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December 9, 2017 - 3:15pm

Press release:

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, in collaboration with Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, will be offering a CDL Training Program for Genesee County agriculture producers and their employees for Class A and Class B licenses.

This training program is designed for producers and farm employees that have some experience with commercial truck operation.

An informational meeting will be held on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension building at 420 E. Main St., Batavia.

This meeting will explain how the program works and answer any questions you may have. The required training materials and medical forms will be passed out at this time.

Classroom instruction dates are Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Cornell Cooperative Extension building in Batavia. Drive time will be scheduled with the instructor at a later date.

Full payment (check or cash) is due at the class on Jan. 31st. The cost for Class A is $625 and the cost for Class B is $475.

Class size is limited. Registration is required and will be accepted until Jan. 23rd or until the class is full.

For more information or to register, contact Jan Berlinger at 343-3040, ext. 132 or Brandie Waite at ext. 101.

November 7, 2017 - 3:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in oakfield-alabama, FFA, agriculture, Oakfield, news.

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A bit of Oakfield-Alabama Future Farmers of Amercia history was returned to the current FAA chapter at the school -- now in its second year -- at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis last month.

James Connors, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Idaho, had purchased a box of parliamentary items off of eBay and found within it a gavel inscribed with Oakfield-Alabama FFA.

When he found out O-A FFA would be at the convention, he reached out and at first members thought it was maybe a sales pitch, but after a little investigation, agreed to meet. Connors presented them with the gavel that must have belonged to the prior FFA chapter at the school.

Connors presented the gavel to OAE FFA President John Igoe, Secretary Lauren Reding, Reporter Karly Smith and Julia Uhrinek.

“We are thrilled to have a piece of Oakfield-Alabama FFA history back in our possession at school,” said FFA advisor Todd Hofheins.

Chapter members would like to learn more about the history of the gavel. If you know anything about it email [email protected] or call the school at 585.948.5211, ext. 4010.

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November 4, 2017 - 5:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, Genesee County Farms.

Press release:

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Executive Director John Mietz in Genesee County today announced that producers who file accurate and timely reports for all crops and land uses, including failed acreage, can prevent the potential loss of FSA program benefits. Please pay close attention to the acreage reporting dates below and note the reporting date for perennial forage, pastures, and forage seedings is Nov. 15, 2017.

“In order to comply with FSA program eligibility requirements, all producers are encouraged to visit the Genesee County FSA office to file an accurate crop certification report by the applicable deadline,” said Mietz.

The following acreage reporting dates are applicable for Genesee County:

Nov. 15, 2017: fall perennial pasture, hay, cover crops and fall grains (wheat, etc.) December 1, 2017: maple sap
Jan. 2, 2018: honey

The following exceptions apply to the above acreage reporting dates:

  • If the crop has not been planted by the above acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 15 calendar days after planting is completed.

  • If a producer acquires additional acreage after the above acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 30 calendars days after purchase or acquiring the lease. Appropriate documentation must be provided to the county office.

  • If a perennial forage crop is reported with the intended use of “cover only,” “green manure,” “left standing” or “seed,” then the acreage must be reported by July 15, 2018.

According to Mietz, Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) policy holders should note that the acreage reporting date for NAP-covered crops is the earlier of the dates listed above or 15 calendar days before grazing or harvesting of the crop begins.

For questions regarding crop certification and crop loss reports, please contact the Genesee County FSA office at (585) 343-9167. 

November 4, 2017 - 5:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, genesee county farmers.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director John Mietz in Genesee County reminds producers to review available 2018 USDA crop risk protection options, including federal crop insurance and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage, before the fall crop deadline of Nov. 20, 2017.

Federal crop insurance covers crop losses from natural adversities, such as drought, hail and excessive moisture. NAP covers losses from natural disasters on crops for which no permanent federal crop insurance program is available, including forage and grazing crops, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, floriculture, ornamental nursery, aquaculture, turf grass, ginseng, honey, maple sap, bioenergy and industrial crops.

The following fruit tree, nut tree and perennial crops in New York have a NAP application deadline of Nov. 20, 2017: Apples, Apricots, Asparagus, Blueberries, Caneberries, Cherries, Chestnuts, Cranberries, Currants, Ginger, Grapes, Gooseberries, Elderberries, Horseradish, Juneberries, Kiwi, Mulberries, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Persimmons, Plums, Plumcots, Prunes, Quince, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Walnuts, and Willow.

Dec. 1, 2017 is the NAP application deadline for Honey and Maple Sap.

