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July 20, 2016 - 10:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 4-H, Livestock Auction, Genesee County Fair, agriculture, news.

Photo (by Howard Owens): Tyler Jirovec with his Champion Market Steer.

Press release:

Thank you to everyone who supported 4-H at the 46th Annual Genesee County 4-H Market Animal Auction! On Thursday, July 14, market goats, lambs, steers and hogs which were raised and shown by local 4-H members were auctioned by William Kent, Inc., at the Genesee County Fair.

The Champion Market Goat was exhibited by Michael Ehrmentraut and purchased by HLW Acres of Attica. The Reserve Champion Market Goat was exhibited by Cody Ehrmentraut and purchased by Crossen’s Christmas Tree Farm of Basom.

The Champion Market Lamb was exhibited by Maisy Ross and purchased by Dave Reisdorf, Inc., of Batavia. The Reserve Champion Market Lamb was also exhibited by Maisy Ross and purchased by Ed Roggen of Basom.

The Champion Market Steer was exhibited by Tyler Jirovec and was purchased by Turnbull Heating and Air Conditioning of Batavia. The Reserve Champion Market Steer was exhibited by Becky Kron and purchased by Clyde’s Feed & Animal Center of Hamburg.

The Champion Market Hog was exhibited by Cole Carlson and was purchased by The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant of Stafford. The Reserve Champion Market Hog was exhibited by Caleb Carlson and was purchased by Dave Reisdorf, Inc., of Batavia.

The objective of the Genesee County 4-H Market Animal Program is for engaged 4-H youth to gain valuable life skills such as responsibility, goal setting, decision making, communication, record keeping and community service through learning the basic principles of research-based animal science/husbandry practices, quality assurance and marketing of their project through hands-on learning opportunities in a positive youth development environment.

Thank you to all bidders and buyers! The Genesee County 4-H Livestock Committee and 4-H club leaders would also like to extend a special thank you to William Kent and Family for 46 years of continued services and outstanding support of the 4-H Market Animal Program.

Previously: 4-H'ers display their hard work at Genesee County livestock auction

July 19, 2016 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in solar farms, land use, solar energy, agriculture, news.

Local municipalities with farmland should consider whether they want to address the issue of a zoning code for solar farms, Genesee County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari told members of the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board at last night's meeting.

There are a couple of companies who have approached local landowners, Oltramari said, and if towns in the area want solar farms within their borders, they need to address it with a zoning code change and then decide how to regulate the farms.

Towns that do nothing, that currently have no permitted use for solar farms, will be deciding by default not to allow solar farms in those jurisdictions, Oltramari said.

If a land use isn't expressly mentioned in the local zoning code than it is completely prohibited.

Only the Town of Batavia has created provisions for solar farms, and it's a pretty bare-bones code at this point, Oltramari said.

The Town of Batavia took the action after SunEdison approached a local landowner about building a solar farm. An attorney representing SunEdison attended a couple of town meetings, but there's been no apparent progress with SunEdison since then and currently SunEdison is going through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Since then, no other town has moved forward with solar farm zoning, but the Town of Oakfield is considering a solar farm on its land adjacent to its wastewater treatment plan and the Town of Alabama is considering a solar farm for the retired quarry in the town. 

"I think that’s a perfect use for that, too," Oltramari said.

The Town of Batavia is also looking into a solar farm on its former landfill.

The big issue for agricultural land, however, is that a solar farm would take the land out of crop production.

Agriculture average typically leases for about $60 a year and solar companies will pay $1,500 per acre per year for 20 years.

"This has alarmed farmers that rely on rented land for their operations," Oltramari said.

Companies looking to set up solar farms are typically looking for 20-acre parcels and they must be within two miles of a power substation.

Donn Branton, chairman of the Farmland Protection Board, thinks landowners should look carefully at any deal offered by a solar company.

"The frosting sounds pretty good, but the cake batter seems to get pretty messy," Branton said. 

There's a two-year planning process and the company decides what part of your farm it wants, he said, and then during construction they decide where the roads go.

"They pretty much have the run of your farm," he said. 

And taking the land out of production could cause it to be reclassified as commercial property rather than farmland, increasing the property tax rate. 

'It's something you want to investigate thoroughly with a legal service," Branton said. "$1,500 sounds great, but then you've got all the stipulations that go with it."

Oltramari recommended that towns -- and potentially landowners -- address issues such as preserving topsoil and herbicide use (in the event the land ever reverts to food production).

Zoning could also be used to limit the location and size of solar farms, buffer zones and visual screening.

