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May 18, 2022 - 8:50pm
posted by Press Release in FFA, elba, news, agriculture.

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Press release:

After hosting the New York FFA State Convention virtually for two years, more than 2,000 students, teachers, and guests gathered in person to celebrate and recognize members for all their accomplishments on May 12-14 in Syracuse, New York.

New York FFA currently supports over 9,000 middle and high school students in programs of varying size from the heart of New York City to the shores of Lake Erie. Agricultural education programs across the state offer relevance of core academic concepts as they are applied to the food and fiber systems and prepare students for career success, in and out of agriculture. One of the hallmark events for NYS FFA each year is the annual New York State FFA Convention where students, teachers, and guests gather to celebrate their accomplishments from the year. The State Convention has been a culminating activity for many members over the years, allowing them to compete in career and leadership development events, network with agricultural colleges and industry reps, and be inspired by keynote speakers and the State Officers’ retiring addresses.

This year we were excited to offer in-person opportunities for students, teachers, and supporters. People from all over New York State gathered for this annual event to hear inspiring speeches from peers and agricultural professionals, expand their knowledge during workshops and tours by exploring different fields of the agricultural industry, and networked with agricultural business professionals and colleges during the Career Engagement Expo.

The Elba FFA Chapter Advisor, Tracey Dahlhaus, stated: “This was an amazing opportunity for our students to not only participate in contests, and workshops but to also meet other FFA members from across the state.”

Ian Keberle, a member of the Elba FFA chapter stated, “I can’t wait to participate again next year and am already planning which contests I want to participate in.”

In addition to participating in tours, workshops, service projects, and sessions, students were recognized for their accomplishments during one of six general sessions. The following members of the Elba FFA chapter were recognized:

Amelia Brewer and Ian Keberle were recognized for receiving their Empire Degrees.  The Empire Degree is awarded based on a member's leadership qualities, community service and time spent on an SAE (Supervised Agriculture Experience).

New York FFA is grateful for all of our supporters, students, and teachers who have helped make this year’s State Convention a success and who have continued to display excellence and leadership skills they have developed throughout their time in FFA. The 2023 New York State FFA Convention will take place in Buffalo, New York from May 18-20.

FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agriculture education. For more information regarding FFA, please visit either www.nysffa.org or www.ffa.org.

May 9, 2022 - 4:46pm
posted by Press Release in Cornell Cooperative Extension, business, agriculture.

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Press release:

If you are looking for resources for producing and marketing livestock, then visit the NEW Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Livestock Program Work Team website https://www.ccelivestock.com.

The CCE Livestock Program Work Team recognized New York livestock producers’ need to have a trustworthy central location for all things livestock and developed the website in response. The website is organized into themes based on species and information can be found on a variety of production topics including breeding and reproduction, nutrition, and health as well as marketing.

“Our goal is to continue adding resources and have it be the go-to place for workshops, training, and webinar recordings”, states Nancy Glazier, Regional Small Farms/Livestock Specialist.

Dana M. Havas, Ag Team Leader from CCE Cortland, expressed, “It is exciting to have extension livestock experts from all over the state working together to develop a robust and valuable collection of resources for our communities.”

As the website grows we look forward to hearing how you use the website and invite you to tell us what you think by contacting the website administrator https://www.ccelivestock.com/contact-us.

The CCE Livestock Program Work Team is comprised of educators working to build a collaborative network of experts and resources to foster the success of livestock farms across New York State. Find your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office here, https://cals.cornell.edu/cornell-cooperative-extension/local-offices.

May 3, 2022 - 8:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Fair, news, agriculture.

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Last year's Genesee County Fair was so popular there was actually a run on waffles one Friday night.

"The waffle person said they used his entire week's supply on that Friday," said Norm Pimm, treasurer of the Genesee County Ag Society. "There were people waiting in line for like an hour and a half for a waffle."

Pimm was speaking Monday at the Human Services Committee of the County Legislature during an annual review of the Ag Society.

"We had a little over 55,000 people at the fair this past year, which was a 52 percent increase over 2019," Pimm said.

It was the highest attendance on record and the 10th straight year of increased attendance. 

All of the vendors ran out of food multiple times, Pimm said.

Several shows drew larger participation, including the open beef show, the open swine show, and the draft horse show, with 12 six-hitch teams. Some of the teams came from Virginia, Vermont, and Canada.

"There's also a waiting list of teams that want to get in, but we just don't have any more facility," Pimm said.

The Ag Society board will attempt to outdo itself in July with new attractions and events.

This year's fair will include radio-controlled race cars that children can operate. The six cars are sponsored by local businesses. There are also going to be pony rides, a trick dog show, three kids' days with children's entertainment and possibly free rides on the midway, a petting zoo, and some sort of entertainment every day, including the return of karaoke, and a couple nights of fireworks.

