agriculture

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 1:25 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, agriculture, agribusiness, Castile.

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Southview Farm on Upper Reservation Road, Castile, was the site for the seventh annual Agri-Palooza held Sunday. 

This one-day event highlights one of the county’s greatest resources – agriculture. Patrons were able to visit a working farm and find out what it’s really like to work in one of the county’s biggest industries.

While the seed of the farm was first planted in the 1800s, the roots firmly took hold in Wyoming County in the 1940s when Jim VanArsdale bought the farm.

Six years after Jim started the farm in 1949, he partnered with Dick Popp. Although Popp died in the 1990s, his legacy lives on at the farm. He was instrumental in bringing new agricultural technology to Wyoming County, says Tanya Nickerson, education specialist with the county’s 4-H program. 

One of the biggest changes on the farm is the technology, says Jim’s son, Jamie, current owner of Southview.

“Things change so fast, you just have to keep up with it,” Jamie said.

One of the greatest advances is the use of GPS planting. The farm uses a GPS-driven tractor that puts the holes in the earth for seed corn, following the pattern laid out by the tractor another follows to actually plant the seed. The idea behind GPS planting is soil conservation. Less tilling of the land not only helps keep the nutrients in the soil, but also keeps the soil in place. Additionally, the less the land is driven over by farm equipment keeps the soil loose and less compact which allows for better crop growth.

“We use the same line to till, fertilize and plant so it doesn’t disturb the ground as much when planting,” Jamie said. “Less disturbance keeps the soil soft and pliable so the roots grow better.”

One of the goals of Agri-Palooza is to dispel the myth that farms are a corporate entity – focused only on the bottom line. The event showcases the partnership, so to speak, farmers have with not only the land, but also the health and well-being of the animals in its charge. It also highlights the families that work to keep agriculture alive in Wyoming County.

In addition to better soil conservation, the farm employs nutritionist Pat Brennan to help maintain a proper balance of nutrients to the bovines.

“Every visit has me checking the computer for records of milk production, reproduction and herd health,” Brennan said. “Then I take a look at the animals and look how they walk, chew, their body condition and manure. Then based on that information, I put together a recipe based on the need of the cows.”

A cow eats approximately 120 pounds of feed a day, produces about 90 pounds of milk (10 gallons) a day, and drinks about 30 to 40 gallons of water per day.

To better use and manage the feed the farm grows or feeds the animals, it uses a bunker-style silo instead of the traditional upright silo. The bunker silo allows for better mixing of the feed as well as nutritional consistency. The silage is layered, then compacted, to get the air out of the feed which helps with fermentation -- key for cow palatability.

“It takes all of that to keep the cows healthy and producing milk,” Brennan said.

In addition to good nutrition, a well-ventilated barn is essential in keeping the cows comfortable during warm or muggy weather. To help minimize disease, especially lung disease in the young animals, white tubbing has been added to the newborn calf barn. The tubbing sucks outside air into the barn and fans it over the calves to keep fresh air circulating, which is better for the calves. The other barns not only have fans to circulate the air, they are also equipped with water misters to keep the cows cool and comfortable. 

“We use the same line to till, fertilize and plant so it doesn’t disturb the ground as much when planing,” Jamie said. “We use the same line to till, fertilize and plant so it doesn’t disturb the ground as much when planing,” Jamie said. 

Other conservation or repurposing efforts Southview Farms employ include:

    • Solar panels on barns, which warms rainwater or snowmelt to be used for cleaning and in the milk parlor;

    • A scale, which weighs harvested food and feed. This helps keep track of how well a field is producing or how much feed they have on hand; and 

    • Five manure lagoons. The lagoons store the manure until a time where it would be beneficial to spread on the fields, thus reducing runoff into groundwater. It also minimizes the use of fertilizers, which in turn saves the farmer money.

The farm also uses manure for bedding by squeezing out the water, which rids the manure of bacteria, then the remaining material is stored for future use.

Additionally, while the farm traditionally breeds Holstein cows – they are the best milk producers – the farm is beginning to breed Jersey cows. Though the animals aren’t big milk producers, they do produce milk with a higher fat content. Recent research has shown that people are consuming more dairy products with a higher fat content – butter, ice cream and cheese. To fill the demand, Southview Farms is making the transition to the Jersey breed, a more compact bovine.

Southview Farms has 47 employees and milks three times a day at two locations. The herd included more than 2,000 cows and 1,600 young stock. Additionally, more than 3,100 acres of corn, alfalfa and wheat are harvested annually.

Agri-Palooza is made possible by the partnership of the Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism Department and the Wyoming County Farm Bureau.

For more information about agriculture in Wyoming County visit http://wyoming.cce.cornell.edu

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Friday, June 2, 2017 at 12:06 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, agriculture, agribusiness, Business, Castile.

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File photos

The seventh annual Agri-Palooza 2017 will be held at Southview Farms, 5073 Upper Reservation Road, Castile. It is sponsored by Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism and the Wyoming County Farm Bureau and highlights agriculture in Wyoming County. The public is invited to discover, experience, and enjoy farming and all that it entails by spending the day on a working farm. 

The free event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. June 4.

Agri-Palooza features educational displays, farm tours, and children’s games and activities. Attendees will also see the variety of Wyoming County products on both display and for purchase. 

For more information visit GoWyoming.com.

