Saturday, August 26, 2017

New Staff Joins New York Apple Association

New York Apple Association, Inc. President and CEO Cynthia Haskins has assembled an experienced staff team of both new and familiar faces to assist her in marketing New York apples.

“I am very excited to have our ‘Team 2017’ in place and ready to make the case to retailers, foodservice and consumers alike that New York state is their Big Apple,” said Haskins. “In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll be letting them know the many reasons why they don’t need to look any further this fall than their backyard for delicious, nutritious, local apples, cider and other apple products.”

Haskins will lead the apple association's marketing team, working with Michele Hoard as the association's new retail and foodservice account manager and Susan Sarlund, the asociation's longtime Northeast account manager. 

Hoard and Sarlund will call on retailers and other buyer partners. Haskins has also tapped the apple association's alumnus David McClurg to support the association’s 2017 retail promotional activities, and to implement a foodservice market development grant project.

Hoard’s marketing skills include category management, program launches, customer marketing, and consumer promotions at the retail level including demos. She brings a wealth of industry experience to her new role. 

As senior marketing manager for Zespri, she helped establish the New Zealand kiwi brand as one of the dominant produce brands in North America. She previously served as national marketing representative for Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onions, where she called on retailers and foodservice distributors across the country. 

Hoard also worked as regional account manager for Frieda’s Specialty Produce, a leader in new product introduction. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from University of Wisconsin, and an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.
Sarlund worked alongside her father John McAleavey, Sr. on the apple association's Northeast retail account management team for several years until his death in 2015. At that time she also succeeded him as executive director of Eastern Produce Council, a relationship that comes in handy in getting Sarlund into retailers’ offices, notes Haskins. 

After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications from Boston College, and a master’s degree in marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Sarlund held various sales and marketing positions before joining the apple association team as a contractor.
McClurg rejoins the New York Apple Asociation as a contractor to support the association’s retail promotion activities, and to fulfill a foodservice market development grant project targeting New York state schools and correctional facilities. 

The apple association received a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets to explore foodservice market opportunities within the state.

The New York Apple Association's former vice president of marketing, McClurg worked for the association from early 2001 to late 2011. His business development role included helping New York apple shippers and processors to find, develop or grow markets, designing retail promotions, and marketing the state’s apple crop each year. 

Most recently, he worked as director of sales for Appeeling Fruit Inc., the East Coast’s largest fresh-cut apple slice producer.

Haskins also reported that Molly Zingler has resigned as NYAA’s marketing director. Zingler helped NYAA add digital marketing tools including digital coupons and social media to its traditional marketing toolbox. “We thank Molly for all her contributions over the last five years, and wish her much success in her new endeavors,” said Haskins.

Haskins also welcomed Tami Bacon as the association's new administrative and public relations assistant. Bacon’s administrative duties include orchestrating the apple association's annual presence at the Great New York State Fair, and fulfilling industry and retailer requests for marketing collateral. 

Bacon will also work with  public relations director Julia Stewart on consumer and trade media relations, and to maintain two websites. In addition, she will serve as editor of the association's grower newspaper, Core Report.

Bacon grew up around fruit trees. Both of her parents worked in the nursery business in Dansville for many years, and she and her sisters spent summers in high school budding fruit trees. She brings many years of food industry experience to her new position, having worked for AgriLink Foods and Constellation Wines U.S. 

As corporate communications manager at AgriLink, she assisted in the re-launch of the iconic Birds Eye brand, and provided marketing support for the Comstock brand and AgriLink’s foodservice and private label business. 

Most recently, she was marketing coordinator for a B2B specialty printing company. Bacon has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from St. John Fisher College, and is a graduate of LEAD NY, Cornell University's food and agriculture leadership program.

Haskins herself joined the New York Apple Association as president and CEO on Jan. 3, following the retirement of longtime NYAA senior executive Jim Allen.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Bus Services Help Out with Transportation for the State Fair

Regional transit authorities from around the state are providing additional bus service to and from the Great New York State Fairgrounds. 

Capital District Transportation Authority, Regional Transit Service and Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will provide a total of 16 buses at designated state fair park and ride locations, including the brand new John Glenn/Farrell Road Park-N-Ride location, helping alleviate traffic congestion and move fairgoers to the grounds. 

