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May 24, 2018 - 5:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion, schools, education, agriculture, news.

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The Family Consumer Science students at Pavilion Senior High School and Middle School have been recognized for the creativity and hard work in coming up with a beef-based food product.

The competition was sponsored by the NY Beef Council and New York Agriculture in the Classroom.

The middle school students competed with students from eight other middle schools and took first place and the two, just two, seniors in the class, came in second in a competition among 21 high schools.

The $350 total in prize money was used to purchase a new Weber grill from Crocker's Ace Hardware in Le Roy.

The middle school students came up with a product they called Grabbables. It consisted of a meatball, Hawaiian roll, and mozzarella.

"It was really fun," said eighth-grader Alexa Wolcott, who was in charge of quality control for the middle school students.

"Well," added the group's CEO, Adeline Milligan, "you get food in the end."

The two classes were served a catered lunch yesterday of BBQ beef, baked beans, potato salad, and salad, courtesy the Beef Council.

The competition required the students to develop a recipe, determine a target market, come up with a marketing campaign and cost out their expenses and anticipated revenue.

"There's a lot to manage," Milligan said. "You learn what actually goes into running a business."

The competition is meant to be demanding, said Cindy Phillips, director of nutritional education for the Beef Council.

"This is a project that really challenges them to apply all of their classroom learning, from math to critical thinking, social studies, into an experiential project," she said.

Catherine Johnston, AKA "Miss J," is Pavilion's Consumer Family Science teacher. She said it was important to her to get her students involved in the competition because of the lessons they would learn.

"I really want to promote the fact that Family Consumer Science is the next step from ag," Miss J said. "We are the processors. We freeze things. We dry things. We can things. We learn all about food science in my class.

"I'm hoping students want to go into the new factories that are around here and become lab techs. There are a lot of job opportunities that go into this besides being a chef."

May 23, 2018 - 1:41pm

Press release:

Today, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to administratively fund the work being done at the Northeast Center For Occupational Safety And Health For Agriculture, Forestry And Fishing (NEC) on the National tractor rollover protection systems (ROPS) rebate program.

Schumer said ROPS is a vital program, especially considering that farm-related deaths are up to 800 percent higher than many other major industries, with tractor overturns being their most frequent cause at a rate of 96 cases per year.

“ROPS is a critical and cost-effective rebate program that provides important information to farmers across the country on how to find and install the right rollover bar for their machinery. It is imperative that the CDC does everything possible to fund this program to help ensure that farmers and growers have every tool possible to stay safe and succeed,”Senator Schumer said.

The ROPS program facilitates rebates in states with state-based funding to farmers to cover approximately 70 percent of the cost for a farmer to install a ROPS roll bar retrofit kit on their tractor. According to Schumer, the original grant funding for this important program is slated to expire in September, and the CDC has discontinued the funding mechanism to allow for the continued federal investment in this program.

“Keeping family farmers and farm workers who operate dangerous machinery safe must be a major priority. That is why I am the urging the CDC to restore funding for this critical farm safety program and the subsequent research,” Schumer said. “The work done by organizations like the NEC is exactly the type of work the federal government should be investing in: it’s cost-effective, informed by real industry experts, and helps save farmers’ lives every day.

"By slashing available funding to this life-saving organization, we jeopardize successful programs that are providing critical resources to farmers, like a 1-800 safety hot-line number and on the ground experts in rural communities, so farmers can access the ROPS Rebate Program, which helps farmers correctly install rollover bars on their tractors just in case the tractor flips over. We need to do everything possible to make sure we are investing in developing new safety solutions for our farmers and growers. and I will be doing everything possible to make sure this program, which puts farmers first, is protected.”

According to NEC Director, Dr. Julie Sorensen, the program has also been considerably cost-effective with recent economic assessments pointing to a $5 million savings in NY State due to deaths and injuries averted through the program.

As stated by Sorensen, “Senator Schumer’s support for the ROPS program and dedication to the farming community is so essential to ensuring the sustainability of one of our state’s most crucial industries.”

Schumer said the agricultural community is the lifeblood of Upstate New York, and that protecting the well-being and safety of farmers must be a major priority.

In response to the hazardous environment of working on a farm, the Northeast Center For Occupational Safety And Health For Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing launched an effort to create the life-saving ROPS Rebate Program, which covers approximately 70 percent of the cost for a farmer to install a ROPS rollbar kit on their tractor.

In most cases, this means farmers only pay $500 or less for this life-saving equipment that can otherwise cost up to $1,200.

NEC also provides information to farmers throughout the country on how to find and install the right rollover bar.

Since its inception in 2006, the NEC reports that more than 2,150 tractors have been retrofitted with protective structures in seven states, with more than 1,500 of those retrofits occurring in New York State alone. Farmers throughout the country benefit from the hotline and administrative support that is provided through CDC funding.

Furthermore, Schumer said, participants in New York reported 221 close calls and 19 serious incidents in which death or injury was likely without the protective ROPS structures. However, all of this critical outreach and infrastructure surrounding the ROPS program could come to an end if the CDC allows the federal funding for the ROPS program to come to a halt. Schumer said that this program is vital to farmers and growers, and that he will do everything possible to ensure that the CDC administratively funds the program so that the inroads the ROPS program has made can continue.

A copy of the Senator’s letter appears below:

Dear Director Redfield, MD:

"I write to bring attention to a problem which continues to threaten the lives of farmers and growers in Upstate New York and nationwide. As you know, farm-related deaths are 800 percent higher than many other industries, with tractor overturns being the most frequent cause of deaths on farms, at a rate of 96 cases per year. I commend and appreciate the great work being done at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to invest in tractor rollover protection systems (ROPS) and the continued safety of our farmers. However, it has come to my attention that the federal funding for the ROPS program through NIOSH is in jeopardy of coming to an end in September. Therefore, I urge you to work with the Northeast Regional Center in Cooperstown, New York, as well as other NIOSH Centers across the country, in order to administratively fund this important work that saves almost 100 lives a year across the country.