Friday, June 2, 2017 at 12:01 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, Castile, agriculture, agribusiness.
Event Date and Time: 
June 4, 2017 -
12:00pm to 4:00pm

The seventh annual Agri-Palooza 2017 will be held at Southview Farms, 5073 Upper Reservation Road, Castile. It is sponsored by Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism and the Wyoming County Farm Bureau and highlights agriculture in Wyoming County. The public is invited to discover, experience, and enjoy farming and all that it entails by spending the day on a working farm. 

The free event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 4.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 4:15 pm
posted by Howard Owens in Warsaw, agriculture, GCC, education, schools, news, Business.

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Press release:

"What is the biggest challenge you face in your business?" is a question often asked by the Agri-Business Academy students during tours of local agriculture businesses. The answer is almost always the same. "Labor."

The challenge of finding dependable, hardworking individuals for stable, well-paying careers in agriculture has been a constant battle for agriculturalists for years. As the instructor of the Agri-Business Academy, I've spoken with local agribusiness people from more than 100 local agribusinesses and the need for good employees is a common thread.

The common misconception is that these are not careers, but physically demanding jobs that do not require a college degree and involve a way of life that many would not willingly choose. Today, agribusinesses are usually seeking applicants with college degrees, technology and management experience, and business and communication skills. What is most important is that the compensation aligns with these requirements. In addition, the benefits and satisfaction that comes from working in the agriculture industry is unlike any other.

Agriculture continues to be the number one industry in Genesee County and the driving force of the local economy. When students of the Agri-Business Academy toured Torrey Farms, among the largest agribusinesses in New York state, they heard Maureen Torrey Marshall explain that Torrey Farms does not simply employ a few people in the surrounding community. She described the multiplier effect, which means that other businesses, such as trucking companies, mechanic shops, equipment dealerships, transportation hubs, technology, fuel and fertilizer suppliers, and many others are all part of the agribusiness economy.

Most people do not recognize the many different aspects of agriculture and the need for individuals with a broad array of interests and expertise. Animal and plant systems, food products and processing, agricultural mechanics, precision agriculture, agribusiness networks, international trade, environmental and conservation systems, and energy use are just a few of the trades under umbrella of agriculture.

To ensure that the agriculture community has the employees they need to thrive, and to continue to be the bedrock of our community the Agri-Business Academy is again seeking high school seniors to learn about careers in all aspects of agriculture. The Agri-Business Academy is a one-year partnership program between the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and Genesee Community College.

Through this program, the students earn 15 college credits through the ACE program at Genesee Community College. They spend half the school day in the Agri-Business Academy enrolled in the following five college courses: Western New York Agriculture, Career and Educational Planning, Principles of Business, Principles of Biology and Public Speaking.

Throughout the year students tour area agribusinesses to learn and experience these businesses, job shadow professional producers and at the end of the year each student participates in a two-week internship. This year's Agri-business Academy students are working at their internships experiencing many different aspects of agribusiness -- from robotic and organic dairies to maple syrup and crop management and much more.

The following locations throughout Western New York are currently sponsoring student internships: DeLaval Dairy Services in Corfu, WBB Farm in Alden, Beaver Meadows Audubon Center in North Java, Merle Maple Farm in Attica, Cottonwood Farms in Pavilion, Cornell Cooperative Extension in Wyoming County, Schierberdale Holsteins, Perry and WNY Crop Management in Warsaw.

If you know of a current junior or underclassman who is interested in business or agriculture, or is unsure of a career path, please encourage them to apply for the Agri-Business Academy at the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. Through the Agri-Business Academy, students explore the plethora of wonderful careers available to them -- locally, internationally or often it is a dynamic blend of both.

Whether they like working inside or outside, with their hands or crunching numbers, handling heavy equipment or studying the nuances of soil (agronomy), tending to livestock or discovering how technology can help feed the world -- the "Ag Academy" is a career starter.

Jack Klapper, an Agri-Business Academy graduate and Cornell University assistant men's basketball coach said, "I would recommend this academy to anyone, whether they are pursuing a career in agriculture or not. The life skills I developed in this program are some of the best skills I have ever learned."

Applications are available at http://www.genesee.edu/home/ace/career-pathways/agri-business-academy/. The first 20 students to submit their application will receive a free Genesee Community College flash drive wristband. Questions? Please do not hesitate to contact me at 585-344-7783 or kirchardson3@gvboces.org. Check out the Agri-Business Academy on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Agri-Business-Academy-680673051998953/

Top photo: Agri-business Academy student Cherie Glosser of Warsaw High School with calf at Post Dairy Farms.

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Agri-business Academy students at Torrey Farms, in Elba.

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Agri-business Academy students at Porter Farms in Elba.

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Agri-business Academy students at SJ Starowitz Farm, in Byron.

Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 5:55 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, Warsaw, garden, agriculture.

Press release

In response to the ever increasing demand for late blight resistant tomato plants, Wyoming County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners have chosen to continue the blight resistant tomato plant sale in 2017.

The 12th annual Garden Day Plant Sale & Gardening Resource event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, May 20 at the Ag & Business Center, 36 Center St., Warsaw. Moving the date a little further into spring allows us to focus on providing plant stock, which will have less holdover time before being planted outdoors.

A likely cause of an unsuccessful tomato crop – when the fruit begins to turn brown just before they are ripe – is late blight. While there are other tomato diseases present in the garden, late blight is by far the worst to deal with.  Late blight arrives on potato and tomato plants through air borne fungal spores that are transported by the wind. 

Garden Day will focus on education and prevention of the disease in the home vegetable garden. Materials on controlling common tomato diseases, late blight, and many other vegetable diseases, will be available to keep your garden producing well in 2016.

