Skip to main content

farm bureau

If State Senate flips party leadership, it could lead to hardships for rural residents, local farmers warned

By Howard B. Owens


Local farmers were warned Tuesday night at the Genesee County Farm Bureau's annual meeting at Terry Hills that there's a risk Republicans could lose control of the State Senate, which would be bad for Upstate rural residents speakers warned.

Dean Norton, director of public policy for the New York Corn and Soybean Growers Association, said if Democrats gain control of the Senate, to go along with their control of the governor's seat and the Assembly, things could get as bad or worse as 2009-2010, the last time the Democrats controlled both the executive and legislative branches of state government.

Norton was president of the New York Farm Bureau then.

During that era, the state redirected 30 percent of school funding to downstate schools, eliminated $60 million in local agency funding, which meant cuts to ag research, gutted the Environmental Protection Fund for Upstate; and if not for five rural Democrats who voted no, would have passed a farm labor bill that would have greatly increased the costs of farming in New York.

"You think a $15 an hour minimum wage is going to be hitting," Norton said. "It's going to be higher."

Regardless of what Gov. Andrew Cuomo says, Norton said, he is no friend of rural communities.

Chris Laughton, director of knowledge exchange for Farm Credit East (bottom picture), the night's keynote speaker, also expressed concern that New York will lose the benefit of a divided government.

"One could argue that there is value in having a divided government and one party can keep the other in check," Laughton said. "The State Senate is up for grabs and could shift parties pretty easily and that could bring urban lawmakers more to the forefront in policy discussions."

Most of Laughton's talk about was about national issues affecting farmers.

The mid-terms are coming up, he noted, and his prediction is that Republicans lose seats in the house but maintain a narrow majority.

The farm bill expired Sept. 30 and Congress has not passed a replacement. Funding for SNAP (food stamps) and crop insurance continues but many other USDA programs come to a halt for the time being.

A Senate version of the farm bill passed by the largest margin in many years but the House version barely got through and it is drastically different from the Senate version. The House version raises the work requirements for SNAP recipients, which is a big reason it has no Democratic support.

Trade remains a big issue for farmers.

Soon there will be tariffs on every import from China and China is retaliating, especially against agriculture. 

Trade between the United States, Mexico, and Canada has more than tripled since 1995 when NAFTA was ratified. For U.S. farmers, it's meant an increase in exports in corn, dairy, and pork, with more fruit and vegetables being imported into the United States.

The new agreement, which hasn't been approved yet, doesn't change much, with a slight change coming for dairy.

Canada is eliminating its Class 6 and Class 7 pricing. The primary benefit is that Canada will no longer undercut the U.S. price on these classes of milk products in global markets.

Canada's supply management system remains in place. The United States had access to 1.5 percent of the Canadian market. That will increase to 3 percent.

“So our access to the market is still fairly limited but it is an increase," Laughton said. "It’s not a small market for us. We exported more than 600 pounds from four states into Canada last year and it could increase our exports by about 200 billion pounds at least."

"The effect on U.S. prices is still unclear," he said. "It's certainly not going to help us in the short term."

During a Q&A after his talk, in response to the overall health of the dairy market, Laughton said, "I think prices are going to get better and margins are going to get better, but it’s going to be a slow climb."

To offset agriculture losses from tariffs, the Federal government is delivering billions in subsidies. Much of that will be in the form of price supports but the Federal government is also going to purchase $1.2 billion in commodities for nutrition programs. There will also be $200 million spent to promote exports.

Top Photo: John Sobello, state board of directors, right, presents the New York Farm Bureau membership trophy to Christian Yunker, Genesee County Farm Bureau president, to recognize the local chapter's membership efforts in 2018. Criteria for the award include member retention and new member sign-ups.


Hawley named to Farm Bureau's 2017 'Circle of Friends'

By Billie Owens

Statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“I am honored to be named to the Farm Bureau’s Circle of Friends for 2017. Agriculture is such an important part of Western New York’s economy, and we have so many dedicated farmers and producers locally who battle excessive rain, drought and other obstacles to feed our state. Whether it’s dairy, livestock or vegetables, our products are in grocery stores across the nation and that is a testament to the devotion and will of our area’s farmers.

