Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Idea for Regional Food Hub to Be Explored Through Pilot Projects

To check out the story, go to http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/cooperative-extensions-and-farmers-conduct-projects-for-regional-food-hub-20170521 this web site.

Cool Temperatures, Rain Delay Planting in Some Parts of NYS

The cool temperatures and rain have delayed planting in many parts of the state.

Here is a story from the North Country.

Read it at http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/few-weeks-of-rain-and-cold-delay-crop-planting-little-to-no-other-impact-for-farmers-20170522 this link.

Market Your Products to Customers Subject of Thursday Forum

From the office of state Sen. Patty Ritchie:

State Sen. Patty Ritchie is encouraging those in the food, beverage and agriculture industries from throughout Central and Northern New York to attend a free event that will help connect them to resources that will help grow their businesses. 

Sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Empire State Development, state Department of Agriculture and Markets and Cornell University Cooperative Extension, “Access to Capital” will take place 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, May 25 at Jefferson Community College in Watertown. 

Participants will get an inside perspective from experts and lenders during three different panel discussions on a variety of topics, including financing, lending, alternatives to traditional bank loans and access to training and technical assistance.

“This event is the perfect way for those in agriculture-focused industries to learn about the tools and assistance available to them to help their business grow,” said Ritchie, who serves as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “I encourage anyone who is just starting out, or looking to expand their business to attend this event.”

“Access to Capital” will take place at the Jules Center Amphitheater, located at Jefferson Community College. Breakfast and lunch will be provided to attendees.  

Following lunch will be a “resource expo,” featuring nearly 20 participants from local, state and national organizations, including area banks, the USDA, Cornell Cooperative Extension Association and the Development Authority of the North Country.

Registration is required.  To do so, go to www.ritchie.nysenate.gov this link.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Commission Formed To Look At Food, Nutrition Security

Cornell University


With the world facing a vast array of food and nutrition security challenges that pose significant humanitarian, environmental and national security risks, a national commission that included leaders from Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences announced May 16 a comprehensive, coordinated effort to solve these problems.

The Challenge of Change Commission comprises prominent university, government, nongovernmental organization and business leaders.

The report from the commission — which includes Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Mike Hoffmann, executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and professor of entomology; and Per Pinstrup-Anderson, professor emeritus in nutrition and economics — emphasized a transdisciplinary approach leveraging the role of public research universities to solve food security issues.

Max Pfeffer, international professor of development sociology and CALS senior associate dean, served as an invited expert on the commission.

“Food insecurity is one of the most daunting issues that we face today. The challenges will only intensify without coordinated efforts by public and private partners,” said Boor. 

“Harnessing food systems expertise at Cornell and other land-grant universities will enable bold action to protect the health and well-being of people around the globe. The steps outlined by the commission provide a path forward for scientists and policy experts as we work together to achieve food and nutrition security,” Boor said.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, launched the commission in 2016.

The commission’s report recommends four key steps:

** Create a major, sustained effort by the more than 230 public research universities and university systems in the U.S., Canada and Mexico that comprise APLU, including further developing recommendations to reduce institutional barriers to cross-disciplinary research.

** Encourage multiple federal departments and public agencies to work to achieve domestic and global food security by mobilizing private sector and foundation resources to address the challenges.

** Urge governments of the U.S., Mexico and Canada to together sponsor collaborative research partnerships with universities and their partners to advance the report’s recommendations.

** Encourage public universities and their partners to identify challenges and related activities they might 
undertake, including partnering with public and private entities in agriculture, public health, nutrition and health care.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities said food security problems — hunger, obesity, malnutrition, low crop yields, inadequate food storage, poor sanitation, and the political instability they create — are poised to intensify unless there is a deliberate effort to create true global food and nutrition security. 

The report calls for the academic, research and leadership capabilities of public research universities to address food and nutrition security.

“Public universities possess enormous capacity across many disciplines — from plant breeding to the social sciences — to respond to global challenges,” said Hoffmann.

