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May 16, 2015 - 3:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in swine club, 4-H, agriculture, batavia.

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The 4-H Swine Club hosted its annual pulled pork BBQ at the Fairgrounds today.

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May 7, 2015 - 6:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, agriculture.

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Sometime around 5 p.m., a truck carrying crates of tomatoes dumped a few boxes in the curve where Walnut becomes South Main in Batavia. A witness told police, the driver stopped, gathered his empty crates and left the tomatoes in the roadway. Police responded to a report of a "dangerous condition" and requested city DPW to the scene for clean up. The tomatoes were hauled to the city's compost heap. The driver, who left the scene, could not be identified.

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May 5, 2015 - 2:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dairy princess, agriculture.

dairyqueen2015crowning.jpg

Emily Mikel, of Pavilion, was crowned 2015 Genesee County Dairy Queen in a ceremony at Genesee Community College on Monday evening.

Tristan Zuber presented Mikel with her crown and sash.

Pictured below in a photo taken by Laura Luft, are Mikel and her court, from left, Rebecca Slattery, Mary Sweeny, Carolyn Sybertz, Georgia Luft and Amelia Brewer.

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May 5, 2015 - 12:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Fair, fair, business, agriculture.

The Genesee County Fair has gotten better each of the last two years and attendance figures bear that out, Norm Pimm told the County Legislature's Human Services Committee.

Last year, attendance was up 30 percent and fair organizers are taking aim at even more growth in 2015.

"Attendance is up double figures two years in a row," Pimm said. "That doesn't happen if you're not putting on a good product."

This year, there will be new local bands, bigger tractor pulls and a significantly expanded Midway.

The board is planning on nearly doubling the budget for rides, going up to $40,000 this year.

The midway isn't a big money maker for the fair, but a good midway is essential to overall fair attendance. Not everyone is interested in livestock and stock cars.

"When we looking for vendors, we said we had $25,000 to spend and we couldn't even get vendors to call us back," Pimm said. "The ones that did sort of laughed and said 'that's 20 years ago money.' So we realized we had to invest more money into the midway so we had something where people want to come and bring their kids."

The fair runs July 21 through 25.

The county will contribute $11,000 to the 4-H program.

Pimm said the fair's success can also be judged by the number of local businesses supporting the fair, either through donations, sponsorships or taking a booth as a vendor. In all three categories, the fair did better last year than previous years and will at least match that level of participation this year, based on indications so far, Pimm said.

"This is the most active board we've had in years, and it's making a difference," Pimm said.

Pimm is confident that people who haven't been to the fair in recent years, if they come this year, they will have a good time.

"It's just $5 a car load to attend," Pimm said. "Come on, spend your $5 and you won't be disappointed. If you are, come and find a member of the board of directors and we'll give you your $5 back."

April 15, 2015 - 8:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, mucklands.

Activity is picking up on the muck this week as onion growers finally have suitable conditions for planting. One onion grower told us yesterday that ideally, growers like to have all of April to plant and they're getting a late start this year, but they should still get all of the fields filled with seeds and seedlings by May, if the weather holds.

April 7, 2015 - 2:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture.

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $1.4 million in funding for projects related to the research, promotion and development of New York’s flourishing agricultural economy. Approved by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, this funding includes support for a second year of malting barley research at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, equipment and operating expenses at the New York Wine & Culinary Center, and funding to help Western New York maple syrup producers better market their products.

“The agricultural industry is vital to the success of Upstate New York, and by making targeted investments like this we are planting the seeds for long-term growth for New York’s farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs,” Governor Cuomo said. “This funding will support both new opportunities and existing success stories, and ultimately give farmers and vendors the tools they need to thrive in today’s competitive economy.”

