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agriculture

April 17, 2019 - 6:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, news.

(Washington, D.C., April 17) -- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the government of Tunisia and the United States have finalized U.S. export certificates to allow imports of U.S. beef, poultry, and egg products into Tunisia.  This announcement follows meetings between U.S. and Tunisian officials on the safety and wholesomeness of U.S. beef, poultry, and egg products.

“President Trump continues to prioritize the opening of new markets for U.S. agricultural products, and we welcome Tunisia’s agreement to begin imports of U.S. beef, poultry, and egg products,” said Ambassador Lighthizer. “New access to the Tunisian market is an important step in ensuring that American farmers and ranchers can continue to expand their exports of U.S. agricultural products.”

“I'm convinced that when the Tunisians get a taste of U.S. beef, poultry, and eggs, they're going to want more. These products coming into Tunisia are safe, wholesome, and very delicious,” said Secretary Perdue. “At the direction of President Trump, USDA remains committed to opening up new markets across the globe. While we continue to supply Tunisia’s domestic animal proteins sector with quality U.S. grains and oilseeds, I have no doubt that U.S. beef, poultry, and eggs will only help increase competitiveness and consumer choice within Tunisia.”

In 2018, U.S. exports of agricultural products to Tunisia exceeded $264 million. Over 90 percent of exports were corn, soybeans, or corn and soy products.  Initial estimates are that Tunisia would import annually $5-10 million of beef, poultry, and egg products from the United States, with additional growth over time.

More details on requirements for exporting to Tunisia are available from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Export Library.

April 12, 2019 - 2:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, 2018 Farm Bill.

Press release:

(Washington, D.C., April 12, 2019)— U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the implementation status of the 2018 Farm Bill. President Trump signed this Farm Bill into law on Dec. 20th, 2018 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) promptly began implementation of key programs.

USDA held several listening sessions with stakeholders and the public, specific to each agency’s respective mission areas.

“At USDA we are implementing the 2018 Farm Bill as quickly as possible. We know the programs that are renewed and updated in this farm bill are critical to farmers, ranchers, and producers as they plan for the future,” said Secretary Perdue. “Our mission areas have all held several public listening sessions, both formally and informally, to receive stakeholder input.

"Our goal is to have programs that function best for the people that we serve. We have made progress in new Farm Bill provisions, and look to implement programs that are customer service focused and economically efficient. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are diligently working on behalf of all of USDA’s customers.”

Implementation Progress: 

TITLE I – Commodity Programs

  • Dairy Forward Pricing Program: On March 1, 2019, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published a final rule reauthorizing the Dairy Forward Pricing Program in the Federal Register.
  • Class I Skim Milk Price: On March 11, 2019, AMS published a final rule implementing the Class I Skim Milk Price provision in the Federal Register.
  • Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy): On March 22, 2019, Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program in 2018 can now retroactively participate in the MPP-Dairy for 2018.
  • Dairy Margin Coverage Program: On March 28, 2019, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) revised monthly price survey reports to include prices for high-quality alfalfa hay in the top five milk producing states to be utilized in the new Dairy Margin Coverage feed calculation.
  • FSA will begin offering reimbursements to eligible producers for MPP-Dairy premiums paid between 2014-2017 by May 1.
  • The Office of the Chief Economist has entered into an agreement with the University of Wisconsin to develop a Dairy Margin Coverage decision tool that will be available to producers by May 1.
  • FSA will open sign-up for the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program beginning June 17, providing coverage retroactive to January 1, 2019, with applicable payments following soon after enrollment.
  • Emergency Conservation Program (ECP): On April 4, 2019, FSA announced several changes to ECP as provided by the 2018 Farm Bill, including increasing the payment limit from $200,000 per person or legal entity per natural event to $500,000.
  • On April 4, 2019, FSA announced that socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers are now eligible for up to 90 percent ECP cost share of their total allowable cost.
  • Noninsurance Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP): On April 8, 2019, FSA announced that producers now have a one-time opportunity until May 24, 2019, to obtain buy-up coverage for 2019 or 2020 eligible crops for which the NAP application closing date has passed. In addition, qualified military veteran farmers and ranchers are now eligible for a service fee waiver and premium reduction.
  • Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL): On April 10, 2019, FSA announced the 2019 Marketing Assistance Loan rates for wheat, feed grains, oilseeds, rice and pulse crops. Relative to 2018-crop MAL levels, the 2018 Farm Bill increased the national loan rates for most of these commodities for each of the 2019-2023 crops.
  • Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Programs: FSA will open ARC/PLC elections for the 2019 and 2020 crop years beginning in September 2019.

TITLE II – Conservation

  • Conservation Innovation Grants: On March 26, 2019, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state offices began publishing notices of funding availability for the Conservation Innovation Grants state competitions.
  • Agricultural Conservation Easement Program: On March 27, USDA published an announcement regarding the availability of $450 million for wetland and agricultural land easements that will help private landowners, tribes, land trusts and other groups wanting to restore and protect critical wetlands and protect agricultural lands and grasslands.
  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP): On April 5, 2019, NRCS announced the next deadline for CSP applications to be raked and considered for funding this year is May 10, 2019. It includes higher payments for enhancements that include cover crops, resource conserving crop rotations, and advanced grazing.
  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP): On April 9, 2019, NRCS determined that RCPP projects with agreements entered into prior to September 30, 2018, may continue to enter into new RCPP-CSP contracts with eligible producers, which will be administered under the new CSP authority.
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program: This program operates through a continuous signup process. Applications may be submitted throughout the year. At the state level, NRCS has periodic funding cutoff periods when applications are evaluated for selection.