The commission defined seven challenges: increase yields, profitability and environmental sustainability simultaneously; develop varieties and breeds needed for sustainable food systems; decrease food loss and waste through more efficient distribution systems; create and share resources that serve all populations; ensure inclusive and equitable food systems; address undernutrition and obesity to ensure full human potential; and ensure a safe and secure food supply that protects and improves public health.

Cornell researchers took part in interdisciplinary groups to provide subject expertise for the report. Rachel Bezner Kerr, associate professor in the Department of Development Sociology, joined with the Sustainable Production Systems working group to identify ways to increase plant and animal agricultural production yields, enhance and maintain soil health, and use water sustainably and efficiently.

Miguel Gómez, associate professor at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, focused on challenges across the food supply chain domestically and globally as part of the working group Supply Chains, Distribution, Loss and Waste in Food Systems.

Pinstrup-Anderson, the 2001 World Food Prize winner, said: “Universities are uniquely positioned to provide the science-based knowledge required to guide public and private sector action to help assure healthy diets for all. Scientific discoveries combined with enlightened policies for our food systems can make nutrient deficiencies and obesity a thing of the past.”

Friday, May 19, 2017

Students Excel at New York State FFA Convention

From Morrisville State College:

FFA members work on a fence-building workshop during the FFA state convention at Morrisville State College
Future agricultural leaders honed their skills on the Morrisville State College campus during this year’s New York State FFA Convention May 11-13.

More than 1,000 of the best and brightest high school students fro across New York flocked to campus to gain hands-on experience in their future agricultural career fields during the event. 

Hailey Mason, in her fifth year with FFA, credits the organization with inspiring her to pursue a career as an agriculture teacher. After visiting campus, she now hopes to fulfill that career path at Morrisville someday.

“I love this place,” exclaimed Mason, 15, of the Greenville FFA Chapter located southeast of Albany. “It feels like everyone here is in to seeing the students succeed.” 

The convention featured a lineup of motivational and informational presentations, as well as competitions for participants that tested their knowledge of subjects such as agricultural communications, veterinary science, food science and agricultural issues.

The event also helped students gain a better understanding about personal growth and career success while teaching them job interview skills, public speaking skills and team building.
Campus and industry tours also offered educational experiences. In addition to experiencing Morrisville’s campus operations, including the college’s dairy incubator and aquaculture center, students had the chance to visit the nearby Fenner Renewable Energy Education (FREE) Center, a goat dairy, a mushroom farm and a worm farm. 

Munnsville resident Rebecca Ax, 14, who hopes to become a therapeutic riding instructor, loved the college's equine rehabilitation center.

Now in her fourth year in FFA and serving as the junior high reporter for the Stockbridge Valley chapter, she said the convention would help her gain "more knowledge of agriculture and learn things I can show to other people."

Presenters from all over the country spoke, including Morrisville alumna Ashley Willits, Eastern Region vice president for the National FFA organization.
Willits, a 2016 agricultural business grad, is the first female member from New York to be elected as a national FFA officer. In her role, she leads personal growth and leadership training conferences throughout the country and helps set policies that guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.
“It’s pretty powerful and has something for everyone,” said Christopher Roman, 15, of Verona, a member of the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill (VVS) FFA Chapter. “It’s more than just agriculture; you gain leadership skills out of this, too.”

The event provided students with the opportunity to explore a career show, view an array of exhibits and attend leadership and career workshops. Among them was a fence-building workshop, presented by Jim Costello and John Leva of the college’s wood products technology program.

“It’s providing me with hands-on experience and exposing me to things I need to use in life,” Isabel Van Tassel said of the convention.

Van Tassel, 17, of the Cazenovia FFA Chapter, became interested in agriculture while raising a pig to show at a fair. “That sparked my interest in so many other things, like how to build a fence,” she said.

