United States. Dairy is the largest category (54 percent) for aseptic beverages and is expected to increase by 7 to 9 percent compounded annual growth rate from 2010 to 2020;

** The persistent and ongoing drought in California is severely limiting outdoor production of leafy greens and creating new markets for indoor production in closer proximity to northeast U.S. CEA consumer markets; and

** The average greenhouse operation in New York has 26,000 square feet in a controlled environment, compared to the U.S. average of 48,000 square feet.

** The nexus between regional technology and industry strengths such as sensors, data analytics, unmanned systems and agriculture.

If you like what you read from the magazine, you can subscribe to it by sending $50 for one year or $75 for two years to Empire Farm & Dairy, 260 Washington St., Watertown, NY  13601

Ag Society Forum: Farmers Must Learn to Deal With Changing Climate

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:


SALINA — Oh, the weather it is a changin.’

And oh, how the farmers have to change their operations to deal with it.

Climate change and how it affects agriculture in New York state was the focus of the 184th forum of the New York State Agricultural Society held Jan. 7 at the Holiday Inn in suburban Syracuse.

The day-long forum included talks by a meteorologist and director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University, a panel discussion by New York farmers on how they deal with changes in the weather and a talk by the administrator of the federal Farm Service Agency.

All agreed weather patterns in New York have changed.

Art DeGaetano, a meteorologist, a professor in the department of earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell and director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center, said data shows “through time, something has changed.”

From about 1980 through today, temperatures on average have been much warmer than normal in the winter.

He said data shows there have been fewer times when the temperatures dropped below zero, summer temperatures are warmer than normal, there are more frost-free seasons and, while annual average amounts of precipitation have stayed about the same (41 inches), there have been more extremes of when areas see two inches or more of rain in a day.

“We’re still seeing 41 inches of rain, but it’s coming in 10 days instead of in a longer period of time. 
It’s clearly a different impact,” DeGaetano said.

So what can farmers do to deal with changes in the weather?

Peter Martens, a grain and crop farmer in Dresden, Yates County, and Wendy Burkhart-Spiegel, an organic vegetable farmer in Madison in Madison County, both do much more irrigation and drainage work on their farms than in the past. Irrigation deals with times when there isn’t enough rain, and drainage helps the farms get rid of water from those extreme deluges.

Martens also increased his strip cropping from zero in 2000 to 70 percent of his crops now being grown this way. This helps alleviate the erosion of soil by creating natural dams for water when it rains.

Martens also has had to rethink the type of crops he is growing now that the weather is different. Instead of planting windbreaks that simply act as windbreaks, he is considering planting fruit or nut trees that can act as windbreaks and can be sold “to turn a profit.”

He also is working with nearby dairy farmers by taking some of the crops he grew as weather buffers (straw and beans) and sells them to the dairies for feed.

“When the weather takes away an opportunity, reach out to a neighbor for another opportunity,” he said.

Burkhart-Spiegel said the very first year she and her husband operated Common Thread Community Farm and CSA in 2013, it rained so much in June they thought they’d never get their crops in.
“Six weeks of rain when we’re trying to get our crops in and cultivated,” she said.

So they also put in drainage. Irrigation is used when the rain gods take a vacation.

They use raised beds for some of the vegetables and put in hoop houses and temporary caterpillar houses for raising items like tomatoes.

“I remember when we could plant all our tomatoes outside and get all the tomatoes we needed,” she said. “Now we don’t plant any tomatoes outside.”

The weather changes also have led to more pests, so Burkhart-Spiegel has turned to organic pesticides, uses row covers and even black plastic and landscape fabric when growing some vegetables.

Val Dolcini, the Farm Service Agency administrator, manages offices in “every rural county in the United States in serving America’s farmers and ranchers, providing them with credit, farm and conservation programs and disaster assistance.”

He admits the ever-changing climate makes his job challenging, as more and more farmers and ranchers throughout the United States need federal assistance when weather disasters hit.

“Whether it’s a goliath blizzard like what hit recently in New Mexico, to El Nino to wildfires, we will respond,” he said of FSA.

