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November 24, 2021 - 3:00pm
posted by Press Release in news, agriculture, thanksgiving.

Press release:

Today, local farmers and farm workers from across New York State warned state officials and all New Yorkers this Thanksgiving risks being the last with diverse and abundant locally grown New York products that we’ve all come to love. An imminent State Wage Board meeting will decide whether the overtime threshold for farmworkers will be further reduced to 40 hours, threatening access to the local produce that fills our Thanksgiving tables.

A recent report by industry expert Farm Credit East forecasts a gloomy economic future for New York farms if the threshold is lowered from 60 hours to 40, with impacts extending into local communities. And key findings estimate mandatory overtime pay at the 40-hour threshold for agricultural employees in New York State would result in increased agricultural labor costs of approximately $264 million per year, an increase of 42%. Many New York farms will not survive and the industry risks ultimate collapse.

Farms will be forced to switch to less labor-intensive crops, like corn or soybeans, or cease operations all together, causing farmworkers to lose work and turn to neighboring states that don’t restrict their hours. The Grow NY Farms coalition has been sounding the alarm around New York State and urges the wage board to listen to farmworkers and farmers and maintain the 60-hour overtime threshold.

Comprised of more than 33,500 farms, New York is a leading producer of cottage cheese, apples, cabbage, milk, grapes, wine, maple syrup and cauliflower. In fact, each year New York farms produce*:

  • 1.385 billion pounds of apples
  • 15 billion pounds of milk
  • 561.6 million pounds of cabbage
  • 287.5 million pounds of sweet corn
  • 9.9 million pounds of tart cherries
  • 70 million pounds of pumpkins

*According to the USDA 2020 State Agriculture Overview

On top of that, farming is a boon to the economy. The total economic contribution of agriculture to the state, measured as direct sales, indirect backward linkages, and induced effects from direct sales, is $65.2 billion, approximately 2.5% of the state’s total sales. In addition, farming in the state supports 269,683 jobs—163,148 jobs were direct employment and 106,535 jobs are generated indirectly or through induced effects. This represents approximately 2.1% of the state’s employment based on a 2019 study from the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell. 

“The Thanksgiving holiday serves as a time to reflect and give thanks for the bountiful harvest New Yorkers come to expect each year. This year, New York State must not take for granted local access to fresh food that is provided yearly by farms across the state. My farm, and farms just like it, have been putting food on tables for generations. I hope I am able to continue to do so for many years to come and my children are afforded the same opportunity. However, if the overtime threshold is lowered, our family will be faced with some very tough decisions that will ultimately impact how we continue our business. We want to continue to work hard and feed New Yorkers, but if the Wage Board lowers the overtime threshold, they will essentially be making the decision for many farms like us,” said Jason Turek of Turek Farms in Cayuga County.

“The holiday season is always a busy and fulfilling time of the year for our farm. However, this season that we look forward to, could be gone forever. Lowering the threshold to 40 hours would economically devastate our diverse agriculture community. Next Thanksgiving, tables won’t be filled with New York-grown products, but instead apples from Washington and dairy products from Wisconsin. It’s unsettling knowing that next year we may be facing a very different harvest and holiday season. The wage board must uphold the 60-hour threshold for farmworkers and support New York’s agriculture community for a future worth being thankful for,” said Mark Henry of WD Henry and Sons in Erie County.

“As families gather around their tables this week, I urge them to take stock of the bountiful meal they are enjoying and fresh products from New York farms. Fall harvest is one of the busiest times of year for our farm but this may be the last time we are able to meet demand. A lowered overtime threshold would force us to make significant cutbacks just to keep our doors open. New York State must realize that a lowered overtime threshold will only mean harm to farmers and farm workers, who depend on adequate hours to plant and harvest our vegetable crops on time and maximize farmworker earnings,” said Eric Hansen of Hansen Farms in Ontario County.

Locally owned farms grow and produce the food that feeds families across New York. Economic constraints resulting from a lowered overtime threshold will be directly felt by the consumer and the surrounding local community. Farmers' markets, farm-to-table restaurants, and essential programs like Nourish New York will be forced to turn to out-of-state farms to continue operations.