The Park-N-Ride location will be open exclusively during the Fair, starting today through Sept. 4.

The following transit authorities will provide buses as a result of this partnership with CENTRO the New York State Fair:

  • Regional Transit Service in Rochester will provide six buses, drivers and an operations supervisor to assist in managing the John Glenn/Farrell Road Park-N-Ride location.
  • Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority in Buffalo will provide six buses throughout the fair along with drivers during the first weekend and last four days of the Fair.
  • The Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany will provide four buses and up to four operators.
The John Glenn/Farrell Road Park-N-Ride system will be open from 8:30 a.m. to midnight for the run of the fair. Shuttles will depart every 15 to 20 minutes. Early estimates suggest that this new added bus service will be able to help move more than 1,000 people per hour.

In addition to the new Park-N-Ride, CENTRO Express buses will regularly depart from State Fair Park-N-Ride locations across Onondaga, Cayuga and Oswego counties arriving at the Fair's Main Gate.

Go to  for locations and schedules. CENTRO Ride Passes and transfers will be accepted on all State Fair service buses. Fares and times will vary depending on location. For more information, call CENTRO's Call Center at (315) 442-3400.

Sept. 1 Deadline to Apply For National Grid Ag Discount

Have you applied for your National Grid agricultural discount?

You have until Sept. 1 to do so.

For more information, go to

Ballots Out for Grape Research and Development Order

Ballots for a referendum on a research and development order for grape growers have been sent out.

Anyone who has not received a ballot should contact

A Research & Development Order, also known as a market order, is a grower supported, grower funded and grower led funding stream administered in cooperation with the state Urban Development Corp. and the state Department of Agriculture & Markets for research that will benefit ALL New York grape growers. 

Every grower will contribute an assessment based on farm gate value. The capital generated from this order will fund research and extension projects that will assist grape growers – 5 percent of the funds will be used for administration of the program. 

Details on how the assessed funds are spent and results of research and extension will be public information. Growers will have a chance to reaffirm the order every seven years.

An Advisory Board (assembled from nominations submitted by growers) consisting of seven growers (3 from Lake Erie, and 1 each from the Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley, Long Island, and the North Country regions), one processor of juice grapes, and one processor of wine grapes will ensure proper administration of the program and will approve all research and extension projects undertaken.

Processors in New York state will reserve the funds from payments to growers and submit them on their behalf to the Urban Development Corp. Growers who sell fruit out of state will be responsible for submitting those assessments directly and wineries who process their own fruit will be responsible for submitting the assessment based on the value of their fruit. 

All money will be directed to the Urban Development Corp.

The assessment can be up to ½ of 1 percent or .005 percent of the farm gate value of all juice and wine grapes grown in New York which is estimated to generate up to $240,000. For example, if you’re getting $250/ton for Concords, and the Advisory Board approves an assessment at ¼ of 1 percent, the amount would be 63¢/ton.

Go to for more information.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Historic Goshen Race Track Burns

This is sad.

Go to to see the story.

Learn About Ag With Tours, Text Messages at New York State Fair

Don't forget.

As you head to the New York State Fair, there are some more ways this year to learn about the state's biggest industry -- agriculture.

The New York State Fair is offering fairgoers a new and exciting way to learn more through free, guided. The tours will be led by MooU, a private tour company, and will take visitors through the fair’s various animal barns, offering insight about the animals and their place in agriculture.  

Tours will begin at the MooU tent, which will be located behind the Agriculture Museum. They will depart every hour starting at 10 a.m. daily with the last tour departing at 5 p.m. 

Tour #1, beginning at 10 a.m. and running every two hours, will include stops at the Dairy Cattle Barn, Beef Barn, Poultry Barn and the Dairy Cow Birthing Center. Tour #2 will begin at 11 a.m, and run every two hours, stopping at the Goat, Sheep and Swine Barns as well as the World of Horses tent.

Fairgoers also have the chance to text an ag question to an expert on the fairgrounds. Agricultural experts will monitor a text channel during the fair, answering questions texted to them.

Signs in each of the barns will provide the phone number where text messages can be sent.
The New York State Fair, operated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, runs now through Sept. 4.