“As the former owner and operator of our family-owned farm in Batavia for many years, I know the challenges our producers face, and that is why I will always have the backs of these dedicated men and women. I look forward to another productive year in Albany and will strive to keep New York’s farming industry the best in the nation.”

New York Farm Bureau elects new president, replacing Dean Norton

By Howard B. Owens

Elba's Dean Norton has been replaced as president of the New York State Farm Bureau in an election held this evening at the bureau's annual meeting.

Norton, a dairy farmer, has been president and face of the farm bureau for eight years, representing the bureau not just in New York but in Washington, D.C., and around the nation.

The membership instead elected David Fisher, who owns a large dairy farm in St. Lawrence County, as president.

The nominees were Norton, Fisher and Mark Dunau.

(Information via the NY Farm Bureau's Twitter postings.)

UPDATE: Press release:

During the New York Farm Bureau State Annual Meeting in Albany, voting delegates elected David Fisher, a dairy farmer from St. Lawrence County, as the new president of the organization.

Fisher and his family have operated Mapleview Dairy in Madrid, N.Y. for four generations. He has served on the New York Farm Bureau Board of Directors for the past five years and previously was president of St. Lawrence County Farm Bureau. A graduate of Cornell University, Fisher earned a degree in Animal Science.

Fisher replaces Dean Norton who served as president for the past eight years.

“I am humbled that the farmer members of New York Farm Bureau have placed their confidence in me to lead this great organization. My family has a long history with Farm Bureau, and I am excited to work on behalf of our diverse membership to increase the value and visibility of New York agriculture. I would also like to thank Dean Norton for his service and commitment to New York Farm Bureau,” said David Fisher, president of New York Farm Bureau.

Vice President Eric Ooms, a dairy farmer from Columbia County, was re-elected to his position.

In addition, representatives to the State Board of Directors were elected, too. This concluded the annual two-day long meeting where resolutions were discussed and voted on to set NYFB’s 2017 public policy agenda.

Those elected include Pat McCormick of Wyoming County, re-elected as District 2 Director; Lin Davidson of Tompkins County was elected as District 4 Director; Jacob Schieferstine of Oneida County was re-elected as District 6 Director; Dean Casey of Rensselaer County, re-elected as District 8 Director; Chris Kelder of Ulster County, re-elected as District 10 Director; Kristen Brown of Orange County as the new Young Farmer and Rancher Chair on the State Board and Phyllis Couture of Cattaraugus County was re-elected as the Promotion and Education Chairperson on the State Board.

In addition, New York Farm Bureau handed out the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Awards to two worthy individuals who have made an impact on New York Farm Bureau and agriculture in this state. The awardees were Chris Fesko of Skaneateles, N.Y. and member of Onondaga County Farm Bureau, and Michael DellaRocco of Melrose, N.Y., a member of Rensselaer County Farm Bureau.

Finally, New York Farm Bureau announced two recipients of the James Quinn Award that recognizes extraordinary efforts by individual Farm Bureau members during the course of a given year “to serve and strengthen agriculture”.  The honorees were Joe and June Swyers of Livingston County Farm Bureau and Brad and Carolyn Almeter of Wyoming County Farm Bureau.

NY Farm Bureau Agricultural Youth Scholarship offered, deadline to apply is Nov. 16

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The New York Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Committee is encouraging high school seniors who have been involved with agriculture and plan on continuing studies in this field to apply for the 2017 New York Farm Bureau Agricultural Youth Scholarship.

Scholarship awards are $1,500 for First Place, $1,200 for Second Place, and $1,000 for Third Place. District winners chosen from the county winners will each receive $100 and a memento. The state awards are sponsored by the New York Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Committee. 

Students applying must have a family Farm Bureau membership or a student Farm Bureau membership. A membership application may be included with scholarship enclosures.

Students are required to complete the application and submit a brief essay answering the question, "What do I feel is the most important challenge facing agriculture in my community and why?”

The application can be downloaded at and emailed to with all required attachments or mailed to NYFB’s Albany office with attention to Sandie Prokop. 

At the district level, a personal interview and essay presentation may be scheduled at the discretion of the district representative for the Promotion & Education Committee. The county winner will be the applicant scoring the highest for each county. County winners within the district are recognized at the discretion of their county Farm Bureau. The district winner will be the overall highest county winner in each district and will advance to the state competition in January. State judging will be based solely upon the application and attachments.

