Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Coming Soon -- National Farmers' Market Week

Now that more and more crops are coming in, it's definitely time to head out to your local farmers' market.

In fact, soon it will be National Farmers' Market Week.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signed a proclamation in July declaring Aug. 7-13 as "National Farmers Market Week." This year marks the 17th annual National Farmers Market Week to honor and celebrate the important role that farmers markets play in local economies.

"Farmers markets are an important part of strong local and regional food systems that connect farmers with new customers and grow rural economies. In many areas, they are also expanding access to fresh, healthy food for people of all income levels," said Vilsack. "National Farmers Market Week recognizes the growth of these markets and their role in supporting both urban and rural communities."

Throughout the week, USDA officials will celebrate at farmers market locations across the country. 

On Saturday, Aug. 6, Elanor Starmer, the Administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – which conducts research, provides technical assistance, and awards grants to support local and regional food systems – will kick off the week visiting a farmers market and wrap up the week at USDA's own farmers market in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Aug. 12.

"Farmers markets are a gathering place where you can buy locally produced food, and at the same time, get to know the farmer and story behind the food you purchase," said Starmer. "These types of markets improve earning potential for farmers and ranchers, building stronger community ties and access to local foods."

Monday, July 25, 2016

It's National Hot Fudge Sundae Day!!

It's appropriate that during National Ice Cream Month that we'd also celebrate today -- which is National Hot Fudge Sundae day.

For me, there really doesn't have to be a day to celebrate ice cream sundaes because I could eat one every day of the year. Of course, my waistline would show it.

But anyway, let's have a hot fudge sundae today. 

According to the National Day Calendar website, on National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, "we feast on this delicious ice cream dessert that combines hot and cold with a cherry on top. Celebrated July 25, this tasty treat has been served since 1906."

Roadsideamerica.com states the hot fudge sundae was invented in Hollywood as an offshoot of the regular ice cream sundae.

"As a variant of the popular early 20th century ice cream sundae treat, Hollywood claims the birthright for the hot fudge version. The original C. C. Brown's ice cream shop is no longer there, having been converted into one of the many souvenir shops that line this section of the street."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Farmers Showed How They Handle Manure

Letter to the editor about manure in the Watertown Daily Times:

Check it out at http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/opinion/farmers-showed-how-they-handle-manure-20160720

New York State Agricultural Society Annual Meeting Jan. 5

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine


The New York State Agricultural Society will celebrate its 185th birthday at its annual meeting and forum Jan. 5 in Syracuse.

This is the largest statewide agricultural meeting that brings together all sectors of the food system to explore topics critical to the future of New York agriculture, and to recognize the unique contributions of its stakeholders.

The Society will present eight awards to producers, farm organizations and businesses that are leaders in their communities and specialization.

The deadline for nominations is Sept. 1. Award information and applications for the following honors can be found online at www.nysagsociety.org. 

Ag Promotion Awards — The award recognizes individuals, groups and/or teams of partnering organizations that work to improve the community understanding of agriculture.

The award is sponsored by Alpha Zeta Fraternity at Cornell University, American Farmland Trust, and the New York State FFA Foundation.

Business of the Year — The award promotes our state’s food system by recognizing the quality, leadership and innovation demonstrated by New York farms and agribusinesses.

Cap Creal Journalism Awards — Named for farmer, Society member, and Assemblyman Harold “Cap” Creal, the journalism awards were created to inspire more coverage of the positive aspects of agriculture in New York state.

Awards are presented in the following categories: Print – news story, feature, series, editorial;
Audio/video – news clip, feature, internet; Blogs/Online Feature; and Photography. The award is sponsored by Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity at Cornell University.

Century and Bicentennial Farm Awards — The program honors New York farms in continuous operation on the same land by the same family for 100 years or more. The NYS Agricultural Society will recognize farms in eastern NYS counties in 2017. East/West counties identified online at www.nysagsociety.org.  The award is sponsored by Farm Credit Northeast Ag Enhancement.

Distinguished Service Citation — The award recognizes individuals who have dedicated a lifetime of service, resulting in outstanding contributions to NY agriculture. See a complete list of past recipients at www.nysagsociety.org. The award is sponsored by NY Farm Bureau Member Services.

FFA Chapter of the Year — The award recognizes a NYS FFA Chapter for service to its community and promotion of agriculture. The award is sponsored by the NYS Grange.

Next Generation Farmer Award — Launched in 2016, this award recognizes both a long-standing operation that is excelling under new leadership and owner/operators who are brand new to agriculture and food production. The award is sponsored by The Voss Group.

NYS Farm Safety Awards — Recognizes farm operators who have unique and successful farm safety programs for their employees. The award is sponsored by Cargill, Inc.

Established in 1832, the mission of the NYS Agricultural Society is to foster, promote, and improve the state’s food and agricultural industry through education, leadership development and recognition programs.

It has played a vital role in the development of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Cornell University’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, the NYS Fair, and the Empire State Food and Agricultural Leadership Institute (LEAD NY). In 2011, the NYS Agricultural Society Foundation was formed. 