Students also investigated soils for agricultural productivity and learned how to effectively lobby legislatures, organizations and other groups in support of agriculture.

"I love this; it's beautiful here in Upstate (New York)," said Wanbesly Nacelus, of Queens, who is in his second year in the John Bowne FFA chapter. "Because I'm an FFA member, I'm part of something much bigger."

FFA members, who commanded the campus with their widely recognized blue corduroy jackets with gold lettering, also completed service projects during their stay. They built a willow hut, filled sand boxes and built vertical gardens at the on-campus Childcare Center and also painted around campus.

“This is giving me a lot of experience,” said VVS FFA member Cody Minckler, 16, of Verona. “I have made so many new friends through FFA.”

Most attendees earned their way to the convention competing at local, regional and sub-state levels. The top students from the state convention competitions will go on to represent New York at the national competition.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Finalists Named in Craft Beer Challenge

From Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office:

UPDATE: There was a tie in the competition held May 17. The two winners are Brewery Ommegang and Roscoe NY Beer.

The five finalists in the Taste NY Inaugural Craft Beer Challenge have been named. 

The finalists are invited to attend the final blind tasting event in New York City May 17, which will be hosted and judged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a panel of expert judges.

The five final breweries that received the most votes, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Brewery Ommegang—Cooperstown, Otsego County
  • Genesee Brewing Company—Rochester
  • Prison City Pub and Brewery—Auburn, Cayuga County
  • The Roscoe NY Beer Co.—Roscoe, Sullivan County
  • Southern Tier Brewing Company—Lakewood, Chautauqua County
The Taste NY Inaugural Craft Beer Challenge was launched May 2 and invited New Yorkers to vote for their favorite New York craft brewery in celebration of the diversity, range and quality of New York’s craft beer industry. 

More than 170 breweries signed up to participate, and more than 42,000 votes were cast online.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cornell Professor Wins Food, Plant Genetics Award

From Cornell University:

Edward Buckler and Dean Kathryn Boor
Plant geneticist Edward Buckler of Cornell University received the inaugural Food and Agriculture Sciences Prize from the National Academy of Sciences April 30 in Washington D.C. 

The award recognizes his transformative research on agricultural crops crucial to global food security.

Buckler, a research geneticist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service and adjunct professor of plant breeding and genetics at the Institute for Genomic Diversity at Cornell University, is a pioneer in genomics and statistical genetics to improve the resiliency and nutritional value of agricultural crops. 

The $100,000 prize recognizes research by a midcareer scientist at a U.S. institution who has made an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production.

The prize was established to elevate food and agriculture research in the scientific arena and highlight the critical need for scientists working toward more productive, sustainable agriculture and better health through nutritious food.

“My scientific ambition has been to improve human lives and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture by creating better crops,” said Buckler. “This award reflects the vital work conducted by teams of scientists as we harness powerful tools to explore the natural diversity of crops, and work to ensure food security across the globe.”

Buckler’s lab uses statistical genetics to spearhead genome-wide association studies in crops such as maize, cassava, grapes and biofuel grasses. 

For the past two decades, his cutting-edge research has been key in identifying genes responsible for variation in some of the world’s most important crops. His findings have made it possible for plant breeders to more efficiently select for traits like yield and the nutritional value in crops vital to human health.

Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said, “Agricultural research has never been more vital as our rapidly expanding human population confronts the environmental disruption caused by climate change. The work of Ed Buckler is bolstering agricultural crops and advancing scientific discovery essential to the lives of billions of people.”

His landmark explorations of the maize genome have uncovered ways to use the natural genetic diversity to improve productivity, sustainability and nutrition. 

In one study, Buckler and his team identified natural variation key for making maize varieties with 15 times more vitamin-A. The findings are helping to address a key driver of global malnutrition in developing countries.

He and his group also focus on other critical issues related to global food security, such as hybrid vigor, local adaptation, drought tolerance and disease resistance.

