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June 19, 2017 - 1:06pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in news, elba, Underhill Farms, agriculture, business.

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Andrew Underhill's passion for growing strawberries took him across the world to Eisenberg, Germany, to work on a strawberry and asparagus farm. 

The 15-week internship was required for his graduation from SUNY Morrisville, Underhill said.

“I love growing strawberries and it was a 35-acre farm there,” Underhill said. “It was my dream farm.”

Underhill said when deciding where to complete his internship, he knew wanted to be on a large strawberry or asparagus farm.

“I wanted to go somewhere farther than New York,” Underhill said.

His college roommate had family in Switzerland, who ended up having a connection at the farm in Germany. 

Erdbeer Land, the farm he interned at, has 35 acres of strawberries and 15 acres of asparagus, with 385 employees.

While at Erdbeer Land, Underhill learned new cultivation methods for strawberries and asparagus, and how to extend strawberry seasons.

Underhill said he also learned how to grow white asparagus while in Germany, but doesn’t plan to grow it here.

“It’s harder to grow,” Underhill said. “It’s the same plant, but it grows under the soil.”

The Elba resident works on his family farm, Underhill farms, located on 4847 Batavia Elba Townline Road. He is the fourth generation of Underhill men to farm on the same fields.

Now an alumnus of SUNY Morrisville, he said he plans to take over Underhill farms one day.

"I do all the planting [of strawberries] here," Underhill said. "I pick them, too." 
 
Below are photos from his time in Germany.
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June 10, 2017 - 9:21am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in news, Oakfield, agriculture, business, Lamb Farms.

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Kendra Lamb is passionate about dairy farming, so much so that she speaks at conferences, participates in education programs, serves industry groups and now she, and her family, are in a commercial promoting dairy. It started airing June 1 on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

The commercial was produced by Dairy Good, a national trade group that represents family-owned dairy farms, such as Oakfield-based Lamb Farms.

Leslie and Gordon Lamb started the farm in 1966 with 110 cows and it has since grown to 2,400 cows. Kendra’s husband, Matt, runs the home farm, but they have  expanded to five other locations.

Dairy Good contacted Kendra about the commercial two and a half months ago and said she was excited to do it.

“Since I became a mom, I’ve become passionate about talking about what we do,” Kendra said. “I think that as people get further removed from agriculture, there’s a distrust with what you don’t know.”

Kendra said she wanted to do the commercial because there is a lack of understanding.

“Farmers haven’t always been good at talking about what we do,” Kendra said. “That’s become my role on the farm.”

Kendra said she shares pictures on their Facebook page to show their values at the farm.

“That’s what people care about these days,” Kendra said. “They want to see the person behind the product. They want to know that you care, and we do.”

Kendra also guides free tours throughout the farm, showing the facilities and cows being milked, providing an educational experience for visitors to learn where their food comes from.

The farm is always improving sustainability, Kendra said.

A methane digester was installed in 2010 that powers the whole farm, creating green energy from cow waste.

“We’re always improving [sustainability] but we don’t do a good job talking about it,” Kendra said.

Kendra said 97 percent of the dairy farms in the United States are family-owned.

“Hopefully those that see our commercial see that we are family farms, even though we are bigger than what people picture when they picture a family farm,” Kendra said. “We care about taking care of the cows. We are proud to produce a high-quality product.”

June 7, 2017 - 3:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Kinder Farmin', corfu, agriculture, news, Reyncrest Farms.

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This year's Kinder Farmin', a chance for elementary schoolchildren from throughout the county to learn about where their food comes from, was hosted by Reyncrest Farms on Alleghany Road in Corfu. It was organized by the Genesee County Farm Bureau.

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June 6, 2017 - 5:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, news, education, bergen, byron, agriculture.

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Press release:

The Byron-Bergen community’s agricultural heritage was celebrated on June 2 with the Jr./Sr. High School’s fourth annual Agriculture Appreciation Day — better known as the bring-your-tractor-to-school-day.