Prior to the adoption of the 60-hour overtime threshold, the industry standard for farmworkers was 80 hours during peak seasons. This practice reflected the fact that the agricultural industry includes labor-intensive periods during harvests and for the constant care of animals. In 2019, the lowering of the threshold to 60-hours served as a compromise, finding a workable solution for farmers and farm workers. Lowering the overtime threshold below 60 hours disregards the compromise, forcing farmers who negotiated in good faith to fight for their industry’s survival once again.

In the coming weeks, the New York State Wage Board will revisit the 2019 Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act’s 60-hour overtime threshold for farmworkers and determine if an adjustment to 40 hours will be necessary. For more information on the group’s efforts, please visit https://grownyfarms.com/.

October 30, 2021 - 2:41pm
posted by Press Release in 4-H, news, agriculture.


Press release:

The Genesee County 4-H Horse Program celebrated a year of accomplishments at its annual 4-H Horse Banquet on Saturday, October 23, 2021.  Members were recognized for their various achievements during the 2020-2021 4-H year, including participation in regional and state level 4-H equine contests, community service activities and participation in the 2021 Genesee County Fair.

Highlights include:

  • Helping Hands Award: Tori Davis
  • Spirit Award: Brynlee Amend
  • Gold Achievement Award: Alexandria Tarbell & Eva Rhoads
  • Silver Achievement Award: Gianna Groff, Alexandra Witmer & Leah Amend
  • Senior English Champion: Jessica Brown
  • Junior English Champion: Alexandra Witmer
  • Senior Western Champion: Riley Henning
  • Junior Western Champion: Alexandra Witmer
  • Walk Jog English/Western Champion: Riley Smith & Jillian Weaver
  • Senior Gymkhana Champion: Riley Henning
  • Junior Gymkhana Champion: Leah Amend
  • Walk Jog Gymkhana Champion: Riley Smith

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. 131.  Enrollment information is available on our website at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development/how-to-join-4-h

Submitted photos. Top photo: Genesee County 4-H Horse Program members at the 2021 4-H Horse Banquet


Genesee County 4-H Horse Program Gold Achievement Award recipients Eva Rhoads and Alexandria Tarbell (left to right)

October 26, 2021 - 5:54pm
posted by Press Release in oakfield-alabama, schools, education, news, agriculture, FFA.


Press release:

The Retired Educators of New York Teacher Grant Committee awards the Hudson-Kramer Memorial Grant annually to an educational professional in memory of Ross C. Hudson and Florence Coulter Kramer who were public school teachers and outstanding members of the New York State Retired Teachers Association. The purpose of the grant is to fund an innovative project or program in a New York State public school. Oakfield-Alabama's FFA program that is run by Todd Hofheins was selected to receive the grant this year to support his vision for raising market animals to support the local food pantry. The student who will be overseeing the project purchased with the grant money is Owen Zeliff (8th Grade). Owen comes from the family who have started the food pantry that has been so beneficial to our community, and we are sure he’s again excited to give back! Mr. Hofheins is a very busy teacher, but he agreed to sit for a Q and A session with our student reporter, Lily Haacke, to talk about the grant.

(Lily Haacke ) : What is the project that you will use the grant funds for? 

Mr. Hofheins:  The OA FFA students currently raise market animals in our school barn but have expressed an interest in helping our local food pantry while also educating the community by explaining the health benefits of using fresh beef.  Funds from the grant will be used to purchase a market steer (bought as a calf and raised by our FFA) to provide the Oakfield Community Center/Food Pantry with fresh beef.

(Lily Haacke ): That sounds like a great project, How did the idea come about? 

Mr. Hofheins: Oakfield-Alabama FFA Strives to develop student members that are well rounded in Agricultural knowledge and involved with different Community Service opportunities. Several FFA members were involved with a community garden last Summer 2020 and noticed a high demand from local families for fresh foods to offer for a complete and healthy meal. This sparked an interest to raise a market steer and donate the fresh beef to the Food Pantry.  