"We're gonna have a Country Jamboree," Pimm said. "We're gonna have three country acts in a row starting like midday, rolling through the night. The last band is gonna be a Waylon Jennings tribute band that's really, really good."

During the year, especially in the summer, the Ag Society is putting the fairgrounds to good use to generate revenue, Pimm told the committee.

Saturday night stock car races are continuing with a new operator. The New York Junior Beef Producers are planning a show. There are six large horse shows planned over the next few months.  And once again, the fairgrounds will host the career-development event, GLOW With Your Hands.

There will also be three food truck rodeos -- on June 17, July 8, and Aug. 26.  The food truck rodeo is looking like it will be popular, Pimm said, so the board is planning on adding trucks. The nights will include live entertainment.

With all of the activity, there are several upgrades to facilities that the Ag Society is planning. The total investment will come to $250,000 this year, Pimm said.

Top Photo: Norm Pimm provides an update during the Human Services Committee meeting this week. Photo by Howard Owens.

April 30, 2022 - 12:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, agriculture, news.

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Friday was "Drive Your Tractor to School Day" at Elba Central School and several students did just that,

Photos by Debra Reilly.

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April 22, 2022 - 7:05pm
posted by Press Release in Steve Hawley, dairy, agriculture, news, 139th assembly district.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, C, I-Batavia) is supporting the passage of a bill that would allow New York schools to purchase whole and 2% milk that’s produced within the state, modeled after similar legislation that was recently passed in Pennsylvania. 

While the regulation banning these types of milk was put in place to combat rising trends of childhood obesity rates and type 2 diabetes diagnoses, these trends have only continued following its enactment. Countering the narrative that whole and 2% milk is unhealthy for children, recent studies have shown children who drink full-fat dairy products tend to be leaner than their peers and have a lower risk of becoming overweight. Other studies have found those who consume whole-fat dairy may have a lower risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure, increased satiety without weight gain and better sleep.

The removal of these milk options has also had a negative effect on dairy farms throughout upstate New York, which have long counted on revenue from milk sales to schools to keep their businesses operational. Already facing numerous obstacles in maintaining their viability as a business in recent years, including the lowering of the farm laborer overtime threshold, Hawley is hopeful this bill’s passage will help dairy farmers survive these new challenges to their livelihoods.

“The removal of 2% and whole milk from school cafeterias has had nothing but negative impacts on all stakeholders involved, including children and farmers,” said Hawley. “Providing more dairy options to students will only encourage them to get the nutrition their growing bodies need from milk, and help farmers recoup revenue lost since the passage of this ill-conceived prohibition.”

April 10, 2022 - 3:43pm
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in batavia, agriculture, news, history.

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Whenever the Peca kids would hear the clippity-clop of the horse’s hooves on our street, we knew our friend “Sugar” (his real name was Jimmy) was delivering milk for Branton’s Dairy. It was the year 1954, and we lived on Highland Park. The milkman would always give us time to pet the horse and give the horse a treat. That was such a great memory from our childhood. Later, when we moved to another location, we still excitedly waited in anticipation for the milkman. Gone was the exciting horse hooves sound, but it was replaced with a milk truck. There was this one Fargo Ware milkman, Mr. Barlow. All of the children loved him because he always had a smile for us. He would give you an orange drink if it was your birthday. Even though some of us had at least two birthdays a year, he never let on that he knew what we were up to.

Many changes have occurred over the years with the “milkman.”  In our early history, any farmer with a herd of cows could deliver milk. There was no fuss about sterile instruments or the butterfat content of milk. A homemaker could choose a milkman based on his route or the taste of the milk.

Many dairies delivered milk in Batavia. The three dairies that delivered the longest belonged to Augustus Branton, Warren Fargo, and Henry Ware.

fargo_trucks.jpgIn 1873, Henry B. Fargo started a milk route from his farm on Bank Street. 1907, his son Warren Fargo bought the farm and called it The Evergreen Farm Dairy. In 1907, he purchased the Coates home at 208 East Main Street. In 1912, he built a modern dairy plant behind 208 East Main Street home. This was where he installed milk pasteurizing equipment and machinery for making ice cream. For several years, his brother Robert ran the ice cream parlor and confectionery store in the old Main Street house.

In 1916, Warren Fargo sold the ice cream part of the business to Dewitt C. Hopkins and just focused on milk and cream. Cyrus and Wallace joined him in the industry, but the sons took over the company when Warren semi-retired. In 1954, the Fargo brothers built a small dairy store at 208 East Main Street in front of their dairy.  

picturefairfield.jpgWilliam H. Ware started the Fairfield Dairy in 1927 on his farm on Ellicott Street Road near Cedar Street. In 1928 John Witruk joined Henry Ware, William’s son, in building a modern mechanized plant on Cedar Street. In 1958, William Ware closed the Fairfield Dairy to join the Fargos and become Fargo-Ware, Incorporated.