For more information or to join the New York State Agricultural Society, visit www.nysagsociety.org or contact Executive Secretary, Ann Noble Shephard, at ann@nysagsociety.org, (315) 727-5449.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Milk Production in New York Up in June 2016

From the USDA

Milk production in New York during June 2016 totaled 1.25 billion pounds, up 4.2 percent from last June 2015, said Blair Smith, state statistician of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York Field Office.

Production per cow averaged 2,015 pounds in May, 75 pounds more than June 2015.

The number of milk cows on farms in New York state was 620,000 head, 2,000 head more than June 2015, but unchanged from May 2016.

The average milk price received by New York farmers in May 2016 was $15.80 per hundredweight, down 30 cents a hundredweight from April 2016 and down $1.80 from May a year ago.

World Dairy Expo Set for Oct. 4-8

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine


MADISON, Wis. — This year marks the 50th anniversary of World Dairy Expo — a celebration of the journey from a small World Food Expo in 1967, to the internationally renowned show of today.

This fall’s expo is set for Oct. 4-8, and the theme is “Celebrate 50!” to commemorate the show’s golden anniversary. The expo will take a look back at 50 years of history and the people whose passion and dedication helped build the show from the ground up.

In celebration of this exciting milestone, an open house, hosted by World Dairy Expo, will be held at 5 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Alliant Energy Center’s Exhibition Hall.

This free event will provide Expo stakeholders a chance to gather and exchange memories, while enjoying a night of food, fun and entertainment.

“The Open House is designed for anyone connected to World Dairy Expo, whether a cattle or commercial exhibitor, attendee or volunteer, judge or judging team member,” said Joan Lau, World Dairy Expo Board of Directors and 50th Anniversary Committee member. “Anyone who loves Expo is welcome to attend. It will be a fun evening to reminisce, share stories and celebrate the show’s rich history. It’s Expo’s way of saying thanks for 50 great years!”

Elements from past years will also be featured throughout the grounds during the show. Expo-goers will have the chance to walk down memory lane with the 50th Anniversary Historical Display, located on the mezzanine level of New Holland Pavilion 1.

“The Historical Display will provide a glimpse into the past through photos and memorabilia collected over five decades,” said Debbie Crave, World Dairy Expo Board of Directors and 50th Anniversary Committee member. “Seeing how the show was built, past events and endless memories will add a unique touch to this year’s celebration.”

Special 50th anniversary events will take place throughout the week, starting with an official kick-off to the show during Tuesday morning’s Opening Ceremony, and continuing through the selection of Supreme Champion on Saturday evening.

Recognized as the meeting place for the global dairy industry, World Dairy Expo attracts more than 70,000 attendees from over 90 countries to Madison, Wis., each year.

Visit worlddairyexpo.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@WDExpo or #Celebrate50) for more information.

Entries Open Through Aug. 31

Dairy Cattle Show entries are now open for those wishing to exhibit at the 50th World Dairy Expo. Entry forms are available online through the Dairy Cattle Entry system or for print on the Expo website. Entries are due Aug. 31. Late online entries will be accepted until Sept. 11 and paper entries will be accepted until the day of the show, both at an increased rate.

New this year, all animals must have an official USDA AIN or Canadian CCIA RFID number listed on the entry form at the time of submission. Animal entries lacking this number or with a pending identification status will not be accepted.

Entry information, a complete schedule of events, rules and other updates can be found in the Premium Book – mailed to recent dairy cattle exhibitors on July 1, or available online at worlddairyexpo.com. New exhibitors can request a copy of the Premium Book by contacting the World Dairy Expo office at 608-224-6455 or entries@wdexpo.com.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Chris Fesko Combines Ag and Teaching

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine


There are probably a lot of words to describe Chris Fesko.

But the one that fits best is “teacher.”

Chris Fesko
Her mind is constantly churning, left and right, up and down, trying to figure out the best way to teach children concepts they need to know to survive in today’s world.

She knows she has to be inventive, she knows she has to be fun, she knows she has to be engaging.
She is all those things.

“My daughter is in kindergarten, and she was here two weeks ago,” second-grade teacher Jennifer Ridley told Chris during a visit with her class to Fesko’s On the Farm Discovery Center in Spafford, Onondaga County. “She hasn’t stopped talking about it. She asks us if we know how to tell if animals are mammals. She talks about holding the chicks. And she can’t wait to come back here.”

Fesko has received numerous honors for her work at the On the Farm Discovery Center and for the series of farm videos she has made for children.

She’s won Parent’s Choice Awards and Telly Awards. Most recently, she was honored by Farm Credit as one of 100 agriculture innovators in the United States.

Chris Fesko pumps water for the children from Owasco Elementary School in Auburn during their visit to the On the Farm Discovery Center. The kids had the opportunity to learn how a windmill and pump worked to get water out of the underground well. 
In June, Fesko was in Washington D.C. to be honored by Farm Credit, which selected 100 people from across the country (in celebration of its 100th anniversary) as agriculture innovators. Fesko was the top person chosen in the agriculture education category and was in the top 10 of the 100 honored.