“NAP policies allow producers to protect their investment by purchasing coverage for noninsurable crops,” Mietz said. “Natural disasters are an unavoidable part of farming and ranching and FSA programs like NAP help producers recover when they experience a loss.”

USDA has partnered with Michigan State University and the University of Illinois to create an online tool at 32TUwww.fsa.usda.gov/napU32T that allows producers to determine whether their crops are eligible for federal crop insurance or NAP and to explore the best level of protection for their operation. NAP basic coverage is available at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production, with higher levels of coverage, up to 65 percent of their expected production at 100 percent of the average market price available, including coverage for organics and crops marketed directly to consumers.

Federal crop insurance coverage is sold and delivered solely through private insurance agents. Agent lists are available at all USDA service centers or at USDA’s online Agent Locator at 32Thttp://prodwebnlb.rma.usda.gov/apps/AgentLocator/#32T. Producers can use the USDA Cost

Contact: John Mietz [email protected] or phone (585) 343-9167. 

Estimator at 32Thttps://ewebapp.rma.usda.gov/apps/costestimator/Default.aspx32T to predict insurance premium costs.

For more information on NAP, service fees, premiums and sales deadlines, contact the Genesee County FSA office at (585) 343-9167 or visit 32Twww.fsa.usda.gov/nap32T

October 27, 2017 - 2:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, news, agriculture, business, agritourism.

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Agritourism is itself a growing industry in New York and with Genesee County being a major contributor to the state's agriculture industry, Genesee Community College hosted a free agritourism symposium yesterday.

The event was organized by Amy Slusser, professor of GCC’s Tourism and Hospitality Management Program.

“Our region of New York State offers some of the best agritourism opportunities in the nation,” Slusser said. “From our dairies for cheese and yogurt, while not forgetting milk, butter and of course, ice cream, to the many acres of fruits and vegetables. And, New York wineries are now competing with great success against both European and Californian varietals. Now is the time for agritourism in the Upstate New York.”

Sophie Winter, Ph.D., was the keynote speaker with a theme of “Evolution, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Agritourism.” A native of Southern France, Winter earned her master’s degree in Agricultural Business from Illinois State University and her Ph.D. in Business Administration from Arizona State University. Currently, she teaches agricultural marketing, sales, retail management and entrepreneurship at SUNY Cobleskill.

There was also a panel discussion with:

  • Barbara Dominesey, general manager of Hidden Valley Animal Adventures in Varysburg;
  • Chad Heeb, director of marketing of New York Chips and Marquart Farms in Gainesville; and
  • Betty Burley, owner of East Hill Creamery in Perry.

Photos courtesy GCC.

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October 18, 2017 - 11:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Cornell Cooperative Extension, agriculture, batavia, business, elba.

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At its annual meeting at Terry Hills yesterday, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County celebrated its 100th anniversary. The board also recognized CCE's staff and volunteers, including Paul Randall, who has been a master gardener for 25 years.

Above, Brandie Waite presents Randall with a pin and certificate. Randall, a resident of Elba, has averaged more than 100 hours of volunteer service for the past 25 years. He has volunteered for diagnostic home visits, judged horticulture entries for the Genesee County Fair, assisted in master gardener training, performed "countless" pH soil tests, assisted with the tree survey at the State School for the Blind, and helped plan and plant the garden at the CCE's building on East Main Street in Batavia.

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County Legislator Mike Davis was the keynote speaker. Davis, who has 72 days left in office, has served as legislative liaison to CCE. Last year, the county reduced funding for CCE along with other outside agencies and Davis said he opposed the cuts and will oppose any further cuts during this year's budget discussions.

"There are great things going on at CCE," Davis said.

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Director Bev Mancuso said when she took the job in 2003, she went out and talked with people in the community about what made the extension valuable and important.

"It was really interesting because, overall, the feedback I got was that our programming was really seen as vital to the fabric of our community and that through our programming we could rebuild the moral fiber of our society," Mancuso said. "Wow. I remember when people said that to me and the thing that struck me was I thought, ‘I want to be able to do that through our programming. I want to to be able to make this place better.' I wanted to do it because I believed our staff could do it. I believed the volunteers and the leaders and program participants could do it. And I believed that this community deserved it."

Besides supporting local agriculture, the extension supports 4-H and Leadership Genesee.

"We have touched a lot of lives in the past 100 years," she said.

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Assemblyman Steve Hawley presented an Assembly proclamation recognizing CCE's 100th anniversary.

October 11, 2017 - 4:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, Announcements, agriculture, tourism, agritourism.

A symposium on agritourism will be held at Genesee Community College on Thursday, Oct. 26.