TITLE III – Trade

  • Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation Funding: On February 7, 2019, the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) allocated more than $204 million in Market Access Program and Foreign Market and Development Program.
  • Food for Progress: On March 26, 2019, FAS announced $155 million funding opportunity for the Food for Progress program.
  • McGovern-Dole School Feeding Program: On March 26, 2019, FAS announced $191 million in a funding opportunity for the McGovern-Dole School Feeding Program.
  • Local and Regional Food Aid Procurement: On March 26, 2019, FAS announced up to $15 million funding opportunity for Local and Regional Food Aid Procurement.
  • Cochran Fellowship Program 2019: On March 26, 2019, FAS announced the availability of $1.8 million for the Cochran Fellowship Program.

TITLE IV – Nutrition Programs

  • Simplified Homeless Housing Costs: On February 8, 2019, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued an informational memorandum on Simplified Homeless Housing Costs.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training: On March 6, 2019, FNS issued an information memorandum on the Employment and Training provisions, including those that are self-executing.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): On March 7, 2019, FNS issued an information memorandum for the self-enacting provisions of the SNAP Provisions of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
  • Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP): On March 8, 2019, FNS issued the information memorandum for CSFP and the exception for temporary monthly certification periods.
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR): On February 14, 2019, FNS held an in-person consultation with tribal leaders to discuss a variety of topics regarding FDPIR, including Farm Bill provisions. On April 5, 2019, FNS issued an informational memorandum to announce the availability of FDPIR administrative funding for two-years at the State/Indian Tribal Organization level. 

TITLE V – Credit

  • Modified Micro Loan Limits: On March 7, 2019, FSA implemented a change to allow agricultural producers to receive both a $50,000 Direct Operating Microloan and a $50,000 Direct Farm Ownership Microloan. Previously, agricultural producers were limited to a combined total of $50,000.
  • Increase in Percent of Guarantee for Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers: On March 7, 2019, FSA increased the percent for new guaranteed loans to any beginning or socially disadvantaged agricultural producer to 95 percent.
  • Increased Loan Limits: On April 11, 2019, FSA announced that eligible agricultural producers have access to higher loan amounts, to better provide them with the credit needed during this period of lower market prices and numerous natural disasters.

TITLE VI – Rural Development

  • Cushion of Credit Program: On December 21, 2018, Rural Development informed all the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) borrowers of the new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill affecting the borrower’s participation in the Cushion of Credit Program.
  • American Broadband Initiative: On February 13, 2019, Rural Development released the American Broadband Initiatives Milestones report, describing how the Federal government is partnering with the private sector expand rural broadband.
  • Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Program: On April 1, 2019, the Rural Housing Service began soliciting applications for the Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Programs.
  • Council on Rural Community Innovation and Economic Development: The Council is the successor to the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. The Council held its first call on April 8, 2019, to coordinate rural community innovation and economic development across the federal government.
  • Rural Water and Waste Water Technical Assistance and Training Programs: On April 1, 2019, the Rural Utilities Service published a Notice of Solicitation of Applications in the Federal Register.

TITLE VII – Research and Related Matters

  • Matching Fund Requirements: On March 20, 2019, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) published the updated matching requirements chart on its website, sent an update to all stakeholders via the weekly NIFA Stakeholder Update. Relevant future RFA’s will include updated matching requirements.
  • Indirect Cost Limitations: On March 20, 2019, NIFA published the updated indirect cost rate requirements by program chart on its website. Relevant future Requests for Applications (RFA’s) will include updated indirect cost rate requirements.
  • The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP): On April 5, 2019, NIFA published the Request for Applications (RFA) for BFRDP.
  • Barley Estimation Program: On March 7, 2019, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) established that New York will be added to the Barley estimation program.
  • Nominations of Members: On March 28, 2019, the Request for Nominations of Members for the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board, Specialty Crop Committee, Citrus Disease Subcommittee, and National Genetic Resources Advisory Council published in the Federal Register.

TITLE VIII – Forestry

  • Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 Amendments – On March 14, 2019, the Forest Service announced the changes and the extension to 2023 of these provisions.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: On March 22, 2019, Under Secretary Hubbard and Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen held a public listening session to receive stakeholder input on 2018 Farm Bill provisions regarding national forests and grassland.

TITLE IX – Energy

  • Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program: On April 1, 2019, the Rural Business and Cooperative Service posted an Administrative Notice to the Rural Development web site implementing the Farm Bill provisions for Section 9003 administratively. The Administrative Notice applies to all existing active 9003 program applications.

TITLE X – Horticulture

  • Hemp: On February 27, 2019, AMS issued a Notice to Trade regarding the hemp provisions in the Farm Bill and on March 13, 2019, AMS held a listening session on the hemp provisions in the Farm Bill.  The 2018 Farm Bill extended the 2014 Farm Bill provisions for hemp production by 12 months to allow USDA to complete the required rulemaking process, and USDA intends to issue regulations in the Fall of 2019 in order to accommodate the 2020 planting season.  For the 2019 planting season, the 2018 Farm Bill provides that States, Tribes, and institutions of higher education can continue operating under authorities of the 2014 Farm Bill.
  • Specialty Crop Block Grant Program: On March 7, 2019, AMS announced the availability of approximately $70 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
  • National Organic Standards Board (NOSB): In March 2019, AMS issued a Call for Nominations for the NOSB that included 2018 Farm Bill provisions that will lead to a more diverse candidate pool for the NOSB.

TITLE XI – Crop Insurance

  • Specialty Crop Insurance: On March 6, 2019, Risk Management Agency (RMA) created a dedicated Specialty Crop website to fulfill the requirements of the 2018 Farm Bill. The website lists specialty crop liaisons by Regional Office and provides a link to the 2019 Specialty Crop Report as well as a link to archived prior reports.
  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher: On March 12, 2019, RMA implemented the new definition for the Whole Farm Revenue Protection program that extends the time for new beginning farmer and rancher eligibility from 5 years to 10 years for the sales closing dates after the passage of the farm bill. 
  • Multi-County Enterprise Units: Starting with sales closing dates after the passage of the farm bill RMA is offering a new endorsement for farmers. Producers of corn, grain sorghum, soybeans, cotton, canola, peanuts, rice, barley, wheat, and sunflowers now have the option to combine acreage in one county that does not qualify for enterprise units with crop acreage in another county that does qualify. The option offers flexibility and a low-cost option for producers.
  • Yield Cups: RMA has fully implemented yield cups that provide producers with an election to limit the decrease in actual production history (APH) to not more than 10% of the prior crop year’s APH. This prevents abnormally low yielding years from dramatically impacting a producers APH and stabilizes insurance guarantees.