“The Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives program was launched to recognize leaders who are positively shaping agriculture and rural communities,” according to the Farm Credit website. “The individuals chosen for the Fresh Perspectives program were selected by a panel of experts on issues important to rural residents and ag producers.”

“I’ve known Chris for 25 years,” said Janice Bitter, director of the Farm Credit East office in Homer, Cortland County. “I’ve watched as she has taken this business higher and higher. She gets so excited when she teaches — she teaches them practical things about math and science. It’s amazing the interactions she has with kids.”

At the Discovery Center

A visit to a farm usually is an exciting adventure for most children. But Fesko makes it more than just exciting.

Those kids leave the On the Farm Discovery Center with so much knowledge it’s no wonder their little heads don’t pop.

Students from Owasco Elementary learn about pullies in the Discovery Center
On a bright, sunny, warm day in late May, nearly 100 second-graders from Owasco Elementary School in the Auburn school district stopped in for a day with Fesko. They broke up into smaller groups and headed off to different parts of the discovery center.

At the pond, they caught frogs in various stages of development. They learned about and saw the polliwogs, partial frogs with polliwog tails and fully developed frogs.

In the barn, they learned about pulleys and levers and how these help people do their work. The kids got the chance to use a pully, but of course, when they pulled, Fesko said, “C’mon, you have to yell when you pull for it to work.”

Some mighty grunts and groans could be heard bellowing from the barn.

In the animal area, the children saw horses, sheep, pigs, goats and a lamb. With the assistance of Fesko’s helper, Debbie Putnam, the children learned what makes an animal a mammal.

“Mammals make milk,” Fesko told them. “Mammals feed milk to their babies. Mammals have hair or fur.”

Debbie Putnam, one of Chris Fesko’s helpers at the On the Farm Discovery Center, shows a lamb to second-graders from Owasco Elementary School in Auburn.
She showed them a rooster. “Is this a mammal?” she asked.

“No,” the children said in unison.

Even something as simple as water coming out of a pump pushed up and down by Fesko is a teaching moment. The kids were delighted to refresh their faces and hands with the cold water coming from the pump, but Fesko made sure they learned about the windmill and how it was drawing water up from the well so she could pump it out for the kids.

The beginnings

Fesko has a teaching degree from SUNY Cortland and at one time taught in the Skaneateles school district, west of Syracuse. She also worked as a substitute teacher at one time and was a soccer coach in her early years of marriage and while raising her own three children.

But her background of being raised on a small farm in Upstate New York brought her to combine agriculture with education.

It all began when she saw a woman with a camera at one of her pastures.

“She pulled in our yard and said, ‘Can I take a picture of your cow?’” Fesko remembered. Problem was, the animal wasn’t a cow — it was a black and white horse.

“You just insulted my horse,” Fesko told the woman. “You can take a picture of my horse Joe, but you have to apologize to him.”

The woman knew cows were black and white and asssumed the black and white animal in the pasture was a cow. Fesko told the story to her husband, Rick, and he convinced her that “somebody’s got to do something.”

Out of this came her foray into videos. In 1993, she came out with Summer on the Farm, the first in her On The Farm series.

“It took $30,000 to make the first one, and I just hoped it would pay for itself,” she said.

Today, she has written, produced and filmed 11 videos that have been used to teach children around the world about life on the farm, animals and agriculture. The videos have won four Telly Awards, eight Parents’ Choice awards and many other honors.

The way we put the videos together was to feed the brain,” Fesko said. “We wanted to show them visually what’s going on on the farm.”

Fesko is a big believer is letting kids experience things first hand. She knows if they actually use a tool to perform a task, or touch the skin of a pig, or see why some trees have been cut down, then they will remember it long into the future and understand the concept she’s trying to teach.

After the videos

After a few years of doing more videos, working on staff development days at area schools and writing some curricula for pre-kindergarten and up, she opened the On the Farm Discovery Center. She said people and teachers loved the videos, but wondered if there was a place where they could bring children in person to learn about agriculture.

In 2000, Fesko hauled an old, dilapidated barn up the hill at her farm, put on a new room and drew up the sessions that would be held at the discovery center. The first year, 1999-2000, she welcomed 60 children.

“This year, we had 2,200 kids through here,” she said.

The Discovery Center helps Fesko teach the way she wants to teach — hands on. The children get the chance to touch and see frogs and tadpoles up close and personal. They see and touch the farm animals. They get to try their hands at using various tools (pullies, levers, pumps) and learn the science and math that goes into making these tools.

She takes kids out in the woods to learn about nature.

One story Fesko loves to tell is about a third-grader from Porter Elementary in the Syracuse City School District.

“We were taking the Woods Wander to learn about the cycle of life of a tree, the habitat in the woods and forest management,” Fesko said. “There was a tree that had died and I asked, ‘So why did that tree die?’ This kid had all the answers — the soil, water, oxygen.”

But the dead tree was 10 feet tall. Next to it were some 16-foot-high trees that were alive and doing fine. She asked why those trees were alive while the one died.

Finally the little boy got it.