In 1969, Genesee Farms Incorporated bought out Fargo-Ware, which was run under the Genesee Farms name. The owners were Richard and Robert Call. Alvin Scroger from Oakfield was the manager.

In 1889, Augustus Branton started his dairy business when the Fargos were setting up their milk route.   He bought an earlier milk route from Robert Earll and began to deliver milk to Earll’s customers. He moved from his farm on South Main Street to one on West Main Street Road two years later. Augustus’ two sons, John A. and Raymond, lived on the farm on West Main Street. John Branton delivered milk with his father and was in the milk business for more than 63 years. He married Isabell Kellogg of Stafford, NY, on October 19, 1921, and together they moved to a home at 12 River Street and built a milk processing plant behind their house. Mrs. Branton was very active in the business. During World War II, young men were off to war, so Mrs. Branton and their son and daughter delivered milk. In 1954 when her husband John died, she became the president of Branton’s and ran it with the help of their children Raymond J.  and Jean Branton and Richard and Sibyl Branton Zorn.  

Branton’s began pasteurizing milk in 1922 and in 1947 began to clarify and homogenize the milk. In 1952, Branton’s installed a new milk processing plant that weighed and clarified milk in one process. After the milk had been tested for butterfat content, it was pasteurized, cooled rapidly, bottled by automatic machinery, and stored until time for delivery. 

In 1959, Branton’s opened the dairy store on West Main Road.

brantons_dairy_store.jpgIn 1964, the last delivery horse, “Sammy,” retired as trucks delivered the milk. Branton’s was the last dairy to use horse delivery in New York State. In June 1974, Genesee Farms, Incorporated bought the dairy business, and only the dairy store on West Main Road remained from the 85-year-old Branton business. In December 1978, Genesee Farms bought the dairy store as well.

Hackett’s Milk and Cream were also in the business of delivering milk. Henry Hackett founded his dairy business in 1914, and his brother Edgar joined him in 1920. They felt the bottling of the milk needed to be conducted under the highest sanitary standards. The dairy plant was located on Oak Street.

Today we buy milk at almost any place in the area, from supermarkets, chain stores, gas stations, and our very own Northside and Southside Delicatessens.  

Photos courtesy of the Genesee County History Department

CORRECTION: "Robert and Richard Call owned Fargo-Ware Dairy. Oakfield Farms Dairy was owned by Albert Scroger who also used to deliver milk to homes. When Albert retired, his son Alvin took over the business and they merged with Fargo-Ware to become Genesee Farms Dairy, Inc. Alvin Scroger was manager of the business but he was also a 50% owner in partnership with the Call brothers."

April 6, 2022 - 2:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, Chris Jacobs, NY-27, agriculture.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) joined 96 colleagues in calling on President Biden to reverse his anti-American energy policies and take steps to bring down the cost of fertilizers for farmers.
 
“Most common fertilizers are petroleum-based. With prices skyrocketing and foreign supplies becoming less accessible, it is critical action is taken to bring down fertilizer costs for farmers. Farmers are struggling under increased fuel costs, labor shortages, and inflationary pressures on inputs. If we do not act now, it could spell even higher prices for American consumers,” Jacobs said. “The President could take immediate steps to bring prices down across the board. His policies have been destructive to the U.S. energy industry, and in turn, our farmers. The President must allow for increased U.S. oil and gas production, take steps to allow for easier access to alternative fertilizers, and ensure critical minerals are made part of the Department of Interior’s mission.”
 
Recently, Jacobs also co-sponsored numerous pieces of legislation designed to restore American energy independence and bring fuel costs down for farmers and the American people as a whole. More on that legislation can be found here.
 
“Farming is an industry of incredibly narrow margins – any action the President can take immediately to lower the inflationary pressures facing our farmers, in large part due to his bad policies, must be a priority,” Jacobs said.
 
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
We are writing to express our serious concern regarding record-high fertilizer prices impacting American farmers going into the spring planting season. Fertilizer is a primary input and major expense for producers across the country, and price increases will have a significant effect on farm profitability and the prices of food and consumer products.
 
Since January 2021, according to the most recent data from the United States Department of Agriculture, the prices of key fertilizer sources have substantially increased as follows: anhydrous ammonia (by 203%); urea (by 141%); liquid nitrogen (by 162%); monoammonium phosphate (by 74%); potash (by 125%); and farm diesel (by 95%). Ongoing supply-chain bottlenecks and the rising cost of energy are among the factors sending fertilizer prices soaring, and disruptions stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will only compound the problem. As a result, Americans will pay more at restaurants, grocery stores, and elsewhere.
 
