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agriculture

January 17, 2020 - 12:07pm

Press release:

The Pavilion Central School District is proud to announce that we are now able to offer students a Career and Technical Endorsement in both Agriculture and Business.

This new endorsement will encourage students to enhance their skill sets in agriculture or business.

These new programs allow students to study in a focused career pathway, partake focused internships, and attain college credits at associated colleges.

Upon completion of the Business Career Program, the students can receive college credits at GCC in Introduction to Business, Introduction to Computers, and Microcomputer Applications.

The students are also able to achieve credits in Programming and Problem Solving, and Computer Programming after passing the Advanced Placement Computer Science Placement Exam.

The students enrolled in the Agriculture program will be able to receive credit in Agriculture Business at Morrisville State University, and Animal or Plant Science at Alfred State University.

January 16, 2020 - 1:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in trade, economics, agriculture, news.

Press release from the NYS Farm Bureau:

“The Senate’s passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement clears the final hurdle that stood in the way of progress for New York’s farmers.

"Nearly half of our state’s agricultural exports go to our North American neighbors, providing vital market opportunities that will remain open thanks to USMCA.

"The certainty that this agreement provides to farmers, plus the potential for expected growth for our dairy farms, are reasons to commend lawmakers for getting the job done in a strong bipartisan fashion.

"Combine this news with yesterday’s announcement of the phase one trade deal with China, and there is renewed hope that United States’ trade policy is headed in the right direction.”

January 10, 2020 - 4:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, steve hawley, farm labor laws.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I- Batavia) announced today that he has introduced legislation, A.8916, that would mandate including two additional members on the Farm Laborers Wage Board, increasing membership from three to five individuals. The two additional members would be the Commissioner of Agriculture & Markets and a member of the business community.

“New York City politicians passed sweeping and overarching new farm labor regulations last year which have the potential to devastate small, family-owned farms in our state,” Hawley said. “It is imperative that the new wage board has input and influence from those who are on the frontlines of the agriculture industry instead of politically appointed Big Labor bosses.

“I proudly debated on the Assembly Floor and voted against the farm labor changes because Downstate lawmakers have no business telling our producers how to operate. Agriculture is a unique industry that is thriving in many parts of our state and to pass blanket labor laws from behind a desk in Albany is grossly irresponsible and myopic.

"As the Past President of the Genesee County Farm Bureau and former owner of our family farm in Batavia, I will continue to advocate for our area’s farmers and see that this bill I’m introducing to expand the wage board becomes law this year.”

January 3, 2020 - 9:02am
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, steve hawley, NY Farm Bureau.

Press release: 

Assemblyman Steve Hawley announced today that he has once again been named to the Farm Bureau "Circle of Friends" for his legislative support of agricultural and farming initiatives in 2019.

“I am honored to once again be named to the Circle of Friends and I thank the Farm Bureau for the great relationship and dialogue we have exercised over the years to do what’s best for our area’s producers,” Hawley said.

Hawley is the former owner and operator of Hawley Farms in Batavia, a longtime member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and a leading opponent of the Farm Labor Bill, which allows unionization, mandatory time off and other labor restrictions for farm workers.

“The new farm labor regulations, which took effect yesterday, are an absolute deathblow to family farms across our state," Hawley said. "By choking our farmer’s labor supply and mandating drastic wage increases, we are threatening our farms’ livelihood and their ability to operate and succeed when they need laborers the most.

"I was proud to stand with farmers across the state in debating and voting against this bill when it came to the Assembly floor. New York City politicians who have probably never set foot on a farm should never be allowed to dictate how we operate.”

January 1, 2020 - 6:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, farm labor bill.

Press release:

A temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued by Federal Court Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo on Dec. 31 in U.S. District Court in Western New York. The TRO prohibits New York State from enforcing certain actions and imposing penalties upon farmers stemming from a new law scheduled to go into effect today.

It is important to note, the TRO does not impact the law or impact the wages of the vast majority of hourly employees working on New York farms and the payment of overtime, nor was it intended to.

The court action followed a lawsuit filed on Monday, Dec. 30 that would temporarily halt the implementation of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act on Jan. 1. The suit was filed by the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) and the New York State Vegetable Growers Association (NYSVGA) on behalf of the organizations' member farmers across the state, seeking clarity and to ensure they are in compliance with the law’s requirements.

The TRO specifically restrains the state government from enforcing the Act where such actions would impact the status, compensation, and hours of supervisors, family members, shareholders, and administrative and professional employees. The TRO will be in effect for several weeks. If a mutually agreeable settlement is not reached, a preliminary injunction hearing will be held on Jan. 24.

Brian Reeves, president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, and owner of Reeves Farms in Baldwinsville (Onondaga County), said, “The ruling in favor of the TRO is an important first step for ensuring the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practice Act is implemented fairly for all who work on farms in New York.

"We want to protect the rights of all who work on our farms and are so important to our success. We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to correct the statute to better address the rights of all who work on our farms.”

Jon Greenwood, chair of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association and co-owner of Greenwood Dairy Farm in Canton (St. Lawrence County), said, “The narrow scope of the TRO ruling will allow us to continue to work with the state to improve language and definitions in the Act.