“This one didn’t get any sunshine,” he told Fesko. And she went on to explain to him that if that dead tree is removed from the forest, then “all these baby trees can grow,” she said pointing to the newly sprouted trees on the ground.

“You could see it in him,” she said — he understood the process. She went on to tell him that if he thought all this was cool and liked being in the woods, there was a college right in Syracuse where he could study forest management and spend his career in the forest.

Fesko also is sought after for speaking engagements across the country. She speaks passionately about farming and agriculture and wants to “help farm kids feel better about growing up on a farm and inspire non-farm kids to want to grow up to be farmers,” according to the nomination written for her Farm Credit award.

But Fesko’s biggest paycheck comes from the children. She remembers a little girl from Le Moyne Elementary in the Syracuse City School District who got off the bus at the discovery center and marveled at the view of the hills and valleys and beautiful Skaneateles Lake in the distance.

“She started singing the Sound of Music, you know, ‘the hills are alive,’” Fesko said. “That is the reward. I know I filled a little void in their life that can’t be filled anywhere else.”

Finger Lakes Cheese Festival is Saturday, July 23

If you don't have anything to do Saturday, why not head to the Southern Tier for some CHEESE!

The Finger Lakes Cheese Festival is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 23 at Sunset View Creamery in Odessa, Schuyler County. It's a day filled with fun, music and of course, all the cheese a person could ask for.

Go to http://www.flcheesetrail.com/cheese-festival.html for a full schedule of events at the festival.

More Money Available for Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball on Thursday July 21 announced that $2 million in Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks are now available for eligible individuals across the state. 

The program provides checks to low-income New Yorkers age 60 and older to purchase $20 worth of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from participating local farmers’ markets and farm stands. 

For the first time, program benefits are being provided on an individual basis instead of per household, expanding the reach of the program to more older New Yorkers. 
In Upstate communities, checks are now available at county Offices for the Aging. 

About 120,000 booklets consisting of five $4 checks will be distributed this year, allowing for the purchase of fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables from 950 farmers vending at over 600 farmers’ markets and farm stands across the state. 

A pocket folder with instructions on how and where to use the checks to purchase fresh, local fruits and vegetables from farmers at the market will be included with each booklet. Checks can be used at participating farmers’ markets and farm stands through Nov. 30 of this year.
Eligible recipients must be age 60 or older and meet the income eligibility requirement $1,832 or less per month for a single or $2,470 per month for a couple — or affirm that they are currently receiving or eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income, or public assistance or Section 8 housing subsidy. 

Recipients cannot have received Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks from any other location.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Powerful Words from Ag Secretary Thomas Vilsack

This post has been popping up on Facebook all over the place so I thought I'd put it on my blog.

Words from Ag Secretary Thomas Vilsack:

American Farm Bureau President Visits NYS

From Empire Farm & Dairy Magazine

New York state played host to a special national visitor in May.

Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Duvall came to New York state to meet with area farmers, find out their concerns and see the sort of agricultural operations that flourish in the Empire State.

According to the American Farm Bureau, Duvall visited three dairy farms, a vineyard/winery, and even got to see the “rock” that commemorates the first Farm Bureau, established in 1911 in Broome County.
He also had a roundtable meeting with leaders of commodity groups in New York state.

At Hemdale Farms in Seneca Castle, Ontario County, Duvall saw a robotic milking operation and talked with farmer Dale Hemminger  about labor challenges that he and other farmers face.

At the other dairy farm, Whittaker Family Farm in Whitney Point, Broome County, Duvall visited with Scott and Judi Whittaker and talked about regulatory concerns, such as federal Environmental Protection Agency requirements under the Clean Water Act that make farming more costly.

Labor issues also came up in the conversation with the Whittakers.

At Anthony Road Wine Co., in Penn Yan, Yates County, Duvall visited with owners John and Ann Martini and their daughter Sarah, business manager for the operation. John Martini also talked about labor challenges.

“Nearly every farmer I’ve talked with has said that they face tremendous challenges in getting enough farm workers and with the cost of government regulations,” Duvall said about his visits with New York farmers. 

“You go to one farm and they say, ‘If you don’t fix immigration and ag labor, none of the other issues matter.’ You go to another farm, and they say, ‘If you don’t rein in regulations, none of the other issues are going to matter.’ So those are the top concerns I am hearing about as I talk with farmers in New York and around the country.”

Duvall also met with agriculture students and collegiate Farm Bureau members at Cornell University. The students were interested in talking about how to help consumers understand the benefits of today’s farming practices, such as genetic modification that helps farmers grow more food on less land with fewer pesticides.

Duvall also met with the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Kathryn Boor, who spoke about the importance of agricultural research and education.

Last, but not least, Duvall spent time with New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton and his family on their dairy farm in Elba, Genesee County, where he pitched in as the family worked to load spring hay into their silage bunkers.

Duvall was struck by the beauty of the rolling hills and farms of Upstate New York, and he was impressed by how innovative and industrious the region’s farmers are.