As you know, our agricultural community is the lifeblood of rural America, and protecting the well-being and safety of our farmers must be a majority priority. In response to the hazardous environment of working on a farm, the Northeast Center For Occupational Safety And Health For Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (NEC) launched an effort to create the life-saving ROPS Rebate Program, which covers approximately 70% of the cost for a farmer to install a ROPS rollbar kit on their tractor. In most cases, this means farmers only pay $500 or less for this life-saving equipment that can otherwise cost up to $1,200. NEC also provides information to farmers on how to find and install the right rollover bar. Since its inception in 2006, the NEC reports that more than 2,150 tractors have been retrofitted with protective structures in seven states, with more than 1,500 of those retrofits occurring in New York State alone. However, all of this critical outreach and infrastructure surrounding the ROPS program could come to an end if federal funding comes to a halt.  This is why I urge you to administratively provide funding to the ROPS program, so that the  important inroads the ROPS program has made can continue. 

During these challenging times for our agricultural communities, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to ensure that our farmers and growers have every tool available to succeed. In New York State alone, the ROPS program has been extremely effective in preventing tractor rollover deaths and injuries to our farmers and growers. Feedback from the agricultural community has been extremely positive, with participants in New York reporting 221 close calls and 19 serious incidents in which death or injury was likely without protective structures. This kind of success should be touted and continued, which is why I urge you to ensure that you continue to fund the great work done by the NEC and ROPS as soon as possible.     

I understand that in the current fiscal climate resources are constrained, and as always, I vow to stand with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) throughout the budget process. However, based on the critical importance of protecting the health and safety of our agricultural workers, I ask that you ensure that federal funding continues to flow to the ROPS program past September. I look forward to working with you on this important request."

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer

May 19, 2018 - 5:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Stafford, news, business, Le Roy.

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Nancy Glazier and Garry Wilson led a group of farmers on a pasture walk Thursday on property Wilson rents off of Transit Road in Stafford to raise beef cattle.

Wilson said by fall he will have more than 70 head on the 200 acres he grazes.

Glazier, a small farm specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, said the purpose the pasture walk was to review Wilson's practices and perhaps advise him on changes he's considering to make better use of the land and give the grass a chance to grow and rest.

"It's a good way to learn is when you walk and talk," Glazier said.

Wilson's farm is based on Warsaw Road in Le Roy, where he once raised horses. He switched to cattle about six years ago.

He sells the beef he raises from his farm. He said while it's not certified organic, it's all raised "natural" and the meat is butchered at three local shops.

"I have 600 pounds of fresh ground beef in my freezer right now that is 98 percent (lean) for $3.50 a pound. I sell it from the freezer like that. Great stuff."

During the walk, he told his fellow farmers that raising beef is "just a hobby." Later he explained, "It's a hobby because, yeah, I enjoy it. That's why I call it a hobby."

He said was raised around cows and farming is in his blood.

"I enjoy being outside every day in the sun," Wilson said. "Even in the middle of the winter in a blizzard. I enjoy going out and feeding the cattle."

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May 9, 2018 - 4:32pm

Information provided by Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Pavilion Central School.

Students at Pavilion Central School are being treated to a delicious BBQ beef lunch on Wednesday, May 23, in recognition of their achievements in the recent Top Cut Beef Contest.

The catered lunch is being provided by the New York State Beef Council and New York Agriculture in the Classroom.

Ag in the Classroom is co-hosting the lunch later this month because Pavilion students established three Tower Gardens (aeroponic systems) thanks to a Grow with Us grant from Ag in the Classroom. They are growing strawberries, lettuce, Swiss chard, tomatoes, basil and cucumbers.

Pavilion's eighth-grade Family Consumer Science students placed first in the Middle School Division of the Top Cut Beef Contest for their product, "Grab-A-Bull's Beefy Sliders."

It was the only school in Genesee County to place in the top five of the Middle School Division.

In the High School Division, Pavilion's 12th-grade Family Consumer Science class placed second for their "Gourmet Beef and Tatar Bites."

Both classes are taught by Catherine Johnston.

Pavilion won a total of $350, thus purchasing a Weber grill for their Family Consumer Science classroom.

A class taught by Kerri Richardson at the Agri-Business Academy at the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center received an Honorable Mention in the High School Division for their "Texas Beef Chili -- Chili con Carne."

About the Top Cut Beef Contest

Slow-roasted beef brisket sandwiches, flaming maple beef jerky, and a Texas chuck roast chili were just a few of the delicious recipes developed, tested, and tasted in the debut of the Top Cut Beef Contest for middle and high school students.

Students and teachers in grades six through 12 were exposed to beef production and nutrition with this experiential learning competition by developing a marketing strategy for a food product of their choice and design.

Every classroom was equipped with a "True Beef: From Pasture to Plate" DVD, the True Beef Educator Guide, lesson plans, and consumer guides to better understand the many cuts of beef and their best uses.

Schools were paired with a local beef producer who mentored the students through the process of beef production or supplied the beef necessary for the project. In this hands-on experience, students were exposed to careers in the beef industry and learned about safe food-handling practices.

Participants created beef-centric recipes which they made and tested with their target audience. Submissions included sandwiches, stews, meatballs, and even jerky.

The creativity with this contest was unlimited as students filmed their own commercials and designed websites to market their products.

One of the judges, Ken Krutz, manager of Empire Livestock and board member of New York Beef Council, said of the entries, "I was amazed at the talent and innovation our youth put into their projects. It was an honor to be a judge for the Top Cut Beef Contest."

