Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bill Providing Tax Incentives for Farmers Donating Food to Food Banks Passes State Senate

New York Farm Bureau applauds the New York Senate for quickly moving on the “Farm to Food Bank Bill.” 

The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton, remains a priority for our organization this legislative session, and because of its swift, unanimous passage today, it is clear the Senate highly values the bill as well. 

The vote sends a clear message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has vetoed this bill twice, that lawmakers believe the food donation tax credit will make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers who turn to food pantries and other programs for help in feeding their families.

The governor’s main objection in his veto message was that the bill was passed outside of the budget process. However, he still did not provide a pathway for funding in his Executive Budget released earlier this month. 

Because of today’s unanimous vote by the Senate and hopeful passage again in the Assembly, we are optimistic that funding will be included in the chambers’ one-house budget bills. 

We encourage Gov. Cuomo to work with the bipartisan group of lawmakers to see this bill finally become law.

The tax credit would be for 25 percent of the wholesale value of the donated food and no more than $5,000 per farm. 

However, its impact will be far reaching. It will help farmers offset a portion of the costs of picking, packing and transporting the food to regional food banks. More importantly, it will allow more locally sourced food to be shared with those in need all over the state.

In 2016, farmers donated more than 13-million pounds of food to their regional food banks, which is the equivalent of more than 10 million meals.  This amount set a new record for the state’s farmers and demonstrated their generosity.  The “Farm to Food Bank Bill” would incentivize even greater food donations.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Ag Trivia Challenge Feb. 17 in Cazenovia

Now this sounds like a lot of fun.

The third annual Ag Trivia Challenge Night is scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m. Feb. 17 at Empire Tractor on Route 20 in Cazenovia.

The event includes a social hour, silent auction, "your favorite holiday" table decorating contest and catered dinner included in your $25 per person registration. (Teams of 6.)

Most importantly, test your team's "ag trivia knowledge" during the evening trivia contest.

A small sampling of local wine and beer will be available but attendees also can bring their own beverages for age 21 and over only.

All proceeds raised go towards supporting Madison County FFA and 4-H youth programming!

Please mail your team member's names and your registration fees to:

Bailey Coon
877 State Route 13
DeRuyter, New York 13052

For more information, call Bailey Coon at  (315) 439–0636 or email bch1121@hotmail.com

March 31 is the Deadline to Apply for Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program Grants


A total of $14 million in grants was announced Jan. 27 to address qater quality challenges on farms in critical watersheds.

The grants, funded through the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program, are available to protect soil and water resources on farms across New York state. New York has dedicated $79 million to the program since 2011.

The Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program is funded in the 2016-17 budget through the state Environmental Protection Fund, which the governor proposes to continue in this year’s budget at $300 million – the highest level in the program’s history.

The program complements the proposed $2 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, which would provide additional funding for source water quality protection initiatives, including projects to ensure proper management and storage of manure on farms across the state.

“Our farmers do all they can to be good stewards of their land and remain committed to the environment,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball. “This funding will help prevent water pollution, reduce erosion and limit harmful sediments and other nutrients in New York’s waterways, while supporting the growth of the agricultural community.”

County Soil and Water Conservation Districts can apply for Round 23 of the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control grant program on behalf of farmers through the state Department of Agriculture and Markets website at http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html this link.

Grants will be awarded to the districts to help farms with environmental planning; including the implementation of management systems, planting vegetation along streams to intercept runoff, and planting cover crops after the annual harvest to protect the soil.

To apply, all appropriate materials must be submitted through the state Soil and Water Conservation Committee SharePoint website by March 31.

For additional details about this program and other natural resource protection programs, contact the local County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Livestock Producers Have Until Jan. 30 to Apply for Forage Disaster Program

Monday is the deadline to apply for  the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency reminds livestock producers, in eligible counties, who suffered grazing losses that occurred throughout 2016 due to drought, to report their losses and to enroll in the program by Jan. 30.

The Livestock Forage Disaster program is available in the following New York counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Cortland, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Suffolk, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.

The program provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who suffered grazing losses for covered livestock due to drought on privately-owned or cash-leased land or fire on federally-managed land. 

Producers in 25 New York counties are eligible to apply for 2016 benefits on native pasture, improved pasture and forage sorghum. Livestock producers are encouraged to contact the their local FSA Office with any questions regarding specific forage crops that are eligible.

Livestock producers must complete the Livestock Forage Disaster program application and required supporting documentation for losses that occurred throughout 2016. Producers who already have appointments scheduled require no additional action to meet the deadline.

Eligible livestock includes alpacas, beef cattle, buffalo, beefalo, dairy cattle, deer, elk, emus, equine, goats, llamas, poultry, reindeer, sheep or swine that have been or would have been grazing the eligible grazing land or pastureland.

Visit www.usda.gov/disaster to learn more about FSA disaster assistance programs or contact your local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov or call (315) 477-6309.

Farm Groups Bristle as Trump Leaves TPP

Go to http://www.agweb.com/article/farm-groups-bristle-as-trump-kills-tpp-negotiations-naa-ben-potter/ to read the story on Agweb.com

NY Congress Members Introduce Family Farm Relief Act

From the Watertown Daily Times:

Rep. Elise Stefanik, left, and Rep Chris Collins
Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, Erie County, and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, Essex County, have introduced the Family Farm Relief Act of 2017, legislation to move the H-2A Agricultural Visa program from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture to better meet the unique labor needs of farmers and agricultural businesses.

“The last thing our farmers need is for the federal government to make it harder for them to make ends meet,” said Collins. “Access to a willing and available labor force is absolutely critical for Western New York’s agriculture community, particularly our dairy farmers. I am proud to join my colleague Congresswoman Stefanik in introducing this common-sense legislation to streamline and improve the H-2A visa program.”

“Agriculture is the backbone of our North Country economy and I am pleased to introduce this important bill to address the labor shortages facing our farmers,” said Stefanik. “When I travel the district speaking with our farmers, I often hear about how unnecessary delays in worker visas lead to difficulty meeting production goals. This commonsense legislation simply puts the H-2A agricultural visa program in the hands of those who best understand the specific needs of our farms.”