Every year, the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, solicits applications to assist in the development of agriculture and agriculture-related businesses in a nine-county region, which includes Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties. On Friday, March 27, the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority Board of Directors voted to fund the following projects in 2015:
· NY Wine and Culinary Center - $300,000 – equipment replacement, facility repairs and expansion, and operational costs;
· New York Wine and Grape Foundation - $216,664 – Phase Five of the NY Drinks NY campaign;
· Western NY Maple Producers - $33,336 – Mobile maple exhibit;
· Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wayne County - $60,231 – To provide support and training to farmers through a farmers’ market specialist program;
· Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County - $43,416 – To provide specialty cut flower, vegetable and mushroom production for the county’s Bhutanese market;
· New York State Agricultural Experiment Station – $74,518 – To support research to improve the profitability and productivity of lima beans in New York State;
· New York State Agricultural Experiment Station - $159,893 – To support maintenance and equipment, including a temperature controlled ploy house and summer scholar support.
· New York State Agricultural Experiment Station - $241,716 – To accelerate production of organic grains, corn and soybeans in Western NY;
· New York State Agricultural Experiment Station - $133,242 – To support the second year of a multi-year research plan for malting barley production in New York State;
· Foodlink - $100,000 – To purchase equipment necessary to maximize efficiencies and create product diversity in value-added product lines.

In addition to these projects, Governor Cuomo announced $250,000 in funding to support soil and sediment control projects in counties located in the Genesee River Watershed, including portions of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben and Wyoming counties. Provided by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, soil and water conservation districts can apply for grants of up to $10,000 for projects that reduce erosion or control sediment in the Genesee River Watershed. These projects can include reduced tillage practices, cover cropping, critical area seeding, riparian buffer, grassed waterways, filter areas, water and sediment control basins.

Districts can apply for the grant through the Grants Gateway program at https://grantsgateway.ny.gov/intelligrants_NYSGG/login2.aspx.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Genesee Valley and its surrounding areas are extremely critical to the health and diversity of New York agriculture. This funding will support that diversity by making strategic investments in emerging industries that have a great future here in New York State, while protecting the region’s natural resources.”

Dennis Piedimonte, Chairman of the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, said, “We’re happy that we can be of assistance of the agriculture community in New York State through the money we are able to raise at our market. We believe that this funding is going to be put to good use through research that will in turn help New York’s agricultural economy move forward.”

Jack Moore, board member of Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, said, “It’s very good to see some of the GVRMA profits put to good use in the region for production agriculture. I encourage more entities to apply for such grants in the future.”

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “For the past several years, our region has benefited from the innovative funding opportunity provided by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and the Department of Agriculture. I applaud the State and GVRMA for investing in important organizations like the Wine & Culinary Center and Foodlink, which are using our region’s agriculture to provide a public benefit. This year’s awards reflects the legislature’s intent when we created this mechanism, which continues to provide vital funding to promote and advance our area’s agribusiness.”

Senator Mike Nozzolio said, “This funding is extremely important to the continued success of the growing food and beverage industry in New York State and it enhances the world class agricultural research conducted at the Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. Agriculture is our state and region’s number one industry, and continued support such as this furthers the growth of the industry by providing jobs, increased crop value and product promotion.”

March 21, 2015 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, education, Empire Tractor, 4-H.

Greg Merrell gets ready for his tractor safety test while instructor and evaluator Tim Adams looks on this morning at Empire Tractor, where students participating in the 4-H Youth Development Tractor and Machinery Certification program were put through their paces. The eight-week course provides 14- and 15-year-olds the opportunity to learn how to safely operate farm machinery.

March 19, 2015 - 4:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced today that he has become a co-sponsor on legislation, Assembly Bill 06256, that will ease the financial burden placed on farmers. The bill would forgo the requirement that farmers who employ aliens admitted to the United States to perform farm labor pay unemployment insurance for such workers. Under state law, alien laborers are not eligible for unemployment insurance, so there is no need for employers to pay into the unemployment insurance fund.