A total of 30 entries were submitted for judging by a panel of beef producers and industry experts. Each entry was scored based on the product, the market analysis, the marketing plan, and the beef nutrition analysis.

The first-place classroom in each division received $250, second place earned $100, and third place earned $50; all receive a banner to display their achievement, and the first-place teams, like Pavilion's eighth-graders, are also receiving a catered barbeque lunch from the New York Beef Council.

New York State Beef Council thanked participating schools for increasing the agricultural literacy of their students. "It is our hope that they will grow an appreciation of New York’s food system and gain exposure to the many careers available in agriculture," the council stated.

(To enter your classroom in a future contest, or to volunteer your time as a mentor, please contact [email protected].)

Grow With Us Grant

Below is the letter Pavilion Central School teacher Catherine Johnston received from Katie Carpenter, director, New York Agriculture in the Classroom, regarding the Grow with Us Grant.

"Congratulations! You have been selected as a recipient of the Grow with Us Grant from New York Agriculture in the Classroom. Your grant application communicated your school’s need, interest, and commitment to providing healthy food and food system education to your students. The applicant pool for this program was deep and competitive; less than 25 percent of the submitted proposals were funded. You should be proud of your achievement in this difficult selection process.

You have been awarded three Tower Garden aeroponic systems.

Within the next week you will be receiving an emailed link. It will be important for you to thoroughly read the information about accepting the grow system, provide an accurate shipping address, and confirm your contact information. This will be essential to ensuring your grow system is shipped and received in a timely manner. Once this information is received, you will be provided additional information about the shipment of your grow system.

We are excited to work with you and your school as you extend your growing season throughout the entire school year. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns. Again, congratulations on your success in the Grow with Us Grant program."

May 8, 2018 - 10:34am
posted by Virginia Kropf in Plow Days, elba, agriculture, news.

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When the Esten family of Elba decided to organize a plow day 17 years ago in honor of their late father, they couldn’t have imagined how popular the event would become.

On Saturday and Sunday, the 18th annual Plow Days took place at the farm of John Torrey of Route 98, Elba, with close to 60 old tractors.

It was Louis Esten who came up with the idea for Plow Days, and in recent years his son and daughter-in-law Nick and Mandy Esten have done much of the work. It takes the better part of a week to move all of Torrey’s tractors out of the barn and set up for the event.

“We think it’s important for people, especially the younger ones, to see how things were done in the old days,” Louis said.

The lineup of red tractors on the front lawn attracted passersby each day, even someone from Erie, Pa., and Syracuse. Antique tractor collectors came from Genesee and several neighboring counties.

One of the oldest tractors to take part was Louis’s 1938 W30 McCormick Deering.

The Estens estimate they plowed nearly 75 acres of ground with the old tractors.

Top photo: Chuck Esten, of Albion, sits on one of his antique tractors with his grandsons, Benjamin, 5, and Joshua, 16, during Plow Days Saturday and Sunday. Esten’s brother Louis, of Elba, was instrumental in starting Plow Days 17 years ago.

Photos by Virginia Kropf.

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May 7, 2018 - 1:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, education, GCC, news.

Press release:

On Thursday, May 10, starting at 9 a.m., more than 100 high school students from across the GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties) region will be participating in high-tech, agricultural career experience at Genesee Community College, hosted by The BEST Center.

The third annual Precision Agriculture Day at the College's Batavia Campus features a wide array of presenters from the industry who will share information on the latest technological, science, engineering, and agricultural trends including drones, embryo transfer, precision farming and processing, GPS/GIS, auto steering and robotics.

This emerging technology is anticipated to create new employment opportunities in the future. High schoolers from 13 districts across the four counties have the opportunity to discover more about these potential and exciting career pathways and will be checking out how these technologies are used in their own backyard of Western New York.

The Precision Agriculture Committee, chaired by Nathan L. Rudgers, senior vice president of Business Development at Farm Credit East,was formed in 2015.

The committee, comprised of local precision agriculture consultants, agricultural leaders, as well as high school representatives, has been providing guidance and input on the development of programs to address the educational and awareness needs of this growing field.

Advances in technology have resulted in agricultural systems collecting data and using it in multiple operations all controlled through a computer, tablet or smart phone. This technology has created education and training opportunities, but there is a lack of skilled workers.

Enter The BEST Center, which is working to provide multiple educational opportunities in this growing arena.

The BEST Center provides businesses and organizations with customized training solutions ranging from supervisory skills to technical training. The Center also offers numerous professional and personal development courses for individuals, including classroom and online opportunities.

May 7, 2018 - 11:29am
posted by Virginia Kropf in Circle B Winery, elba, agriculture, business, news.

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Growing grapes and making wines is probably the last thing Bob and Ingrid Bowen expected to be doing after retirement.

Even Bob can’t believe the turn of events.

He and his wife both worked at Xerox, but after their four boys went to college, Ingrid announced she wanted a horse.

That started the search for a farm in the country.

“John Mortellaro of Batavia was a family friend and he said he knew about a place near Elba,” Bob said. “The farm had been abandoned, the house was a mess and the place was overgrown, but my wife loved it.”

“It was pretty dilapidated,” Ingrid said.

The Bowens retired in 2011 and bought the farm, renovated the house, cleared the land and built a barn.

Then Bob started thinking about what to do with the land, and he has always liked wine and had made wine as a hobby. He realized Genesee County doesn’t have the kind of weather needed for grapes, but he went to Cornell, where they have a grape research facility and took a course on becoming a vintner.

“In 2012, we planted the vineyards with three grapes from Cornell with code names,” Bob said. “They were developed to grow in cold country. Our weather here is colder, because we don’t have hills and lakes to keep the temperature moderate.”

The first year, temperatures were down to zero, with a wind chill of minus 30, Bob said.

“We lost 120 vines and there was nothing we could do,” he said.