It will take place inside Stuart Steiner Theatre and is free and open to all. It is hosted by GCC's Tourism & Hospitality Management Program.

Meet the entrepreneurial agritourism leaders in Genesee County. There will be vendor booths and samples.

Here's the day's schedule:

  • 11 a.m. to noon -- Student Session with Sophie Winter, Ph.D.
  • 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. -- Keynote Speaker: Sophie Winter, Ph.D.
  • 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. -- Panel Discussion and Question-and-Answer Session
  • 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. -- Meet, Greet & Eat Reception

The college is located at One College Road in the Town of Batavia.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Amy Slusser, professor, Tourism & Hospitality Management, at 343-0055, ext. 6332, or email   [email protected]

The symposium is sponsored in part by Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement.

October 4, 2017 - 3:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, news, notify.

If the current administration in the White House was successful in closing the southern border and deporting all migrant farm workers, it would be devastating to Upstate's economy according to a report prepared earlier this year by Farm Credit East.

Libby Eiholzer, a bilingual dairy specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, shared the finding of the report during a presentation Tuesday to the County Legislature's Human Services Committee.

"What they found was there are at least a thousand farmers in the state that are at a higher risk, that they are highly dependent on immigrant labor," Eiholzer said. "If they lost their employees they could potentially go out of business. It would reduce the ag production by over $1 billion. There would be 900,000 fewer acres in production. On-farm jobs would be reduced by 20,000 and then there would be another 23,000 fewer off-jobs in the industry. The total economic impact would be $7.2 billion."

Farmers are so dependent on immigrant labor that they feel caught between INS enforcement and farm labor advocacy groups, Eiholzer said. Both the agency and the labor groups, farmers fear, are a threat to their ability to stay in business. That makes them hesitant to raise their concerns publicly about immigrant labor or work with the advocacy groups to ensure farm workers receive adequate care and protection.

What Eiholzer and a colleague did earlier this year was convene a focus group of dairy farmers from Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties in Batavia, which allowed farmers to speak out anonymously so Cornell could complete a study on the status of immigrant labor.

"This was the largest number of farms that we surveyed," Eilholzer said. "We also talked to 200 workers on those farms. What we found is that these farms, that are really representatives of other farms of similar size in the state, are very reliant on a Hispanic workforce. Seventy percent of the farms that we surveyed had at least half, if not all, of their workforce comprised of Hispanic individuals, and another quarter had a portion of their employees comprised of Hispanic individuals."

The farmers do all they can to ensure their workers have the proper documentation to allow them to work in this country, but they don't have the resources or the authority to dig too deeply. If they ask for paperwork beyond what they would as an Anglo worker, they risk accusations of discrimination.

"The only way to know the I-9 forms are not accurate is if the INS comes to your farm and does an I-9 audit and they tell you somebody is not allowed to work here," Eiholzer said. "Farmers do their due diligence to make sure people are eligible to work here but at the same time, you know that at least half of the immigrant farm workers here in the country (are undocumented)."

The full report (pdf) outlines what Eiholzer and researcher Thomas R. Maloney found.

Among the findings, it's very hard to find native-born New Yorkers to take manual labor farm jobs.

The managers also looked locally to recruit American workers through local high schools or BOCES programs, but with very little success. American workers often require a lot of social services support, which adds additional time and burden on the employer through additional paperwork requirements imposed by the social services programs and often resulting in a failed employment scenario.

Advocacy groups are pushing for higher wages, overtime pay, better housing conditions, and the right of workers to form labor unions. While farmers acknowledge there are things that could be done to make life better for workers, they don't feel the advocacy groups understand the farm business and are really out to destroy them. That distrust prevents them from bringing leaders from these groups to the farms to work with them on improving conditions.

From the report:

Their concern stems from their belief that these groups have an agenda to ultimately harm their farms, rather than actually to help farm workers. ... The advocacy groups have referred to farm employment practices as a form of “modern-day slavery,” which underscores the tone of animosity that these groups have toward the employers. 

Starting hourly pay for milkers is $9.34, with the highest rate going to $11.05. The highest rate for any Hispanic worker on average is $12.94. Farmers acknowledge, as a matter of being competitive for workers, the starting rate was low. Since the report was issued, the minimum wage rose to $9.70 and it will go over $10 an hour after the first of the year. Farmers have adjusted wages for all workers accordingly.

The farmers often provide free housing. They said the housing, especially group housing, is difficult and expensive to maintain, and this is an area where advocacy groups could actually help if they could be trusted to come onto dairy farms and not disrupt operations.