"Providing clarity to New York’s farms will help us protect our management teams while assuring family members and others employed on our farms are treated fairly. We look forward to working with the state and court to ensure that the interests of farmers, their families, and employees are represented in the new state law.”

December 30, 2019 - 12:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in Farm Labor Act, business, agriculture, dairy, vegetable growers.

Press release:*

A coalition of New York State dairy and vegetable farms has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Western New York seeking a court order that would temporarily halt the implementation of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act on Jan.1. New York’s farmers and employees are seeking clarity to ensure they are in compliance with its requirements.

The group, which includes the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA), the New York State Vegetable Growers Association (NYSVGA), and individual farmers across the state have been working with state officials for months, leading up to and following the legislature’s approval in June of a measure that was then signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in July.

*(Update) In Genesee County, the coalition includes Torrey Farms, a dairy farm in Elba that's been in operation since 1803, and MTy Acres, which is represented on the Board of Directors of NYS veg growers.

Prior to filing the lawsuit today, representatives of NEDPA and the NYSVGA worked into the evening on Friday in an effort to seek a resolution that would bring clarity to the matter. In addition, they maintained open lines of communications and were willing to continue the dialogue throughout the weekend.

In fact, prior to being voted upon and signed, a statewide advocacy effort was conducted by concerned agricultural interests that repeatedly identified flaws within the legislation that needed to be addressed to avoid unintended consequences of the state action.

More specifically, the lawsuit outlines the challenges facing New York’s agriculture community, and identifies several key issues that require modification.

  • As currently written, the Act’s definition of “farm laborer” includes supervisors, farm owners and family members of farm owners. This places farms in a contradictory or “Catch 22” position. If supervisors, owners and family members are classified as farm laborers, they have the right to engage in collective bargaining with other employees. However, if supervisors, owners and family members are also agents of the farm business, they must not engage in conduct that would discourage union concerted activity, assist in the formation of a union, or otherwise violate the rights of farm laborers.
  • The Act also conflicts with Section 14(a) of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The Act includes supervisors as part of the group of farm labors who may engage in concerted activities, but the NLRA expressly prohibits states from adopting such legislation, and so the law is preempted by federal law. 
  • Because the Act includes supervisors, owners, and family members for purposes of its hour restrictions and overtime pay requirements, farms must reclassify the way they engage these individuals, and this compounds the conflict as farmers endeavor to implement the law.
  • As a result, if a farm decides to classify its supervisors, owners and family members as farm laborers, it will result in a violation of the Act’s collective bargaining provisions. On the other hand, if a farm takes the position that supervisors, owners and family members are not farm laborers, the farm may be subjecting itself to criminal and civil penalties by violating their rights as farm laborers and by violating the hour restrictions and overtime pay requirements.

John Dickinson, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, and co-owner of Ideal Dairy in Hudson Falls (Washington County), said, “We greatly appreciate the efforts of our employees; they are invaluable to our success and we want to do what’s right for them. We have had productive interactions with state representatives and provided feedback on the lack of clarity this law provides, however we are asking for a pause to allow necessary changes to be made.

"The lack of guidance the dairy community is receiving is causing unnecessary stress on farms, agribusinesses, and families across the state. We have every intention of abiding with this law, but our farms and employees are struggling with implementation due to unclear and conflicting definitions as it is currently written.”

Brian Reeves, president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, and owner of Reeves Farms in Baldwinsville (Onondaga County), said,“We have been working for months in a constructive manner to bring clarity and fairness to a law that had significant problems due to ambiguity and unfairness to employees and farm families across New York.

"Today, we are simply seeking a temporary pause to the implementation of this law, to avoid harm to our farms and our employees, while the Governor and Legislature correct the ambiguities.”

December 26, 2019 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Cornell Cooperative Extension, business, agriculture.

Press release:

The Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension Board of Directors has selected Joaquina Kankam as their executive director, a position that includes leadership of the 100-year-old organization that provides quality programs in youth development, agriculture, nutrition, leadership, and community and economic development.

Kankam currently works as a statewide Extension Program Specialist in 4-H and Youth Development with Prairie View A & M University in Texas. She also cochairs a committee for the National Urban Extension Conference Planning Committee and leads numerous statewide youth development and professional development training.

Prior to her current role, she served as an instructor for two different colleges, and as an educator/administrator for the Houston Independent School District.

Kankam holds a B.A. in psychology from Tuskegee University, an M.Ed. in Education from the University of St. Thomas, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Prairie View A & M University.

“I am so excited to work with such a kind group of people. I hope I can extend the same welcome to everyone as the lovely people of Genesee County have already given to me,” Kankam said.

She will begin her role on Jan. 6th. For more information on Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension, please visit genesee.cce.cornell.edu.

December 24, 2019 - 1:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, corn growers, corn congress, business.

Press release:

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Northwest NY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team will be hosting the 50th Annual Corn Congress for producers from across the region on Jan. 8 and 9.

Registration is $65 per person and includes proceeding book, morning refreshments and hot buffet lunch.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., presentations begin at 10 a.m. DEC Recertification points and Certified Crop Adviser credits will be available. 

  • Wednesday, Jan. 8 – Quality Inn & Suites, 8250 Park Road, Batavia
  • Thursday, Jan. 9 – Quality Inn, 2468 Route 414, Waterloo

Guest speaker Clarence Swanton, Weed Scientist, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada will present: "Talking Plants: The Science Behind Good Weed Management."