The Bowens already knew they didn’t want to rely solely on grapes, and had planted acres of apple, cherry, peach and apricot trees, along with blueberries and raspberries.

They hired Augie Katrencik, of Macedon, as winemaker. He has 10 years of experience in the business and has been a longtime friend of the Bowens.

On Sunday, the Bowen’s officially opened their winery at 6870 Norton Road with an open house.                   

The Bowens specialize in fruit wines, with apricot, peach, peach and honey, pear, pumpkin and spice, and Traminette* available now.

In June, they will have available blueberry, Dechaunac, Diamond, spiced apple and even tomato wine.

“If you’ve never tried tomato wine, you’re in for a surprise,” Bob said. “It doesn’t look like V8.”

Kim Shay, of Victor, said she loved it.

“It’s very good,” she said.

The idea came from Katrencik, who said his grandparents used to make tomato wine.

Later in the year, the winery will have red raspberry and blueberry.

The Bowens are thrilled to be the first winery in Genesee County and are purchasing everything they can for the business locally. This includes contracting with Hodgins Printing to make their labels.

Bob said they will be at the Downtown Batavia Public Market this summer and at the Genesee County Fair. He is in discussions with local retail liquor stores to carry their wines.

Circle B Winery will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. They can be contacted on Facebook, online [email protected] or by calling (585) 773-4473.

Top photo: Ingrid and Bob Bowen stand in their vineyard at 6870 Norton Road, Elba, where they estabished Genesee County's second winery. They held their premier open house on Sunday.

(*To find out more about Traminette the cold-hardy, fungal resistant, hybrid white grape developed by Cornell University, click here.)

CORRECTION: This story originally said the Bowen's winery is the first winery in Genesee County. Autumn Moon Winery in Bergen opened a couple of years ago.

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Visitors from throughout the area attended an open house on Sunday at Circle B Winery, the second in Genesee County. From left, Ken Winburn, of Phelps, Kim Shay, of Victor, Linda Wester, of Farmington and Joe Attinello, of Farmington, sample the wines.

Photos by Virginia Kropf.

May 2, 2018 - 10:37am

Press release:

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has recognized Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director Beverly L. Mancuso, as a Woman of Distinction at the 21st annual ceremony, for her outstanding contributions in enriching the quality of life for the community and beyond.

“Beverly has been widely recognized as an effective leader and a connector for community-based organizations to other partners and volunteers. This is a well-deserved honor to recognize Beverly’s efforts in our community, as well as her positive impact in the lives of so many residents. I wish her all the best in retirement,” Ranzenhofer said.

Mancuso has served at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Genesee County for 16 years, 13 years as executive director. She is responsible for the overall leadership of the organization, including programming for Leadership Genesee, 4-H Youth Development, Master Gardener Program and Agriculture. 

Mancuso started her career working in finance and physician practice management at two hospitals, then furthered her education at the Rochester Institute of Technology. For five years, Mancuso worked to enhance the experience of patients at the Genesee County Health Department.

Mancuso is expected to retire from the Cornell Cooperative Extension in June.

“I am honored to be recognized by Senator Ranzenhofer. I learned the importance of listening at an early age, and this skill has helped me during my career in both the public and not-for-profit sectors,” Mancuso said. “I am looking forward to the next great adventure.” 

Mancuso was a member of the inaugural class of Leadership Genesee in 2001, and she was recognized as an Outstanding Alumna years later.

She is currently a proud member of the Muriel H. Marshall Fund Planning Team. Mancuso has been actively involved in the community for years, including Kiwanis, Boy Scouts, Genesee Country Village, Parish Councils, and Office for the Aging Advisory Committee.

April 27, 2018 - 3:09pm
Press release:
 
U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer announced today that he is working directly with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senator Tammy Baldwin(D-WI) to urge U.S. trade officials to secure a level playing field with Canadian producers during the renegotiation of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
 
According to Schumer, in recent years, Canada has established dairy pricing policies and has maintained high tariffs that have effectively created a “Dairy Wall” stopping most U.S. dairy products from accessing Canadian markets and distorting global trade. Dairy farmers and producers, like O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. in Batavia, Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Cayuga County and dairy producers in Wisconsin, have been severely hurt by Canada’s manipulative trade practices and it will only get worse without action.
 
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) from Wisconsin has also been a leader on lowering Canada’s dairy trade barriers, working closely with Senator Schumer.
 
“With Speaker Ryan’s and Senator Baldwin’s help, we now have a real opportunity to churn the tide and hopefully fix the unfair Canadian dairy trade barriers that have plagued dairy farmers and producers from the Finger-Lakes to Central New York to Wisconsin,” said Senate Democratic Leader Schumer.
 
“Our hardworking New York dairy farmers and producers across Upstate New York are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy, to sell their dairy products, expand their business and create new local jobs – and right now, for dairy, Canada is erecting unfair barriers and not playing by the rules and the current NAFTA renegotiation must be used to rectify that.”
 
Schumer explained Canada has an unfair advantage over New York dairy farmers and producers. In addition to Canada’s 270 percent tariff on milk, a program called the “Class 7” pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers since it came into force last year.
 
In fact, Canada has used the Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports in the past year by creating excess milk production capacity within Canada, then dumping the resulting milk powder onto world markets. To further prove this dumping exists, Schumer added that Canada’s dairy farmers are some of the highest paid in the world, yet Canadian dairy companies are still able to be among the lowest cost sellers of Class 7 products globally.
 
As U.S., Canadian and Mexican trade officials are closing in on a deal to revamp North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Schumer said working with Senator Baldwin and Speaker Ryan – who represents many dairy farmers and producers in their own state, represents a real opportunity to finally dismantle Canada’s market-distorting policies and ensure a level playing field for American dairy farmers and producers.
 