He said sometimes that means going back to Congress for more money if there have been so many disasters that the agency’s disaster money is depleted.

“In our industry, opportunity is often created out of efforts to overcome new challenges and farmers and ranchers have a proven track record of harnessing ingenuity, know-how and determination to not just survive, but thrive in an ever-changing environment,” Dolcini told the more than 500 people attending the forum.

“That’s why today’s focus on Climate Smart Farming is so timely. As you know, there are many things we can control in life, but there are at least two things that are unpredictable: the markets and the weather. Sudden changes in either can have a major impact on our food supply,” he said.

“And while these forces may be at least somewhat out of our control, it’s how we adapt to them that will determine our success, Dolcini said.

“It goes without saying that the threat of climate change is far too important of an issue to be swept up in the partisan political climate that exists in Washington, DC,” he said.

Dolcini said people in agriculture not only have to figure out ways to avoid climate disasters in the future, but also how to learn from what is happening today to help change farm and ranch operations to increase profitability.

If you like what you read from the magazine, you can subscribe to it by sending $50 for one year or $75 for two years to Empire Farm & Dairy, 260 Washington St., Watertown, NY  13601

Saturday, January 23, 2016

More Workshops, Exhibits Coming to the New York Farm Show in February

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:


In addition to all the new items at the New York Farm Show, there are some returning workshops and items that everyone must see.

They are:

Machinery galore

Every type of tractor, backhoe, harvester, baler or any other kind of farm machinery a person would want will be on display at the New York Farm Show.

Attendees can see them up close and talk to sales personnel about what they offer. You also can get prices and equipment information to compare. Anyone in the market for something new will find it here.

Woodlot seminars

The New York Forest Owners Association is offering free daily Woodlot Seminars geared to help landowners boost the value of timber and woodlands. The seminars are in the Somerset Room of the Arts and Home Center.

Hot topics this year include cost-sharing for woodlot improvements, finding the right forester, the warning signs of disease and insects, as well as tips for successful timber sales. Other sessions include improving bird habitat, heating with wood, and forest farming, say Hugh Canham and Ron Pedersen, the program coordinators.

The Forest Owners Association is teaming up with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to put on the program.

Here’s the daily lineup:

Thursday, Feb. 25

11 a.m.: You need a management plan: Step one for your woodlot, by Kristina Ferrare, Cornell Cooperative Extension

1 p.m.: Getting federal aid for woodlot improvements, by Michael Fournier, USDA/Natural Resource Conservation Service

2 p.m.: Improve bird habitat with smart timber management, by Suzanne Treyger, forest management specialist for Audubon New York

3 p.m.: What’s new in home heating with wood, by Guillermo Metz, renewable energy specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension

Friday, Feb. 26

10 a.m.: Working with foresters: Finding the right one for you, by Peter Smallidge, NYS Extension forester at Cornell University

11 a.m.: Woodland thinning for timber health and production, by Peter Smallidge

1 p.m.: Signs of insect and disease threats to your woods, by Kim Adams, SUNY

2 p.m.: New wood products and opportunities for woodlot management, by William Smith, SUNY

3 p.m.: Getting federal aid for woodlot improvements, by Michael Fournier, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service

Saturday, Feb. 27

10 a.m.: Secrets to harvesting and heating with wood, by Michael Kelleher, SUNY

11 a.m.: Forest farming for mushrooms, medicinals, forest fruits and more, by Steve Gabriel, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute

1 p.m.: Making maple syrup for fun and profit, by Stephen Childs, Cornell Maple Program.

2 p.m.: Portable sawmills for woodlot owners, by David Williams, mill owner-operator from Bainbridge, Chenango County

3 p.m.: Dos and don’ts for a successful timber sale, by Hugh Canham, SUNY emeritus professor

For more on the New York Forest Owners Association, visit

Beef seminars

The Beef Area in the Toyota Building has many seminars during the farm show.