“Immigration reform that allows for both seasonal and year round farm labor has been a longtime priority for New York Farm Bureau. For too long, the federal H2A guest visa program has been cumbersome, prone to delays and too rigid to fit the needs of both farmers and their employees,” said New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher.

The Family Farm Relief Act of 2017 takes practical measures such as allowing visa applicants to fill out H-2A applications on paper or online, requiring a user-friendly online system, and ending burdensome requirements on advertising and prevailing practice surveys.

The current H-2A visa program is unworkable, especially for the dairy farms across our nation.  The H-2A visa program does not currently provide a category for year-round livestock workers, including dairy. This has caused difficulties for dairy farms that need employees year-round. This legislation addresses this oversight, by creating an H-2A category for these workers.

Additionally, the proposed law also allows farm cooperatives and other agricultural associations to apply for workers for their members, makes the program more workable for dairy and other livestock operations, and requires reporting to Congress if delays occur in the H-2A Visa application process.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sharps Containers Free to North Country Farmers

From the Howard G. Sackett Technical Center:

The Veterinary Practices class at the Howard G. Sackett Technical Center in Glenfield is once again giving away free sharps containers to area farmers. 

This is a continuation of the program that began last year with 60 sharps containers distributed to farms that requested them.

Sharps container
Sharps containers are containers that are used to dispose medical supplies properly as opposed to simply throwing them out and creating an environmental and safety hazard. 

The containers can then be dropped off at a certified disposal facility. They include Rome Hospital, Lewis County General Hospital and both the Lowville and Croghan Transfer Stations.

As part of a SkillsUSA project last year, the sharps containers were purchased through fundraising efforts by Jefferson-Lewis BOCES students and then distributed. Two vet practices students decided to continue the program this year. They are Kali Smith (junior, South Lewis) and Sadie Buckingham (junior, Adirondack). 

The two students, along with instructor Blake Place, are hoping to bring more attention to the program.

The students have been fundraising through pet grooming, doughnut sales, and the sale of drug awareness bracelets that they designed to purchase more sharps containers.

Farmers who would like a free container are asked to contact Blake Place at (315) 377-7345. There will be a limited supply.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New York Farm Bureau Lists Priorities for 2017


New York Farm Bureau released its 2017 state priorities Jan. 25 that seek to address a significant loss in farm income across the state.

These priorities will include supporting reinvestment into the state’s family farms as well as opening up new markets for New York farm products.

During the past two years, agriculture has been under additional economic pressures with low commodity and milk prices and rising labor costs. 

The governor has been quick to highlight when times are good for the agricultural economy, but new numbers just released by National Agricultural Statistics Service show the value of farm production in New York dropped by a billion dollars in 2015 to $5.33 billion. 

That is a significant loss in farm income, and anecdotally Farm Bureau members are saying that farm income will likely drop even further when 2016 numbers are released.

“The 16 percent drop in farm income highlights why it is imperative that New York Farm Bureau advocate for common sense laws, regulations and tax policies that support the state’s family farms,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President, in a press conference call with reporters Jan. 25.

The first priority for the organization is to enact a refundable investment tax credit for farmers. Because of the down farm economy and the weather-related crop losses many farmers experienced last year, farmers are extremely short on cash flow and many do not have the savings to reinvest back into their businesses. 
This initiative would incentivize farm investment to meet the needs of global competition.

“It is important for farms and the rural economy, that farmers stay on top of equipment needs, structural repairs and new technology in order to meet consumer demands and business needs.  We cannot let our farm infrastructure take a hit during an economic downturn,” said Fisher.

Another top priority is doubling the minimum wage tax credit for farms, from $30 million to $60 million. The first step of the wage hike climbed at the beginning of the year on its way to $15 for farms on Long Island and $12.50 for Upstate farmers. 

New York Farm Bureau led the way in opposition to the hike last year, resulting in a $250 tax credit per employee for this first year of the increase. That will cover only a small fraction of what it will cost family farms to implement the wage hike.

The minimum wage increase will also push all wages up across the board, including for those who currently make well above the minimum. The average farm wage in New York is around $12.40/hour.

“Farms cannot just increase their prices to make up for that growing gap,” Fisher said. “They have to compete against farms in neighboring states and around the world.  If the state is going to force a higher wage on farms, they should be prepared to offer greater assistance, especially when farm income is down 16 percent.”

Securing state money for critical farm programs is also a top priority for New York Farm Bureau. The governor included a number of positive things in his budget plan, which will be beneficial to agriculture. This includes strong funding for the Environmental Protection Fund, which will assist farms with water quality, conservation and farmland protection programs.

There is also money to support agricultural education and FFA programs that will assist in job and skills training to meet future employment demands in agriculture.

New York Farm Bureau also will work with the legislature and governor to restore important funding for things like research, technical assistance and promotion dollars that support the diversity of New York’s farms. In addition, the organization is hopeful the governor’s $2 billion plan to improve the state’s water infrastructure and water quality will include significant money for conservation projects on farms across the state.

“New York Farm Bureau has pushed for this important investment with the administration. It will improve on our strong record of environmental stewardship in New York,” said Fisher.

The buy local movement continues to grow across the state, and New York Farm Bureau believes New York residents should not be the only ones to turn to their farmers first. The state of New York should do so as well.

That leads to the organization’s fourth priority, advocating for legislation that will provide a procurement preference for New York grown food for state institutional purchasing. This would be for food served in universities, prisons and other New York state-run facilities. 

There has been a greater focus on procurement by the administration, but we believe more should be done to make New York products a priority.

“This will this open up new markets for New York’s farmers. For only pennies more, the state can support its farmers and get more fresh, local food into the state system,” said Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau’s Public Policy Director.

Finally, another top priority for farmers is a state tax credit for donations of locally grown food by farmers to food banks. The governor has vetoed this bill twice. While he expressed support for the idea, his major objection was that the legislature passed it outside of the budget. New York Farm Bureau is asking the governor to fund it this time around.

The tax credit would be for 25 percent of the wholesale value of the donated food and no more than $5,000 per farm. The impact to the overall budget will be quite small in comparison to the $152 billion spending plan. We estimate it would be around $700,000.  

However, its impact will be far reaching.

“It will help farmers offset a portion of the costs of picking, packing and transporting the food to regional food banks.  More importantly, it will allow more locally-sourced food to be shared with those in need all over the state,” said Williams.