Brothers Garrett and Wyatt Sando were the first to arrive in their carefully restored and shining 1973 White tractor. They were soon joined by other students with their farm vehicles, large and small, including a classic 1952 Farmall.

Science teacher Jeff Parnapy is excited about the important role agriculture will be playing in education at the school next year. He is spearheading the new agriculture program, which will launch in the fall with an Intro to Ag class and a new Byron-Bergen chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA).

“We’ve been working with our Advisory Council, a wonderful group of experienced people from the community, to plan and organize the program,” he said. “Our Superintendent, Mickey Edwards, and Principal Pat McGee, recognize the interest our students have in agriculture and natural resources. We already have 22 students signed up for the first class.”

Junior Garrett Sando is one of them. His family owns 75 acres and he has had his tractor license since ninth grade.

“I’m really interested in trying the program out,” Garrett said.

Parnapy is excited to work with young people who are interested in building futures in agriculture. He taught Agriculture in Albion schools before coming to Byron-Bergen in 2000, and sees similarities between the two communities.

“My hope is to launch the program and expand it every year. The FFA chapter will be open to kids in grades nine through 12 for the first year, with plans to extend it to grades seven and eight when it is solidly established.”

Top photo: Brothers Garrett and Wyatt Sando with their 1973 White tractor.

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Student drivers strike a pose on Adam Starowitz’s tractor: (l-r) Garrett Sando, Brandon Lewis, Marquis Brown, Benjamin Latham, and Starowitz with School Resource Officer Matt Butler.

June 4, 2017 - 10:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, Oderkirk Acres, agriculture, news, history.

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Richard Oderkirk is still growing sunflowers this year, and vegetables and other flowers, but that big old barn that was once the backdrop for a scenic view along Route 33 in Stafford won't be there anymore to provide a touch of history to the six-generation family farm.

The barn was heavily damaged in a storm a couple of winters ago and this morning Stafford fire, with help from Bethany and South Byron, managed a controlled burn on what was left of the structure.

Oderkirk, along with his daughter, who currently lives in the old farmhouse on the property, was there to watch what was left of the century-old barn go up in flames.

Like a lot of old barns that have been lost over the years, this one long ago needed a new roof and it didn't get it, and that's the main reason it fell apart, Oderkirk said. The other barns on the property have been re-roofed.

The roof on this barn was added in 1922, Oderkirk said, because his grandmother for some reason wanted a gable roof on it. Oderkirk said he didn't know why she decided to make the change, but the barn was also enlarged at the time.

"My dad had mentioned the roofers kept the nails in the house so they were warm, so they worked all winter, or part of winter, putting the cedar shingles on," Oderkirk said.

The timber in the beams was still green when they were nailed into place, Oderkirk said, and when the hardwood dried around those nails the wood became hard as rock, he said.

"I can't even pull those nails out now," he said.

Previously: Sunflower farm adds beauty, but grower wants to sell produce

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May 24, 2017 - 4:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, schools, education, business, GCC, news, byron, elba, Pavilion, corfu.

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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 [email protected]. 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.

May 13, 2017 - 7:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 4H, Genesee County 4H Swine Club, batavia, news, agriculture.

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The 4H Swine Club held its annual pulled pork lunch sale at the Genesee County Fairgrounds today.

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May 4, 2017 - 7:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, schools, education, news, agriculture.

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Ninth-graders from throughout the GLOW region were at GCC today for the 2nd Annual Precision Agriculture Day. The series of lectures and demonstrations were an opportunity for students to learn about career options in agriculture that involve technology. It was a chance for them to see how technology is changing farming to increase yields and reduce costs, whether it be GPS-guided plows and seeders, or drones that use aerial photography to determine the level of nutrients in soil so farmers know better how to manage fertilizing their crops.

The demonstrations included soil fertility, crop management, drones, GPS/GIS mapping, data analysis, animal technologies and auto steering.

"We would really like to see our youth return to the field of agriculture," said Jennifer Wakefield, program coordinator with the BEST Center. "It’s our area. It’s where we live. We need young people to work in these fields."