The schedule is:

10 a.m. — Proper Care and Preparation of Cattle, Before The Show Season, Robert Groom and Jeanne White

11 a.m. — Start Them Right: Healthy Cows Raise Healthy Calves, Mark McCullouch, Merck Animal Health

Noon — Diagnosing Scours and the Choices to Treat Calves, Dr. Trent Lartz, veterinarian, Multimin, USA

1 p.m. — Cow Side Diagnostics, what is available to get answers quick, Dr. Trent Lartz, Multimin, USA

2 p.m. — Cattle Grading, grouping pooled cattle, Heather Birdsall, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County

3 p.m. — How Ultra Sounding Improves EPDs and what it means for improving your herd, Andy Weaber

On Saturday, there will be three special presentations by New York Junior Beef Members

10 a.m. — How to prepare for a Junior Team Fitting Competition, Shelby Kelekenberg, junior beef member

10 a.m. — How to prepare for a Junior Team Marketing Competition, a New York junior beef member

Noon — Our National Livestock Challenge Experience in Louisville, Ky., Melissa Keller

Also, each day beginning at 11 a.m., the New York Beef Council will be on hand serving its famous Hot Beef Sundaes.

A live beef cattle display representing numerous beef breeds also will be on hand including breed information to take home.

Health and safety

The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health hosts an interactive exhibit in the NYCAMH booth in the Center of Progress building.

You will see:

n The new “Game of Logging” is hands-on logging safety training.

n Sign up for the Rollover Protective Structure rebate program.

n Check out the interactive youth displays of farm hazards

n Quiz New York State Police on road safety, machinery lighting and gun controls.

n Get your blood pressure checked for free.

4-H fundraiser

The 4-Hers are back with a hitch pin fundraiser.

You can buy Tisco 6-by-¾-inch hitch pins at $5 each or five for $20. Look for those smiling 4-H faces and the hitch pins at the main entrance doors of the Center of Progress, Dairy and Horticulture buildings.

The hitch pins will be available until they all are sold.

We want your opinion

American Agriculturist magazine will be at the show to take polls of show attendees.

Some of the questions may include:

n If the election for U.S. president was held today, who would you vote for?

n Should assault rifles be banned from U.S. sale?

n Are you using cover crops in 2016? If so, which ones?

n Due to current low prices, how will you cut corn production costs?

n What new ag technology (machinery, crops, livestock) are you most excited about?

n What certified organic products are you most interested in producing?

Taking the poll qualifies attendees to win a $350 Tractor Supply gift card, Leatherman tools worth $65 each or free one-year subscriptions. Sample magazine copies and special show-rate subscriptions are also available.

New York Farm Show Kicks Off Feb. 25

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:


The New York Farm Show kicks off its 31st year in late February with three days filled with everything new and innovative for New York state farmers.

More than 225,000 square feet of exhibition space indoors in six buildings at the New York State Fairgrounds will be filled with farm equipment, booths with helpful information, demonstrations, seminars and workshops and, of course, the ever-popular toy auction and sale.

The show runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 25, 26 and 27 at the fairgrounds Admission is $5 at the door and free for those less than age 18. Parking is free and shuttle buses are available for various buildings.

Tickets are available from many Northeast equipment outlets or by writing to New York Farm Show, P.O. Box 3470, Syracuse, NY  13220 (include a self-addressed stamped envelope with request by Feb. 15).

Visitors can shop and compare the latest equipment and technology and then buy the items to help make their farms more efficient. Show Director Scott Grigor said everyone should visit the show website ( to see a full list of new products, workshops and seminars.

Many organizations will offer workshops and presentations, including the New York Beef Industry Council, forest management workshops and agricultural safety program.

“These organizations have dedicated a lot of time and effort to provide high quality programs for the show visitors,” Grigor said.

A popular highlight each year is the Robert Watson Memorial Toy Auction, which begins at 5 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Empire Room of the Arts and Homes Building.

Nearly 200 farm toys will be sold to the highest bidder, with all proceeds benefitting the New York FFA.

Visitors can view farm toys at the toy show in the Art & Homes building before the auction.

PRECISION Agriculture workshop

A highlight of the farm show this year is a new program called “Precision Agriculture: Decision Making for a Profitable Future,” from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in the Arts and Home Center building.