In 2016, farmers donated more than 13 million pounds of food to their regional food banks, which is more than 10 million meals. This is a new record for the state’s farmers and demonstrates their generosity.  However, the “Farm to Food Bank” bill would incentivize even greater food donations and that record number would climb even higher.

New York Farm Bureau establishes its priorities every year. Members of 52 county Farm Bureaus voice their opinions and vote on public policy resolutions at the county level.

Those make their way to the state Annual Meeting each December where farmer delegates cast their votes that determine the organization’s positions on legislative issues. The state Board of Directors then establishes the priorities for the year.

Farmer Appreciation Day at Jay Peak Ski Resort

This isn't a New York story, but I thought it was cool.

Hey, c'mon New York ski areas. How about doing this too???

Go to http://jaypeakresort.com/things-to-do/events/farmers-appreciation-day#.WIi5Rn2GfTR to see the story.

How Will Renegotiated NAFTA Affect Farmers?

Go to http://www.whec.com/news/nafta-changes-local-farms/4378834/ this link to read about it.

North Country Crop Congresses Set for February

From the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program

The 2017 North Country Crop Congresses will feature updates on research projects funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. 

The program provides small grants for on-farm research and technical assistance projects in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

The Crop Congresses Feb. 1 in Chazy and Feb. 2 in Canton will include presentations on Northern New York Development Program-funded research evaluating ways to manage the crop pests corn rootworm, alfalfa snout beetle and western bean cutworm, and on field trials with forage sorghum.

The Feb. 1 Crop Congress at the Burke Education and Research Center at Miner Institute in Chazy will also include an update on Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded tile drainage research by Miner Institute, and other Miner Institute research updates. 

This event is free to attend. Pre-registration is encouraged by calling (518) 846-7121 ext. 117.

The Feb. 2 Crop Congress at the Best Western University Inn, 90 E. Main St. in Canton, will also include a presentation on Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded field trials of late summer-planted oats as a forage option. 

Weed control management, neonicotinoid seed treatment restrictions, and crop insurance presentations are also on the agenda. There is a fee to attend this event; call (315) 788-8450 or (315) 854-1218.

More than 100 regional farmers serve on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program committee that identifies and prioritizes research and technical assistance projects for attention in the six northernmost counties of New York state.

Project leaders receiving funding from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program in 2016 included Cornell University and State University of New York faculty, and personnel with Cornell Cooperative Extension; the Cornell Willsboro Research Farm, Willsboro, Essex County; W. H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, Chazy, Clinton County; and Uihlein Maple Research Forest, Lake Placid, NY.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State and administered by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. Project results are posted online at the following link 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

USDA Scientists Told Not to Share Findings With Public

OK, let's muzzle the USDA.

Check out this story at https://www.buzzfeed.com/dinograndoni/trump-usda?utm_term=.iuNB1BVrV#.ray0509O9 this link.

New York Winners in Good Food Awards

The following places from New York state are winners in the Good Food Awards competition decided Jan. 20 in San Francisco:

Hudson & Charles, Chicken Liver Pate, New York


Fruition Chocolate, Marañón Canyon Dark Milk 68% & Hudson Valley Bourbon Dark Milk 61%, New York 


Finger Lakes Cider House, Goodlife Barrel Rye, New York 

Orchard Hill Cider Mill, Ten66 Pommeau, New York 

Slyboro Cider House, La Sainte Terre, New York 


Regalis Foods, Ikura Shoyu Zuke Caviar, New York 


Bee’s Needs, Marvelous May, New York  


Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods, Organic Sunflower Seed OilNew York 

Holy Schmitt’s, Original Horseradish, New York

Nahmias et Fils, Legs Diamond Rye Whiskey, New York 

The Hudson Standard, Catskill Masala Bitters, New York  


NOFA-NY Holds Annual Conference

Go to http://www.troyrecord.com/general-news/20170121/farming-group-celebrates-diversity-at-capital-region-event to check out the story.

Senator Proposes Law to Keep Non-Dairy Products From Being Called 'Milk'

OK, folks.

What do you all think about this?

Go to http://fortune.com/2017/01/18/senator-tammy-baldwin-almond-milk/ this link to read the story from Fortune Magazine.

Monday, January 23, 2017

New York Maple Syrup Business Triples in Size

Check this out folks.

Go to http://2paragraphs.com/2017/01/parkers-maple-syrup-on-shark-tank-tripled-in-size-overnight/ to see what has happened to a maple syrup producer since he made an appearance on "Shark Tank."

Cuomo Unveils Next Phase of State Fairgrounds Improvements

Gondola proposed for linking fairgrounds to amphitheater
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Jan. 23 announced Phase Two of the historic redesign and transformation of the New York State Fairgrounds and endorsed the State Fair Task Force recommendation to expand the fair to 13 Days in 2017. 

Phase Two of the capital program to develop the fair into a year-round destination includes $50 million to develop an 80,000-square-foot, multi-use Exposition Center and an aerial gondola to connect visitors to the fairgrounds and Onondaga County’s Lakeview Amphitheater. 

In addition, a $20 million investment from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative will allow for the construction of a new on-ramp to I-690 West and other improvements to the Orange parking lot, while other fair enhancements will include constructing a new Aerial Sky Ride and offering new, diverse events to attract visitors year-round.
“By reimagining one of New York’s historic and beloved traditions, the first phase of our revitalization has already transformed the New York State Fair experience, strengthening a prized tourism destination in Central New York and generating record-breaking attendance in 2016,” Cuomo said.  

“I look forward to continuing the State Fair’s momentum with Phase Two and the additional $70 million in investments to get it done. I thank the Task Force members for their quick work and smart recommendations for this next phase. The new State Fair will bring exciting shows, artisans, concerts, and local food and beverages to visitors from across the state and the nation year-round for generations to come.”

A poster of other events planned for the fairgrounds
In November 2016, Cuomo appointed a State Fair “Phase Two” Task Force of 21 local officials and industry leaders, co-chaired by State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. 

The Task Force was charged with developing new innovative ideas that would build upon the Phase One improvements debuted at the 2016 State Fair and they provided their recommendations to the governor at the end of 2016.
Taking into full consideration input from the State Fair Task Force, the governor proposed in his Executive Budget $50 million for two transformational capital projects that will compliment and expand upon the work advanced in 2016.