The varieties offered were tested in 2014-2016 and have proven to produce an excellent tomato crop, even while being infected with late blight. Additionally, a new variety for vegetable gardeners to trial in their own gardens has been added.  

Learn how managing potatoes and tomatoes grown in the home garden can help avoid, and prevent the spread of, late blight other gardens in the neighborhood.

All of the hanging baskets, flowers, and perennials we have had in past years, will also be available. Local artisans will be there showcasing their unique products, as well.

For more information, visit  wyoming.cce.cornell.edu/events/2017/GardenDay or contact Don Gasiewicz at (585) 786-2251 extension 113 or drg35@cornell.edu

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 11:45 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, dairy, agriculture, agribusiness.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) recently led a bipartisan letter sent to President Donald Trump applauding his acknowledgements of Canada's protectionist trade policies related to dairy products and advocating for swift action to ensure Canada upholds its trade agreements.

"President Trump campaigned on putting America first, and protecting American jobs," Collins said. “The letter highlights how vital the U.S. dairy industry is to Western New York and dairy producing regions across the country. The U.S. dairy industry supports billions of dollars in exports and hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs.

"Unfortunately, due to unfair competitive practices by Canada, we must take action to ensure our dairy products will be able to compete on a level playing field. I am glad President Trump has recognized how important this issue is to hundreds of thousands of hardworking Americans, and I will continue working with my colleagues to protect the U.S. dairy industry."

The letter, which 68 lawmakers signed, was also co-led by congressmen Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Ron Kind (WI-03), Sean Duffy (WI-07), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), and Peter Welch (VT-AL).

The letter details Canadian trade practices that "may violate Canada's existing trade commitments to the United States by effectively discouraging U.S. dairy exports to Canada." It also reinforces that "our districts and states rely on the jobs the dairy industry provides and cannot afford further protectionist policies from our northern neighbor."

The letter to the president states in part:

The U.S. dairy sector relies on its exports to survive. In 2016, the industry exported approximately 15 percent of its milk production, worth roughly $5 billion. To our NAFTA partners alone, the United States exported $1.2 billion of dairy products to Mexico and $631 million to Canada. To that end, U.S. exports helped the dairy sector maintain roughly 110,000 U.S. jobs in farming and manufacturing.

Unfortunately, Canada's recent revisions to its milk classification system have prompted serious concerns. Canadians traditionally used five classes to price its products, ranging from fluid milks and creams to milk used for further processing. In April 2016, the Canadian province of Ontario began implementing a new milk price class, Class 6, which has dramatically altered dairy imports and skewed the market…

To read the full text of the letter click here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 12:39 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, agriculture, agribusiness, Business.

Press release:

The newly adopted state budget includes important financial support for New York’s agriculture industry. The Senate succeeded in restoring nearly $10 million in funding, for a total of $51 million toward agriculture.

"In the 59th Senate District and across the state, agriculture plays a vital role in New York’s economy,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma). “Once again this year, we are investing in our future by promoting the growth and success of our farmers, especially those just starting out. These programs not only support hardworking farm families, they ensure that agriculture will remain New York’s leading industry.”    

The state budget provides for almost $10 million in restorations and adds to agriculture programs as follows:

    • $1.5 million, for a total of $1.9 million, for the Farm Viability Institute
    • $1 million, for a total of $9.3 million, for Agribusiness Child Development
    • $1 million, for a total of $5.4 million, for the Cornell Diagnostic Lab
    • $544,000, for a total of $750,000, for the Apple Growers Association
    • $560,000, for a total of $610,000, for Cornell Rabies
    • $516,000, for a total of $1.2 million for FarmNet, Farm Family Assistance
    • $378,000, for a total of $l.2 million, for Pro-Dairy
    • $307,000, for a total of $l.5 million, for the Wine and Grape Foundation
    • $300,000, for a total of $842,000, for Future Farmers of America
    • $160,000, for a total of $160,000, for Local Fair Assistance
    • $500,000 for the Apple Research and Development Board
    • $600,000 for the Northern NY Agriculture Development Program
    • $260,000 for Cornell Berry Research
    • $250,000 for Tractor Rollover Prevention Program
    • $215,000 for Maple Producers Association
    • $200,000 for a “Seeds of Success” award to promote school gardens
    • $150,000 for Turfgrass Association
    • $125,000 for Christmas Tree Growers
    • $125,000 for Cornell Maple Research
    • $115,000 for Cornell Veterans to Farms
    • $100,000 for Cornell Vegetable Research
    • $50,000 for “Farm to Table Trail” development
    • $75,000 for Corn and Soybean Growers Association
    • $50,000 for Honeybee Research at Cornell
    • $50,000 for Cornell Onion Research
    • $100,000 for Wood Products Council
    • $25,000 for Low-Cost Vaccine Program
    • $20,000 for Island Harvest
    • $10,000 for NYS Brewers Association
    • $10,000 for NYS Cider Association
    • $10,000 for NYS Distillers Guild
    • $10,000 for Chautauqua County Beekeepers Association
    • $10,000 for Cornell Sheep Farming

The Senate succeeded in including Farm-to-Food-Bank in the final budget after last year's legislation was vetoed. More fresh, New York-grown produce will be available to help feed the hungry by allowing farmers to claim a tax credit for produce and other farm product donations to food banks or other emergency food programs.

The budget also includes $5 million in capital funding for local fairs across the state.