(Lily Haacke): Do you see this as an area of need in Oakfield-Alabama? 

Mr. Hofheins: Yes. Many families do not have access to fresh meat due to transportation issues. Others have lower or fixed incomes and fresh beef has become too costly to purchase from the supermarket. Instead, people rely on more affordable but less healthy processed foods which deteriorates their health.

(Lily Haacke ): Is it possible that demand outweighs supply? What will you do if there isn’t enough beef to meet the demand?

Mr. Hofheins: The Oakfield-Alabama-Elba FFA Alumni has offered to help with expenses if needed. Also, the Oakfield-Alabama FFA is also applying for a “Living to Serve” grant to offset the other money needed to raise and finish this project.

(Lily Haacke): Mr. Peterson (Middle School and High School Principal) has bragged about OA students having “authentic experiences” as part of their education here, is this an example of that?

Mr. Hofheins: Absolutely! This project helps support FFA students as part of their supervised agricultural experience by teaching calf selection, animal husbandry, nutrition, showmanship, marketing, and community service. 

*This article was written by Lily Haacke as part of a class called OA Pride. The class (taught by Mrs. Tracy Schlagenhauf) includes project-based learning where students take the lead in researching and showcasing positive achievements within the Oakfield-Alabama school and community. The photos were taken by Alexis Main, a student in Mr. David Carpino’s digital photography class.


October 10, 2021 - 10:35am
posted by Press Release in agriculture.
Event Date and Time: 
October 28, 2021 - 8:00am to 9:00am

Press release:

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County will hold their Annual Meeting on Thursday October 28, 2021, at 8:00 am at Terry Hills Restaurant, 5122 Clinton Street Rd., Batavia, N.Y.

CCE of Genesee County cordially invites you to join us for breakfast and help us recognize employees and volunteers.

Cornell Cooperative Extension friends, volunteers and members of the community are welcome to attend.

October 4, 2021 - 11:08am
posted by Press Release in 4-H, agriculture, news.


Press release:

The Genesee County 4-H Program celebrated the completion of the 2020-2021 4-H Program Year by announcing its 4-H Year-End Award Recipients.  Year-End Awards recognize 4-H members who have excelled in a certain project area and show leadership during the 4-H program year.     

Congratulations to all of the 4-H members and volunteers who received an award.  Highlights include: 

  • Achievement Award: Alexandria Tarbell
  • Leadership Award: Amelia Brewer, Morgan Harrington, Maggie Winspear, Tyler Jirovec, Ben Kron
  • Outstanding 1st Year Member Award: Raegan Bessey, Alicia McCarthy
  • 4-H Member of the Year: Eva Rhoads
  • 4-H Spirit Award: Cody Carlson, Brooke Frega, Morgan Harrington, Madison Paddock, Brook Pagels, Kasey Pagels, Ty Reilly, Makayla Sugg, Bing Zuber
  • Arts & Crafts: Layla Baker, Clare Mathes, Bing Zuber
  • Beef Cattle: Kaden Cusmano, Kameron Cusmano
  • Dairy Cattle: Amelia Brewer, Carolyn Sybertz, Tate Zuber
  • Clothing & Textiles: Alexandria Tarbell
  • Food & Nutrition: Alex Boldt, Emma Tanner
  • Goat: Layla Baker, Lily Haacke, Riley Henning, Tyler Jirovec, Clare Mathes, Campbell Riley, John Riley, Gabe Winn
  • Horticulture: June Dorman, Mae Grimes
  • Livestock Master: Ben Kron
  • Photography: Caroline Luft, Colton Tarbell, Alexandria Tarbell
  • Poultry: Madison Harrington, Morgan Harrington, Hudson Luft, Clare Mathes, Teagan Mathes, Kasey Pagels
  • Rabbit: Amelia Brewer, Madison Harrington, Morgan Harrington, Brook Pagels
  • Sheep: Mya Grant, Chelsea Lippert, Colten Sugg
  • Swine: Bentley Lowe, Emmalee Lehman, Tate Zuber
  • Outstanding 4-H Volunteer Recognition: Cindy Bovier, Joy Brewer, Cole Carlson, Sue Johnson, Joanna Miller, Jamey Pagels, Taylor Schofield, Kathy Winspear

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.  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. 131.  Enrollment information is available on our website at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development/how-to-join-4-h

Submitted photo: Genesee County 4-H Member of the Year Eva Rhoads.

