Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New York's Milk Marketing Advisory Council Meets Again

From the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets

The state Department of Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today (Nov. 29) announced the department has reconvened the Milk Marketing Advisory Council (MMAC), which was created to advise the commissioner on issues important to the dairy industry.  

The council met today to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the state’s largest agricultural sector.

The MMAC is composed of more than 24 members from the dairy manufacturing and processing sectors, from dairy farmer cooperative associations, in addition to milk consumers and representatives of milk retailers.  

The Advisory Council’s goal is to advise the ag commissioner on policy issues impacting New York’s dairy industry, and provides a forum for communication and networking between dairy community leaders.

Today, the MMAC discussed topics including the current milk market situation, increased production, and trade agreement policies, in particular with Canada.  This comes on the heels of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, expressing his opposition to proposed regulations that would create a barrier for New York’s dairy farmers exporting a key New York dairy product to Canada.  

Cuomo called on the Canadian government to develop a national agreement to mutually benefit trade across borders.

In addition, the department provided in-depth information on the state’s New York State Grown & Certified food labeling program. Launched in August, the program assures consumers that the food they are buying is local and produced to a higher standard by requiring participating producers to adopt good agricultural practices and enroll in an environmental management program.  

The program is being expanded to include dairy producers and processors and will provide significant marketing benefits to New York’s milk and dairy products industry. Learn more about the Grown & Certified program by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrNmWAF51Cc&feature=youtu.be  clicking on this link.

The Milk Marketing Advisory Council will meet again June 1, 2017.

“I’m pleased to reconvene the Milk Marketing Advisory Council and bring together such a great group that represent the very best of the industry — from our farmers to our processors to our retailers," Ball said.  

"Today’s meeting provided an opportunity for the group to delve into some of the key issues the industry is facing today, such as market conditions and trade barriers, but it also gave us the platform to inform our producers and processors about some of the new exciting marketing programs available, like the NYS Grown & Certified program, to help our dairy businesses grow," he said. "I look forward to continuing the great dialogue started here today.”

The dairy industry faces daunting challenges but also terrific opportunities. We have seen the dairy industry struggle with low milk prices, an unprecedented drought this summer and continued consumer demand on the food system, but the dairy sector rises to those challenges and provides great products," said Andrew M. Novakovic, Cornell University professor of agricultural economics and chair of the council.

"The industry members who are represented on the commissioner’s Milk Marketing Advisory Council are eager to assist the State in providing input to improve the sound framework in which the dairy industry operates,” Novakovic said.

New York’s dairy industry ranks fourth in the nation for total milk production with more than 14 billion pounds produced annually from 620,000 dairy cows.  New York has just over 4,800 dairy farms and generated $2.6 billion in 2015 from the sale of milk, which represents nearly half of the state’s total agricultural receipts.

New York’s dairy industry also consists of nearly 400 dairy processors and manufacturers, numerous dairy support services, such as veterinarians, feed dealers, equipment dealers and others as well thousands of retailers that provide milk and dairy products to New Yorkers throughout the state.

Who Will Be Donald Trump's Ag Secretary?

Go to http://modernfarmer.com/2016/11/will-donald-trumps-agriculture-secretary/ this link to check out some names being discussed.

Cuomo Vetoes Tax Break for Farmers Who Donate Food to Food Banks

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill that would have provided a tax break for farmers who donate food  to food banks.

According to the Associated Press, farmers already donate millions of pounds of food every year, but say the credit of up to $5,000 annually would reduce the costs of harvesting and transporting surplus crops that would otherwise go to waste.

The veto came the night before Giving Tuesday, a global day which kicks off the charitable giving season. 

The Hunger Action Network of New York State has made the bill a priority, saying it will address a growing hunger problem around the state. It's also supported by environmentalists and agriculture groups who say it will reduce food waste and help poor New Yorkers get access to healthy fruits and vegetables.

New York Farm Bureau was disappointed with the veto.

“During this season of giving, New York Farm Bureau is profoundly disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s veto of a bill that would encourage greater farmer food donations to people in need across the state," said New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton. 

"The bill would have established a food donation tax credit up to 25 percent of the wholesale price of the food, not to exceed $5,000 annually per farmer. This would help offset the cost of labor, packaging and transportation to get the food to regional food banks," he said.

"The bi-partisan bill passed by the legislature and information provided to the governor since, have addressed the governor’s concerns in his veto message, which was nearly identical to his 2015 veto message," Norton said. The AP states in a previous story that Cuomo vetoed the bill last year because lawmakers didn't include it in the budget.

"Last year, New York’s farmers donated approximately 13 million pounds of food to regional food banks through the Harvest for All program, and next week during our State Annual Meeting, we will announce the impressive total for 2016," Norton said. 