“I have introduced this legislation with Assemblyman Bill Magee (D-Madison County), current Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, after meeting with Farm Bureau representatives from my district,” Hawley said. “As the former owner of Hawley Farms, I know firsthand how hard farmers work for their profits and that sustainability of their business is not guaranteed year to year. This is common-sense legislation that will correct a glaring deficiency in the labor law that mandates farmers pay unemployment insurance for workers who are ineligible. My district contains many farm operations and I will do everything I can to help them keep more of their profits.”

March 19, 2015 - 3:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, schools, education, byron-bergen.

It's Ag Literacy Week and farmers from throughout Genesee County are participating by going to their local schools and sharing about their careers and reading from a book picked especially for the occasion.

The book is "Weaving the Rainbow," by George Ella Lyon and Stephanie Anderson. The picture book is the story of a young woman who raises sheep, shears them, cleans, cards, spins and dyes the wool, using it to create works of woven art. The story is aimed at helping students make the connection between agriculture and its many uses and influences.

Above, Sharon Fuerch reads to a group of second-graders at Byron-Bergen Elementary School this morning.  

Below, Colleen Primm and her daughter Madelynn introduce a pair of their lambs to Byron-Bergen students.

March 18, 2015 - 11:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture.

Farmers are facing ever escalating expenses, lower prices and now Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to raise the minimum wage on them.

That's just more than many New York farmers are going to be able to bear, said Dean Norton, a farmer in Elba and president of the New York State Farm Bureau.

"New York is already a tough state to do business in and a minimum wage increase is going to continue to make us disadvantageous," Norton said during a conference call this morning with media from throughout the state.

Joining Norton on the call were Sandi Prokop and Brian Reeves, owners of multi-generation farms in Middleburgh and Baldwinsville.

Each said a minimum wage increase would add significant costs to their operations, $44,000 annually for Prokop and $50,000 for Reeves.

And that doesn't include the pressure a minimum age increase would put on suppliers and service companies to raise their rates, driving operational costs up even further.

The average farm worker in New York earns $12.50 an hour already, Norton said. Even though the proposed increase from Cuomo is less than that -- to $10.50 an hour -- a minimum wage increase tends to drive up wages across the board.

When trainees and entry-level workers get more money, the people above them want to keep pace with the higher pay, so they demand higher wages.

Farmers who don't meet those demands, Norton said, risk losing skilled and experienced workers to other farmers willing to pay those wages, or the workers will look for work in other states where conditions are more favorable.

Workers who are dissatisfied with their current conditions will also change careers, going into related industries, Reeves said.

The upward pressure on wages just encourages farmers to abandon labor-intensive crops or move to greater mechanization, such as robotics at dairy farmers, which means fewer workers churning economic buying power in their local communities.

Both Prokop and Reeves noted that in their segments of agriculture -- dairy and vegetables -- they're not price makers, they're price takers."

The food processors and supermarket chains who purchase their crops set the prices, based on supply and demand and in competition with other states.

"We're already one of the higher cost states," Reeves said. "When I sell a box of zucchini, I'll have a buyer tell me he can get it cheaper in another state. He'll say, 'I can buy all I want for $11 a box, why do you want $13 or $14 a box?' "

Dairy prices have been falling for months, Prokop said, and haven't hit bottom yet. In February, she said, she received $24,000 less for milk than the month before, and her revenue was down $13,000 the month before that.

"It's only going to get worse this month," she said. "The price is now below the cost of production."

It would help, Reeves said, if Congress would step in and set a higher minimum wage across the board, because at least then farmers in all states would be paying the same price for labor.

"We need to be able to compete," he said, "with Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan."

March 12, 2015 - 1:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced today that he will sponsor a bill to provide tax credits against New York State Thruway tolls for farmers who travel the highway. Assembly Bill 2414 provides a tax credit of 75 percent of the Thruway tolls assumed by farmers in order to allow them more profits when selling their products across the state. Hawley said this is a vital piece of legislation that will help sustain the farms in his Western New York district and allow them to sell crops statewide. 