Monday, March 27, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Press release:

The Senate passed a comprehensive package of bills that would strengthen and preserve agriculture as New York’s leading industry March 22. The bipartisan measures help support farm workforce retention and expansion; create new tax credits for preserving farmland, transitioning to organic certification, and offering healthy options in communities; promote the use of local produce in schools; and help prepare new farmers for successful careers, among other initiatives.

"Agriculture is one the most important industries in New York and we need to do all we can to ensure its growth and success, especially for young farmers and those just starting out,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma). “These initiatives will support hardworking farmers, their families and others who rely on a strong and vibrant agriculture industry.” 

The measures build upon the Senate’s ongoing commitment to agriculture, including its role as the undisputed leader in restoring more than $55 million in proposed state funding cuts since 2011. This funding has helped support investments in cutting-edge agricultural research, education for the next generation of family farmers, environmental stewardship, and protections for plant, animal and public health. 

The bill package would help further support the growth of agriculture in New York and create jobs by:
    • S2905, doubling the existing Farm Workforce Retention Credit: cosponsored by Gallivan, would help farmers meet consumer demands with a strong and steady workforce. The bill increases the credit to $500 per eligible employee this year, and $1,200 per employee when fully effective, saving farmers an estimated $60 million when fully implemented.
    • S1430, helping schools purchase local produce: would allow school districts offering bids for food services to include language that favors local or regional farm producers. This expands the market for local produce, encourages larger distributors to invest in smaller farms, and could help co-ops or farms without the resources to independently participate in a bidding process access local school procurement programs.
    • S4021, establishing a Young Farmer Advisory Board: cosponsored by Gallivan, establishes a young farmer agriculture advisory board designed to advise and make recommendations on policies and programs affecting agriculture. Young and beginning farmers play a fundamental role in preventing the threat posed by the gradual aging of famers and in the future success and growth of New York farms.
     • S4660, creating a Future Agriculture Readiness Marketing camp (F.A.R.M.): helps those new to the agriculture industry gain the valuable knowledge and tools needed to promote their businesses. Offered once yearly to a select group of successful farmer applicants, this camp will expose selectees to several of the best agriculture programs in the state. Each participant will have access to all that SUNY has to offer, allowing them to develop their business and themselves. An exclusive group of graduates from the program will also be granted additional aid in the form of grant funds to help them make their marketing plan a reality.
    • S4900, increasing new farmers’ access to land: directs the State Department of Agriculture and Markets to enhance access to viable agricultural land for new and beginning farmers. The agency would work with the Office of General Services to develop an inventory of state-owned real property that may be viable for farming. This would help younger farmers overcome frequent barriers that prevent them from gaining access to land and contribute to the aging of the farming population, such as the complex process of transferring ownership of farms and prohibitive capital costs.
    • S2479, conserving productive land: would create a statewide blueprint for conserving productive land and maintaining the vitality of agricultural production in New York State. The measure would require the state to propose programs that encourage the growth of emerging trends and practices that might benefit small- to mid-sized farms.
    • S3835, creating a farm savings account: establishes a tax-deferred savings account that will allow farmers to self-insure part of their risk to counteract strong cyclical downturns in the farm economy. Some of the methods used by farmers to help offset losses due to weather or other market forces include delaying the purchase of equipment and the repayment of loans. A farm savings account will offer farmers another management tool to help offset their costs.
    • S4721, providing tax credits for organic farm transitions: creates a tax credit to increase the profit margin for certain agricultural products that meet any one of several industry standards for crop quality during the three-year transitional period to USDA Organic Certification. This will reduce the uncertainty farmers face when attempting to achieve USDA Organic Certification by providing them with an expanded market for their products and greater financial security during the transition period.
    • S562, offering tax exemptions for organic farm transitions: creates a real property tax exemption for the lands of a farm operation that are transitioning to organic. In 2011, New York ranked third in the nation in the total amount of organic farms with 597, with the state’s certified organic farms selling a total of $107 million produced commodities. This credit would foster the growth of these farms and is similar to an existing tax exemption for the replanting of vineyards and orchards.
    • S4265, lifting size restrictions on wine ice cream: would lift the current minimum packaging requirements (at least one pint) for the sale of wine ice cream to meet consumer demand for smaller containers of wine ice cream for weddings, fundraisers, recreational tours and other events.
    • S943, creating the Healthy Options and Community Outreach program: would create the program to increase public awareness and address the issue of “food deserts.” It would create a new tax credit for small grocery and convenience stores that commit to selling healthy food and drinks at their shops. Up to 100 percent of an improvement project’s cost could become eligible for a credit if the owner expands, purchases coolers or shelving for the purposes of selling healthier food options.
    • S4535, preserving farmland: encourages farmers – particularly those located in areas of the state with greater development pressure – to participate in farmland preservation efforts and remain stewards of their land for future generations. It would change the maximum acreage for agricultural assessment of farm woodlands from 50 to 100 acres.
    • S368, helping timber harvesters: authorizes the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to execute contracts for timber or other forest products valued at under $50,000 without approval from the state comptroller. Currently, any contract to harvest more than $10,000 of timber on non-protected state lands must be approved by DEC and the State Comptroller's Office, which can be time consuming and jeopardize timber-harvesting timeframes.
    • S1078, promoting farm cideries: would expand products sold by farm cideries and authorizing such farms to sell cider to other licensees for resale.
    • S1240, reducing transportation costs: allows the New York State Thruway Authority to provide a discounted toll rate of half the normal toll to farmers transporting agricultural products. This measure would give farmers some relief from high transportation costs for shipping goods to markets throughout the state.
    • S1333, awarding Excellence in Agriculture: provides a mechanism for the state to develop an agriculture and food awards program. It would be provided to farmers, manufacturers and processors that produce exceptional products using locally sourced ingredients, and the businesses that make a special effort to market and promote them. These awards could also be presented to restaurants, food retailers, and schools and colleges that feature and promote New York farm foods.