Farmers' Market Nutrition Program Benefits Available Now

Farmers' Market Nutrition Program benefits are now available for eligible families and seniors across the state. 

The program provides checks to be redeemed at participating farmers' markets and farm stands now through the end of November for the purchase of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. 

In addition, eligible New Yorkers can use their checks at even more farm stands this year. The number of farm stands participating in the program has nearly doubled in two years, from 40 in 2015 to 77 so far this year.

"Increasing awareness and accessibility to healthy, nutritious food is critical to the health and well being of families across the state," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "When New Yorkers eat fresh, local produce, it not only makes for healthier communities, but spurs the state's agricultural industry, creating a stronger New York for all."

Farmers Market Nutrition Program 
A total of $6 million in FMNP benefits are available to families through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children

About 250,000 booklets consisting of six $4.00 checks, or a total of $24, will be distributed this year, allowing for the purchase of fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables from over 900 farmers vending at over 600 farmers' markets and farm stands across the state.

Checks are available to eligible families at nearly 400 sites across New York State and at WIC clinic locations. A pocket folder with instructions on how and where to use the checks to purchase fresh, local fruits and vegetables from farmers at the market will be included with each booklet. 

Checks can be used at participating farmers' markets and farm stands through November 30 of this year.

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
The $2.5 million Senior FMNP provides checks to eligible individuals age 60 and older to purchase $20 worth of produce. Program benefits are provided on an individual basis instead of per household, also expanding the reach of the program to older New Yorkers. 
In upstate communities, checks are now available at county Offices for the Aging.

Eligible recipients must be age 60 or older and meet the income eligibility requirement$1,860 or less per month for a single or $2,504 per month for a couple — or affirm that they are currently receiving or eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income, or public assistance or Section 8 housing subsidy. Recipients cannot have received Farmers' Market Nutrition Program checks from any other location this season.

The Senior and WIC FMNP are administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in cooperation with the state Office for the Aging and the state Department of Health. The programs are funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and New York state. Nutrition education is provided by Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cuomo Announces Development Begins on New Fair Exposition Building

Three development teams from Upstate New York have been selected to respond to a Request for Proposals to design and build a new Exposition Building at the New York State Fairgrounds. 

The new 133,000-square-foot facility will include flexible space for major events such as car shows and auctions, consumer and trade shows, motocross, equestrian events, equipment shows, and other events that complement and expand the Fairgrounds as a premier year-round destination. 

The state will privatize the management and promotion of non-fair events at the Exposition Building. Construction may begin as early as November 2017, with a substantial completion date that will coincide with the 2018 State Fair and is expected to create over 700 construction jobs.  

"With the brand new Exposition Building, we will bring the State Fair to even greater heights, attracting more visitors and revenue to the region and helping to drive economic growth in the community," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his visit to the State Fair Aug. 23. 

"The State Fair is an iconic Central New York institution, and with our investments to build dozens of new exhibits, rides and attractions for fairgoers we are transforming the fair into a world-class tourist destination," the governor said.
Cuomo also kicked off the 2017 Great New York State Fair, celebrating several key components of his $120 million plan to revitalize the fairgrounds in Onondaga County. 

These improvement projects, including a brand new Broadway Skyliner chairlift ride, renovations in the Indian Village and a new home for the popular New York State Police exhibit as well as brand new exhibits and programming, significantly enhancing the experience for visitors and ensure the fair remains a top economic engine for the Central New York region.

Cream Cheese Festival Returns to Lowville for 13th Year

Here's first info coming in from Lowville on this year's Cream Cheese Festival.

Go to for all the information.

Northern New York Study Helps Keep Cows Cooler in Summer

Summer heat in New York state has been estimated to cost the dairy industry $23 million a year in total economic losses that include decreased milk production, decreased milk components, and impact on animal health and reproduction.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program funded research by the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, Chazy, Clinton County, to assess ways to help cows adjust to the hottest days of the year. 

The final report on different types of heat abatement systems for dairy cows is posted at

"Our investigation evaluated the impact of different heat abatement systems on the cows and milk production under Northern New York summer climate conditions for insight on the best ways to keep cows comfortable and healthy and to maintain milk yield in times of heat stress," said Miner Institute Director of Research Katie Ballard.