"While the generosity of farmers is well established in New York, we are only left to wonder how many additional people could have fresh, local food on their dinner plates in the future if the governor had supported this bill," Norton said.
"New York Farm Bureau urges the governor to propose a solution in his Executive Budget that will resolve any issues he has with the bill,” Norton said.

Monday, November 28, 2016

More State Fair Tickets Available for Cyber Monday Sale

Did you forget to buy your $3 State Fair tickets this morning?

Well, they sold out in just two hours. But now the offer has been extended.

The Great New York State Fair Cyber Monday tickets sale will be extended with an additional 25,000 tickets available for purchase online beginning at 3 p.m. (right now).

Tickets are $3 a piece, with an extra surcharge from Etix that brings the cost to $3.21 per ticket. That's way below the $10 price at the fair gate or the $6 presale price.

The Cyber Monday sellout reinforces the fair’s popularity and its newest ranking by CarnivalWarehouse – an online industry publication that ranks the top 50 fairs and festivals in North America. 

The New York State Fair jumped from seventh to fourth place for most attended state fair in the U.S. as a result of the more than 1.1 million visitors in 2016. To continue growing the fair’s attendance, the Phase Two Task Force will hold a public input session on Dec. 6 to help shape future improvements to the fairgrounds.

The $3 tickets are the lowest ticket price that will be available to the 2017 fair, which will take place Aug. 24 to Sept. 4 next year.

Tickets will be available the Fair’s online ticket sales site at www.etix.com/ticket/p/4350112.

Purchases are limited to eight tickets per person. Tickets may be printed or sent to a mobile phone or device to show proof of purchase for entrance to the fair.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Get Your New York State Christmas Tree Now!

From the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets:

The day after Thanksgiving is a traditional day for folks to head out for their Christmas tree.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is encouraging all New Yorkers to buy local Christmas trees and support tree growers across the state this holiday season. Every year, the state assists hundreds of farms statewide, connecting them with new markets to support the $8 million Christmas tree industry.

A prize-winning Christmas tree at the state fair.
This year, in celebration of the holidays, three Upstate trees were selected to be displayed at the New York State Capitol in Albany and in New York City.
Tree-Cutting and Holiday Promotion
To promote New York-grown trees, state Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball joined the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York in Ulster County for a tree-cutting to kick-off the holiday season. 

A seven-foot balsam fir was donated by Hurd's Family Farm in Modena, Ulster County, to be displayed for the holidays in the New York State Capitol.
In addition, the tree-cutting event highlighted the Shawangunks Wine + Tree promotion, being offered at 17 participating businesses, to support both local Christmas tree farmers and New York craft beverage businesses.
Ball also visited Adair Vineyards in New Paltz as part of the Shawangunks Wine + Tree promotion, which offers customers a free one-of-a-kind wooden ornament with the purchase of either a bottle of wine or tasting and a tree or wreath at participating businesses. The Shawangunks Wine + Trees promotion is supported by funding included in the 2016-17 State Budget. 

Learn more about the promotion http://www.nywineandtrees.com/ at this link.
Connecting Upstate Agriculture to the New York City Marketplace
Through the state’s partnership with the Christmas Tree Farmers Association and GrowNYC, hundreds of farm-fresh, Upstate New York Christmas trees will again be sold at downstate Greenmarkets. Vendors are expected to sell about 1,500 trees and between 1,500 and 2,500 fresh wreaths during the next five weeks.
Both trees and wreaths are being sold at the following Greenmarkets: Union Square and Inwood in Manhattan, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Borough Hall, Williamsburg and Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. 
Harvesting a tree at Granger's in Oswego County.
  Upstate Trees on Display
In addition, the state has partnered with the Christmas Tree Farmers Association to bring two Christmas trees from the Finger Lakes to New York City for display during the holidays. Both trees were provided by Domes Tree Farm in Bliss, Wyoming County.
A 30-foot blue spruce will shine brightly at the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building Plaza during an annual holiday celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 8. 

The event will feature live family-friendly entertainment, including music, a visit from Santa and free hot chocolate. At the Lincoln Center, a 30-foot concolor fir will be displayed and lit during the 17th Annual Winter’s Eve event from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 28.
“New York is one of the largest producers of locally-grown Christmas trees anywhere in the country and there is nothing quite like a fresh, locally-grown tree during the holidays," said Ball. "They look better, smell great and stay fresher longer."

Additionally, this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was selected from a resident’s home in Oneonta. The Norway spruce stands at 94 feet tall, is 56 feet in diameter and weighs more than 18 tons. 

The 95-year-old tree is the second largest Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York state history. It will be on display at Rockefeller Center until Jan. 7.

With more than 300,000 New York-grown trees sold by 875 farms in Upstate New York, the state ranks fourth in the U.S. in the number of farms selling Christmas trees. The industry supports an economic impact of $8 million in New York State, according to the Christmas Tree Farmers Association.

To find the New York-grown Christmas tree vendor nearest to you, visit the Christmas Tree Farmers of New York http://www.christmastreesny.org/ website at this link.

