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agriculture

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.”

December 12, 2018 - 1:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, CDL.

Press release:

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, in collaboration with Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, will be offering a CDL Training Program for Genesee County agriculture producers and their employees for Class A and Class B licenses. This training program is designed for producers and farm employees that have some experience with commercial truck operation.

An informational meeting will be held on 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 12, 2018 - 11:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in farm bill, agriculture, business, Charles Schumer.

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed the details of the newly released 2018 Farm Bill, Conference Report, which passed the Senate by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 87-13 yesterday.

Schumer said the bill will benefit key Upstate New York agricultural communities. Senator Schumer detailed several major areas in which the Farm Bill will be a major boost to Upstate farmers, growers, food-needy families and producers, as well as other New York businesses.

Schumer said the newly announced bill reflects a variety of different priorities he pushed for on behalf of the New York agricultural community. Schumer explained the bill will give New York's agricultural industry a shot in the arm.

Schumer lauded the months-long bipartisan process to craft the Farm Bill and congratulated committee leaders Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Republican Chair Pat Roberts, as well as Committee Member Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for their assiduous work.

“The Farm Bill is a major victory for Upstate New York and its large and vital agricultural community,” Schumer said. “Ensuring the passage of a Farm Bill is vital for New York’s agricultural community and our economy as a whole.

"The bill makes further investments to help Upstate New York dairy farmers, boosts the rapidly growing organic sector, builds on New York’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry, expands rural broadband, strengthens crop insurance, and protects our most vulnerable hungry families and seniors from harmful cuts.

"While the bill does not contain everything that we fought for, it is ultimately a win for the farmers that are the heart of Upstate New York."

Dairy

The newly introduced Farm Bill includes major victories for Upstate New York dairy farmers and producers. The newly introduced Farm Bill invests in programs to help give much-needed relief to Upstate New York dairy farmers and producers. The Farm Bill includes a variety of helpful reforms including, an investment of $100 million to help improve the Federal dairy insurance program to help make the program work better for small to medium dairy farms, a provision waiving administrative fees for beginning, veteran, and underserved farmers, a provision continuing the vital changes made in the Omnibus Budget bill that allowed for the creation of new dairy insurance tools in the future, and a program that would provide funding to dairy organizations who chose to donate their products.

Rural Communities

This Farm Bill focused on investing in our small rural communities across New York State and nationwide. One example of this was the establishment of a new grant program that will target high-need, rural areas seeking to undertake broadband internet projects. These projects will help connect our most in need areas and upgrade to more modern internet access. Additionally, the Farm Bill made important investments in programs that help grow our rural small businesses, as well as those that help to fight the opioid crisis.

Agriculture and Farming/Growing

Organic Farming

The newly introduced Farm Bill establishes mandatory funding of $24 million over FY19-23 for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), which helps support farmers who want to become involved in the organic market by providing reimbursements of some of their annual fees for United States Department of Agriculture organic certification -- it includes an increase in critical funding for organic research through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative from its current level of $20 million to $50 million by FY2023. Finally, the Farm Bill increases the authorization for the National Organic Program (NOP). Schumer has been a major supporter of this program that helps USDA protect farmers from having to unfairly compete against fraudulent organic imports while also helping to maintain consumer confidence in the USDA certified organic brand. This bill increases the authorization for the NOP to $16.5 million in FY2019, $18 million in FY2020, $20 million in FY2021, $22 million in FY2022, and $24 million in FY2023.

Specialty Crops

The Farm Bill contained a number of provisions beneficial to Upstate farmers, but especially to farmers of specialty crops. New York produces a wide range of specialty crops (fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, herbs and spices, maple syrup, Christmas trees, etc.) that rank highly nationwide in terms of both production and economic value. The Senate Farm Bill, according to Schumer, provides vital funding to key programs that aid specialty crop producers, such as the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. These programs help provide support to New York's specialty crop industry in the form of robust research funding.

Maple

The Farm Bill reauthorizes Schumer’s original legislation known as The Maple Tap Act, which Schumer said is now officially called the Acer Access and Development Program. This provision will continue to help maple producers in the Hudson Valley and across Upstate New York boost their production and become more competitive with places like Canada, which produces 85 percent of the world's maple product. Schumer said, specifically, this provision provides an authorization for USDA grants to states that create programs to encourage individual and private landowners to open up their trees to maple tapping. Schumer's legislation would also provide grants to states to support market promotion, maple industry research and development, and education through leading institutions, like Cornell.

Hemp

Another important provision Schumer fought to include was the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Schumer, a cosponsor of the Hemp Farming Act, said the provision could help unlock industrial hemp’s full potential as an agricultural commodity across Upstate New York by removing hemp from a federal list of controlled substances. Schumer said the bill will do four important things for farmers nationwide including in New York State:

  • Remove industrial hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Empower states to be the principal regulators of hemp;
  • Allow hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
  • Make hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance;
  • Most importantly, Schumer said this important provision would allow for New York’s agricultural community to grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity if they so choose, allowing New York growers more flexibility.

Barley

The Farm Bill requires the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service to record all barley production in New York State. By ensuring that this critical information is accessible for barley farmers, they will be able to better determine any future plantings. Additionally, the provision would give crop insurance providers access to this essential information, which could spur them to expand coverage and potentially even offer a malting barley endorsement.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP)

Schumer explained that he fought tooth and nail to protect SNAP from any cuts in the Farm Bill. Schumer said that he also was able to push for other provisions to help those most in need. First, the Farm Bill creates opportunities for job training for some of the most in-need New Yorkers who participate in SNAP, to help them find and keep good-paying jobs. Second, the Farm Bill simplifies paperwork for New York seniors who participate in SNAP to ensure they get the nutritional assistance they need and deserve as quickly as possible. And lastly, the Farm Bill creates the “Farm to Food Bank” initiative, which will help provide New Yorkers using SNAP with locally grown, New York produce and other food.