The project worked with three groups of Holstein cows at Minter Institute from June 10 through August 28, 2016. The types of heat abatement systems evaluated included the use of fans, an evaporative cooling system with water nozzles attached to fans, and different bedding types.

The cooling measures were applied in different settings, including barns, feed alleys and milking parlors.

The research team recorded temperature and humidity for each group every 15 minutes, wind speed in feed alleys and bedding areas, the amount of time the cows were standing and lying, and milk production for each cow. Milk samples were analyzed for fat, protein and other components which draw premium income.

"The higher producing cows appear to be more sensitive to heat stress. Providing maximum heat abatement measures over stalls and feed alleys helped keep the cows more comfortable, hold milk production steadier, and maintain milk fat percentage," Ballard said.

The results of the project will be presented at the 2018 American Dairy Science Association meeting in Knoxville, Tenn. Results of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded dairy calf heat stress relief research conducted by Miner Institute were presented at the 2017 American Dairy Science Association meeting.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded research on heat stress and its impact on dairy cattle performance continues in 2017 on four commercial dairies in Clinton and Franklin counties.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program provides research and technical assistance to farmers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

SPOILER ALERT: Butter Sculpture Unveiled for 2017 New York State Fair

New York State Police working the State Fair
The 100th anniversary of the founding of the New York State Police is commemorated in 800 pounds of butter in this year's butter sculpture at the New York State Fair.

The sculpture, done annually by sculptors Jim Victor and Marie Pelton of Conshohocken, Pa., shows two state troopers with a calf named "Trooper" at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center at the fair. The other side of the sculpture shows a trooper helping a child at the fair.

The American Dairy Association North East, which is in charge of the butter sculpture each year, said in 1917, the first assignment for the newly formed New York State Police was the patrol the New York State Fair.

Young ladies from Onondaga County make dairy punch for those at the butter sculpture unveiling Aug. 22. Left in rear is Ruth Siau and front left is Elle McNamara. Right rear (with the larger crown) is county Dairy Princess Noie Skinner and front right is Paige McNamara. The McNamaras and Siau are dairy ambassadors.
The inspiration for the sculpture came from a photo taken in the Dairy Cow Birthing Center in 2016 of troopers Daniel Skiba and Michael Leggio with the newly born calf named "Trooper."

"Dairy farmers are honored to be a part of the New York State Troopers' 100th anniversary celebration," said Audrey Donahoe, of Atrass Farm in Clayville, Oneida County, "Agriculture is the cornerstone of the fair and so is the service provided by the New York State Police. We're proud to share that history."

"The butter sculpture is one of the attractions at the Great New York State Fair that is a must-see!," said Maj. Philip Rougeux of the state police's Troop D in Oneida. The New York State Police are extremely honored to have been chosen by the American Dairy Association North East to be part of the 2017 butter sculpture."

Pelton and victor worked on the sculpture for 10 days, using 800 pounds of salted butter from a plant in Batavia, Genesee County. 

After the fair closes on Labor Day, the sculpture will be taken apart and transported to Noblehurst Farms in Linwood, Livingston County, where it will be recycled in a methane digester -- along with food scraps and cow manure -- to create electricity and liquid fertilizer for crops.

The New York State Fair runs from Wednesday, Aug. 23 through Labor Day. The butter sculpture is in the Dairy Products building.

Farm Bureau Foundation Produces Video Series on Buying Local

The New York Farm Bureau Foundation has a new project that will bring consumers closer to the farmers who produce their food. 

It is launching a new video series entitled “Meet Your Farmer” that the public can view online through the Foundation’s YouTube and social media pages. Links are available on the Foundation’s website at

The website has also been updated to be smartphone friendly for people looking to view the series on a mobile device or tablet. The Foundation will also include QR codes on its educational brochures and calendar that will increase the accessibility for viewers to watch the videos.

The videos feature New York farm families talking about their farms and their passion for growing food and caring for their land and animals. The project fits into the Foundation’s mission of sowing the seeds of understanding to educate the public about modern day agriculture.

The first farms to be showcased in the series include CY Farms in Elba, NY, McCormick Farms in Bliss, NY, and Orbaker’s Fruit Farm in Williamson, NY. The Foundation will soon add more farms to this ongoing project.

