Local Matters

Community Sponsors

agriculture

April 18, 2020 - 1:18pm

Press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.

President Trump directed USDA to craft this $19 billion immediate relief program to provide critical support to our farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of our food supply chain, and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need. 

“During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of,” Secretary Perdue said. “The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America’s farmers and ranchers.

"This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need.” 

CFAP will use the funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and other USDA existing authorities. The program includes two major elements to achieve these goals. 

  1. Direct Support to Farmers and Ranchers: The program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.
  2. USDA Purchase and Distribution: USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. We will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks, community and faith based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.

On top of these targeted programs USDA will utilize other available funding sources to purchase and distribute food to those in need.

  • USDA has up to an additional $873.3 million available in Section 32 funding to purchase a variety of agricultural products for distribution to food banks. The use of these funds will be determined by industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis, and food bank needs.
  • The FFCRA and CARES Act provided an at least $850 million for food bank administrative costs and USDA food purchases, of which a minimum of $600 million will be designated for food purchases. The use of these funds will be determined by food bank need and product availability.

Further details regarding eligibility, rates, and other implementation will be released at a later date.

April 16, 2020 - 2:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, covid-19, business, agriculture, farm relief.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley recently joined the Assembly Republican Conference in signing a letter for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Speaker Carl Heastie, among other political and agricultural leaders in New York, imploring them for quick and immediate action to ensure the relief for local farms, which have been feeling the negative repercussions of the state’s response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

“Farmers are one of our most important working groups, especially in a situation as dire as this one,” Hawley said. “If there’s any way to give them more support and more relief during this troubling time, we’re obligated to do so. It’s about keeping the supply chain running, keeping a small family farm’s doors open, and making sure everyone has food on the table. We can all agree we need to protect our farmers.”

Some of the policies that the letter calls for are extending the Milk Producers Security Fund, using the federal stimulus to invest in rural broadband infrastructure, suspending highway use taxes and tolls for transporting agricultural products, provide vouchers from food banks to purchase local dairy and agricultural products, and suspending, for one year, the 60-hour overtime threshold for farm laborers. Small steps like these are designed to support these farmers in a time when they need it more than ever.

Here's the letter

Dear Governor Cuomo, Legislative Leaders & Commissioner Ball:

As New York’s elected leaders, our responsibilities to constituents have never been moreimportant. Your efforts to provide leadership and stability during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis are genuinely appreciated.

With more than 180,000 cases of the virus, no state has felt the social, economic, and public health effects of the virus like New York. As we identify ways to manage and minimize the devastating impacts of the virus, we must consider immediate steps to provide critical relief to New York State’s agricultural industry.

April 15, 2020 - 4:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in USDA, DHS, H-2A visa, agriculture, business.

From the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Homeland Security, with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), today (April 15) announced a temporary final rule to change certain H-2A requirements to help U.S. agricultural employers avoid disruptions in lawful agricultural-related employment, protect the nation’s food supply chain, and lessen impacts from the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.

These temporary flexibilities will not weaken or eliminate protections for U.S. workers. 

Under this temporary final rule, an H-2A petitioner with a valid temporary labor certification who is concerned that workers will be unable to enter the country due to travel restrictions can start employing certain foreign workers who are currently in H-2A status in the United States immediately after United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives the H-2A petition, but no earlier than the start date of employment listed on the petition.

To take advantage of this time-limited change in regulatory requirements, the H-2A worker seeking to change employers must already be in the United States and in valid H-2A status.

Additionally, USCIS is temporarily amending its regulations to protect the country’s food supply chain by allowing H-2A workers to stay beyond the three-year maximum allowable period of stay in the United States. These temporary changes will encourage and facilitate the continued lawful employment of foreign temporary and seasonal agricultural workers during the COVID-19 national emergency.

Agricultural employers should utilize this streamlined process if they are concerned with their ability to bring in the temporary workers who were previously authorized to work for the employer in H-2A classification. At no point is it acceptable for employers to hire illegal aliens.

“This Administration has determined that continued agricultural employment, currently threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, is vital to maintaining and securing the country’s critical food supply chain. The temporary changes announced by USCIS provide the needed stability during this unprecedented crisis,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf. 

“USDA welcomes these additional flexibilities provided by the Department of Homeland Security today,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Providing flexibility for H-2A employers to utilize H-2A workers that are currently in the United States is critically important as we continue to see travel and border restrictions as a result of COVID-19.

"USDA continues to work with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor and the Department of State to minimize disruption and make sure farmers have access to these critical workers necessary to maintain the integrity in our food supply.”