“Growing up on our family’s farm, I know firsthand the struggles our farmers face every year,” Hawley said. “Profits are not guaranteed and much of the business relies not only on the ability to produce a high yield of crops, but also the ability to transport those products across the state and sell them at a variety of outlets. Thruway tolls are continuing to rise, and large-box trucks and farm vehicles are not allowed on smaller highways. Because of this, farmers are losing a large amount of their profits in tolls. This bill would allow greater intrastate commerce while also financially supporting those who feed our state.”

The legislation is a bipartisan effort currently awaiting action in the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee. Under the bill, to receive the tax credit, farm vehicles cannot exceed 26,000 pounds and must be controlled and operated by a farmer for the transport of agriculture products, farm supplies or farm machinery.

March 11, 2015 - 4:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, Oakfield, Pavilion, 4-H.

Press release:

Two students from the Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center, Morgan Good, a senior and an Agri-Business Academy student from Pavilion Central Schools, and Emily Borkholder, a senior and an Animal Science student from Oakfield-Alabama Central Schools, recently attended the New York State Farm Bureau Taste of New York Lobby Day and Reception in Albany. Holly Partridge, Batavia CTE Animal Science instructor; Kerry Richardson, Batavia CTE Agri-Business Academy instructor; Catherine Bennett, Batavia CTE assistant principal, escorted the students.

During this event, members of the New York State Assembly and Senate met with businesses, farms and educational institutions that rely on New York state agriculture to run their business.

“We learned how much agriculture drives our economy in New York state. One of the most interesting experiences was when we attended two legislative meetings with Senator Michael Razenhofer and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker. We discussed what needs to be changed in our state to help farmers become more productive,” Emily said.

“We also spoke with other senators and assemblymen from throughout New York state and helped them to understand and increase awareness of the needs of farmers from our area,” Morgan added.

Throughout the conference exhibit time, the group showcased duck eggs versus chicken eggs in baking, the important collaboration between the Batavia CTE Animal Science and Culinary Arts programs and how the farm-to-table concept is incorporated into the curriculum of these two programs.

March 6, 2015 - 4:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, agriculture.

Press release:

In celebration of National Agricultural Literacy Week, March 16-20, volunteers throughout the state will read a book with an agricultural theme to second-graders. In Genesee County more than 40 volunteers will be visiting and reading at schools throughout the county.

Students and teachers benefit from hands-on lessons and receive follow up activities. The book will be given to the school library with a bookplate recognizing the donor and NY Ag Literacy Week.

This year’s book is "Weaving the Rainbow," written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Stephanie Anderson. It is a beautifully blended story of agriculture and art. A young woman raises sheep, shears them for their wool, cleans and cards the wool, spins and dyes the wool, ultimately using it to create beautiful works of woven art from the fiber. The story will help students begin to make the connection between agriculture and its many uses and influences.

The focus this year is on fiber production in New York State from sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, rabbits and more. Agriculture is more than the food we eat, it is also the clothes on our backs, the materials that keep us warm and dry, and are used each and every day of our lives.

Last year, 1,400 books were donated statewide while thousands of students participated in fun educational activities. For more information about NY Ag Literacy Week or Agriculture in the Classroom please contact Barbara Sturm, at 585-343-3040, ext. 122, or at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/ag-in-the-classroom

February 25, 2015 - 2:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture.

Press release:

The 2015 NYS Dry Bean Growers Meeting will be held Wednesday, March 18, from 9 a.m to 3 p.m., at the Le Roy Country Club, one mile east of Le Roy on Route 5 / East Main Road. The agenda includes discussion of varieties, insects, disease and weed pests. There will also be bean dish sampling. Join us for important dry bean production and market updates! DEC and CCA credits will be available.

Lunch will include tasty, healthy NYS dry bean dishes from the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.

Preregister by March 10 to save $5! Sponsored by New York Bean, LLC, and Empire Tractor, Waterloo.