Typically, in this area, solar companies are looking for 20-acre farms that produce two to four megawatts of energy.

One megawatt of solar energy could power 165 homes.

An energy generation facility (solar or wind) that produces more than 25 megawatts is exempt from local zoning laws, but such a farm in Western New York would need 125 to 200 acres of land, so Oltramari doesn't foresee such a farm coming to Genesee County.

July 15, 2016 - 3:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in mucklands, business, agriculture, elba, news.

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Representatives from onion companies from all over the world were in Genesee County today to see the world famous Elba Mucklands.

The tour is part of a convention of onion industry leaders hosted by the National Onion Association in Niagara County this week. The attendees had breakfast in Batavia and then toured the mucklands.

The visit included a presentation by Christy Hoepting, a researcher with the Cornell Cooperative Extension, who is studying the impact of weeds on onion growth and how best to control them in the field.

There was also a presentation on experimental onion varieties being grown in the muck.

There were people in the tour group from not only the United States, but also Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico.

"This is a beautiful and productive place," said Kim Reddin, director of public and industry relations for NOA. "Absolutely, it's unique and one of the main growing areas in the eastern part of the United States."

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July 14, 2016 - 11:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Fair, batavia, news, agriculture.

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Here are a few photos from Thursday at the Genesee County Fair. We'll have more photos and a story about the 4-H Livestock Auction sometime Friday afternoon.

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July 13, 2016 - 9:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Fair, fair, batavia, news, agriculture.

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To purchase prints, click here.

July 6, 2016 - 2:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in 4-H, Genesee County Fair, agriculture, Announcements, news.

Press release:

Remember to visit 4-H at the fair! This year’s 4-H fair theme is “4-H Grows Here” and local 4-H’ers have been working hard all year to show the community what 4-H means to them. Check out the 4-H exhibits, club displays and animal shows at the Genesee County Fair July 12-16 at the Genesee County Fairgrounds, located at 5056 E. Main Street Road in Batavia.

Genesee County 4-H Schedule (dates and times subject to change):

Tuesday, July 12th

9 a.m.                     4-H Market Hog Show (Show Ring)

12 p.m.                   4-H Market Goat Show (Show Ring)

2:30 p.m.                4-H Market Lamb Show (Show Ring)

4 p.m.                     4-H Market Steer Show (Show Ring)

6:30 p.m.                Fair Parade – 4-H Theme: “4-H Grows Here”

Wednesday, July 13  

9 a.m.                      4-H Goat Show (Show Ring)

10 a.m.                    4-H Livestock Judging Contest (Show Ring)

1:30 p.m.                 4-H Breeding Sheep Show (Show Ring)

4:30 p.m.                 4-H Goat & Sheep Costume Contest (Show Ring)

4:30 p.m.                 4-H Cloverbud Activity (Kennedy Building)

6 p.m.                      4-H Hog Show (Show Ring)

6:30 p.m.                 4-H Rabbit Show (Merton Building)

6:30 p.m.                 4-H Poultry Show (Merton Building)

Thursday, July 14

9 a.m.                     4-H Dairy Cattle Show (Show Ring)

10 a.m.                   4-H Horse Show – English Classes (Horse Ring)

2 p.m.                     4-H Goat & Sheep Quiz Bowl (Merton Building)

5:30 p.m.                4-H Horse Hullabaloo Contest (Horse Ring)

5:30 - 7 p.m.           4-H Market Animal Auction Buyer’s Dinner (Kennedy Building)                       

7 p.m.                     4-H Market Animal Auction (Show Ring)

Friday, July 15

10 a.m.                   4-H Horse Show – Western Classes (Horse Ring)

11 a.m.                   4-H Beef Cattle Show (Show Ring)

12 p.m.                   4-H Livestock Skillathon (Location TBA)

1 p.m.                     4-H Sheep & Goat Obstacle Course Contest (Location TBA)

2 p.m.                     4-H Energy Bike Activity (Location TBA)

3 p.m.                     4-H Sheep Blocking and Trimming Contest (4-H Sheep Barn)

5:30 p.m.                4-H Tractor Driving Contest (Kennedy Building)

7 p.m.                     4-H Energy Bike Activity (Location TBA)

Saturday, July 16

10 a.m.                   4-H Horse Show – Gymkhana & Games Classes (Horse Ring)

12 p.m.                   High Tech S’mores with 4-H Biofuel Stove Activity (Location TBA)

2 p.m.                     4-H Fair Tour hosted by the Cloverbud Club, for youth ages 4 - 9

2 - 4 p.m.                4-H Vegetable Art Contest (Kennedy Building)

2:30 p.m.                4-H Rabbit Knowledge Contest (Merton Building)

4 p.m.                     4-H Market Program Master Showman Contest (Show Ring)

5 p.m.                     4-H Livestock Master Showman Contest (Show Ring)

The complete 2016 Genesee County Fair Schedule is available online at: http://gcfair.com/Home/FairInformation/DailySchedule.aspx

July 2, 2016 - 1:28pm
posted by Zachary Lee in news, Batavia Muckdogs, dwyer stadium, business, agriculture.