The temporary final rule is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. If the new petition is approved, the H-2A worker will be able to stay in the United States for a period of time not to exceed the validity period of the Temporary Labor Certification.

DHS will issue a new temporary final rule in the Federal Register to amend the termination date of these new procedures in the event DHS determines that circumstances demonstrate a continued need for the temporary changes to the H-2A regulations. 

The H-2A nonimmigrant classification applies to alien workers seeking to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature in the United States, usually lasting no longer than one year, for which able, willing, and qualified U.S. workers are not available.

April 9, 2020 - 2:25pm

Press release:

Agricultural producers now have more time to repay Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL) as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. The loans now mature at 12 months rather than nine, and this flexibility is available for most commodities.

“Spring is the season when most producers have the biggest need for capital, and many may have or are considering putting commodities under loan," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. "Extending the commodity loan maturity affords farmers more time to market their commodity and repay their loan at a later time.

"We are extremely pleased that USDA can offer these marketing flexibilities at this critical time for the agriculture industry and the nation.”

Effective immediately, producers of eligible commodities now have up to 12 months to repay their commodity loans. The maturity extension applies to nonrecourse loans for crop years 2018, 2019 and 2020. Eligible open loans must in good standing with a maturity date of March 31 or later or new crop year (2019 or 2020) loans requested by Sept. 30. All new loans requested by Sept. 30 will have a maturity date 12 months following the date of approval.

The maturity extension for current, active loans will be automatically extended an additional three months. Loans that matured March 31 have already been automatically extended by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Producers who prefer a nine-month loan will need to contact their local FSA county office. Loans requested after Sept. 30 will have a term of nine months.

Eligible commodities include barley, chickpeas (small and large), corn, cotton (upland and extra-long staple), dry peas, grain sorghum, honey, lentils, mohair, oats, peanuts, rice (long and medium grain), soybeans, unshorn pelts, wheat, wool (graded and nongraded); and other oilseeds, including canola, crambe, flaxseed, mustard seed, rapeseed, safflower, sunflower seed, and sesame seed. Seed cotton and sugar are not eligible.

About MALs

Placing commodities under loan provides producers interim financing to meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are low and allows producers to store production for more orderly marketing of commodities throughout the year.

These loans are considered nonrecourse because the commodity is pledged as loan collateral, and producers have the option of delivering the pledged collateral to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for repayment of the outstanding loan at maturity.

MAL Repayment

Under the new maturity provisions, producers can still repay the loan as they would have before the extension:

  • repay the MAL on or before the maturity date;
  • upon maturity by delivering or forfeiting the commodity to CCC as loan repayment; or
  • after maturity and before CCC acquires the farm-stored commodity by repaying the outstanding MAL principle and interest.

Marketing Loan Gains

A Marketing Loan Gain occurs when a MAL is repaid at less than the loan principal. If market gain is applicable during the now-extended loan period, producers can receive a gain on the repayment made before the loan matures.

For more information on MALs, contact the nearest FSA county office. USDA Service Centers, including FSA county offices, are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

April 7, 2020 - 12:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, covid-19, CARES Act, farm aid, USDA, NYFB.

Press release:

New York Farm Bureau is requesting immediate help for farmers who are facing serious economic challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. The recently passed CARES Act provides $9.5 billion in funding for USDA, and NYFB is encouraging that funding to be used for direct payments to farms.

NYFB President David Fisher has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to make the case for federal assistance which spells out a number of ways USDA can help a diverse range of farms in New York weather the storm that is affecting millions of small businesses. This would help offset the fact that most farms may not meet the traditional eligibility requirements for Small Business Administration programs. At a time when food security is of utmost importance, we must do everything we can to keep farmers in business during this most challenging time.

The letter from President Fisher reads in part, “While no one could have predicted the extent of this virus on the country or its food supply, the impacts have been real and unprecedented for America’s farmers, including those in New York. Not only have farmers experienced the loss of markets, dumping of products, and labor disruptions, also there remains uncertainty of when they may see any type of recovery.”

In addition to direct payments, some additional requests include:

  • USDA should immediately make purchases of dairy products including but not limited to fluid milk, butter, cheeses and dry milk powders. Additional support could be provided through export assistance programs and direct commodity support.
  • The creation of a voucher program for people in need through the Milk Donation Program, as authorized under the 2018 Farm Bill, to facilitate the distribution of donated milk through grocery stores and other venues since some food banks and food pantries often do not have enough cold storage to accept large quantities of highly perishable products.
  • With the steep decline in purchases in the food service sector, USDA should consider developing a purchase program that would quickly provide stability to all impacted fresh produce growers through the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. 
  • Provisions should be made for livestock, equine, horticulture, craft distilleries, maple producers and more who are facing closures and a significant loss of business.