Schumer continued: “As trade officials near a deal to renegotiate NAFTA – a bipartisan issue President Trump, Senator Baldwin, Speaker Ryan and I agree on – we must make it a top priority to begin reversing restrictive dairy pricing policies in Canada that are hurting our dairy producers at their core, and now is a real opportunity to do just that.”
 
Schumer said that he has directly stressed the importance of securing meaningful changes in our dairy trade relationship with Canada to past and current administration officials, including President Trump, current United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton, and the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft -- who have all committed to address this issue.
April 24, 2018 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, schools, education, news, alexander.

A pair of technology teachers in Alexander Central Schools think it's time to reintroduce agriculture into the curriculum of the high school and shared their plans Monday night with the school board.

"We live in an ag community but the kids seem distant from it because all of their food comes from factories," said Bob Hollwedel, who has been working on creating an agriculture program at the school with Aaron Forgnone.

Initially, the program will concentrate on field trips to ag-related businesses in the region.

Board members expressed an interest in seeing the high school start an FFA (Future Farmers of America) program.

Hollwedel said in their research they looked into it but decided it's too much to pursue right off the bat.

"We realized really quickly how there is a lot to that and you can get really deep, really quick," Hollwedel said. "We found we should start from something and then look at that as a separate element."

Board VP Richard Guarino was particularly excited about the prospect of reintroducing an ag curriculum into the high school and encouraged the teachers to work toward forming an FFA chapter. He said FFA teaches students a lot of important life skills, including public speaking, parliamentary procedures, and business.

"I am thrilled that we are bringing agriculture back to Alexander," Guarino said. "I don’t know when it left, I guess some time in the ‘80s. I think it’s great that it’s coming back. I like to think it’s not just cows and plows, which is what we used to say in FFA. It’s not just cows and plows. It is so many different businesses.

"I can still say it was in ag classes where I learned to fill out a 1040 ( U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form). No other other class in high school taught me the stuff I learned in agribusiness, so I’m thrilled."

April 23, 2018 - 4:26pm

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today called on U.S. trade officials to secure a level playing field with Canadian producers during the renegotiation of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Schumer said that in recent years, Canada has established dairy pricing policies and has maintained high tariffs that have effectively created a “Dairy Wall” stopping most U.S. dairy products from accessing Canadian markets and distorting global trade.

Dairy farmers and producers, like the 340 dairy farmers who make up Upstate Niagara Co-Op, which supplies O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. in Batavia, have been severely hurt by Canada’s manipulative trade practices and it will only get worse without action.

O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc., with more than 400 employees and majority owned by Upstate Niagara, has already lost millions of dollars in contracts due to Canada’s actions “Dairy Wall.”

Schumer said that the time to secure a level playing field with Canada by expanding market opportunities and eliminating Canada’s unfair pricing policies – is now and we cannot let this opportunity go to waste.

“Our hardworking New York dairy farmers and producers like Upstate Niagara Co-Op’s 340 farm family members across the Finger Lakes and O-AT-KA Milk Products in Batavia are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy, to sell their dairy products, expand their business and create new local jobs,” Schumer said.

“As trade officials near a deal to renegotiate NAFTA – an issue President Trump and I both agree on – we must make it a top priority to begin reversing restrictive dairy pricing policies in Canada that are hurting our dairy producers at their core, and now is a real opportunity to do just that.”

Schumer explained Canada has an unfair advantage over New York dairy farmers and producers. In addition to Canada’s 270 percent tariff on milk, a program called the “Class 7” pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers like Avon’s Anderson Farm and their fellow Upstate Niagara Co-Op dairies since it came into force last year.

In fact, Canada has used the Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports in the past year by creating excess milk production capacity within Canada, then dumping the resulting milk powder onto world markets. To further prove this dumping exists, Schumer added that Canada’s dairy farmers are some of the highest paid in the world, yet Canadian dairy companies are still able to be among the lowest cost sellers of Class 7 products globally.

Anderson Farm is one of the 340 dairy farm members of the Upstate Niagara Co-Op, which is the majority owner of the O-AT-KA Milk Products facility in Batavia. More than 400 employees work at O-AT-KA. Upstate Niagara dairies throughout the Rochester Finger Lakes Region like Anderson Farm depend on O-AT-KA to purchase their milk to then manufacture and sell milk products for the domestic and international markets.

Since Canada’s implementation of Class 7, O-AT-KA lost $19 million in annual sales of Ultra Filtered milk (UF Milk), a product used to make cheese and other dairy products that it had been exporting into Canada. Moreover, the production of this UF milk for the Canadian market had accounted for 20 percent (about 180 million pounds) of all of O-AT-KA’s milk volume.

This severely undercut a $16 million investment made by O-AT-KA in 2012 to build a two-story addition at its Batavia plant to manufacture UF Milk to support its export business to Canada. When Canada unfairly cut off UF Milk imports and implemented Class 7, it dealt a significant blow to the local agriculture economy and was a factor in the current U.S. milk inventory imbalance that is contributing to now drive the price of milk down.

Schumer was joined by Jim Anderson, fourth generation owner of Anderson Farm, O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. President & Chairman John Gould, local dairy farmers, and elected officials.

Gould, who also owns an Upstate Niagara Co-Op dairy farm in Genesee County, said “Canada has a long history of erecting barriers to trade when it comes to dairy and the creation of Class 7 is an example of that. Canada's Class 7 market manipulation has caused harm to O-AT-KA Milk Products and their farm family owners, whose investments in serving legitimate customers in Canada have been blocked.

"As NAFTA is renegotiated, it is time that Canadian gamesmanship ends and a constructive agreement is reached that allows market participation and access under rules that all trading partners can follow. We thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and work in keeping this important issue top of mind as negotiations proceed."