At the same time, if the state keeps increasing the minimum wage, and farmers are forced to pay overtime, and workers are allowed to form unions, housing is one area farmers could be forced to cut expenses, even charging rent to workers to offset higher labor costs.

Eighty percent of Hispanic dairy farm workers in the state receive free housing from their employers.

As financial pressures build on the farms, the result is to push some of the costs down to the employees. This phenomenon is commonly seen in other industry sectors when costs increase for the employer. This presents serious complications, as the Department of Labor has stringent compliance regulations regarding on-site housing for employees. There is a concern that employers may take advantage of their employees when there is a landlord/tenant relationship as part of employment. Focus group participants would prefer not to be in the landlord business. 

A change in overtime rules would also have a trickle-down effect that would hurt workers, the report found.

Their Hispanic workers who ask to work 60-70 hours per week and would seek other employment that would meet their income expectations. Those who do not leave likely will be upset, as their hours and overall pay will be cut drastically. These are the workers who most want to maximize their earnings but would end up earning less. Employers acknowledge that this move will force them to hire more people to work fewer hours or start to think about switching to robotic milking systems. 

The unpredictability of the Trump Administration on immigration and reports of greater enforcement and how these political factors have changed the perception of Hispanic workers in the communities where they live have caused fear and anxiety for farmers and workers.

This level of unpredictability is causing a sense of fear and nervousness for farm employers, workers, and the community at large. Interestingly, it was stated that the workers are not worried about crossing the border, but they are very concerned about being deported from Western New York. The most damaging and immediate impact of the recent Executive Order has been to instill a sense of fear in the community regarding these employees. Some Hispanic employees have stopped leaving the farm altogether since the order was announced. They will pay others to purchase their groceries for them, as they are afraid to be seen out in public. Farm employers are very concerned about the impact that this type of self-imposed isolation will have on their employees.

There is a perception among focus group participants that the Trump Administration is focused on jobs for Americans and does not comprehend the impact agriculture has on the U.S. economy. Agriculture is a $30 billion industry.

September 26, 2017 - 12:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, agriculture, business.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) met with United States Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta today to discuss expanding the H-2A Agricultural Visa program. This program allows agriculture employers to hire workers on a temporary basis to fill seasonal jobs. 

Under the current program, America’s agricultural employers that require year-round workers are met with challenges as it relates to finding a legal, experienced workforce. The H-2A visa program does not currently provide a category for year-round livestock workers, including dairy. Both crop and livestock farmers depend on affordable labor, yet an oversight in the H-2A program has put the latter at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining workers.

“I’ve talked with hard-working farmers across Western New York who are struggling because they are unable to retain year-round workers,” Collins said. “Our dairy farmers especially are burdened with an H-2A program that does not allow them to hire the individuals they need to milk cows, feed livestock, and maintain the herd.” 

The agriculture industry is vital to the Western New York economy. Collins’ Congressional District includes almost 5,000 farms, which produce more than $1 billion of products sold each year.

Collins said one area of the H-2A program that needs improvement includes changing eligibility to include year-round agricultural operations such as dairy, nursery, and fresh-cut operations. The meeting with Secretary Acosta was based on the fact that the Department of Labor (USDOL) has the ability to make rule changes that would immediately amend program guidelines.  

“I urged Secretary Acosta to take action on this issue now. Western New York’s and America’s farmers can’t continue to be burdened by these ineffective rules and regulations while waiting for Congress to act,” Collins added.

Collins was joined by Members of Congress from across the United States who also discussed streamlining the H-2A application process. Recommendations presented would reduce redundancies and improve operating efficiencies.  

“I am committed to working with President Trump, Secretary Acosta and my colleagues in Congress to make the necessary reforms that are good for our agriculture industry, and in turn, good for our economy.”

September 24, 2017 - 3:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, agriculture, batavia, news, notify.

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Local farmers and other members of the agriculture industry were briefed Saturday on various legislative issues by Rep. Chris Collins and a member of his staff.

The topics discussed included immigration, the new farm bill, the Waters of the U.S. rule and even a couple of non-agricultural items. The meeting was held at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office on East Main Street, Batavia.

Legislative Assistant Taylor Kloustin provided an update on key issues Collins is working on, including the H2A work visa program, workforce legislation, the upcoming effort to pass a new farm bill, and Waters of the U.S. rules.

Collins is meeting next week with the Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, to discuss immigration issues, most notably expanding the H2A visa program to allow workers from other countries to stay in the United States all year long when employed in certain farm jobs, such as dairy and livestock.

She said Collins is also interested in seeing the program revised for temporary workers so that they can get back into the country easier once they've established ongoing employment, such as a TSA-like precheck, perhaps with a biometric ID card.