Read the requests made by NYFB to assist farmers across the state and the full letter here.

April 6, 2020 - 2:07pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today (April 6) called on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Purdue to immediately release funding and send aid directly to New York’s struggling farmers.

Schumer negotiated $9.5 billion in emergency funding for the agricultural sector already suffering massive financial losses due to reduced demand and supply chain disruptions. The funding was part of the bipartisan $2 trillion CARES Act.

With more than 33,000 farms in New York State, Schumer explained that with restaurants, schools, and other industries closing nationwide due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, New York farmers are losing major revenue streams.

Given the disruptions in supply chains, rampant food insecurity, and the importance of New York agricultural products in the U.S. food supply, the USDA must expedite the allocation of the $9.5 billion emergency agriculture aid set aside in the CARES Act and prioritize New York farmers, Schumer said.

Farmers Forced to Discard Food, Dump Milk

“New York’s farmers and the New York agricultural industry is the lifeblood of the nation,” Schumer said. “In good times, New York farmers work long hours on tight margins but in the midst of a global pandemic, they are losing revenue streams, suffering huge financial losses and being forced to discard their products during a time when we need a reliable food supply.

"I fought to make $9.5 billion accessible to help them out during this crisis, and it is imperative that we immediately put those dollars to use. I will not rest until New York farmers have the resources they need to help Americans get food on the table.”

In addition to demanding immediate help for struggling New York farmers, Schumer called for the USDA to take New York dairy producers, specialty crop farmers, and local and organic farms into consideration as among the hardest hit in the nation.

The Senator revealed that some dairy co-ops are directing farmers to dump their milk, indicating a huge loss in revenue for New York agriculture as milk is New York’s #1 agricultural product. Some farmers dumped more than 100,000 pounds of milk last week, and it is estimated that dairy farmers statewide were forced to dump between 25 million and 35 million pounds.

With prices plummeting and processing plants closing, dairy farmers could lose anywhere between $1 million and $1.2 million in the aftermath of COVID-19. Additionally, several cabbage growers have been unable to sell their produce for two weeks and are watching their entire harvest go to waste as their crops in cold storage reach the end of their freshness.

Small, Local & Organic Farms Are Hit Hard

Schumer also emphasized that local farms would be severely impacted by the crisis. Many small, local, and organic farms depend on farmers markets as an avenue to sell their produce, but as states issue stay-at-home orders and some local governments suspend farmers markets altogether, those small farmers are losing a major revenue streams.

They also are unable to generate revenue through visitor business and experiencing losses both financially and marketing-wise with the cancellation of food-related festivals that often happen in the spring.

Nurseries are also struggling to survive in the midst of the crisis because they are designated as nonessential businesses, while their large-corporation hardware store competitors are allowed to remain open. Schumer urged the USDA to support small business nurseries as they struggle to get through the crisis.

Senator Schumer’s letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue.

Dear Secretary Perdue

"As you know, the agricultural sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak and will continue to face grave challenges in the coming months. Unfortunately, farmers in my home state of New York are not immune to the ramifications of this global pandemic. New York farmers are experiencing massive economic losses due to reduced demand from restaurants, disruptions in global trade, school closures, and emergency orders that have idled other industries. Farmers are essential businesses who need our support to continue growing food during this crisis; otherwise, we risk our food security long after the pandemic has passed.

"I urge you to act immediately to allocate the $9.5 billion emergency funding provided in the CARES Act I fought hard to obtain to support the agricultural sector and the over 33,000 farms in New York State. Time is short, as the planting season is underway in much of the country. As you decide how this assistance will flow, please give careful consideration to the circumstances of New York State, which has been hit the hardest by COVID-19. My state has a very diverse agricultural industry, populated mostly by small and medium-sized family operations who depend on robust consumer demand in the New York City metropolitan area and thriving international trade for their markets. I have heard many concerns from struggling New York farmers over the past several weeks, and urge you to pay special attention to the following issues:

Dairy Industry

"New York’s dairy industry has been heavily impacted by drastic reductions in school meals, decreased demand from restaurants, and the slowdown in global trade. Prices for milk have sharply declined, making it difficult if not impossible for dairy farms to break even. Both large and small co-ops have been directing farmers to dump milk to balance supply/demand volatility and workforce shortages at processors due to COVID-19 illnesses among employees. At a time when millions of Americans are food insecure we must do everything we can to help our nations dairy farmers get through these turbulent times.