“New York’s real tree growers are delighted to have these opportunities to bring their trees to markets, and to showcase the quality and freshness of locally grown trees," said Mary Jeanne Packer, executive director of the Christmas Tree Farmers of New York State.

Who Invented Agriculture?

Interesting story.

Check it out http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/11/25/503069741/who-invented-agriculture-first-it-sure-wasnt-humans at this link.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy thanksgiving, everyone.

Please remember all the farmers who have worked so hard so you can have that wonderful food on your tables.

Also, here is a message from the state Agriculture Commissioner, Richard Ball:

“The Thanksgiving holiday is a special time for my family as I’m sure it is for all of you and your families. Today, when we gather around the table with loved ones and reflect on what we are grateful for, it is my hope that we, as New Yorkers, also pause to celebrate the vibrant agricultural community in our state, the local foods that will be before us, and recognize the hard work and contributions of our farmers and farmworkers.
With nearly 36,000 farms in New York, agriculture is at the heart of the state’s economy.  Our farmers are a proud part of the one percent of the population that feeds the remaining 99 percent.  

Just last year, New York’s nearly 5,000 dairy farms and 618,000 cows produced more than 14.1 billion pounds of milk, and over 1,600 vineyards and 400 wineries produced over 200 million bottles of wine.  

New York’s farmers are top producers of a wide variety of agricultural products in the country -- from squash, corn and apples to maple and farm based beverages to horticulture and nursery products — all the great things that we incorporate into our holiday gatherings and that bring families together.

So, tomorrow, and throughout this holiday season, I encourage everyone to give thanks for the bounty of crops New York’s growers produce for our state and for our strong agribusiness community that together works to bring healthy, high-quality foods and beverages to New Yorkers in every corner of the state.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Get Super Cheap State Fair Tickets on Cyber Monday

The Great New York State Fair’s Cyber Monday ticket sale returns Monday, Nov. 28, offering the lowest price of the year on tickets to the 2017 New York State Fair.

Acting Director Troy Waffner said the online-only sale will provide 20,000 admission tickets at just $3 per ticket, which is 50 percent off the regular advance sale price and 70 percent off the $10 price at the gate during the fair. 

The sale begins at 6 a.m. at the fair’s online ticket sales site, at  http://www.etix.com/ticket/p/4350112

 “We’ve just completed the greatest fair in our 175 year history, with the highest marks ever from visitors," Waffner said. "The new grounds have never looked better and our programming this year will top last year’s so these tickets are a better value than ever. I encourage fairgoers to get their tickets early since they definitely won’t last.”

Tickets sold on Cyber Monday are only sold online and on the fair’s official online ticket seller, etix.com. Etix charges 13 cents per ticket and a credit card fee of 2.5 percent per ticket, making the total cost of each ticket $3.21. 

Purchases are limited to eight tickets per person. Buyers may either print out the tickets or use their mobile phone or device at the gate to show proof of purchase for entrance to the fair.

At least two more special admission ticket promotions will occur before the fair. 

The Halfway to the Fair sale will take place on Friday, Feb. 24 when tickets will be $4 each, and the Cinco de Mayo sale, when tickets will be $5 each, will take place on Friday, May 5

The regular advance sale ticket effort begins in July at $6 per ticket. Groups and businesses buying at least 100 tickets can receive special discounts through the Fair’s Group Sales program. Contact Nick Pirro at 487-7111, ext. 1214 for details or visit http://nysfair.ny.gov/buy-tickets/group-ticket-sales/.
The fair's 2017 run will be from Aug. 24 to Sept. 4.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New York, Canada Continue Dairy Talks

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine



ALBANY — A confrontation over Canadian efforts to restrict New York-originated dairy products from a vital market remains at the forefront of dairy industry concerns and discussions between governments.

Dairy industry officials said Nov. 1 they are hopeful after the latest round of support from the state government will strengthen their position, but no resolution has been raised that would quell fears that a significant portion of the market is threatened.

Industry interest in Canadian policies has been heightened by the enactment of provincial regulations earlier this year which favored Ontario producers over their New York counterparts in supplying ultra-filtered milk.

The product, a protein-rich skim milk variety, is primarily used in cheese and yogurt production, and had enjoyed a duty-free status, but now faces increased costs to benefit Ontario dairies.

The proposed National Ingredient Strategy would expand the import limitations across Canada, despite claims that it violates existing trade agreements like NAFTA.

“At a time when low milk prices are threatening the viability of some family farms, any step by Canadian leaders to unfairly restrict the flow of milk into the Ontario province and beyond will have detrimental impacts on farmers and the overall farm economy,” said Dean Norton of Elba, the New York Farm Bureau’s president.

Industry officials pegged Canadian protectionism as risking an end market for more than 180 millions of pounds of milk. That’s roughly 20 percent of sales, O-AT-KA Milk Products Board Chairman John Gould said.

