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

Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

August 3, 2017 - 1:46pm

Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 2, 2017 - 2:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Announcements, agriculture, 4-H, market animal auction.

Press release:

The Genesee County 4-H Program would like to thank all of the businesses, families and friends who supported the 47th Annual Genesee County 4-H Market Animal Auction.

The auction was held Thursday, July 20th at the Genesee County Fair. Market goats, lambs, steers and hogs that were raised by local 4-H members were auctioned by William Kent Inc. The results of the auction are as follows:

(Melissa Keller with her Champion market goat.)

Champion Market Goat

Exhibited by Melissa Keller

Purchased by Pumpkin Hill Veterinary Clinic, Byron

Reserve Champion Market Goat 

Exhibited by Cody Ehrmentraut 

Purchased by Crossen’s Christmas Tree Farm, Basom  

(Madelynn Pimm with her Champion market lamb.)

Champion Market Lamb

Exhibited by Madelynn Pimm

Purchased by Reisdorf Oil & Propane, Batavia

Reserve Champion Market Lamb

Exhibited by Melissa Keller 

Purchased by Crossen’s Christmas Tree Farm, Basom

(Morgan Hofheins with her Champion market steer.)

Champion Market Steer 

Exhibited by Morgan Hofheins

Purchased by Paul Marshall Produce, Elba

Reserve Champion Market Steer 

Exhibited by Shianne Foss 

Purchased by Alden State Bank, Alden

 (Hudson Weber with his Champion market hog.)

Champion Market Hog 

Exhibited by Hudson Weber 

Purchased by The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, Stafford

Reserve Champion Market Hog 

Exhibited by Raegan Weber 

Purchased by Kreher’s Farm Fresh Eggs, Clarence

The Genesee County 4-H Program would also like to extend a special thank you to the following businesses and friends for their donations to the 4-H livestock program this year: Baskin Livestock, Cedar Street Sales & Rentals, HTI Recycling LLC, Nutreco USA Inc., Purina Animal Nutrition, Scott Adams Trucking, Stephen Hawley & Assoc. LLC, The Nesbitt Family, Tompkins Bank of Castile and William Kent Inc.

August 1, 2017 - 1:42pm

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Today at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, 420 E. Main St. in Batavia, Master Gardener Maud Charpin (pictured above) presented a class on a “Do it yourself Terrarium.”

She spoke about what is needed to create your own, including supply lists, step-by-step instructions, and pamphlets for websites with video tutorials.

There are many types of creative ways to design your own terrarium including using glass to see through, small stones, dirt, different plants including moss, plus coffee filters, potting soil and decorations non-porous, non-organic. She said plants with different changing colors are a plus, too.

The half hour free monthly demonstrations are every first Tuesday of each month called “Garden Talk” presented by the Genesee County Master Gardeners. The open-to-the-public event is from 12:15-12:45 p.m. and registration is not required

Any questions call the office at 585-343-3040, ext. 101. Information can be found on genesee.cce.cornell.edu and their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CCEofGenesee

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July 27, 2017 - 12:42pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Syngenta, agriculture, business.

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Farmers in New York State are being advised to take legal action against a Swiss agrochemical company that is being accused of mishandling the marketing of its genetically modified corn seed.

“New York farmers have been ripped off,” said attorney M. Scott Barrett, an Albion native who is a partner in Barrett Wylie LLC of Bloomington, Ind.

Barrett and Albion lawyer Conrad Cropsey are part of a four-attorney team available to represent New York corn growers who may have been affected by circumstances surrounding the 2010 rollout of the Agisure Viptera corn seed developed by Syngenta AG.

Ken Walsh of Mount Kisco and John Jernigan of Brewton, Ala., are the other lawyers handling New York cases.

Litigation against Syngenta, which was acquired by China National Chemical Corp. in June for $43 billion, began in 2014 – four years after Syngenta began marketing the corn seed.

The problem, Barrett said, was that Syngenta failed to get Chinese approval of the seed, which contained the MIR 162 GMO seed trait.

“China ultimately detected MIR 162 in U.S. corn shipments in November 2013 and, as a result, China, then the third-largest U.S. corn export market, embargoed all U.S. corn -- thereby driving down corn prices and damaging American corn producers,” Barrett said.

“The U.S. corn market has yet to fully recover, nor is it likely to do so anytime soon because after the U.S. corn ban in 2013, China entered into long-term contracts with a number of South American producers.”

Syngenta’s inability to obtain approval by China and alleged misleading statements about when the seed would be approved prompted farmers to file a class action suit in Kansas City, Kan.