September 29, 2021 - 12:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in farmworkers, agriculture, news, elba.
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Press release:

Today, Torrey Farms, a member of the Grow NY Farms Coalition, welcomed state officials to tour their 13,000-acre property. Officials discussed the industry with farmers and farmworkers and heard about the potential impacts of lowering the overtime threshold from 60 hours to 40. The overtime threshold was determined by the 2019 Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act and is in danger of being decreased further, threatening farmers and farm workers alike. Elected officials had the opportunity to see the real implications of a lowered threshold and speak with the farmworkers and farmers who will be directly affected by this change.

“Our land, workers and produce feed families across New York State as well as the Eastern United States and have done so for twelve generations. This year’s harvest is no different. However, if the threshold is lowered, many locally-owned farms will not be able to say the same next year. The compromise of 60 hours reached in 2019 must be maintained. A decreased threshold will dramatically alter the agriculture industry as well as farmworker family income in New York State and decision-makers need to listen to the men and women of the industry they are looking to protect, “said Max Torrey, Torrey Farms.

"Our farm runs 24 hours a day 7 days a week. There is always work to be done when it comes to animal care and we are often presented with obstacles that we cannot predict including inclement weather and breakdowns. Employees want to work on New York dairy farms because they have a passion for agriculture, they take pride in knowing that their work has to get done because the animals are counting on them. They also seek out dairy farm work because they can earn a good living working at least 60 hours a week to support their families. We have employees who have been with us for over 10 years. They want to work here, and we can't afford to lose them. Our businesses and our consumers rely on them. We're urging our legislators and Governor Hochul to maintain the current overtime threshold so we can retain our team, and continue to be competitive in the regional and global marketplace," said Keith Kimball, Owner of La Casa de Leche Farm and Red Maples Dairy, NEDPA Board Vice-Chair.

“New Yorkers have grown accustomed to a wide variety of local produce at their fingertips, especially this time of the year during the fall harvest. However, we are at risk of losing our vibrant fruit farms if the overtime threshold is lowered. We simply can't compete against lower-priced fruit from neighboring states and Canada. If the wage board moves to 40-hours, we have plans to remove trees and transition to less labor-intensive crops. New York State must maintain the 60-hour overtime threshold and protect New York agriculture, farmworker jobs and our food supply,” Jim Bittner, Bittner-Singer Orchards located in Niagara County, NY.

Prior to the adoption of the 60-hour overtime threshold, the industry standard for farmworkers was 80 hours during peak season⁠—a well-established concept amongst farmworkers and farmers whose industry is reliant on labor-intensive harvesting. Although influenced by downstate activists unfamiliar with the agriculture industry, the threshold of 60 hours served as a compromise, despite objections from farmworkers who want as many hours as possible. Farmworkers, many of whom come from other countries to work seasonally, benefited from the long weekly hours in order to make a projected income to return home with. Currently, farmers are at risk of not being able to afford their workers at all with the potential for an even more onerous overtime threshold. Tours like today’s provide the opportunity to educate elected officials and key stakeholders about the agriculture industry and how the proposed policy change with drastically harm the industry.

Later this year, the New York State Wage Board will revisit the 2019 Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act’s 60-hour overtime threshold for farmworkers and determine if an adjustment to 40 hours will be necessary. For more information on the group’s efforts, please visit https://grownyfarms.com/.

Video Produced by The Batavian

September 28, 2021 - 9:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Craigs Creamery, Pavilion, agriculture, news, FarmDrop of Western NY.


Press release:

Jennifer Noble, of Craigs Creamery, a dairy cooperative based in Pavilion, NY has officially launched FarmDrop of Western NY. Initially founded in Blue Hill, Maine, FarmDrop is a mission-focused organization that is dedicated to supporting local growers and producers by making their products available online to local communities. 