Due to its affordability and effectiveness, Buckler’s approach to analyzing natural genomic diversity has reached far beyond his lab. His methods are used to research more than 1,000 different species and have influenced how the human genome is studied. 

To make their work even more accessible to the scientific community, he and his group also developed original open-source software now used by thousands of research groups around the world.

The NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences is endowed through gifts from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Craft Beer Trail Bill Passes State Senate

From State Sen. Patty Ritchie's office:

A bill that would help support local businesses and farmers by creating a “craft beer trail” has passed the New York state Senate. 

New York state-grown hops
Similar to the way in which wine trails have been established throughout the state, the bill sponsored y Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, (S.1914) would create a unique tourist destination — known as the “North Country Craft Beer Trail” — by linking craft breweries in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

“More and more frequently, people are looking to eat—and drink—locally made products,” said Ritchie, who serves as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“By creating the North Country Craft Beer Trail, and potentially establishing other Craft Beer Trails throughout the state in the future, we can support local businesses, create jobs and boost the bottom lines of our hardworking farmers.”

In recent years, New York’s craft beer sector has grown dramatically, with the number of breweries growing from 95 in 2012 to 320 in 2016. In addition, New York state is fourth in the country when it comes to craft beer production and the industry has a total economic impact of $4 billion. 

This legislation is the latest effort by Ritchie to highlight locally produced goods. Last week, the Senate passed two measures supported by Ritchie that will help expand markets for New York’s hard working farmers, which will provide the opportunity to easily enjoy fresh, locally grown products across the state.

The measure was sent to the Assembly, where it is sponsored by Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Assemblyman Bill Magee. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Veterinarians Can Apply Now for Loan Repayment Program


Qualified veterinarians who agree to provide veterinary services for livestock in Delaware, Sullivan and St. Lawrence counties can now apply for the 2017 Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program.

The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. It was created to provide incentives for veterinarians to fill the most serious veterinary shortage situations in the U.S. to protect the food supply and preserve animal and public health.

“This program addresses critical veterinary needs in our state and across the nation while providing valuable work experience for many highly skilled doctors,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball. 

“It encourages veterinarians to practice in communities that play an important role in maintaining the food supply but that also have limited access to vital animal care," Ball said. "By improving veterinary medicine in these areas, we can ensure our animals are healthier and threats to public health are reduced.”

The program will pay up to $25,000 per year towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve in a National Institute of Food and Agriculture-designated veterinarian shortage area for three years. State Animal Health Officials identify about 185 priority shortage situations across the U.S. each year.

In New York State, Delaware, Sullivan and St. Lawrence counties are considered high-priority shortage areas. A map of all National Institute of Food and Agriculture-designated veterinary shortage situations can be found at https://nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp-map .

About $4.2 million will be awarded nationwide to veterinarians serving in public, private or specialty practices in the areas of food animal medicine, public health, epidemiology and food safety.

To be eligible to apply to the program, an applicant must:

** Have a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, or the equivalent, by July 1, 2017, from an eligible college;
** Have a minimum qualifying educational loan debt of $15,000;
** Secure an offer of employment or establish and/or maintain a practice in a National Institute of Food and Agriculture-designated veterinary shortage situation;
** Provide certifications and verifications as defined in the Request for Applications;
** Satisfy any previous obligation for veterinary service to the federal government, state government, or other entity prior to beginning service under the loan repayment program; and
** Not have a federal judgment lien against his/her property arising from federal debt.

Applications for the loan repayment program must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday, May 26. Veterinarians awarded funding in 2014 and 2015 may submit a renewal application.

More information about the program is available at https://nifa.usda.gov/program/veterinary-medicine-loan-repayment-program .

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Counselors to Learn about Ag Careers at Food and Farm Experience

Now is the time to sign up to attend the 2017 Food and Farm Experience, sponsored by New York Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agricultural Education.