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May 3, 2017 - 11:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in michael ranzenhofer, news, agriculture.

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has announced today that the 2017-18 State Budget restores $10 million in funding reductions, proposed by Governor Cuomo, for agriculture programs and makes a total state investment of $51 million.

“I opposed cuts for agriculture programs from day one. That is why I successfully advocated and delivered major investment for these important programs,” Ranzenhofer said. “Agriculture is New York State’s number one industry and it is also the backbone of our rural communities. Investing in agriculture will help to strengthen the industry and our local economy.”

The new budget also includes $100,000 for the Genesee County Agriculture Academy. Over the last five years, Senator Ranzenhofer has secured a total of $500,000 in state funding to support the Agri-Business Academy at the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership.  

“The Agri-Business Academy is a valuable learning experience for high school seniors from school districts across Genesee County. The one-year program helps to develop and grow the next generation of family farmers by offering students exciting educational opportunities to explore careers in the agribusiness industry,” Ranzenhofer said.

Major programs in cutting-edge research for family farms, environmental stewardship, and protections for plant, animal and public health will receive significant increases:

• $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;
• $416,000 (for a total of $800,000) for FarmNet, Farm Family Assistance;
• $378,000 (for a total of $1.2 million) for Pro-Dairy;
• $307,000 (for a total of $1.5 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 $200,000) for Cornell Hops and Barley;
Other programs funded in the 2017-18 State Budget include:
• $160,000 for Local Fair Assistance
• $500,000 for the Apple Research and Development Board
• $500,000 for the State’s Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
• $260,000 for Cornell Berry Research
• $250,000 for Tractor Rollover Prevention Program
• $220,000 for Farm Viability Dairy Profit Teams
• $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 Future Agriculture Readiness Marketing (FARM) Camps
• $100,000 for Cornell Vegetable Research
• $75,000 for Corn and Soybean Growers Association
• $60,000 for Berry Growers Association
• $50,000 for Honeybee research at Cornell
• $50,000 for Cornell Onion Research
• $25,000 for Low-Cost Vaccine Program
• $10,000 for NYS Brewers Association
• $10,000 for NYS Cider Association
• $10,000 for NYS Distillers Guild
• $10,000 for Cornell Sheep Farming

May 3, 2017 - 11:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in mucklands, byron, agriculture, news.

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Story and photos courtesy Tom Rivers, Orleans Hub.

Joe Bezon, a third-generation muck farmer, had just headed home after a hard day’s work on Monday afternoon when it started raining. A sprinkle soon turned into a deluge.

Bezon’s home in Byron was pounded by the rain. He drove to the muck and saw water, everywhere. Bezon was about 75 percent done planting onions for the season. Now there was standing water in the fields.

Bezon said about an inch of rain fell at his house, and 2 inches in the muck.

Bezon and the muck farmers were able to pump lots of the water off the muck on Tuesday, leaving them optimistic the plants and seeds would survive. But he is nervous about the forecast for Thursday, which says another inch to 2 inches is headed our way.

“The water has gone down a lot,” he said Tuesday evening on the muck. “It all depends on Thursday and the through the weekend. It’s wait and see what happens next. It looks like another 10 days of poor weather.”

Another big rain and farmers will struggle to get rid of the water. Bezon said the ground is saturated and the drainage ditches at near capacity.

For the full story, visit Orleans Hub.

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April 26, 2017 - 2:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, dairy, NY-27, business.

Press release:

Representative Chris Collins (NY-27) today led a bipartisan letter sent to President Trump applauding the president’s 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. “Today’s 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 on to was also co-led by Representatives 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.”

Full text of the letter along with signatories can be seen here and full text can be read below.

April 25, 2017 - 9:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Torrey Farms, agriculture, elba, business, news.

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Maureen Torrey, co-owner of Torrey Farms in Elba, was at the White House today along with other representatives of the country's farmers, for the signing by President Donald J. Trump of an executive order aimed at boosting agriculture and rural communities (Full text of the order).

