Friday, September 30, 2016

Expert Presents Department of Agriculture Funded Research on Food Security

Check out this story about food security and safety from The Daily Orange at SU.

Go to to see the story.

NY Fall Potato Production Down Slightly

Fall potato final production for 2015 is 4.14 million hundredweight, down 5 percent from the 2014 crop, said Blair Smith, state statistician of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York Field Office.

Harvested area, at 14,800 acres, is down 6 percent from 2014. The average yield of 280 hundredweight per acre is up 5 hundredweight from the previous year.

The value of all potatoes sold in 2015, at $46.6 million, decreased 8 percent from the previous year. The average price, at $12.20 per hundredweight, is down 40 cents from 2014.

The quantity of potatoes sold from the 2015 crop totaled 3.81 million hundredweight, down 5 percent from 2014. Sales accounted for 91.9 percent of 2015 production, down 0.7 percent from the previous year. 

Shrinkage and loss is estimated at 290 thousand hundredweight for 2015, up 21 percent from 2014. 

Potatoes used for livestock feed on farms where grown, home use, and seed on their own farms totaled 46 thousand hundredweight, down 44 percent from 2014.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Red Meat Production Up in New York in August

Commercial red meat production for New York totaled 3.8 million pounds in August, up 21 percent from the 3.1 million pounds produced in August 2015, said Blair Smith, state statistician of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York Field Office.

Cattle slaughter totaled 3,200 head, up 10 percent from August 2015. The average live weight was up 28 pounds from the previous year, at 1,190.

Calf slaughter totaled 4,300 head, up 65 percent from August 2015. The average live weight was down 57 pounds from last year, at 136 pounds.

Hog slaughter totaled 6,000 head, up 33 percent from August 2015. The average live weight was up 12 pounds from the previous year, at 243 pounds.

Sheep slaughter totaled 5,000 head, 6 percent above last year. The average live weight was 102 pounds, down 3 pounds from August a year ago.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fire Destroys Barn at Ontario County Farm

An Ontario County farm lost its barn in a fire on Monday.

Go to to read the story.

New York Bill Makes Transport of Ag Vehicles Easier

A bill has been signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that saves farmers money and makes it easier for farm vehicles to travel on roadways.

Previously, agriculture plated vehicles could travel on public highways only to landfills, motor vehicle repair shops or between portions of a farm or farms.

Now, under the bill crafted by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie and chair of the state Senate Agriculture Committee, vehicles registered for agricultural purposes will be permitted to travel on public highways from their point of sale to a farm.

“Before now, farm vehicles needed to be transported by trailer from their point of sale to the farm, adding to the cost of the vehicle and placing an unnecessary burden on farmers,” said Ritchie.  

“By removing this inconsistency in the law, we will save farmers from extra costs and make it easier for them to transport the vehicles that are essential to their operations.”

The bipartisan measure was sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh.

Happy National Chocolate Milk Day!!!

With New York state being such a Dairy State, then we can't pass up a reason to celebrate today.

June is Dairy Month, but today is National Chocolate Milk Day. According to the National Day Calendar website, "across the country, folks enjoy a tall, frosty glass on National Chocolate Milk Day which is observed annually Sept. 27. "

The website continues: "Invented by Hans Sloane in the late 1680s, today chocolate milk can be purchased premixed or it can be made at home with either cocoa powder and a sweetener or with melted chocolate, chocolate syrup or chocolate milk mix.

"While Sloane was in Jamaica, he encountered a beverage the locals drank made with cocoa mixed with water. After trying it, he reported the flavor to be nauseating. After some experimentation, Sloane found a way to mix the cocoa with milk to make it more pleasant tasting. He brought the chocolate recipe back with him upon his return to England. Now people enjoy this delicious drink every day."

August Milk Production Up in NY

Milk production in New York during August 2016 totaled 1.24 billion pounds, up 3.2 percent from August 2015.

The average milk price received by New York farmers in July 2016, at $16.80 per hundredweight, is up $1 from June 2016, but down 60 cents from July a year ago.

Statistics show there were 619,000 milk cows in the state in 2015 and 620,000 in 2016. Production per cow was 1,945 pounds in 2015 and was up to 2,005 pounds per cow in 2016.

USDA Launches Database to Help Consumers with Nutrition Information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has officially launched the USDA Branded Food Products Database, a free online resource for families, the food industry and researchers containing nutrition details on more than 80,000 name brand prepared and packaged foods available at restaurants and grocery stores.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service partnered with the International Life Sciences Institute North America, GS1 US, 1WorldSync, and Label Insight to develop the new database and user-friendly interface to make it easier for private food companies to add and update data.

The database provides a transparent source of information that can assist health professionals identifying foods and portion size for people with food allergies, diabetes, kidney disease and other conditions. 