Phase Two Investments Include:
  • $35 million to construct a multi-use, 80,000 square-foot hybrid building and Expo Center that will be available year-round for local, regional and statewide events to secure the fairground’s role as a premier year-round destination in Central New York.
  • $15 million to build an aerial gondola to transport visitors and concertgoers from the fairgrounds to Onondaga County’s Lakeview Amphitheater and the Loop the Lake Trail, creating an entirely new fair experience in the sky.
  • $20 million through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative to construct a new on-ramp to I-690 West and other improvements to the Orange parking lot, to allow for easier parking, travel and less congestion during the annual state fair and other large events throughout the year.
In addition to these recommendations, the annual fair, which has historically run 12 days, will be extended to 13 days allowing additional time for visitors to enjoy New York’s world-class food and beverages, agriculture, arts, shows, concerts, and more.
In 2017, the fair will also add a new premier attraction to the Midway, the Aerial Sky Ride, which will debut opening day of the fair Aug. 23. 

The Sky Ride will be built, operated and maintained by Wade Shows Inc. and will feature at least 100 double-passenger seats, giving fairgoers an unmatched view of Syracuse and the surrounding area while ferrying above the fairgrounds expanded Midway. 

Additionally, as a direct result of the state’s investments to improve and expand the fair, new events have already committed to the fairgrounds to offer more entertainment year-round. 

Right Coast Inc., promoter of the PPG Syracuse Nationals, will bring three brand new events to the New York State Fairgrounds in 2017, including Syracuse SnowCross, Kawasaki Syracuse StadiumCross and the Syracuse Man Show. 

New York Farm Show Set for Feb. 23-25 at NYS Fairgrounds

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine

The 2017 New York Farm Show is the place to visit this winter for information on new innovative farm and woodlot products and equipment.

The 32nd edition of the show runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 23, 24 and 25 at the New York State Fairgrounds in Geddes, west of Syracuse.

The annual show hosts more than 400 exhibitors in six heated buildings, including the Arts and Home Center, Center of Progress, Dairy, Horticulture, and Science Buildings, and International Pavilion.

“It’s a spring planning show,” New York Farm Show manager Scott Grigor said. “It gets people out of the house. The economy is off a little, and it helps people enjoy life a little bit.”

The show had 406 confirmed exhibitors as of Jan. 11 with more expected, Grigor said.  There are 13 new exhibitors this year, including Yanmar Tractor of Georgia

Exhibit area covers more than 222,000 square feet of space.

Topics covered by seminars includes: beef, forestry, and health and safety. There also will be the popular FFA toy auction and 4-H members will again be selling hitch pins as a county fundraiser. They are offering Tisco 6-by-¾-inch hitch pins at $5 each or five for $20. They will be located at the main entrance doors of the Center of Progress, Dairy and Horticulture buildings.

The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health will offer information on ROPS (rollover protective structures), safe skid steer operation, blood pressure screenings and youth safety activities.

The center also will again have its farm hazards display board set up to help people identify hazardous situations on the farm. It will supply information on PPE (personal protective equipment) selection and catalogs and applications for the John May Farm Safety Fund, and roadway safety tips in conjunction with the state troopers.


Here are some of the beef seminars from the New York Beef Council to be held in the beef area of the Toyota Building:

Daily presentations beginning at 10 a.m. will feature:

10 a.m.: ABCs of EPDs - Phil Trowbridge, Trowbridge Angus

11 a.m.: Trace Minerals - Its role on the Cattle Immune System, Dr. Bob Gentry, Multimin

Noon: Quality - The Consumer Expectations, Jean O’Toole/ Katherine Bronson, NYBC - Thursday

Noon: Beef Up Your Marketing, Jean O’Toole/ Katherine Bronson, NYBC - Friday

1 p.m.: Johne’s - What it is and Programs Available, Dr. Melanie Hemenway, NYSCHAP

2 p.m.: Unraveling Official Identification, Dr Jane Lewis, USDA Ag. And Markets

3 p.m.: Beef showmanship clinic,  Robert Groom/ Jeanne White-  Thursday

3 p.m.: Fitting clinic, Robert Groom - Friday
Saturday will be dedicated to youth doing the presentations on different related beef topics. Grab a seat on the bleachers as these young individuals demonstrate their experiences and knowledge of the beef industry. Jean O’Toole, the new executive director of the New York Beef Council, and Katherine Bronson will open the presentations.

10 a.m.: How to Master “Agvocacy,” Jean O’Toole/ Katherine Bronson, NYBC

11 a.m.: Our National Livestock Judging Experience in Louisville, KY- By Melissa Keller, NY Junior Beef Producer

11 a.m.: Three Ways to get Involved with the Beef Industry, Megan Cranwell, NY Junior Beef Producer

Noon: What I Learned about NYBC (NY Beef Council) through C2C (Cattlemen to Consumers) Program, Jala Murphy, NY Junior Beef Producer

12:30 p.m.: What Telling our Story Means and Why We Should, By Sam and Sarah Birdsall, NY Junior Beef Producers

1 p.m.: Small Steps to Becoming Socially Savvy in our Beef Industry, By Anna King, NY Junior Beef Producer

1:30 p.m.: Important Factors When Doing a Project Beef Animal for Sales at County Fairs - Feed, Nutrition, Record-keeping, Animal Care, Marketing, etc., By Daisy Trowbridge and Jordin Radley, NY Junior Beef Producers

2 p.m.: Primal and Retail Beef Cuts, By Loretta and Suzie Lippert, NY Junior Beef Producers

As you attend the presentations enjoy a hot beef sundae served up daily by the New York Beef Producers, starting at 11:00 a.m.

The New York Beef Council will have a face-to-face presence at this year’s NY Farm Show! Stop by to “Beef Together” with the NYBC’s innovative marketing initiatives to promote YOU, our farmers, and the quality beef you produce.

A live beef cattle display representing numerous beef breeds will enhance our Beef Area, including breed information to take home.

Engage with the “Face of Our Farmers.” Beef Farmers have filled out questioners to help you get to know them better. Engage in a conversation with beef producers, see their likes, dislikes and ask them beef related questions. 

Pick up a Scavenger Hunt paper at the Beef Gazebo and then read our “Face of our Farmers” posters to get your answers and win a prize.