The application submission deadline is Nov. 16. To request an application, call 1-800-342-4143 or visit The application is a fillable PDF and must be downloaded and completed.

Farm Bureau offers NYS DOT Truck Rules & Regulations training, plus DEC pesticide program March 31 in Elba

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Genesee County Farm Bureau, in collaboration with Monroe Tractor, will be offering a NYS DOT Truck Rules and Regulations Training Program on Thursday, March 31, for area agriculture producers and their employees.

This training program is designed for producers and farm employees to become familiar with and review laws and regulations regarding proper truck operation throughout the year. It will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Elba Fire Hall, 7143 Oak Orchard Road, Elba.

There will be presentations by New York State Police about the legalities of driving farm equipment on our roads, as well as identify major problems with truck rules and regulations. Weather permitting, the training will conclude with a truck walk-around to identify problem areas and checkpoints.

Following the morning session, a DEC pesticide recertification program will also be offered at the same location from 1 to 4 p.m. This afternoon program will include discussions on weeds, diseases and insects in corn and soybeans, prepping your sprayer for the upcoming season, and an update on pesticide regulations. Bring your pesticide card to earn 2.5 recertification points.

There is no need to register for these trainings. For more information, contact James Kingston, Batavia Monroe Tractor Branch Manager at 585-746-1670.

Collins, Norton critical of new EPA water rule

By Howard B. Owens

From Rep. Chris Collins:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement after the Obama Administration finalized its Clean Water Act "Waters of the United States" Rule.

“The Obama Administration's ruling today is a continuation of their regulatory assault on our nation's farmers," Congressman Collins said. "The EPA’s overreach is causing real harm for local farmers and stalling business development. When I visit with local farmers, the heavy burdens under the Clean Water Act come up each and every time. When the bureaucrats at the EPA decide to call a divot in the ground that fills with rain a ‘navigable waterway’ under the CWA, we know our federal government has run amuck. I will continue to do all I can to fight this burdensome and business crushing ruling."

Last May, Congressman Collins led a bipartisan letter, signed by a majority of Congress, to the EPA Administrator asking for the Waters of the United States Rule to be withdrawn. Full text of the letter can be read here. This Congress, Congressman Collins co-sponsored H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, which would require the Administration to withdraw its Waters of the United States Rule. H.R. 1732 passed the House of Representatives earlier this month.

From Dean Norton, Elba farmer and president of the NYS Farm Bureau:

“Today the Environmental Protection Agency released the final rule on the definition of “Waters of the United States” in the Clean Water Act. New York Farm Bureau members have been strongly opposed to the changes proposed by the EPA because of the potential regulatory overreach that will allow for federal control over land that is typically dry. Clean water has always been a priority and necessity for farmers, but we are concerned that the rule will strip property owners of long-held land rights.

New York Farm Bureau has serious concerns that the EPA has failed to take into consideration the thousands of comments from farmers, business owners, and property owners, who feel this rule would add unnecessary burdens on their land. EPA would have accomplished much more working with farmers than just brushing their legitimate concerns aside. We will be carefully reviewing the final rule, but based on comments from EPA, we remain concerned that the agency did not listen to our nation’s farmers or made significant changes to the rule,” NYSFB President Norton said.

Steve Hawley named to Farm Bureau's 'Circle of Friends'

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) was recently named to the Farm Bureau’s 2013 Circle of Friends list, which recognizes members of the state legislature for their support of New York’s farming industry. The honor is based upon each legislator’s voting record on issues of agricultural importance, sponsorship of bills that New York Farm Bureau supports, and opposition to policies that the organization has deemed harmful to farming.

“Farming is both the engine that drives our economy and an integral part of our way of life in Western New York,” Hawley said. “Providing our family farms with the support they need to stay competitive and prosperous in our global economy has been a top priority of mine throughout my time in the Assembly, and I remain committed to strengthening our proud, agricultural heritage. I have worked with the Farm Bureau on many critical issues over the years and I look forward to partnering with them in the future.”

Hawley is a member of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture. He is a past president of the Farm Bureau and former owner and operator of Hawley Farms.

Collins believes something should be done to help farmers with labor, but doesn't support 'path to citizenship'

By Howard B. Owens

House Republicans are staunchly opposed to one element of an immigration reform bill -- a path to citizenship -- that some supporters think is critical to its passage, Rep. Chris Collins said today during an event at Post Farms in Elba.