Common consumer health and nutrition Apps may also use the data as a resource to bring information to consumers on a phone or watch in real time while shopping or dining out.

The Branded Food Products Database greatly expands and enhances the USDA National Nutrient Database, which contained basic information on about 8,800 branded foods and has served as a main source of food composition data for government, researchers and the food industry.

As information is added in the coming months, it is expected the new database will include up to 500,000 products with an expanded level of detail including serving size, servings per package and nutrients shown on the Nutrition Facts Panel or the Expanded Nutrition Facts Panel, plus weights and measures, ingredient list and sub-list, and a date stamp associated with current formulation of the product.

Go to to access the database.

Broome County Fall Farm Trail Coming Oct. 1 and 2

From Cornell Cooperative Extension:

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County presents the Broome County Fall Farm Trail from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 1 and 2.

Families are invited to tour farms throughout Broome County while learning about their food that is grown in their own backyard.

This year’s farms that will be participating both days are Dutch Hill Creamery in Chenango Forks, Country Wagon Produce in Glen Aubrey, NYALA Alpaca Farm in Vestal, JADA Hill Farm in Deposit, HH Riders Trail Club at Camp Sertoma in Kirkwood, Verde View Equestrian Center in Harpursville and Apple Hill in Binghamton.   

Farms that are participating on Saturday only are Old Barn Hollow Food and Artisan Market in Binghamton and Broome County Regional Farmers Market in Binghamton.

For more information visit or farm trail or stop by one of our farms to pick up a brochure for this year’s event.

Get In on The Big Apple Salad Challenge

From Empire Farm & Dairy:


The New York Apple Association invites apple fans who want to eat more healthfully to take the Big Apple Salad Challenge this fall, by eating at least one salad a day that includes apples.

Fans who take the Big Apple Salad Challenge are invited to try New York Apple Association's salad recipes, and to send pictures of their own apple salads to New York Apple Association — the association will share fan photos on its website and Facebook page.

“Whatever your health goal – eating cleaner, feeling better, losing weight – salads are a deliciously easy way to eat better without sacrificing flavor or satisfaction,” said association registered dietitian Linda Quinn said. “Apples add crunch, texture and flavor – as well as nutrients and fiber-related fullness – to any salad. Plus, apple cider and cider vinegar make great salad dressings!”

Quinn has developed a number of apple salad recipes to help apple fans get started on the Big Apple Salad Challenge, including:

• New York Apple Slaw with Sweet and Sour Cider Dressing – NYAA’s Facebook fans picked this recipe for Quinn to prepare during a demonstration at the Great New York State Fair last month
• New York Apple-cado Salad, a fruity, crunchy twist on traditional guacamole
• New York Apple Seasonal Salad, with kale, quinoa and dried cranberries in a cider vinaigrette dressing
• For the guys who grill, New York Grilled Apple Salad with a tangy cider mustard vinaigrette dressing
• New York Apple BYO Salad with Apple Cider Drizzle – build your own salad with what’s in your fridge!

“Eating clean means eating more of the best, healthiest foods – and less of the not-so-healthy ones. It means eating whole foods, close to their source,” Quinn said. “Eating clean doesn’t just make you feel better about the food you’re eating, it actually makes you feel better.”

Send New York Apple Association your favorite salad recipe or salad photo by Oct. 31, and you will also be entered in the Big Apple Salad Sweepstakes – you could win one of three $500 Visa gift cards in a random drawing.

New York Apple Association will share sweepstakes winners’ photos after the sweepstakes has concluded. (You can also simply fill out and submit the sweepstakes entry form – no purchase, photo or recipe is necessary.)

To learn more about the Big Apple Salad Challenge, to find salad recipes and to enter the sweepstakes, visit and click on the link at the top of the home page.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Today is National Pancake Day!

My God, I almost missed it.

Today is National Pancake Day.

According to the National Day Calendar: "The table is set, the batter is mixed, the griddle is hot, and the butter and syrup are ready.  This means you are prepared for National Pancake Day. This food holiday is observed each year on Sept. 26."

Be sure to cover those delicious pancakes with New York maple syrup.

Morrisville State College Hosts Successful Yearling Sale

Morrisville State College annual yearling sale held Sept. 17 was a huge success.

The sale, held at the college’s Nancy Sears Stowell Arena on Swamp Road, drew a crowd of potential buyers, sellers, trainers and owners from across the Northeast. 

Morrisville’s sale is the only one of its kind in New York state held on a college campus.

A total of 81 yearlings grossed $1,106,136 for an average of $13,656. The highest-priced yearling was Thunderman, topping out at $55,000, consigned by Lakeview Equine, followed by My Lady Winner at $50,000, consigned by Preferred Equine.

The yearling sale, which features year-old Standardbred horses sold on consignment by the college, is organized and run by Morrisville State Equine Department faculty, staff and students. Equine students participated in every aspect of the sale from administrative duties to horse handling and showing horses in the sales ring.