We are therefore urging your administration to review all available options to lower the cost of fertilizer, including but not limited to: eliminating the cross-border vaccine mandate for transporters of essential commerce; urging the USDA to use its existing authorities under the food supply chain and pandemic response resources to provide support for farmers facing financial difficulties; ensuring agricultural minerals like phosphate and potash are part of the Department of the Interior’s crucial mission; increasing U.S. gas production; and approving pending export permits at the Department of Energy for liquefied natural gas.
 
Quickly undertaking such measures is the most immediate – and perhaps only – near-term opportunity to partially remedy the high costs of fertilizer hurting American farmers and, ultimately, American consumers. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
March 29, 2022 - 12:14am

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Press release:

Since 1959, the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District has honored a deserving agricultural producer with the Conservation Farm of the Year Award. This award is given to a producer that has displayed a long-term commitment to sustainable conservation, leads by example, and implements farm conservation best management practices. This year’s recipient is Grassland Dairy, Inc, an organic dairy farm in the town of Pavilion.

Grassland Dairy, Inc., is a 250-cow organic dairy farm that is owned and operated by Brent Tillotson and his family. The farm raises their Jersey cows on a rotational grazing system with a focus on animal welfare. The farm also operates under a comprehensive nutrient management plan that is updated annually to provide nutrient and manure application recommendations based on soil testing, crop requirements, and environmental conditions. Several best management practices have been installed since the farm’s inception in 2008, including a waste separation facility, waste storage facility, erosion control systems, and subsurface drainage. Currently, the farm is working to incorporate cover crops into their corn production by planting a mix of cover crop species into their standing corn crop during cultivation. This approach will help to improve soil health and reduce erosion on the cropland.

Grassland Dairy, Inc., has voluntarily implemented the aforementioned best management practices to protect the environment and create a more sustainable farm operation. They have also been an active participant with the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. To recognize the work that has been done, the farm will be presented the 2021 Conservation Farm of the Year award at the Celebrate Agriculture Dinner on April 2, 2022, at the Alexander Fire Hall.

Photo: File photo of Brent Tillotson in 2013. Photo by Howard Owens.

Previously:

 

March 25, 2022 - 4:57pm
posted by Press Release in agriculture, Cornell Cooperative Extension, business.

Press release:

The Equine Subgroup of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Livestock Program Work Team is hosting a 3-part nutrition webinar series. Each presentation will be held from 6:30-7:30 PM EST. There is no fee to participate however preregistration is required. Each presentation has its own registration link, and you will receive a Zoom link upon confirmation of your registration.

Wednesday, April 13th - Equine Metabolic Diseases and Common Pitfalls When Feeding Horses - Dr. Lindsay Goodale, (Lecturer- Cornell CALS) will describe some common issues we encounter when feeding horses, including dealing with equine metabolic diseases, obesity, gastric ulcers, and other challenging scenarios. We'll also discuss some behavioral considerations that can influence our feeding approaches. Register: https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/HorseNutrition_222

Wednesday, May 11th - Pasture Management with Ken Estes, Jr., Ag Program Leader- CCE Livingston. In this session we will explore the best management practices to provide and maintain forage for your livestock in this case horses in a pasture. With topics including soil health, plant selection, loading density, mowing, dragging, resting, fertilizing, and weed control. We will also look at new trends in pasture design with dry lots and track pastures. Register: https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/PastureMgmt_222

Wednesday, June 8th - Forage Analysis - The cost per ton or bale is not an indicator of value. Forage analysis will make it easier to match nutrient requirements for your horses. Join Sarah E. Fessenden (Business Development Manager, Forage and Soils- Dairy One) and Lynn Bliven (Ag & Natural Resources Issue Leader- CCE Allegany) for a discussion on interpreting forage analysis reports and factors that impact evaluation of hay quality. Register: https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/ForageAnalysis_222

The Hold Your Horses - Equine Nutrition Webinar Series is one of many programs offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension. Part of the national extension system, an educational partnership between County, State, and Federal governments. As New York’s land grant university Cornell administers the system in this state. For more information on this series, call 585-268-7644 or visit www.cce.cornell.edu/allegany.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities.

March 15, 2022 - 2:33pm
posted by Press Release in 4H, agriculture, news.

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Press release:

The Genesee County 4-H Horse Program was well-represented at the Finger Lakes Region 4-H Horse Bowl Contest on Saturday, March 12th.  4-H youth from across the Finger Lakes region competed in the contest and top placing participants will have the opportunity to represent the region at the New York State 4-H Horse Bowl Contest at Cornell University on April 8th.  Horse Bowl is a Jeopardy-style competition that tests participants' knowledge of equine facts, including breeds, equipment, nutrition and more.