Swanton's research is focused on weed ecology and the development of integrated weed management systems for field and horticultural crops. He has won numerous awards for his research including: the Ontario Agricultural College Distinguished Researcher Award, University of Guelph Presidential Distinguished Professor Award, Excellence in Weed Science for Canada and the Weed Society of America’s Outstanding Researcher Award.

Guest speaker Jake Kraayenbrink, Farmer/Entrepreneur, Ontario, Canada, will present: "Soil Compaction: Measuring and Mediating Machinery Damage." He has always had a passion for soil health and has worked with the Ontario Ministry of Ag, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the University of Guelph.

Jake Kraayenbrink is a Compaction Action team member in Ontario is the director of the Innovative Farmer’s Association of Ontario (IFAO), that helps organize Compaction Action field days for the Ag community.

Additional topics to be discussed by Cornell University researchers include:

  • Changing Pathogens, Hybrids, and Weather: Wither Corn Diseases?
  • Effective Programs for Controlling Waterhemp in Corn
  • Building a Corn Yield Potential Database in New York
  • Biocontrol of Corn Rootworm

To register online, and choose your location: https://nwnyteam.cce.cornell.edu/events.php

To register by phone, contact: Brandie Waite at: 585-343-3040 x138

The Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team is a partnership between Cornell University and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations serving dairy, livestock, and field crop farm businesses and supporting industries in these nine northwest New York counties: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne and Wyoming.

December 17, 2019 - 1:01pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his major effort, the successful inclusion of $2 million in the soon-to-pass bipartisan omnibus spending package for Fiscal Year 2020 for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to continue research, market surveillance, and appropriate regulatory activities for products containing the increasingly popular cannabidiol (CBD).

Even though CBD products have gained popularity since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the farming, manufacturing, and selling of industrial hemp, Schumer explained that the FDA has yet to set regulations or safety requirements for CBD derived from hemp.

According to Schumer, the lack of federal guidance and clarity is sowing chaos for both consumers and in the rapidly emerging Upstate New York industrial hemp industry, which saw sales of CBD products surpass $200 million nationally in 2018.

Therefore, in the upcoming, bipartisan appropriations package, Schumer fought for a provision setting aside $2 million for regulatory activities, research, and policy evaluation of CBD products.

The legislation also includes a requirement that the FDA issue a report to Congress within 60 days on its progress determining a regulatory framework for CBD products. Additionally, the provision requires the FDA to study a sample of CBD products currently on the market, to better understand which products are mislabeled or otherwise misrepresented.

“CBD is brimming with potential to be a billion-dollar industry across New York State, bringing along countless jobs and truly meaningful economic development with it. But before that can happen, we need to be 100-percent sure we understand the ABCs of CBD—its impact on human health, and how best to regulate it at the federal level,” Senator Schumer said.

“That’s why during the negotiations for the bipartisan spending package, which is set to pass in the next few days, I fought tooth and nail to secure a provision setting aside $2 million for the FDA to, at long last, begin developing a regulatory framework for CBD—and demanding the agency update Congress on its progress.

Once these necessary rules and restrictions are set, the industry will seed and grow from one corner of the state to the other, many good-paying jobs will be created in the industrial hemp space, farmers will be able to safely cash in on this cash crop, and consumers will be protected.”

CBD is one of the two main chemical compounds that can be found in the cannabis plant. However, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it cannot get a person high—unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other chemical compound found in many types of cannabis plants, primarily marijuana.

CBD products have become exceptionally popular in the marketplace, with estimated sales of CBD-containing products, such as oils, gummies, balms, lotions, and capsules, surpassing $200 million in 2018.

According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, there are currently just under 500 people, businesses, and organizations spread across New York State licensed to grow and process industrial hemp.

According to news reports, roughly three-quarters of those licenses were approved for the purposes of cultivating and extracting CBD. Currently, there are 18,000 acres of land licensed for industrial hemp growing in New York State, with 14,000 designated for CBD cultivation and extraction.

Furthermore, of New York’s 62 counties, 56 are home to industrial hemp farms and related growing operations. Schumer explained that these figures show just how much potential CBD products have to boost the economy across New York State, should clear guidance on CBD be issued by the FDA.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be utilized for food, oil, and cosmetic products. Hemp contains a very small amount of THC, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, the two plants have varied widely in use.

However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary regulator for hemp production.

Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential. With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York will be unleashed.

December 10, 2019 - 1:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in PathStone Corp., agriculture, business, farm labor housing.

Press release:

PathStone Corporation is currently accepting applications for their 2019-20 On-farm Housing Grant.

This program is a matching grant of up to $2,000 to repair and upgrade existing farm labor housing. Examples of eligible repairs include, but are not limited to: bathrooms, plumbing, laundry facilities, recreation rooms, upgrading kitchens, heating, floors, walls, windows, ceilings, doors and other major structural components.*

Special consideration will be given to projects that positively impact the quality of life for farmworkers during off work hours. Farm owners must agree to provide $1 for every $1 provided by PathStone Corporation. This grant has been very successful in Wayne and Orleans counties, but this year’s focus will be on farms in Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming and Ontario counties.

If interested, or if you have questions, please contact Susan Lerch at 585-546-3700, ext. 3020, for an application. The application deadline is currently March 1 and the work will need to be completed by May 15.