The bills acted upon on National Agriculture Day were among the latest efforts by the Senate to focus on growing New York agriculture from the ground up. Recently, the Senate passed a budget resolution that included extensive measures that invest in the state’s farm workforce, support the next generation of farmers, and help farmers connect to new markets, among other initiatives to support farming’s growth. 

Initiatives included:

    • $12 million in restored funding for important agricultural programs cut by the 2017-2018 Executive Budget;
    • $60 million in tax relief for farmers by doubling the existing Farm Workforce Retention Credit, as outlined above in S2905;
    • $10 million to help make additional investments in county fair facilities so that New Yorkers can continue to learn about agriculture and farms in their area.
    • Support for $3 million for drought relief in parts of Central and Western New York when lack of rain in 2016 caused severe crop losses;
    • $1.8 million to expand access for 120,000 seniors to get free, fresh produce at area farmers' markets;
    • An additional $200,000 for Farm-to-Schools, for a total of nearly $1 million;
    • Expand Future Farmers of America (FFA) by supporting and building upon the $542,000 in the Executive Budget;
    • $500,000 to help farmers with questions about employment laws and regulations by providing access to Cornell-based specialists;
    • $450,000 to help farmers expand to new markets, especially those needing assistance to achieve organic certification;
    • $250,000 for the Future Agriculture Readiness Marketing (FARM) Camps, also outlined above in S4660;
    • $200,000 for a "Seeds of Success" award to promote and recognize school gardens and gardening programs across the state;
    • $100,000 for "Farm to Table Trail" development that directs consumers to local food and beverage options; and
    • An expansion of Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) agriculture programs to create opportunities for high school students to achieve credits toward college study in Agriculture.

Monday, March 13, 2017 at 5:47 pm

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From left: Lindsay Chamberlain, of Wyoming, representing Collegiate Cornell Farm Bureau; Ben Restivo, Future Farmers of America member, and Brian Parker, representing Wyoming County Farm Bureau, with Sen. Patrick Gallivan.

Press release (photo submitted):

Members from the Wyoming County Farm Bureau spent two days in Albany last week, meeting with lawmakers to highlight the organization’s state public policy priorities for the year.

The county Farm Bureau hosted a table at the Taste of New York Reception for state lawmakers, commissioners, and staff, which featured local farm products. Members also participated in the annual Lobby Day on Tuesday where they met with both their local senator and assemblyman as well as New York City lawmakers that the county Farm Bureau adopted.

At State Capitol, county members advocated for a number of priorities this year, including securing a refundable investment tax credit for farmers. With 2015 farm income down nearly 20 percent to $5.3 billion across the state, according to the latest figures from the National Agriculture Statistics Service, tools need to be in place to help farmers weather the downturn. This initiative would incentivize farm investment to meet the needs of global competition.

Additionally, advocates pushed to double the minimum wage tax credit from $30 million to $60 million. The first step of the minimum wage hike climbed at the beginning of the year on its way to $15 an hour for farms on Long Island and $12.50 for Upstate farmers. New York Farm Bureau (NYFB) 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.

State funding for critical farm programs is another top priority for Farm Bureau. Governor Andrew Cuomo included a number of things in his budget plan which would help agriculture in the state. This includes funding for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPA), which will assist farms with water quality, conservation and farmland protection programs, as well as necessary investments into animal health programs. 

Farm Bureau asked lawmakers to restore funding for promotion and research programs that also benefit agriculture. NYFB also supports the governor’s proposed $2 billion clean water infrastructure program that includes $70 million for nutrient management and conservation programs to reduce farm runoff.

The Farm to Food Bank bill is another top priority for NYFB members who have seen the governor veto the popular legislation the past two years. Members asked their lawmakers to include the tax credit that encourages greater fresh food donations to regional food banks and local food pantries to be included in their one-house budget bills.

These priorities are based on member-approved public policies that originate every year at the county Farm Bureau level and are passed by the full delegate body at NYFB’s State Annual Meeting in December.

In addition to advocating for priorities with lawmakers, county Farm Bureau members also participated in a special panel discussion with the commissioners from the departments of Agriculture and Markets, Environmental Conservation, and Labor.

The Wyoming County Farm Bureau is dedicated to advocate for public policies that will not only benefit agriculture but support rural communities as a whole.

NYFB is the State’s largest agricultural lobbying/trade organization and is “the voice of New York agriculture.” It is dedicated to solving the economic and public policy issues challenging the agricultural community.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 10:03 am

The Wyoming County Government Center is “turning green” for the month of March to celebrate the Girl Scouts, the 4-H program and cookie sales, and Wyoming County’s biggest producer – agriculture.

While the color green is most often associated with Saint Patrick’s Day when March rolls around, these organizations allude to the “luck of the Irish” as well. Subsequently, the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed March 2017 to be Girl Scout and Agriculture month – March 21 is National Agriculture Day and March 12 signifies the inception of the first Girl Scout troop in the United States.