The Batavia Muckdogs at Dwyer Stadium is one of five Minor League Baseball teams statewide offering New York food and beverages this season, Gov. Cuomo's office announced this week. This is the second year that the Muckdogs have partnered with the Taste NY branding and sales initiative began by Cuomo in 2013.

Taste NY is overseen by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and was launched to create opportunities for our food producers to showcase their goods at large public events like the Great New York State Fair and other places crowds gather, like Minor League Baseball games.

The expanding program has also opened stores at Thruway rest stops along the state’s highways and in transportation hubs, enabling travelers to buy New York State’s homegrown and homemade products. Approximately 1,100 local companies have participated in these opportunities, thereby expanding New York's food and beverage markets, according to a press release from the governor's office.

For the 2016 season, four craft beer companies in the Empire State have products for sale at Dwyer:

  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • Ellicottville Brewery
  • Genesee Brewing Company
  • Rohrbach Brewing Company

Plus, there are hot dogs and sausages from Zweigle's, breads and rolls from Di Paolo Baking Company, both of Rochester, and Akron-based Perry's Ice Cream.

"The Muckdogs are proud to be a part of the Taste NY program," said Muckdogs' General Manager Travis Sick. "We believe strongly in supporting as many local vendors as possible and look forward to featuring all of their great and, more importantly, delicious products at Dwyer Stadium this season."

The other participating teams and stadiums are:

  • Tri-City ValleyCats at Joe Bruno Stadium
  • Auburn Doubledays at Falcon Park
  • Staten Island Yankees at Richmond County Bank Ballpark
  • Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field

Together, these stadiums see approximately 820,000 seasonal visitors and those fans will be treated to the same great ballpark staples, such has hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice-cold beer -- now sourced from some of New York State’s best agricultural producers. Taste NY has helped vendors triple their gross annual sales from 2014 to 2015, and with this increased promotion, they are on track to doubling those sales in 2016, according to the governor's office.

“New York grown and made food and beverages are second to none and building upon the great success of the Taste NY program, we are partnering with local baseball stadiums to expose even more New Yorkers to these great Empire State products,” said Governor Cuomo in a press release.

“When New Yorkers buy New York products from New York businesses, the home team wins every time.” 

For more information about Taste NY, click here.

July 1, 2016 - 7:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, agriculture.

Genesee County is officially in a moderate drought condition and it's having an impact on our local farmers. The Batavian's news partner, 13WHAM produced this story.

The map below of the Northeastern United States shows where it's considered "unusually dry" (in yellow) and where moderate drought conditions (tan) exist.

We got less than an inch of rain in June, two inches below average and the fourth lowest rainfall total for June since the 1940s.

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June 20, 2016 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, NY Farm Bureau, business.

Press release:

New York Farm Bureau seeks to intervene in the farm labor lawsuit filed against the State of New York and Governor Cuomo. The grassroots farm organization will file a motion today in State Supreme Court of Albany County to gain intervenor status in a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation. The NYCLUF seeks to create a constitutional right for farmworkers to collectively bargain. The ultimate goal of NYFB with today’s motion is for the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

NYFB is taking this major step to defend farmers, who feel they have been abandoned by the Governor and the New York Attorney General. Both leaders have made public statements supporting the lawsuit and refusing to defend state law, despite its importance to agriculture in New York State.

NYFB believes it has the right to intervene because the interest of its members will not be represented by the defendants – the Governor and Attorney General - and the ability of the organization’s members to continue to produce food for New York residents would be harmed in the event the plaintiffs prevail in this action.

The motion reads, “Farm Bureau is uniquely situated to represent the varied perspectives of its member farms and to zealously defend the constitutionality of the challenged farm labor exemption.”

Farm Bureau believes that the exemption of farmworkers from collective bargaining rights is constitutional, and that the exclusion of farmworkers from the State Labor Relations Act law is based on decades of rational public policy and legal precedent that will be outlined in NYFB’s motions to intervene and to dismiss.