Sclerotinia white mold caused significant losses in 2014 due to the wet season. New Cornell plant pathologist Sarah Pethybridge will explain white mold development, cultural practices and fungicide choices/timing to reduce risk, and new research ideas. Progress on breeding for white mold resistant dry beans, and improved yields will be reported. Results of Cornell variety trials comparing yield, maturity, canning quality, etc. will be presented. Western bean cutworm (WBC) feeding damage on beans has now been detected in several locations.

The 2014 WBC moth survey will be summarized, and recommendations for bean damage control will be provided. Final results of a reduced tillage dry bean weed control trial, and trials of potential new herbicides, will be presented. The effects of long-term reduced tillage, rotation and cover crops on dry bean yield and root rot will be described. There is increased cost-sharing available for such good soil management.

There will be a report from the U.S. Dry Bean Council, and a summary of the Feb. 9 Organic Dry Bean Discussion. The NYS Dry Bean Industry Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m., and decisions on funding 2015 dry bean research will be made.

Cost if preregistered by March 10: $20 for Cornell Vegetable Program enrollees; $30 for all others. Cost is $5 more at the door. To preregister, go to cvp.cce.cornell.edu or send a check, payable to Cornell Vegetable Program, to CCE Cornell Vegetable Program, Attn: Angela Parr, 480 N. Main St., Canandaigua, NY 14424.

For sponsor opportunities, contact Angela Parr at [email protected] or 585-394-3977, ext. 426. Questions or special needs, contact Carol MacNeil at [email protected] or 585-394-3977, ext. 406. In case of bad weather, call 585-394-3977, ext. 406, for a message.

February 25, 2015 - 11:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, elba, NY Farm Bureau.

Heading into the 2015 legislative session, the top priority for the New York Farm Bureau is immigration reform, said Dean Norton, bureau president, during a media conference call this morning.

The Elba resident is in Washington, D.C., this week meeting with members of New York's congressional delegation to represent farmers' interests.

"We need a stable, legal, reliable workforce," Norton said. "What we have now is broken. A stable workforce on our farms means a stable rural economy."

The Farm Bureau is calling on Washington to create a visa program or temporary worker program that will make it easier for farmers to hire and retain farm workers and not worry about all of their workers being taken away by immigration officials without notice.

"Everybody (in Washington) understands there's a problem, but neither side trusts and has faith in the other side to deal fairly," Norton said. "Both sides want to hold immigration as a political football."

The Farm Bureau is also looking for clarification from the FDA on food safety rules and there's been some progress on that front, Norton said.

Until recently, a small dairy farm with gross revenue of $500,000 that also grows a few strawberries for a fruit stand would face reams of regulations for the strawberry operation, but the FDA will start to apply those rules to $500,000 per crop, so the strawberry operation would not be covered in that circumstance.

Still a top priority for the Farm Bureau is the EPA's proposed rule change on what constitutes navigable waters. Farmers remain concerned that rule changes would bring into regulation small --- even very small -- bodies of water on farms.

"We continue to push the EPA for a clarification on the rules," Norton said. "Of the comments sent in by individuals, 58 percent of the comments ask the EPA to start over and become better partners with agriculture and come up with rules that are better for everybody."

Also on today's conferance call was Elisabeth Walters, director of national affairs, who said the Farm Bureau is paying close attention to the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, and is pushing for trade reform and reforms in tax structure to encourage more farmers to donate crops to local food pantries.

Norton said farmers want greater access to foreign markets, which means trade agreements, and the president should have greater authority to reach trade deals. 

Rep. Chris Collins has publicly opposed the idea, and Norton said he would be meeting with Collins today to discuss the issue with him.

"The reason we're in favor of it is that our trading partners want to deal with one person, not negotiate with 365," Norton said.

February 19, 2015 - 6:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, CY Farms, Craig Yunker.

The outlook for farm profits in 2015 is far from sunny, according to media reports, and Craig Yunker, CEO of CY Farms, sees things much like other industry experts and economists who are predicting tight and declining margins.