There's also legislation pending that would move responsibility for farm labor from the Department of Labor to the USDA, which Kloustin said is an agency more familiar with the needs of farmers for labor.

The committee working on the Farm Bill renewal is expected to have language in place by November.

Collins is chair of the specialty crops caucus so his office is working with United Fresh on setting up a specialty crops awareness program in November for House staffers working on the Farm Bill so they can better understand the needs of specialty crop growers.

Dean Norton, an Elba dairy farmer, was one of those who brought the conversation back during the Q&A time to the Waters of the U.S. rule. The rule was approved during the Obama Administration and Trump has rescinded it by executive order. Farmers were upset by the bill because it could be used to regulate the smallest bodies of water on farms.

Norton and other farmers noted that what can be undone by executive order can be reimplemented by executive order in the next administration. They encouraged Collins to pursue legislation that would make Trump's order permanent.

Craig Yunker, CEO CY Farms, expressed concern about the direction the Trump Administration is taking on trade. He's particularly concerned about the seeming protectionist positions of Peter Navarro, a trade advisor to the Trump Administration. Yunker said with the United States pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership there are already trade problems with Japan.

Collins said there's a lot of uncertainty about what will happen with trade during the Trump Administration because we're only eight months into his presidency. He thinks Trump has the right people around him, though, to handle the issue.

"Trump very clear at the U.N.," Collins said. "It’s America first; he’s going to look out for America’s interest. He is going to expect other countries to do their fair share. He's looking for fair trade.

"My worry is your worry," Collins added. "Typically, the retaliation is on ag. That’s the gotcha. Whether it’s Canada or whether it’s Mexico or whether it’s something like apples going to Asia, we do know they retaliate using ag. I share that concern, but the administration knows this. They’re smart guys. To me, it’s too early to tell."

Maureen Torrey, of Torrey Farms, a large grower of produce, said her big concern remains trade restrictions in Canada, which makes it harder to sell U.S.-grown produce north of the border, even though there is no restriction on produce from Canada being sold here.

"It’s pretty sad that within five miles of the border you have 95 percent the population of Canada and the only time I can sell is if they don’t have it and then I have to go through a process to have them to say 'yes, you can ship something', " Torry said. "We need to get that door a little bit more open."

One farmer wondered if the bipartisan spirit displayed by Trump when he reached a deal a couple of weeks ago with Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi is something the GOP leadership in both houses will pick up on and follow.

"To be honest I think Trump is going to lead it from start to finish," Collins said.

While Trump's deal on the debt ceiling and relief for the victims of Harvey and Irma may have shocked and even upset some members of Congress, the leadership is going to have to fall in line, Collins said. 

"I think he's telling Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, 'You better get behind me,' " Collins said. " 'I'm the president. I'm the CEO.' "

Collins said he's solidly behind the president on this point and thinks a lot of what the president wants to get done this congressional term, most notably tax reform, will require bipartisan effort. Even within the GOP, he noted, there are too many divergent interests for the Republicans to act unilaterally. 

"I applauded him for doing what he did, though others just thought it was the worst thing that ever could have happened," Collins said. "There are a lot of folks that want to protect their own turf, if you will, and they didn’t like it. But as I’ve said, 'How did we do on health care?' Not so good, and that’s something we unanimously agreed on until the rubber hit the road and the document’s there. That’s the whole problem."

The other non-farm issue to come up was North Korea.  

" 'Rocket Man', " Collins said with a chuckle. "I’ve got to give Trump credit. He is so good with nicknames. I think Rocket Man is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s poking at Kim Jong-un. It’s getting under his skin. And it’s appropriate. He’s going to be Rocket Man from now on.”

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Dean Norton, dairy farmer from Elba.

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September 21, 2017 - 5:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Announcements, news, agriculture.

Press release:

WHAT: WNY Region -- Farmland Protection Forums for Community Leaders
WHEN: 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 6
WHERE: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, 420 E. Main St., Batavia

American Farmland Trust is hosting three farmland protection forums across New York in November.

Each forum will feature presentations from area experts about the resources available to protect farmland and strengthen farm viability in New York communities, as well as local issues identified by the Community Leaders Survey.

This is a great opportunity to network with other town and county leaders in your region.

Land-use training credits will be offered to local officials.

**Forums are free to attend, but space is limited!

Please RSVP at:
https://www.farmland.org/new-york-farmland-protection-forums

September 21, 2017 - 3:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Announcements, business, agriculture, GCC, drones.