New York Farm Bureau believes that the legal precedent is clear. This is not a question for the courts, and the NYCLUF is attempting to make an end-run around the legislature, which has not approved collective bargaining for farmworkers despite numerous opportunities.

“New York Farm Bureau has a century-long record of defending the state’s family farms, and today’s action is one of the most important in our long history. If we can’t count on our state leaders to do the right thing in this case, we are prepared to stand up for our members in court to protect their rights,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau president.

June 7, 2016 - 1:52pm

Press release:

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is offering for bid 139 acres of grassland hay in five different fields ranging in size from 36 to 81 acres. The refuge annually provides a total of 1,400 acres of grassland habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife. Active management of these grasslands is necessary to provide the highest quality nesting and migration habitat.

The refuge haying program helps in this management process by reducing encroachment of broad leaf weeds and shrubs.

Hay will be allocated on a highest bid per field basis for each field. Sealed bids will be accepted until 12 p.m., Saturday, July 2. An official Bid Sheet, available from the refuge headquarters, is required to make a bid. Completed Bid Sheets can be mailed to, or dropped off at the refuge headquarters at 1101 Casey Road, Basom, NY 14013 and must contain all the information requested.

If you have any questions about the haying program or would like to see the fields, please call Madeline Prush at 585-948-5445, ext. 7036.

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is located midway between Rochester and Buffalo, and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

May 28, 2016 - 3:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, elba, soil health.

Press release:

Orleans and Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation districts have been awarded grant funds to support the formation of the farmer-led Western New York Soil Health Alliance (WNY SHA). The goal of this funding is to help create a sustainable alliance to continue on in the future for farmers, led by farmers.

The WNY SHA is planning a Soil Health and Cover Crop workshop to take place on June 30 at the Elba Fireman’s Recreation Hall (7143 Oak Orchard Road, Elba) at 9 a.m.

This free event will allow farmers to get acquainted with the Alliance and to learn the basics of soil health and how cover cropping works to enhance your soil and profits. A keynote speaker will explain what makes a healthy soil. Also, a panel of local farmers will share success stories on planting cover crops, how to get started using them, and the results they see on their farms.

Darcy Telenko will present information on the new Cornell Climate Smart Farming website and describe the tools that will be available there to help with your farm management.

Coffee, donuts, cider and yogurt will be available. Please register by contacting Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District at 585-589-5959, ext. 5, or e-mail [email protected]com

More information on the WNY SHA is available at www.wnysoilhealth.com Look under the Events tab for a downloadable PDF Flyer to see more detailed information on the workshop.

May 21, 2016 - 3:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve, hawley, farmworkers rights, agriculture, business, news.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) joined Assemblyman Bill Nojay (R,C) and a coalition of lawmakers speaking out against the governor’s decision to not fight a lawsuit relating to the unionization of farmers. The governor’s decision to not defend the complaint, filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union in the State Supreme Court, effectively endorses unionization of farmworkers in New York State, a policy that those in the agriculture community say is not wanted or necessary. In fact, due to the individual climate and environmental concerns of each state affecting their growing season, the federal government specifically excluded farmworkers from the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.

“As the former owner of our family-owned farm, former Genesee County Farm Bureau President and having served on the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee since I was elected in 2006, I can attest to the daily struggles of our farm community. The governor’s decision to support unionized farm labor, coupled with a $15 an hour minimum wage, will be absolutely devastating to Western New York’s agriculture industry,” Hawley said.

“For decades our communities have been crushed by the state’s economic policies and the unionization of farmers will only push our family farms closer to the brink,” said Nojay. “Throughout his tenure Gov. Cuomo has demonstrated a total lack of respect for Upstate’s economy by repeatedly pushing policies, from GMO labeling to the $15 minimum wage, that have had a disastrous effect on our family farms and agricultural communities. The efforts by these wealthy labor unions will not only kill businesses and family farms but continue the exodus of Upstate families to less economically oppressed regions of the country. Agriculture is the foundation of our state’s entire economy and we must give our farming families and communities the attention and support they deserve.”

“Here in Western New York, farmers work extremely hard to develop positive and long-lasting relationships with their farm hands and seasonal workers. Unionization would only add another level of bureaucracy to a system that is not broken, and further complicate the ability of our state’s small family farms to succeed,” said Assemblywoman and Minority Leader Pro Tempore Jane Corwin (R,I,C-Clarence).