“I was reminded of how much farmers contribute to job creation and economic growth, and what a big role agricultural research plays in solving problems in farming, food manufacturing and even healthcare and beyond,” he said. “You cannot meet the farmers I’ve met without being impressed by their industriousness and commitment to what they do.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit with so many excellent farmers who want to do the right thing for consumers, the environment and, of course, their own farms and families,” Duvall added. “There is no replacement for seeing firsthand what they do and talking about the concerns that keep them awake at night. 

Their potential to grow and create new businesses and new economic opportunities is truly amazing. As one farmer told me, ‘We just need a level playing field.’”

Elected to the top post at the nation’s largest general farm organization in January, Duvall aims to visit all 50 states in his first two-year term to learn more about agricultural issues in every state and region and ensure that the American Farm Bureau is speaking for all farmers and ranchers and working to unify farmers no matter where they farm, what they grow, or how they grow it.

“Some of the things we need to get done for agriculture, such as ag labor and immigration reform, will not be easy,” he said. “It will take all of agriculture working together to enact policies that allow farmers to meet their challenges and benefit from their opportunities.”

Duvall is a third-generation dairy farmer who has a 300-head beef cow herd while producing quality hay to supply his needs. He and his wife Bonnie also developed a poultry production operation, growing out over 750,000 broilers per year.

Duvall began his Farm Bureau journey in 1977 after his late father heard him complain about the price of milk and told him, “If you think the price of milk is not enough, or if you think the regulations are too tough, you’ve got to get outside your fencerows.”

Duvall has held numerous leadership roles in the organization at the county, state and national level. As Georgia Farm Bureau president, Duvall also served on the AFBF Board of Directors, including roles on the Trade Advisory Committee, International Trade Mission and Finance Committee.

In addition to his Farm Bureau leadership, Duvall has served 35 years in community and public service roles.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's National Ice Cream Day!!

The entire month of July is National Ice Cream month -- so enjoy.

But one particular day -- July 17 -- is also National Ice Cream Day.

What is your favorite flavor? Personally, I pretty much like them all.

According to the National Day Calendar website, here are some facts about ice cream:
  • Ben Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to have been regular eaters of ice cream.
  • First Lady Dolley Madison served ice cream at the Inaugural Ball in 1813.
  • 1832 – African American confectioner, Augustus Jackson created multiple ice cream recipes as well as  a superior technique to manufacture ice cream.
  • 1843 – Philadelphian, Nancy Johnson, was issued the first U.S. patent for a small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezer.
  • It is said that today there are over 1,000 ice cream flavors. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Is Certified Organic Honey Really Organic?

Here's an interesting story that came out of a question by a local farmer who wanted to know how honey could be certified organic when the bees fly EVERYWHERE?

Check out this story at http://livingmaxwell.com/organic-honey-certified

It's National I Love Horses Day!!

Horses and riders compete at the Syracuse International Horse Show
Today is the day to celebrate all that is equine.

According to the National Day Calendar, it's National I Love Horses Day. 

Wikipedia states "Horse and equestrian lovers across the nation celebrate each year on July 15 as National I Love Horses Day is one of their favorite holidays. This day pays tribute to, and honors, the horse. According to an Animal Plant poll, the horse is the world’s fourth favorite animal."

The National Day Calendar website states: "playing an important role in history, horses have been an essential part of our countries development as, from the beginning, they helped in exploring new territory, provided transportation, helped in the fields, helped in war as well as companionship.

"This day is a great opportunity to learn more about horses.  While you are doing research at your local library or on the ‘net’, learn more about the Colt, Filly, Foal, Gelding, Mare, Stallion and Yearling."

So, go out and pet a horse or ride a horse or feed a horse.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

National Holstein Convention Has Great Run in New York State

From the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

Following the return of the National Holstein Convention to New York, state Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball on Tuesday highlighted the success of the conference, held in Saratoga Springs from June 27 to July 1.  

New York state, which was the birthplace of the National Holstein Association, last hosted the gathering more than two decades ago in Rochester in 1993. Since then, it has been held throughout the country.  

This year, the convention drew more than 1,000 industry professionals from Canada, Mexico and nearly every state in the U.S., including more than 400 youth.

“I was thrilled to take part in the National Holstein Convention this year, and proud to see New York’s important role in the Holstein breed on display. During this five-day event, farmers from all across the country were able to swap stories, find out what’s new in the industry, and to learn from the best," Ball said.

"And while they were here, they had the chance to experience all that Saratoga Springs has to offer. I look forward to the convention’s next return to the Empire State,” he said.

The National Holstein Convention is sponsored by Holstein Association USA, the world’s largest dairy breed organization and a nonprofit membership group that offers programs and services to the dairy industry. 

This year’s theme, “New York Charm: City to Farm,” was fitting given that a priority for the Department is to help connect New York’s farmers to new markets and provide as many consumers as possible better access to fresh, local agricultural goods, including our world-class milk and dairy products.

The convention provided members interested in breeding, raising and milking Holstein cattle the opportunity to go on farm tours, check out informational seminars, participate in contests and auctions and even buy animals at the cattle sale, which this years grossed nearly $2 million. The top selling cow came from Schuylerville, outside Saratoga, and sold for $180,000.