TITLE XII – Miscellaneous

  • Agriculture and Food Defense: The Office of Homeland Security has commenced a series of events to educate the Intelligence Community on threats to agriculture and the collection of information on emerging threats.
  • United States Drought Monitor (USDM): The Office of the Chief Economist has initiated a thorough review of the data being used in the USDM, the geographic coverage of data collection sites, and other climatological data that will improve the USDM.
  • Agriculture Wool Apparel Manufactures Trust Fund: The Wool Apparel Manufacturing Trust Fund application period closed March 1, 2019.  FAS reviewed 38 affidavits and is on course to issue payments by the statutory deadline.
  • Pima Agriculture Cotton Trust Fund: The Pima Agriculture Cotton Trust Fund application period closed March 15, 2019.  FAS reviewed 8 affidavits and is on course to issue payments by the statutory deadline.
  • U.S. Grain Standards: On March 5, 2019, AMS posted a Notice to Trade announcing the restoration of certain exceptions under the U.S. Grain Standards Act.
  • Acer Access and Development Program: On March 12, 2019, AMS announced the availability of funding under the Acer Access and Development Program.
  • Peanut Standards Board: On March 19, 2019, AMS published in the Federal Register a notice requesting nominations to the Peanut Standards Board. The notice adds South Carolina as a part of the Virginia/Carolina peanut producing region for purposes of appointments to the board.
April 12, 2019 - 8:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, batavia, elba, news, farmworkers, video, Sen. Jessica Ramos.

 

Video Sponsor

 

Sen. Jessica Ramos, a first-term state legislator from Queens, and sponsor of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act visited Batavia and Elba yesterday to meet with farmers and farmworkers at the invitation of Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer.

In the morning she and Ranzenhofer hosted a discussion with more than a dozen area farmers and some of their workers in the foyer of the Call Arena at Genesee Community College. That event was closed to the press and a reporter who showed up was asked to leave.

In the afternoon, Ramos visited the Torrey Farms Big-O onion packing facility in Elba and when The Batavian arrived, we were not asked to leave and were able to obtain exclusive coverage of the event. We were unable to interview Ramos at the event because of a scheduling conflict but expect to be able to talk with her soon.

At yesterday's event, we spoke with farmworkers and farmers and were told repeatedly that farmworkers do not favor the farmworkers bill because they fear it will mean fewer hours and less money.  

Farmworkers said they understand the weather-driven variability of farm work and they said that it is critical to their ability to making a living that they be able to pack in as many hours in a week as they can when the sun is shining. They depend on the income to take care of family members back home, their families here, to pay mortgages, send kids to college, and fund their own business-ownership dreams.

Farmers said that if the proposed overtime laws pass, they will be forced to reduce hours worked by their employees and that their migrant employees, who don't have ties to the area, will likely leave for nearby states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, where they can work as many hours as they want.

UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: Sen. Ramos canceled our interview scheduled for this afternoon.

April 11, 2019 - 6:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, 2017 Census of Agriculture.

Press release:

(WASHINGTON, D.C., April 11) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture, spanning some 6.4 million new points of information about America’s farms and ranches and those who operate them, including new data about on-farm decision making, down to the county level.

Results are available in many online formats including video presentations, a new data query interface, maps, and traditional data tables.

***All information is available here.***

To address questions about the 2017 Census of Agriculture data, NASS will host a live Twitter chat (@usda_nass)

Ask the Census Experts #StatChat on Friday, April 12 at 1 p.m. ET.

Information collected by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) directly from farmers and ranchers tells us both farm numbers and land in farms have ongoing small percentage declines since the last Census in 2012. At the same time, there continue to be more of the largest and smallest operations and fewer middle-sized farms. The average age of all farmers and ranchers continues to rise.

“We are pleased to deliver Census of Agriculture results to America, and especially to the farmers and ranchers who participated,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We can all use the Census to tell the tremendous story of U.S. agriculture and how it is changing.

"As a data-driven organization, we are eager to dig in to this wealth of information to advance our goals of supporting farmers and ranchers, facilitating rural prosperity, and strengthening stewardship of private lands efficiently, effectively, and with integrity.”

“The Census shows new data that can be compared to previous censuses for insights into agricultural trends and changes down to the county level,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer.

“While the current picture shows a consistent trend in the structure of U.S. agriculture, there are some ups and downs since the last Census as well as first-time data on topics such as military status and on-farm decision making.

"To make it easier to delve into the data, we are pleased to make the results available in many online formats including a new data query interface, as well as traditional data tables.”

Census data provide valuable insights into demographics, economics, land and activities on U.S. farms and ranches. Some key highlights include:

  • There are 2.04 million farms and ranches (down 3.2 percent from 2012) with an average size of 441 acres (up 1.6 percent) on 900 million acres (down 1.6 percent).
  • The 273,000 smallest (1-9 acres) farms make up 0.1 percent of all farmland while the 85,127 largest (2,000 or more acres) farms make up 58 percent of farmland.
  • Just 105,453 farms produced 75 percent of all sales in 2017, down from 119,908 in 2012.
  • Of the 2.04 million farms and ranches, the 76,865 making $1 million or more in 2017 represent just over 2/3 of the $389 billion in total value of production while the 1.56 million operations making under $50,000 represent just 2.9 percent.
  • Farm expenses are $326 billion with feed, livestock purchased, hired labor, fertilizer and cash rents topping the list of farm expenses in 2017.
  • Average farm income is $43,053. A total of 43.6 percent of farms had positive net cash farm income in 2017.
  • Ninety-six percent of farms and ranches are family owned.
  • Farms with Internet access rose from 69.6 percent in 2012 to 75.4 percent in 2017.
  • A total of 133,176 farms and ranches use renewable energy producing systems, more than double the 57,299 in 2012.
  • In 2017, 130,056 farms sold directly to consumers, with sales of $2.8 billion.
  • Sales to retail outlets, institutions and food hubs by 28,958 operations are valued at $9 billion.