Torrey said the farmers also met with the president and his staff and there was a productive, positive discussion about labor, infrastructure, research, trade, NAFTA, Canada and Western NY dairy.

Torrey is pictured on the far left, back row.

UPDATE: Here's a related press release from the NYS Farm Bureau:

New York dairy and vegetable farmer, Maureen Torrey from Genesee County, joined 13 other farmers from across the country for a roundtable discussion yesterday with President Donald Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall was a part of the discussion as well on issues the White House believes are most pressing for American agriculture.

Following the roundtable, President Trump signed an executive order that acknowledges a reliable, safe, and affordable food, fiber and forestry supply is critical to America’s national security, stability and prosperity. The order also establishes an interagency task force, to be chaired by Secretary Perdue, charged with identifying legislative, regulatory and policy changes that would enhance American agriculture, rural economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security and quality of life in rural America. The report from the task force is due within 180 days.

“It is an honor to have a representative of New York agriculture invited to play an integral role in the roundtable discussion at the White House,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.  “Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the administration and Congress on issues like trade, farm labor and regulatory reform, with the goal of boosting American agriculture and increasing access to New York-grown food.”

The event is an historic occasion, as it is believed the last time a group of farmers met with a U.S. president this early in an administration was prior to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.  

It followed the swearing-in of newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. New York Farm Bureau is supportive of Secretary Perdue and is pleased to see him finally in place as the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Secretary Perdue is one of us. He grew up on a dairy farm, raised row crops, and was an agri-business owner. It is important to have someone in this position who understands trade, immigration and a whole host of other issues that are vital to a farmer’s success. Secretary Perdue spoke about having the opportunity to visit New York during his confirmation hearing, and New York Farm Bureau would like to personally invite him to our great state to showcase the opportunities and challenges that exist for our diverse membership,” said Fisher.

April 21, 2017 - 4:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in FAA, agriculture, oakfield-alabama, news.

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The Future Farmers of America chapter of Oakfield-Alabama-Elba received a $5,255 grant from the Tractor Supply Company and the National FFA. 

There were requests for funds totaling $86,170 from chapters in New York and only $27,911 was awarded to winning requests, including the $5,255 provided to OAE FFA to fund its projects, including a barn at Oakfield-Alabama High School that FFA members can use to raise livestock.

This will especially help FFA members who don't have property where they can raise livestock. FFA members will be able to sell their livestock at the annual 4-H Livestock Auction at the Genesee County Fair.

April 21, 2017 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, agriculture, news, trade.

Press release:

“President Trump and I spoke yesterday about reversing Canada's new and unfair dairy-pricing policy. It is an unwise policy that violates our agreements and hurts our farmers, and we agreed to work together to immediately address the issue.

"Since Canada’s damaging policies also impact dairy farms in Wisconsin, I suggested reaching out to Speaker Ryan. The three of us, in conjunction with Senator Tammy Baldwin and other stakeholders, will develop a comprehensive plan to tackle this issue.

"We can all agree that, it is critical to level the playing field for our hard-working dairy farmers and make sure our Canadian neighbors rescind their unfair policy and again play by the rules,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

Previously: Schumer uses stop in Bergen to raise concerns about rail safety and trade with Canada

April 19, 2017 - 11:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, trains, agriculture, business, bergen.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer was in Bergen today to talk trains and trade.

He's concerned about volatile sweet light crude oil being shipped from North Dakota by CSX on lines that pass through many populated Upstate communities, such as Bergen, and he's ready to get tough with Canada over new barriers to imports of dairy products from WNY.

He also answered questions about a potential wall along the border with Mexico, President Donald J. Trump's tax returns, immigration and high-speed rail.

"Even with the new oil cars, if the train is going faster than 25 miles (per hour) a big explosion will occur and that kind of explosion could occur on these tracks right here in Bergen," Schumer said. "Look, there are houses all around and businesses all around."

He reminded reporters of a derailment involving fuel cars in Canada few years ago that claimed several lives.