Developed by the New York Farm Viability Institute, the program will include discussions about precision agriculture, the hardware and software needed for precision agriculture (such as harvest technology, planting and crop care and transforming yield data to management decisions) and optimizing variable rate seeding technology. 

There also will be a panel discussion with a mix of farmer experience and ag industry expertise.

David Grusenmeyer, managing director of the New York Farm Viability Institute, said precision agriculture allows farmers to collect the data they need to make decisions on which crops to plant in certain soils and how much nutrients and fertilizer is needed for that soil and crop.

The goal is to optimize the amount of money made over the amount of money spent in growing the crops.

“There can be six to eight different soil types or topographies Nin one field on one farm,” Grusenmeyer said. “Crops grow differently in one soil from another and nutrients are used differently (in different soils).

“We need to manage our farms not just as one big field.”

As an example, he said a farmer who has a field monitor on his combine knows exactly what his crop yield is for various sections of his field. If there is a wide variety in yield from one part of the field to the next, the farmer can make adjustments to maximize yield in the lower-producing areas.

“What we have to do is control those variations and profit from it,” Grusenmeyer said.

Some things that can be done to manage the yields is change the seeding rate, change the seeding depth, change to a different seed variety and keep tighter control on fertilizer use.

This is exactly what Todd DuMond does at his farm in Union Springs, Cayuga County.

DuMond, who grows about 5,000 acres of soybeans, corn and other grains, uses precision agriculture in his production. He said it comes down to crop optimization and machine optimization to ensure he is obtaining the most he can get out of his soil.

He uses a machine that has an autotrack systme on it, so it always follows the same tracks in the soil when planting or harvesting. He said this allows for less overlap between rows.

The machine and the data he receives from his computerized equipment also gives him the ability to apply seed, fertilizer or other nutrients in the proper amount.

“We started gathering data in 2006 and began application in 2010,” DuMond said. “The real value is from the data. We use the data to put everything (seed, fertilizer) wher it can be utilized.”

Here is a schedule of what will be discussd at the seminar:
** 3 p.m.: Learn what’s new in precision ag tech for field crops and horticultural systems, the greatest opportunity areas.
** 3:20 p.m.: Three commercial technology leaders tackle how to transform field and feed quality data into management decisions, how planting and crop care equipment technologies can be harnessed and how yield maps/data can improve operation efficiency.

Attendees will learn how to evaluate the data collected over the growing season (planting, soil testing, yield, application, Feed Quality from JD Harvest Lab) and interpret big data in desktop software setting to provide real information from which the grower can either streamline record keeping for insurance purposes and/or understand what practices are making a profit on their farm. 

Winter planning allows optimization of the crop season to best fit your agronomic and profit practices.

** 4 p.m.: This session covers auto-steer’s entry-point tech, costs and benefits, plus expected financial impacts.
** 4:20 p.m.: The New York Corn and Soybean Growers Association will present a variable-rate seeding model to be farm-tested this year.
** 4:40 p.m.: Farmer survey results will be shared on promising technologies, barriers to adoption, costs, labor concerns and more.
** 4:50 p.m.: Travis Torrey of Torrey Farms, Dan Shirley of North Harbor Dairy and Joe Brightly of Brightly Farms will share experiences with three different precision ag systems.

Dairy robotics

Robotic technology continues to be the biggest dairy game-changer for all farm sizes.
Learn what improvements are available at the Dairy Robotic Update Friday, Feb. 26. All four robotic manufacturers will present their latest changes and new products in 30-minute sessions in the Bistro Room.

Here’s the schedule:
** 1:30 p.m.: Lely will highlight examples of Lely’s “large herd concept” plus on-farm results of its Vector robotic feeding system.
** 2 p.m.; AMS Galaxy will introduce its Cow Health Monitoring system offered on the Astrea 20.20 robotic milking system.
** 2:30 p.m.: GEA will share key details on its Dairy ProQ robotic rotary parlor and the soon-to-arrive single-box robot.
** 3 p.m.: DeLaval will cover the latest upgrades to its Voluntary Milking System plus the new stand-alone teat spray robot.

Bring your notebook plus lots of questions. This is a rare opportunity to see the equipment and quiz experts.