For the 2017 Census of Agriculture, NASS changed the demographic questions to better represent the roles of all persons involved in on-farm decision making. As a result, in 2017 the number of producers is up by nearly 7 percent to 3.4 million, because more farms reported multiple producers. Most of these newly identified producers are female. While the number of male producers fell 1.7 percent to 2.17 million from 2012 to 2017, the number of female producers increased by nearly 27 percent to 1.23 million. This change underscores the effectiveness of the questionnaire changes.

Other demographic highlights include:

  • The average age of all producers is 57.5, up 1.2 years from 2012.
  • The number of producers who have served in the military is 370,619, or 11 percent of all. They are older than the average at 67.9.
  • There are 321,261 young producers age 35 or less on 240,141 farms. Farms with young producers making decisions tend to be larger than average in both acres and sales.
  • More than any other age group, young producers make decisions regarding livestock, though the difference is slight.
  • One in four producers is a beginning farmer with 10 or fewer years of experience and an average age of 46.3. Farms with new or beginning producers making decisions tend to be smaller than average in both acres and value of production.
  • Thirty-six percent of all producers are female and 56 percent of all farms have at least one female decision maker. Farms with female producers making decisions tend to be smaller than average in both acres and value of production.
  • Female producers are most heavily engaged in the day-to-day decisions along with record keeping and financial management.

The Census tells the story of American agriculture and is an important part of our history. First conducted in 1840 in conjunction with the decennial Census, the Census of Agriculture accounts for all U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. After 1920, the Census happened every four to five years. By 1982, it was regularly conducted once every five years.

Today, NASS sends questionnaires to nearly 3 million potential U.S. farms and ranches. Nearly 25 percent of those who responded did so online. Conducted since 1997 by USDA NASS – the federal statistical agency responsible for producing official data about U.S. agriculture – it remains the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation and is invaluable for planning the future.

April 11, 2019 - 5:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in GMOs, food processing technology, education, GCC, agriculture, news.

Press release:

What is a GMO? And perhaps more importantly, should you be worried about them? GMOs, or genetically modified organisms have found their way into most of the foods we consume -- from plants and vegetables to animal products such as meat, milk, honey and seafood. So, where can you as a consumer, farmer, gardener or everyday citizen, get information and learn about the variety of perspectives on GMOs?

The Genesee County Farm Bureau and the Science Department at Genesee Community College have partnered to present "Genesee County Talks GMOs" from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 25 in Room T102 of the Conable Technology Building on GCC's Batavia Campus.

This event is completely free and open to all ages from the entire community!

Guests will see a free screening of "Food Evolution," written and produced by Trace Sheehan and Scott Hamilton Kennedy, and narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson. "Food Evolution" is an impactful examination of the world's current, yet vastly varying, views on GMOs, and the risks we take every day in believing or not in the information we are presented with.

Then, listen in as three local panelists share their experiences and perspectives in dealing with this important debate. The panel will include:

  • Alex Harris, of Harris Farm and East Coast salesperson for Brotherton Seed
  • Emily Reiss, organic farmer in Erie and Genesee counties
  • Kent Williams, district sales manager at Hubner Seed

Anyone interested in learning even more about how food is produced is encouraged to explore GCC's Food Processing Technologies program (FPT). GCC recently received a highly sought-after State University of New York (SUNY) needs grant and completed significant upgrades to student laboratories and equipment to provide the most up-to-date learning experiences.

GCC's FPT program was designed not only to prepare students to enter the workforce immediately, but to position them perfectly for a seamless transfer into a four-year degree program at any number of institutions both within and outside of the SUNY system. Learn more about GCC's Food Processing Technology Associate in Applied Science Degree or contact [email protected] today.

April 11, 2019 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in farm labor bill, farm labor, news, agriculture, Le Roy, notify.

 

Video Sponsor

Proposed changes to farm labor practices in New York would likely destroy the state's agriculture industry, with a spill-over effect on many other businesses in local communities, and ultimately lead to families getting out of farming, a group of local farms said Wednesday at a press conference at Stein Farms in Le Roy.

The farmers gathered to raise concerns about the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act now making its way through the New York State Legislature.

"We're at the point I think where this has the potential to be the single greatest economic devastating effect on agriculture in New York in my lifetime," said Dale Stein, senior partner at Stein Farms.

The bill's chief sponsor and supporter, Sen. Jessica Ramos, from Queens, is in Batavia today, as a guest of Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, to meet with area farmers and listen to their concerns. The press conference was called in advance of that meeting so farmers could share their concerns with the broader public.

"We just aren't heard now very well by Downstate And it's not they're not good people and don't care. They do. Our people want to work. They don't want 40 hours a week. They don't want eight hours a day as my staff tell me. I don't want to sit home and watch TV. I'd rather come and work. We offer them extra hours if they want they come and work. They don't want us at home. They want to make all the money they can."

Stein, along with Jeff Toussaint, an Albion farmer, and Jim Starowitz, a farm employee in Byron, not only talked about the potential costs of the bill, which would institute new overtime rules, reduce weekly working hours, and other regulatory burdens for farms, but also how unnecessary the bill is because of laws already in place, the above-minimum-wage pay scales in place at farms now, and the desire of farm workers to work while there's money to be made.

The bill would also allow farm workers to join labor unions.

"I'm here to tell you that apples are a perishable crop and I can't emphasize that enough," Toussaint said. "They have to be harvested on time. If apples are left in the orchard too long they become soft and we're unable to store them. In just a matter of a few days of becoming overripe, they can lose 50 to 75 percent of their original value. A strike during harvest season would ultimately be catastrophic."

