Saturday, August 5, 2017

2 Appointments Made at the USDA

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made two key appointments this week to help fulfill the vital mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply. 

Perdue announced that Carmen Rottenberg was selected as Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety and Paul Kiecker was named Acting Administrator for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). 

The two will serve in those capacities until presidential nominees are confirmed by the Senate for those roles.

“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is our most important responsibility, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness," Perdue said.  

"Both Carmen and Paul have dedicated their careers to the mission of food safety and I am pleased to have appointed them to these important roles within the USDA,” said Perdue. “I commend the work of the entire USDA’s food safety team for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families every single day.”

Rottenberg will oversee development, implementation and enforcement of all of FSIS regulations, policies, and programs. This appointment follows nearly six years in leadership roles in the FSIS Office of the Administrator, including serving as Chief of Staff, Chief Operating Officer and, most recently, Deputy Administrator.

In those leadership roles, Rottenberg executed a budget of over $1 billion, prioritizing resources and resolving disputes, advancing the agency’s vision and goals, and leading innovative solutions to challenges in FSIS.  

She spearheaded strategic planning at FSIS and implemented numerous initiatives to strategically move the agency forward. Rottenberg implemented two major reorganizations, leading to a more streamlined, efficient agency better positioned to carry out its food safety mission.  

Through her leadership and oversight, an early governance process matured into an established systematic approach to agency decision-making, resulting in more deliberative, science-based decisions that consider enterprise-wide risks and benefits. Rottenberg led the very successful i-Impact initiative, which has increased the awareness of and engagement in FSIS’s public health mission by the more than 9,000 employees throughout the Agency.

Rottenberg has a bachelor's degree in political science and philosophy from Hope College in Holland, MI and a law degree from American University’s Washington College of Law.

Kiecker has been with FSIS for 29 years and is committed to a strong public health vision that has guided him to overcome obstacles, identify opportunities for improvement, manage resources efficiently, and achieve food safety objectives to prevent foodborne illness.

Since joining FSIS in 1988 as a food inspector, Kiecker has served in a number of roles at the agency, most recently as Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Field Operations. He came to Washington, D.C. to serve as Executive Associate for Regulatory Operations, after serving as the District Manager in Springdale, AR and Madison, WI, as well as Deputy District Manager in Madison, WI.  

Kiecker’s experience with FSIS also includes work with the Office of Investigation, Enforcement, and Audit, where he has served as a Compliance Investigator and as Supervisory Compliance Officer.

In his various positions with FSIS, Kiecker has played a critical role in leading external coordination with other federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, international organizations, and law enforcement agencies.  

He also has had oversight responsibility for strategic planning, policy formulation and implementation, budget development and execution, human resource management, and day-to-day inspection operations.

Chevy Court Concert Lineup for the New York State Fair

UPDATE -- Two of the concerts, DJ Khalid and Tinashe, were canceled Monday. Officials are looking for replacements.

Here is the lineup for Chevy Court concerts for the New York State Fair.

Only one concert has yet to filled due to this week's cancellation of Post Malone, who was supposed to perform Aug. 27.

Chevy Court concerts:
Robert Randolph and the Family Band, 2 p.m. Aug. 23
3 Doors Down, 8 p.m., Aug. 23
The Family Stone, 2 p.m., Aug. 24
Chevelle, 8 p.m., Aug. 24
The Fabulous Thunderbirds, 2 p.m. Aug. 25
The Beach Boys, 7 p.m., Aug. 25
Symphoria, 8 p.m., Aug. 26
Earth, Wind and Fire, 8 p.m., Aug. 27
Herman’s Hermits, 2 p.m., Aug. 28
Kansas, 8 p.m. Aug. 28
The Marshall Tucker Band, 2 p.m., Aug. 29
Daya, 8 p.m., Aug. 29
Taylor Dayne, 2 p.m., Aug. 30
Bret Michaels, 8 p.m., Aug. 30
Skid Row, 2 p.m., Aug. 31
LeAnn Rimes, 8 p.m., Aug. 31
A Tribe Called Red, 2 p.m., Sept. 1
Blue Oyster Cult, 8 p.m., Sept. 1
DNCE, 8 p.m., Sept. 2
The Spin Doctors, 2 p.m., Sept. 3
Migos, 8 p.m. Sept. 3
UB40, 2 p.m., Sept. 4
Kool & the Gang, 6 p.m., Sept. 4

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tiny Parasite Wreaks Havoc on New York Bee Supply

A column from state Sen. Patty Ritchie:



Bees, both wild and managed, play a key role in our state’s agriculture industry, helping crops of all kinds thrive.  

However, these powerful pollinators are under attack by parasitic mites.



The varroa mite – a tiny parasite that attacks honeybees – has infected 90 percent of the bee colonies surveyed this year. As a result, agriculture could see up to $500 million in potential losses. The top crops that are dependent on healthy and abundant pollinators are apples, pumpkins and tomatoes. 



In addition, managed bee colonies in Upstate New York have lost up to 70 percent of their bees over the last few years because of disease, pesticides and loss of habitat, according to a recent state study. Once the mites take hold, potentially deadly viruses spread throughout the colony, which could wipe the colony out.   



Experts say that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep this mite from spreading. The varroa mite thrives off weakened bee colonies and when one colony dies, nearby hives will take honey from the weakened bees, which causes the mites to spread at a rapid rate.