Assemblyman Marc Butler (R,C-Newport) said, “Leave it to New York City politicians to get it all wrong about agriculture and family farmers. Gov. Cuomo and others like him have done much to vilify the family farmer. Not only have he and the Assembly Majority increased the minimum wage and operating costs for these important rural job providers, now the governor is joining special interest groups that are trying to force family farms into unionized shops. I will work diligently to block any efforts from the governor or anyone else who tries to impose a New York City progressive agenda on our upstate family farmers.”

Assemblyman and Chairman of the Assembly Minority Conference Clifford W. Crouch (R-Bainbridge), a former dairy farmer, said, “To say that this would be devastating to our farming industry would be an understatement. Over the years it has become very clear that advocates of unionizing farm workers, who predominantly have downstate interests, neither understand the relationship farmers have with their employees nor the negative repercussions this would have on our small family farmers. I have visited and spoke to many farm employees across the state – from Buffalo to the North Country, to the Southern Tier and Long Island.

"In those travels and to date, not one employee or farmer I have spoken to has expressed the need or desire for what is offered by unionizing their employees. With already tremendous expenses - including grain, feed, seed, equipment, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, property taxes, energy expenses, and transportation – compounded with the recent minimum wage increase, how are family farmers expected to survive?

"Unionized farm employees may make sense for states like California that have a year-round growing season, but not in New York. Let’s call it what it is: a money grab by organized labor and their political counterparts in state government to gain an extra 35,000-40,000 new members paying union dues. The government should not be telling family farmers how to operate, especially when its policies will lead to closures of those farms. When there are no farms left, what will be the cost of food and where will it come from?”

“Gov. Cuomo’s next chapter in his war on upstate seems to be financially crippling our family-owned farms. Farmers have just recently begun learning how to absorb a $12.50 minimum wage hike upstate and a cut to agriculture local assistance that New York City politicians slammed down their throats, and now they want to force union mandates on them,” said Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Troy).

May 17, 2016 - 1:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, Farming, agriculture, GCEDC.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) in conjunction with Empire State Development has created a new revolving loan program to assist the agricultural industry in the Finger Lakes Region.

“Growing the Agriculture Industry Now” (GAIN) Revolving Loan Program is an initiative to capitalize local agricultural businesses that are using new technologies and expanding operations.

Through funding provided  by Empire State Development, the program will provide loans to qualifying businesses in Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties all of which are in the top 10 agricultural counties in New York State.

“Growing our agriculture and food processing industry is one of the utmost priorities of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) as it represents a crucial part of the region’s economy,” stated FLREDC Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Wegmans Food Markets CEO Danny Wegman.

“GAIN’s revolving loan pool to support the capital needs of agriculture and food processing companies, including new technology, diversification and expansion, will further advance the needs of the industry.”

According to the most recent Census of Agriculture (2012), farm-gate sales throughout the region totaled $1.6 billion, comprising 30 percent of statewide farm sales, with food processing and other support businesses as additional multipliers.

"Genesee County is one of the top ten agricultural regions in New York State," said State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer. "This new loan program will help to support our hardworking farmers, giving them a better chance at growing their business and our local economy. By supporting our farmers, we all can continue to enjoy fresh, local and quality food."

“As the former owner and operator of our family farm, I am always eager to help New York’s farmers and agriculture industry,” said Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia). “In a profession where profits are not guaranteed year to year and weather can wreak havoc on products, our small farms need all the help they can get.

"I am excited to announce that the Growing our Agriculture Industry Now (GAIN) Loan Fund is available. The loan pool will help fund capital projects that foster job creation, renewable energy creation, farm diversification, and investment in technologies, among other things. I look forward to spreading the word about this tremendous opportunity and helping local farmers succeed at their craft.”

The GAIN revolving loan program will give priority to agricultural and related business projects, including food processing and operating farms, which support job creation and job retention, as well as farm diversification (i.e., participate in farm-based retail & wholesale markets).

The program will also support businesses that invest in new technology, including renewable energy projects and new processing equipment, as well as ones that demonstrate growth in net revenue for agriculture enterprises; leverage other sources of funding; and provide secondary economic multipliers (i.e., business expansions).

“This is another example of the ongoing collaboration between the public and private sectors,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “While we are excited about advanced manufacturing opportunities such as STAMP we also cannot forget that the foundation of our regional economy is the agricultural sector.”

Those interested in learning more about the application process and the program can contact Chris Suozzi, GCEDC V.P. of Business Development, at (585) 343-4866 or [email protected].

For more information about the program, visit http://www.gcedc.com/pdf/marketing/Gain%20Loan%20Fund%20Brochure.pdf

May 14, 2016 - 4:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County 4-H, batavia, news, agriculture.