Please help us spread the word as we want to assist as many farms as possible!

*NOTE: Farms may still be eligible to receive grant funds even if repair work has already started.

December 3, 2019 - 4:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in Charles Schumer, agriculture, business, industrial hemp.

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today that following his major push, the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), in tandem with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, have confirmed the legality of banks and other financial institutions extending services and products to industrial hemp-oriented businesses and farms.

Schumer explained that without access to traditional financial services, local farmers and the industrial hemp industry across Upstate New York had been unfairly restricted on capital investment, preventing further economic growth and the creation of good-paying jobs, and choking off valuable income for farmers.

Lack of Awareness By Lending Institutions

Schumer said the lack of awareness by lending institutions about the legality of industrial hemp had created an unwarranted murkiness around the legality of financing hemp-oriented businesses — and that new guidance was urgently needed.

With that now cleared up, the industrial hemp industry can continue to seed and grow across Upstate New York.

“This is a strong step in the right direction to boost the growth of the industrial hemp industry, and I am glad federal regulators, including the Fed, heeded my call to provide clarity to banks that industrial hemp is fully legal and their member banks are free to lend to farmers and producers," Schumer said.

"Now that the feds have issued to lenders updated guidance clarifying hemp’s legality as a crop, the industry will really start to take root and grow. I fought so hard to strip the burdensome and outdated federal regulations from industrial hemp because of all the good it can do for our farmers, our economy and our consumers. Today’s updated financial guidance related to industrial hemp means that we’re one big step closer to the complete emergence of a job-creating, economy-boosting industry across New York State.”

No More 'Suspicious Activity Reports' for Industrial Hemp-oriented Businesses

Specifically, the Fed, FDIC, FinCEN and OCC announced that under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks will no longer have to file Suspicious Activity Reports for industrial hemp-oriented businesses seeking to attain loans or other services. Schumer explained that this will significantly increase the likelihood that these businesses receive financial services, and help the industry continue growing and creating good-paying jobs for New Yorkers.

Schumer explained that since the 2018 Farm Bill removed the federal regulatory shackles from industrial hemp production, manufacturing, and selling, New York’s industrial hemp industry has started to grow significantly, with new farms and businesses emerging and existing ones expanding operations. This has brought considerably more good-paying jobs and revenue to Upstate New York, making industrial hemp a critical new part of the state’s agricultural future.

That being said, as industrial hemp farmers and businesses are exploring the full benefits of the 2018 Farm Bill, they have experienced serious difficulty accessing financial products with regulatory uncertainty at financial institutions. While some companies have agreed to offer financial services to the growing hemp industry, many have not due to confusion over the crop’s legal status.

The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). It passed and was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.

This legislation:

  • Removes industrial hemp from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Empowers states to be the principal regulators of hemp;
  • Allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); 
  • And makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be used for food, oil, and cosmetic products.

The Roadblock of a Spec of THC Lifted

Hemp contains a very small amount, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, it has varied widely in use. However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary regulator for hemp production.

Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential.

With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York will be unleashed.

November 27, 2019 - 1:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in Basom, hemp, business, agriculture.

Press release:

Standing at Gina and Terry Miller’s Organic Hemp Farm in Albion, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, flanked by farmers and industry experts, today called on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to extend the comment period for a proposed interim final rule that presents a number of potential problems and challenges to the rapidly emerging and growing industrial hemp industry in Orleans County, Genesee County and throughout the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region.

Schumer urged the USDA to listen to these concerns from growers and producers and to make improvements to the final rule. Last month, he visited the Mills Family Farm on Ham Road in Basom to get input from local farmers.

Specifically, Schumer expressed his concern over USDA’s proposed "Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program," which was published on Oct. 31st of this year. Schumer explained that he’s been approached by farmers, producers and stakeholders from across the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region who have concerns that the proposed regulations regarding the sampling and testing of hemp are imprecise, not fully reflective of farmers’ challenges, and could have a seriously negative impact on the fledgling industry, stunting growth and the creation of good-paying jobs.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be used for food, oil, and cosmetic products.

Schumer argued that given the new nature of this industry and the economic potential it holds, USDA should extend the comment period for the "Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program" interim final rule, and improve the regulations, to ensure that farmers and the public have ample time to submit comments to help guide the best possible final rule for establishing the hemp program.

“When it comes to an industry as promising as industrial hemp in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, the feds need to get it right the first time, and not rush to any reckless regulatory decisions. Regulating this rapidly-emerging industry is a must, but any rules must be part of a well-thought-out process that carefully considers the needs of all stakeholders—from farmers and growers to producers and manufacturers,” Senator Schumer said.

“That’s why today I’m urging USDA to extend the comment period for its proposed final rule on hemp production to ensure that farmers, growers and producers have ample time to provide input and have their concerns listened to and that a meaningful part of these concerns is integrated into the final rule.

"These hemp experts have serious fears about how this proposed rulemaking could impose unrealistic or poorly thought out rules, restrict their industry, cut-off growth and stop the creation of good-paying jobs. So, it is incumbent on USDA, the chief agricultural regulators in the United States, to hear them out and make improvements to the final regulations that are balanced and smart.”