“Canada continually attempts to erect trade barriers where there should be none,” Gould said, noting his business reflects the “efforts, investment and hopes” of hundreds of dairy farmers and workers at the Batavia milk plant.

More than half of the state’s agricultural imports come from dairy products and components, with Canada the largest trading partner. But trade cooperation goes beyond milk, and far beyond agriculture. 

State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said that message was firmly made at meetings marking the 25th anniversary of Tri-National Agricultural Accord, held in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

“It was very much implied that trade is about doing business with one another, that the goal of the Accord is to do more trade, not less. Free and open trade, and to try to stop countries from protecting unfairly a sector,” Ball said. “The tri-lateral accord can deal with trade irritants, but we made the case that for New York and the United States, this is something that rises above the level of an irritant.”

Ball said support for the state’s position was echoed by other dairy-heavy states like Wisconsin and Vermont, those without a strong dairy connection, and even the Mexican representatives — who are concerned that subsidized Canadian milk could flood their production markets.

“We’ve stood our ground ... very seriously and in a decent way, and they heard the message,” Ball said.

NYFB spokesman Steve Ammerman said the national American Farm Bureau Federation, headed by President Zippy Duvall, has also met with Canadian representatives.

“The word our president received is that this is a provincial, but not a national issue, but there was no promise it won’t spread to other provinces,” said Ammerman, who noted the importance to keep applying pressure on the Canadians. “Talks are going on at every level ... we’re hopeful they will reverse course, but that hasn’t happened at this point.”

New York will explore all options available to ensure the dairy industry has fair access to the Canadian export market, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in announcing his opposition to the proposed regulations. In a letter to Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, Cuomo urged the Canadian government to develop a mutually beneficial national agreement.

While intentions are in concert, the industry is uncertain about the result. A conclusion to the issue is difficult to speculate, O-AT-KA Milk Products CEO Bill Schreiber said, as there’s been no clear change in Canadian mindsets and no announced changes to the programs under consideration.

“What I can say with certainty is that members of the dairy industry, organizations representing the dairy industry and members of government at every level have gotten behind this effort, to get Canada to play by the rules,” Schreiber said. “We’re hopeful, and grateful for their support.”

The impact of the negotiations will weigh on the industry’s support for other trade deals.

“I question if we, as a New York cooperative, should give our support to the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership if we cannot trust the Canadian government to comply with its past agreements,” said Upstate Niagara Cooperative CEO Larry Webster, who added that Trudeau’s response “should answer that question.”

Speaking with the Canadian representatives, Ball said he pointed to the support the dairy industry had offered in the past. When the U.S. lost a World Trade Organization ruling over County of Origin Labeling, it was dairy farmers that went to Washington to find a solution. They are the same farmers the latest issue will harm the most.

“We need to work together, not against each other,” Ball said.

What a Trump Presidency Means for Agriculture

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine



President-elect Donald J. Trump’s ride to victory went straight through rural America — but not the rural America many Northern New Yorkers know.

The question for agriculture policy, farm groups and others close to the issues say, is which farm interests have his administration’s ear.

Trump had one representative of the dairy industry on his agriculture advisory committee, the chairman of Fair Oaks Farm, a 30,000-cow dairy farm in Ohio that covers 30 square miles. Others represent large livestock operations, the pesticide industry group CropLife America, and one of the biggest egg farms in the country.

That suggests Trump is keeping closest to groups that are less concerned about government safety nets and more worried about regulations from federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We feel like we’re going to get some real relief where it’s needed,” said Ethan Lane, public lands council executive director at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

That could include a quick reversal on the Obama administration’s “waters of the U.S.” rules as part of the Clean Water Act, which are already stalled in court, as well as an easing of laws such as the Endangered Species Act as they affect farmers and ranchers, he said.

Trump’s campaign didn’t have much to say about dairy policy, and a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, Christopher Galen, said his organization — which represents farmer-owned bargaining cooperatives — hasn’t taken a deep look at the implications yet.

That is true as well of the International Dairy Foods Association, representing milk processors.
“The impact of the election on dairy policy is the question of the hour; I think everyone is struggling with it,” said IDFA Vice President for Communications Peggy Armstrong. 

The NMPF continues to focus on a strong safety net for dairy farmers as well as expanded trade and “pro-farmer policies” in labor, environmental regulation and taxes, Galen said.

Trade policy is likely to change under Trump. The NMPF has often supported free trade agreements, including the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, to which Trump has been hostile.

Many of the policies that affect dairy farmers most directly, such as federal milk pricing programs, won’t change soon. Those are dictated by the five-year farm bill, due for its next rewrite in 2018, and Congress — not the administration — will lead the way.

Dairy groups and some Northeast lawmakers have called for adjustments to the margin protection program that helps farmers when milk prices are low and feed prices high, to tailor the program more toward farmers outside the Midwest. A chief proponent of that cause, Rep. Christopher Gibson (R-Kinderhook), is retiring from Congress and will be replaced by Republican John Faso.