Starowitz said the increased costs associated with the bill would eventually put a lot of farm workers out of work.

"The costs are an additional $200,000 a year," Starowtiz said. "That equates to an extra $32 a tonne (aka metric ton), or almost a thousand dollars an acre. If all states where there are growers are on the same level, we could pass our cost along like every other business.

"But this is a state law that puts us in a noncompetitive position with other states. It increases labor cost and over time we will be no longer able to raise our vegetables. We'll have to move to a row-crop-only business or close our doors."

Maureen Torrey, co-owner of Torrey Farms, joined the conversation and said besides making it harder for her to compete nationally, the proposed changes will also make it harder to attract farm labor to New York.

"We have a limited pool even of visa workers," Torrey said. "They're going to go work where they can get a minimum of 60 hours or more."

April 4, 2019 - 10:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, agriculture, business.

Press release:

More than 150 workers at local dairy plants in Genesee County have completed advanced training programs through a dairy workforce solutions initiative.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) recently was the recipient of a $50,000 grant from National Fuel’s Area Development Program that paved the way for programs led by Cornell University’s Dairy Foods Extension & Harvest New York teams.

Employees from HP Hood, O-AT-KA, and Yancey’s Fancy recently participated in the training, which focused on food safety, dairy science, milk processing technologies, among other topics.

The training sessions are part of a certificate program, which offers continuing education units. Participants received a certificate of achievement from the Dairy Foods Extension program after passing a post-test and completing course evaluations.

“Training over 150 workers is a major achievement, and we were fortunate to have two great partners in National Fuel and Cornell’s Harvest New York program to provide a direct impact to our local workforce,” said Chris Suozzi, vice president of business and workforce development for GCEDC.

“Last year, National Fuel’s Area Development Program awarded $2.5 million in grants to businesses that are locating to or expanding in the Western New York area, so we take pride in partnering with organizations like GCEDC and Harvest New York to further promote local economic growth,” said Cathryn Hilliard, energy consultant for National Fuel.

“Dairy is New York’s top agricultural industry, so with there being a great need for dairy processing in Genesee County, we were thrilled to teach local employees very valuable skills that will ultimately aid in the growth of the industry,” said Anika Zuber, dairy processing specialist for Harvest New York.

Genesee County’s dairy, food and beverage industries increased employment by 29 percent from 2014 to 2018, supporting operations that have since 2010 invested more than $500 million into over 1 million square feet of dairy production facilities at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and Buffalo East Tech Park.

Submitted Video

April 3, 2019 - 3:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, USDA.

Press release:

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched two new features on farmers.gov to help customers manage their farm loans and navigate the application process for H-2A visas.

“Customer service is our top priority at USDA and these new features will help our customers as they manage their farm loans and navigate the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program,” Secretary Perdue said. “In my travels across the country, I have consistently heard people express a desire for greater use of technology in the way we deliver programs at USDA.

"As we adopt new technology, we are introducing simple yet innovative approaches to support our farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters as they support the nation every day. It’s my goal to make USDA the most effective, most efficient, most customer-focused department in the entire federal government, and farmers.gov is a big step in that direction.”

In 2018, Secretary Perdue unveiled farmers.gov, a dynamic, mobile-friendly public website combined with an authenticated portal where customers will be able to apply for programs, process transactions and manage accounts.

Navigating the H-2A Visa Process

Focused on education and smaller owner-operators, this farmers.gov H-2A Phase I release includes an H-2A Visa Program page and interactive checklist tool, with application requirements, fees, forms, and a timeline built around a farmer’s hiring needs.

You may view the video at this link

The H-2A Visa Program – also known as the temporary agricultural workers program – helps American farmers fill employment gaps by hiring workers from other countries. The U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Department of State, and state workforce agencies each manage parts of the H-2A Visa Program independently, with separate websites and complex business applications.

Over the next several months, USDA will collaborate further with the U.S. Department of Labor on farmers.gov H-2A Phase II – a streamlined H-2A Visa Program application form, regulations, and digital application process that moves producers seamlessly from farmers.gov website to farmers.gov portal to U.S. Department of Labor’s IT systems.

Managing Farm Loans Online

The self-service website now enables agricultural producers to login to view loan information, history and payments.

Customers can access the “My Financial Information” feature by desktop computer, tablet or phone. They can now view:

  • loan information;
  • interest payments for the current calendar year (including year-to-date interest paid for the past five years);
  • loan advance and payment history;
  • paid-in-full and restructured loans; and
  • account alerts giving borrowers important notifications regarding their loans.

To access their information, producers will need a USDA eAuth account to login into farmers.gov. After obtaining an eAuth account, producers should visit farmers.gov and sign into the site’s authenticated portal via the “Sign In / Sign Up” link at the top right of the website.

Currently, only producers doing business as individuals can view information. Entities, such as an LLC or Trust, or producers doing business on behalf of another customer cannot access the portal at this time, but access is being planned.

Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge are the recommended browsers to access the feature.

About farmers.gov

USDA is building farmers.gov for farmers, by farmers. Future self-service features available through the farmers.gov portal will help producers find the right loan programs for their business and submit loan documents to their service center.

With feedback from customers and field employees who serve those customers, farmers.gov delivers farmer-focused features through an agile, iterative process to deliver the greatest immediate value to America’s agricultural producers – helping farmers and ranchers do right, and feed everyone.

March 31, 2019 - 12:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in maple weekend, maple, Randall Maple, Darien, agriculture.

 

Video Sponsor

 

Maple weekend concludes today (March 31). The annual event is a chance for area residents to visit a local maple farm, learn about maple production and the tools and techniques for producing maple and sample some of the items made locally with maple.

Saturday we visited with Eric Randall, owner of Randall Maple, founder of Maple Weekend, which is now a national event, and past president of the North American Maple Syrup Council.