Schumer explained that the proposed rule, which is a necessary step to support domestic industrial hemp production, potentially includes regulations that could have harmful effects on hemp production in Upstate New York and the entire nation. The comment period for the proposed "Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program" began on Oct. 31 and is set to end on Dec. 31st of this year.

However, Schumer argued, with stakeholders having such serious and valid concerns about the rule, it is critical that they have adequate time to submit their comments on it. Therefore, Schumer strongly urged USDA to extend the public comment period by 60 days, so that growers and producers have ample time to make their case—and so it can be thoroughly reviewed and analyzed to best address the concerns of hemp producers throughout Upstate New York.

Schumer pointed to a few provisions under the proposed "Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program" final rule that farmers and producers have expressed their concerns over, specifically related to the timeframe for sampling and testing of industrial hemp, the lack of available places to do this testing, the guidelines for THC level testing, and the restrictiveness for retesting if the threshold for THC exceeds allowable levels.

For example, under the rule, producers would have a 15-day timeframe for the harvesting, sampling and testing of crops. However, Schumer explained, since this testing typically takes 5-6 business days alone, the proposed final rule creates a tight turnaround and affords farmers very little leeway in the prescribed timeline.

Furthermore, Schumer explained the short 15-day window may be further hindered by the potential scarcity of DEA-registered laboratories in state, to perform testing in a timely manner. Additionally, Schumer said the current draft regulations do not afford any provisions for growers to salvage or retest crops that initial tests exceed the established .03 THC threshold. Crop insurance, which is often difficult to procure, still affords no protections for most farmers in these circumstances.

Other concerns highlighted by Schumer pertain to the sampling methodology to determine accurate THC levels.

Hemp contains a very small amount, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, it has varied widely in use. However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary regulator for hemp production.

Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential. With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York will be unleashed.

The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). It passed and was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.

This legislation:

  • Removed industrial hemp from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Empowered states to be the principal regulators of hemp;
  • Allowed hemp researchers to apply for competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); and
  • Made hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.
November 26, 2019 - 2:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, celebrate agriculture dinner.

Press release:

Plans are already underway for the 18th annual Celebrate Agriculture Dinner, which will take place Saturday, April 18 at 6 p.m. at the Alexander Fire Hall. This annual event is a celebration of Genesee County’s agriculture industry.

The highlight of the night is a delicious meal using locally produced foods prepared by Penna’s Catering. The dinner is open to the public.

Tickets go on sale Dec. 2 at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce (8276 Park Road, Batavia). Tickets are $30 each or a table of 10 can be purchased for $275. Sponsorships are also available which help support agriculture educational events in Genesee County.

Only 400 tickets will be sold. Order your tickets now as they will not be available at the door.

The Celebrate Ag Dinner is coordinated by the following partners: Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District and Genesee County Farm Bureau.

Sponsors of the 2019 celebration included: Alexander Equipment, Alleghany Farm Services, Arctic Refrigeration, Baskin Livestock Inc., Carolina Eastern Crocker, CPL, CY Farms/Batavia Turf, Farm Credit East, Farm Family Insurance, Freed Maxick CPA, Lamb Farms, Lawley, My-T Acres, National Grid, NY Pork Producers Cooperative, OXBO International, Rochester Regional Health -- UMMC, Scott Adams Trucking, Senator Ranzenhofer, Tompkins Bank of Castile, Torrey Farms, William Kent Inc. and Windy Acres Farm.

Farms and businesses that donated locally grown food for the 2019 dinner included: Dairy Farmers of America, Dorman Farms, Fenton’s Produce, Love Beets Inc., M-B Farms, New York Chips, O-AT-KA Milk, SJ Starowitz Farms, Torrey Farms, Upstate Niagara Co-op. and Yancey’s Fancy.

For ticket information contact the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce at 585-343-7440 or email Kelly Bermingham: [email protected].

November 15, 2019 - 12:25pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today (Nov. 15) released a report detailing how the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Facilitation Program (MFP) has treated Upstate farmers unfairly—and launched a new effort to restore parity to the system.

The MFP is designed to reimburse the farms that have been damaged by the turbulent trade climate across the globe, and has distributed $25 billion in mitigation payments to help farmers recover in recent months.

However, Schumer explained, this funding was distributed unevenly, sending 95 percent of the top payment rates to Southern farmers, who have been harmed less than other regions, and helping farms owned by billionaires and foreign-owned companies.

To address this disparity that is negatively impacting Upstate farmers, who are in dire need of assistance, Schumer urged USDA to improve the MFP to better support small New York farmers.

“This report shows that as Upstate farmers are grappling with extreme uncertainty caused by the chaotic global trade climate, USDA is using a flawed formula that helps big, wealthy farms and billion-dollar foreign-owned companies, while our small and family farms in New York have been left in the dust,” Senator Schumer said.

“The USDA must stop picking winners and losers in such an unbalanced way, and instead ensure all of America’s and Upstate New York’s farmers get the help they need and deserve—not just a lucky few.”