Profits from the sale go toward general maintenance and enrichment of the college’s equine programs.  For complete sale results visit

Managing Forage Quality Is A Team Effort

From Empire Farm & Dairy:


COPENHAGEN — Michael Lynch used to have the attitude that once a hay or corn crop came out of the spout of the chopper, his job was accounted for and the forage was someone else’s responsibility.

The chopper mechanic from Croghan, Lewis County, now says he feels the whole process of forage harvest has evolved into a team effort, involving the farm owners, nutritionists, seed salesmen, veterinarians, forage experts and those harvesting the crops.

“I’ve learned every one of those components has to talk and share what they can do and what the other one is looking for to find out how you move forward,” Lynch said. “It really is coming to the point where it’s a team, and the cows either perform well when they get that feed or it was a whole lot of money spent that wasn’t done as well as it could have been.”

Lynch, who has been performing maintenance on choppers for farmers since 2012, attended a bunk silo management workshop on Aug. 22 at Moserdale Dairy LLC in Copenhagen, N.Y.
Moserdale, one of Lynch’s six farm customers, is operated by partners Doug and Patty Moser and Doug’s son, Andrew.

The Mosers have 750 cows, including dry cows, and they farm 1,600 acres, including 600 acres of corn. On the payroll are nine full-time employees, including eight Hispanic workers, and one family member who is a seasonal helper.

Involved in the bunk management meeting were two of the farm owners, the farm’s herdsman, six representatives from Cornell Cooperative Extension, two veterinarians, one mechanic and several area farmers.

The meeting was led by Joe Lawrence, Dairy Forage Systems Specialist with Cornell University’s PRO DAIRY program, along with Ron Kuck, Dairy and Livestock Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.

Lawrence and Kuck have been working together with bunk silo management for at least seven years.

Lawrence stressed the importance of taking extra time to pack the silage after each load. He covered topics such as the best type of plastic to cover the bunk, the size of the silage particles, and the use of a kernel processor.

“It’s a good refresher,” Andrew Moser said. “You learn what you should be doing that you forgot to do.”

One of those reminders for the Mosers is adding weight to their packing tractor.

A simple thing farmers can do to improve their forage preservation is putting concrete blocks on the backs of their big packing tractors, according to Lawrence.

“It’s a pretty inexpensive way to add a couple extra tons of weight on the back of tractors,” Lawrence said.

Moserdale has a concrete block, but Andrew Moser admitted the farm didn’t always use it.

The cost of a concrete block is under a thousand dollars. Some farmers have made their own concrete blocks at a minimal cost by using excess concrete from another farm project.

Gary Sullivan, a farmer from Carthage, said adding the weight is definitely worth it. He is a believer in taking extra time to pack the bunk. Last year he experienced minimal forage loss.

Sullivan, who built a bunk in 2014, used to pile his forage on the ground and the edges didn’t get packed well. He has also used ag bags, but filling them was a lot slower than piling.

This is the second year the Mosers have used Feed Fresh silage covers, heavy oxygen-limiting plastic that has mesh it it.

Lawrence, however, recommends a plastic that is less rigid. The Feed Fresh plastic has advantages over regular black and white plastic, according to Lawrence, but the rigidity prevents it from clinging tightly to the forage.

Andrew Moser said the farm went to FeedFresh because of its durability. The regular plastic didn’t hold up well in the strong winds they receive at their farm.

Lawrence recommends spending the extra money on a bunk cover that will cling well to the forage.
“The return on it is worthwhile,” Lawrence said. “Of all the fuzzy economics out there, that’s a pretty clear cut one.”

Lynch’s customers are located between Mannsville in Jefferson County and Lisbon in St. Lawrence County, a span of over 90 miles.

“I’m quite fortunate every single person that I deal with, they all talk and share,” said Lynch, who works on the forage choppers year-round. Harvest season for him is typically the end of May to mid-October, and the rest of the year he’s performing maintenance on choppers and getting them ready to go for the spring.

“The only thing that I see that helps (this process) move forward isn’t (just) the theoretical part of talking to Joe and Ron,” Lynch said. “Because I don’t think anybody anymore can say, ‘Oh, do this and you’ll gain 10 percent.’ It’s little, little changes, and I think the difference is the communication of everybody that’s in that process.”

Apples Smaller, But Sweeter This Year Due to Drought

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:


Some New York state apples
It’s a wonder there’s any type of apple crop in New York state this year.

All sorts of calamities have hit this growing season, from early bud to late frost to no rain.

But still, somehow, the apples survived, grew and this season, New York is seeing a “great” apple harvest.

“By the time this crop gets off the trees and to market, all New York state apple fans are going to see is ‘great’ — great variety, great quality and great flavor,” said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association.