The convention also offered a wide variety of activities for Junior Holstein members, ages 21 and under, aimed at increasing their knowledge of the dairy industry, strengthening self confidence and building leadership skills. 

New York Junior Member Awards

During the convention, the Holstein Association recognized distinguished junior members. This award is the highest honor a Holstein Association USA junior member can receive. 

This year, Kayla Windecker and Jonathan King, were finalists for the Distinguished Junior Member and Young distinguished Junior Member awards.   

Five Junior Holstein members from New York also finished in the top rankings during four different dairy competitions.

·         Dairy Jeopardy

Based on the popular television game show, the contests tested the participant’s knowledge on a wide range of dairy-related topics.  Nearly eighty participants in the Dairy Jeopardy competition were divided into three age groups.  This year, George Andrew of Newark won third place in the Junior Division, and Stephanie Bishop of Delhi won third place in the Senior Division.

·         Prepared Public Speaking  
This year, 51 youth participated in the prepared public speaking competition. Stephanie McBath of Schuylerville claimed the top prize in the 18- 21 year old age group with her speech, “When in Rome, on an Italian Dairy Farm.”

·         Folding Display Contest
Fifty-seven entries were submitted in this year's Folding Display competition where participants create a free-standing display educating people about a dairy industry-related topic of their choice. The competition is divided into two categories -- Scientific and Creative. Shannon Sears of Schenevus won first place in the Senior Scientific Division with a display on “Hairy Heel Warts.”

·         Dairy Knowledge Exam
The Dairy Knowledge Exam participants put their knowledge to the test with a 25-question written exam. New Yorker, Christine Putman of Schuylerville finished second in the Junior Division.

In addition, New York ranked among the top five in both the State Banner and Digital State Scrapbook contests, and a team of New York youth made it to the final Senior Division Dairy Bowl.

Known as the “Cradle of the Holstein Breed,” New York state was the birthplace of the National Holstein Association in 1885 and home to the first registered Holstein herd, raised by Gerrit Smith Miller in Madison County, east of Syracuse. Today, the state’s Holstein breeders and owners offer substantial contributions to the dairy industry and the state’s economy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2016 Summer Crop Tour Comes to Cayuga County Aug. 4

The 2016 Summer Crop Tour put on by the Corn and Soybean Growers Association is set for 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Aug. 4 at Sunnyside Farms on Indian Field Road, Scipio Center, Cayuga County.

The event, titled "Optimizing Opportunities for Cows, Corn and Soybeans," will include a talk on maximizing profits in 2016, a panel discussions titled Cultivating the Relationship Between Cash Crop and Dairy Farmers, and breakout sessions on a large variety of topics. Lunch is included.

Some of the breakout session topics include
  1. Optimizing Variable Rate Seeding in NYS with Savanna Crossman
  2. Analyzing root function by digging though root pits in corn, soy and undisturbed ground and discussing soil health improvement as the foundation for growing great crops with David DeGolyer
  3. Maximizing yield potential of a hybrid and the soils using the Nitrogen response Trial in Corn with Brian Boerman
Tickets are $75 and available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2016-corn-soybean-summer-crop-tour-tickets-25994733949

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

It's Invasive Species Awareness Week

From Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office:

New York’s third annual Invasive Species Awareness Week is being held now -- from July 10 to July 16.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos and state Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said observance of the week urges all New Yorkers to exercise environmental stewardship to protect lands and waters from infestations that can be devastating to habitats, agriculture, tourism and human health.

Invasive species cause harm because of their ability to reproduce quickly, outcompete native species and adapt to new environments. 

Because invasive species did not evolve with the other species in their new location, they often do not have natural predators and diseases that would normally control their population within their native habitat. Economists estimate that invasive species cost the United States more than $120 billion in damages every year.

During Invasive Species week, the Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management, iMap Invasives, Cornell Cooperative Extension, DEC and additional state and local partners will host activities to inform citizens how to identify, survey, map, report or manage invasive species. 

Those attending will be able to help remove invasive species from public lands, join experts on the trails or on the water to see invasive species firsthand, attend presentations to learn more about what can be done to help fight these threats, and more. 

In addition, all citizens are asked to consider how their everyday activities may affect the spread of invasive species and use the following best management practices: clean, drain and dry watercraft and gear after boating and fishing; use non-invasive plants in gardens and landscaping; use local firewood; and learn about, look for and report invasive species.

New York is working persistently to fight invasives such as emerald ash borer, which has spread across the state on wood packaging and firewood, threatening to kill millions of ash and cause a negative impact on the timber industry in the millions of dollars. This includes baseball bat manufacturers and bats used in Major League Baseball.  

Hemlock wooly adelgid is another threat, killing thousands of acres of hemlock in the lower Hudson Valley and Catskills. Shade provided by hemlock is important for maintaining cool water temperatures for New York’s many trout streams. 

        Oak wilt, first discovered in 2008, has cost New York state about $500,000 to control. Some midwest states spend over $1 million a year to control it but New York has kept costs down by aggressively surveying and eradicating infestations quickly while they are small. Oak is an important species because of the wildlife (deer and turkey among others, big for hunting) that depend on the acorns.