The fuel car issue has been on Schumer's radar for a few years, but what brought him to Genesee County today to raise the issue again was the derailment of a train carrying gun powder in Batavia during the windstorm in March.

As he held an enlargement of a picture of the derailment published by The Batavian, Schumer said, "as you can see it’s frightening to look at. These are large, large cars going at a very fast speed and if they had contained flammable materials they can be dangerous."

The fuel coming through Upstate New York in recent years comes from oil wells in North Dakota that tap reserves inaccessible until new technology changed the oil business. 

That has been a very good thing, though not without a cost, Schumer said.

"It's made us much less dependent on foreign oil," Schumer said. "It’s reduced the cost of gasoline and home heating oil and other things over the years, so it’s a good thing. But they don’t refine it out there in North Dakota. It gets on our rail cars and comes right across Upstate New York and Albany. They turn south and they go to those huge refineries in New Jersey."

According to this NPR story, the number of train cars carrying oil out of North Dakota has increased 4,000 percent since 2008. It was shipped by rail because, at the time these new fields opened, there was no other infrastructure in place to deal with the new supply of oil.

The trains can be a hundred cars long, Schumer said, and that's just too dangerous. If the oil companies won't voluntarily change the way they do business, then he wants the Commerce Department and Energy Department to write new regulations requiring oil companies to burn off the mixture of methane, butane, and propane that comes out of the ground with the oil.

The natural liquid gasses, stored in a confined space, are explosive if suddenly exposed to air and a spark.

The oil companies already do what Schumer wants in Texas, he said, without government regulation.

That's one reason, Schumer said, the economic impact of his proposal would be minimal and since the gas is going to be burned off one way or another, there is no additional environmental impact by burning it off in North Dakota instead of New Jersey.

Schumer believes bringing pressure to the issue can lead to change. He said his efforts have already led to rule changes that forced rail companies to ditch older tanker cars, what he called 1-11 cars, for newer, safer tankers. 

"We pushed very hard, and it hasn’t happened as fast as I’d like, but the law now is they have to get rid of all of these unsafe cars and put safer cars in.  More than half the oil cars now are now safer."

Schumer also wanted to talk about changes in dairy import policies in Canada that he said are hurting New York dairy farmers and in particular, O-AT-KA Milk Products, which employs nearly 300 people in Batavia.

According to Schumer, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to protect Canada's dairy industry and has since started to implement measures that are closing the market to U.S. dairy products, mostly what's known as ultra-filtered dairy product, which is used in cheese production. O-AT-KA is one of 70 producers in New York and Wisconsin that are affected by the change in trade policy.

"I'm telling Trudeau to back off because it would just lead to a lot of trouble on both sides," Schumer said.

Canada exports some $260 billion in goods to the United States, and trade with New York includes $17.7 billion in goods being shipped to New York while it imports $12.6 billion worth. Top Canadian exports to New York include aluminum ($626 million), paper ($571 million), precious metals ($444 million), motor-vehicle parts ($417 million), plastics ($354 million).

Canada has a lot to lose in a trade war with the United States sparked by a fight over dairy exports, Schumer said.

"If they persist, they’re going to suffer with their exports, not necessarily with dairy, but with something else," Schumer said. "I am just adamant about this."

He said he was surprised that Trudeau has actually been pushing the issue.

"We didn’t really think they would go through with it at the end of the day," Schumer said. "We just thought it was a campaign promise up there, that they would realize the damage it would do to the Canadian economy if we started going back and forth, back and forth, but they’re persisting, so we have to up our game."

Schumer suggested Canada's actions are a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"That shows you what a lot of good NAFTA does," Schumer said. "I’m glad I voted against it way back when."

On trade, Schumer said he agrees on a lot more with President Trump, at least the way Trump campaigned, than people might think. He's not a fan of the World Trade Organization (on the dairy issue with Canada, he said it would take the WTO six years to issue a ruling and dairy farmers don't have six years to wait); he opposed NAFTA out of concerns with trade imbalances with Mexico and losing American jobs to Mexico; and thinks more needs to be done to promote and protect American jobs.