Allen said that despite early budding of trees throughout the state, a late frost and hail hitting some areas, the state’s apple producers still will pick about 30 million cartons of fruit this year. This is down from the 32 million picked last year, but still above the state’s average crop of 28.6 million cartons over the last five years.

A check around the state shows a hit and miss on varieties and what growers have been able to harvest.

In Central New York, early varieties like Paula Red are OK, but some later varieties have been nearly wiped out.

At Adam’s Acres, a certified organic orchard in Jamesville, Onondaga County, this is the dire note on the business’s website:

New York snapdragon apples
“This year’s crop is the worst we have had. The spring winter weather killed most of our apple buds. Then the drought caused the limited fruit to be small. Also last week’s storms destroyed about 200 of our trees. The end result is we lost our early varieties. We will not be in full operations until mid-September. And we will have little or no Honeycrisp this year!”

Others echo this sad tale.

James Sims at Owen Orchards in Sennett, Cayuga County, said they lost from 50 to 60 percent of their crop due to the early frost.

“It was just 3 to 4 degrees too cold right after budding,” Sims said. “And we’ve got no peaches this year. They were frozen.”

Another orchard seeing the bad effects of Mother Nature this year is O’Neill’s Orchard in LaFayette, Onondaga County. This is the note from its website: “A warm winter resulted in an early bud break. Subsequent freeze/frost events contributed to varietal loss of up to 100 percent on certain varieties. 

Apple picking will be severely curtailed.”

The same is true at Beak & Skiff, also in LaFayette. Mark Fleckenstein, a co-owner of the business, characterized this year’s crop as “good,” but said two frosts killed off a number of buds on his trees.

“The crop is lighter in the valley,” he said.

It got much colder in the valley areas of his orchard than on the hills during the Feb. 14 and April 5 freezes, killing off some buds.

The apples that are on the trees — and many orchards have trees filled with fruit — may be smaller in size this year due to the drought. But the quality of the apples won’t be harmed at all — in fact, Allen said the lack of water makes the apples crunchier and sweeter because with less water content, the concentration of sugars in each apple is higher.

“There is plenty of fruit on the trees this year, they’re just smaller in size than usual. Moms and kids will be especially happy,” Allen said.

And when speaking about the apple sweetness caused by the drought, he said “even downsides can have upsides in this industry.”

“We have a lack of size, but they’re sweeter — the sugar is high,” Fleckenstein said.

“The big loss this year of course with the dry weather is size (of the apples),” said David Frost, owner of McPherson Orchards and Christmas Tree Farm in Genesee County. 

“While normally we would start picking right now (early September), they are so small I’m not sure if I’ll pick any ... Later varieties have another 30 days pretty much, give or take. So depending on weather again, how much size they’ll put on by then, time will tell,” he said.

Frost said apples need a consistent rain throughout the season to grow large.

“A number of the showers we had (this year) had been so small — a tenth, two tenths, three tenths,” he said. “They don’t get down anywhere. The surface gets wet, but it doesn’t penetrate or go anywhere. We just needed one of those day-long rains where it would push water down and get down to where it needs to be.”

In the Hudson Valley’s apple region, growers also are seeing smaller apples, but good quality apples.

“Everything is a little bit smaller this year than it was last year, but it’s still good fruit and it’s still fruit that you would like to pick,” said Bill Philip, owner of Philip Orchards in Claverack, Columbia County.

The orchard grows about 15 varieties of apples and about five types of pears. Philip said the pears don’t seem to be affected by the drought.

In Kinderhook, Yonder Fruit Farms, a garden center and farm market, has also seen smaller-sized apples this year because of the weather conditions.

“We are starting to pick some apples and they are smaller in size because of the drought,” said Peter Chiraro, the owner of the farm located in Columbia County.

Yonder Fruit Farms sells fruits, vegetables, flowers and more at various locations throughout the Capital Region. The farm’s pick-your-own orchards are located in Valatie, also in Columbia County.

Chiraro is worried consumers will buy fewer apples because of their size.

“It hurts us because we are not going to have the size in apples. There’s going to be less buying because it’s smaller,” he said.

The farm has been irrigating crops since May in an effort to provide relief from the drought.

In Greene County, Henry Boehm, owner of Boehm Farm in Climax, said droughts haven’t affected his apples and irrigation is important in order to have a bountiful apple crop.

“We irrigate, so we got nice apples,” Boehm said.

However, his peach crop wasn’t so lucky. Boehm said the flower bud of the peach plant is more susceptible to freezing and in February all it took was two days to kill the peach crop entirely.

“There’s no peaches, they froze in February,” he said.

He added normal winter weather doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on his crops overall.

“It doesn’t seem to make much difference,” Boehm said.

Allen of the apple association said the state’s growers are growing more of the varieties that apple fans love — including new favorites Gala and Honeycrisp, and old New York favorites McIntosh and Empire.