“FarmDrop offers a safe and convenient way to shop farm-fresh produce and locally made products,” said Jennifer Noble. “Our website offers the very best seasonal products our region has to offer. By keeping items local we’re reducing our carbon footprint while also maintaining dollars in our region. It’s also been a means to reconnect customers and producers with a modern approach. We are growing quickly to meet demand, with a goal to provide access to fresh produce and healthy food in a number of ways: we offer contactless pickup, we will soon be a SNAP retailer, and this fall we will launch delivery.” 

Western NY FarmDrop orders can be placed at farmdrop.us Saturdays at 9 am until Tuesdays at 11:59 pm. Pick-ups take place on Thursdays at one of two WNY locations: Dublin Corners Farm Brewery in Linwood or Clover Oak Heritage Acres in Batavia. A third pick-up location in Livonia is slated to begin this week.

“As a dairy farmer, I know how critical it is to have support from the local community,” added Noble.  “This program provides access to the e-commerce tools and marketing support that many farmers in our area would otherwise not have access to. For anyone interested in being a producer, they can reach out directly to me at [email protected]. At the end of the day, people can order high-quality products year-round and the money stays right here in our local community. Now it’s time to get the word out that we’re here, ready to serve, support, and grow.” 

September 24, 2021 - 11:13am
posted by Press Release in 4H, agriculture, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County 4-H Program is now accepting new youth members for the upcoming 4-H year that runs from October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022.  4-H is a nationwide youth program that connects youth age 5-18 to a variety of hands-on learning opportunities. 

There are a variety of clubs and programs offered by the Genesee County 4-H Program.  Project areas include animal sciences, arts and crafts, leadership, community service, gardening, public speaking and more.  Enrollment fees for Genesee County residents are $25 per youth or $50 per family of two or more youth.

Now is also a great time to enroll as an adult volunteer or start a 4-H Club.  Volunteers are essential to our program and allow you to share your hobbies with interested youth.  Projects can be as varied as sewing, arts and crafts, cooking, animal science and more.   4-H volunteer opportunities range from coordinating monthly club meetings to leading a one-time craft project.  Whatever you have to offer, 4-H has a place for you!

For more information about joining the Genesee County 4-H Program, please contact the 4-H Office at [email protected] or (585) 343-3040 ext. 101.  Enrollment forms are also available on our website at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development/how-to-join-4-h

September 21, 2021 - 11:56am
posted by Press Release in FFA, grange, oakfield-alabama, news, agriculture.


Press release:

Grange is a Fraternal/Community centered organization with a major interest in Agriculture.  With that - the Grange has always supported "Ag in the Classroom" and FFA programs.

Genesee County Pomona Grange operates an Ice Cream Stand at the Genesee County Fair.  The past three years of the Fair, Pomona Grange has placed a donation jar for collections to be passed on to the area District FFA programs.  

The funds will be used to offset student costs for various trips and educational events by all FFA chapters.

Photo: Jeff Parnapy Byron-Bergen FFA Advisor, Ian Keberle VP Elba FFA, Tracey Dahlhaus Elba FFA Advisor, Todd Hofheins Oakfield-Alabama FFA Advisor,   Dennis Phelps, Co-president Genesee County Pomona Grange.  Not Pictured Kylie Smith Pavilion FFA Advisor

September 21, 2021 - 8:28am
posted by Press Release in agriculture.
Event Date and Time: 
September 28, 2021 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Press Release:

The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County Board of Directors meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on September 28, 2021.  The meeting will be held at the Extension at 420 E. Main St. in Batavia and is open to the public.  

Videoconferencing is available.  Please contact Yvonne Peck at [email protected] to register and receive the link. 

Any questions should be directed to Yvonne Peck at 585-343-3040, ext. 123.

September 17, 2021 - 12:43pm
posted by Press Release in 4-H, agriculture, news.


Press release:

Genesee County 4-H members Eva Rhoads and Alexandria Tarbell competed at the New York State 4-H Hippology and Horse Judging Contest at the Cortland Fairgrounds on September 11th.  As a team, they placed 2nd overall.  Individually in the Senior Division of the Hippology contest, Alexandria Tarbell placed 4th and Eva Rhoads placed 9th.   