Farmers across New York State are being treated unfairly in many ways, including:

  • Farmers in New York are receiving $41.10 less per acre than farmers in Georgia and other Southern states;
  • Even within New York the difference in payments from county to county can be significant and cause similar farms to get vastly different payments. For example, Orleans County has a payment rate of $48 per acre, yet Warren County has a rate of $15 per acre. For an average-sized farm this is a difference in payments of $9,936 and $3,105 for Upstate farms that likely have very similar growing conditions;
  • At a county level, the average payment rate in New York was $28 per acres. However, many counties in Southern states received the maximum payment rate of $150 per acre. With more than 33,400 farms across New York, averaging about 207 acres each, NY farmers would receive a payment of about $5,796, while the same sized farm in one of these other Southern counties would receive $31,050(delta: $25,254).
  • USDA currently ignores any trade damage not related to its own chaotic trade actions and largely shuts out Upstate New York’s specialty crops from direct assistance.
  • Instead of taking steps to support small and beginning operations, USDA doubled the payment limit for row crop payments from $125,000 to $250,000. This change will concentrate payments even more in the large complicated farming conglomerates.
  • Rather than using current production numbers, USDA based payments to dairy farmers on data that are 6 to 8 years old.

In the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, Congress provided balanced support to help farmers manage market instability across the country and provided permanent support for USDA export market development programs.

Schumer raised concerns that the administration’s policy upends this careful compromise, replaces income from markets with government payments, creates vast inequities, and does not address the actual trade damage to farmers who have been hit the hardest.

NY County

USDA MFP Payment rate

Warren

$15

Allegany

$17

Delaware

$18

Washington

$18

Essex

$19

Lewis

$19

Sullivan

$19

Wyoming

$19

Herkimer

$20

Steuben

$20

Westchester

$20

Chenango

$21

Cortland

$21

Franklin

$21

Madison

$21

Schuyler

$21

Tioga

$21

Clinton

$22

Jefferson

$22

Schenectady

$22

Albany

$23

Ulster

$23

Albany

$23

Saratoga

$24

Otsego

$25

Broome

$26

Cattaraugus

$26

Schoharie

$26

St. Lawrence

$26

Tompkins

$26

Broome

$26

Cattaraugus

$26

Chemung

$27

Erie

$27

Chautauqua

$28

Dutchess

$28

Onondaga

$28

Rensselaer

$28

Fulton

$30

Montgomery

$31

Genesee

$32

Oneida

$32

Yates

$35

Columbia

$36

Cayuga

$38

Livingston

$38

Ontario

$38

Cayuga

$38

Niagara

$39

Oswego

$39

Orange-Rockland

$43

Monroe

$45

Greene

$47

Orleans

$48

Seneca

$48

Wayne

$52

    October 29, 2019 - 1:35pm
    posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, USDA, news, education, scholarships.

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the opening of the 2020 scholarship application cycle for the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program.

    The program aims to increase the number of students studying agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, and other agriculture-related disciplines. The program is available through the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE).

    The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program was established in 1992 as part of the partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the 19 1890 Land-Grant Universities (PDF, 1.2 MB).

    The program provides full tuition, fees, books, room and board to students pursuing degrees in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, or related academic disciplines. When the student has completed the academic and summer work requirements of the scholarship, USDA may convert the student to a permanent employee without further competition.

    Currently, USDA and 1890 Land-Grant Universities are providing scholarships to 109 students.

    “The Scholars Program is an important way to collaborate with historically black land-grant universities and train the workforce for 21st century agriculture.” said Mike Beatty, director of USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

    This program is among several USDA efforts to build the capacity of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Since the passage of the Second Morrill Act of 1890, USDA has supported scholarships, research, education, extension activities, and grants for facilities and equipment at these institutions.

    The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is available to high school seniors entering their freshman year of college, and college sophomores. General requirements include U.S. citizenship, a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a score of 1080 or more on the SAT or 21 or more on the ACT, and acceptance to, or currently attending an 1890 University to study agriculture, food, and natural resources.

    The scholarship is renewable each year and is contingent on satisfactory academic performance and normal progress toward the bachelor’s degree. Additional requirements are listed in the application package.

    All application materials must be postmarked by Friday, Jan. 31. See the 2020 high school application (PDF, 337 KB) and the 2020 college application (PDF, 347 KB) for details. For other questions, email: [email protected]

    October 29, 2019 - 12:56pm
    posted by Billie Owens in hemp growers, agriculture, business.
    WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the establishment of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program.
     
    This program, as required by the 2018 Farm Bill, creates a consistent regulatory framework around hemp production throughout the United States.
     
    “At USDA, we are always excited when there are new economic opportunities for our farmers, and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets,” Secretary Perdue said.
     
    “We have had teams operating with all hands-on-deck to develop a regulatory framework that meets Congressional intent while seeking to provide a fair, consistent, and science-based process for states, tribes, and individual producers who want to participate in this program.”
     
    Background:
     
    Later this week, an interim final rule formalizing the program will be published in the Federal Register that will allow hemp to be grown under federally-approved plans and make hemp producers eligible for a number of agricultural programs.
     
    The rule includes provisions for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to approve hemp production plans developed by states and Indian tribes including: requirements for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced; testing the levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol; disposing of plants not meeting necessary requirements; and licensing requirements.
     
    It also establishes a federal plan for hemp producers in states or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own approved hemp production plan.
     
    The interim final rule becomes effective upon publication in the Federal Register. Following publication, USDA invites public comment on the interim rule and the information collection burden. A preview of the rule is posted on USDA’s website.
     