Locations to visit in Genesee County:

Randall's Maple Products
10307 Smithley Road
Alexander, NY 14005 

Junior's Maple Products
9280 Alexander Road (Route 98 South)
Batavia, NY 14020 

Sweet Dream Maple Farm
1116 Reynolds Road
Corfu, NY 14036 

March 26, 2019 - 2:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in Byron-Bergen FFA, agriculture, news.

Press release:

On Saturday, March 16, the Western Regional Sub State Leadership Development Event came to Byron-Bergen High School. Despite the Byron-Bergen chapter of the Future Farmers of America only being in its second year, they hosted chapters from all over Western New York State at the prestigious event.

“The visiting students were winners from their District events coming to compete at the next level,” says Byron-Bergen Agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Jeff Parnapy. “They came from the Finger Lakes to Lake Erie to the Pennsylvania border. It was a wonderful networking experience for our local FFA members and an honor to be selected as the host District.”

Byron-Bergen FFA members volunteered throughout the day running the event and acting as ambassadors for the local community.

Visiting students completed in Prepared Public Speaking, Extemporaneous Public Speaking, Employment Skills, Agricultural Issues Forum, and more.

Judges included experts in their field from throughout Genesee County, as well as Byron-Bergen Superintendent Mickey Edwards, who judged the Employment Skills competition.

March 12, 2019 - 4:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, local produce, news, business, Taste NY.

Press release:

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that Taste NY Farm Markets will begin at New York State Thruway service areas for the 2019 season on Monday, April 1.

The Taste NY Farm Markets will promote the world-class food and beverage products found around the State. The Thruway Authority and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets are continuing this annual offering of the finest locally grown produce from New York's farms. 

"Taste NY is an economic engine in every corner of the state and has expanded New York's booming agriculture industry," Governor Cuomo said. "These farm markets at Thruway service areas will provide farmers and producers a unique opportunity to showcase their products to millions of tourists, supporting the growth of farms and small businesses across the Empire State." 

"From maple syrup, to dairy, to fruits and vegetables, New York produces an amazing variety of high-quality agricultural products," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Our Taste NY program showcases the best we have to offer, and we are looking forward to another season providing travelers with fresh, locally-grown products at stops along the Thruway."

The New York State Thruway features outdoor farm market locations at service areas across its 570-mile system. In 2018, a dozen local producers from regions across New York State participated in the markets at 20 service areas, reaching millions of visitors who travel the Thruway throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall.

Customers will have access to locally grown fruit, vegetables, honey, maple syrup, nuts, butter, cheese and more depending on availability. Only produce grown or produced in New York State may be sold. Market days and hours of operation are dependent on product availability and weather.

Motorists are encouraged to visit thruway.ny.gov for locations, hours, participating farms and available products.

Genesee County vendors interested in selling food products at Taste NY Farm Markets should email [email protected] for more information on how to participate this season.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, "We thank Governor Cuomo and Executive Director Driscoll for supporting Taste NY and providing our farmers and producers with a platform to showcase their top-notch products and reach new markets.

"The start of the farm market season is a reminder of our rich and longstanding tradition of agriculture and its economic impact in New York State." 

Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said, "Our service areas offer a unique setting which can reach millions of people from across the state, country, and world. The Thruway Authority is proud to support the Taste NY initiative by providing a venue where our local farmers and producers can sell their goods to the traveling public." 

About Taste NY

The Taste NY initiative has seen steady growth and recognition since it was created in 2013 by Governor Cuomo. The program reported sales of $1.5 million in 2014, tripled those figures to $4.5 million in 2015, and $13.1 million in 2016.

In 2017, Taste NY saw producer sales grow to a record $16.1 million. Taste NY, which is overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Markets, has created opportunities for local producers to showcase their goods at a variety of venues throughout the State and at large public events, such as the Great New York State Fair and the Barclays Tournament at Bethpage State Park.

It has also helped the farms and companies participating in the program to reach more customers, increase online sales, and, in many cases, expand the processing capacity of their business. Taste NY's food and beverage businesses also support the State's farmers by using New York grown and produced ingredients in their products. 

Today, New York products sold under Taste NY branding are available in more than 70 locations throughout the State as well as the New York State Office of Trade and Tourism in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

March 7, 2019 - 4:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Barniak Farms, agriculture, Bethany, news.

soilwaterfarmof2018-2.jpg

Barniak Farms has been selected by the Genesee County Soil and Water District as the 2018 Conservation Farm of the Year.

Brad Mudrzynski, with Soil and Water, said the farm was selected because of what it does to protect soil health and the watershed, such as planting cover crops, which helps prevent erosion, builds soil health, and prevents phosphorous from leaching into streams and creeks.

The farm on East Road in Bethany is 1,700 acres and milks about 700 cows.

Soil and Water, founded in Genesee County in 1944, handed out its first farm conservation award in 1959.

Photo: Ted Konieczka, Laura Bestehorn, Joseph Barniak, Barry Flansburg, Brad Mudrzynski, Molly Cassatt, Tim Welch and Kenneth Barniak.

soilwaterfarmof2018.jpg

March 1, 2019 - 11:38am
posted by Virginia Kropf in Chamber Awards, business, agriculture, upstate niagara.

Editor's note: The  2018 Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet will be held Saturday, March 2, at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., a dairy cooperative owned by 340 farm families located throughout Western New York, will be honored March 2 as the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s Agricultural Organization of the Year.

“On behalf of our member-owners, especially those located in Genesee County, we are honored to be presented with this award by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce,” said Keith Telaak, senior marketing manager of Upstate Niagara Cooperative. “We are grateful of this recognition and are proud to be a part of the Genesee County community.”

Upstate Niagara Cooperative is a result of several mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations of local dairy processors over the past 100 years, as dairy farmers realized the need for increased efficiencies to be able to grow their businesses and compete in the changing marketplace, Telaak said.

In 2006 Upstate Farms Cooperative and Niagara Milk Cooperative consolidated, bringing together two of the nation’s top dairy cooperatives. Its history, however, goes back even further.