The 4-H Hippology Contest is an opportunity for youth to demonstrate their knowledge of equine science.  The contest consisted of written questions, identification stations, horse judging and a team problem.  Youth qualified to participate in the event by scoring well in their 4-H regional competition. 

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.  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. 131.  Enrollment information is available on our website at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development/how-to-join-4-h


September 14, 2021 - 1:00pm
posted by Press Release in 4-H, agriculture, news.


Press release:

Genesee County 4-H members Bing Zuber and Ian Keberle competed at the New York State 4-H Dairy Bowl Contest at Cornell University on September 11th.  Bing Zuber placed 8th in the Junior Division and Ian Keberle placed 8th in the Senior Division.

The contest was held in a quiz bowl format and tested youth’s knowledge of dairy cattle, environmental stewardship, nutrition and the dairy industry.  Youth qualified to participate in the event by scoring well in their 4-H regional competition. 

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.  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. 131.  Enrollment information is available on our website at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development/how-to-join-4-h

September 14, 2021 - 12:16pm
posted by Press Release in Chris Jacobs, NY-27, news, agriculture.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) participated in the House Agriculture Committee’s markup of their portion of the $3.5 trillion partisan reconciliation package.

“The House Agriculture Committee met to once again consider a massive, partisan reconciliation bill crafted in secret by Speaker Pelosi. One would have thought that record inflation and struggling small businesses would have been enough to teach Democrats this style of unilateral legislating is unworkable and damaging, but sadly this is not the case,” Jacobs said. “This package will likely include taxes that will devastate farmers and rural communities but possibly won’t even pay for the whole $3.5 trillion cost of this bill.”

The hearing, which started Friday and finished today, was to consider the House Agriculture Committee’s piece of the overall budget reconciliation package. This section will total roughly $90 billion in new spending, though $28 billion of that total was not even considered by the committee because it has not been written yet. At the hearing, Jacobs offered an amendment to redirect funding to combat an invasive species, the spotted lanternfly, that has become a threat to growers in the Northeast and Midwest. It was rejected.

“The Democrats in control of this committee did not hold one single hearing with farmers or agribusinesses to learn the exact needs of rural America. If they had, they would’ve learned that their partisan wishlist is unneeded and unwanted. They would have instead directed funding to fix very real problems facing our farmers, such as rural broadband, disaster assistance, and invasive species,” Jacobs said. “This process once again shows Democrats are more interested in political power than serving their constituents' needs – a truly unfortunate change of tune for the Agriculture Committee that has in previous years been lauded as the most bipartisan committee in the House.”

September 4, 2021 - 9:15am

Press release:

The Oakfield-Alabama FFA chapter in Oakfield, NY, has been awarded a Yearlong Living to Serve Grant in the amount of $3000. The nationwide program provides grant money to local FFA chapters to support yearlong service-learning projects that address needs related to community safety; environmental responsibility; hunger, health and nutrition; and community engagement.

Oakfield-Alabama FFA plans to help address Hunger in the Community by providing fresh beef through the Community Center.  FFA students currently raise market animals in their school barn but have expressed an interest in helping their local food pantry while also educating the community by explaining the health benefits of using fresh beef.  Funds from the grant would be used to purchase a market steer to provide the Oakfield Community Center/Food Pantry with fresh beef in August 2022.

FFA student member Owen Zeliff spoke with the director of the Oakfield Community Center/Food Pantry and concluded that there is a desperate need for fresher food donations, especially fresh meat that would provide essential protein for a healthy lifestyle.

The program provided over $284,000 to FFA chapters in 36 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 2021-2022 Yearlong Living to Serve Grants are sponsored by Tractor Supply Company, Cargill, CoBank, Domino’s and Elanco. For more information and a complete listing of sponsors, visit FFA.org/livingtoserve

The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 760,000 student members as part of 8,700 local FFA chapters in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

July 22, 2021 - 9:50am

jocelyn_web.jpgJocelyn Sikorski has no problem admitting that her first six months on the job as executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County have been an eye-opening experience when it comes to appreciating the value of agriculture in the community.