“Our growers produce more apples now on fewer acres because of technology — smaller trees that produce more fruit, computer-aided packing and sorting, and high-tech cold storage that puts apples to sleep until they are ready to ship to stores,” he said.

And by buying local New York state apples, consumers support hundreds of farm families.

“Many of our families have been growing apples for several generations,” Allen said. “It’s always exciting to see the next generation getting involved.”

For more information on New York apples, go to On that site, you will find a variety guide to figure out exactly which apple is best for your plans (fresh eating, baking, salads) and when those varieties are normally available.

Contributing to this story: Victoria Addison and Daniel Zuckermanm, Columbia-Greene Media; Mallory Diefenbach, Daily News in Batavia.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

17 Farms Earn Dairy of Distinction Awards

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:


Seventeen farms in New York state earned Dairy of Distinction awards this year.

The winners received bright Dairy of Distinction signs to proudly display at their farms.

The purpose of the award, which has been presented by the Northeast Dairy Farm Beautification Program for 32 years, is to recognize the hard work and dedication of Northeast dairy farmers and to honor those who maintain attractive farmsteads. 

Well-kept farm businesses help promote the dairy industry and enhance consumer confidence.

Farms must score at least 90 out of 100 points to receive the award. Judges consider the cleanliness and physical conditions of buildings and the attractiveness of the surroundings, including landscaping, roads and lanes, fences and ditches. Judges also rate the cleanliness of the animals and barnyards.

Char-Marie Farm LLC in Bloomville, Delaware County, one of the winners, has been in operation for over 200 years.

Dairy has been the main source of income for the six generations who have run the business since 1815.

Now operated by cousins Brian and Jeff Haynes, Char-Marie Farm has increased production every year with advancements in feeding and care for the animals.

In 2014, Brian and Jeff were awarded a Delaware County Outstanding Young Farm Family Award.

The Vellenga family in Orange County are also Dairy of Distinction winners this year. Troy and Tina Vellenga and their children, Dustin, Brad, Kally and Tyler, are the owners and operators of Crestline Dairy LLC in Middletown. 

Troy’s father purchased the farm in 1960, and Troy took over in 1992. The Vellengas have over 200 dairy cows, not including heifers and young stock. A milking parlor and slatted floor freestall were built last year to add cow comfort and improve production.

In Franklin County, the Hutchins Family Farm in Malone is a Dairy of Distinction winner. Owned by Robert, Barbara and James Hutchins, the picturesque farm is home to 50 Jersey cows and 50 head of young stock.

The Hutchins family grows all its feed, including corn, alfalfa and grass hay on 120 acres, plus an additional 30 acres of rented land.

The family suffered a devastating barn fire on July 19, 1993, on Barbara and Roberts wedding anniversary. The dedicated help of good neighbors and friends allowed the barn to be rebuilt in three months.

A lean-to for the young stock and a small freestall were added over the years.

Previously honored farms are judged again each year in order to maintain the Dairy of Distinction honor.

All active dairy farms in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Jersey and Maryland are eligible to apply for the Dairy of Distinction award.

To apply for the award in New York, an application must be submitted by April 15 to Nancy Putman, the state secretary for the program. She may be reached at 315-322-5493 or

Visit for more information, including that for the other states.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Visit 7 Local Farms at First Ever OnFarmFest in Onondaga County

Here are farms participating in OnFarmFest:

Emmi & Sons, Inc.
1482 W. Genesee Road (Route 370)
Baldwinsville 13027

River Ridge Dairy
7197 River Road
Memphis 13112

Local 315 Brewing Co.
3160 Warners Road
Warners 13164

Silver Spring Farm
4349 Bussey Road
Syracuse 13215

Navarino Orchard
3655 Route 20
Syracuse 13215

Lucky 13 All Natural Red Angus Beef
790 Markham Hollow
Tully 13159

Bentwood Alpacas
5344 State Route 80
Tully 13159

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Morrisville State Fall Standardbred Yearling Sale Sept. 17

From Morrisville State College:

Morrisville State College will hold its annual Fall Standardbred Yearling Sale at noon, Saturday, Sept. 17  at the college’s Nancy Sears Stowell Arena on Swamp Road.  

The sale preview day is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16.

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

A total of 90 yearlings are cataloged for the 2016 sale. Sixteen of them are being sold by the college.

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

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

Last year, the sale took in close to $1 million. 

Profits from the sale, which is free and open to the public, go toward general maintenance and enrichment of the college’s equine programs.  For more information about the annual event, visit

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ag Commissioner Ball Tours Drought-Stricken Southern Tier, Finger Lakes

From NYS Agriculture and Markets:

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today (Sept. 13) joined state leaders, representatives from the New York Farm Bureau, members of the U.S.Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency  and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Steuben and Yates counties to tour several farms in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions affected by this summer’s drought. 