"As a country that was founded on the rule of law, the first action that these adults took in coming into this country was to break the law, so a pathway to citizenship will not come out the House Republicans," Collins said.

The immigration reform bill is the result of hundreds of hours of negotiations between farmers and the farm labor community, which wants to see people who have been working the the United States for years, although illegally, have a chance to become citizens.

While Collins doesn't support allowing such individuals to become citizens, he said he doesn't see a problem with allowing them to obtain permanent work status.

"Call it a blue card," Collins said. "We're fine with making it so that workers who are now here illegally are stay here legally. Make it so that they can go home and visit their families and come back and we know who they are and where they are and that they pay taxes."

Dean Norton (left in photo), said that if the House Republicans can't be brought into the fold, we could wind up with two versions of immigration bills that will go to conference committee. Losing the path to citizenship will be a disappointment to some members of the coalition who worked on the bill, but he thinks when it comes down to it, both sides need some sort of reform to pass.

"I've got to believe in my heart that once we get people sitting down at the table, they won't do anything to scuttle reform," Norton said. "It's too important to the country and to our food supply."

Collins did say he supports citizenship for the children of workers here illegally.

"This is the country they know and love," Collins said.

Photos: First-graders get first-hand ag experience at Post Farms for Dairy Days

By Howard B. Owens

First grade students from throughout Genesee County made a field trip today to Post Farms in Elba for the Farm Bureau's annual "Dairy Days" educational event.

The 645 students were able to meet cows, calves, goats and meats, sample honey, dairy products, play in different soils -- and with worms.

Dozens of parents along with teachers -- 125 adults total -- also participated in Dairy Days, which each June for Dairy Month.

Jeff Post said it's important to help children learn about where their food comes from.

If you don't educate children about farming early and often they just grow up not knowing and not caring about where their food comes from and that doesn’t coincide with what we’re trying to do on a daily basis," Post said. "We’re trying to create friends of agriculture and not people who don’t know why they need to follow a tractor slowly down the road on their way to work or why it might smell like manure outside."

To purchase prints of these photos, click here.

Farm Bureau names Steve Hawley to 'Circle of Friends'

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C–Batavia) was recently named to the New York State Farm Bureau’s 2012 Circle of Friends. The organization awarded Hawley for his voting record on issues of importance to New York agriculture and other measures of legislative support. The assemblyman, a past president of the Farm Bureau, reiterated his commitment to New York’s hardworking family farmers.

“Here in Western New York, farming isn’t just a cornerstone of our economy; it’s a way life,” Hawley said. “Having grown up in a farming family, I understand both the economic benefits and cultural significance that agriculture offers all of our lives.

"That is why for the last 35 years, as a former president and member of the Farm Bureau, I have worked tirelessly to promote agribusiness. I look forward to continuing my work with the Farm Bureau and joining with my Assembly Committee on Agriculture colleagues to further New York’s proud farming traditions.”

The Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, volunteer organization financed and controlled by member-families for the purpose of solving economic and public policy issues challenging the agricultural industry.

10th Annual Celebrate Agriculture Dinner Announced

By Kimberly Amey
The 10th Annual Celebrate Agriculture Dinner has been set for Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 6 pm at the Alexander Fire Hall, Rt. 98 in Alexander. This event is a celebration of the number one industry in Genesee County – Agriculture. The dinner is open to the public. This extremely popular community tradition has become firmly established as a festive, fun filled opportunity to come together and socialize before the beginning of yet another growing season. Dinner tickets go on sale December 1st. A limited number of tickets will be sold and last year the event sold out by early January! Tickets may be purchased for $25 each or $230 for a table of ten from the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. Stop by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce located at 210 East Main St. in Batavia or call the office at 585-343-7440 ext. 27. This event is coordinated by the following partners: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District and Genesee County Farm Bureau.

Farm Bureau backs tighter restrictions on welfare benefits

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

The Genesee County Farm Bureau recently voiced its support for legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C – Batavia). Resolutions in support of the bills, which seek to ensure that state benefits are offered to the proper applicants, received unanimous support from the bureau at its annual meeting.