Beef recipes and beef related information also will be available in the beef area for attendees to take home and enjoy.


Free programs to help landowners get more benefits from their woodlots will be presented by the New York Forest Owners Association each day of the New York Farm Show.

Visitors to the show can meet with a forester from the State Department of Environmental Conservation or speak with a Cornell trained volunteer.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their questions and pause at the booth area before or after attending a seminar program. The DEC foresters and trained volunteers are there to help with resource materials, displays and expert advice.

 “Learn More, Earn More” seminars are free and open to all. Topics include federal cost sharing for woodlot improvements, working with foresters, improving bird habitat, heating with wood, and forest farming. Programs start on the hour and allow time for questions and discussion.

The booth is on the main corridor of the Arts and Home Center, and the seminars are held in the Somerset Room just steps away on the lower level of the building.

These programs are presented by the New York Forest Owners Association in cooperation with the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, Cornell Cooperative Extension, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and with special thanks to each of the expert speakers.

Seminar topics and speakers for each day include:
Thursday, Feb. 23

11 a.m.: DEC Can Help Family Forest Owners, by Matt Swayze, state Department of Environmental Conservation
1 p.m.: Assessing Impacts from Deer, by Kristie Sullivan, Dept. of Natural Resources, Cornell University
2 p.m.: Legacy Planning for Your Property, by Shorna Allred, Dept. of Natural Resources, Cornell University
3 p.m.: Getting Federal Aid for Woodlot Improvements, by Michael Fournier, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service

Friday, Feb. 24

10 a.m.: Unwanted Vegetation in Your Woods, by Peter Smallidge, NYS Extension Forester, Cornell University
11 a.m.: Woodlot Inventory: How Many Trees Do You Have?, by Peter Smallidge, NYS Extension Forester, Cornell University
1 p.m.: Insects and Diseases that Threaten Your Woods, by Mark Whitmore, Dept. of Natural Resources, Cornell University
2 p.m.: The Law: Rights and Responsibilities of Woodlot Owners, by Timothy Fratesch Esq. Fratesch Law Firm, Syracuse
3 p.m.: Getting Federal Aid for Woodlot Improvements, by Michael Fournier, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service

Saturday, Feb. 25

10 a.m.: Heat with Wood While Growing Timber, Michael Kelleher, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
11 a.m.: Improve Bird Habitat with Smart Timber Management, by Suzanne Treyger, Forest Program Manager, Audubon New York
1 p.m.: Working with Consulting Foresters, by Rene Germain, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
2 p.m.: Wilhelm Farm: A Case Study in Agroforestry, by Ann Wilhelm & Bill Bentley, woodlot owners
3 p.m.: Woodlots and Income Taxes, by Hugh Canham, Emeritus Professor, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Visit the New York Forest Owners Association website (www.nyfoa.org for more information.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Maple Syrup Time is Coming!!

Can't wait!!

RubyFrost Apples Now In Local Stores

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:

Crunch Time Apple Growers’ popular RubyFrost apples are arriving now at supermarkets across the United States. They will be available for a short time only, so retailers and consumers are urged to get them now.

Mark Russell, RubyFrost grower and marketing director, said this year’s larger crop size means that RubyFrost will be in more stores of more retailers than ever.

“We can’t wait to get these great apples back to their fans, and make lots of new fans,” says Russell. To help move this year’s crop and generate returns, Crunch Time is offering our retail partners an extensive, multi-faceted marketing campaign.

“We can activate a broad range of conventional and digital tools, including coupons and in-store sampling as well as high-graphic displays and point-of- sale materials,” Russell said.

For a list of current retail partners, visit www.RubyFrostApple.com. Interested retailers are urged to contact Crunch Time to find out how they can join the ranks of current RubyFrost partners.

“We don’t want anybody to miss out on this great winter apple,” says Russell.
RubyFrost is known for its gorgeous ruby red color, its exciting sweet and tart flavors, and the modern crunch apple lovers demand. Robin Leous, Crunch Time’s business manager, has been receiving emails and calls from RubyFrost fans anxiously awaiting the apple’s return.

Created by the apple experts at Cornell University, RubyFrost is grown only by Crunch Time Apple Growers to exacting standards to ensure consumers have a great eating experience. Crunch Time’s 145 apple growers located throughout New York state began planting their orchards in 2011; the first apples arrived in supermarkets in 2013. Production has been increasing rapidly from year to year, as new orchards mature and bear more fruit.

For more information, visit www.crunchtimeapplegrowers.com

RubyFrost growers
Albany County — Indian Ladder Farms, Inc., Altamont, NY 12009
Cayuga County — Owen Orchards, Inc., Sennett
Clinton County —  Everett Orchards, LTD., Plattsburgh; Forrence Orchards, Inc., Peru; Northern Orchard Co., Inc., Peru
Columbia County — Golden Harvest Farms, Inc., Valatie; Samascott Orchards LLC., Kinderhook
Dutchess County — Barton Orchard, Poughquag; Mead Orchards LLC, Tivoli; Rose HIll Farm, Red Hook
Monroe County — Green Acre Fruit Farm, Rochester; Joseph Heberle Farms, Hamlin; Kirby’s Farm Market, Brockport; Partyka Farms, Kendall; Whittier Fruit Farm, Rochester.
Niagara County — Becker Farms, Gasport; Mrowka Family Farm, Lockport; Schwab Farm LLC., Gasport
Onondaga County — Abbott Farms, Lysander; Beak and Skiff Apple Farms, LaFayette; Navarino Orchard, Onondaga
Ontario County — Red Jacket Orchards Inc., Geneva; Seneca Orchards, Clifton Springs
Orange County — Ochs Orchard, Warwick; Soons Orchards Inc., New Hampton
Orleans County — Brown’s Berry Patch, Waterport; Circle R Fruit Farm, Waterport; Hurd Orchards, Holley; 
Panek’s Pickin’ Patch/Pumpkin Pile, Albion; Zingler Farms, East Aurora
Oswego County — Behling Orchards, LLC, Mexico; Fruit Valley Orchard, Oswego
Rensselaer County — Goold Orchards, Inc., Castleton; O.A. Borden & Sons Inc., Schaghticoke
Rockland County — Orchards of Conckiln, Pomona
Saratoga County — Bowman Orchards, Rexford; Hummingbird Hill Farm, Charlton; Knight Orchards, Burnt Hills
Schuyler County — Reisinger’s Apple Country, Watkins Glen
Suffolk County — Harbes Farm & Orchard, Riverhead; The Milk Pail, Water Mill; Richters Orchard, Northport; Wickham’s Fruit Farm; Cutchogue
Tompkins County — Black Diamond Farm, Trumansburg; Cornell Orchards, Ithaca
Ulster County — Dressel Farms, LLC., New Paltz; DuBois Farms Corp., Highland; M.G. Hurd and Sons, Inc., Modena; Trapani Farms Inc., Milton; Wilklow Orchards, Highland
Washington County — Apple Hill Orchards, Clemons
Wayne County — The Apple Shed, Newark; Burnap Fruit Farms, LLC, Sodus; K&S Bischoping, Williamson; Lagoner Farms Inc., Williamson; Noto Fruit Farm, Williamson; Orbaker’s Fruit Farm Inc., Williamson;
Simpelaar Fruit Farms. Lyons; W.H. Young & Sons Farm, Williamson