"I urge the federal government to use all available resources to assist the dairy industry during this unprecedented crisis. At a minimum, USDA should immediately use the $9.5 billion emergency fund included in the CARES Act to assist dairy farmers and co-ops through this health crisis and economic downturn by developing a compensatory mechanism to farmers directed to dump milk. In addition, I urge USDA to use funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation to make dairy purchases, perhaps through a voucher system for food banks or COVID-19 displaced workers, to help ensure that people who are experiencing food insecurity and hunger have access to healthful dairy products at their time of greatest need.

"I have also heard concerns from my sheep and goat dairy farmers, who are also experiencing the devastating impacts of the outbreak. I ask USDA to include sheep and dairy goat farmers in any assistance programs you develop.

Specialty Crops

"Farmers who grow specialty crops are also facing devastating hardships. The many New York farmers who sell directly to restaurants have experienced significant decreases in sales over the past month. As demand from restaurants dries up and crops in cold storage reach the end of their freshness, farmers will likely have to have to dispose of their crops, leading to an increase in food waste.

"As an example, cabbage farmers in New York are some of the specialty crop growers who are dealing with the crippling impacts of the outbreak. Several growers in my state have not been able to sell any cabbage at all for the past two weeks. These farms are anticipating millions of dollars in losses for their cabbage harvests and I expect to see similar losses for other specialty crops.

Local Farms and Organic Crops

"Many small, local, and organic farms generate a portion of their income by operating “you-pick” operations, welcoming members of the public onto their farms and allowing them to pick fruits and vegetables for a fee. Under the stay-at-home guidelines, farms are anticipating losing the revenue generated by farm visitors. Similarly, maple producers are experiencing immense losses from the cancellation of events like the NYS Maple Weekend and stay-at-home guidelines that have essentially closed down tourism in the Adirondacks and other maple-producing regions of the state. Aid must take into account the diversity of farm businesses and ensure that farms experiencing losses from direct marketing operations are also eligible for USDA disaster assistance, similar to relief provided to row crop farmers in the past.

Farmers Markets

"Many New York growers depend on farmers markets for a large portion of their income. As states issue stay-at-home orders and implement social distancing guidance, farmers markets have experienced a decrease in visitors and sales. Some local governments have even suspended farmers markets entirely, depriving farmers of a critical revenue stream. This decrease in income is having a devastating impact on small farms and local farmers markets. Again, USDA assistance should ensure that all farms, including diversified, direct marketing operations, have an ability to benefit from COVID-19 relief measures to ensure their financial viability after this current crisis.

Green Industry

"As states close all but essential businesses, nurseries are struggling to survive. Though horticulture and ornamental crops are an important agricultural sector, they are not considered essential because they do not produce food. Classified as nonessential businesses, many nurseries have been forced to close during public health emergency. Meanwhile, their Big Box competitors, often classified as hardware stores – an essential business – remain open. Nursery operations are also experiencing substantial hardship from widespread cancellation of events, weddings, and religious ceremonies. They grew their inventory in anticipation of seasonal demand and now have no market for their products. Please consider ways that USDA can ensure nurseries get the support they need during this crisis.

"Thank you for considering the impacts to New York’s agricultural sector and for doing everything you can to make sure the farmers, dairy producers, and processors we depend on are protected to the greatest extent possible."

March 30, 2020 - 1:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Chris Jacobs, NY-27, business, agriculture.

Press release:

Trump endorsed Republican candidate for Congress Chris Jacobs (NY-27) held a virtual round table with Western New York farmers on Saturday to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on local agriculture and what can be done to help farmers keep operating.

“Big decisions need to be made as we move into our planting season," said Molly Anderson, of Torrey Farms. " The effects of COVID-19 will determine how we make those decisions and impact our capacity to perform. Luckily, President Trump is a businessman and understands the critical importance of our nation’s farms and will work with us so we can have the resources to get through this."

"The utmost concern, whether it was a dairy farmer or a crop farmer was the health and safety of their workforce," Jacobs said. "No different than any other essential business, farmers have been following the guidelines of health officials to ensure they can still perform their duties without jeopardizing the health of employees.

“Not only is agriculture the largest economic sector in our region, but our farmers are directly responsible for ensuring abundant healthy food remains on our tables. It has been my priority to stay directly in contact with those vital to this industry and learn what they need so that when I take office I can get right to work helping them through this crisis.