Yunker, who stays abreast of agricultural markets and trends in the normal course of business, just returned from trips to California and Chicago, where he met with other farm executives and farm profits were very much the focus of discussions.

"We're looking at softer prices, tighter margins and a tougher year," Yunker said. "The good news is, farmers are in pretty good shape. Dairy farmers are coming off a strong year. The guys growing grain had good years when the market was strong. A lot of them paid down debt and pre-paid expenses going into 2015. Most farmers are strong financially in terms of balance sheets and that should help them survive these tighter markets."

Yunker is a member of the Association of Agricultural Production Executives, which is a group of 150 farmers. They just met this past week in California. He's also a trustee for the Farm Foundation, which just met in Chicago.

Much of the concern about farm profits is being driven by a recent USDA report, which predicts a 25-percent decline in farm income for 2015.

Corn prices have fallen substantially from their high of two years ago.  

In grains, the nation's farmers enjoyed record exports in 2014, but export revenue is expected to decline in 2015 (volume should remain roughly the same, but prices are down).

Globally, grain inventory is up, cutting demand.

The rate of economic growth in China is slowing, which cuts the demand for exports.

India has a big stockpile of wheat.

The strong U.S. dollar makes U.S. exports more expensive for other countries.

There's a glut of dairy products on the market.

While lower fuel costs will mean some savings, the cost of fertilizer hasn't caught up yet.

There's been no impact on seed prices yet.

With unemployment rates down, the labor market is tight, especially for truck drivers. Yunker expects that to push labor costs higher.

On the farm labor front and immigration, there are not as many immigrants coming to the U.S., so there are fewer available workers. As workers return to their home countries, or get arrested, or take jobs in other sectors, they're not being replaced by new workers. That will mean higher wages for the available farm workers.

A lot of vegetables grown locally go to food processors and those seasonal contracts haven't come out yet, so it's hard to predict what the prices will be, but Yunker said he's expecting prices to be softer this year.

There's a lot going on in the world that has a ripple effect on farm prices.

There was a huge worldwide onion crop last year, but the dockworkers' strike in California also means that onions that would normally be shipped to Asia are starting to flow East, so onion prices are down and dropping.

The weather has meant people are less likely to dine out, which has a big impact on cabbage prices, since a lot of the cabbage market is driven by what restaurants buy (think, for example, cole slaw).  

While lower fuel prices mean consumers have more dollars to spend, they don't typically spend that extra cash on more or better food or eating out more often.

"The benefit of lower fuel prices really goes to Walmart and those places rather than farmers," Yunker said.

As for ripple effects, the turmoil in the Ukraine could have an impact on corn prices. Ukraine is typically a big corn producer, but civil war could disrupt production, but worse for Ukrainian farmers is the deflation of their country's currency. Corn seed could be prohibitively expensive, so what do they do? Yunker wondered. They could dip into their wheat bins for seed and grow a lot more wheat, which costs them nothing. Whatever Ukrainian farmers do will impact the worldwide grain market.

"Those kinds of things are going on all over the world," Yunker said. 

The lack of a pipeline for shipping oil from the north into U.S. production facilities and ports has oil producers turning to rail. (Notice, there've been more oil tanker fires recently?) 

Haulers moving oil on rail means there's less capacity for shipping grain by rail, Yunker said. Midwest grain growers can't move their grain, so they're forced to lower prices.

The dock strike in California is having several impacts on ag prices. Milk powder, for example, that would normally sail to Asia, is being trucked (because rail cars aren't available) to the East Coast for shipment to Asia by that route. That's leading to higher milk powder prices.

Yunker expressed some frustration with how Obama is handling the strike, or not handling it.

"I don't understand why the labor secretary goes out there," Yunker said. "He's going to be a labor guy. He (Obama) should take a stronger stand. Trade is so important to ag. Ag depends on exports.  ... there's been no push for trade since Obama took office."

There was a time, Yunker said, when trade talks would be in the news all the time. The past few years, not so much.