It’s also unclear who might lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Among Trump allies from the campaign, Mike McCloskey — the Fair Oaks Farm executive — has been mentioned, as has Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Kansas Gov. and former U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and a host of others.

More important, farm groups say, the congressional agriculture committees won’t change much. Democratic hopes of taking control of the Senate didn’t materialize, meaning Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) are poised to hold on to their chairman and ranking Democrat roles on the Senate committee that writes the farm bill.

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will likely remain a senior member of that panel, giving New York a voice on the farm bill. A spokesman said her office wouldn’t have any comment yet on the implications of Trump’s presidency on the farm bill.

Budget realities will probably dictate the farm bill’s shape as much as policy priorities, said Vincent Smith, an agricultural economist at Montana State University and policy analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. If Trump pushes deep tax cuts through Congress, that would set the stage for a smaller farm bill that more sharply pits various farm interests against each other, he said.

The political map will shape discussions as well, Smith said. Gillibrand is up for re-election in 2018, just as the agriculture committees are trying to pass a farm bill. She likely wouldn’t face an uphill climb, but six others of the nine Democrats on the committee will also face voters.

Those include Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), whose state just helped Trump win election, and Stabenow, who has worked closely with Gillibrand on expanding programs for fruit and vegetable growers.
“Michigan is a farm state, and Stabenow isn’t going to want to lose the seat,” Smith said.

NY FFA Member Named National Vice President

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine

New York FFA


Throughout my FFA career, I have worn many different FFA jackets, including those representing the Copenhagen and Lowville FFA Chapter’s as well as the New York State FFA Association.

Most recently I have been honored by receiving the last FFA jacket I will ever wear. This jacket doesn’t represent a single chapter or association but instead, all 649,355 FFA members across the nation.

As the 2016-2017 National FFA Eastern Region Vice President, I will spend the next year traveling more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with business and industry leaders, FFA members, agriculture teachers and other agricultural supporters.

My team and I will lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.

For the past nine years as an FFA member, I’ve seen first-hand how agricultural education and the FFA gives students confidence in themselves and allows them to develop skills to be successful in their future careers. I was able to experience growth through the blue jacket and wanted to be able to use the skills I had learned to help others grow and serve an industry that I had developed a passion for.

My training for National Office was not limited to the hours I spent training with mentors and coaches perfecting interview techniques and learning more about agriculture. My training was also real world experiences, including conversations with agriculturists, coaching FFA members and advocating for agriculture and agricultural education.

At National Convention, myself and 41 other candidates endured a rigorous interview process. The first phase of the process included a personal round introduction interview, one-on-one interviews with each member of the nominating committee, a multiple choice test, a writing sample and an extemporaneous speech.

The second phase of the interview process included three conversations with leaders in agriculture, FFA and American Education, a facilitation round where each candidate had to present a workshop to a group of students and then a final personal interview.

The moments leading up to the election of the 2016-2017 National Officer Team were extremely exciting. I remember closing my eyes right before they announced the Eastern Region Vice President and when I heard the word “new” the next thing I can remember is my fellow candidates pushing me towards the stage.

At that point, I was filled with pure excitement and shock. I don’t think I’ve ever ran so fast in my life as I ran up to the stage to meet my teammates that had already been announced. The best part was hearing my teammate’s names called and being able to share the excitement with each of them!

I am so excited for this year of service! I’m proud to be a part of the agriculture industry and the FFA. I can’t wait to experience the adventures that this year has in store for me!

Ashley Willits, of Copenhagen, N.Y., was elected Eastern Region Vice President for National FFA during the national convention held in Indianapolis Oct. 19-22. Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as national officers. Delegates elect a president, secretary, and vice presidents representing the central, southern, eastern and western regions of the country.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Oakfield-Elba Begins New FFA Chapter

Empire Farm & Dairy magazine

Superintendent Mark Alexander is calling the new Oakfield-Elba FFA program a tremendous opportunity for kids to learn a lot.

“It is also a great honor for our kids to have someone like (state Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer) recognize a small school like ours,” Alexander said at the start of a recent board of education meeting at Oakfield-Alabama Central School.

The evening saw Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst, recognized by the new FFA chapter with a plaque in appreciation of a $55,000 grant he acquired to start the new program.

Ranzenhofer announced the funding to establish a new joint agriculture education program for Oakfield-Alabama and Elba central schools.

The start-up money will cover equipment, field trip expenses, instructional resources and materials and instructional salaries. It will allow students in grades nine through 12 to experience classroom instruction, hands-on projects and opportunities to visit local agribusinesses.

The new program will be administered by and located at Oakfield-Alabama Central School.

“Our students are surrounded by agriculture and now have the opportunity to learn about the careers in the industry,” Alexander said. “We hope the program will motivate some of our graduates to remain in the area as well.”