Press release:

Are you fascinated with the exploding growth of drones and their applications across many fields, from emergency medical services to agriculture? Genesee Community College will take to the skies this fall with demonstrations and courses in flying drones or sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial Systems).

Whether you are new to drones, planning on starting a business utilizing drones, want to earn your FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Remote Pilot Certification, or just interested in the technology-GCC has a drone program for you!

GCC's BEST (Business and Employee Skills Training) Center will offer a series of noncredit programs starting with two Informational Sessions on drone opportunities. These events will give anyone interested in flying drones, starting a career and/or becoming an FAA-certified remote pilot, an ideal opportunity to talk to a professional drone pilot or with The BEST Center staff. If you are interested in flying drones as a hobby or a career, these open houses are a great start. Reservations are required by calling 585-345-6868.

  • Saturday, Oct. 7, 10 - 11 a.m. / Room T-119, Batavia Campus
  • Thursday, Oct. 12, 6 - 7 p.m. / Room T-119, Batavia Campus

"Introduction to Drones" is a three-day, 18-hour, intensive course covering all of the fundamentals of flying, piloting skills, safety, regulations and preparing one to take the FAA Remote Pilot Certification test. As part of their class materials, each participant will receive a small drone with camera and remote control. The course runs the following three Saturdays:

  • Saturdays: Oct. 28, Nov. 4 and 11, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. / Batavia Campus

Anyone using drones for business or other ventures is required to have a certification or operate under the supervision of a certified pilot. For those with flying experience, the one-day, "Remote Pilot Knowledge Test Prep" course is offered:

  • Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. / Batavia Campus to help prepare for the FAA certification test.

Lastly, in October, the 10-week "Introduction to Precision Agriculture" course explores the advanced technology of farming today and will include drone applications such as collecting data and other uses. The course is held with the option of attending the program at the Batavia Campus or online through WebEx.

September 20, 2017 - 4:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Love Beets, Dewey Farms, byron, batavia, business, news, agriculture.

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New York used to be the largest grower of beets in the nation, participants in today's Decision Makers Agricultural Tour, learned while visiting a processing facility in Byron.

Now we're number two behind Michigan, but most of the beets grown in the state that puts us in that position are grown in Genesee County.

As part of the tour, Mark Dewey, of Dewey Farms, talked about his company's processing facility and the beet industry.

The facility processes beets from 600 acres of farmland in the area, on five farms in Genesee County and two in Livingston County. There are no beets grown in New York outside of those counties.

This was the 28th annual ag tour sponsored by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

Most of the beets processed in Byron are handled for a U.K.-based company called Love Beets. 

Love Beets initially started selling beets in the United States by shipping them from Europe to a processing plant in New Jersey. When they learned about the Byron plant, which meets their mission-critical need for sorting by size, the company contracted with Dewey.

The plant processes beets year around. When the local growing season end here in the fall, beets are trucked in from the south through the winter. Dewey said they're working on getting more beets from Mexico for the spring and summer months.

Beets are pickled or canned or turned into juice. Some beets are organic. Others meet the dietary demands of Kosher.

Visitors were able to sample a variety of beet products, including a beet lemonade (really, it's good) that's sold at Tops.

The tour also included a stop by Oxbo International in Byron, where farm equipment is manufactured, and Vegetal, which grows sedum, a cactus-like plant that can be grown on roofs to help reduce energy costs (prior coverage).

NOTE: Oxbo asked that we not publish photos from inside the facility. First three photos are of Dewey Farms and below those is one of Christian Yunker, from CY Farms, which hosts Vegetal, at the Vegetal facility on Bank Street Road, Batavia.

UPDATE: Last photo is of John Easton, Oxbo employee, conducting a tour of the plant. Published with permission.

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September 13, 2017 - 3:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chamber of commerce, business, agriculture.

Press release:

“Genesee County’s International Agriculture Connections” will be the theme of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s 28th Annual Decision-Maker’s Agricultural tour on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

The half-day tour will begin with a breakfast at 8 a.m. at the Kennedy Building at the Genesee County Fairgrounds, 5056 East Main Street Road, Batavia. Presentations by the Genesee County Economic Development Center and Bonduelle will take place at the fairgrounds before boarding the bus for stops at Love Beets, Oxbo International, and Vegetal. The bus will return to the fairgrounds by noon. 

“Most people know that the number one industry in Genesee County is agriculture,” said Tom Turnbull, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. “What many are unaware of is the number of international connections there are to local agribusinesses. All of the stops on this year’s tour have an international affiliation.”

The Decision Maker’s Ag Tour is open to the public and is free of charge. Participants should register in advance by calling the Chamber office at 585-343-7440 or by emailing to [email protected]

August 31, 2017 - 12:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, 4-H, youth, swine, news, Announcements.