The destruction of bee colonies is starting to reach alarming levels. In an effort to combat this problem, I’m pleased to have been able to secure $290,000 over the past two years in state funding for various programs at Cornell University, aimed at conducting vital research and disease testing to protect our state’s bee population.  



As chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I will continue to work to support programs and spearhead initiatives designed to preserve our state’s pollinators and help keep this key sector of the state’s economy “buzzing” for years to come.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Farm Credit East Provides Updates on Agriculture Economic Conditions

Farm Credit East recently launched a section on its website containing snapshots for nine Northeast agriculture industries. 

These snapshots provide industry-specific year-to-date updates on economic conditions in various sectors of agriculture.
 

Snapshots are available for the Northeast’s dairy, fruit, vegetable, nursery and greenhouse, cash field, timber, aquatic/fishing, and livestock industries, as well as an update and outlook on input costs for the region’s producers. 

These snapshots will be updated on a quarterly basis and also contain links to other resources and recent articles relating to each industry.
 

The most recent update reports that overall, U.S. agriculture, as well as that of the Northeast, continues to face some challenging market conditions, but there are also a number of bright spots and some improvements are in the forecast. 

Cash field crops in particular are dealing with adverse pricing and while dairy prices are improving, there continue to be marketing challenges in some areas. Nursery and greenhouse, which have had improving economic conditions for the past few years, are reporting relatively good spring results.
 

To dive deeper into industry-specific snapshots, visit FarmCreditEast.com.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Program Aug. 15 Details Use of Refractometers in Evaluation Colostrum Quality

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County will have a program demonstrating on farm use of refractometers in evaluating colostrum quality and calf immunity on organic dairy farms.
 

Detailed colostrum and calf feeding management can improve calf well being, reduce the frequency of illness and can eliminate the use of medications and therapy costs. Every calf on organic dairies should be fed a sufficient quantity of high-quality colostrum and whole milk.
 

A calf comes into the world defenseless, without an immune system sufficient to protect it from disease. Activation of the immune system from vaccines that produces the antibodies necessary to fight disease takes several weeks. 

To bridge the immunization gap starting at birth, the calf must take in antibodies from colostrum.  

The value of calves acquiring passive immunity through colostrum management comes from improved calf health, especially respiratory health. Studies done since the late 1960s have also shown the value of colostrum and blood IgG levels in young calves will impact the long term health and future milk production of the dairy herd.
 

Jefferson County Cornell Cooperative Extension will demonstrate the use of refractometer as an easy, on farm method of evaluating colostrum quality and total solids in milk fed to calves.
 

The workshop will be held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 15 at Meeks Farm Organic Dairy, 25793 Waddingham Road, Evans Mills, Jefferson County. There is no fee for this workshop. RSVP not required but registration allows us to communicate any cancellations or changes in arrangements.
 

Kim Morrill of Cooperative Extension will be the guest speaker for the workshop. Morrill has published a paper in the Journal of Dairy Science showing that the Brix scale measurement from refractometer could be used to estimate failure of passive transfer in calves. One refractometer can be used to evaluate colostrum quality, total solids in milk as well as passive transfer in calves. 
 

Participants will be able to take back to the farm information about the quality of colostrum and how it varies greatly, how total solids of waste milk fed to calves fluctuates day to day and measuring immunoglobulin concentrations in the calf’s blood is the only method for evaluating passive transfer of immunity.
 

For more info please contact Ron Kuck, Dairy/Livestock Educator, CCE of Jefferson County; (315) 788-8450 (office), (315) 704-8810 (cell) or rak76@cornell.edu

Young Farmers Advisory Board Bill Signs by Cuomo

From staff reports

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed the bill creating a “Young Farmers Advisory Board.”

State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, said the bill she sponsored would bring together leading agriculture experts to help protect the future of family farming in New York. 

The new law creates a 20-member board, made up of farmers, representatives of agricultural organizations and state agencies, to find ways to attract next-generation farmers, and connect them with existing state resources that will help them succeed. 
 

“If we want to make sure that agriculture remains our state’s leading industry, it’s imperative that we continue to come up with new, fresh ideas that will encourage more young people to consider careers in farming,” said Ritchie, who also is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. 
 

“There’s no better way to do that than to tap into the experience and expertise of our state’s hardworking farmers,” she said. “I am pleased to see this bill become law and look forward to seeing how the Young Farmers Advisory Board will help those new to agriculture achieve success and in turn, preserve the future of family farming for many years to come.”
 

It is estimated that in five years, there will be 100,000 young farmers needed nationally and in New York, the average age of a farmer is 57 — making initiatives like the Young Farmers Advisory Board especially important to the future of the industry. 
 

“The future of farming in New York State depends on encouraging young people to pursue careers in agriculture,” said Assemblyman William Magee, who sponsored the legislation in the Assembly and is chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. 

“Through the new Young Farmers Advisory Board, those who have achieved success in agriculture can continue to help pave the way for those who will follow in their footsteps and provide the guidance needed to help new and beginning farmers thrive,” Magee said.
 

In the 2017-2018 state budget, Ritchie helped obtain $1 million for a fourth round of the “New Farmers Grant Fund.” The grant program provides up to $50,000 for agriculture professionals to help offset startup costs with equipment and land purchases. 
 