Some of Upstate Niagara Cooperative’s family-owned farms have been in existence for more than six generations, according to Telaak.

The cooperative operates seven manufacturing facilities – three fluid plants (Buffalo, Rochester and Williamsport, Pa.), with their main office in Buffalo; two cultured facilities (West Seneca and North Lawrence); one cheese plant in Campbell; and O-AT-KA Milk Products in Batavia. The Membership Office is also located in Batavia, Telaak added. 

“Our mission is to serve each one of our customers the highest quality dairy products and services, in order to market milk and maximize returns for our dairy farmer owners, while providing a rewarding environment for our employees,” Telaak said.

“Our commitment to quality dairy products extends to every stage of production, from the farm to the consumer. The success of our cooperative begins with the passion and dedication of our farmer-owners to work hard every single day to produce the highest quality milk.”

Upstate Niagara’s high-quality dairy products have earned several first-place awards at dairy competitions, including their Bison French Onion Dip and light sour cream. They are marketed to consumers throughout the country.

Their products include milk, flavored milk, yogurt, dip, sour cream, cheese and ice cream marketed under the Upstate Farms, Valley Farms; Intense Milk for consumers looking for a healthier way to indulge; Bison; and Milk for Life. 

“We are also a private label manufacturer of dairy products for many of the largest retailers throughout the country,” Telaak said. 

Today, Upstate Niagara employs more than 1,400 people in their offices, manufacturing facilities and distribution network. 

Batavia was chosen as the site for the Membership Office because of its central location to member farmers in Western New York, Telaak said. Mike Davis is plant manager of the Batavia plant.

February 11, 2019 - 2:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in michael ranzenhofer, farm labor bill, business, agriculture.

Press release:

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has shared his concerns with recently reintroduced legislation, the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act (S2837), in a letter to the bill’s Senate sponsor, Senator Jessica Ramos.

Senator Ranzenhofer is requesting that the bill’s sponsor garner feedback from the agriculture industry.

“For years, many local farmers have shared their fears regarding serious unintended consequences of this legislation,” said Ranzenhofer in the letter. “Agriculture is the largest industry in the state, and I believe it is critically important that local farmer concerns and the concerns of the greater agriculture community be heard.”

Senator Ranzenhofer believes that the proposal could have a devastating impact on local jobs and family farms.

“Simply put, the stakes have never been higher for farmers across New York State and additional employer mandates could have catastrophic consequences for many rural Upstate communities and consumers,” Ranzenhofer said.

January 30, 2019 - 4:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in Ag District 3, Le Roy, bergen, Pavilion, Stafford, business, news, agriculture.

Press release:

The state mandated 30-day public review period has begun for Agricultural District No. 3 in the towns of Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford and Bergen.

The Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board announced that Agricultural District No. 3 would embark on its eight-year review with a 30-day public review period beginning on Jan. 26.

As with every eight-year review, landowners with lands in the district under review will be asked to complete a worksheet where they will be given the option to enroll or withdraw property from the district. Only entire parcels can be included or excluded.

Landowners will receive the worksheet, along with a letter, informational brochure, and map of the current district boundaries in the next couple of days. Each landowner will have until Monday, Feb. 26thof this year to mail the worksheets to the Department of Planning in the envelopes provided.

This deadline also coincides with the deadline for the Annual Enrollment Period which allows for inclusion of predominantly viable agricultural land to any of the County’s Agricultural Districts pending review by the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board. In addition, nearby landowners that are receiving Agricultural Tax Assessments and are not part of the Agricultural Districts Program will be mailed a letter and form inviting them to join the program.

During this 30-day period, a map of the District will be on file and open to the public in the office of the Genesee County Clerk and at the Genesee County Department of Planning. Any municipality whose territory encompasses the above Agricultural District, any State Agency or any landowner within or adjacent to the District, may propose a modification of the District during this period.

The District and any proposed modification will be submitted to the Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board for review. Consequently, a public hearing on the District and any proposed modifications will be held on Wednesday, May 8, at 5:30 p.m. at the Genesee County Old Courthouse, 7 Main St., Batavia.

At the conclusion of this review, the Genesee County Legislature will vote on any modifications to the District and send the proper materials to the State Department of Agriculture and Markets for recertification. The public is encouraged to attend all open meetings.

By enrolling land in the Agricultural Districts Program, participating farmers can receive relief from nuisance claims and certain forms of local regulation. Enrollment is free and voluntary.

For a free informational brochure, please contact the Genesee County Department of Planning. Phone: (585) 815-7901; Fax: (585) 345-3062; Email: [email protected] Visit on the web here

January 30, 2019 - 2:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, precision-agriculture.

Registration closes on Feb. 13 for the third annual Precision Ag Workshop focused on "Turning Data into Dollars."

The 2019 Precision Ag Workshop is presented by The BEST Center (Business and Employee Skills Training) at Genesee Community College, which has been dedicated to supporting employers and employees for more than 15 years.

The workshop is open to everyone and registration, which includes lunch and materials, costs $59. Participants can register by phone at 585-345-6868 or in person at The BEST Center, One College Road in Batavia.

The workshop runs from 9 a.m. 'til 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, in Room T102 of the Conable Technology Building on Genesee Community College's Batavia Campus and features keynote speaker Bob Stewart, management partner at Stewart Farms in Yorkville, Ill.

Based on his experience with finance, land owner relations and production, Stewart will present "Our Farm's Precision Ag Experience: What Works for Us and What Still Needs Work."

Keeping with the theme of getting the most out of Ag data, the workshop also includes:

  • "What Makes Sense Doesn't Always Make Dollars" presented by Aaron Breimer of Veritas Farm Business Management
  • "Remote Sensing and How it Works" by John Johnson of Agri Air Solutions and Agri-Advantage
  • "Does Everybody Get the Vision?" by Stephen Redmond of Redmond Agronomic Services
  • "Water Management -- the Key to Record Yields" presented by John Wagner of AgRePlan, LLC
  • "How Will Education Incorporate all this Data?" with Bruce Wright of SUNY Cobleskill Ag Engineering

"The data collected in the Ag industry is critical not only to yield and operations, but when analyzed and applied properly, can really take the business to the next level," Reid Smalley, executive director of Workforce Development said. "The BEST Center has put together this workshop to expose participants to new and innovative ways to employ the data already being collected and to maximize its value to any operation."