Pictured from left are: Melissa Keller, Benjamin Kron, Becky Kron and Katelynn Rumsey.

Submitted photo and press release:

Youth from the Genesee County 4-H program represented their local 4-H Swine Club while at the Great New York State Fair.

Genesee County swine club members competed against youth from across the state in the Youth Swine Shows held on Aug. 30. Local participants were: Melissa Keller, Becky Kron, Benjamin Kron and Katelynn Rumsey.

Local 4-H swine club members also competed in the Empire Swine Youth Scholarship contest. Participants of the contest compete in several different categories including: Showmanship, Pork Quality Assurance Plus, Skillathon, Interviews and more.

Melissa Keller won the contest for the second year in a row. Becky Kron placed 11th as a first-year participant and Benjamin Kron placed 15th.

We would like to congratulate these youth for their participation at the New York State Fair and for representing Genesee County 4-H!

August 31, 2017 - 12:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, agriculture, news.

haywagon2017.jpg

Off Gorton Road, Alabama.

August 28, 2017 - 3:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in 4-H, agriculture, news, Announcements.

In photo above, Grand Master Showman -- Adam King, Reserve Master Showman -- Emily Mikel.

Submitted photos and press release:

Emily Mikel, representing the Genesee Co. 4-H Dairy Club, took home the title of 2017 Reserve Master Showman in the Youth Dairy Show.  

In photo above, Judge -- Evan Snyder, Overall Master Showman -- Benjamin Kron.

Benjamin Kron, representing the Genesee Co. 4-H Sheep Club, took home the title of Overall Master Showman in the Youth Sheep Show.

August 27, 2017 - 5:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, 4-H, dairy, agriculture, state fair, Announcements.

Dairy Challenge Team (from left): Jillian Brewer, Renee Uberty, Maggie Winsper, Amelia Brewer.

Submitted photos and press release:

Several youth from the Genesee County 4-H Dairy Club competed at two dairy events held at the New York State Fair in Syracuse.

The Dairy Challenge contest was held on Aug. 23 and is a contest in which youth are quizzed at stations on different dairy topics such as: nutrition, anatomy, physiology, and product/equipment knowledge.

Genesee County 4-H Junior Team participants were: Amelia Brewer, Jillian Brewer, Maggie Winspear and Renee Uberty.

The Dairy Judging Contest was held on Aug. 24 and allowed youth to be the judge; scoring animals on dairy character and functionality and structural correctness of the animals.

The following youth represented Genesee County 4-H:

Novice Teams 

Genesee Team 1: Caroline Luft, Maggie Winspear, Bing Zuber -- Second Place

Genesee Team 2: Adison Norton, Renee Uberty -- Fifth Place

Novice Individuals

Bing Zuber -- Fourth Place

Adison Norton -- Sixth Place

Caroline Luft -- Seventh Place

Maggie Winspear – 12th Place

Renee Uberty – 14th Place

Junior Team

Amelia Brewer, Georgia Luft, Mason Werth, Claire Mathes, Jillian Brewer) – Eighth Place

Junior Individuals

Amelia Brewer -- 21st Place

Georgia Luft -- 24th Place

Mason Werth -- 34th Place

Claire Mathes -- 41st Place

Jillian Brewer -- 49th Place

Senior Individual

Mary Sweeney -- Sixth Place -- Individual and Fourth Place -- Reasons.

Mary will return with the top 25 contestants, for a second round of the contest on Sept. 1. She will be competing for a spot on the New York State 4-H Dairy Judging team to represent New York at a National Competition in Madison, Wis., World Dairy Expo.

We are very proud of all the our youth for competing at the state level and look forward to going back for next year’s competition. Thank you to our 4-H Dairy Club Volunteers who helped make this opportunity possible.

Dairy Judging Team -- back row: Amelia Brewer, Maggie Winspear, Renee Uberty, Jillian Brewer, Mason Werth, Adison Norton; Front row -- Georgia Luft, Bing Zuber, Caroline Luft.

August 12, 2017 - 1:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in education, agriculture, 4-H, chris collins, news, Announcements.

Press release:

Legislation is currently being debated in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce that would lower the tax burden for students involved in 4-H programs and provide them with an opportunity to invest their earnings in future projects, college funds, or savings accounts. Congressman Chris Collins released the following statement, in which he highlighted his support for the bipartisan legislation titled the Student Agriculture Protection Act of 2017.