More than 70 beginning farmers already have shared in the $2.5 million in grants to help them build their farm businesses. In addition, Ritchie secured $150,000 in the recent state budget to continue the “student loan forgiveness program” to help those who commit to careers in farming cover their education expenses.   

Friday, July 28, 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017

Empire Farm Days 2017 Kicks Off Aug. 8 in Seneca Falls

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine

EMPIRE FARM DAYS
 

SENECA FALLS — Lift the hood. Kick the tires. Sit in the cab. Test drive tractors, trucks, applicators, UTVs and construction equipment.
 

“Come See for Yourself!” is the theme of this summer’s Empire Farm Days event Aug. 8 to10 at Rodman Lott and Son Farms, 2973 State Route 414, in Seneca Falls.
 

This show is the largest outdoor agricultural trade event in the northeastern U.S.
 

Here’s a quick look at what’s new at the 2017 show:
 

Expanded, irrigation-fed field demonstrations include:
 

** Hard hose reel system irrigation-fed crops
 

** More pieces of equipment to see and test drive
 

** Renewed focus on ‘big iron’ operating in real-time field conditions.
 

** Field demos starting at 10:30 a.m., with support from Morrisville State College and 15 equipment manufacturers: CNY Farm Supply/ROC, Cummings & Bricker/McHale, Dion-Ag Inc., H & S Manufacturing, John Deere, Marloo Equipment/SIP, Meyer Manufacturing, New Holland, Norwood/KwikTill, Oxbo International, Pequea Machine Inc., Poettinger US Inc, Rangeline Group/K-Line, Tigerco Distributing/Reese, and Unverferth Manufacturing.
 

** 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily: Test drive large applicators with Java Farm Supply/Ag Chem Rogator, John Deere, Monroe Tractor/Case IH, Chandler, Miller and Vector
 

** 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily: Ride and drive Ford Trucks, Honda, Milton Cat, RAM Trucks, and Yanmar tractors and UTVs.
 

** 10:30 a.m. daily: Cover Crops Field Demonstration Tour with King’s AgriSeeds and Seedway: Cool and warm season cover crop species/mixes; best seeding methods, timing, and purposes discussions.
 

Soil Health Center Seminars
 

** USDA NRCS Northeast Regional Soil Health Specialist Jim Hoorman from Findlay, Ohio, opens the Tuesday programs on fertilizer, manure and nutrient management in cover cropping and reduced tillage systems.
 

** Hoorman leads Wednesday’s schedule addressing prevention, reduction and mitigation strategies for compaction problems.
 

** Thursday programs focus on utilizing soil health practices in vegetable cropping systems beginning at 9:30 am with Cornell University Horticulture Professor Dr. Thomas Bjorkman.
 

** Wednesday, 2 p.m.: “The Living Soil” Keynote Presentation/Demonstration with Conservation Biologist Carmen Greenwood of SUNY Cobleskill. Learn how live soil-dwelling invertebrates, such as soil mites, serve in vital ecosystem roles, provide conservation benefits and act as indicators of soil health.
 

** Daily: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service intro to Conservation Client Gateway (1:30 p.m. presentation; one-on-one all day), Web Soil Survey, cell phone Soil Web App.
 

Dairy Profit Seminars
 

The daily 10:30 a.m. Dairy Profit Seminars are made possible by a collaboration by Cornell’s PRO-DAIRY Program, the Northeast Dairy Producers Association, and Dairy Business and Holstein World magazine.
 

** The Tuesday, Aug. 8 presentation is on Robotics and Maximizing Milk Per Box: Grouping and Feeding Strategies with Douglas F. Waterman, Director of Technology Application: Dairy for Trouw Nutrition Agresearch.
 

** The Wednesday, Aug. 9 presentation is on Transitioning to Automatic Milking Systems with farmer panelists, Bruce Dehm of Dehm Associates, LLC, and Cornell Senior Extension Associate Jason Karszes.
 

** The Thursday, Aug. 10 presentation is called, “Is Your Farm a Member of the 7 Pound Club?” Leading dairy producers delve into the next frontier of maximizing pounds of components produced while maintaining profitability with representatives of Albano Farms, Thornapple Farm, and Hanehan Family Dairy; Bruce Dehm of Dehm Associates; and Dr. Cargill Feed and Nutrition Senior Dairy Specialist Jay Giesy.
 

New Products
 

Among the new products in 2017: forage mergers, disc blades, manure spreaders, an on-farm mastitis detection system, a patented metal roofing system, a PTO-driven firewood processor from Finland, an expanded reach skidsteer; mower combination, cover crop seeder, rock picker, mineral feeder, bale grapples, apple grinder, and precision fertilizer application monitoring system.
 

Expanded Beef Programs
 

** Designing cattle handling systems with Runnings.
 

** Animal ID and pre-conditioning practices.
 

** Tuesday/Wednesday programs on feeder calf grading and evaluating with NY livestock graders and market news reporter, and how to use blood sampling to check for pregnancy as early as 28 days.
 

** One-Day-Only Programs with NY Beef Council: Wednesday: Livestock Animal Well Being; Thursday: Beef Quality Assurance Training and Recertification: must pre-register: (315) 339-6922.
 

** 11a.m. daily: Live Cattle Handling with Cornell Beef Extension Specialist Dr. Mike Baker and representatives of Hi Hog, Priefert and Powder River cattle systems.
 