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The 4-H Swine Club once again served up delicious helpings of pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw and salt potatoes for their annual fundraiser at the fairgrounds.

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May 11, 2016 - 3:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in michael ranzenhofer, NYCLU, farms, business, agriculture.

Sen. Michael Ranzerhofer today issued a statement about the lawsuit filed Tuesday by the NY Civil Liberties Union seeking improved rights for farmworkers. The Senator says the suit will have a devastating impact on local jobs and farms.

After the lawsuit was filed against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state in the New York Supreme Court in Albany, the governor made it known that he backed workers' rights and the NYCLU's efforts and that he would not contest the litigation.

Among its aims is to allow farmworkers to unionize and get paid overtime. The NYCLU maintains that existing state law does not provide farmworkers with the protections that other worker groups are afforded. Cuomo noted "inconsistencies" and said workers in any sector should not be exploited.

The increase in the minimum wage approved last month in New York includes farmworkers and the wage will become $12.50 per hour by in end of 2020 in Upstate New York. Farms are expected to get a $30 million subsidy to accommodate the wage increase.

Ranzenhofer issued the following statement this afternoon:

“The New York Civil Liberties Union is trying to push increased regulations on farm workers through the courts. These burdensome regulations would force local farms to eliminate jobs and potentially go out of business. Whether it is New York City politicians or the NYCLU, they have little to no understanding of the economic realities of the agriculture industry. If the NYCLU wins this lawsuit, then it will have a devastating impact on our family farms and jobs in our rural communities.”

May 11, 2016 - 2:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, business, Announcements, news.

The Genesee County Ag Society will present a Livestock Fitting, Showmanship & Judging Clinic May 20-22 at the Genesee County Fairgrounds. It is located at 5056 E. Main Street Road, Batavia.

It is intended to be a learning opportunity for young people. All youths age 8 to 19 are particulary welcome and they do NOT have to be members of 4-H or Future Farmers of America (FFA).

Friday, May 20, is Livestock Game Night. Saturday, May 21, is a Livestock Clinic. Sunday, May 22, there will be industry speakers talking about nutrition, genetics and the ag business.

Topics covered during the weekend will include: Nutrition & Care, Basic Training, Showmanship Overview & Practice, Fitting & Hoof Trimming, Livestock Species Knowledge, and Judging & Oral Reasons.

Tickets are $30 per youth, which includes a T-shirt and chicken BBQ. Accompanying adults are $15 (but if they want a T-shirt and chicken BBQ, it's $30).

Camping is available for the weekend. Cost is $25 one night, or $40 for both Friday and Saturday nights.

Early registration is recommended.

Any questions, call Heather Weber 585-297-3032.

 

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, 420 E. Main Street, Batavia NY 14020

Phone: (585) 343-3040 ext. 101 Fax: (585) 343-1275

http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/

May 10, 2016 - 1:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, Announcements, news, 4-H.

Press release:

Did you know that chickens make amazing backyard pets? They help control the bug population, eat table scraps, and provide nutrient-rich, great-tasting eggs! Learn how chickens make ideal 4-H projects for youth in rural, suburban, and urban settings by attending Poultry Palooza!

This program, presented by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee and Monroe Counties, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, at the Kennedy Building on the Genesee County Fairgrounds, 5056 E. Main Street Road, Batavia.

This event is open to all Finger Lakes area youth ages 5–19. Youth do not need to be 4-H members to participateYouth ages 5–8 must have an adult present.

Poultry Palooza will feature two levels of workshops: beginner and advanced. The beginner level workshop is for youth who are new to owning poultry or are thinking of starting a poultry project. The advanced level workshop is for youth who are familiar with poultry and wish to advance their knowledge.

Workshop topics include: proper bird handling, flock management, nutrition, diseases, showmanship and more!

The registration fee is $10 per youth and includes lunch (or youth may bring their own), and a copy of the "4-H Poultry Resource Handbook" courtesy of the New York State 4-H Rice Fund. (One resource guide per family will be provided.)

The registration deadline is May 23. For a complete event brochure and registration form, please visit http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/events or contact the Monroe County 4-H Office at 585-753-2568 or [email protected].

May 9, 2016 - 2:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, business.

Press release:

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide a new financing option to help farmers purchase portable storage and handling equipment.

Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Elanor Starmer announced changes to the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program today during a local and regional food roundtable in Columbus, Ohio. The loans, which now include a smaller microloan option with lower down payments, are designed to help producers, including new, small and mid-sized producers, grow their businesses and markets.