This month, the Girl Scouts celebrate not only 105 years as an organization but also 100 years of their most successful fundraising program – the annual cookie sale.

The Girl Scout program was founded by Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low, with the help of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement. Low believed in the power of every girl. 

Low had joined the Girl Guide movement while in Scotland and in 1911 formed a group of Girl Guides while there. When she returned to the United States in 1912, she established the first American Girl Guide troop in Savannah, Ga.

It wasn’t until 1915 that the United States’ Girl Guides became known as the Girl Scouts. 

Modeling the program after the Boy Scouts, she was inspired by its stress of military preparedness and having fun, she encouraged the girls to become self-sufficient. 

While in Scotland, the group learned how to spin wool and care for livestock. She also taught them knot tying, map reading, kitting cooking and first aid. With the help of her friends in the military the girls also learned drilling, signaling and camping.

When she brought the program to the United States, she spread the movement as a way to help girls learn practical skills and build character. 

Although Low died in Savannah on Jan. 17, 1927, her vision lives on in the 1.9 million girls and 800,000 volunteer that continue the Girl Scouts worldwide.

The 4-H programs are based in science, healthy living and citizenship. It is backed by a network of 100 public universities and a community of 4-H volunteers and professionals. 

Through hands-on learning, youth build not only confidence, creativity and curiosity, but also life skills such as leadership and resiliency.

Grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing for more than 100 years, 4-H has become the nation’s largest youth development organization. 

In the late 1800s, researchers noticed that young people were more open to new thinking in agricultural practices than their adult counterparts. In this way, it was the younger generations that introduced new agriculture technology to communities.

Today, 4-H’ers tackle issues such as global food security, climate change, as well as animal sciences, robotics, environmental protection and computer science to take on the challenges of the 21st century.

The program empowers the youngsters to be well-informed citizens who are actively engaged in their communities.

The month of March also signifies the start of its annual cookie sale. From March 7 through 21, cookies will be on sale.

“This is Wyoming County’s annual fundraiser that helps support programming in the county,” said 4-H educator Holly Harwood. “Proceeds from the sale allow youth to earn camperships at Wyomoco supports educational opportunities throughout the year, supports supplemental project and teaching materials, scholarships and more.”

Harwood says its these opportunities allow the youth to travel outside the county and the state to see the different careers available to them in agriculture, as well as meet other kids who are of similar mindset. It also allows kids to “build friendships that last a lifetime.”

And of course, one cannot travel about in Wyoming County without taking note of the rolling hills dotted with cows, corn, and other crops. These crops make the county number one in the production of milk, potatoes, hay, honey, and corn silage in New York State.

The county boasts 1.1 billion pounds of milk produced annually – 129.5 million gallons, 713 farms and 230,000 acres of cultivated farmland. The greens and golds of the county’s landscape is in large part due to 60 percent of its land being dedicated to farming. 

The economic vitality of Wyoming County is dependent on the food and fiber products agriculture plays a role in. Additionally, the county’s strong agribusiness ensures the maintenance of a strong economy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 9:59 am

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The Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism announces that Merle Maple Farm of Attica, has been named the 2017 Agribusiness of the year. The annual award was presented at the 10th Annual Pride of Agriculture dinner Saturday at the North Java Fire Department, Java.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we were very pleased to present the Agribusiness award to Lyle and Dottie Merle and Merle Maple Farm for their commitment to Wyoming County’s agriculture industry and their support of the community,” said Chamber President Scott Gardner. “The Merle’s are a strong voice for the maple industry, dedicated to education and their craft, and are outstanding agricultural ambassadors for Wyoming County.”

In his opening remarks, Gardner touched upon the legacy those in agriculture leave.

“In that word are meanings like family, tradition, commitment, passion, and an eye to the future. The legacy is borne out of the blood, sweat and tears of our pasts, the hard decisions and the growing pains, achievements of innovation, and knowing that you’re doing this for posterity.

“To leave a legacy you have to love what you do and instill that in your children and grandchildren by fostering pride, purpose, and ownership, through dedication and a belief in the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ agriculture is important.”

The annual agribusiness award is given to a business that exemplifies the following criteria: contributions to the economic vitality and quality of life of Wyoming County, capital investments, business expansions, job growth, community involvement, and their contributions that strengthen their industry sector.

The Pride of Agriculture dinner also featured the annual presentation of the coveted Pride of Agriculture -- Good Neighbor Award, given to Charles and Velma Seewaldt, of Varysburg, and the new Friend of Wyoming County Agriculture award given to Jodi Smith, of Arcade. Both awards are given by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County, the Wyoming County Farm Bureau, and the Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism offices. 

See related: Merle Maple Farm awarded Agribusiness of the Year

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 9:27 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, events, 4-H, agriculture.

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Press release (photo submitted):

Sponsored by the Wyoming County 4-H Leaders’ Association, the annual Wyoming County 4-H Cookie Sale will take place March 7 through 21. 

The proceeds from this sale support numerous opportunities for 4-H members and volunteers including: educational award trips, camperships at 4-H Camp Wyomoco, supplemental 4-H project materials used by leaders and members, club teaching materials, National 4-H Week support, 4-H member and leader pins, scholarships for 4-H leaders to attend specialized trainings, and other program incentives.

The cost of cookies is $3.50 per package. The varieties include: Caramel Coconut Fudge, Peanut Butter Fudge Patties, Lemon Crème Sandwiches, Maple Leaf Crème Sandwiches, and Chocolate Raspberry Whippets.