As U.S., Canadian and Mexican trade officials are closing in on a deal to revamp North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Schumer said now represents a real opportunity to dismantle Canada’s market-distorting policies and ensure a level playing field for American dairy farmers and producers.

Schumer noted that he has directly stressed the importance of securing meaningful changes in our dairy trade relationship with Canada to past and current administration officials, including current United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, President Trump, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton, and the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft who have all committed to address this issue.

Right now, products manufactured by O-AT-KA Milk Products include non-fat dry milk powder, buttermilk powder, whey powder, canned evaporated milk, butter, fluid condensed milk, iced coffee, nutritional beverages and other various drinks.

O-AT-KA has gross annual sales of more than $300 million and is a significant employer and economic development engine in Upstate NY’s dairy and manufacturing industries. Schumer said that in order for Upstate Niagara member dairies and O-AT-KA to continue to be global leaders, Canada’s rapacious dairy-related trade policies need to be addressed and that NAFTA represents a major opportunity to do so.

Here's Schumer's letter to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative:

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

As the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations come towards a conclusion, I would like to again emphasize the importance of securing meaningful concessions from Canada to provide stable market access for our dairy producers. Securing meaningful and enforceable commitments that will allow U.S. dairy producers to compete with Canada’s on a level playing field should be a top priority in NAFTA renegotiations. As I have expressed to you many times, I strongly believe that we should not miss this opportunity to protect our dairy producers from Canada’s recent predatory trade practices.

As you know, Canada’s Class 7 pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers since it came into force last year. Canada has also maintained large tariffs on dairy products, including a 270 percent tariff on milk. New York’s dairy farmers and companies like Cayuga Milk Ingredients, O-AT-KA Milk, and Ideal Dairy Farm, rely on market-based trade with Canada for a significant percentage – millions of dollars – of their revenue. Not only are New York’s producers locked out of Canada’s ultrafiltered milk market, but in just a year’s time, Canada has used its Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports, dumping powdered milk products into global markets and undercutting New York dairy producer’s exports. This Class 7 system is likely a violation of Canada’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, but addressing it quickly through NAFTA renegotiation is needed, rather than waiting for years for a WTO determination. This Class 7 system should be dismantled through new NAFTA commitments.

In our discussions, you have committed to me that you would prioritize addressing this issue through NAFTA renegotiations. The President has also privately expressed to me his explicit desire to address this issue and has publically emphasized, many times, the unfair way that Canada has treated our dairy producers, noting just last month: “Canada must treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive.”

Our hard working dairy producers are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy. Again, I urge you to make meaningful and enforceable commitments that level the playing field for our dairy producers a top priority as NAFTA renegotiations conclude.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.

April 21, 2018 - 7:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, news, notify, Pok-A-Dot, batavia.

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When Rep. Chris Collins is in Batavia around noon and has time to stop for lunch, he usually makes that stop the Pok-A-Dot. Today, he had with him Greg Ibach, undersecretary/marketing and regulatory programs for the USDA (center). Joining them for lunch were Dana H. Coale, deputy administrator of the USDA, and Peter Fredericks, associate market administrator for the Northeast Market Area for the USDA.

They had just come from Wyoming County where Collins hosted a roundtable discussion for dairy farmers. They then toured the Rudgers Registered Jerseys Farm in Attica.

Before lunch was served, Ibach spoke with The Batavian about a few issues that concern local farmers.

Farmers across the nation are nervous about new protectionist trade policies but Ibach expressed optimism that things will work out favorably for agriculture.

"I’m a farmer from Central Nebraska," Ibach said. "My children and grandchildren are our fifth and six generations to grow up on our family farm. Through the years, as we’ve seen great growth opportunities for export agriculture, we always seem to hit up against phytosanitary barriers, quotas, or tariffs that have limited our true potential to grow agriculture markets. We, as farmers in the Midwest, have always asked the government to do something about those barriers and of export markets. This is administration is trying to do something about it."

He said he understands the anxiety and shares the anxiety, he said, but progress with KORUS (the free-trade agreement with South Korea) and the reports he is getting on NAFTA negotiations are positive for farmers.

"I’ve got to believe the world still wants to be consumers of U.S. products," Ibach said. "If they understand that the ticket to be able to continue to ship to us is that they expand our opportunities, I think we will be successful here and I think we’ll see even higher growth rate for agriculture commodities down the road. We may have to suffer a little bit here in the short term but we will get the benefits in the long term."

Many farmers have specific complaints about NAFTA but few want to see the agreement torn up. Locally, farmers complain about limits on the Canadian dairy and produce markets. Ibach said he understands those concerns and believes they are being addressed in negotiations.

"I'm confident we will reach an agreement that is better for everybody," Ibach said.

Another big concern for local farmers is immigration. They continue to struggle to find a sufficient and stable workforce.

Ibach said its a concern shared by farmers and ranchers across the nation, especially when it comes to temporary worker visas for employees who need to be on their farms year around.

"We're trying to work with Congress and the Department of Labor to understand those needs," Ibach said. "Secretary (Sonny) Perdue has a senior advisor who works on this issue every day. We’re trying to try to help find programs and adjustments that can be made to address agriculture worker concerns."

One of Ibach's areas of specialty is expanding ag markets to the rest of the world and he said he sees great opportunity in Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam, India and Africa.

"The entire continent (Africa) is projected to have quick, high growth," Ibach said. "At the same time, they have a lot of poverty. We're just starting to see a middle class emerge. With their agriculture, just with them trying to feed themselves, there is room for us to work with them on that and have them accept the technology out there as far as biotech to allow them to grow themselves as well as be customers of ours."

Here's a press release from the office of Chris Collins about the dairy roundtable:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today hosted USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach for a dairy roundtable in Wyoming County and tour of Rudgers Registered Jerseys Farm. Collins and Ibach discussed the 2018 Farm Bill, NAFTA negotiations, and other issues that impact local dairy farmers.