"I am deeply encouraged by everything Congress and President Trump has done to assist our farmers by passing the CARES Act, and I look forward to helping my future colleagues ensure the prosperity of our farmers for future generations.”

The CARES Act, which passed on Friday in the House of Representatives and was subsequently signed by President Trump, provides critical relief to farmers in America. Among that relief is $14 billion for USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, $9.5 billion in funding for livestock operation programs, $100 million in additional rural broadband grants, and increased deductions for farmers who donate commodities.

March 27, 2020 - 4:36pm

Press release:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement Thursday (March 26) in response to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to authorize temporary waivers for in-person interviews for eligible H-2 visa applicants.

“Temporarily waiving in-person interviews for H-2 visa applicants streamlines the application process and helps provide steady labor for the agriculture sector during this time of uncertainty,” Secretary Perdue said. “H-2 labor is vital to the economy and food security of America – our farmers and producers depend on these workers to continue to feed and clothe the world.”

USDA has been directly engaged with the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to ensure minimal disruption in H-2A and H-2B visa applications during these uncertain times. This Administration is doing everything possible to maintain continuity of this critically important program.

These flexibilities will allow our farmers and ranchers to utilize workers they have used in the past, or those who are already in the United States, to get our food from the farm to our tables.

March 24, 2020 - 12:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in National Ag Day, business, agriculture, farmers, pandemic.

Press release:

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement today (March 24) regarding National Agriculture Day and President Donald J. Trump’s Proclamation recognizing the importance of America’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers:

“Our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers in America are feeding and clothing the world," Secretary Perdue said. "Now more than ever it’s important that the American people not forget that. Our farmers are resilient, and during these uncertain times they are still working, day in and day out, to produce what’s needed for our growing population.

"Today, on National Ag Day, I challenge the American public to keep our farmers, ranchers and producers on their minds – for all their work to provide us a safe, healthy and abundant food supply. We owe them a debt of gratitude.”

View U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue's brief speech about today:

March 19, 2020 - 5:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, H-2A, H-2B, labor certification, covid-19.

Press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today (March 19) announced a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to help facilitate the identification of foreign and domestic workers that may be available and eligible to transfer to other U.S. agricultural sector employers to fulfill critical workforce needs within the United States under existing regulatory authority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ensuring minimal disruption for our agricultural workforce during these uncertain times is a top priority for this administration,” Secretary Perdue said. “President Trump knows that these workers are critical to maintaining our food supply and our farmers and ranchers are counting on their ability to work. We will continue to work to make sure our supply chain is impacted as minimally as possible.”

“American farmers and ranchers are at the frontlines of maintaining the nation’s food supply,” Secretary Scalia said. “In these unprecedented times, it is critical for them to have the workforce they need. This new partnership between USDA and DOL will help support our farmers, ranchers, and American families.”

Background

USDA and DOL have identified nearly 20,000 H-2A and H-2B certified positions that have expiring contracts in the coming weeks. There will be workers leaving these positions who could be available to transfer to a different employer’s labor certification. The data, available on www.farmers.gov/manage/h2a, includes the number of certified worker positions, the current employer name and contact, attorney/agent name and contact, and the worksite address

This information will be a resource to H-2A employers whose workforce has been delayed because of travel restrictions or visa processing limitations. Employers should be aware that all statutory and regulatory requirements continue to apply. Employers are encouraged to monitor www.travel.state.gov for the latest information and should monitor the relevant Embassy/Consular websites for specific operational information.

March 18, 2020 - 2:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in covid-19, NYSFB, business, agriculture.

Statement New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher:

“The agricultural community is strong. We understand adversity and come together in trying times. Our farms and agribusinesses are working hard to follow safety protocols and ensuring food production continues for the people of New York State and the country.

For this to continue, it is also important that agriculture remain open for business. New York Farm Bureau has sent a letter to Governor Cuomo commending him on the state’s response to COVID-19, but also asking that any mandatory business closures exempt farms, agricultural businesses that serve as a supply line, and food processing plants.

The letter reads in part, “Despite the spread of the COVID-19 virus, cows need to be milked, livestock needs to be fed, seeds need to be planted, machinery has to be repaired and regulations mandating environmental compliance will need to be met in order for food to continue to be placed on store shelves. The state’s food security and livestock health depend on obtaining an exemption from mandatory workplace staff reductions or closures for businesses across the state.”

In addition, New York Farm Bureau is concerned that the United States’ Consulates have suspended in-person processing of H-2A agricultural guest worker visas just as the spring planting season is weeks away. While we understand that plans are being implemented to consider workers who have previously been granted H-2A visas, it would halt the hiring of any new foreign workers. This could delay both planting and harvesting on farms and result in lower food production.