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Proposed Bill Seeks to Improve Labor Standards for Hiring Foreign Workers on Farms

From Empire Farm & Dairy:


A new federal bill seeks to improve labor standards for hiring foreign workers at farms across the country.

Dubbed the Family Farm Relief Act of 2017, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, and U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, introduced the bill on Jan. 11.

The measure will move the H-2A Agricultural Visa program, which allows foreign entry into the county for agricultural employment, from U.S. Department of Labor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Doing so will help adjust the program to meet the needs of dairy farmers who use foreign labor to maintain operations year-round.

“When I travel the district speaking with our farmers, I often hear about how unnecessary delays in worker visas lead to difficulty meeting production goals,” Stefanik said in a statement. “This common-sense legislation simply puts the H-2A agricultural visa program in the hands of those who best understand the specific needs of our farms.”

Current regulations allow farms to use the program if they seek temporary or seasonal workers. With dairy farming being a year-round business, however, foreign labor on such farms is needed on a more long-term basis.

According to the bill, foreign laborers admitted for the purpose of year-round livestock farming, particularly dairy farming, will be covered by the H-2A program for no longer than three years.

Additionally, the bill would allow visa applicants to fill out H-2A applications on paper or online, requiring a user-friendly online system and ending burdensome requirements on advertising and prevailing practice surveys.

Jay Matteson, agricultural coordinator for the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, said dairy farms in Jefferson County are largely unable to utilize the program because of its burdensome process for admitting a worker.

“Farms are always interested in trying to obtain workers from outside the country to come in legally. With H-2A, it is just not possible for them to do so,” Matteson said.

For long-term purposes, Matteson said, it would be ideal if foreign dairy farm workers could legally stay in the country for three to five years.

Matteson said many farms in the north country hire foreign employees from Mexico and Guatemala.

Sackets Harbor dairy farmer Ronald Robbins, who employs a few Hispanic workers for his dairy operation, said hiring a foreign worker involves reviewing their employment documentation. Even if paperwork seems to be in order, it is illegal to question a potential hire over whether it is truly legal for he or she to be working in the United States.

“As long as they present documentation, we are not allowed by law to question it,” he said. “We go with what we see.”

As it currently stands, Robbins said, it is “cumbersome” to go through the H-2A program for foreign employees to work longer than at least one season of farming.

Robbins said that improving the H-2A program for dairy farmers will help ensure that foreign farm employees are legally allowed to be working in the United States.

“It would give us confidence that the folks that are here, are here legally,” Robbins said.

Tri-Valley FFA Named Chapter of the Year

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:

In New York state, FFA chapters are as diverse as they come.

From New York City to Buffalo, FFA chapters and the agricultural education programs they serve meet the needs of the students in each location.

This year, the Tri-Valley Central School FFA Chapter in Grahamsville is the 2017 NYS Agricultural Society Chapter of the Year.

The Tri-Valley FFA is the only agriculture program and FFA in Sullivan and Ulster counties, and works with more than 150 members in grades 6-12 annually.

While many chapters focus on one component of local agriculture, Tri-Valley caters to a wide range of student interests and community needs. Advised by Tara Berescik and Robert Hayes, the program teaches classes in turf grass management, where students construct athletic fields from forest land to game day to learn the hands-on skills for success in the field.

The program boasts of Tri-Valley Blooms, a full-scale floral shop run by FFA students that has catered 120 weddings in the past 10 years. Students learn all aspects of the floral industry and have the necessary skills to run their own events as well.

In addition, Tri-Valley has two working commercial greenhouses for growing and finishing plants, and a small animal breeding and care laboratory at school.

Environmental Science is a major focus since Tri-Valley is located in the New York City Watershed, and students work hand-in-hand with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to develop ecologically friendly projects to learn about the local environment.

Tri-Valley is committed to enabling students to see the global scope of agriculture. Berescik works with students to plan and organize international trips, and teaches a class in international agriculture and sustainability. In 2016, 17 members of the chapter traveled to Europe to tour agricultural destinations in Switzerland, Italy, France, Monaco, and Spain. This is the fifth trip in 10 years.

Other tours have included Australia/New Zealand, Costa Rica, Ireland, and Scotland. Whether they are volunteering with coffee farmers in Costa Rica or studying lavender in France, the scope of worldwide agriculture is presented.

Tri-Valley FFA members excel in all areas. They have competed on the local, state and national level in at least one area every year for the last 17 years.

In 2016, members won multiple state proficiency awards and many placed gold nationally. Three members of the chapter were selected to receive National FFA Grants for Youth Entrepreneurship in 2016 – only 146 grants were given nationwide!

But even with awards and accolades, the spirit of giving is strong. Tri-Valley sophomore Emily Carey won a grant to increase her horse lesson business, and also received $1,000 to be used by the chapter. Officers voted to create the “6-for-16 drive” and selected six worthy members to receive their own FFA jacket, ties, registration to state convention, banquet tickets, and dues for the following year.

While the program offers amazing opportunities to its students, it is also community minded. Founded in 1951 by Richard Strangeway, Tri-Valley FFA has committed itself to community service and creating community-minded youth.