Ag Education
 

** Try virtual reality welders aboard American Welding Society Careers in Welding trailer from Miami, Fla.
 

** NYS FFA students compete in NYS welding and tractor driving safety contests on Thursday.
 

** 2017 Cornell PRO-DAIRY Junior DAIRY LEADERS class graduates Wednesday, 1:30 p.m.
 

** Colleges highlighting agricultural degree programs at Empire Farm Days include Alfred State College, Cornell University, Morrisville State College, SUNY Canton and SUNY Cobleskill.
 

** Information on national Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program and info on grass-fed milk emerging markets. in Cornell Marketplace Building.
 

New Craft Beverage Center
 

** New center to meet needs of emerging micro beverage industry in New York State. According to the state Department of Agriculture, the state has seen an increase from 10 farm distilleries in 2010 to 114 today, along with 163 farm breweries and 34 farm cideries.
 

** See bottling equipment, hammermills for grain processing, a new apple grinder that converts to milling malted grains, and high-tech filtration, separation and purification systems; talk with manufacturers.
 

** Tuesday, 9 a.m to 1 p.m., all day Wednesday: Try wine and cider “sniff test” with Cornell University Viticulture and Enology Extension specialists to identify issues and how to avoid them. Learn about Cornell Wine Lab testing and analysis services to help all types of beverage makers.
 

** Tuesday 1 to 5 p.m., all day Thursday: Talk with Brewmaster Jon Paul Partee and co-owner Craig Partee of Fleur De Lis Brew Works and Hop Yards of Seneca Falls, about hops production and their French style of artisan beer making. Their beer garden has been part of the Partee family farming legacy for three generations.
 

Farm Safety
 

** Grain Bin Simulator from National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, Peosta, Iowa, will offer demos and educate show visitors about the four most common ways to become entrapped in a grain bin, the equipment every grain bin operator should have on site, and how to protect yourself form grain dust and mold.
 

** Special Tuesday evening hands-on safety training session will be available by registration for firefighters. Contact is Jim Carrabba at New York Center for Agriculture Medicine and Health, (800) 343-7572, ext. 2216, jcarrabba@nycamh.com
 

** The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health tent will be offering blood pressure, hearing, vision and skin cancer screenings on Tuesday and Wednesday.
 

** The winner of the new Fastest PTO Shield Installation contest at the NYCAMH booth will receive a free Bare-Co PTO Shield.
 

For the Horse Crowd
 

The rugged horses of the American West and the refinement of dressage riding will be featured in the Equine Round Pen showcases at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.
 

** America’s Mustangs: From Wild to Mild will be featured on Tuesday Aug. 9 and Wednesday Aug. 10 with celebrated horse trainers and 2017 Extreme Mustang Makeover regional winners Jack and Emma Minteer of Rose Hill Ranch, Naples.
 

** On Thursday. Aug. 10, Lucretia Galbraith, raised in a family of Standardbred racing royalty and a lifelong horsewoman, will demonstrate the skills that make her a five-time Western NY Dressage Association Professional Rider of the Year and a United States Dressage Association Bronze Medalist.
 

Farm Family Fun and Learning
 

** “Why I Farm,” pumpkin production, and the Chicken Chat large board game are all new attractions at the NY Farm Bureau Family Education Center.
 

** The Dancing Digger will perform ‘hydraulic handstands’ to music daily.
 

** The New York State Grange has added quilting presentations to programming at 11:05 a.m. and 2:05 p.m. Dalmatian Sparks and handler Tibbie Dell lead off at 9:30 a.m. with You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.
 

** Did you know that in addition to making tractors International Harvester made refrigerators? See tractors, implements and other farm and household items made by agricultural manufacturers at the Old Iron exhibits.
 

Get in the Farm Pond
 

Those 10 and older can try a standup paddleboard or kayak with Morgan Marine in the farm pond. Participants must attend a preceding water safety program by New York Sea Grant, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and New York State Parks Marine Services Bureau.

Empire Farm Days show hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday. Admission is $10 per vehicle. 


For daily schedules and more information, visit www.empirefarmdays.com, check out Empire Farm Days on Facebook, or call 877-697-7837.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Farm Bureau President Comment on Collective Bargaining Lawsuit

From New York Farm Bureau:


New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher made the following comments July 21 concerning a lawsuit that seeks collective bargaining rights for farmworkers.

“New York Farm Bureau made a strong case today in State Supreme Court in Albany, NY as to why the Court should dismiss the NYCLU lawsuit that seeks collective bargaining rights for farmworkers. Our attorney argued that our system of government requires that the legislature change state law, not the courts.  Our attorney also argued that the State Labor Relations Act, as written, is constitutional.  

"'We appreciate the opportunity that the Court provided to us to argue the reasons for dismissal, and we are hopeful that we will have a decision in our favor very soon.

"The court previously granted New York Farm Bureau intervenor status to defend agriculture from the lawsuit after New York State abdicated its duty. Our organization had petitioned the court last year to become a defendant only after the Governor and Attorney General refused to uphold and defend the State Labor Relations Act in court.

"New York Farm Bureau has long opposed farmworker collective bargaining for one simple reason. Farms do not have a standard eight-hour workday. This growing season has taught us that. Heavy rains across New York have forced farmers and their employees to get in every dry moment they can in the fields before the next storm cloud arrives. Life inside the barn is no different.  