"My position on trade, frankly, has been closer to President Trump than to President Obama or President Bush," Schumer said. "Now I just hope he follows through on all of it. That hasn’t happened yet."

Schumer does have reservations about Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico. Trump wants to put it in the 2017 budget, but Schumer said he needs to slow down and come up with a workable plan.

"Here’s what no one knows about the wall: A -- how much it would cost?" Schumer said. "Today we were told there it is an estimate of $70 billion. That’s a huge amount of money. Wouldn’t we rather have that money fixing our roads and bridges and everything here?

"Second," he added, "no one knows where it should be or what side of the river it would be on. The Secretary of the Interior, whom the president appointed, said he can’t build it on the U.S. side because it would cut off us from the river. We can’t build it on the Mexican side because they won’t have it. Maybe we have to build it in the middle of the river. There are no plans for it. So you can’t go ahead and allocate money until there are plans.

"The final thing is, eminent domain, there are tons of property owners who own land right up to the border. It would take forever to get their property and you might not even succeed in court. So instead of rushing it through, there ought to be a discussion about it."

On immigration, he said he is pushing for reforms in the H1B visa program because foreign workers should be paid less than U.S. workers.

He said he understands the concerns local farmers have about immigrant labor but didn't express much hope that anything will change soon to help them get the help they need.

He noted that last year, there was an immigration reform bill that Dean Norton, an Elba dairy farmer who was then president of the New York Farm Bureau, helped draft, that would have given farmers the relief they need, but it didn't pass and he doesn't think there will be any movement on it this year.

"We had a really tough bill and it got bipartisan support in the Senate but it never made it in the House," Schumer said.

As for Trump's tax returns, he said the president will have an easier time with tax reform if he is completely transparent about his own tax returns. He said Trump is no longer a private citizen and he should release his returns.

"He should do it because it's going to slow down tax reform," Schumer said. "Any proposal he might make for cutting something, people will say, 'is he doing that because it's good for the American people or is he doing it because it's good for his own real estate holdings?' "

The last time Schumer was in Bergen, it was to push construction of a high-speed rail line between Bergen and Churchville as a demonstration project. We've heard nothing about the proposal since then.

"We did get a big transportation budget and in that budget, there was money for high-speed rail," Schumer said. "The Republicans took out the money for high-speed rail. Now, this is an area where there is some agreement, if we could get a major infrastructure bill, there could be money for high speed rail.

"I know there is division here in Bergen about whether we should have it or not," Schumer added. "I would want to come back to the communities, but if people thought it was a good idea I would probably try to get the money."

schumertrainsbergenapril2017.jpg

March 3, 2017 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 4-H, Yancey's Fancy, agriculture, pembroke, news.

4h_dairy_club_yancy_tour_2-20-17.jpg

Press release:

On February 20, 2017 twenty 4-H Dairy Club members and their families were given a private tour of the new processing facility at Yancey’s Fancy.

The young dairy enthusiasts were given a behind the scenes look at the commercial dairy processing industry and left the tour with a visual understanding of how artisan cheese is produced.

To learn more about the Genesee County  4-H Youth Development Program visit our website: http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development 

February 21, 2017 - 5:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, news, business, Announcements.

Press release:

Tickets are still available for the 15th Annual Celebrate Agriculture Dinner which will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, at the Alexander Fire Hall.

This annual event is a celebration of Genesee County’s number one industry – Agriculture. The highlight of the night is a delicious meal using locally produced foods prepared by Penna’s Catering. The dinner is open to the public.

Tickets can be purchased at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, 8276 Park Road, Batavia. Tickets are $30 each or a table of 10 can be purchased for $275. Sponsorships are also available which help support agriculture educational events in Genesee County. Only 400 tickets will be sold. Tickets will not be available at the door.

The Celebrate Ag Dinner is coordinated by the following partners: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District and Genesee County Farm Bureau.