"Generally, agriculture is disappointed in that," Yunker said. "We haven't seen any trade deals in six years. Now he's asking to fast-track trade, but the Republicans are loath to give it to him because they're mad at him for a lot of reasons."

The boom in farm revenue the past couple of years drove up the cost of farm real estate, Yunker said, which means some farmers are paying higher mortgages, and farmers who lease land are being asked to pay higher rents when those leases come up for renewal.

Predicting farm revenue with any certainty is about as trusty as predicting the weather months from now, which brings us to the weather. Another drought in the Midwest or an El Nino will impact crops and prices, thereby changing the whole outlook.

Local impacts both in WNY and everywhere there are farmers means car dealers will sell fewer pickups as cash flow for farmers tighten, and farm equipment dealers could see sales decline.

For the most part, Yunker thinks local farmers will hold on in 2015.

"There are players who will be really pinched because they don't have their house in order," Yunker said. "But for the most part, guys will be in good shape because they have good balance sheets."

February 9, 2015 - 6:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced today that grant money will be distributed by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund directly to localities in Genesee County for agriculture and farm protection. Hawley said he is proud to announce that this funding is being delivered directly to his district and that agriculture remains one of his top priorities due to its prevalence and economic strength in Western New York.  

“I am proud to announce that $25,000 awards will be given to the towns of Alabama and Oakfield in Genesee County as well as a $50,000 award for the county as a whole,” Hawley said. “The funding will be used for farmland protection plans and I am confident that our region will continue to lead the way in farming and agricultural development.

"I have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle during my time in office to advocate on behalf of our farms here in Western New York, many of which are family owned, and it continues to be one of my top priorities as we progress through this year’s legislative session.”

Towns are required to fund at least 25 percent of the cost to develop an agriculture protection plan and county funding will be used to either update the plans or create new ones. Local government and farm collaboration is necessary to ensure that each plan promotes the local agriculture industry. Municipalities that have agriculture and farmland protection boards are eligible for these funds and applications can be accessed at http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html.

January 21, 2015 - 12:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, elba.

Press release:

The Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors have announced the selection of Post Dairy Farm, LLC, as the 2014 Genesee County Conservation Farm of the Year. The Post family will be the honored guests of the District at the Celebrate Agriculture Dinner on March 21st at the Alexander Firemen’s Recreation Hall. They will be formally presented with their award at that time.

Post Dairy Farms LLC/ Dan and John Post – Town of Elba
The Posts have been working with the district since 1965. Their dairy consists of about 400 cows and they work about 500 acres. They just recently built a new barn with four robotic milkers; the district was involved with installing drip trenches around the perimeter. Some other conservation practices they have implemented include drain tile, diversion ditches, grassed waterways, covered heavy use area protection, and a wastewater lagoon. (Ken Post – father of Dan and John -- was named Conservation Farmer of the Year in 1973).

Previously: For five generations, farming has been all in the family for the Posts of Elba

File photo: Front row, Dan, John and Ken; and, Laurie and Jeff.

December 26, 2014 - 10:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, elba, weather.

A reader sent in this picture of a wind-toppled silo on his property on Transit Road, Elba. He said it came down overnight.

December 22, 2014 - 10:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animal shelter, agriculture, 4-H, Rustic Riders.

Press release:

As part of a 4-H club community service project, the 4-H Rustic Riders horse club members chose to donate much needed items to the Genesee County Animal Shelter instead of exchanging gifts at their holiday club meeting on Tuesday December 16th at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County.  Community service is a key component of our 4-H Youth Development Program, and provides a great opportunity for young people to give back to Genesee County.

The Rustic Riders horse club along with the Mystic Riders horse club also participated in holiday bell ringing for the Salvation Army on Saturday, December 13th at Tractor Supply in Batavia.

Genesee County 4-H is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension that is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities.  For more information about the 4-H Youth Development Program visit: http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development.

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