4-H Horse Bowl Results:

  • Brynlee Amend – 5th Novice
  • Wyatt Witmer – 1st Junior
  • Leah Amend – 2nd Junior
  • Taylor Fancher – 6th Junior
  • Lexi Witmer – 2nd Senior
  • Eva Rhoads – 5th Senior
  • Tori Kruppenbacher – 6th Senior
  • Novice Team – 2nd Place
  • Junior Team – 1st Place
  • Senior Team – 2nd Place

Congratulations to all of the 4-H members who competed in the contest and special thanks to Coach Sara Witmer and Volunteer Katie Rhoads for all of their hard work and dedication to the 4-H Horse Bowl Club.

The Genesee County 4-H Program is a youth development program for youth ages 5-18.  New 4-H youth members, adult volunteers and clubs are always welcome to join.  For information about how to join the Genesee County 4-H Program, please contact the 4-H Office at [email protected] or (585) 343-3040 ext. 101.  Enrollment information is also available on our website at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu

March 11, 2022 - 10:15am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, agriculture, notify, chamber of commerce, Chamber Awards.

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From Chad, 33, to Harriett, 92, the Klotzbach clan knows the meaning of running a family business. 

They each do their part to push Alleghany Farm Services into higher levels of success, from Chad’s role as managing partner with his dad Drew to his grandmother’s promotional skills.

“We send out mailers, and she sent out 6,000 of them. She puts labels and stamps on them, it keeps her busy,” her grandson said during an interview with The Batavian. “She calls to ask if we heard from anyone about the mailer. It’s a total family business.”

It’s that close-knit personal touch that has earned Alleghany Farm Services a nod of approval with the 2021 Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Business of the Year Award. The company was founded in 1983 by Drew Klotzbach, Chad’s father, and a company partner, and is comprised of multiple companies led by Alleghany Farm Services and Alleghany Construction as the two largest ones.

Although Chad has been literally out in the field since he was about 8 years old, he later wondered — “like every kid” — whether the local business world was for him.

“You leave and go off to college, and I wondered ‘do I want to stay with the family business? I always thought it as more of a challenge to stay than to leave,” he said. 

A native of Basom, he graduated from Oakfield-Alabama High School and went to Clarkson University for civil engineering, followed by obtaining a Master’s in Business Administration at Canisius College. He joined the family business in 2010 and has worked his way up to managing partner with an eye toward serving the community. He also has a seat on Genesee County Legislature.

His age has belied his experience at times, Chad said, and prompted some prospective customers to question his expertise.

“You know, I'm 33 years old. So a lot of times, I'll have customers see me pull up on-site, and they're like, oh, boy, who is this kid?” he said. “It's like, you know, I've been out here since you know, 8 or 10 years old doing this. So I may be young, but that's kind of what I grew up doing.”

Listening to him explain the complexity of field drainage and soil type, how much the industry has become data-driven, and how it’s a multi-year investment rather than a quick payoff, it seems clear he knows what he’s talking about. Still, it has made for “a tough elevator pitch,” he said.

Alleghany Farm Services has 30 employees and millions of dollars in specialized and computerized equipment. The company has installed 20 million feet of pipe over the past 10 years — up to four million feet a year now — and has more than doubled its size in the past five years.

Chad said it is the largest business of its kind in the Northeast and was the first to incorporate Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology in drainage design and installation in the same region. Primarily three machines are used for field drainage work — a tile plow, excavator, and a challenger tractor — and used together can install pipe in the ground using GPS to design it out ahead of time. It’s all about water management and configuring the pipe system to ensure maximum crop production, Chad said.

”You know, I think one of the things I said before is, it's way more complex than just putting pipe in the ground. You have to know the soil types, you have to know the correct pipe, the grades, the spacing, how the water flows through the soil,” he said. “I went to school for civil engineering. And even with that background, there's stuff that we see pretty much in every project that's unique. When you install subsurface drainage in a grid pattern, you’re controlling pretty much the water table, You’re dealing with surface saturation so you can get on the crops earlier in the spring and same thing in the fall.”

The process begins with the company’s sales team, he said, followed by data collection and extensive research “in order to create the proper design.” An average of 15,000 feet a day per machine can be installed, and “we stand by our work and remain in contact after projects are completed to make sure everything is performing correctly.”

Their business protocols have not only pushed the company into its sixth state but have garnered the attention of Jeanna Clark of M&T Bank and Farm Credit East. Clark’s nomination cited several reasons, including how the company has:

  • Increased their fleet of tile plows from two to four, including a prohibitively expensive mini tile plow that fits the space constraints of vineyards and orchards 
  • Expanded company size and employees by 25 percent over the last two years
  • Thanked customers with a yearly Field Day 
  • Focused on drainage education by working with local soil and water districts

Farm Credit East also cited the company’s impressive expansion statistics and lauded it for its remaining loyalty to Genesee County with headquarters in Basom.

With all of that pipe laid down, what lies ahead for Alleghany Farm Services? They have no plans to slow down now, Chad said.