“As more communities reconnect with agriculture, consumer demand is increasing for food produced locally or regionally,” Dolcini said. “Portable handling and storage equipment is vital to helping farmers get their products to market more quickly and better maintain product quality, bringing them greater returns. That’s why we’ve added this type of equipment as a new category for our Farm Storage Facility Loan program.”

The program also offers a new “microloan” option, which allows applicants seeking less than $50,000 to qualify for a reduced down payment of five percent and no requirement to provide three years of production history. Farms and ranches of all sizes are eligible. The microloan option is expected to be of particular benefit to smaller farms and ranches, and specialty crop producers who may not have access to commercial storage or on-farm storage after harvest. These producers can invest in equipment like conveyers, scales or refrigeration units and trucks that can store commodities before delivering them to markets. Producers do not need to demonstrate the lack of commercial credit availability to apply.

“Growing high-value crops for local and regional markets is a common entry point for new farmers,” Starmer said. “Since they often rent land and have to transport perishable commodities, a loan that can cover mobile coolers or even refrigerated trucks fills an important gap. These producers in turn supply the growing number of food hubs, farmers markets or stores and restaurants interested in sourcing local food.”

Earlier this year, FSA significantly expanded the list of commodities eligible for Farm Storage Facility Loan. Eligible commodities now include aquaculture; floriculture; fruits (including nuts) and vegetables; corn, grain sorghum, rice, oilseeds, oats, wheat, triticale, spelt, buckwheat, lentils, chickpeas, dry peas sugar, peanuts, barley, rye, hay, honey, hops, maple sap, unprocessed meat and poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and renewable biomass. FSFL microloans can also be used to finance wash and pack equipment used post-harvest, before a commodity is placed in cold storage.

AMS helps thousands of agricultural food producers and businesses enhance their marketing efforts through a combination of research, technical services and grants. The agency works to improve marketing opportunities for U.S. growers and producers, including those involved in specialty crop production and in the local and regional food systems. Visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/ to learn more about AMS services.

Today’s announcement will further advance the efforts of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates the Department's work to develop local and regional food systems. USDA is committed to helping farmers, ranchers, and businesses access the growing market for local and regional foods, which was valued at $12 billion in 2014 according to industry estimates. Under this Administration, USDA has invested more than $1 billion in more than 40,000 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects. More information on how USDA investments are connecting producers with consumers and expanding rural economic opportunities is available in Chapter IV of USDA Results on Medium.

To learn more about Farm Storage Facility Loans, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport or contact a local FSA county office. To find your local FSA county office, visit http://offices.usda.gov/.

March 25, 2016 - 3:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, dairy, business, O-AT-KA, news.

(Photos by Jim Burns.)

A Canadian proposal to reduce the amount of milk products imported from the United States, and to impose a tariff, could have perilous financial consequences for Western New York dairy farmers and cooperatives such as O-AT-KA in Batavia, which exports 20 percent of its goods to Canada annually.

At a press conference this morning in the plant's cafeteria off Cedar Street, Sen. Charles Schumer vowed to bring all his clout -- built over 18 years in the Senate -- to bear to stop the limitations being put forth by the nation's trade ministry in conjuction with its agriculture department under new government leadership.

Last year, U.S. dairies produced 200 billion pounds of milk; 85 percent of that was consumed by Americans and 15 percent was exported, said O-AT-KA CEO Bill Schreiber.

"Canada's trying to put in a new rule that would be devastating to O-AT-KA and Western New York," Schumer told the media, union employees, dairy farmers and local officials in attendance. "That ultra-filtered milk came in duty-free. Now they're trying to change that. ...  and the Province of Ontario wants to keep out (U.S.) dairy sales."

For O-AT-KA, the restrictions would amount to a loss of 180 million pounds of annual milk production -- which is 20 percent of $95 million in yearly sales, or $19 million, according to Schreiber. 

WIth more than 350 employees, the facility is one of the largest employers in the Genesee County. Upstate Niagara Cooperative, made up of nearly 400 dairies, is the majority owner of O-AT-KA.

WNY dairies are poised for growth, despite recent declines in milk pricing -- from $25 per hundredweight (the name of the commodity pricing unit) to $15 currently.

In 2012, O-AT-KA invested $16 million to build a new two-story addition to allow "ultra-filtration" capabilities in order to expand its product line and boost sales to other producers in the United States and abroad, especially Canada. Products include non-fat dry milk powder, buttermilk powder, whey powder, canned evaporated milk, butter, fluid condensed milk, iced coffee, nutritional beverages and other drinks. Ultra-filtered milk is used in cheese making.