Todd Hofheins, who will lead the program with Brian Craig, thanked the board and the students for taking a chance to sign up for the new program.

“We have an ag community here, and we need to embrace it,” he said.

Officers are Tucker Bezon from Elba Central School, president; Tristan Korzeliu from O-A, vice president; Kaitlyn Adamczak from O-A., secretary; Miranda Moore of Elba, treasurer; and Trevor Fitch of O-A, sentinel.

Each of the new officers introduced themselves and shared what they hoped to learn from FFA.

Bezon is excited to learn more about agriculture and be involved in agribusiness and ag-technology, he said.

Adamczak plans to major in conservation and forestry, and thinks FAA will provide some useful information.

Korzeliu said the club is very interactive and offers a range of activities, from animal husbandry to technology.

Moore wants to be an accountant and said what she learns in FFA may prepare her for clients in the agricultural industry, as well as teach her leadership.

Fitch has always been interested in agriculture and plans a career in animal husbandry/animal science.

They have already been on field trips to Lamb Farms, where they learned how a large dairy farm operates; Post Farms, where they viewed robotic milkers and learned about methane digesters; and the Oakfield town hall to learn parliamentary procedures.

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, R-Batavia, also attended the presentation. He applauded Ranzenhofer for his efforts in securing the money for the FFA chapter.

“I represent Orleans County, as well, where agriculture is the No. 1 industry, like Genesee County,” Hawley said. “I have been to Albion, which has the oldest FFA chapter in New York state, and I look forward to a lot of FFA meetings here in Genesee County.”

Ed Engel of Oakfield played a major role in not only recognizing Ranzenhofer, but in getting the ball rolling to bring back FFA to Oakfield.

“We had an ag program in the 1960s, but it was discontinued,” Engel said. “In January 2015, we scheduled a presentation to the board and invited Todd Eick and his FFA students from Medina to tell about their program. The ag community was present, and it was very successful.”

A similar presentation was done that year to the Elba school board by Barry Flansburg of Albion, a former FFA member, and Adam Krenning, FFA adviser at Albion High School.

“The meeting drew so many people I was surprised at the interest,” Engel said. “The meeting was very positive. The only problem was Elba was going through some cuts from the GEA and the 2 percent tax cap.”

Engel said Kendra Lamb, wife of Matthew Lamb from Lamb Farms, was a big help in moving the program forward and getting the agricultural community involved.

Todd Hofheins, technology teacher at Oakfield-Alabama, was willing to get certified to teach the course. He was brought up on a farm and runs a maple syrup operation near Attica.

Engel has been vice president of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership since 1990, and has been involved with Rural Schools Association for more than 20 years. He was instrumental in the Rural Schools Association giving its Appreciation Award to Ranzenhofer this year.

The award is presented yearly to a person who has helped the rural schools in New York in some way, Engel said.

“Being involved with Rural Schools has shown me what FFA can do for kids and the excellent programs they have,” Engel said. “Every year we give two $1,000 scholarships to FFA students and a $500 award to Medina for the state FFA Convention.”

Several members of the agricultural community attended Tuesday’s board meeting for Ranzenhofer’s recognition.

Peggy Lamb said agriculture is very reflective of the area, and hopefully she will have grandchildren in the FFA program in the future.

Joan Phelps of Basom said her son Cole, who is studying agribusiness at Cobleskill, wishes they had FFA when he was in school.

“This is an exciting time for Elba and for all of us,” said Ed Engel’s wife Anne.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wegmans Commits to Cutting Food Waste and Loss

From the USDA

Wegmans Food Markets is one of the inaugural class of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions.

Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Nov. 17 announced the list of champions -- U.S. businesses and organization that pledge to reduce food loss and waste in their operations by 50 percent by 2030.

The Champions are: Ahold USA, Blue Apron, Bon App├ętit Management Company, Campbell Soup Company, Conagra Brands, Delhaize America, General Mills, Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, Sodexo, Unilever, Walmart, Wegman's Food Markets, Weis Markets and YUM! Brands.

In the United States, the EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, about 21 percent of the waste stream. 

Keeping wholesome and nutritious food in our communities and out of landfills helps communities and the 42 million Americans that live in food insecure households. Reducing food waste also impacts climate change as 20 percent of total U.S. methane emissions come from landfills.

Each 2030 Champion establishes a baseline marking where they are today and will measure and report on their progress toward the goal in a way that makes sense for their organization. 

"Wegmans is committed to making a difference in every community we serve, and one of the ways we're delivering on this promise is through our commitment to reducing food waste," said Jason Wadsworth, manager of sustainability at Wegmans.

"From reducing avoidable food waste in our stores, and diverting unavoidable food scraps from landfills by offering them as feed for local livestock or sending them for composting or anaerobic digestion, to working with more than 350 food banks and pantries for daily food pickups at our stores, we're taking measurable steps to reduce food waste throughout each and every one of our communities," he said. 