The BEST Center provides businesses and organizations with customized training solutions ranging from supervisory skills to technical training. The Center also offers numerous professional and personal development courses for individuals, including classroom and online opportunities.

January 18, 2019 - 6:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, news, CDL training.

Press release:

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

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

An informational meeting will be held on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. at the 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 Feb. 6 and 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension building located at 420 E. Main St. in Batavia. Drive time will be scheduled with the instructor at a later date.

Full payment (check or cash) is due at the class on Feb. 6. The cost for Class A is $775 and the cost for Class B is $600.

Registration is required and will be accepted until Jan. 25 or until the class is full. Class size is limited. For more information or to register, contact Jan Beglinger at 585-343-3040, ext. 132, or Brandie Waite at ext. 101.

December 19, 2018 - 5:45pm

Press release:

Tammy Willis, acting state conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New York State, has announced funding to help protect the Great Lakes as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to help improve surface water quality in waters flowing into Lake Ontario.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding is provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow NRCS to target threats to the Great Lakes. In New York, the GLRI area includes portions of Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga, Oswego, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Wyoming, Steuben, and Allegany Counties, which drain into Lake Ontario.

NRCS in New York receives funding to provide financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to eligible landowners and farmers for conservation work. GLRI focuses on practices that have the highest benefit for reducing water quality degradation due to agricultural runoff, including animal waste storage facilities, residue management, no-till, and nutrient management.

Applicants applying to implement practices to address farmstead resource concerns associated with livestock operations must provide a copy of their Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan to NRCS by Jan. 18.

For fiscal year 2019, NRCS will accept applications for funding through Jan. 18. Applications accepted after Jan. 18 will be considered for funding in the next signup period. To apply for funding through the GLRI program interested farmers and landowners should contact their local USDA office by the above listed signup date.

For more information on GLRI visit this website.

If you are interested in applying for a conservation program please visit this website for information on applying.

You may apply by visiting your local NRCS field office, which can be located using this website.

December 19, 2018 - 5:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, business, agriculture, conservation, NRCS.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New York State announces Jan. 18 as the application cutoff date for the general signup for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.

Through the EQIP program, NRCS offers financial and technical assistance to participants to implement practices which address priority resource concerns, including soil erosion, water quality and habitat degradation.

Focus areas within the EQIP program include the farmstead, soil management, habitat, forestry and grazing. Examples of practices implemented through EQIP include: strip cropping, grassed waterways, forest stand improvement and manure storage facilities. 

Applicants applying to implement practices to address farmstead resource concerns associated with livestock operations must provide a copy of their Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan to NRCS by Jan. 18. Applicants applying to implement forest management practices must provide their Forest Management Plan by Jan. 18.

NRCS will work with applicants to review potential resource concerns on the land included in the application and to develop a conservation plan to address the identified resource concerns. 

Applications accepted after Jan. 18 will be considered in the next signup. All applications are competitive and ranked based on national, state and locally identified resource priorities and the overall benefit to the environment.

If you are interested in applying for an NRCS conservation program, please visit this website for information on applying.

You may apply by visiting your local NRCS field office, which can be located using this website.

December 13, 2018 - 9:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in farm bill, agriculture, NY-27, chris collins, business.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) celebrated the passage of H.R 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. H.R. 2, which includes critically important dairy policy reforms that will strengthen and grow the Western New York dairy economy that in recent years has faced significant challenges.
 
H.R. 2 provides greater coverage to dairy farmers through the Margin Protection Program (MPP), and will allow farmers to participate in both the livestock and dairy protection programs. Additionally, the program will be rebranded as the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program.
 
"I am extremely proud to see the 2018 Farm Bill make it to President Trump's desk," Collins said. “For too long, dairy farmers in Western New York have struggled to keep the agricultural industry alive because of inefficiencies in past programs and the overall decline in the dairy market. The reforms passed in H.R. 2 will provide a significant boost to farmers right here in Western New York by allowing them to better utilize this program.”
 
This legislation will also help strengthen trade enforcement, promote the research and development of specialty crops, ensure funding to help farmers locate new global markets, significantly increase investment in organic research, and offers cost-sharing assistance to help farmers transition into organics.
 
Collins added: “The agriculture industry is the backbone of New York’s 27th district. Protecting Western New York farmers will always be a priority of mine, and I’m committed to doing what is best to help them succeed. While we still have a lot of work to do to turn this industry around, H.R. 2 is a huge step in the right direction, and I’m pleased to see it pass today.”

Also, a press release from the New York Farm Bureau:

Today’s final vote for the 2018 Farm Bill is a major victory for New York’s farmers, rural communities and consumers. Farmers needed stronger risk management tools in place moving into next year where there are signs that the economic stress will continue in the farming community.

In particular, the new Farm Bill enhances the dairy safety net for farms of every size, including increasing the margin that qualifies for federal insurance programs. New York Farm Bureau also appreciates the research and support programs in the bill that will benefit New York’s specialty crop producers. Having some certainty moving forward in challenging times is a relief for farmers.

In addition, the Farm Bill supports critical conservation programs, rural development projects, and marketing and research programs to expand market opportunities for farmers. It legalizes industrial hemp, which will benefit farms interested in diversification. And the legislation provides permanent funding to help veterans and a new generation of beginning farmers. The biggest portion of the Farm Bill also guarantees Americans, who can least afford to eat, the ability to access the food farmers produce.

New York Farm Bureau is appreciative of New York’s lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives who supported the Farm Bill during this long process, resulting in the bipartisan legislation that their constituents expect. We encourage the President to sign the Farm Bill.”

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