“We’re right down the road from the STAMP project, and, you know, just seeing the community grow, we have new opportunities with that. We just want to continue with employing local people, keeping people interested in agriculture,” he said. "And we love supporting (initiatives such as) Cooperative Extension doing Ag in the Classroom stuff that’s coming up. It's all about that education. I do a lot of education, and I think that's the biggest thing that we want to try to bring to the community.”

Top photo: Chad Klotzbach, left, and father/partner Drew have no plans to slow down their ever-growing success with Alleghany Farm Services in Basom. The company earned a 2021 Agricultural Business of the Year Award, which is to be presented with other chamber awards this Saturday at Batavia Downs Gaming. Photo by Howard Owens.

This is the fourth of four articles highlighting the 50th Annual Chamber of Commerce Awards. The annual dinner is Saturday at Batavia Downs, with hor d’oeuvres at 5 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. For more information about the dinner, call the Genesee County Chamber at (585) 343-7440.

February 21, 2022 - 9:26pm
posted by Press Release in Porter Farms, CSA, agriculture, news.

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Press release:

Porter Farms is excited to join other CSA farmers across the country to celebrate CSA Week, a national event taking place from February 20th through February 26th to promote CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). CSA is a farm membership system that allows consumers to sign up to receive a season’s worth of a farm’s products every week. Along with getting to enjoy fresh, delicious, and local food, being a CSA member is an excellent way to support and get to know your local farmers.

Join us in promoting CSA Week, the most popular time of the year to sign-up for a CSA! When you sign up to become a CSA member, your financial support helps us prepare for the growing season. You’ll enjoy high-quality produce while taking comfort in knowing where and how your food was grown. Don’t wait to sign up, as we have limited spots available! Our farm is offering a $20 Early Bird discount to people who sign up before April 15th. There has never been a better time to connect with fresh local food while helping to make our local food systems and communities more resilient.

We offer several options for your ease of joining.  Individual shares can be picked up locally at the farm, or at one of our several western New York sites, or if your organization has enough interested members, we will make you a pickup site of your own.  “We strive to make your pickup and membership as easy and convenient as possible for you.  Reasonable accommodations are made to ensure your experience is easy, fast, and rewarding” says Farm Manager Kathy Riggs-Allen.

How to Participate in CSA Week
If you would like to celebrate CSA Week and support Porter Farms, sign up to become a CSA member, and use the hashtag #CSAWeek to join the online conversation.

“Signing up is easy,” says CSA Manager Katie Metzler. “To learn more and to join us for the 2022 season, you can reach us at www.porterfarms.org

Click the join tab at the top of the page to learn more about our share options and delivery locations. We are always looking to expand our reach throughout Western New York, and can even accommodate workplace deliveries during the week.

February 3, 2022 - 6:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Torrey Farms, news, agriculture, farm labor, elba.

Porfirio Gabriel has worked for Torrey Farms in Elba for 13 years and helps the Torreys recruit workers from Mexico, specifically Comachuen, to obtain H2A temporary visas and work planting onions and harvesting squash, cabbage, and beans each year.

These workers, Gabriel told NPR for a recent story about money sent from workers back to Mexico to help support local economies, have helped Comachuen families receive as much as $5 million over three years, by far the town's largest source of income.

These funds sent to Mexico, called remittances, may have exceeded $50 billion for the first time last year, according to the story.

Travis Torrey sent the link to the NPR story to The Batavian noting that as regulators try to limit the number of hours farmer workers can labor each week they're really hurting the people they say they're trying to help.

"I think you can see that coming to WNY to work is their version of the ‘American dream,’" Torrey said. "Everyone that has come here has bettered themselves and families.  The inhumanity is denying them the opportunity.

"Without the farmworkers, there would be no farms," he added. "The same can be said if there are no farms there are no farmworkers."

A week ago, the state's Farm Labor Board, on a 2-1 vote, recommended the overtime threshold for farmworkers be lowered from 60 hours a week to 40 hours a week.

Both farmer-owners and farmworkers have repeatedly spoken out against the rule change over the past few years saying that workers will seek jobs in states that don't restrict potential earnings.

Torrey notes the rule change will hurt workers like Gabriel when they get their hours cut.

From the NPR story:

Gabriel is resigned to working in the United States as long as he can. He sends home about $7,500 each year from what he earns working the fields. That money is largely used to fund his children's education, paying private college fees so his eldest son can be a registered nurse.

His hope is that his children will get university degrees and not have to emigrate. "I am paying for their studies, so that they don't have to do what we had to do," Gabriel says.

February 1, 2022 - 4:46pm

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia), a former farmer and member of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, has written a pair of letters to Gov. Kathy Hochul and Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon urging them to stop the implementation of a reduction in the farm labor overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours. 