The annual event -- scheduled for Oct. 18-20 -- will provide middle and high school career counselors with a unique opportunity to learn about agriculture. The repeat focus is a response to the overwhelming success and feedback from last year’s program that highlighted career exploration and development for New York students.

The event, held this year at The Beeches Inn and Conference Center in Rome, Oneida County, is an annual summit focusing on learning about agriculture and making connections with a full array of people connected to farming and food production.

This year’s in-depth experience will connect participants to an industry that offers more than 300 ag-related career opportunities.  The participants will meet with industry experts, employers, and post-secondary educators. Participants will be selected via nominations and applications, with a goal to develop extensive agricultural understanding, networking and connections.

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

Participants will visit a variety of locations over the two day experience, from farm to fork and participate in interactive workshops and panel discussions to get a feel for the multitude of career opportunities available in agriculture.

The event begins with a dinner Oct. 18. It will include tours, panel discussions, a trade show and more before winding down at noon Friday, Oct. 20.

Food, lodging and workshop material costs will be covered by the New York Farm Bureau Foundation.

An application must be postmarked or received electronically by July 14.

For those interested in attending the 2017 Food & Farm Experience or if you know someone to nominate, contact New York Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agricultural Education at (800) 342-4143. Applications are also available at www.nyfbfoundation.org

Sunday, May 7, 2017

ROPS Can Save Farmers' Lives

A column by state Sen. Patty Ritchie, chair of the Senate ag committee:

When most people think of dangerous jobs, farming probably does not immediately come to mind. 

However, the fatality rate for farmers is 800 percent higher than all other American workers, with the leading cause of death on a farm being tractor rollover incidents.

In the past few years, I have been proud to have secured $1.2 million, including $250,000 in the new state budget, for a program that helps to protect farmers from tractor rollover incidents. In the last two years, nine farmers have died in tractor rollovers.

As Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, I have worked to ensure the continuation of the Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) Rebate Program, which equips tractors with special safety equipment to avoid tractor overturns. ROPS has reduced the risk of injury by up to 99 percent in the event of a tractor overturn.

The 10-year-old program, operated by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, has outfitted more than 1,500 tractors across the state. However, nearly half of the tractors on New York’s 35,000 farms, and a majority of those over 20 years old, have no safety equipment and pose a great risk of tractor instability.

Unfortunately, many farmers think they are exempt from this risk and the high cost of ROPS kits ($800 to $2,500) are two factors why farmers do not have them. The benefit of this program also rests in the savings to the state farming community and its insurers of $12 million. 

As the 2017 Legislative Session continues, I will be working to support this essential program, as well as other programs that will not only protect of our state’s hard working farmers, but will help them grow their operations for years to come.   

For more information the ROPS Rebate Program, visit my website at www.ritchie.nysenate.gov

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Vote Now for Your Favorite Craft Brewery in New York

New York state has recently kicked off the Taste NY Inaugural Craft Beer Challenge, in which New Yorkers are invited to vote for their favorite New York craft brewery in celebration of the diversity, range, and quality of New York’s craft beer industry. 

Voting is now open at https://taste.ny.gov/craft-beer-challenge this link. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will host a final tasting event for the five New York breweries with the most online votes on May 17 in New York City, coinciding with American Craft Beer Week, which runs from May 15-21 and celebrates craft beer across the country.

"By reducing regulation and removing unnecessary barriers to growth, New York’s craft beverage industry is thriving, driving tourism and creating jobs across the state," Cuomo said. "The inaugural Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge will celebrate the best of New York's craft beers and connect our world-class beverage producers to new consumers and markets. When New Yorkers buy New York products, everybody wins.”
New York is now home to 321 microbreweries, farm breweries and restaurant breweries, up from only 50 total breweries in 2011 and representing a 542 percent growth in the industry. 

This growth was achieved through a series of legislation and economic incentives, including the creation of the Farm Brewery License in 2012, providing tax credits for brewers, modernizing the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law and providing promotional funding. No state has done more to assist and promote craft manufacturing than New York.