"For instance, cows need to be fed and milked every day. A farmworker strike or confining work agreements can jeopardize a crop or the health of an animal. Everyone who works in farming understands this. Added regulations will further tie the hands of New York’s farmers and place them in a business environment where it is becoming harder and harder to compete against farmers from out of state and out of the country.

"Farmers have great respect for the people who they employ. If we are to have a vibrant agricultural sector in New York that offers good job opportunities, farms must be able to have a chance to succeed. Collective bargaining will only make it more difficult to do that.

"New York Farm Bureau will continue to stand up for our members, either in court or at the Capitol, to ensure that their voices are heard,” Fisher said.

Friday, July 21, 2017

New Agriculture Exhibits Planned for State Fair

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:

By DEBRA J. GROOM
dgroom@wdt.net
 

While the New York State Fair is jam-packed with fun and food, its primary emphasis always has been on agriculture, the biggest industry in New York state.
 

In fact, the New York State Fair is run by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.
 

So, while running around the fairgrounds this summer checking out musical acts and the sand sculpture, exploring the midway, and scarfing down fried dough and sausage sandwiches, remember to check out the agricultural exhibits.
 

Vegetables that competed at last year's State Fair
Visit the animals in the barns. See the beautiful flowers, hearty vegetables, sweet honey and maple syrup and crunchy apples in the Horticulture Buildings. Look at the ever-popular butter sculpture and try some New York yogurt and ice cream in the Dairy Products Buildings.
 

And, as always, see how the entire dairy industry begins in the Dairy Cow Birthing Center.
 

Here are some new ag exhibits to check out at the 2017 New York State Fair:
 

** STEAM Exhibit. This is one of the most anticipated new items at this year’s fair and is located in the Science and Engineering Building.
 

The exhibit will highlight a number of technical careers and trades that are extremely popular today. Many qualified workers are going to be needed to fill these STEAM jobs in the future. Federal government statistics indicate employment in the science, technology, engineering and math fields will grow by 9 million by 2022.
 

Butter sculpture from a previous State Fair
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. The exhibit will feature hands-on activities, workshops and demonstrations aimed at stimulating creativity in young fairgoers and encouraging them to consider careers in related fields. 
 

“The technical fields and the arts provide wonderful opportunities for our young people and for our economy while encouraging innovation and creativity,” said Troy Waffner, acting director of the New York State Fair. 

“This is an exciting new exhibit and I encourage everyone to stop by and see the amazing work being done in these industries now and the opportunities for the future.”
 

Examples of projects and fields to be displayed include drones, medical projects, advanced manufacturing, virtual reality, robotics, citizen science, wearable technology, soldering, 3D-printed prosthetics, architecture, stop-motion animation and more. 

There also will be a special Ag Career Day on Students Day Sept. 1. 
The exhibit will feature an area in which people with enthusiasm for particular topics will create projects as fairgoers watch.
 

** A number of the animal barns will have special signs this year providing a phone number. Fairgoers will be able to send a text to that number from their cell phones asking questions about anything they are curious about in the animal barns. 

They will immediately get a text back from the barn superintendent or perhaps even the state Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets with an answer to their questions.
 

“We want the fairgoer to have the right information,” said Mary Ellen Chesbro, New York State Fair coordinator and agricultural manager. “Sometimes they will ask a question out loud and someone standing near them will answer. But that might not always be the right information. With this, they won’t have to hunt down someone to ask — they will be able to get an answer and get it fast.”
 

So far, the text questions project will be up and running in the goats, sheep, swine and beef barns. Chesbro said she also is trying to get it set up in the dairy barn.
 

** If you want to know what’s going on during the horse shows in the Coliseum, check out the free headphones. Chesbro said there are 75 headsets available (simply look for the signs inside the Coliseum entrances). There will be an explanation of what is going on during the particular show going on at that time and fairgoers can text questions to the narrator of the horse show.
 

“We want them to leave not only wondering why, but knowing why,” Chesbro said.
 

A Holstein at a previous State Fair.
** Mark your calendars. Dairy Day is moving this year.
 

Usually the first Monday of the fair, the annual salute to everything dairy this year will be Thursday, Aug. 31. 

Chesbro said Dairy Day had to be mooooved because of the extra day at the beginning of the fair (the fair opens Wednesday, Aug. 23, not on a Thursday). This extra day means the dairy cattle would be changing places beginning Monday, Aug. 28, with some moving out and others moving in. This means there would be no dairy cattle in the barn on Aug. 28.
 

“You can’t have Dairy Day without dairy cattle,” Chesbro said.
 

All of the popular Dairy Day events will take place, including the parade, celebrity milkshake-making contest, cheese auction and visits throughout the fairgrounds by county dairy princesses and the New York State Dairy Princess. 

One new feature on Dairy Day is guests can enter a drawing to win Taste NY dairy gift baskets by answering trivia questions when they visit three popular dairy attractions on Dairy Day.
 

To participate, guests can pick up a copy of the questions at any of the fair’s six Guest Relations locations. 

A treat at the Yo2GO Yogurt Bar
They can find the answers by visiting the Milk Bar, Cheese Booth and Yo2GO Yogurt Bar. When a guest has completed the questions, they can drop off their answers at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center where they will be entered to win. Three winners will be selected at the conclusion of Dairy Day.
 