    USDA also developed guidelines for sampling and testing procedures that are being issued concurrently with this rule. These documents provide additional information for sampling agents and hemp testing laboratories.
     
    More information about the provisions of the interim final rule is available on the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program webpage on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.
     
    Once state and tribal plans are in place, hemp producers will be eligible for a number of USDA programs, including insurance coverage through Whole-Farm Revenue Protection. For information on available programs, visit here.
    October 28, 2019 - 4:24pm

    Press release:

    Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, in collaboration with Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, will be offering a CDL Training Program for Genesee County agriculture producers and their employees for Class A and Class B licenses.

    This training program is designed for producers and farm employees that have some experience with commercial truck operation.

    An informational meeting will be held on Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension building at 420 E. Main St., Batavia.  This meeting will explain how the program works and answer any questions you may have. The required training materials and medical forms will also be passed out at this time.

    Classroom instruction dates are Dec. 10 and 11, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Cornell Cooperative Extension building, 420 E. Main St. in Batavia.

    Drive times will be scheduled with the instructor at a later date.

    Class A drivers must be at least 21 years of age and Class B drivers must be at least 18 years of age.

    Full payment (check or cash) is due at the class on Dec. 10. The cost for Class A is $775 and the cost for Class B is $600.

    Registration is required and will be accepted until Dec. 3 or until the class is full. Class size is limited.

    For more information or to register, please contact Jan Beglinger at 585-343-3040, ext. 132.

    October 24, 2019 - 11:46am

    Press release:

    The Genesee Country Farmers' Market @ The Downtown Batavia Public Market will close for the season at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25th.

    It is located on the corner of Bank Street and Alva Place in the Downtown Batavia Business District. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- today (Oct. 24) and tomorrow.

    The season began June 7. Though locations have changed, the market has been provided the freshest locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as specialty artisnal items to the greater Batavia area and Genesee County for 45 years.

    The Market would like to thank everyone that helped to make the 2019 market a success: our loyal customers, generous sponsors, the City of Batavia, and the Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District (BID).

    October 23, 2019 - 2:55pm
    posted by Billie Owens in hemp, CBD, agriculture, business, senator charles schumer.

    Press release:

    On a conference call with reporters and in the midst of an industrial hemp explosion across Upstate New York — triggered by a Schumer-championed provision in the recently passed Farm Bill — U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue guidance and allow producers to fully take advantage of the popular cannabidiol (CBD) market and also protect consumers.

    Even though CBD products have gained popularity since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the farming, manufacturing, and selling of industrial hemp, Schumer explained that the FDA has yet to set regulations or safety requirements for CBD derived from hemp.

    According to Schumer, the lack of federal guidance and clarity is sowing chaos for both consumers and in the rapidly-emerging Upstate New York industrial hemp industry, which saw sales of CBD products surpass $200 million nationally in 2018.

    To address this lack of clarity, to protect consumers, and to allow the industrial hemp industry to maximize job creation from this cash crop, Schumer urged the FDA to expediently issue guidance on the classification, labeling, quality, marketing, and sale of CBD products.

    “CBD is brimming with potential to be a billion dollar industry across New York State, bringing along countless jobs and truly meaningful economic development with it. But before that can happen, farmers, growers, producers, consumers and vendors need to know exactly what the rules of the road are and right now they’ve got no idea,” Senator Schumer said.

    “That’s why I’m calling on the FDA to do its job in a timely manner and issue guidance related to CBD classification, labeling, quality, marketing, and sales. And once the feds spell out these ABC’s of CBD, the industry will seed and grow from one corner of the state to the other, many jobs will be created in the industrial hemp space, and farmers will be able to safely cash in on this cash crop.”

    CBD is one of the two main chemical compounds that can be found in the cannabis plant. However, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it cannot get a person high—like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other chemical compound found in many types of cannabis plants, primarily marijuana. CBD products have become exceptionally popular in the marketplace, with estimated sales of CBD-containing products, such as oils, gummies, balms, lotions, and capsules, surpassing $200 million in 2018.

    According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, there are currently just under 500 people, businesses, and organizations spread across New York State licensed to grow and process industrial hemp.

    According to news reports, roughly three-quarters of those licenses were approved for the purposes of cultivating and extracting CBD. Currently, there are 18,000 acres of land licensed for industrial hemp growing in New York State, with 14,000 designated for CBD cultivation and extraction.

    Furthermore, of New York’s 62 counties, 56 are home to industrial hemp farms and related growing operations. Schumer says these figures show just how much potential CBD products have to boost the economy across New York State, should clear guidance on CBD be issued by the FDA.

    Schumer pointed out that the FDA is responsible for protecting public health, and guidance related to CBD is desperately needed to ensure that products on the market are safe. He also said that consumers rely on the FDA to conduct timely and appropriate oversight of new and emerging ingredients, like CBD, and that guidance from the agency would provide crucial direction for manufacturers seeking a pathway to develop safe and credible products for consumers.

    Schumer argued that the market for CBD products is rapidly growing and that the agency must expedite its efforts to promote accuracy and transparency within the CBD industry. Specifically, Schumer called on the FDA to provide an outline of its plans for a regulatory framework related to CBD, as well as a timeline for when comprehensive enforcement policies for CBD products will be finalized and implemented.