Since then, a federal judge dismissed the suit, leaving farmers in all but nine states -- Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota – without a national class action protecting their legal rights. The nine states mentioned can proceed via state law class actions.

Cropsey said farmers in other states, such as New York, have the right to file individual cases.

“We are working principally in the GLOW region and have a couple of signed clients in Suffolk County and Niagara County,” Cropsey said. “Farmers only need to sign a contract. We will handle all the paperwork and file their cases in Williamson County, Illinois court.”

Cropsey said the opportunity to file individual cases is open to all New York corn producers who grew and sold corn for market at any time after 2012.

“It makes no difference whether they purchased Syngenta seed or a competing brand such as Pioneer or DeKalb,” he said. “All of them have been damaged no matter what brand(s) of seed they purchased.  Nor does it matter whether the corn was sweet corn or field corn.”

Barrett recounted the litigation against Syngenta in three phases:

-- The one-count national class action, based on the federal statute known as the Lanham Act (which since has been denied);
-- A Minnesota state class action filed in state court in Minnesota;
-- Thousands of individual, non-class cases filed in both the Kansas and Minnesota courts as well as a state court in Williamson County.

“The three judges from Kansas, Minnesota, and Illinois have appointed a Special Master to work with the parties towards settlement on a parallel track with 48 test-case trials selected by the federal court in Kansas. This is being done to establish liability and damages parameters that will inform the settlement discussions,” Barrett said.

In an encouraging sign for farmers, the first Kansas test case trial last month ended with a jury verdict of $217 million in favor of the certified class of Kansas corn farmers.

“The Kansas class asked for $217 million in actual damages and that is exactly what they received -- no punitive damages were awarded,” said Barrett, adding that it took the jury less than a day to render its verdict.

A second test case trial, this one involving a single Nebraska plaintiff, was set to start on July 10 in Minneapolis, but a confidential settlement was reached four days earlier.

The third test case trial, this one involving the certified class of Minnesota corn farmers, is scheduled for mid-August in Minneapolis. The certified class of Minnesota corn farmers is seeking actual damages in the range of $600 million.

According to published reports, Syngenta lawyers are disputing the farmers’ claims of damages and are denying the company did anything wrong – noting that the seed wasn’t sold until U.S. approval was obtained and that it didn’t need China’s approval.

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For more information about the litigation, contact Cropsey (photo above) at 585-589-9400.

July 24, 2017 - 3:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in 4-H, genesee county, agriculture.

Submitted photos and press release:

The Genesee County 4-H Office would like to congratulate all of the Genesee County 4-H members who exhibited animals at the 2017 Genesee County Fair. We would also like to thank all of our club leaders, volunteers, family members and friends who volunteered their time; we could not do it without you!  

Below are some highlights from the 2017 Genesee County Fair 4-H Livestock Shows. (*See Editor's Note below.)

Photo from 4-H Beef Cattle Show. From left: Becky Kron, Judge Eric Bond, Shianne Foss.

4-H Beef Cattle Show 

Senior Showman – Shianne Foss

Junior Showman – Autumn Mathisen

Master Showman – Shianne Foss

Supreme Champion Female – Autumn Mathisen

Reserve Supreme Female – Emily Ehrmentraut

Grand Champion Steer – Shianne Foss

Reserve Champion Steer – Becky Kron

4-H Goat Show

Senior Showman – Melissa Keller

Junior Showman – Cody Ehrmentraut

Novice Showman – Jade Winn

Champion Nigerian Dwarf Doe – Jade Winn

Champion Market Goat – Melissa Keller

Photo from 4-H Sheep Show -- Ben Kron with his Supreme Champion ewe.

Photo from 4-H Sheep Show -- Becky Kron with her Supreme Champion ram.

4-H Sheep Show

Senior Showman – Melissa Keller

Junior Showman – Madelynn Pimm

Novice Showman – Hunter McCabe

Master Showman – Melissa Keller

Supreme Champion Ram – Becky Kron

Supreme Champion Ewe – Ben Kron

4-H Hog Show

Senior Showman – Melissa Keller

Junior Showman – Katelynn Rumsey

Novice Showman – Camden Baris

Master Showman – Melissa Keller

Champion Gilt – Melissa Keller

Champion Non-Sale Market Hog – Melissa Keller

Photo from 4-H Dairy Show. From left: Genesee County Dairy Princess Rebecca Slattery, Maggie Winspear, Mary Sweeney, Judge Shane Schultz, Dairy Princess Runner-up Miah Werth.