** There will be a Hot Beef Sundae competition on the dairy building stage at noon Aug. 24. Contestants are being lined up via social media.
 

** On Beef Day, Tuesday, Aug. 29, people will be able to participate in the Pound Out Hunger event. By paying $2, they will be given three strikes at an old car with a sledgehammer. The money raised through this event goes to a food pantry to buy hamburger for the needy.
 

** There are some new additions at the Witter Agricultural Museum. There is a beautiful back porch and handicapped ramp for visitors. There also are arbors complete with displays of growing hops and grapes.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Finger Lakes Cheese Festival is Saturday, July 22

Bringing together the best in Finger Lakes produced cheeses from the members of the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance as well as the best in homemade jams, jellies, baked goods, peanut butters, salsas, vegetables, art, wine, beer and cider. 

Live music all day, TONS of food for every palate and LOTS MORE! 

Add to that the ambiance of the farm, self-guided tours, hay rides, games for the kids and you have a fun family event.

Tickets on sale for $5 online until the day of the event, $8 at the door, children under 12 are free.

The event is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sunset View Creamery in Odessa, in Schuyler County. Go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2017-finger-lakes-cheese-festival-tickets-30311718165 to buy tickets.

Schumer Seeks New Insurance Option for Malt Barley Producers in NY

From U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer:
 

Schumer during a visit to the 1886 Malt House in Volney
Craft breweries and distilleries are booming this summer, pouring local products onto shelves, increasing tourism and infusing new jobs across Upstate New York.
 

Because of this U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said last week that it’s imperative that the federal government provides even more support to Upstate New York’s craft beer industry to help new and existing establishments grow.
 

Specifically, Schumer is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin the process of giving New York the Malting Barley Endorsement (M.B.E.), a special federal insurance option, available to only a select group of states that grow malt barley.
 

Malt barley needs very specific conditions to grow and is susceptible to severe weather and disease, making the M.B.E. insurance option an essential ingredient to further nurturing the growth of this new industry. 

Schumer said this will become more important over the next decade, when New York state will require farm craft brewers and distillers to source 90 percent of their ingredients from local farms and malt houses, and the supply of malt barley will need to increase to meet this demand.
 

Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., both fought earlier this year to get 44 New York state counties included in the malt barley crop insurance program.

Last year, Schumer successfully pushed the USDA to bring malt barley insurance to four New York counties but argued that with crop insurance now secured, it is time for the USDA to grant Malt Barley endorsement.
 

“With summer now in full swing, many in Upstate New York and beyond are reaching for ‘Made in New York Craft Beers.’ These beers and spirits represent a new and flourishing industry for New York state, and Upstate New York is increasingly becoming the Napa Valley of craft brewing,” Schumer said. 
 

“Not only do distilleries and breweries throughout Upstate New York pour local products and jobs into our economy, they also open new tourism opportunities, which is why it is important we continue to support this industry and provide them with all of the available tools needed to succeed now and in the future. New York is on the cusp of a craft brewing renaissance which not only benefits our growers, but all those who call New York State home,” said Schumer.
 

“That’s why I am calling on the feds to endorse this enhanced insurance protection for malt barley. These breweries are a reflection of New York’s entrepreneurial spirit and must be properly supported by growers who can supply them with the locally sourced resources they need,” he said.
 

Alongside water, yeast and hops, barley is one of the major components of beer, and of many spirits produced by distilleries. Malt consists of barley that is germinated and then dried under highly controlled conditions. These conditions help to release the enzymes needed to convert the barley starches into sugars.
 

These sugars are then fed to yeast through the process of fermentation, which ultimately creates the final product -- alcohol. Schumer explained many New York farmers are beginning to grow this barley, which ends up being used to make beer and spirits. 

Malt houses, like the 1886 Malt House at the ethanol plant in Volney, take the barley seed grains and put them through the process of malting; this is so the barley seeds can begin to germinate and thus convert the starches into sugars. This malt barley is then given to brewers and distillers, who have the yeast and fermentation conditions needed to make beer and spirits.
 

Schumer said malt barley carries greater risks for loss and lower yields than barley grown for livestock feed, because in order to be viable for malting, the grain must meet rigorous quality standards. Many growers, who are covered by malt barley crop insurance, may run into obstacles collecting payments in certain situations. 
 

Especially, in New York state, which can endure both heavy rains and long dry spells, entire crops may be deemed unusable if malt barley becomes too moist and prematurely germinates in the field, or conversely dries out and is unable to germinate during the malting process. Due to the high risks for growers throughout 

New York state, Schumer said it is critical to allow growers to have the choice of obtaining all available federal crop insurance options as soon as possible.
 

New York state has 213 craft breweries:
** In the Capital Region there are 29 craft breweries
** In Central New York there are 27 craft breweries
** In Rochester – Finger Lakes region there are 42 craft breweries
** In Western New York there are 24 craft breweries
** In the Southern Tier there are 32 craft breweries
** In the Hudson Valley region there are 36 craft breweries
** In the North Country there are 23 craft breweries
 

Previously, the lack of crop insurance hindered the rapid expansion of the craft brewing industry and therefore halted job creation in Upstate New York as well. 

Potato Surveys Begins This Month

From the USDA:

Beginning in late July, the Northeastern Regional Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct the annual Potato Processing Survey. 