"We are proud to be a Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion, and to be among this group of industry leaders that are coming together with the EPA and USDA to address the issue of food waste in our nation," Wadsworth said.

Research Study Uses Integrated Pest Management in Apple Orchards

From the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program

As the 2016 apple harvest nears completion, researchers with money from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program are eager to see if growers have been able to reap a second year of benefits from application of a precision management process to reduce the impact and cost of orchard insect pests.

The protocol provided excellent control of economically-significant apple pests, with an average of 96 percent clean fruit at harvest plus time and money saved by reducing the pest control applications required in 2015.

“Changes in the landscape of northern New York apple orchards over the past decade have influenced which insects have become the key economically-significant pests of the apple industry in the region that includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties,” said Anna Wallis of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program. 

Wallis served as project co-leader with Cornell University Entomologist Arthur Agnello.

Five Northern New York apple growers assisted the research. The early results of this farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program project were requested for grower meetings in Vermont and Virginia. 

The complete report is posted at www.nnyagdev.org. The 2016 results of this research will be available in the spring of 2017.

The changes impacting orchard management in the region include the predominant choice of apple rootstocks planted, implementation of new training systems, restrictions on what spray applications are available for pest management, changes in climatic conditions and the introduction of new pests through global trade.

Five Northern New York apple growers participating in the project following the protocol that uses trapping and scouting to identify which insect pests are present in an orchard block and at what level. The scouting effort was especially alert to codling moth, oriental fruit moth, obliquebanded leafroller, apple maggot, mites, aphids and scales. 

When pests reach an economic damage threshold level, a specific insecticide application is precisely timed based on insect activity and computer models.

This comprehensive integrated pest management protocol was developed by Agnello and Cornell colleague Harvey Reissig in the 1990s. Due to changes over time, growers moved away from the protocol, but Wallis says, are now making good use of it once again, integrating a variety of management strategies, including chemical, cultural, biological and mechanical.

The protocol was applied to orchard blocks, including blocks of the two most popular cultivars in Northern New York: Honeycrisp and McIntosh.

“The early work of this project demonstrated how well the IPM (integrated pest management) protocol can work and prompted growers to request field workshops so they could implement it more broadly in 2016. With each additional year of use, we are evaluating the opportunity for IPM use to be consistent under a variety of growing climate conditions as a long-term management option for apple growers in this region,” Wallis said.

The first-year report for the Identification and Grower Education of Key Pests in Apple Orchards in Northern New York project is online at www.nnyagdev.org. 

The report identifies key early, summer, and late season pests. For example, San Jose scale, not previously identified in the participating orchards in NNY, is increasingly becoming a problem.

The report also measures fruit damage by the various pests, and the number and effectiveness of the integrated pest management applications.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program provides grants for on-farm research and technical assistance projects in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the state Senate and administered through the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

USDA to Survey for Crop Production

From the USDA

As the 2016 growing season comes to an end, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will contact producers nationwide to gather final year-end crop production numbers and the amount of grain and oilseed they store
on their farms.

At the same time, the statistics service will survey grain facility operators to determine year-end off-farm grain and oilseed stocks.

“These surveys are the largest and most important year-end surveys conducted by NASS,” explained New York State Statistician Blair Smith. “They are the basis for the official USDA estimates of production and harvested acres of all major agricultural commodities in the United States and year-end grain and oilseed supplies.”

“Data from the survey will benefit farmers and processors by providing timely and accurate information to help them make crucial year-end business decisions and begin planning for the next growing and marketing season,” Smith said.

The information will be compiled, analyzed and then published in a series of USDA reports, including the Crop Production Annual Summary and quarterly Grain Stocks report to be released Jan. 12.

“Responses to the survey will be used in calculating county yields,” Smith said. “USDA uses county yield information from the survey to evaluate and administer vital farm disaster mitigation and insurance programs such as Price Loss Coverage and Agricultural Risk Coverage.”

“Farmers who receive this survey are not included in the County Agricultural Production Survey, therefore this is their only opportunity to be included in the calculation of New York’s county yields,” Smith said.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Police Seek Suspect Who Shot, Killed Cow

Police are seeking a person who shot a cow on a Jefferson County farm.

Go to http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/state-police-seeking-suspect-who-shot-killed-cow-in-lyme-20161109 to read the story.

American Farm Bureau Federation Comments on Nov. 8 National Election

Statement from American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall on the election results from Tuesday, Nov. 8:

“The American Farm Bureau Federation congratulates President-elect Trump on his election, as well as those candidates elected to serve during the 115th Congress. 

"The important issues facing American agriculture are not red or blue, but they are critical to the prosperity of rural America and our ability to protect our nation’s food supply. We urge our elected representatives to reach across the aisle and come together to resolve the challenges we face.