“The New York Farm Bureau Foundation reaches thousands of children and adults every year through its educational programming, and we are pleased to continue telling the stories of New York’s family farms through this new video series," said Farm Bureau President and Foundation Chair David Fisher. 

"It is more important than ever that farmers share what they do and engage with the public to clear up any misunderstanding people may have about agriculture,” said Fisher.

New York Farm Bureau Foundation’s YouTube page:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Morrisville State College at the New York State Fair

Morrisville State College will have a strong presence again this year at the Great New York State Fair, featuring a handcrafted scale-model canoe, a student-built hot rod, horses and renewable energy and hemp displays.

The fair runs Aug. 23-Sept. 4.

Fairgoers can learn about renewable energy, horses and horsepower inside the Morrisville State College Bartlett Barn near Gate 4 by the Coliseum. Horses from various equine programs will be housed in the building throughout the fair.

The college also will showcase its Mustang car. Students in the college's automotive programs transformed the 1988 Mustang into a 550 horsepower dragster that accelerates to 130 mph in 10 seconds.

New this year in the Morrisville State College building is a handcrafted canoe, a scale model of those being constructed in a new Introduction to Boat Building course at the college.

Visitors to the building also can obtain an array of information about the college and can speak to faculty and staff about the college's program offerings. Morrisville State alumni are encouraged to stop by and access materials to find fellow classmates, enjoy history about the college and catch up on the college's growth and progress.

Morrisville State College Alumni Day at the fair is Aug. 30.

Visitors also can learn more about the hemp industry at the college's display in the SUNY section of the Horticulture Building. Morrisville is leading research in the experimentation of growing hemp as a commercial crop.

The college also will have informational materials in the World of Horses tent, which features a center ring where fairgoers can see horses up close and talk with their owners and handlers.

Nelson Farms, run by the auxiliary corporation of the college, will once again head the Taste NY Marketplace, a retail store offering food products grown and produced in New York state. The marketplace's new location is in the Horticulture Building.

The college's School of Agriculture and Natural Resources will have an exhibit in the FFA Building.

Morrisville State students also will be competing throughout the fair. They will participate in Forestry Day competitions Sept. 2 in the New York Experience Area. They also will show lambs in the beef Cattle Barn on Sept. 2 and will compete in various equine competitions.

Morrisville State College is the only college in North America to compete with a six-horse hitch, which will also be part of the fair parade on opening day, Aug. 23.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Winners Announced for First Ever State Fair Craft Beer Competition

Brooklyn's Threes Brewing Co. earned top honors at the first-ever New York State Craft Beer Competition, winning the Governor's Excelsior Cup. 

Threes Brewing's Pilsner "Vliet" earned gold in the Light Lager category and moved on to win Best in Show. Nineteen beers from breweries across the state earned gold medals. 

Sponsored by the New York State Brewers Association, the official New York State Fair competition featured nearly 40 judges sampling a total of 707 entries in the largest professionally judged craft beer competition held in New York State.   

The New York State Craft Beer Competition was open to any craft brewer located in New York state. Entries were submitted from 143 New York breweries, accounting for nearly half of all licensed breweries in the State.   

Gold, silver, and bronze medal winners were awarded in each of the 20 categories, which include major styles of beer, such as IPAs and Lagers, as well as niche or emerging styles, such as sour beers or fruit and spice beers. Gold medal winners by category are:  