New York Farm Bureau has expressed our thoughts to the White House and members of New York’s congressional delegation. We have also encouraged our members to contact their representatives as well.

The letter to President Trump reads in part, “With the continued spread of COVID-19, now more than ever, it is essential that America maintain its level of high-quality food production to ensure food security for the nation. These H-2A visa workers help to plant, manage, and harvest essential crops, including fruits and vegetables. While we are not asking the Administration to jeopardize public health and safety or border security, NYFB requests that the Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ensure that all H-2A visa applications are reviewed and acted upon in a timely manner to ensure the flow of approved H-2A workers into the U.S.”

Americans are coming together to get through this pandemic as a united nation. Farmers are doing their part, and the people of this great state and country can rest assured we will get the job done for us all.”

Click here to read the full letter to Governor Cuomo.

Click here to read the full letter to President Trump.

New York Farm Bureau is the State’s largest agricultural lobbying/trade organization. Its members and the public know the organization as “The Voice of New York Agriculture.” New York Farm Bureau is dedicated to solving the economic and public policy issues challenging the agricultural community.

March 11, 2020 - 1:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, business, Oxbo International Corp., byron.

Press release:

Byron -- Oxbo International Corporation (“Oxbo”) was pleased to exhibit several products at this year’s New York Farm Show in Syracuse, held Feb. 27-29.

The Oxbo 7550 front boom (high-clearance) sprayer (in top photo) and its 77 inches of crop clearance was highlighted by Farm Progress’ Northeast Editor Chris Torres after the show.

“Each year Oxbo brings equipment to exhibit at the New York Farm Show because this show draws a broad group of agricultural customers from across the Northeast,” said Jim Welch, a Genesee County based Technical Services representative for Oxbo.

“This gives us a great opportunity to talk to our customer base and listen to suggestions to keep up with their changing needs. For 2020, we were able to exhibit our 2114 and 2334 forage mergers and our 7550 high clearance sprayer in the booth. Oxbo is the global leader in forage merger technology; forage merging is critical to feed quality for dairies in the Northeast.

"The 7550 is a new product for us, but we have supported high clearance sprayer customers for over twenty years; this product builds on our experiences in this industry and delivers a unique factory-direct sales and service model to our customer base. Both models are built locally in our Byron, New York facility,” added Welch.

Oxbo International Corporation is a leading supplier of specialized harvesters and other equipment for niche market agriculture. With manufacturing operations in Byron, Clear Lake, Wis., and Lynden, Wash., Oxbo markets its equipment to agribusiness and producers worldwide.

Photo courtesy of Chris Torres.

March 7, 2020 - 9:53am
Video Sponsor

MY-T Acres, located off Lewiston Road in Batavia, is Genesee County's Agriculture Business of the Year. The Call family will receive the award at the Chamber of Commerce annual awards dinner tonight Quality Inn & Suites.

February 24, 2020 - 5:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in farm labor, agriculture, batavia, business.

Press release:

New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon today announced she will convene a wage board for farm laborers that will hold hearings, review and make recommendations regarding overtime work for farm laborers in New York State.

Under the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law last year, farm laborers are entitled to overtime premium pay as of Jan. 1 for any work that they perform in excess of 60 hours per week, and for work performed on their designated day of rest.

As part of that Act, the wage board will consider and make recommendations as to overtime work and, specifically, will hear testimony about reducing the threshold for overtime below 60 hours per week and whether to do so in phases.

“We worked hard to ensure this bill included the proper labor protections and benefits that our farm laborers are entitled to,” Commissioner Reardon said. “We have an opportunity to improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of farmworkers. Overtime is a key component and we need to get it right.”

Convening the Wage Board

As required by the Act, New York State Labor Commissioner Reardon will convene a wage board with the following members:

  • David Fisher, president of the New York Farm Bureau
  • Denis Hughes, former president of the New York State AFL-CIO
  • Brenda McDuffie, president of the Buffalo Urban League

Under the Act, the wage board must hold at least three hearings at which the public will be afforded an opportunity to provide comments. The board will hold five hearings in various parts of the state. The board will carefully consider the input it gathers from farmers and other stakeholders.

The board has until Dec. 31 to make its recommendations, after which the Commissioner will have 45 days to take administrative action on those recommendations.