In order to protect the essential services that families rely on, we must ensure that the state’s limited resources are not being spent in the wrong places,” Hawley said. “This legislation will ensure that public assistance benefits are allocated to true New York residents that are not abusing tax dollars for illicit use. Having the unanimous support of the Genesee County Farm Bureau bolsters our ability to accomplish goals on the state level, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to make Western New York’s voice heard in state government.”

Hawley is the main sponsor of Assembly Bill 6059, which, if passed, would require recipients of public assistance benefits to be New York residents for at least 90 days prior to applying. The assemblyman is a co-sponsor of A.4474, which would institute drug tests for certain recipients of public assistance benefits.

Related, Hawley's office also released this announcement today:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C – Batavia) has been named to the 2011 Farm Bureau Circle of Friends based upon his voting record on issues of importance to New York agriculture. Hawley thanked the organization for their contributions to farming and agriculture across the state.

“I am extremely proud to be recognized by an organization like the Farm Bureau that provides such a critical service to the people of this state,” Hawley said. “Over the last 35 years, as a former president and member of the Farm Bureau, I have seen firsthand how tirelessly the group works to support our proud farmers and further the growth of agriculture in New York.

"Here in Western New York, agriculture is not only the backbone of our economy, it is a tradition ingrained in our way of life that has been handed down from generation to generation. I look forward to continuing my work with the Farm Bureau and making sure New York’s farmers are given the tools they need to succeed.”

The Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, volunteer organization financed and controlled by member-families for the purpose of solving economic and public policy issues challenging the agricultural industry.

Farm bureau urges rural residents to fight proposed restrictions on outdoor wood boilers

By Billie Owens

Here's a press release from the New York Farm Bureau:

The New York Farm Bureau today announced a fight-back campaign against proposed Department of Environmental Conservation regulations that aim to restrict the use of outdoor wood boilers in rural New York.

"This is another attempt by Albany bureaucrats to single out the rural residents of New York," said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau. "DEC's decision on restricting the use of outdoor wood boilers will literally impact thousands of farmers and rural landowners across the state."

"Rural New Yorkers have been heating their homes with wood since the first Dutch settlers came up the Hudson," Norton said. "We all know it gets extremely cold in New York and DEC's actions will just drive residents back to using costly oil heat -- leaving a much cleaner renewable resource unused."

The Farm Bureau will rally its 30,000 members to fight these proposed regulations and will be lobbying furiously in the halls of Albany.

Thousands of owners of outdoor wood boilers will be forced to retrofit costly smokestacks to meet new DEC height requirements, limit the use of their units for almost half of the year and ultimately prohibit the use of any outdoor wood boiler that does not meet new, strict DEC emissions requirements.

The proposed regulations will have significant financial implications for farm and rural homeowners that heat their houses, barns and greenhouses.

"DEC's proposal is an overly broad plan to address the relatively few complaints that they have received about air-quality impacts from outdoor wood boilers," said Jeff Williams, Farm Bureau's deputy director of Public Policy. "This regulation punishes thousands of honest people that own outdoor wood boilers, use their own wood from their property and operate their units responsibly."

New York State residents will be required to retrofit their current units and then take their outdoor wood boilers out of service before the end of the unit's useful life and lose a major investment that can cost upwards of $10,000.

The owners can make the decision to purchase either a new, more expensive, outdoor wood boiler or return to non-renewable, petroleum-based fuels or natural gas.

"It must be pointed out that DEC does not provide any financial reimbursement or incentives for the retrofitting of smokestacks or the purchase of a new, compliant outdoor wood boiler," Williams said. "It is like the government telling you that you have to switch out your farm truck for a hybrid-electric car, but you have to pay for it yourself. It doesn't make sense."

DEC is holding a series of public information sessions/hearings around the state this month on the proposal. Farmers and rural residents are encouraged to go to <> for the hearing schedule, talking points and to send an e-lobby letter opposing the regulations to DEC and your state legislators.

Written comments will also be accepted by DEC until July 2.

Revamped farm labor bill is no improvement, says Farm Bureau president

By Howard B. Owens

A so-called compromise bill on changes to farm labor laws would cost New York farmers more than $200 million in added expense, according to New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton.

In a press release from the bureau, Norton says the proposed changes to labor laws are more onerous than any other state, except California, which has an agriculture industry three times larger than New York's.

Ironically, Norton noted, that primary backers of the bill -- legislative staff and nonprofits -- are exempt from the same kind of labor laws they now advocate for family farms.