4-H Dairy Cattle Show

Senior Showman – Emily Mikel

Intermediate Showman – Colton Slattery

Junior Showman – Hudson Luft

Novice Showman – Justin Deleo

Master Showman – Emily Mikel

Reserve Master Showman – Mary Sweeney

(*EDITOR'S NOTE: Photos for the 4-H Hog Show and the 4-H Goat Show will be published next week along with a press release about auctions.)

July 21, 2017 - 11:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Fair, 4-H, agriculture, news, notify.

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Among the grand champions auctioning off their livestock last night at the Genesee County Fair's annual 4-H auction was Morgan Hofeins, of Attica (top photo), and Hudson Weber (second photo).

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July 20, 2017 - 9:21am
posted by Jack Keenan in Genesee County Fair, agriculture, news.

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Another great sunny day at the Genesee County Fair. You really need to come check it out, so many more events and activites to enjoy. 

Highlight's of today's activities include the 4-H dairy cattle show, the 4-H livestock auction, Karaoke, and stock-car races at the Genesee Speedway. For a complete schedule, click here.

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July 19, 2017 - 8:56am
posted by Jack Keenan in Genesee County Fair, agriculture, news.

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Here are some of the sights from the second day of the Genesee County Fair.

Today's events:

  • 9am Open Draft Horse Show - Halter Class (Horse Ring)
  • 10am 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest (4-H Dairy Barn)
  • 10am EXHIBIT HALLS & BUILDINGS OPEN
  • 10am-2pm Home Depot Kid’s DYI Workshop (Entertainment Tent)
  • 12pm 4-H Sheep Show (Show Ring)
  • 12:30pm Small Fry Tractor Pill (Exhibition Building)
  • 1pm Open Draft Horse Show - Hitch Class (Horse Ring)
  • 1-4pm Midway Opens for Special Kid’s Day - $5 Ride Wrist Bands (Amusement Area)
  • 2-4pm Balloon Animal Demonstrations (Exhibition Building)
  • 4-10pm Midway Open (Amusement Area)
  • 5pm 4-H Hog Show (Show Ring) 
    Open Swine Show to follow 4-H (Show Ring)
  • 6pm Fair Queen Pageant (Entertainment Tent Stage)
  • 6pm 4-H Poultry (Merton Building)
  • 7:30pm 4-H Barn Dance (Show Ring)
  • 10pm - Exhibit halls & buildings close

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July 18, 2017 - 8:00am

The 178th annual Genesee County Fairgrounds turn out to be a great showing on opening night for the grand parade that marched through the grounds.  

For a complete schedule of daily events click here: http://gcfair.com/Home/FairInformation/DailySchedule.aspx

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July 11, 2017 - 4:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, news, 4-H, market animal auction.

Press release:

The  47th Annual Genesee County 4-H Market Animal Auction will be held Thursday, July 20, at the Genesee County Fair.

The auction begins at 7 p.m. in the main show ring.

Market goats, lambs, steers and hogs raised and shown by local 4-H members will be auctioned by William Kent Inc. Registered buyers are invited to the buyers' dinner catered by the Red Osier Restaurant at 5:30 p.m. in the Kennedy Building on the fairgrounds.

Don’t miss your chance to bid on quality animals raised by 4-H youth.

Parking passes are available at the 4-H office, call 585-343-3040, ext. 101.

July 11, 2017 - 3:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in GC Fair, 4-H, agriculture, news, Announcements.

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 17-22, held at the Genesee County Fairgrounds 5056 E. Main Street Road in Batavia. For more information about the Genesee County Fair visit: http://gcfair.com/

2017 Genesee County Fair 4-H Schedule

(Dates and times are subject to change)

Monday, July 17    

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

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

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

12 p.m.                 4-H Dairy Cattle Fitting Clinic & Contest

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

Tuesday, July 18   

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

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

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

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

6:30 p.m.              4-H Market Steer Show (Show Ring)                            

Wednesday, July 19

10 a.m.                 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest

12 p.m.                 4-H Sheep Show (Show Ring)

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

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

Thursday, July 20  

9 a.m.                   4-H Horse Show – Gymkhana Classes

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 21       

10 a.m.                 4-H Beef Cattle Judging Contest

12 p.m.                 4-H Livestock Costume Contest (Show Ring)

3 p.m.                   4-H Beaded Bracelets Activity with the FCS Club (Kennedy Building)

5:30 p.m.              4-H Tractor Driving Contest       

Saturday, July 22   

1 p.m.                   4-H Goat Obstacle Course Contest

2 p.m.                   4-H Bandana Bracelets Activity with FCS Club (Kennedy Building)

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

4 p.m.                   4-H Market Animal Master Showmanship Contest

Full daily events schedule of the Genesee County Fair is available at: http://gcfair.com/Home/FairInformation/DailySchedule.aspx

June 28, 2017 - 1:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, agriculture, business.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins and local Farm Bureau presidents applauded 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 the Obama administration.