At school, the program boasts of a 40-raised bed community garden – built and managed by students in grades 6-12. The students do everything from preparing beds, to growing seedlings, to watering, maintaining and harvesting. Everything collected is sent to local food banks for distribution to those in need. The chapter also helped establish a backpack for kids anti-hunger program.

Thirty-four back packs are filled bi-weekly by donations collected around the school and community. These go home with youth to provide food on the weekends. In addition, members also collect turkeys and other food items to make the holidays happier for over 40 families in the community annually. Participating in FFA for four to six years, members can graduate with over 1,000 community service hours!

Tri-Valley FFA received their award at the evening banquet at the New York Agricultural Society annual meeting Jan. 5 in Salina, outside Syracuse. This is the write-up about the chapter in the annual meeting booklet.

Friday, January 20, 2017

18 NY Food Companies Named Finalists in Good Food Awards

From New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets:

Eighteen New York companies from seven regions across the state have been named finalists for the annual Good Food Awards.   

The national competition recognizes the country’s best craft food and beverage producers who excel in both taste and sustainable practices in the production of their products. 

New York’s finalists were selected from more than 2,000 entries from more than 30 states. The winners will be announced later today, Friday, Jan. 20 in San Francisco.
“New York’s food and beverage producers are second to none when it comes to making delicious products sourced from local ingredients," said state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball.

"As seen with our New York State Grown & Certified program, we know that New York’s farmers are leading the way in regard to growing high-quality food and doing it the right way — with a focus on food handling practices and environmental sustainability," he aid.

Now in its seventh year, the Good Food Awards celebrate craft food and beverage producers of all sizes who help create and support vibrant, sustainable local food economies.  

The awards are presented to winners in fourteen categories, such as beer, cider, cheese and honey.  The entries are evaluated in a blind tasting of more than 220 expert judges, including top chefs and food industry representatives. 

Those who score the highest in the blind tasting are then assessed on a wide variety of criteria, including use of local and nutritious ingredients and sustainable and environmentally sound practices. 
New York producers from seven regions across the state are finalists in the following ten categories:
Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, Head Cheese (New York City)
Hudson & Charles, Chicken Liver Pate (New York City)
Fruition Chocolate, Marañón Canyon Dark Milk 68% & Hudson Valley Bourbon Dark Milk 61% (Mid-Hudson)
Bad Seed Hard Cider, IPC (Mid-Hudson)
Eve’s Cidery, 2015 Darling Creek, Van Etten (Southern Tier)
Finger Lakes Cider House, Goodlife Barrel Rye (Finger Lakes)
Orchard Hill Cider Mill, Ten66 Pommeau (Mid-Hudson)
Slyboro Cider House, La Sainte Terre (Capital Region)
Fruition Chocolate, Brown Butter Bourbon Caramels (Mid-Hudson)
Regalis Foods, Ikura Shoyu Zuke Caviar (New York City)
Bee’s Needs, Marvelous May (Long Island)
Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods, Organic Sunflower Seed Oil (Finger Lakes)
Bronx Hot Sauce/Small Axe Peppers, Bronx Hot Sauce (New York City)
XILLI, Salsa Macha (New York City)
Food and Ferments, Sea King Sauerkraut (Central NY)
Holy Schmitt’s, Original Horseradish (Long Island)
Breuckelen Distilling, 77 Whiskey: Local Rye and Corn (New York City)
Nahmias et Fils, Legs Diamond Rye Whiskey (Mid-Hudson)
The Hudson Standard, Catskill Masala Bitters (Mid-Hudson)
There are a total of 291 finalists from more than 30 states.  Find a complete list of the 2017 finalists http://www.goodfoodawards.org/2017-finalists/ at this link.
Since 2010 when the awards began, the competition has grown from 700 to 2,059 entries with representation from all 50 states.  

Last year, 13 New York producers were named winners in nine categories — charcuterie, chocolate, cider, coffee, honey, pantry, pickles, preserves and spirits.  

New York Invests in Western New York Cheese Enterprise

From Empire Farm & Dairy


LINWOOD — New York is investing $2 million into WNY Cheese Enterprise, the latest development by a collaborative of eight Wyoming and Livingston County dairy farms, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Dec. 23.

The Empire State Development-backed funding comes from $1.3 million taken out of the half-billion Upstate Revitalization Initiative Capital Grant program, and $700,000 in Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits tied to the 30 new jobs expected from the business.

“Agribusiness is a crucial part of the Upstate New York economy and this new manufacturing facility and the innovative collaboration it will house, will be a big boost to area dairy farmers looking to grow their businesses and create jobs,” said ESD President and CEO Howard Zemsky in announcing the award.

The $49.7 million production facility is a partnership between Craig’s Station Creamery, Dairy Farmers of America and Arla Foods. It will be located near the nexus of Livingston, Wyoming and Genesee counties at Noblehurst Farms, where the Craig’s Station Creamery opened in 2014.

Craig’s Station Ventures partner Chris Noble said the new 30,000-square foot facility broke ground just south of the creamery facility in August, and will hopefully be making Cheddar cheese by the end of 2017.
Member farms, with the support of DFA — a national dairy cooperative; and Arla Foods — an international dairy cooperative; are making their first foray into finished products after teaming on raw milk and dairy components.

“The last few years have been prolific from our dairies, we geared up to meet the needs (of the yogurt industry),” said Noble, Vice President of Noblehurst Farms. “Some of those needs haven’t materialized, so we were left with an oversupply of milk and an interest in having a facility to drive more production.”

Why Cheddar?

It’s the most consumed cheese in America, Noble said. They expect to produce 15 million pounds of cheese annually from 16 million pounds of raw milk by member farms, which will then be processed in the DFA-operated facility and sold to the retail market by Arla Foods.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to not only positively impact the dairy farmers in this area, but also the local community,” said Brian Paris, the general manager of Craig’s Station Creamery.

Arla USA CEO Donald Stohrer, Jr. said his company, which has a 20 percent stake in the venture — DFA has a majority stake, with the farms holding the rest — sees the project aligning with customer needs.

“(The product will be a) great-tasting, clean label product from a trusted, sustainable and traceable source,” Stohrer said. “Today’s mom has a lot to worry about in her daily life. By providing her with the Cheddar cheese produced through our partnership with DFA, we give her one less thing to fret about, thus making her life just a little bit easier.”