New products

Farm machine and equipment manufacturers each year come out with new gadgets and machinery to make work easier on the farm.

Cazenovia Equipment Co., with stores in Cazenovia, Chittenango, Clinton, Cortland, LaFayette, Lowville, Oneonta, Sandy Creek and Watertown, will be on hand at the New York Farm show with a number of its new products and technology.

Some of the new items it will show include a L300 series new square baler, a 8000 series self-propelled forage harvester and a XUV590 corssover utility vehicle.

Cazenovia Equipment sells and services more than 30 brands, including John Deere, Frontier, Ariens, Honda, Stihl, Kuhn, Pottinger, H&S and Geringhoff. The company also offers renewable energy systems such as wind power, solar electricity, solar thermal, microhydro power, microgrids and hybrid systems.

“We’re happy to now provide wind turbine and solar panel leasing opportunities, which allow customers to acquire the benefits of renewable energy, with little or no money down,” a company official said. They also offer free site feasibility assessments.

Cazenovia Equipment is in booth 815.

Beef information

New this year, attendees can engage with the “Face of Our Farmers,” which allows those at the show to get to know some beef farmers. Talk with beef producers, see their likes, dislikes and ask them beef related questions. Pick up a Scavenger Hunt form at the Beef Gazebo, read our “Face of our Farmers” posters to get your answers and win a prize.

Those coming to the show also can sign up for the Protein Challenge. The 30 Day Protein Challenge is a fun, step-by-step way to help people get an optimal amount of protein throughout the day.

Research shows some people can lose and/or maintain a healthy weight, support a healthy metabolism, and age more vibrantly by consuming more high-quality protein. Participants in the 30 Day Protein Challenge will receive daily emails with goals, tips and inspiration to keep on track.

The beef area in the Toyota Building also will have numerous beef recipes and beef related information for attnedees.

If you like what you read from the magazine, you can subscribe to it by sending $50 for one year or $75 for two years to Empire Farm & Dairy, 260 Washington St., Watertown, NY  13601

Friday, January 22, 2016

Annie's Project Plans Programs Throughout New York State

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:

“Annie’s Project — Farm Transition Planning for Women Managing for Today and Tomorrow” has classes scheduled throughout New York state.

Annie’s Project is an educational program to help women learn more about running a successful farm operation.

Here is the schedule:

** 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays, March 16 through April 20, Cornell Cooperative Extension Clinton County, 6064 State Route 22, Plattsburgh; Kimberley Morrill, (315) 379-9192,

** 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays, March 17 through 21, Cornell Cooperative Extension St. Lawrence County, 2043 State Route 68, Canton; Kimberley Morrill, (315) 379-9192,

** 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 28 to March 3, Cornell Cooperative Extension Essex County, 3 Sisco St., PO Box 388, Westport; Anita Deming, (518) 962-4810 (x409),

** 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 27, Feb. 10, 17 and 24, Farm Credit East, 25417 State Route 12, Burrville; Peggy Murray, Cornell Cooperative Extension Lewis and Jefferson counties, (315) 788-8540, (315) 376-5270,

** 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursdays, Feb. 18 and 25 and March 3 and 10, (snow date of March 17), Cornell Cooperative Extension Genesee County, 420 E. Main St., Batavia, and Cornell Cooperatives Extension of Ontario County, 480 N. Main St., Canandiagua; Joan Petzen, (585) 786-2251 (x122) (Wyoming office),  

** 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 26, Feb. 9 and 23, March 8 and 22 (snow date March 15); Cornell Cooperative Extension Cayuga County, 248 Grant Ave., Auburn, Judy Wright,  (315) 255.1183,

** 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 26, Feb. 9 and 23, March 8 and 22 (snow date March 15), LaFayette Missionary and Alliance Church, LaFayette; sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension Onondaga County, Melanie Palmer/Erin Hull, (315) 424-9485,,

** 6 to 9 p.m. (light meal at 5:30 p.m.), March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County, 121 Second St., Oriskany; Bonnie Collins, (315) 736-3394 (x104),