Last Friday, the Farm Laborers Wage Board voted 2-1 to lower the threshold. Power now rests with Gov. Hochul and Commissioner Reardon to enact the overtime threshold reduction. 

“Farmers from all corners of our state have spoken about how dangerous this policy would be for them, for their families, and for their communities alike. The time has come for Gov. Hochul and Commissioner Reardon to decide whether they stand with farmers or the special interests who’ve worked behind the scenes to advance this proposal,” said Hawley. “As the consequences of this decision have clearly been laid out for them, I sincerely hope they’ll recognize how disastrous this decision would be for farming as we know it in New York and take action to prevent its implementation.”

January 29, 2022 - 7:39pm
posted by Press Release in Sen. Edward Rath, ny, news, agriculture, farm.

Press Release:

The decision by the Farm Laborers Wage Board to lower overtime hours from 60 to 40 hours is fatal to our farms. Agriculture is a vital part of our Upstate community and with this change, many family farms will not survive. I have spoken with countless farmers and farm workers who have shared their concerns with this hour reduction.

Unfortunately, this will result in farm workers not coming to New York but going to other states with friendlier regulations. At a time when it is being preached to follow the advice of industry experts, the Wage Board instead opted to ignore the experts and pursue this out of touch agenda. I am deeply troubled by this decision and the impact it will have, not only in my district, but across our State.

January 29, 2022 - 7:37pm
posted by Press Release in Steve Hawley, farm, agriculture, 139th assembly district, news.

Press Release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia), a former farmer and member of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, is expressing grave concern following a 2-1 decision by the Farm Laborers Wage Board to implement a 40 hour overtime threshold for farm laborers in New York state. Hawley has joined farmers and advocates from across the state throughout the last several months to speak out against this proposal, arguing that since farms operate on schedules that are at the mercy of the weather and other unpredictable factors, that lowering the threshold would prove fatal for farms who barely turn a profit when paying their laborers under the existing 60-hour threshold.

“Farm operators and farm laborers alike have been more united than ever in opposing this mandate, but sadly it seems their voices were ignored, and I now fear the decision will come at the cost of countless multi-generational family businesses who will now have no choice but to cease operations,” said Hawley. “Being someone with origins in upstate New York, I sincerely hope that Governor Hochul will be able to put aside her partisanship and stop this policy’s implementation for the sake of our farmers, families, and rural economies throughout the state. For the millions of people who love everything about agriculture as we know it here in upstate New York, it would be truly tragic if our local farms became nothing more than memories of a better time.”
 
Assemblyman Hawley represents the 139th District, which consists of Genesee, Orleans and parts of Monroe County. For more information, please visit Assemblyman Hawley’s Official Website.
January 28, 2022 - 7:10pm
posted by Press Release in agriculture, news.

Press release:

The Farm Laborers Wage Board voted two-to-one to recommend lowering the overtime threshold to 40 hours a week over the next decade, despite 70% of the testimony made by farmers and farm workers who asked for overtime to stay at 60. It is disingenuous and irresponsible that the data, research, and comments made from those who know agriculture best were cast aside by the majority of the Wage Board. Changing the overtime threshold to 40 hours a week for farmworkers in New York means that these workers will be limited to 40 hours, due to simple farm economics. This is not a win for farmworkers that self-proclaimed worker advocates will claim. 

Agricultural production, diversification, and job availability will suffer. That is no scare tactic. We have already seen farmworkers leave the state for more hours of work and production shift to less labor-intensive crops since the farm labor legislation was enacted in January 2020. Further collapse of New York agriculture is on the hands of those who spread falsehoods and look to destroy the livelihoods of farmworkers they say they represent. This is also a loss for New Yorkers who enjoy and depend on access to local food, something that was highlighted during the pandemic. 

New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher voted against lowering the threshold, simply asking for more time to study the economic impacts of a lower threshold. Governor Hochul and Commissioner Reardon must now do what is right and let the facts be their guide. If this administration cares about the future of upstate New York, Long Island, and urban access to locally produced food, they must put a stop to the constant regulatory assault on agriculture.

Grow NY Farms would like to thank everyone who testified this year. The care and respect they have for their employees were clear from the beginning. No wage board decision can take that away. We all value essential farm work and want the very best for farm employees, which includes the ability to earn a livelihood in the profession they have chosen.

January 28, 2022 - 4:04pm

hawleyagjan2022.jpg

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia), a member of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture joined Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) and Sen. Ed Rath (R,C,I-Amherst) for a meeting he organized with local farmers Thursday to discuss the federal vaccine mandate and its impact on the well-being of their businesses. 

During the meeting, farmers expressed concerns that the vaccine mandate is negatively affecting the supply chains farmers depend on, as well as their ability to hire and retain laborers. This concern has arisen after a new mandate was hastily issued by the Department of Homeland Security requiring essential workers who are not U.S. citizens, including farm laborers, to be vaccinated before entering the country.