“With the release of the Farm Bill and ongoing NAFTA talks, it is my hope that our region’s dairy farmers will soon see some relief,” Collins said. “Agriculture is the backbone of our region’s economy and it is essential that we implement policies that help our farmers succeed. I thank Under Secretary Ibach for traveling to my district to talk about important issues that face Western New York dairy farmers.”

“As a fifth generation farmer myself, I appreciate the many ways that Rudgers and other Western New York dairies contribute to their communities and the region,” Ibach said.“The American dairy industry faces challenges from a number of directions. USDA will continue to listen and work hand-in-hand with producers of every size and our Congressional partners, like Congressman Collins.”

This week, the House Agriculture Committee favorably reported the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes important reforms to the Margin Protection Program (MPP). This program provides critical protections to dairy farmers as milk and feed prices fluctuate, and proposed changes will allow farmers to receive more coverage at less cost.

The Farm Bill also strengthens investment in trade promotion initiatives, designed to build upon our current agriculture exports. This week Collins sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging him to put an end to Canada’s Class 7 pricing program. As NAFTA negations continue, Collins pledged to work with the Trump administration to get rid of this program, which has created an unfair playing field and has essentially eliminated U.S. exports of certain dairy products. 

Additionally, Collins and Ibach discussed with farmers the unfair and complicated H-2A visa system that treats workers on certain types of farms different than it treats those on dairy farms. As a strong advocate for year-round legal work status, Collins and Ibach voiced commitment to finding solutions so dairy farmers can depend on a reliable and willing workforce.

Collins added: “I always enjoy meeting with our region’s dairy farmers and thank the Rudgers family for their hospitality and honest discussion about what we need to do to get this industry back on track. I look forward to continuing our work together on ways to strengthen and grow our dairy economy.”

April 20, 2018 - 1:45pm

Press release:

Join us as we walk Garry Wilson’s rented pastures where he grazes stocker cattle and discuss improvements.

Nancy Glazier, Small Farm specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension’s NWNY Team, will lead discussion at 8962 Transit Road, Stafford (approx. address) starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 17.

Wilson will begin the discussion his objectives for the summer grazing season in regards to improvements, rotating the cattle through the pastures, and supplemental feed at the old railroad right-of-way. He has some ideas, but is open to suggestions.

We will end the evening at Garry’s home farm at 9420 Warsaw Road, LeRoy, for further discussion and refreshments. The evening is scheduled to end by 9 p.m.

Registration is required by May 15 for planning purposes. The cost for the event is $10 per person. To register contact Cathy Wallace at 585-343-3040, ext. 138 or [email protected].

March 23, 2018 - 2:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, michael ranzenhofer, business, agribusiness.

Press release:

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer today announced his support for the 2018 “Growing Strong” Plan. The “Growing Strong” plan will help strengthen agribusiness and create new jobs in the agriculture industry by expanding markets, reducing production costs, and investing in the state’s leading industry.

“Family farms are a major contributor to our state and local economies. Implementing these initiatives will help the agriculture industry thrive and expand a workforce of more than 100,000 men and women. This new plan will help make it more affordable for New York’s 35,000 farms,” Ranzenhofer said.

The comprehensive legislative package of initiatives includes:

• Examine burdensome regulations: Direct state regulators to study existing state regulations that are harmful to farming, unnecessarily increase costs, and prevent farm success.
• Repeal the Highway Use Tax for farm-registered trucks, and exempt farmers from any proposal to add new “tolling” to enter New York City, as a way to bring more New York-grown products into the nation’s largest consumer market. New York is one of just four states that still imposes such a tax.
• Help farmers invest in facilities and buy equipment: S7851 provides a tax credit for dairy farmers to encourage investment in facilities and equipment that will allow them to take advantage of a growing demand for “value-added” dairy products, like flavored drinks, yogurts, and other products that can satisfy existing demand.
• Help farmers by giving them access to IDAs: S2388 authorizes industrial development agencies (IDAs) to provide technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers that grow, harvest, or produce agricultural products in this state. 
• Create a “Lifeline Dairy Energy Assistance Program” for dairy farmers struggling with a prolonged slump in milk prices, directing $10 million in existing NYSERDA funds to install high-efficiency lighting, pumping and cooling equipment, and to promote investment in energy-producing biomass generators and digesters. 
• Expand agricultural P-Tech education programs that help prepare students for increasing technology demands of farming careers, restore funding for Beginning Farmer Grants that was cut from the Executive Budget, and increase support to establish new chapters of school-based Future Farmers of America programs in response to growing interest in agriculture. In addition, the proposal expands opportunities for success in agriculture by creating a specialized education certificate to acknowledge student achievement and training in the field.
• Encouraging more women to pursue farming careers: S7843 authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Markets to conduct a study to identify obstacles and impediments that prevent more women from pursuing agricultural careers. Attracting new farmers to pursue farming careers in New York is critical, and continuing to focus the state’s efforts on encouraging growing sectors of the agricultural economy, like women-owned farm businesses, is a very important step in that direction.

March 17, 2018 - 7:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in maple weekend, agriculture, corfu, alexander, news.

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It's Maple Weekend this weekend and next weekend with open houses at:

  • Randall's Maple Products, located at 10307 Smithley Road in Alexander;
  • Sweet Dream Maple Farm, located at 1116 Reynolds Road in Corfu.

The open houses run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow and next Saturday and Sunday.

Sweet Time Farms, at 5680 Webster Road, Wyoming, is also hosting an open house this weekend.

Above, Matthew Stein, at Sweet Dream Maple Farm, explains during a tour how trees are tapped.

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Al Stein at Sweet Dream Maple Farm with an evaporator.