** 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 26, Feb. 9 and 23, March 8 and 22 (snow date March 15), Dryden Fire Hall; sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension Cortland County, Janice Degni, (607) 753-5215,

** 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays, March 4, 11, 18, 25 and April 1, Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie and Otsego counties, 173 S. Grand St., Cobleskill; David Cox, (518) 234-4303 (x119),

** 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 26, Feb. 9 and 23, March 8 and 22 (snow date March 1), Cornell Cooperative Extension Broome County, 840 Upper Front St., Binghamton; Laura Biasillo, (607) 584-5007,

** 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays, Feb. 5, 12, 19 and 26 (snow date Feb. 27), Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County, 232 Plaza Road, Kingston; Elizabeth Higgins, (845) 340-3390,

** 6 to 9 p.m. (light meal at 5:30 p.m.) Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25 and March 3, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County, 100 Eaton St., Morrisville; Bonnie Collins, (315) 684-3001 (x104),

** 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 30, Feb, 6, 13, 20, 27, and March 5,  Cornell Cooperative Extension of Washington County, 215 Lower Main St., Hudson Falls; Tove Ford at (518) 765-3518 or

The cost is $100 per person for 15 hours of instruction. Lunch and all course materials are included.

If your county is not listed, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office. 

Annie’s Project is a nationally recognized educational program grown from its inception to serve over 12,000 farm women in 33 states.

Participants will learn about business, estate, retirement and succession planning from area professionals and specialists, most of whom serve agricultural clientele in their communities. Pertinent discussions accompany presentations including follow-up activities for family members to address at home.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement May Not Be Big Win for New York Agriculture

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:


WASHINGTON — Dairy farmers hoping to see a rush of business between the United States and Canada — a market largely closed to American milk products — may want to hold their applause for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

That is the message from lawmakers and organizations representing dairy farmers and plant owners, who say the 12-nation deal reached in 2015, still subject to approval in Congress, does not clearly spell a big win for New York agriculture.

Lawmakers are likely to vote on it this year.

The outcome could shape the future for key parts of the dairy business in New York, which ranks near the top in U.S. production of manufactured dairy products such as cheese and yogurt that can be easily exported; beverage milk is reserved mostly for domestic use, although U.S. producers have angled unsuccessfully for more fluid sales into Canada too.

The big issue is whether Canada will relax its milk supply management system enough to allow substantial amounts of U.S. dairy products into the country.

“Even with the TPP agreement, Canada continues to strongly endorse their supply control program and protect their borders from serious dairy imports and exports,” said Bruce Krupke, executive vice president of the Northeast Dairy Foods Association, representing milk processors. 

“I don’t see their domestic dairy policy changing in the near future, much to their detriment. I also don’t see any increased dairy trade near-term opportunities with them either,” Krupke said.

Krupke said he does not rule out the possibility of longer-term trade prospects with the agreement’s signers, including Japan and Vietnam. New York Farm Bureau, representing farmers of every type in the state, generally supports the deal because it could lower trade barriers to growing markets, said spokesman Steve Ammerman.

Skeptical lawmakers, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Tom Reed (R-Corning) and Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) said they haven’t decided whether to support the deal, largely because of concerns about U.S. dairy trade with Canada.

“The TPP negotiations have caused me a great deal of heartburn,” Reed said in an interview. “I still believe they have a lot farther to go.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, “pushed our trade negotiators until the very end to secure the best deal possible for American dairy farmers in TPP,” a Democratic committee aide said.

The Obama administration strongly supports the deal, which its representatives helped negotiate. President Obama urged Congress in his State of the Union Address to approve it this year.

Passage isn’t assured. In addition, some presidential candidates, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-running Democrat, say they oppose it.

The biggest lobbying group for dairy farmers, the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents farmer-owned bargaining cooperatives, hasn’t come down one way or the other.

“It’s quite a complicated agreement,” said Shawna Morris, vice president of trade policy at the NMPF, headquartered in Arlington, Va. The deal contains hundreds of dairy provisions and will take some time to review, she said.

The good news, from the U.S. dairy industry’s perspective, is that the TPP does not appear to open the U.S. to a flood of dairy products from other countries such as New Zealand, where milk is produced cheaply for export.