In addition, Ball announced a new drought guide to help impacted farmers navigate the various resources available. The commissioner provided the resource guide to participants during a roundtable gathering hosted by state Sen. Thomas O’Mara to discuss the extent of the drought and plan to help farmers with recovery.
Two weeks ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that 24 counties across Upstate New York had been designated as a natural disaster area and since then, two additional counties have been added for a total of 26 counties.  

There are also additional requests being reviewed by Farm Service Agency for counties seeking disaster declaration. These designations mean that farmers in those areas may be eligible for assistance, including emergency loans, from the Farm Service Agency.

Steuben and Yates counties were both designated as primary disaster counties, enabling eligible farms in these affected areas to qualify for loans and other assistance programs.

2 Bills Signed to Help Craft Beverage, Wine Sales

From Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office:

Two measures to further modernize New York's archaic 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law were signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo today.
These bills allow farm wineries, breweries and cideries to sell any New York-made farm alcoholic beverage by the glass at their production facility or off-site branch store. Under current law, farm manufacturers are limited to selling only products by the glass that they produce on their site.
These new laws will provide for increased sales of New York state homegrown manufactured products and further support New York’s thriving manufacturing business, providing more consumers the opportunity to sample the best New York has to offer. 

By removing this archaic provision to the law, this legislation expands a major revenue source for both established manufacturers and new businesses entering the market.
New York state farm-based alcohol beverage manufacturers, who have more than doubled in number since 2011 and have seen a 13 percent increase in the last year alone, provide local communities where they operate with increased tax revenue, job opportunities, increased demand for farm products, and a bolstered tourism impact for the state.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Gillibrand Hosts New York Farm Day

From Jim Trezise at the New York Wine and Grape Foundation:  

New York wines and other farm-based craft beverages, farm-fresh food products, sensational seafood, and fine restaurants will soon travel to the nation's Capitol to tastefully remind Congress, the Administration and others that New York is a major agricultural state, and agriculture is a major part of the state's economy.

From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will host "New York Farm Day" in the Senate Kennedy Caucus Room at the crest of Capitol Hill.  

Attendees will include other senators, the New York Congressional delegation from the House of Representatives, members of the Committees on Agriculture and the Congressional Wine Caucus, legislative chiefs of staff, agricultural specialists in Congress and the administration, members of the Washington media, top area restaurants and fine wine shops.

"Senator Gillibrand has been a great advocate for New York agriculture, including the grape and wine industry as well as other farm-based craft beverages," said Jim Trezise, president of the statewide New York Wine & Grape Foundation, which organizes the event.  

"New York produces some of the world's best wines, beers, spirits and ciders, as well as other farm products and seafood, and is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. We are honored to partner with Senator Gillibrand in tastefully proving that to official Washington."

Since its inaugural launch in 2002 (then hosted by former Senator Hillary Clinton), New York Farm Day has become the most popular event on Capitol Hill, with attendance normally exceeding 500 guests.  

A major part of the attraction is that the people presenting the beverages and foods are the same people who produce them--it's not just another catered event.

Foods to be enjoyed at New York Farm Day:

Wines of Long Island--A selection of award-winning wines from Bedell Cellars, Coffee Pot Cellars, Harbes Family Farm & Vineyard, Kontokosta Winery, Lieb Cellars, Macari Vineyards, Martha Clara Vineyards, McCall Wines, Osprey's Dominion Vineyards, One Woman Wines & Vineyards, Palmer Vineyards, Paumanok Vineyards, Raphael Vineyards, Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard, Suhru Wines, and Wolffer Estate Vineyard

K & B Seafood--Fresh Oysters and Clams 

Jewel--Seared Crescent Farm Duck Breast; Toasted Barley Salad with Raspberry-Coffee Vinaigrette and Petit Licorice Greens--by Chef Thomas Schaudel

Distilled Spirits of New York--Black Squirrel Distillery, Dark Island Spirits, Lockhouse Distillery, Tuthilltown Spirits, and Van Brunt Stillhouse

Orwashers Bakery--Morning Spelt, Levain Locale, Ultimate Whole Wheat, and Chardonnay Rustica & Sesamo Breads made with flour from Farmer Ground and North Country Farms, and starters made with grapes from Channing Daughters Winery                                        

New York State Maple Producers--Maple Cheesecake Delight made with maple granulated sugar and cream cheese sourced from New York dairies

Seaway Trail Honey--Seaway Trail Honey Raw Honeycomb Tidbits, Honey Cookies, Roasted Nuts and Honey, Bee Berry Melomel, Honey & Hops Mead

Cornell University--Cornell Big Red Cheddar

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

Red Jacket Orchards--Black & Blue Stomp (black currant and blueberry juice); Apricot Stomp; Tart Cherry Stomp.