“This rule was an example of reckless government overreach, that brought undue burdens to farmers in Western New York,” Collins said. “I was proud to lead the bipartisan effort in Congress to scrap the WOTUS rule and applaud President Trump and Administrator Pruitt for taking this common sense step to support our nation’s agriculture industry.”

Both Congressman Collins and Farm Bureaus located within New York’s 27th Congressional District have been vocal in their opposition to the WOTUS rule. In May 2014, Congressman Collins led a bipartisan letter signed by more than 200 members of Congress to former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Department of the Army Secretary John McHugh outlining concerns related to this rule. Congressman Collins believed the WOTUS rule was “built on incomplete scientific study and a flawed economic analysis” and formally requested the rule be returned to their respective agencies.

“Farmers are simply trying to provide for their family, community, and the nation, so it is unfortunate the federal government imposed this type of rule in the first place,” said Jeffrey Simons, president of the Erie County Farm Bureau. “Plain and simple, more federal regulations will make it harder for farmers to do their job. Today’s decision is a tremendous victory for Niagara County farmers, and I want to thank Congressman Collins for fighting on our behalf since the beginning.”

“The WOTUS rule was an overreach since it was first proposed and we’ve seen the negative impact it has had and would continue to have on our local agriculture industry,” said Christian Yunker, president of the Genesee County Farm Bureau. “In the end, common sense prevailed and everyone’s hard work has paid off. I appreciate all of Congressman Collins efforts—this is fantastic news for all of agriculture, not just here in Genesee County.”

“Today’s announcement is great news for Ontario County agriculture and will help to protect the future of our region’s family farms,” said Lisa Grefrath, president of the Ontario County Farm Bureau. “We commend Congressman Collins for his efforts to repeal this burdensome mandate and look forward to continuing to work with him on the issues impacting local family farms.”

“For the last three years, we have worked with Congressman Collins to end this unfair federal overreach and protect local farms. Today’s announcement is exciting news for local farm families,” said Joe Swyers, president of the Livingston County Farm Bureau. “We will continue to work with Rep. Collins regarding protecting the future of family farms in Livingston County and appreciate his efforts to end WOTUS. No one cares about more about our environment than local farmers that make their living on our land and we will continue to be the best stewards possible.”

“Today’s announcement is a win for New York’s agricultural community. Wyoming County is a top agricultural producer in New York State and the repeal of WOTUS will help ensure the future of farming in Western New York,” said Jeremy Northup, president of the Wyoming County Farm Bureau. “We commend Congressman Collins for his aggressive efforts to repeal WOTUS and will continue to work with him on the issues important to Wyoming County family farms.”

“When the WOTUS rule was first proposed, we knew this was a blatant overreach by the EPA,” said Jim Bittner, president of the Niagara County Farm Bureau. “This rule would have had negative effects on practically every piece of farmland here in Niagara County. Congressman Collins understood this from the beginning, because requiring farmers to get either the EPA or Army Corps’ approval before farming would have been a nightmare. We’re very glad to hear this rule will be rescinded."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The farm is always improving sustainability, Kendra said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Press release:

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

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

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

Agriculture continues to be the number one industry in Genesee County and the driving force of the local economy. When students of the Agri-Business Academy toured Torrey Farms, among the largest agribusinesses in New York state, they heard Maureen Torrey Marshall explain that Torrey Farms does not simply employ a few people in the surrounding community.

She described the multiplier effect, which means that other businesses, such as trucking companies, mechanic shops, equipment dealerships, transportation hubs, technology, fuel and fertilizer suppliers, and many others are all part of the agribusiness economy. Most people do not recognize the many different aspects of agriculture and the need for individuals with a broad array of interests and expertise. Animal and plant systems, food products and processing, agricultural mechanics, precision agriculture, agribusiness networks, international trade, environmental and conservation systems, and energy use are just a few of the trades under umbrella of agriculture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applications are available at http://www.genesee.edu/home/ace/career-pathways/agri-business-academy/.

The first 20 students to submit their application will receive a free Genesee Community College flash drive wristband.

Questions? Please do not hesitate to contact me at 585-344-7783 or [email protected]. Check out the Agri-Business Academy on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Agri-Business-Academy-680673051998953/

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

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

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Agri-Business Academy students at Porter Farms in Elba.

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

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

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

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