“Farming is the backbone of all economic activity in our nation, providing the food and materials necessary for other industries to operate effectively,” said Hawley. “Vaccine mandates have only served to worsen conditions experienced by Americans during the pandemic, and this new mandate pertaining to essential farm laborers is no different. By slowing our supply chain and keeping much-needed farmhands out of our fields, this mandate will strain both our rural economies in upstate New York and slow the restocking of vital goods in grocery stores across the state. I stand opposed to this mandate, and any others like it that may be implemented at the state or federal level.”

“Representing our farmers on the House Agriculture Committee is a job I take very seriously, and right now their livelihoods are at stake as a direct result of President Biden’s vaccine mandates,” said Jacobs. “Farming is a year-round industry that has no room for delays or logistical blockades, yet that is exactly what the president has created. His mandate that just recently went into effect is causing trucking delays, which seriously impacts our farmers and hurts our ag-focused economy in New York’s 27th District. I have fought against these mandates, and I will continue to do so to ensure our supply chains remain intact and our farmers are supported.”

“Our New York farmers have been taking hit after hit,” said Rath. “Many are already struggling with staffing shortages and supply chain issues, at no fault of their own. Jeopardizing their available workforce is irresponsible and inconsiderate of the overwhelming pressures that farmers are facing.  I have advocated for simplifying the countless mandates to help our farms and businesses. I will continue to fight for our agriculture community."

Press release from Rep. Chris Jacobs:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27), NYS Senator Ed Rath (R,C,I - Amherst), and NYS Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I – Batavia) met with local farmers and agricultural leaders yesterday to discuss the impact of President Biden’s vaccine mandate at the Northern border, and the current supply chain issues and labor shortages facing the agricultural industry.

“Representing our farmers on the House Agriculture Committee is a job I take very seriously, and right now their livelihoods are at stake as a direct result of President Biden’s vaccine mandates,” Jacobs said. “Farming is a round the clock industry that has no room for delays or logistical blockades, yet that is exactly what the President has created. His mandate that just recently went into effect is causing trucking delays, which seriously impacts our farmers and hurts our ag-focused economy in New York’s 27th District. I have fought against these mandates, and I will continue to do so to ensure our supply chains remain intact and our farmers are supported.”

"Our New York farmers have been taking hit after hit. Many are already struggling with staffing shortages and supply chain issues, at no fault of their own. Jeopardizing their available workforce is irresponsible and inconsiderate of the overwhelming pressures that farmers are facing. I have advocated for simplifying the countless mandates to help our farms and businesses. I will continue to fight for our agriculture community," Rath said.

​“Vaccine mandates issued at any level of government only serve to cripple our response to the very pandemic such mandates seek to improve,” Hawley said. “For farmers in particular, disruptions in the supply chain could mean the loss of crop yields, the death of livestock animals and critical equipment remaining in a state of disrepair for long periods of time when out of order. When the operations of our farms slow down, the economies of our rural communities slow as well. And across our nation, the restocking of grocery store shelves will continue to be a spotty process. Mandates that stifle the efficacy of our supply chain will only prolong the suffering brought about by this pandemic, and I remain committed to combating their implementation in any broad capacity,”

Jacobs is a member of the House Agriculture Committee. In December, Jacobs sent a letter with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik to President Biden warning of the disruption his vaccine mandate at the border would cause in the supply chain. The President ignored this warning. You can read the letter here.

January 20, 2022 - 6:55pm
posted by Press Release in farm, agriculture, soybean and small grain congress.
Event Date and Time: 
February 9, 2022 - 10:00am to February 10, 2022 - 12:00am

Press Release:

January 10, 2022 - 2:00pm

Press Release:

The Board of Directors of Upstate Niagara Cooperative would like to announce the planned retirement of Lawrence C. Webster, Chief Executive Officer, on June 30, 2022. The Board will commence the process of selecting the next CEO for Upstate Niagara to ensure a seamless transition.

 “I cannot adequately express my appreciation to the Board for the continuous support and encouragement I have received during my tenure. It has been an honor to serve the Cooperative as CEO,” said Webster.

“The Board sincerely and heartily congratulates Larry Webster on his planned retirement,” said John T. Gould, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Larry has been the champion of our Cooperative’s unprecedented growth and success, profoundly and positively impacting our member dairy farms, employees, customers and communities. Upstate Niagara is undeniably stronger and more resilient as a result of his leadership.” 

Mr. Webster joined Upstate Niagara Cooperative in 2005 and has served as Chief Executive Officer for the past decade. Under his leadership, the Cooperative has charted a course of extraordinary growth and expansion, recently becoming a billion-dollar business.

To learn more about Upstate Niagara Cooperative, visit upstateniagara.com.

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