    The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). It passed and was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. This legislation:

    • Removes industrial hemp from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act;
    • Empowers states to be the principal regulators of hemp;
    • Allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); and
    • Makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

    Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be used for food, oil, and cosmetic products. Hemp contains a very small amount of THC, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, the two plants have varied widely in use.

    However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary regulator for hemp production.

    Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential. With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York’s will be unleashed.

    Below is the full text of the letter Schumer sent to Acting Commissioner Norman Sharpless.

    ***************

    Dear Acting Commissioner Sharpless:

    We write today to ask that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urgently clarify and implement regulations for cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp. Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill (P.L. 115-334), which paved the way for industrial hemp cultivation and marketing, farmers, processors and retailers across the country are eager to enter this new market and leverage its potential. With new products containing CBD becoming available nearly every day, your agency’s lack of an official stance on this ingredient remains confusing to manufacturers and potentially dangerous to consumers. It is now imperative that the FDA finalize and implement a comprehensive regulatory framework for CBD, including guidance on the classification, labeling, quality, marketing, and sale of CBD-containing products, to ensure each manufacturer is producing safe and effective products for consumers. In accordance with your agency’s July statement regarding CBD oversight, we expect an update on your activities no later than 90 days from today’s date.

    The CBD industry has exploded in recent years. Estimated annual sales of CBD-containing products were over $200 million in 2018, and CBD oils, gummies, balms, lotions, capsules, and other products are broadly available and widely advertised in stores and online. However, as the CBD industry expands, the lack of clarity and regulation around CBD use has created significant confusion and uncertainty among stakeholders in every segment of the supply chain. It is crucial that the FDA remain proactive in its duty to safeguard public health, protect consumers from potentially unsafe products, and provide a predictable pathway to market for producers and manufacturers.

    Purveyors of CBD-containing products attribute a wide range of health benefits to this ingredient, including relieving pain and anxiety, preventing seizures, treating post-traumatic stress disorder, and easing inflammation. But consumers still lack answers to questions about the potential risks, including adverse side effects and drug interactions, associated with CBD.

    Consumers rely on the FDA to conduct timely and appropriate oversight of new and emerging ingredients, and guidance from the FDA would also help manufacturers to develop safer, more effective, and more credible products for consumer use. The market for CBD products is rapidly outpacing the FDA’s current regulatory efforts, and your agency clearly must expedite its efforts to promote accuracy and transparency within the CBD industry. It is imperative that any comprehensive regulatory framework for products containing CBD provide straightforward guidance to manufacturers and retailers who wish to incorporate CBD into new products.

    Consumers and manufacturers of this fledgling industry are counting on regulatory oversight and certainty that only the FDA can provide. Your efforts to date have been woefully inadequate. Within 90 days please provide our offices with an outline of your agency’s current plans for a specific regulatory framework related to CBD along with a timeline for when comprehensive enforcement policies for CBD products will be finalized and implemented.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to your response.

    U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer

    October 2, 2019 - 12:24am
    posted by Howard B. Owens in hemp, agriculture, news, Basom, video.
    Video Sponsor

    Hemp could be big business in Western New York, the way Sen. Chuck Schumer sees it, but right now bank regulators are standing in the way.

    As part of the most recent Farm Bill, Schumer teamed up with Sen. Mitch McConnell to take hemp off the list of Schedule I drugs and make growing it for cultivation legal. Farmers can even qualify for crop insurance when they grow it.

    But banks have been unwilling to extend credit to farmers who want to start or expand hemp operations.

    Today, Schumer was at Mills Family Farm on Ham Road in Basom to announce a new push by his office to get bank regulators to hurry up and write guidelines for banks seeking to do business with hemp growers.

    "Hemp is harmless and in fact it's useful," Schumer said. "It's a very versatile and vital crop and it has much, much less THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, than marijuana."

    He said besides producing CDB oil, it's used in cosmetics, construction materials, side doors of cars, and several other uses, he said.

    "You know, everyone thought hemp was just for ropes but it is for much more," Schumer said.

    Banks want to lend to hemp farmers, he said, but they're worried about getting in trouble with banking regulators, because of the association with marijuana, without specific, written guidelines.

    "They know it's profitable loaning lending for them but they need this clearance from the regulators and today I am starting a major push to get the regulators to put out their guidelines about lending to hemp farms," Schumer said.

    Brad Mills started growing hemp this year but he said without access to credit, it will be hard to expand hemp acreage next year, and hemp, in the current market, has attractive profit margins.

    "On a small family farm, we had the equipment, we obviously had the land -- some of the best land in the state, and I would argue the nation for growing hemp at our disposal  -- but as we began to move along we saw obstacles," Mills said. "We really do need financing for things and that includes sophisticated equipment for the growing of hemp that a corn or dairy farmer just doesn't have along with that, the costs of buying clones, buying seeds, buying sprouting equipment to get those seeds going.

    "None of that your average small dairy farmer or crop farmer would have. And that's very necessary equipment for moving forward in this industry. Our profits from this year's crop likely won't be enough to both establish that equipment and then move forward with a larger planting from next year. So we really need financing in place for that.

    "And beyond that, you know moving forward, there's a real shortage of drying and processing facilities in the state as well. As we advance this farm ideally in the future, we would like to get into our own drying and processing. But you know these are all obstacles to overcome. We need financing."

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