For ticket information contact the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce at 585-343-7440, ext. 1027, or [email protected].

January 31, 2017 - 1:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, 4-H, Pavilion, news.

emilyboldt2017.jpg

Press release:

Genesee County 4-H member Emily Boldt has been selected to represent the New York State 4-H Program as a youth delegate at the 2017 National 4-H Conference. 

The National 4-H Conference is the pinnacle experience in 4-H Citizenship, providing an opportunity for young people to connect, engage, lead and learn how to impact their communities, their nation and their world.

The 2017 National 4-H Conference will be held March 25-30 in Chevy Chase, Md. Youth delegates from across the United States will explore current issues affecting youth, the role 4-H can play in addressing those issues, and tell federal decision makers if their current efforts are effective. 

Emily is a junior at Pavilion High School. She has been actively involved in the Genesee County 4-H Program for the past seven years and has taken on leadership roles within several areas. Emily is the current president of the Genesee County 4-H Rustic Riders Horse Club and also attended the 2016 4-H Career Explorations Conference at Cornell University.

January 25, 2017 - 3:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in alexander, agriculture, business, news, Announcements.

Tickets are still available for the 15th Annual Celebrate Agriculture Dinner! The dinner will take place Saturday, March 18 at the Alexander Fire Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m.  This event is a celebration of Genesee County’s number one industry – Agriculture. The highlight is a delicious meal using locally produced foods prepared by Penna’s Catering.

The dinner is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce (8276 Park Road, Batavia) for $30 each. A table of 10 can be purchased for $275. Sponsorships are available for $350 and help to support agriculture educational events in Genesee County. Tickets will not  be sold at the door.

The Celebrate Ag Dinner is coordinated by the following partners: Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, Genesee County Farm Bureau and Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District. Many local farms and businesses sponsor or donate products to this event.

For ticket information contact the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce at 585-343-7440, ext. 1027 or [email protected]

January 20, 2017 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, land use, planning, news, Alabama, batavia, byron, elba, Oakfield, and Pembroke..

Press release:

A state-mandated 30-day public review period has begun for Agricultural Districts No. 2 in the towns of Alabama, Batavia, Byron, Elba, Oakfield and Pembroke.

The Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board announced that Agricultural District No. 2 will embark on its eight-year review with a 30-day public review period beginning on Jan. 26.

As with every eight-year review, landowners with lands in the district under review will be asked to complete a worksheet where they will be given the option to enroll or withdraw property from the district. Only entire parcels can be included or excluded.

Landowners will receive the worksheet, along with a letter, informational brochure, and map of the current district boundaries in the next couple of days. Each landowner will have until Friday, Feb. 24th of this year to mail the worksheets to the Department of Planning in the envelopes provided. This deadline also coincides with the deadline for the Annual Enrollment Period, which allows for inclusion of predominantly viable agricultural land to any of the County’s Agricultural Districts pending review by the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board. In addition, nearby landowners that are receiving Agricultural Tax Assessments and are not part of the Agricultural Districts Program will be mailed a letter and form inviting them to join the program.

During this 30-day period, a map of the District will be on file and open to the public in the office of the Genesee County Clerk and at the Genesee County Department of Planning.Any municipality whose territory encompasses the above Agricultural District, any State Agency or any landowner within or adjacent to the District, may propose a modification of the District during this period. The District and any proposed modification will be submitted to the Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board for review. Consequently, a public hearing on the District and any proposed modifications will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10, at the Genesee County Old Courthouse, 7 Main St., Batavia.

At the conclusion of this review, the Genesee County Legislature will vote on any modifications to the District and send the proper materials to the State Department of Agriculture and Markets for recertification. The public is encouraged to attend all open meetings.

By enrolling land in the Agricultural Districts Program, participating farmers can receive relief from nuisance claims and certain forms of local regulation. Enrollment is free and voluntary. For a free informational brochure, please contact the Genesee County Department of Planning. Phone: (585) 815-7901; fax: (585) 345-3062; email: [email protected] Visit us on the Web at www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/planning.

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