“Farmers and ranchers understand that their businesses and their families have too much at stake to take a back seat on Election Day, and rural America clearly made a difference in this election. Now it’s time for our newly elected leaders to turn up for rural America and keep their campaign promises by addressing the issues that matter to the people who sent them to Washington. 

"Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the new administration and Congress on issues such as the farm bill, tax reform and a trade agenda focused on reducing barriers and expanding exports.

“America’s farmers and ranchers are working overtime to ensure our food supply is safe and sustainable. It’s time our elected leaders put that same diligence to work protecting U.S. agriculture by promoting innovation and ensuring we have an adequate workforce. 

"We need regulatory reform that boosts farm businesses rather than shutting them down. Farmers are concerned for the environment and are hopeful that the new administration will recognize agriculture’s strides in sustainability and protect our ability to produce.

“Elected officials come to Washington with different perspectives and ideas, but they share a common goal of wanting to make our nation better for all Americans. At Farm Bureau, we will continue to do our part to help identify opportunities for cooperation to improve the lives of rural communities, and all American farmers and ranchers.”

Donald Trump Has an Agricultural Task Force

A story from Politico about Donald Trump's selection of people for his agricultural task force.

Here is the http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/donald-trump-agriculture-team-policy-227083 story.

Analysis: Market Reaction to Trump Victory

Here is a story written in the United Kingdom about what a Trump presidency might mean for agriculture in the UK and in the US.

Check it out at http://www.fwi.co.uk/business/analysis-market-reaction-to-trump-victory.htm?cmpid=SOC|Twitter|FarmersWeekly|sf41795202|sf41795202

Ag Census Sheds Light on Trends

Here's an interesting tidbit about the Ag Census:

See it at http://www.noble.org/ag/announcements/ag-census-sheds-light/

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

State's Seed Testing Lab Moving to Albany


The state’s Seed Testing Laboratory will now be run by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets and housed within its state-of-the-art New York State Food Laboratory in Albany.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced Nov. 8 that, in partnership with Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the lab would move to the Albany facility. 

Currently operated by and located at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station on the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Geneva campus, the Seed Lab provides assurances to the agricultural community that seed used in production is healthy and robust.

“Our Food Lab is a cutting-edge facility that houses some of the world’s best and brightest scientists,” said Ball. “Staff provide extensive and essential consumer protection services by testing foods and other products for purity, wholesomeness and accurate labeling.”

“By partnering with Cornell University to bring the Seed Lab to Albany and house it within our Food Lab, we’re able to offer additional efficiency in testing services to the agricultural industry,” he said.

“For more than 130 years, the Seed Lab in Geneva has provided the highest quality routine seed quality tests — such as those for germination, moisture, purity, and vigor — along with more specialized tests to the state’s farmers and producers,” said Susan Brown, the Goichman Family Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

“Many of our academic departments have worked closely with the lab and it is a legacy we look forward to continuing in Albany,” she said.

Established in 1882, the Seed Lab provides high quality seed results and reporting to residents, growers and seed companies. Since 1912, the lab has been operating as the regulatory laboratory for New York state, testing inspection samples to verify accuracy of product content and labeling for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. 

The lab performs critical functions for the agricultural industry, testing 800 samples annually to insure that seed purchased by New York state farmers and consumers is true to label claim, meets minimum germination standards and is free of noxious weed seeds.

The Department and Cornell University are working together to successfully transfer the Seed Lab. The Seed Lab will continue to process samples in Geneva until the transfer of equipment to the Food Lab is complete, which is expected by the end of the year. 

Growers and businesses will be notified by mail, prior to the opening of the new space, of the exact timeline and Albany mailing address to send samples. They can also find updates on the Seed Lab’s website at http://blogs.cornell.edu/nyseedlab/.

The lab, at its new Albany location, will continue to offer its services and expertise on a fee basis, which will remain unchanged, to a wide range of clientele.

In addition, the department has hired Kyle Arvin as its Seed Lab director, who will manage client services and regulatory testing. Enforcement will continue as a separate function within the department. 

Arvin has 25 years of experience in seed-related testing, working both in the private and public sector, including as the director of the New York State Seed Testing Laboratory, based at Cornell University. 

During his time at the NYS Seed Testing Lab in Geneva, he oversaw the facility’s seed testing services and coordinated with graduate students and faculty in their research on seeds. He also worked cooperatively with the states of New York, New Hampshire and Vermont to provide testing lab services for their state seed regulatory programs. 

Arvin worked frequently with the New York Seed Improvement Program, which operates within Cornell’s Plant Breeding extension program and consists of a certified seed division.

Most recently, Arvin was a Registered Seed Technologist with Dow AgroSciences, North American Seed Quality Control Laboratory, in West Lafayette, Ind., where he trained new analysts how to perform seed testing and worked on a global seed quality testing team. His work in Indiana helped the laboratory become an USDA Accredited Seed Laboratory.