“When the TPP effort began, it was little more than a fa├žade for a free trade agreement with New Zealand,” the NMPF said in a newsletter to members. “Eventually, in response to consistent recommendations from NMPF and others, countries with more significant dairy markets – Canada and Japan – were added to this agreement. Those decisions created new opportunities for our industry in TPP that previously had not been possible.”

Dairy groups agree that trade is becoming more important to the U.S. industry, and New York as the third-ranking state for cheese production and a top producer of yogurt is especially affected. 

Nearly a fifth of U.S.-produced dairy solids were exported in 2014, Krupke said. As much as some farmers or manufacturers may not like the idea of depending on trade with foreign countries, he said, “We have to get used to the concept and embrace it.”

Reed, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee — which oversees trade policy — said in an interview that he worries about how the actions of U.S. trading partners affect the state’s milk and wine businesses, for example.

Already, New York wine makers can’t use the term “Champagne” for the sparkling white wine they sell to some countries, and terms such as “gouda” or “parmesan” for cheese made in New York may be endangered in some European markets.

This year could bring more developments on that issue, known as geographic indicators, farm groups said.

That dispute plays out in yet another trade deal taking shape, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

If you like what you read from the magazine, you can subscribe to it by sending $50 for one year or $75 for two years to Empire Farm & Dairy, 260 Washington St., Watertown, NY  13601

Drug Specialists to Share Plan to Help Protect Dairy Producers

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:

How farmers can reduce the potential for drug residues in dairy production will be presented at February meetings in Western and Northern New York.

Speakers with the nationally-recognized Food Armor® program will cover how farmers can establish verifiable on-farm drug quality assurance practices for their farms.

Internet broadcasting and webinar technology will make the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. programs possible on Feb. 16 in Watertown and Feb. 17 in Malone with broadcast to Canandaigua, Albion and Warsaw.

The program speakers include Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association Food Armor® Committee Chairman Dr. Jon Garber, an associate veterinarian at Valley Veterinary Clinic, and Dr. Theresa Ollivett, a Diplomate with the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and an Assistant Professor in the Food Animal Production Medicine section at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

Garber and Ollivett will discuss how the Food Armor program can be customized to fit specific farm management systems. It uses a six-point plan that includes attention to the animal-client-veterinarian relationship, drug lists, protocols, standard operating procedures, record keeping and veterinary oversight.

For costs and registration details in Northern N.Y., call Kim Morrill at (315) 379-9192, and in Western N.Y., call Libby Eiholzer at (585) 786-2251.

If you like what you read from the magazine, you can subscribe to it by sending $50 for one year or $75 for two years to Empire Farm & Dairy, 260 Washington St., Watertown, NY  13601

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Applications Available for Annual Youth Recognition Awards

From Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County:

Applications are now available for the annual youth recognition awards presented by Jefferson County Youth Bureau Advisory Board in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.

The 2016 Youth Recognition Awards are presented annually to recognize outstanding achievement of youth and adults who work with and support young people.

There are three youth awards:   

1)  Youth Leadership Award recognizes a young person who has been involved in leadership roles in the school or community. 

 2)  Youth Overcoming Odds Award recognizes a young person who has made significant improvement representing a long term behavioral or attitude change.   

3)  Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions.   

The three adult awards are:  

 1)  Outstanding Adult Youth Worker is for an individual who has paid employment in the youth service,  recreation, or education field and has made significant impacts within a school and/or community.  

 2)  Promising Ability in Youth Services Award is for an individual who has shown outstanding ability and has demonstrated a commitment to a career working with young people.  This awardee must have entered the youth service, recreation, or education field within the last three years.   

3)  It Takes A Community Award is for an adult who is not employed in the youth service, education or recreation field, but has shown an outstanding commitment to bettering the lives of young people and their families.

The application may be found at . The application deadline is 4 p.m. Monday, March 21. The applications may be mailed to Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Jefferson County, Stephanie Graf 203 N. Hamilton St., Watertown, 13601 or emailed to   

Contact Stephanie Graf at 788-8450 for additional information.