Sikorski, who spent most of her career in county government, notably as the director of the Genesee County and City of Batavia youth bureaus, said she has transitioned nicely to the CCE, an agency dedicated to agriculture, gardening, nutrition and food systems initiatives.

And she has been able to get out of her office and into the field (no pun intended) as well.

“I went to Blummer Dairy in Alexander, which is owned by Dave Patten (a CCE of Genesee County director) and his wife, Val,” she said by telephone on Wednesday. “I toured his farm with two of our regional staff and I also went out to Baskin Livestock on Creek Road, Batavia. That was so interesting.”

Visiting local farm operations and getting to know agriculture, nutrition and 4-H specialists and leaders have given Sikorski a new perspective about the food supply.

“We need folks to understand the importance of ag in our community. It’s the No. 1 industry in Genesee County, and people need to understand where this food is coming from,” she said. “That’s a big thing. You go to the store, but where is it coming from? Who is actually supporting our local industry?”

Toward that end, Sikorski said she hopes – in spite of decreased funding – to restore the “Ag in the Classroom” coordinator/educator position that has been vacant since 2016.

“Some of the things that have gone away over the past five years are a result of less federal aid and others, such as an “Ag in the Classroom” leader, are funded with county money,” she said. “Not having that is a significant loss to our community because it really is teaching children and youth about our agricultural system -- and that message then goes home.

“So, through this evidence-based curriculum, people can learn about the industry and why it is so large in the community.”

Sikorski said she and staff are hoping to reinstate that program as they draft the CCE’s strategic plan – a three-year guiding document that would take effect on Jan. 1.

“That is something that we are interested in bringing back; hopefully we can do that with the resources available or as they become available.”

Earlier this week, Sikorski presented her agency program review to the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee.

Highlights of that report are as follows:

  • Agency is in a good place financially.

Sikorski credited then interim director Glenn Simon with setting up a safety and reopening plan to enable the CCE to open for business remotely on June 1, 2020 to “reach the population that we serve.” She noted that campus staff will be returning to the agency headquarters on East Main Street on Sept. 1.

Budget-wise, the Genesee County office is “looking good going forward,” she said, reporting that the county legislature contributes $338,548 annually to its approximately $1.2 million budget.

“There are different funding streams and also revenues from some of our programs and services. Basically, whatever comes in goes right back into that program and to their expense line. It supports what we’re providing here,” she said. “The county supports our association as well as us being able to utilize our regional ag team.”

That regional approach is a key cost-saving measure for CCE of Genesee County. Through its Shared Business Network, the agency receives the services of information technology, human resources and finance professionals – sharing the expenses with other cooperative extension locations.

Sikorski said she is seeking someone to fill an administrative assistant position, noting that it is full-time, Monday through Friday days, with health insurance and retirement benefits.

  • Master Gardener training to begin.

The Master Gardener weekly in-person training program at the CCE office is set to resume on Sept. 7 and run through Nov. 23, she said.

“It will be the first time in three years. Last year, we would have held it (if not for COVID) because we do it on a two-year rotation,” she said. “So, having that training up and running again is great. We’re taking precautions where we will limit it to 24 people just in case any restrictions start coming back into play.”

  • CDL training is on the schedule.

Sikorski said CCE again will provide CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) training for the ag community. It is coordinated by Jan Beglinger in conjunction with Genesee Valley BOCES.

“We usually enroll somewhere around 20 to 25 people into the CDL program so that farms can have staff licensed property to operate their trucks and equipment,” she said.

She also mentioned that changing federal guidelines may negatively impact the program – a shutdown was supposed to take effect at the beginning of next year – but is hopeful of the continued partnership with BOCES “because this is a tool for our ag community.”

  • 4-H has strong presence at Genesee County Fair.

She said she anticipates strong 4-H participation at the Genesee County Fair (which opens Friday with the North American Six-horse Hitch Classic Series and runs through July 31).