  • Light Lager: Threes Brewing Co.'s "Vliet" - Brooklyn
  • Wheat Beer: Brewery Ommegang's "Witte" - Cooperstown
  • Fruit and Spice Beer: The Peekskill Brewery's "Pinky Up" - Peekskill
  • Belgian Farmhouse: Threes Brewing Co.'s "Wandering Bine" - Brooklyn
  • Amber and Dark Lagers: Naked Dove Brewing Co.'s "Naked Dove Exposinator Doppelbock" - Canandaigua
  • Amber/Red Ale: Seneca Street Brew Pub's "Irish Red Ale" - Manlius 
  • Pale Ale: War Horse Brewing Co.'s "Lieutenant Dan IPA" - Geneva 
  • American IPA: Good Nature Brewing Co.'s "Blight Buster" - Hamilton
  • American IPA Variations: Prison City Brewing's "4 Piece" - Auburn
  • American Double IPA: Big Slide Brewery & Public House's "Giant IPA" - Lake Placid
  • Porter, Stout and Brown Ale: Stumblin' Monkey Brewing's "Oatmeal Stout" - Victor
  • Imperial Stout and Porter: Spider Bite Beer Co.'s "Boris the Spider" - Holbrook 
  • Belgian Other: Thin Man's "Hyperballad" - Buffalo
  • Strong Ale: Heartland Brewery's "Old Red Nose Special Edition 14" - New York City
  • Wild and Sour Ale: Mill House Brewing Co.'s "Citra Bridges"- Poughkeepsie - and Rushing Duck Brewing's "Zingerbier Berliner Weisse" - Chester - tied in this category
  • Barrel Aged Sour: Brooklyn Brewery's "Kiwi's Playhouse" - Brooklyn
  • Barrel Aged (Non-Sour): Three Heads Brewing's "Baltic Porter Aged in Iron Smoke Whiskey Barrels" - Rochester
  • Experimental: Prison City Brewing's "Wham Whams" - Auburn
  • New York State Beer: Saint James Brewery's "Saint James Brewery Pomme- Apple Ale" - Holbrook

Chevy Court Concert Lineup for the New York State Fair

ANOTHER UPDATE -- Two more concerts were added Aug. 18 to the Chevy Court lineup.

Reagae performer Stephen Marley will perform at 2 p.m. Aug. 26 while rock favorites Lynyrd Skynyrd will take the Chevy Court stage 1 p.m. Aug. 27.

Here is the full lineup as of Aug. 18:

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
Stephen Marley, 2 p.m., Aug. 26

Symphoria, 8 p.m., Aug. 26
Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1 p.m., Aug. 27

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

Law Allows Farm Cideries to Sell to All Licensed Wineries and Cideries

From Assemblyman Bill Magee:

A bill to allow New York farm cideries to sell their products to all licensed wineries and cideries has been signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, Madison County, said the bill he wrote will help cideries expand.

Prior regulations limited farm cideries to selling their products to other farm cideries, distilleries, wineries and breweries. However, while farm distilleries and farm wineries are additionally able to sell to commercial distilleries and wineries, farm cideries were previously barred from this type of distribution.

Magee’s legislation allows farm cideries to sell their products to all licensed wineries and cideries, opening up a whole new market and strengthening local agriculture.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our state. We should be doing all we can to cut red tape for producers so that they can grow and flourish,” said Magee, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. “By allowing farm cideries to sell their top-notch goods across the state, we can strengthen these local businesses, boost our economy and help create jobs.”

“Opening up more outlets, increasing tasting opportunities and adding products will givev cideries more room to grow and expand,” said Juanita Critz of Critz Farms Brewing & Cider Co. “We look forward to the advantages these additional options will bring to increasing exposure for businesses like ours here at Critz Farms.”

Deadline Extended for Ritchie's Farm Family Survey

A column from state Sen. Patty Ritchie:

New York's farmers work hard to bring the best quality products to their neighbors, tables and kitchens around the state and world.   

As chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I know it’s important to get feedback from hardworking farmers to identify ways the state can assist in helping to provide them with new opportunities to expand their businesses.
In an effort to help support farmers and their operations, I recently launched a “Farm Family Survey” that seeks input on a number of issues, including milk prices, the impact of recent weather and farm expenses that the state could help in offsetting, among others.

The deadline to participate in this survey has been extended to Aug. 31. Those interested in completing a survey can visit my website,, or have one mailed to you by calling my office at (315) 782-3418.

My Farm Family Survey builds on my past efforts to support New York farmers. Earlier this year, I worked for record funding in the new state budget for agriculture — for the third year in a row — totaling $51 million for dozens of programs that seek to bolster the bottom lines of farmers across the state and here in Central and Northern New York.

New York’s farmers are critically important when it comes to providing people with fresh, healthy foods, as well as to supporting our state’s economy. Your feedback on my survey is essential to providing me with the information I need to better advocate for our state’s farmers and help our state’s agriculture industry thrive for generations to come.

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.

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.