Buying cookies from local 4-H’ers supports its members, Leaders’ Association, and the county’s 4-H program.

For more information call (585) 786-2251.

Monday, March 6, 2017 at 9:00 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, agri-business, dairy, agriculture.

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Photo from Fay Benson, Cornell Small Dairy support specialist.

Press release:

Wanted: aspiring dairy farmers and dairy master graziers to stem the tide of retiring dairy farmers in New York State.

Cornell Small Dairy Support Specialist Fay Benson is recruiting participants for the New York edition of the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program (DGA), the groundbreaking, nationally recognized apprenticeship program for the agricultural industry.

Modeled after apprenticeship programs such as those for developing a highly skilled level of experience for new plumbers and electricians, the DGA is recognized by the federal Department of Labor. 

The two-year DGA requires 4,000 hours of instruction, including 277 hours of online classes, and on-the-job training on farms approved for good agricultural practices and safety measures. The federally registered apprentices are paid on an established wage scale to work on an existing grazing dairy farm while they gain knowledge, skills, and early experience. The wage increases over time as skill level grows.

The New York apprentices and master graziers will work with Benson as the New York DGA education coordinator and a “job book” containing several hundred dairy industry topics to prepare the apprentice to successfully own, operate, or manage a grazing dairy farm business.

Apprentice candidates must be at least 18 years old; have a high school diploma or equivalent, e.g., GED or composite ACT score of at least 18; be physically able to do the work a farm requires; and have reliable transportation.

A master grazier must have at least five years experience with managed grazing or certified organic dairying an an interest in mentoring someone interested in dairy career entry. 

Master graziers often find their own apprenticeship candidates. In some cases, once the training is complete an apprentice stays on as a dedicated farm employee, becomes a farm partner, or eventually transitions into farm ownership.

Successful completion of the DGA provides the apprentice with a journeyman certificate recognized for college-level credit by the New York Department of Labor. The journeyman experience may help secure a beginning farmer loan with FSA (flexible spending account) or a bank.

The Cornell Dairy Farm Business Summary has shown that dairies that use grazing are more profitable than non-grazing dairies of similar size. Grazing is a way to lower fee costs while maintaining animal health and agricultural stewardship.

The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program that began in Wisconsin in 2009 is now approved in nine states: Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Those interested in becoming an apprentice or serving as a dairy master grazier may apply online at www.dga-national.org; for assistance, contact Abbie Teeter at ajt248@cornell.edu, (607) 391-2660, ext. 412. 

Once registered, the apprentices and dairy master graziers can search the entries across the nine-state region to initiate discussion of a possible apprenticeship opportunity.

To learn more about the New York Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, contact Benson at (607) 391-2660 or via email at afb3@cornell.edu. Benson is project manager for the New York Organic Dairy Program, an educator with the Cornell University South Central New York Regional Team, coordinator of the New York Soil Health Trailer, and a member of the New York Crop Insurance Education Team.

Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 7:58 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, agriculture, DEC, Warsaw.
Event Date and Time: 
March 21, 2017 - 8:15am

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County (CCE) is offering a pesticide applicator training session and recertification course from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. March 21 at the Wyoming County Agriculture and Business Center, 36 Center St., Warsaw. The exam begins at 1 p.m..

This session is geared for individuals planning to take the Core and Category Pesticide Certification exam specific to the focus of their work. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 7:56 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, Business, agriculture, Warsaw, DEC.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County (CCE) is offering a pesticide applicator training session and recertification course from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. March 21 at the Wyoming County Agriculture and Business Center, 36 Center St., Warsaw. The exam begins at 1 p.m..

This session is geared for individuals planning to take the Core and Category Pesticide Certification exam specific to the focus of their work. 

If applying for Core Recertification credits, you must bring your Pesticide Certification ID card with you. This session will carry 3.50 Core Recertification Credits. This course is open to those seeking private or commercial category Pesticide Applicator certification. 

Individual responsibilities with CCE include:

    • Preregister with CCE for the training session only, by calling Don Gasiewicz at (585) 786-2251 or emailing him at drg35@cornell.edu. There is a $20 fee for extension enrollees and a $25 fee for non-enrollees. Any questions regarding the certification class can be directed to Gasiewicz as well.

    • You need to purchase the required training manual(s) from the CCE office. Manuals for all categories must be ordered through CCE. Once you know which manual(s) you need, contact Gasiewicz to purchase and/or order. Questions regarding which manual(s) you may need to order, must be directed the NYSDEC at (716) 851-7220.

Individual Responsibilities with New York State DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation)

    • DEC pesticides test. The pesticide exam is conducted by the DEC and is held at the Wyoming County Agriculture and Business Center at 1 p.m. March 21.

    • NYSDEC requires advance registration to be eligible to take the certification exam. If you are planning to take the exam, you must first call the NYSDEC Pesticide Division at (716) 851-7220 to discuss eligibility.

    • If you are eligible, DEC will send you an exam packet, which you must fill out and return to them with your examination fee of $100. You must be preregistered with DEC to take the exam. No walk-ins will be allowed. All questions regarding your certification should be directed to the DEC.

Monday, January 16, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Press release:

Up to $600,000 in grant money is available for local growers to submit proposals to enhance specialty crops in New York State. The funding aims to support research and grower education programs through the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the NY Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) under the Specialty Crop Block Grant program.

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) is encouraging local growers proposals to include crops such as fruits, vegetables, hops, maple syrup, honey, horticulture, and nursery crops.    