"Food is a basic human need, and this legislation seeks to ensure that local farms won't be around to produce local food for local people. This bill would force us to turn our farms into factories, to meet these onerous labor mandates that virtually no other state in the union has. It's yet another example of Albany seeking to drive businesses -- and farmers -- out of New York," Norton said. 

The bill, S.2247b, was introduced by Sen. Pedro Espada Thursday night and it opens the door to collective bargaining on family farms and forces small, seasonal operations to pay unemployment benefits for temporary workers.

"This proposal forces mandates on our family farms that will put New York at an extreme competitive disadvantage," Norton said. "Sen. Espada and the legislature need to consider the long-term viability of the Upstate and Long Island economy before passing legislation that wrecks it."

Steve Hawley included in NY Farm Bureau's 2009 Circle of Friends

By Billie Owens

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C - Batavia) has been named to the New York
Farm Bureau's 2009 "Circle of Friends" for the fourth consecutive year

This award is given to distinguish an individual lawmaker's support of the state's agriculture and Farm Bureau initiatives, as exemplified in the lawmakers' voting record on issues of importance to New York agriculture and other legislative actions, including sponsorship of legislation.

Hawley, who was one of 84 legislators named to the circle for 2009, said: "This honor is very gratifying for me as a former hog and crop farmer who served as the former Genesee County Farm Bureau president, continual Farm Bureau member, and former Farm Bureau host of the radio program 'Tri-County Commentary' on WBTA.

"As a legislator, I have worked very hard to promote and protect the farms and agri-businesses throughout our state, but most especially those in Western New York which are so important to our economy and quality of life."

According to New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton, in the 2009 legislative session Hawley was one of the most vocal legislators who opposed the Farm Labor Bill, which many dubbed the "Farm Death Bill." Hawley also was active in the fight for farmers by holding a rally to raise awareness for the plight of dairy farmers, testifying at a United States Senate hearing on the subject and calling on the Governor to appropriate some of the remaining federal stimulus dollars toward the cause.

The Assemblyman, who is also a member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee,
said at the time, "Here, in Western New York, agriculture is the backbone of our economy and I firmly believe that our rural economy deserves the same support given to failed Wall Street companies, like AIG."

Assemblyman Hawley Stands Opposed to Farm Death Bill

By Steve Hawley




Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) today voted against the Farmworkers Omnibus Labor Standards Bill, dubbed the “Farm Death Bill.”  By imposing unnecessary and expensive mandates on farmers, the cost of the bill, ranging in the thousands, depending on farm size, has the potential to put farms and agribusinesses across the state out of business.


“My family has a long tradition of farming.  Our Western New York community’s backbone is in agriculture – both socially and financially.  This bill will be the final nail in the coffin for New York State agriculture and more people will suffer the consequences of our farms closing than just the farmers or farm workers.  The price of food will skyrocket and further hurt hard-working middle-America families that are just squeezing by right now.  This bill is a disaster for the state economy,” said Hawley, who is a former crop and hog farmer and Genesee County Farm Bureau President.


Hawley debated the bill on the floor, citing the fact that from April 2008 to April 2009, milk prices received by farmers dropped from $18.20 per 100 weight to $11.80; corn from $5.86 to $3.98; and wheat from $9.20 to $4.24.  These price drops signify that farmers in New York State are already struggling to make ends meet.  This is compounded by production costs, which for milk are currently around $14 per 100 weight, meaning that farmers are already losing money on their products.  Additionally, New York State has lost over 2,000 farms over the last decade.  Hawley argued that the new provisions that the bill mandates will push struggling farms over the edge and force more farms, especially smaller operations, to permanently close.


During the debate, Hawley also commented on the comparison of New York State’s agriculture to that of California.  He stated, “In California, they have farms that operate year-round.  Their agricultural industry is 12 months a year and operates on a much larger scale.  Here, in New York, many farms only operate 1 to 2 months per year and during these months everything from planting to harvesting happens.”


Hawley, who also serves as a member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, was among the first legislators to oppose the Farm Death Bill, or Assembly Bill 1867.  With the entire bipartisan Assembly Agriculture Committee, he sent a formal letter of opposition to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver outlining the devastating effects of the bill.  Hawley has worked with New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton, a former dairy farmer in Batavia, local farmers and a bipartisan delegation of state legislators, to openly and publicly oppose the bill as well as to wage a public campaign urging New Yorkers to contact the sponsors of the bill in opposition.