New York Invests in Next Generation of Farmers

Good report from WRVO.

Check it out http://wrvo.org/post/new-york-investing-next-generation-farmers#stream/0 at this link.

Western New York Greenhouse Owner Back on his Feet Thanks to New York Power Authority

One of the Zittel greenhouses.
Amos Zittel & Sons, a large Buffalo-area farm, has rebuilt two acres of greenhouse space destroyed in a severe snowstorm, using funds from the New York Power Authority to help support 30 jobs.

New York Power Authority provided $380,000 for the $2.5 million project from money authorized by the Western New York Power Proceeds Act. 

It allows for net earnings of unused power from the authority's Niagara Power Project to be sold into the wholesale electricity market in order to spur capital investments and job creation in Western New York.

“This is precisely the result that Governor Cuomo had in mind when he signed the Proceeds Act in 2012,” said power authority President an Chief Executive Officer Gil C. Quiniones.

“Proceeds funding allows for NYPA to be a more flexible economic development engine, turning power earmarked for the region into dollars that can be used in ways power alone cannot,” he said.

Amos Zittel & Sons, a fresh market vegetable producer with a significant greenhouse operation, has finished building state-of-the-art greenhouses that will allow the farm to be more competitive with its rooted liner and finished annual flower business. In addition, the farm plans to extend its vegetable growing season this fall by producing an organic vegetable crop.

Zittel had applied for the money following a crippling 2014 storm that destroyed two large greenhouses. The new project will facilitate the retention of 25 jobs and the creation of five new positions.

“The Power Authority’s support of our business enabled us to build back our greenhouse operation and make it more energy efficient than ever,” said co-owner Bill Zittel. “We want to thank NYPA for providing financial aid at such a critical time.”

Under the Proceeds Act, eligible applicants must be located within a 30-mile radius of the Niagara project and their proposed initiatives must underpin the growth of a business. 

Consideration is also given to how providing the money would be consistent with the strategies and priorities of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. 

Power authority trustees have approved about $32 million in power proceeds funding for 36 Western New York enterprises.

Happy Cow Appreciation Day!

Hey everyone! It's Cow Appreciation Day.

Hug a cow today -- or maybe, just hug the farmer that takes care of her.

Monday, July 11, 2016

New York Harvester Comes to New York State Fair

So how does this sound to you?

Every day can be Thanksgiving when you try the newest food craze at this year's New York State Fair.

The sandwich, called The New York Harvester, is Thanksgiving, deep fried into a sandwich that weighs two pounds.
The creator of this madness is Jim Hasbrouck, who operates the famous Fried Specialties booths at the Fair and whose heart-stopping Defibrillator was last year's craziest new food and won national attention.  But enough about the cook; what's in the sandwich?
  • Deep-fried turkey
  • Deep-fried mashed potatoes
  • Deep-fried stuffing
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Cheese sauce
  • Bacon - deep-fried, of course
  • All of it stacked between two slices of sourdough bread and every ounce of it made with New York products
"I spent the winter working on this," said Hasbrouck, the Wayne County resident who tours the nation selling deep-fried fun at many fairs and festivals.  "I went through a lot of food to get this just right, and it's good.  Crazy good."
"This is one of the fun reasons people wait all year for the Fair.  They want to taste something they've never tasted before.  As for me, I can't wait to dig in to one of these.  Who doesn't love Thanksgiving dinner?" said Troy Waffner, Acting Fair Director.
Hasbrouck also plans to bring back The Defibrillator, the mega-burger that featured a deep-fried Angus burger patty, deep-fried pickles, deep-fried cheese curds, deep-fried bacon, and cheddar cheese, stuffed between two grilled cheese sandwiches.  
The sandwich was one of several fun Fair foods featured on the Cooking Channel show "Carnival Eats" earlier this year.
The New York Harvester is the first of several wild new food choices to be announced in the coming weeks.  The fair's annual surveys of fairgoers have consistently shown that food is the number one item on their agendas.  
Fair officials have been diversifying food choices gradually each year, adding healthy options such as the wildly successful vegan food stand in the International Building and embracing more ethnic foods. 
Of course, the fair is known for its signature products - the cup of perfectly chilled white or chocolate milk in the Dairy Products building and the $1 baked potato with all the fixings in the Horticulture Building.  
The sausage sandwich with peppers and onion has been a staple of the fair for decades.
The New York State Fair this year runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 5.  

It's Blueberry Muffin Day!

Photo from the Blueberry Council
Today, July 11, is National Blueberry Muffin Day.

This is quite a propos because blueberries are coming into season right now. Many of your local farm stands and farmers' markets now have fresh, locally grown blueberries for sale. 

According to the National Day Calendar website, "whether it is for breakfast or a snack, blueberry muffins are melt-in-your-mouth delicious and are honored each year July 11, National Blueberry Muffin Day."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Potato Growers Honor Trumansburg Student

Cassandra Proctor
Cassandra Proctor of Trumansburg, has been named the 2016 Empire State Potato Growers Association Scholarship winner and will receive a $500 scholarship per academic year for up to four consecutive years of agricultural education at a college in New York state.