“4-H programs offer constructive ways for students to expand their knowledge of agriculture and animal sciences,” Collins said. “With agriculture being the largest industry in New York’s 27th Congressional District, those who participate in local 4-H programs will soon be amongst the primary contributors to Western New York’s economy. For this reason alone, it’s critically important that incentives are set in place that will drive up participation and spread awareness of 4-H programs.”

If signed into law, the Act would create a tax exemption for the first $5,000 of revenue earned by students 18 years old or younger from either the sale of livestock or agriculture projects completed through 4-H or Future Farmers of America programs. In effect, it will eliminate the tax-filing burden for eligible students and allow them to invest their earnings in future projects or college funds.

“Plain and simple, the Student Agriculture Protection Act is an investment in the next generation of American farmers. This bill will have a direct and positive impact on New York’s 27th Congressional District and will ensure the U.S. remains the world leader in agriculture. As a proud cosponsor, I will continue my advocacy in support of this legislation to ensure it is put up for a vote on the House Floor.”

For more information on H.R. 1626, the Student Agriculture Protection Act of 2017, click here.

August 3, 2017 - 1:46pm

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer yesterday (Aug. 2) called Canadian Ambassador Nominee Kelly Knight-Craft and strongly urged her to work with Canadian officials to persuade them to reverse the protectionist and restrictive trade policies that are currently harming the Upstate New York milk industry and farmers.

Schumer explained that the Province of Ontario and Canada’s federal government have adopted restrictive measures on the importation of milk products. These measures will cost tens of millions in U.S. dairy contracts. Producers like O-AT-KA Milk in Genesee County, Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Cayuga County and Ideal Dairy Farm in Washington County have all been harmed, he says.

Schumer said these policies are blatant violations of existing fair trade agreements with Canada. Schumer said this is an affront to current U.S.-Canadian trade agreements, and therefore urged Ms. Craft to push Canada reverse these unfair policies and work with the United States to keep current dairy trade agreements strong. 

“Canada’s restrictive dairy trade and pricing policies are blatantly violating our trade agreements signed by the U.S. and Canada, and they are hurting New York’s dairy producers who simply want to deal fairly with our Canadian partners," Schumer said. "That’s why I called the Canadian Ambassador Nominee and I urged her to push Canada to end these unfair policies and work with the U.S. to keep both of our dairy industries strong.

"These kinds of policies put our dairy farmers in grave jeopardy. Our New York dairy producers work hard every day to provide for their families and export quality products to the world – and they deserve to know that everyone’s competing on a level playing field.”

Schumer has long fought to protect the Upstate NY dairy industry and milk producers across the state. In September, Schumer urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Secretary Vilsack and the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, to continue to pressure Canada to end these unfair policies.

The senator said it is critical that the federal government protects the Upstate NY dairy industry, and that these protectionist trade policies should not be allowed to continually impair the value of fair trade provisions the U.S. previously secured under our prior trade agreements.

In the Spring of 2016, Schumer visited O-AT-KA Milk, Cayuga Milk Ingredients and Ideal Farm as he urged the USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Michael Froman, to protect Upstate New York’s dairy sector from the then-proposed barriers to trade. Following that push, Schumer again urged these two federal agencies to ramp up all available resources to investigate new Canadian dairy trade policies that could hurt dairy farmers in Upstate NY.

The Canadian province of Ontario has already imposed limitations on American imports and recently Canada’s national government put out a proposal to expand these restrictions nationwide.

Schumer said that the Province of Ontario and Canada’s federal pricing policies, are designed to crowd out New York’s dairy sales and discourage Canadian cheesemakers from using imported ultra-filtered milk from the United States in their products. These new pricing policies essentially set the price of Canada’s products below that of New York’s ultra-filtered milk imports, which hurts O-AT-KA and Cayuga’s more efficiently produced ultra-filtered milk.

Schumer explained that Canada’s National Ingredients Strategy for dairy takes a similar approach to Ontario’s new Class VI pricing policy by incentivizing Canadian processors to shift away from using dairy imports from the U.S. Upstate New York producers have invested millions in order to be able to export to Canada because they have long enjoyed duty-free access for this specific product under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Schumer said these Canadian trade barriers have already started to hinder development and growth of the Upstate NY dairy industry. Companies like O-AT-KA and Cayuga Milk Ingredients, along with Ideal Dairy Farm, rely on trade with Canada for a significant percentage – millions of dollars – of their revenue.

As the country’s third largest milk producing state, a significant impact on New York’s ability to tap into key foreign markets could also impact farmers in surrounding states. Therefore, Schumer said, any reductions in export sales could impact NY dairy manufacturers and their supplying farms, which are already struggling with depressed milk prices.

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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