Schumer said the recently proposed Canadian trade barriers could hinder plans for growth.

"We have good neighbors in Canada, but every so often something happens," the senator said. "This proposal would bring our mutual agreement to a screeching halt. It would put O-AT-KA and New York's dairy farmers in grave jeopardy. It would imperil the whole Upstate economy."

When asked "Is there really anything you can do?" if another nation, like Canada, implements a trade rule you don't like, Schumer replied: "Yes, a big leverage is tariffs. It's not a one-way street. It's not just exporting to Canada; we import from Canada, too."

It boils down to the fact that "we just have a stronger dairy industry and they're trying to build their's."

The rules, if implemented, would take effect in about six months.

"I'm here to go to bat for you," Schumer said. "I'm going to send a shot across the bough."

Schumer is calling on the U.S. Trade Representives and the USDA to work to protect U.S. dairy exports by ensuring that Canada doesn’t impose restrictive trade rules and honors its commitment to open borders to Upstate New York farmers.

The proposal to limit U.S. dairy imports comes on the heels of the "Trans-Pacific Partnership," referred to commonly as TPP, being signed in New Zealand last month after seven years of negotiations. Besides New Zealand, it is made up of Canada and 10 other Pacific Rim countries, including the United States, Australia, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Chile, Mexico and Peru. Ratification is anticipated over the next two years.

According to the Toronto Sun (Feb. 4. 2016), the pact could impact many industries in Canada, including agriculture, and some opponents fear it could hurt the economy and result in layoffs in some sectors. As part of the deal, Canadian dairy farms are slated to get $4.3 billion in subsidies from their government over a span of 15 years to offset losses from an increase in dairy imports from TPP trading partners.

Schumer made it clear that he opposes big trade agreements like TPP, just as he opposed and voted against NAFTA during the Clinton Administration.

Here's a copy of Schumer’s letter to both the USTR and USDA:

Dear Ambassador Froman and Secretary Vilsack:

I write to you with strong concerns about reports that Canada is weighing policy and regulatory shifts that would undermine one of New York’s most important export markets. Just a few years ago, two dairy companies made investments worth tens of millions of dollars in Upstate New York to produce ultra-filtered milk specifically for export to the Canadian cheese market. These sales are possible as a result of the duty-free access for this specific product that Canada agreed to under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Recent reports indicate that Canada is considering administrative actions to limit Canadian companies’ capacity to use this product in further processing and that Ontario is advancing a new, targeted pricing policy designed to crowd out New York’s dairy sales. Further restraints on dairy trade are unacceptable, particularly coming on the heels of Canada’s recent pledge to expand access to its tightly restricted dairy market under TPP. 

New York has made sizable investments in exporting into Canada under specific rules laid out by the Canadian government. Those sales now help support dairy farmers and rural communities across the state. New Canadian barriers to market access would have an outsized impact on New York’s dairy sector. As the country’s third largest milk producing state, a significant impact on New York’s ability to tap into key foreign markets also will impact farmers in surrounding states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. Moreover, this latest example of dairy market-access restrictions appears to represent a continuation of persistent Canadian regulatory and policy shifts aimed directly at impeding dairy trade. 

We must hold Canada to its commitments and ensure that our exporters do not encounter barriers to the products they are already shipping to Canada. I urge you to strongly reject this and similar efforts to impair the value of concessions the U.S. previously secured under NAFTA. Thank you for your attention to this important priority with one of this country’s largest trading partners.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

March 22, 2016 - 2:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in farm bureau, news, agriculture, business.

Press release:

Genesee County Farm Bureau, in collaboration with Monroe Tractor, will be offering a NYS DOT Truck Rules and Regulations Training Program on Thursday, March 31, for area agriculture producers and their employees.

This training program is designed for producers and farm employees to become familiar with and review laws and regulations regarding proper truck operation throughout the year. It will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Elba Fire Hall, 7143 Oak Orchard Road, Elba.

There will be presentations by New York State Police about the legalities of driving farm equipment on our roads, as well as identify major problems with truck rules and regulations. Weather permitting, the training will conclude with a truck walk-around to identify problem areas and checkpoints.

Following the morning session, a DEC pesticide recertification program will also be offered at the same location from 1 to 4 p.m. This afternoon program will include discussions on weeds, diseases and insects in corn and soybeans, prepping your sprayer for the upcoming season, and an update on pesticide regulations. Bring your pesticide card to earn 2.5 recertification points.

There is no need to register for these trainings. For more information, contact James Kingston, Batavia Monroe Tractor Branch Manager at 585-746-1670.

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