Public hearings are scheduled as follows:

  • Friday 2/28 – 11 a.m. – Albany – New York State Museum Cultural Education Center, Clark Auditorium, 222 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12230
  • Friday 3/13 – 11 a.m. – Syracuse – Onondaga Community College, Storer Auditorium, 4585 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY 13215
  • Monday 3/23 – 11 a.m. – Binghamton – Binghamton University, Symposium Hall, Center of Excellence Building Innovative Technology Complex, 45 Murray Hill Road, Vestal, NY 13850
  • Thursday 4/16 – 11 a.m. – Long Island – Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville, NY 11738
  • Thursday 4/23 – 11 a.m. – Batavia – Genesee Community College, William Stuart Forum, 1 College Road, Batavia, NY 14020
February 13, 2020 - 4:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, annual ag dinner, agriculture, alexander.

Press release:

This spring come and celebrate Genesee County’s No. 1 industry -- agriculture!

Tickets are still available for the 18th annual Celebrate Agriculture Dinner. It will take place Saturday, April 18, at 6 p.m. at the Alexander Firemen's Recreation Hall, located at 10708 Alexander Road in Alexander.

The highlight of the night is a delicious meal using locally produced foods impeccably prepared by Penna’s Catering. The farm-to-fork feast is open to the public.

Tickets can be purchased at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce (8276 Park Road, Batavia) for $30 each or a table of 10 for $275.

Sponsorships are also available which help support agricultural educational events in Genesee County, such as Kinderfarmin’. Order your tickets now as they will not be available at the door.

The Celebrate Ag Dinner is coordinated by the following partners: Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Genesee County Farm Bureau. Many local farms and businesses sponsor or donate products to this event.

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

February 10, 2020 - 4:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in farmers, agriculture, business, disaster area.

Information from press releases.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated 43 New York counties, including Genesee County, as primary natural disaster areas.

This designation allows the Farm Service agencies in affected states to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is Sept. 29.

Excessive Rain

Producers in Albany, Allegany, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Delaware, Erie, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Livingston, Monroe, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Sullivan, Tioga, Washington, Wyoming, and Yates counties, who suffered losses due to excessive rain that has occurred since April 1, 2019, are eligible to apply for emergency loans.

Producers in the contiguous New York counties of Broome, Cattaraugus, Cortland, Dutchess, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Orange, St. Lawrence, Tompkins, Ulster, Warren, and Wayne, along with Berkshire County, Mass.; Bradford, Erie, McKean, Pike, Potter, Susquehanna, Tioga, Warren, and Wayne counties in Pennsylvania; and Addison, Bennington, Chittenden, Grand Isle, and Rutland counties in Vermont, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.

"The farmers in Genesee County were certainly affected by excessive moisture in the spring," according to Molly Preston, the GC executive director of the local Farm Service Agency, which has an office on Liberty Street in Batavia.

"However, many of the farmers were able to get crops planted, even if it was a bit later than usual. 'The cows need to be fed' was the response from many farmers when asked if they were able to get all their crops in.

"In Genesee County there were approximately 12,500 acres reported as prevented (from being) planted. There are roughly 150,000 acres reported (as planted) annually in Genesee County.

The main crops affected locally were corn and soybeans, but some vegetable crops were also affected. In addition, some new seeded forages were delayed from being planted during the normal planting period, Preston says.

Excessive Rain, Flash Flooding, and Flooding

Producers in Cattaraugus, Jefferson, Lewis, and Madison counties, who suffered losses due to excessive rain, flash flooding, and flooding that has occurred since April 15, 2019, are eligible to apply for emergency loans.

Producers in the contiguous New York counties of Alleghany, Chautauqua, Chenango, Cortland, Erie, Herkimer, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, St. Lawrence, and Wyoming, along with McKean and Warren counties in Pennsylvania, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.

FSA will review the loan applications based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

FSA has a variety of additional programs to help farmers recover from the impacts of this disaster. FSA programs that do not require a disaster declaration include: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish ProgramEmergency Conservation ProgramLivestock Forage Disaster ProgramLivestock Indemnity Program;Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Farmers may contact their local USDA service center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at farmers.gov/recover.

February 7, 2020 - 1:11pm

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of two programs that protect hemp producers’ crops from natural disasters.

A pilot hemp insurance program through Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) provides coverage against loss of yield because of insurable causes of loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain or Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage protects against losses associated with lower yields, destroyed crops or prevented planting where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available. Producers may apply now, and the deadline to sign up for both programs is March 16, 2020.

“We are pleased to offer these coverages to hemp producers. Hemp offers new economic opportunities for our farmers, and they are anxious for a way to protect their product in the event of a natural disaster,” said Farm Production and Conservation Undersecretary Bill Northey.

Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Pilot Insurance Program

The MPCI pilot insurance is a new crop insurance option for hemp producers in select counties of 21 states for the 2020 crop year. The program is available for eligible producers in certain counties in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. Information on eligible counties is accessible through the USDA Risk Management Agency’s Actuarial Information Browser.

Among other requirements, to be eligible for the pilot program, a hemp producer must have at least one year of history producing the crop and have a contract for the sale of the insured hemp. In addition, the minimum acreage requirement is five acres for CBD and 20 acres for grain and fiber. Hemp will not qualify for replant payments or prevented plant payments under MPCI.

This pilot insurance coverage is available to hemp growers in addition to revenue protection for hemp offered under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection plan of insurance. Also, beginning with the 2021 crop year, hemp will be insurable under the Nursery crop insurance program and the Nursery Value Select pilot crop insurance program. Under both nursery programs, hemp will be insurable if grown in containers and in accordance with federal regulations, any applicable state or tribal laws and terms of the crop insurance policy.

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

NAP provides coverage against loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain, seed or CBD for the 2020 crop year where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available.

NAP basic 50/55 coverage is available at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production. Buy-up coverage is available in some cases. The 2018 Farm Bill allows for buy-up levels of NAP coverage from 50 to 65 percent of expected production in 5 percent increments, at 100 percent of the average market price. Premiums apply for buy-up coverage.

For all coverage levels, the NAP service fee is $325 per crop or $825 per producer per county, not to exceed $1,950 for a producer with farming interests in multiple counties.

Eligibility Requirements

Under a regulation authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and issued in October 2019, all growers must have a license to grow hemp and must comply with applicable state, tribal or federal regulations or operate under a state or university research pilot, as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

Producers must report hemp acreage to FSA after planting to comply with federal and state law enforcement. The Farm Bill defines hemp as containing 0.3 percent or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry-weight basis. Hemp having THC above the federal statutory compliance level of 0.3 percent is an uninsurable or ineligible cause of loss and will result in the hemp production being ineligible for production history purposes.

For more information on USDA risk management programs for hemp producers, visit farmers.gov/hemp. For more information on the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, visit USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services’ website FAQs here.

January 30, 2020 - 11:54am

Press release:

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team will be hosting its annual Soybean and Small Grains Congress for producers from across the region on Feb. 5 and 6.

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

  • Wednesday, Feb. 5 – Quality Inn & Suites, 8250 Park Road, Batavia
  • Thursday, Feb. 6 – Quality Inn, 2468 Route 414, Waterloo

Guest speaker Dennis Pennington, wheat extension specialist, Michigan State University Extension will present: "Managing Wheat for High Yield Potential." His current research program includes the wheat state performance trials, precision planting, high management BASF project and on farm research and demonstration. Pennington is committed to excellence and strives to fulfill the MSU Extension mission by bringing science-based information and knowledge to critical needs and issues.

Additional topics to be discussed by Cornell University researchers include:

  • Disease Management Issues in Small Grains and Soybeans
  • Effective Programs for Controlling Waterhemp in Soybeans
  • Building a Soybean Yield Potential Database in New York
  • Cereal Leaf Beetle: History, Biology, Management and Biocontrol
  • Managing Spray Drift
  • Assessing Pesticide Hazard vs. Risk: Glyphosate, a Case Study

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

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

To register by phone, contact: Brandie Waite at: 585-343-3040, ext.138

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

January 30, 2020 - 11:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, alexander, National Grid.

Press release:

National Grid has approved an economic development grant totaling $127,000 to offset costs related to an upgrade to three-phase electricity power at McCormick Family Dairy Farm in Alexander.

As part of an upgrade, the owners of the farm are planning to install new equipment that will keep their 2,500 cows healthy, save the company money and add power to run fans, motors and improve product quality.

“We frequently work with small businesses and agribusiness customers that are looking to grow but may be limited due to lack of three-phase power at their site,” said National Grid Regional Director Ken Kujawa.

“McCormick Family Farms had examined other potential alternatives to meet their new and growing electricity needs. By working with them, it was determined that three-phase power is the appropriate solution to meet the farm’s electric load.”

The grant was made through National Grid’s Three-Phase Power Incentive program, which provides grants to fund the extension of three-phase electricity service to eligible National Grid customers.

More information about National Grid’s economic development programs is available at www.shovelready.com.

January 17, 2020 - 12:07pm

Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 
 

Copyright © 2008-2019 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button