Proctor graduated from Charles O. Dickerson High School in Trumansburg in June. She plans to study plant sciences at Cornell University in the fall and hopes to earn a doctoral degree in plant genetics and to research ways to improve plant yield and suitability for impoverished areas.

As a high school senior, she served as an FFA Co-Treasurer, and participated in the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga New Visions in Life Sciences Program that allowed her to intern in the Boyce Thompson Institute plant genetics research lab at Cornell University.

Proctor was selected to attend the Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation in Iowa in 2015. This summer Cassie will travel to the Phillipines on an eight-week Borlaug Ruan International Internship at the International Rice Research Institute.

"The Empire State Potato Growers Association is pleased to recognize Cassandra Proctor for outstanding achievement and vision related to plant science and global food production needs," said Empire State Potato Growers Association Scholarship Committee Chairman Andrew Pryputniewicz.

The Empire State Potato Growers will recognize Proctor as its 2016 scholarship winner at the Ag Leadership Luncheon at Empire Farm Days on Wednesday, Aug. 10 at Rodman Lott & Son Farms in Seneca Falls.

Deadline Approaches for Food and Farm Experience Applications

The July 15 deadline is quickly approaching for middle and high school career counselors to submit an application for the 2016 Food and Farm Experience, presented by New York Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agricultural Education.

The two-day event is an annual summit focusing on learning about agriculture and making connections with a full array of people connected to farming and food production. 

This year’s in-depth experience is geared towards those involved in middle and high school career exploration and development. It will connect participants to an industry that offers more than 300 ag-related career opportunities.  

The participants will meet with industry experts, employers, and post-secondary educators. Participants will be selected via nomination /application, with a goal to develop extensive agricultural understanding, networking and connections. 

Food and Farm Experience will be packed with essential and useful information about agriculture for a focused group of 35 career educators. The materials provided will include the tools, resources and connections needed to assist their students who may be interested in agricultural careers.  

Participants will visit a variety of stops over the two days, from farm to fork, in addition to interactive workshops and panel discussions to get a feel for the multitude of career opportunities available in the agricultural industry. 

The 2016 Food & Farm Experience is:
A two-day program for 25 to 35 target group members – starting with a reception and dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in Batavia. 
The Food and Farm Experience will include tours, panel discussions and more before winding down at noon Friday, Oct. 21 with a trade show of agricultural education and career opportunities.

An application is necessary for inclusion in the annual Food & Farm Experience. 

Food, lodging, and workshop material costs are covered. 

Deadline for applications is July 15, postmarked or electronic submission

Interested in attending the 2016 Food & Farm Experience or know someone to nominate?  Contact New York Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agricultural Education at 1-800-342-4143
More information is available at www.nyfbfoundation.org

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New York State Commemorates 20 Years of Farmland Protection

On June 28, state Sen. Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman William Magee announced the recent passage of a Joint Resolution of the New York State Senate and Assembly commemorating the 20th Anniversary of New York State’s Farmland Protection Program. 

Over the last two decades the state’s Farmland Protection Implementation Grants program has provided $140,306,211 to permanently protect 59,150 acres of farmland on 222 farms in 29 counties across New York. 
“When it comes to our state’s agriculture industry, available farmland that’s ready for cultivation is one of our most important resources,” said Ritchie, who is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“New York state’s Farmland Protection Program has played a key role in safeguarding our farmland, helping to ensure our hardworking farmers have access to undeveloped property, which they can use grow the fresh foods we rely on," she said. "I’ve been proud to advocate for farmland protection, and am looking forward to continuing our efforts to make sure our farmers have the land they need to feed the people of our state, and beyond.”
“As the average age of our farmers increases, so does our obligation to protect the farmland of the state by preserving it for agricultural uses,” said Magee, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. “Over the past 20 years, the Farmland Protection Program has been successful in establishing the permanent protection of over 59,000 acres of farmland."

"Keeping farmland in production benefits every New Yorker with access to fresh, local farm products, providing sustenance for generations to come, and helping to preserve our way of life in Upstate New York,” he said.
Farmland lies at the foundation of New York’s $39 billion farm and food economy and is a key resource in producing fresh, healthy foods grown from local farms. Yet, New York state has lost nearly 500,000 acres of farmland to real estate development since the 1980s – paving over an area equivalent to about 5,000 farms or 3 farms a week for the past 30 years. New research from American Farmland Trust (AFT) has also shown that nearly 30 percent of New York’s farmers are over 65, suggesting that approximately 2 million acres of farmland will change hands in coming years. 
Since 1996, New York state has awarded farmland protection money for the purchase of permanent agricultural conservation easements on farmland. Such deed restrictions enable farms to remain in private ownership but ensures that the land will always be kept available for farming. Currently, funding for FPIG is allocated from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.
In 2015-2016, $35 million was allocated to farmland protection in the state budget – the most in the state’s history and the fourth largest annual state funding for protecting farmland in America. In 2016-2017, a record appropriation of $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund included $20 million in funds for the Farmland Protection Program, an increase of $5 million over the previous year.