A $560,000 Community Development Block Grant from the state was also awarded to support the project. Large scale projects are viable because of good partnerships like these, Livingston County Board of Supervisors Chairman Eric Gott said as part of a chorus of local officials praising the investment.

“We are thrilled to add WNY Cheese Enterprise to the growing lineup of food production businesses in Livingston County,” said Livingston County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Bill Bacon. “The project builds on our strengths in agriculture through milk quality, workforce in food production and central proximity to major markets in the Northeast.”

For DFA and Craig’s Station, the creamery has been a success in a market that faces challenges, from a yogurt boom that busted at Mueller Quaker Dairy to Canadian protectionism measures and low commodity prices. WNY Cheese Enterprise is a big project, but it’s fueled by clear goals.

“The main drivers for this project are even stronger today than they were over two years ago when we opened the Creamery,” Noble said. “Consumers want to know who produces their food, and they want to know that it was produced in a sustainable way. We thought the timing was right to bring that same message into a high-quality Cheddar cheese.”

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sonny Perdue Has Nothing to Do With Chickens

Just who is Sonny Perdue?

Well, first off, he is NOT a member of the Perdue chicken empire.

For more about him, read this story from Bloomberg  https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-01-19/trump-said-to-nominate-sonny-perdue-as-agriculture-secretary

Trump to Nominate Sonny Perdue as Ag Secretary

Seems like Mr. Trump has finally made a decision.

Check out the story https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/us/politics/sonny-perdue-agriculture-secretary.html?_r=0 at this link.

Farmers Await Trump Decisions on Farming's Future

Interesting read from The Guardian.

Check it out at https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jan/12/farmers-for-donald-trump-agriculture-policies-farming this link.

NY Wines Win Big at Nation's Largest Wine Competition

News from Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation:

I've been in northern California judging at the annual San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the nation's largest with 6,850 entries this year from around the United States.  

The competition is run by Bob, Cary and Scott Fraser, with the backroom coordinated by the incomparable Anne Vercelli overseeing about 100 volunteers serving some 60 judges evaluating the wines over three and a half days.  What a job!

Best of Class awards went to Atwater Estate 2014 Riesling, and Merritt Estate Bella Ice.

Double Gold medals were awarded to Anthony Road 2015 Dry Riesling; Bellangelo 2015 Riesling, Gibson Vineyard; Merritt Estate Bella Rosa; Penguin Bay Percussion, and 2015 Riesling; Swedish Hill 2015 Riesling; and Wagner 2015 Dry Riesling.

Gold medals went to 1911 McIntosh Classic Apple Wine; Bellangelo 2015 Dry Riesling; Black Willow 2015 Diamond, and 2015 Bare Cat Blush; Brooklyn Winery 2013 Blanc de Blanc, and 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon; Buttonwood Grove 2015 Riesling; Coyote Moon 2015 LaCrescent, 2015 Concord, and 2015 Niagara; Keuka Spring Vineyards 2015 Riesling Humphreys Vineyards, and 2015 Vignoles; Merritt Estate 2015 Vidal Ice Wine, Edelweiss, and Pinot Grigio; Swedish Bill Blanc de Blanc; and Wagner 2015 Riesling.

The Chronicle tasting always kicks off the competition season, with Florida up next in early February. In 2016, New York wines won more than 1,000 Gold medals or scores of 90 or above in major wine magazines, and 2017 will probably be bigger and better.  

But a reminder to the wineries: If you don't enter, you can't win.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Message from In-Coming President of the NY Grape and Wine Foundation

A message from Sam Filler, in-coming president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation:

Hello New York Grape and Wine World, and our Supporters.

I officially joined the New York Wine & Grape Foundation Jan. 1, and I spent my first week at the foundation's offices in Canandaigua. 

I received a warm and gracious greeting from Jim Trezise and our colleagues: Dana Alexander, Kim Hughes, Jenn Cooper, Susan Spence and Teresa Knapp.  I quickly learned that the staff is the heart of the organization. Their professionalism, hard work and positive attitudes drive forward everything we do at the foundation. 

I am excited to join their team and work with them to propel the New York grape and wine industry to new heights.

Jim will remain as president through March 31, and he kicked off the transition process with a thorough briefing on the ins and outs of how the foundation operates and an overview of its core programs.  Our foundation colleagues got me up to speed on their roles and functions; and they provided more in-depth detail about the programs that they manage.  

I am impressed at the breadth and scope of support that the Foundation provides to the industry each year.  I intend to continue this long tradition of support, and I plan on seeking out input on how the Foundation can build upon and expand its programming.

The foundation hosted its annual meeting of wine trails Jan. 5. The meeting provided me an opportunity to connect with the key leaders and representatives from our state's wine regions.  During the meeting, the trails' leadership exchanged best practices to boost member participation and marketing tactics to reach and attract more visitors. 

From my experience at Empire State Development and working with the I Love NY and Taste NY teams, I recognize the important role that trails serve to promote our wine regions and tasting rooms.  To that end, I plan on touring every wine trail and attending trail membership meetings during the first half of this year.

There will also be opportunities provided by the State this year for the foundation and wine trails to collaborate even more.  
Gov. Cuomo has proposed in his State of the State policy book several new initiatives to promote the craft beverage industry and agritourism.  For example, he pledges to make available $2 million through the Market NY REDC grant program for projects focused specifically on promoting destinations, attractions and special events related to the craft beverage and agritourism industry.  Additionally, he proposes to boost Taste NY's budget by $500,000 to support its presence at key food and beverage events.

These new investments will be complimented by the launch of New York State's first-ever New York Craft Beverage Week. This new promotion will be supplemented by a grant program for craft beverage producers to engage in joint marketing campaigns and stipends to enter products in national and international competitions.  

And, Gov. Cuomo proposes to establish the Taste NY Culinary Trail System, which will assist New York's branded trail systems with additional statewide promotion, as well as a one-stop shop within the Taste NY program to provide technical support.
This is going to be an exciting year of continued growth for the grape and wine industry.  It helps greatly that our state government remains committed to supporting our industry in many ways.  

I look forward to meeting many of you over the course of the year, and I welcome your ideas and questions, so feel free to email anytime at samfiller@nywgf.org.