The results of this survey will be used to establish final USDA statistics about 2016 potato crop processing for official processing states. NASS gathers the data for the survey online, by mail, phone and in-person interviews.

“NASS safeguards the privacy of all responses and publishes only state- and national-level data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified,” stated King Whetstone, Regional Director, NASS -- Northeastern Regional Field Office.

NASS will compile and analyze the survey information and publish the results in the Sept. 14 annual Potatoes publication. The publication will be available on the USDA-NASS website at  https://www.nass.usda.gov/. 


For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office at (800) 498-1518.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hoard's: New York Manure Lawsuit is A Pile of Poo

Interesting story from Hoard's Dairyman.

Check it out at http://hoards.com/article-21219-New-York-manure-lawsuit-is-a-pile-of-poo.html this link.

Some Changes Coming to 2017 Census of Agriculture

From the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball has highlighted changes to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, which will be mailed out to farmers later this year. 

The Census of Agriculture is the only complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and their operators. An accurate Census of Agriculture is vitally important to New York farms and rural communities because of its role in driving funding and program support at the federal level. 

Changes to this year’s Census of Agriculture include: the collection of data on active-duty and military veteran farmers, more detailed information on marketing practices, and the launch of an improved online questionnaire.
 

“The Census of Agriculture is an extremely valuable tool for communities. The data it collects helps track New York’s strengths in agriculture and its importance to the economy, and it helps us identify trends to capitalize on to further grow the industry," said Ball. "All farmers should participate in the count — the results directly affect the funding of research, marketing and other programs that support our farms.”
 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts the Census of Agriculture. The last Census of Agriculture was conducted in 2012. 

This year, the Census will again gather information on farms and ranches growing fruits, vegetables or raising animals, as long as $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold or normally would have been sold during the census year. 

In addition to standard questions, the Census will also include a new question on active-duty and military veteran farmers to better understand if farming has become a viable career path for our servicemen and women, and to help direct outreach and programs toward veterans.
 

The 2017 Census of Agriculture will also seek additional information about marketing practices to gain insight into the value of agricultural products sold for consumption. As a result, the information on the number of farms participating in direct marketing and the dollar value of direct marketing sales. 

This will help the industry understand the value of food sales directly to consumers and sales to retail markets, institutions, and food hubs.
 

The census questionnaire will be mailed to more than three million U.S. farmers this December. NASS is encouraging farmers to respond online this year. The improved online questionnaire is convenient, intuitive and accessible on any electronic device. It will be available on the NASS website starting November 27, 2017.
 

“The Census of Agriculture remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation,” said Blair Smith, National Agricultural Statistics Service New York State Statistician. 

“As such, census results are relied upon heavily by those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, and farmers and ranchers themselves,”
Smith said.

 
Census of Agriculture responses are due by Feb. 5, 2018. The results will be available beginning in February 2019, in aggregate form only, to ensure that no individual operation or producer can be identified as required by federal law.
 

For more information about the census, please visit the NASS website, follow NASS on Twitter @usda_nass, or call (800) 727-9540.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cuomo Signs Bill Making Hemp an Agricultural Commodity

Go to http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/cuomo-signs-bill-to-make-hemp-agricultural-commodity-in-ny-20170716 to check out the story.

NY Onion and Strawberry Growers Being Surveyed by USDA

From the USDA:

During the next several weeks, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct the New York Onion and Strawberry Grower Inquiry, surveying nearly 400 onion and strawberry operations in New York.

NASS conducts the Onion and Strawberry Survey twice a year; a forecast in August and at end of season in November to obtain the acreage, production, and value of sales. 

“When growers respond to these surveys, they provide essential information that helps us determine the prospective production and supply of these commodities in the United States for the 2017 crop year. Everyone who relies on agriculture for their livelihoods is interested in the results,” explained King Whetstone, director of NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office.

NASS gathers the data for these surveys online, by mail, over the phone and through in-person interviews.
 

Growers provide information on crop acreage, production, and value of sales. NASS will compile and analyze the survey information and publish the results in a series of USDA reports.

“NASS safeguards the privacy of all responses and publishes only state- and national-level data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified,” stated Whetstone. “We recognize this is a hectic time for farmers and ranchers, but the information they provide helps U.S. agriculture remain viable and capable. 


"I urge them to respond to these surveys and thank them for their cooperation,” Whetstone said.

All reports are available on the NASS website: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications. 


For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office at (717) 787- 3904.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dairy Day at State Fair Moves to New Day

If you always go to the New York State Fair on Dairy Day, get out your calendars.

Dairy Day is mooooooving this year.

Dairy Day will be Thursday, Aug. 31 at the 2017 State Fair. It had to be moved because the normal day -- the first Monday of the fair -- is change out day for the dairy cattle in the dairy barn. If Dairy Day had been held on the first Monday Aug. 28, there wouldn't have been any dairy cattle in the dairy barn.

"What is Dairy Day without dairy cattle?" asked Mary Ellen Chesbro, New York State Fair coordinator and agricultural manager.

The 2017 fair willl celebrate the 41st anniversary of Dairy Day wit new events and opportunities for fairgoers, said Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner.

New this year, guests will have an opportunity to win gift baskets filled with New York dairy products by visiting popular dairy attractions and answering trivia questions.

In addition, the fair is partnering with two New York State Certified processors to bring top-notch, local dairy products to the fairgrounds, including a New York State Fair-branded cheese. 