Conservation

Schumer said the Farm Bill funds key environmental programs that are essential to farmers, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). These programs are voluntary conservation initiatives that farmers can utilize through the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to help them continue to be good stewards of the land.

PAWS

The newly introduced Farm Bill also includes a vital provision called the Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS) Act, which Schumer is currently a cosponsor of. This bill would help give victims of domestic violence and their pets greater access to safe sheltering options, as well as provide stronger legal protections to pets. According to the Humane Society, up to one-third of domestic violence victims delay leaving a dangerous situation, because they fear for the safety of their pets, and up to one-fourth return to an abuser due to concern for their pets.

Local food programs

The Farm Bill creates a new Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) by combining the Value Added Producer Grants Program and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. The value-added producers grant program helps dairy farmers that start producing artisanal cheese or apple growers that enter the hard cider industry. The grants administered through the new LAMP program will continue to support strengthening our local food systems from rural farmers to urban consumers.

Water, Waste Disposal, and Wastewater Facility grants

The Farm Bill provides funding to support and strengthen rural water infrastructure. Funding to Rural Development programs like the Water, Waste Disposal, and Wastewater Facility Grant program will help families and businesses across Upstate New York and nationwide continue to have access to clean drinking water.

Community facility investments

The Farm Bill supports Community Facility investments to continue to help provide resources to construct hospitals, improve schools, while also improving fire and police stations across small towns in New York State.

December 4, 2018 - 12:27pm

Press release:

The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced that $19 million is available to accelerate the use of anaerobic digester gas-to-electricity projects and clean energy technologies to make farm operations more energy efficient.

The use of clean energy technologies and practices represents major cost-saving opportunities for farms and supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030.

Alicia Barton, president and CEO, NYSERDA, said, “Throughout New York’s history, farms have played a critical role in sustaining the nourishment and health of our families and communities. Governor Cuomo’s emphasis on providing funding to help bridge the gap between the agricultural sector and energy efficiency will help farms across the state reduce their energy usage while continuing to provide environmental benefits for their local communities.”

NYSERDA is offering $16 million to accelerate the anaerobic digester sector. An anaerobic digester gas-to-electricity system is a renewable energy source that can reduce costs for a facility by using waste materials as fuel to generate electricity at the same location that it is used.

Anaerobic digester systems can be used on farms, wastewater treatment plants, and as stand-alone systems to treat food wastes. They are fueled by gas from the processing of biomass feedstocks such as manure, agricultural waste, food waste, and other wastes.

Of the $16 million, nearly half is for proposals to install new anaerobic digester gas-to-electricity systems in ways that demonstrate replicable business models or strategies to expand the anaerobic digestor marketplace. These proposals must describe how their projects will improve the marketplace for anaerobic digestion technology.

The remaining funds will be used to cost-share the refurbishment of existing digesters and associated equipment to extend their useful lifespans as well as for projects that will improve the capabilities of the anaerobic digestion marketplace.

An additional $3 million is being offered for the Advancing Agriculture Energy Technologies initiative to accelerate commercially available technologies and practices to make a farm operation more energy efficient. Under this initiative, proposals for emerging technologies should be replicable and provide cost-effective energy efficiency improvements to farms in New York State.

Eligible technologies and practices include hardware, software, and operational strategies. Selected technologies and practices will be demonstrated on host site farms to increase awareness in the agricultural industry about these processes.

To increase the likelihood of new energy efficient applications, a team approach is strongly encouraged. Eligible team members could include developers, manufacturers, farm owners, universities and other academic institutions, trade or professional organizations, and utilities.

The goal is to increase the number of farms adopting emerging energy efficient technologies and to increase communication and market awareness of clean energy technologies for the agriculture sector.

NYSERDA and the Department of Agriculture and Markets collaborate on the Clean Energy for Agriculture Task Force, an assembly of farmers, universities, agriculture organizations, and others to help identify and prioritize clean energy opportunities for New York State’s agriculture sector.

In March 2017, the Task Force announced its Strategic Plan, which identified initiatives to cut energy costs and accelerate the use of clean energy by more than 35,000 farms across the state. This funding supports the Strategic Plan.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Clean energy is our future and it is critical we continue to identify new ways to harness these opportunities to power our farms. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York continues to lead the nation in environmental sustainability initiatives such as this one that are helping our farms save money and become more energy efficient.”

These offerings are just one of many steps the state has taken to support clean energy on farms including the Agriculture Energy Audit Program which offers free energy audits to identify energy efficiency measures for eligible farms, including but not limited to, dairies, orchards, greenhouses, vegetables, vineyards, grain, and poultry or egg producers.

Agriculture covers approximately 25 percent of land use in New York State. Livestock and agricultural activities at New York’s farms account for nearly 3 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Total energy use on farms accounts for approximately 9 percent of farm expenses (equal to about $450 million in annual expenses).

Greater use of clean energy practices by farms can further reduce their greenhouse gas impacts and energy costs while building on the state’s efforts to promote environmentally sustainable practices. As of the end of 2012, the most recent number available, there were 1,379 renewable energy systems on farms in New York. Of these, 23 have anaerobic digester gas systems that are operational with another seven in the process of being installed.

Today's announcement supports New York's nation-leading efforts to combat climate change as part of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 16 states and Puerto Rico committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pursuing aggressive climate actions at the state level in light of the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, to create an energy grid that can be relied on during severe weather events.

The funding is made available through the state’s 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund. More information about these two solicitations is available on NYSERDA’s website.

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