State University of New York at Cobleskill--Smoked Campus-raised Brown Trout on Micro Greens with Yogurt Cheese and Spicy Pumpkin Vinaigrette; Centennial Celebration Pumpkin Cupcakes with Honey Buttercream
Wines of the Finger Lakes--A selection of award-winning wines from Fulkerson Winery, Goose Watch Winery, Hosmer Winery, Knapp Winery, Lakewood Vineyards, Red Newt Cellars, and Wagner Vineyards

New York Wine & Culinary Center--Chilled Buckwheat Noodle Salad tossed with Small World Organics Kimchee, Naked Dove Beer Braised Bostrom Farms Pork, and Marinated Chef Select Vegetables

Craft Ciders of New York--A selection of ciders from Brooklyn Cider House, Descendant Cider Company, Embark Craft Ciderworks, Good Life Cider, Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider, and Nine Pin Ciderworks

Upstate Niagara Cooperative--Intense Chocolate and Salted Caramel Milk, and Greek Yogurt

Li-Lac Chocolates--Hazelnut Truffles, Marzipan Squares, Non-pareils, French Mint and Butter Crunch Chocolate
National Grape Cooperative/Welch's--Red and White Sparkling Grape Juice

Cabot Creamery Cooperative--McCadam Adirondack, Cabot New York Extra Sharp, and McCadam Empire Jack Cheeses 

Wines of Lake Erie and Other New York Regions--A selection of award-winning wines from 21 Brix Winery, Johnson Estate Winery, and Liberty Vineyards & Winery (Lake Erie region); Coyote Moon Vneyards and Tug Hill Vineyards (North Country); Leonard Oakes Estate Winery (Niagara region); and Brooklyn Oenology (New York City) 
North Country Specialties--Moser's Maple Mini's, Adirondack Beef Company Beef Sticks, Lowville Producer's Squeaky Fresh Cheese Curd, Kraft-Heinz Philadelphia Cream Cheese (from Philadelphia, New York!), and Domaine Champlain Applesauce

Mercer's Dairy--Lemon Sparkling, and Cherry Merlot, Wine Ice Creams 

Dessert & Ice Wines of New York--A selection of award-winning wines from Casa Larga Vineyards, Fox Run Vineyards, Johnson Estate Winey, Lakewood Vineyards, Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars, Osprey's Dominion Vineyards,  Penguin Bay Winery, Sheldrake Point Winery, and Thirsty Owl Wine Company.

New York Apple Association--Fresh New York Apples and Red Jacket Orchards Cider    
Empire Brewing Company--Slo' Mo IPA, Skinny Atlas Light, Two Dragons, White Aphro

Wines of the Finger Lakes--A selection of award-winning wines from Anthony Road Winery, Billsboro Winery, Chateau Lafayette Reneau, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Fox Run Vineyards, Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars, Treleaven by King Ferry, and Ventosa Vineyards

Chobani--Chili Lime, Roasted Red Pepper, Three Pepper Salsa, and Smoked Onion Parmesan flavored dips; and Apple Veg, Strawberry Banana, Mixed Berry, and Mango flavored drinkable yogurts


Friday, September 9, 2016

Webinar on Soil Microbes Coming Next Week

Here is some information from the USDA:

Soil Health Impacts on Pest Management

September 13, 2016 2:00 pm US/Eastern

What will you learn?

This webinar will focus on management activities that create conditions for beneficial soil microbes to flourish. Learn more...


Lori A. Hoagland, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Horticulture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Session Details: 

September 13, 2016 2:00 - 3:00 pm US/Eastern    
***Please join the session 15 minutes prior to the start of the webinar.***

Who should participate?

Conservationists, Grazing Lands Specialists, Land Owners, Land Managers, Technical Service Providers, Others

Education Credit Units:

American Forage and Grassland Council - 1 hour CFGP Credit (approved)
Certified Crop Advisors - 1 hour CCA - PM Credit (approved)
Conservation Planner - 1 hour Conservation Planning Credit (approved)

Ag Commissioner to Assess Drought Damage in Finger Lakes

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball will be in the Finger Lakes today looking at drought damage.

He will visit the following farms:McCormick Farms in Bliss; Edward Sharp and Sons, Byron; Stein Farms, LeRoy; and Branton Farms, LeRoy.

Ball also went to Jefferson County earlier this week to assess drought damage there.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

USDA Buying Up 11 M Pounds of Cheese

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans Aug. 23 to buy about 11 million pounds of cheese from private inventories to assist food banks and pantries across the nation, while reducing a cheese surplus that is at its highest level in 30 years. 

The purchase, valued at $20 million, will be provided to families in need across the country through USDA nutrition assistance programs, while assisting the stalled marketplace for dairy producers whose revenues have dropped 35 percent over the past two years.

Farm Labor Survey Begins Next Month

During the second half of October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct its biannual Farm Labor Survey. 