The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to give the state’s specialty crop producers a competitive edge and increase the long-term success of the state’s agricultural industry.

“This funding is designed to support programs and research that help farmers better compete in the marketplace by increasing efficiency and reducing costs,” Gallivan said. “By supporting the latest research and education, we can help ensure New York’s incredibly diverse agriculture industry continues to grow and thrive.” 

The following priority areas have been identified:

    • research and/or education addressing a key conventional or organic production problem or need specific to New York State;

    • developing and increasing the use of Integrated Pest Management strategies and programs;

    • prioritizing and addressing native and exotic pests and disease threats through development of pest risk assessments;

    • supporting plant breeding for the development of specialty crops resistant to exotic and native pests;

    • applied research and development to extend the growing season of New York specialty crops through new technologies, improved management practices, or other innovative production strategies; and

    • developing new seed varieties and specialty crops with optimal performance under New York State conditions.

Eligible applicants include not-for-profit organizations and educational institutions, and local and Indian tribal governments. Grant funds will only be awarded to applicants whose projects have statewide significance to the specialty crop industry and do not propose to only benefit a single organization, institution, individual or commercial product. 

Applications are due Feb. 14. Additionally, projects must be completed within two years from the award date.

For application details visit: www.nyfvi.org.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Press release:

Legislation to move the H-2A Agricultural Visa program from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture has been introduced by Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21). 

The Family Farm Relief Act of 2017 aims 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," Collins said. "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."

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.

"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," Stefanik said. "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 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."

The current program is unworkable, especially for the dairy farms across the 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 a category for these workers.

"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. We thank Congresswoman Stefanik for taking the lead on the The Family Farm Relief Act that will provide real reform and address a critical issue in New York's diverse agricultural community," said New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher.

Additionally, the legislation 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.

Click here for full bill text.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 6:23 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, agriculture, Business, farming, ranching.

Press release:

Beginning this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will contact farmers and ranchers to gather agricultural land value information for the Agricultural Land Values survey. 

Survey results will help shape Federal and State deliberations on farm programs, may be used by lending agencies, and can also help individual producers determine their net worth.

“Agricultural land values are one of the major indicators of the financial health of the agricultural sector,” said NASS’ Northeastern Regional Director King Whetstone. “The value of land and buildings accounts for the vast majority of all farm assets.” 

Results of the survey will be released Aug. 3.

More than 1,000 farmers will receive the survey forms. The survey data will be combined with information collected during the 2017 June Agricultural Survey, also conducted by NASS.

To make it as easy as possible for producers to participate in the survey, NASS offers the option of responding online via a secure Internet connection, telephone, mail, fax, or a personal interview with a local NASS representative.

“We guarantee confidentiality of all individual information, regardless of the respond method participants choose, as required by federal law,” Whetstone said. “NASS will combine your responses with your fellow producers, providing the most comprehensive estimate of U.S. agricultural land values for 2017.”

For more information about the Agricultural Land Values Survey, call the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office at (717) 787-3904. All NASS reports and data are available online at www.nass.usda.gov.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at 1:19 pm

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Submitted photo. Pictured from left to right: Brad Almeter, Jeremy Northup and Brian Parker.

Press release:

The Wyoming County Farm Bureau was presented with eight Silver Key Awards at the State’s annual meeting of the New York Farm Bureau held earlier this month in Albany.

The Silver Key Awards are presented to county farm bureaus that have exhibited excellence in a variety of categories relating to effectiveness in policy implementation, promoting agriculture amongst the public and in classrooms, leadership development and membership building.

The awards were presented for excellence in the following categories:

    • Agricultural Education & Promotion

    • County Financial Management

    • Information & Public Relations

    • Leadership Development

    • Policy Development & Implementation – Local

    • Policy Development & Implementation – State & National

    • Young Farmers & Ranchers

    • Distinguished President

Additionally, Brad and Carolyn Almeter, of Strykersville, won a James Quinn Award recognizing them for their extraordinary efforts this past year to serve and strengthen agriculture.

While at the meeting, farmer members also took part in the grassroots process of laying the groundwork for the year ahead. More than 100 delegates from across New York proposed, discussed and voted on resolutions that set NYFB’s public policy agenda for 2017. They also elected a new president of the organization, David Fisher, a dairy farmer from St. Lawrence County.

Wyoming County Farm Bureau is dedicated to solving the economic and public policy issues challenging the agricultural community. The county is part of New York Farm Bureau, the largest agricultural advocacy group in the State, known to members and the public as “The Voice of New York Agriculture.”

Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 1:31 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, agriculture, agri-business.

Press release

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) has been honored by NY FarmNet for his ongoing support of the organization, New York’s farm families and the agriculture industry. The organization, which provides business and financial services to farmers across the state, recently presented Gallivan with its Farm Family Advocate of the Year award for 2016.

“I am honored to support the mission of FarmNet and hardworking farmers across New York,” Gallivan said. “Agriculture is critical to New York’s economy and the well-being of our residents.  Over the past 30 years, FarmNet has worked with thousands of farm families to help them improve profitability and expand their business.” 

NY FarmNet was established in 1986 in response to the national farm crisis and to assist farm families experiencing financial difficulties. The organization provides free consulting and technical assistance in the areas of business planning, retirement, estate planning, financial analysis, stress management, communication and farm business transfers from one generation to the next. 

NY FarmNet honored Senator Gallivan at its annual banquet in Ithaca in November. The event commemorated FarmNet’s 30th anniversary.

 

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