“And we continue to recruit new adult volunteers to serve as 4-H Club Leaders to expand the program,” she said.

July 16, 2021 - 12:12am
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On Thursday, the Genesee County Ag Society and Empire Tractor hosted an open house to introduce the community to the planned Agri-Culture Center on East Main Street Road, Batavia.

It's the former location -- many years ago -- of CountryMax and next to the Genesee County Fairgrounds.

Tim Call, president of Empire Tractor, said the center is a longtime dream of his father, Robert Call, who will be contributing museum-piece farm equipment and a collection of farm-related toys for the museum portion of the center.

But the center will be more than just a museum. It will also provide educational space for students of agriculture as well as conference space.

June 16, 2021 - 11:38am
posted by Press Release in news, Byron-Bergen Elementary School, FFA, 4-H, agriculture, Farm Day.

Above, an FFA member teaches a younger student about livestock.  

Submitted photos and press release:

On Friday, June 11, the Byron-Bergen FFA brought agriculture education to the Kindergarten classes. Members of the Future Farmers of America introduced the younger students to a variety of animals including cows, sheep, goats and ducks.

The outdoor event on the Elementary School grounds was a collaboration between FFA advisor Jeffrey Parnapy and Kindergarten teacher Ayn Gardner.

“We reached out to local people who own animals, a farmer brought his tractor in, and we’re also learning about different kinds of feed,” Parnapy said. “Both 4H and FFA members are presenting their animals and answering the kindergarteners’ questions.”

In some cases, the younger students were able to touch the animals.

“I like petting the lambs,” said kindergartener Evelyn Haywood.

“Looking around today, I already think that this is going to have to be a yearly event,” Parnapy said. “Everyone is having a blast and I’m so excited that we were able to provide this experience for the kindergarten students.”

Upstate Milk donated milk and cheese sticks for all the students and the FFA provided goodie bags for participating elementary students.

First three photos courtesy of Amanda Dedie. Bottom photo courtesy of Ayn Gardner.

Above, 4H member participating in Byron-Bergen Farm Day.

Above, Byron-Bergen students.

Above, students learn about farm machinery.

June 15, 2021 - 2:38pm

Press release:

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge will offer for bid 167 acres of grassland hay in three different fields ranging in size from 49 to 60 acres.

The Refuge annually provides a total of 1,100 acres of grassland habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife. Active management of these grasslands is necessary to provide the highest quality nesting and migration habitat.

The Refuge haying program helps in this management process by reducing encroachment of broad leaf weeds and shrubs.

Hay will be allocated on a highest bid per field basis for each field. Sealed bids will be accepted until close-of-business (COB) on Friday, July 2. An official Bid Sheet, available from the Refuge headquarters, is required to make a bid.

Completed Bid Sheets can be mailed to the Refuge headquarters at 1101 Casey Road, Basom, NY 14013 and must contain all the information requested.

If you have any questions about the haying program or would like to see the fields, please call Paul Hess at (585) 948-5445, ext. 7032.

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is located midway between Rochester and Buffalo and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

June 9, 2021 - 11:09am
posted by Press Release in Ed Rath, agriculture, news, 61st state senate district.

Press release:

“The legislation that passed the Senate today, S.699b, is detrimental for our farming community and a clear disregard to their knowledge and expertise.  

“I have heard from many farmers from my district, as well as statewide organizations, such as the Farm Bureau, the New York State Turfgrass Association, and the New York State Corn, Soybean and Vegetable Growers, who have voiced their extreme concern with this legislation. This legislation will tie their hands and prohibit them from protecting their crops.

“Unfortunately, this is just another example of a Downstate politician proposing legislation from a conference room that will negatively impact the agricultural community without taking the time to understand the effects.  Farmers take great care in assuring their crops and products are safe and healthy, while also having an obvious vested interest in the environmental impacts.

“I would encourage the agricultural community to contact Assembly leadership to share their opposition to this dangerous legislation.”

May 11, 2021 - 5:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, news, Oakfield, agriculture.


A tractor waiting to do more work this morning in a field off of Downey Road in Oakfield.

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