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Eric Randall at Randall's Maple Products.

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March 13, 2018 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, news, business, Le Roy.

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Press release from American Dairy Association North East:

Do you have trouble adjusting to daylight saving time? If you do, then you aren’t alone. Dairy cows do, too.

“Like many of us, cows are creatures of habit,” said Natasha Stein Sutherland, dairy farmer and owner of Stein Farms in Le Roy. “That first week after the time changes takes a little adjustment for everyone on the farm – cows and farmers alike.”

To ease the transition, some farmers will make gradual adjustments to the cow’s schedules – shifting milking times in 30-minute increments over two days. Others find it’s just as easy to make the switch all at once.

“It really depends on the individual farm and their management practices,” said Stein Sutherland. “There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to dairy farming. But, keeping cows comfortable and content is something we all practice every day.”

According to Stein Sutherland, research shows that more light helps cows produce more milk and ideally, cows should have 16 to 18 hours of daylight each day. Farmers use a variety of practices – including lights on timers – to ensure cows have the light they need.

This year marks the 44th year when clocks are set forward one hour. President Nixon signed into law the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act in 1974. The extra hour of daylight will last until Nov. 4.

Photo submitted by Stein Farms.

February 21, 2018 - 9:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, news, USDA.

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Genesee and Niagara counties in New York as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages caused by flooding that occurred on Nov. 6-9 last year.

Farmers and ranchers in the contiguous Erie, Livingston, Monroe, Orleans and Wyoming counties in New York also qualify for natural disaster assistance.

Qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for FSA’s emergency (EM) loans, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration of Feb. 16, 2018, to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from the impacts of this disaster.

Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include: Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Interested farmers may contact their local USDA service centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

February 6, 2018 - 10:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today denounced actions by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to bring a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s decision to either rescind or revise the Waters of The United States (WOTUS) rule imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Obama.

In 2015, the Obama Administration finalized their WOTUS rule giving the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) expanded jurisdiction over bodies of water including farm ponds, storm drains, and wetlands. The Obama rule, if implemented, would have increased permitting costs, lead to unnecessary litigation, and pile on red tape for anything from a construction site to a farm.  Adoption of the flawed WOTUS rule will have disastrous effects on agriculture, small business, and municipalities across the country. 

Realizing how devastating the Obama edict would be to local farmers and communities, President Trump signed an executive order in February 2017 to roll back the WOTUS rule. The Trump executive order instructed the EPA and USACE to begin the process of withdrawing the Obama rule with the EPA filing paperwork to suspend the rule for two years while they work to replace it.

“Yet again we are seeing Attorney General Eric Schneiderman catering to the liberal left and disregarding anything that is good for Western New York,” Collins said. “He continues to meddle with federal policy by supporting an Obama rule that would create confusion, increase costs, and place huge burdens on our nation’s farms, state governments, manufacturers, and just about any type of business resulting in detrimental economic impacts.”

Collins has been a vocal advocate for withdrawing and rewriting the Obama WOTUS rule since he was elected to Congress, something that has received strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. Implementing Obama's rule would contradict two Supreme Court decisions, as well as many state and tribal water laws. 

Collins added: “It is ironic that as we are heading into an election year, we are seeing more and more frivolous lawsuits from the Cuomo Administration and his left-wing allies. It is sad that instead of figuring out how to cut New York’s bloated budget and protect New York property owners and businesses, Cuomo and Schneiderman continue their never-ending effort to score political points at the cost of our State’s economy and the taxpayers who pay the bills.”

February 2, 2018 - 4:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in Farming, business, steve hawley, agriculture.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) has announced $5.5 million is now available to farmers and agricultural producers as part of two new grant programs. The awards are aimed toward farmland conservation, assisting farmers in identifying available land and ensuring that arable land is permanently protected from development and non-farm uses.

“Farming is one of the cornerstones of our community and extremely important to our local economy, traditions and way of life,” Hawley said.

“Too often, farmers lose the ability to work the land due to environmental concerns or development, and these new grants will help protect our producers and ensure that family farms remain family businesses. I remain committed to giving our farmers a voice in Albany, and I look forward to advocating their concerns as we progress through this year’s session.”

More information can be found on the state’s Agriculture and Markets site and interested applicants can access grant information here. Applications will be processed until all funding for the program has been exhausted.

Hawley is the former owner/operator of Hawley Farms in Batavia and sits on the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee.

February 2, 2018 - 4:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, business, Farming.

Press release:

Looking to improve soybean and small grains production in 2018! Cornell Cooperative Extension’s NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team will be offering their annual congresses for soybean and small grain producers throughout the region. 

Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Quality Inn & Suites, 8250 Park Road, Batavia

Guest Speakers:

Dustin Lewis PhD, District Manager, BASF Crop Protection

Dicamba Tolerant Beans: Learning from the Past, Looking Forward to the Future.” * This session will cover the label requirements to fulfill the certification needed to use dicamba tolerant products on DT soybeans.

Adam Gaspar PhD, Field Agronomist, DuPont Pioneer

"The Intersection of Soybean Physiology and Management with Tight Margins and Greater Environmental Variability."

Other topics to be discussed by Cornell University researchers, Cornell Cooperative Extension and local industry:

·         Marestail and Waterhemp Herbicide Resistance

·         Disease Management Issues in Wheat and Soybeans

·         2017 Soybean Yield Contest Winners: How’d they do it!

·         Small Grains Management Updates: Wheat & Malting Barley

·         Industrial Hemp for Small Grain Production

Registration fee: $50 per person includes AM Refreshments & Hot Buffet Lunch DEC Recertification points and Certified Crop Advisor credits will be available PLEASE PRE-REGISTER to guarantee a lunch: Call Cathy Wallace @ 585.343.3040, ext. 138, or [email protected].

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