NASS will reach out to more than 1,400 producers to accurately measure hired labor on Northeastern farms.

“Farm labor is a key component of the entire agricultural economy,” said King Whetstone, director of the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office. “Farmers who respond to the survey provide timely, relevant data that farmers, associations, and leaders in the public and private sectors use to make all sorts of important policy and business decisions.”

The USDA and the Department of Labor will use the statistics obtained from farmers to help establish minimum wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs, and assist legislators in determining labor policies.

The survey asks participants to provide information about farm labor on their operations, including total number of hired farm workers, hours worked, and wage rates paid for the weeks of Oct. 9-15 and July 10-16, 2016. 

For their convenience, survey participants will have the option to respond online at or by mail. NASS will compile, analyze and publish survey results in the Farm Labor report, to be released Nov. 17.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

It's National Acorn Squash Day!

Information is from the National Day Calendar:

National Acorn Squash Day is observed annually Sept. 7.

This day celebrates a food holiday of a winter squash that is also known to some as a pepper squash.

Even though considered a winter squash, acorn squash belongs to the same species as all summer squashes, including zucchini and yellow crookneck squash.

The acorn squash that is dark green in color, often with a splotch of orange on it’s side or top, is the most common variety, however, there are newer varieties including the Golden Acorn and the White Acorn.   They can also be variegated in color.

The shape of the squash resembles that of it’s name, an acorn. They usually weigh between one to two pounds and are generally between four and seven inches long.  

Acorn squash is a hardy squash that can be saved and last throughout the winter, keeping for several months, when stored in a cool, dry location.

Prepared in different ways for consumption, the acorn squash can be baked, microwaved, sautéed or steamed.  It is often prepared stuffed with rice, meat, cheeses or vegetable mixtures.   The seeds of the squash can be toasted, eaten and enjoyed.

Acorn squash is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium and also has some vitamin C and B, magnesium and manganese.

Friday, September 2, 2016

State Sen. Patty Ritchie Honored by Maple Producers

From Sen. Ritchie's office:

In recognition of her efforts to grow New York’s maple industry, state Sen. Patty Ritchie was recently recognized by the New York State Maple Producers Association.

Larry Rudd of Rudd’s Maple Syrup of Mannsville and Ritchie
Ritchie was presented the award — which cites her as an instrumental figure to the growth and success of New York’s maple industry — during a recent tour of local farms.

As chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee,  Ritchie has been a strong advocate of supporting the growth of New York’s maple industry, and her efforts include calling for increased state funding to help support maple producers and hosting events that aim to highlight maple products.

Today, New York is the nation’s second largest producer of maple syrup after Vermont — with 2.3 million taps — twice the number of 2009. 

Maple is a $20 million industry in New York, with the state producing 18 percent of all maple syrup in the country. In addition, New York syrup production in 2015 reached its highest level in 70 years, according to the USDA.

Little League World Series Champs Come to the State Fair

The Maine-Endwell Little League World Champions at the State Fair. Photo by John Haeger/NYS Fair.
This photo has nothing to do with agriculture (except that it was taken at the State Fair -- an exhibit of all that is good about agriculture in the state).

But I just had to post it because it makes me happy.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Farmers Market Conference Nov. 15-17

The Farmers' Market Federation of New York will have its annual Farmers Market Managers Training Conference, “Building Capacity of Markets,” Nov. 15 to 17 at the Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, Cattaraugus County.

The conference will focus on helping farmers markets build their capacity to grow and succeed for the benefit of their farmers, consumers and host community. 

Keynote speaker, Kim LaMendola, Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development, will discuss the benefits that farmers markets bring to a community and help market managers understand the language needed to convey this critical message to government leaders.

An evening banquet features Tom Rivers, author of "Farm Hands: Hard work and hard lessons from the Western New York Fields." Rivers' talk is sure to enlighten and entertain.

Each session of the conference builds on the overall theme of building the capacity of farmers markets to grow and succeed,  improve attendees ability to manage their market, advance their market’s potential for long-term sustainability and promote a marketplace that achieves a mission of supporting local farmers. 

Participating market managers are also taught the importance of providing a venue for consumers to purchase locally grown nutritious foods, and serving as responsible community partners.

The conference will feature a series of break-out sessions for emerging markets, focusing on helping them to bring their markets up to the next level of success. Other breakouts will focus on experienced managers, talking about more advanced concepts such as best practices in SNAP programs at farmers markets. 

The conference also will feature daily tours to farms, a food hub and a local brew pub.

Another new feature of the 2016 Farmers Market Managers Conference is a scholarship program to encourage market managers across New York State to take advantage of the lessons and networking that happens at the conference. 

To access the conference scholarship application, go to  But hurry, deadline for scholarship applications is Sep. 26.

The full conference program, agenda and hotel information can be found at   

For more information, contact the Farmers Market Federation of NY at or call (315) 400-1447.