In 2016, more than 82,000 people visited the Fair on Dairy Day. 
 
"Dairy Day is a great opportunity to recognize the hard work of our dairy farmers who make delicious products. We are excited to put the industry on display at the fair and highlight their many contributions to agriculture," Waffner said. "I encourage our guests to stop at the Dairy Products Building, Dairy Cow Birthing Center, and join us at the many special activities on Dairy Day as we celebrate our farmers and processors across the state.”
 
New York yogurt
For the first time, guests can enter a drawing to win Taste NY dairy gift baskets by answering trivia questions when they visit three popular dairy attractions on Dairy Day. To participate, guests can pick up a copy of the questions at any of the fair’s six Guest Relations locations. 

They can find the answers by visiting the Milk Bar, Cheese Booth, and Yo2GO Yogurt Bar. When a guest has completed the questions, they can drop off their answers at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center where they will be entered to win. Three winners will be selected at the conclusion of Dairy Day. 
 
Both the Milk Bar and Cheese Booth will be offering delicious, high-quality dairy products made by two New York State Certified Dairy processors — Byrne Dairy and McCadam Cheese. 

Byrne Dairy, a fourth generation, family-owned dairy processor and distributor, will supply milk for the Milk Bar, one of the fair’s longest-standing traditions. The Milk Bar is being sponsored by Tully’s Good Times and New York’s official beverage will continue to be sold for 25 cents per cup. Last year, 398,059 cups of white and chocolate milk were sold. 

A previous butter sculpture
Fairgoers will also have the opportunity to sample and purchase award-winning McCadam Cheese at the Cheese Booth. McCadam will also be unveiling a NYS Fair-branded cheese. 

For the fourth year, a cheese sculptor will also be carving images out of a block of New York state white cheddar at the Cheese Booth on select days. The sculptures are being sponsored by the New York State Cheese Manufacturers Association. 
 
In addition, the YO2GO Yogurt Bar will mark its fourth anniversary at the fair, making it easy for fairgoers to enjoy New York’s official state snack— fresh New York regular and Greek-style yogurt with a choice of 15 fresh toppings. 

The 49th Annual Butter Sculpture, created by American Dairy Association North East, will be sponsored by Wegmans Food Markets. The sculpture will be revealed Aug. 22, the day before the fFair opens, and will be on display throughout the fair. 

All of these exhibits are located in the Dairy Products Building and open during all 13 days of the Fair. 
 
Dairy Day will also feature a variety of activities to showcase the State’s dairy industry, beginning with the Recognition Awards & Awards Breakfast at 9 a.m. in the Empire Room, with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. 

As part of the awards ceremony, Dairy of Distinction Awards and the Commissioner’s PRO-DAIRY Service Awards will be presented. In addition, winners of the New York State Fair Dairy Products Competition, which includes entries in the cheese, fluid milk and other dairy products categories, will also be announced. 

The “Big Cheese” Auction will immediately follow and be led by auctioneer and chairman of the New York State Assembly Agriculture Committee Bill Magee. This year, the auction will be held in the Empire Room. Guests can bid on blocks of New York state cheese and enjoy samples that will be handed out by dairy princesses.
 
The festivities continue with a Milkshake Contest at 10:30 a.m. in the Chevy Court Pavilion, where local celebrities will compete to see who makes the best shake. The day will end with the Dairy Day Parade, beginning at 6 p.m. in Chevy Court, which features floats, dairy princesses, tractors and milk trucks.

Cornell Hires New Viticulture and Wine Specialist for Eastern New York

James Meyers in a vineyard in New York
The Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension has announced the hiring of James Meyers as the new viticulture and wine specialist for a 17-county region in the eastern part of New York state. 

Meyers will provide regional grape growers with a combination of on-the-ground grape production assistance and some high flying technology.

Meyers earned his doctoral degree in viticulture at Cornell University and has applied a masters degree in computer science from Brown University to his viticultural research. 


Using satellite imaging and drone technology, Meyers has mapped canopy and vineyard variability to help growers in the Finger Lakes region of New York and in the state of California optimize the efficiency and profitability of their vineyard operations. He will continue the use of that technology in eastern New York.

"Images taken by a drone-mounted camera can be used to identify areas of inconsistency in a vineyard and create variability maps to guide ground level assessments of vine performance for potential remediation such as soil amendments, canopy management activities, or rootstock changes," Meyers explained. "This technology can also be used to add harvesting and processing efficiency."

Meyers is introducing himself to growers and learning about their operations in Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Dutchess, Essex, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, Warren and Washington counties.

His hiring is timely for the 300-mile eastern New York region that experienced a 34 percent increase in the number of grape-growing operations and a 50 percent increase in grape acres from 2007 to 2012, according to the October 2016 Grape Production in the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Region.


Meyers will create and develop an Eastern New York geospatial database of vine performance that will help growers better understand their local climates, track vineyard performance, and adjust decision making for greater productivity and profitability.

"Adding a specialist with Jim’s agricultural and technological skills will maximize Extension learning opportunities in support of the Eastern New York grape industry,’ said Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program Small Fruit and Vegetable Team Leader Laura McDermott.

To contact Meyers or any of the other 12 specialists advising commercial fruit and vegetable growers in eastern NY, and to find educational resources, newsletters and pest alerts, visit the website at https://enych.cce.cornell.edu