Despite this, the Assembly passed the legislation by a vote of 85 to 57.  Hawley stated, “Tomorrow, the State Legislature is celebrating their annual ‘Dairy Day,’ a day when dairy farmers and agribusinesses come from all over the state to be lauded by legislators as the ‘pride of New York.’ How hypocritical for lawmakers to, on the eve of this day, pass the bill that will kill these businesses.  Once our farms close up shop, they will be closed forever.”




Assemblyman Hawley Joins NY Farm Bureau to Oppose Farmworkers Omnibus Labor Standards Bill

By Steve Hawley






Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) joined New York Farm Bureau President and Batavia dairy farmer Dean Norton, bipartisan state legislators, farmers and agriculturalists from across the state at a press conference today opposing Assembly Bill 1867, the Farmworkers Omnibus Labor Standards Bill.


As a former crop and hog farmer and Genesee County Farm Bureau President and as a current member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Hawley joined the group in calling on the three legislative leaders to halt action on the bill, stating, “Albany has a real opportunity to help businesses, yet here we go again.  Albany seems to do all it can to discourage business: whether it be raising property taxes, imposing expensive and unnecessary mandates, or raising the cost of business.  As a third generation family farmer, I have seen first-hand that our children are leaving the state.  This impact is felt greatest on our farms.  This legislation adds to that burden for farmers and agri-business owners.  Albany needs to learn how to say to businesses ‘we want you here’ and passing meaningful legislation to attract and retain businesses for our future.”




Batavia Dairy Farmer elected new President of the NY Farm Bureau

By Philip Anselmo

From the New York Farm Bureau:

New York Farm Bureau members today elected Dean Norton, a dairy farmer and agricultural consultant from Batavia, N.Y. as the organization's new president.  Eric Ooms, a dairy farmer from Kinderhook, N.Y. was elected as vice president.

The election was held at Farm Bureau's State Annual Meeting in Albany.  Membership delegates representing farmers from around the state cast ballots. New York Farm Bureau is the statewide lobbying/trade organization that represents approximately 30,000 farm families.

Norton takes over for John Lincoln who retired today after 14 years as president and 29 years in various leadership positions in Farm Bureau.

Norton is a Senior Agriculture Consultant with Freed Maxick & Battaglia CPA's.  His family owns a dairy farm in Elba, N.Y. and runs a custom trucking operation for forage and commodity harvesting.  Norton has served on Farm Bureau's state board of directors since 2004 and was the Genesee County Farm Bureau president from 2000-2004.

"I am proud to have the opportunity to represent this organization during such a critical time for the farm families of New York," Norton said.

Ooms owns and operates a 425-cow dairy farm with his father and brothers in Kinderhook in Columbia County. 

He has served New York Farm Bureau for 10 years as Columbia County Farm Bureau President, and six years on the State Board as Young Farmer and Rancher Chair and District 10 Director.

"It truly is an honor to be selected by the membership to help lead this great organization," said Ooms.

Photo courtesy of the Farm Bureau. Pictured: Outgoing President John Lincoln (left) congratulates newly elected President Dean Norton.

Batavia Daily News for Friday: Farm Bureau elects new president

By Philip Anselmo

Byron diary farmer Robin Keller, 39, has been elected the new president of the Genesee County Farm Bureau, according to the Daily News. Tom Rivers reports that Keller replaces Dale Stein, a Le Roy dairy farmer, who did not seek re-election after his four years in the position. Keller and her husband moved to the area a little less than a decade ago, looking to expand their dairy business.

"Genesee County was the ideal location for growing a farm business," she told Rivers.

Genesee County Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock told the Daily News that

the New York State Association of Counties is not going to sit back and allow the state to impose budget cuts without NYSAC having some say in how those adjustments are made and implemented.

County Manager Jay Gsell said that the current fiscal crisis on Wall Street could be an "opportunity for reform in Albany" by getting the state to cut back its "expenditures, jobs, services" and "unfunded state mandates"—what Paul Mrozek describes as "the albatross on the back of county governments."

Mothertime Marketplace will roll into St. Joseph's School this Saturday and Sunday. The consignment sale event that often includes everything from bedroom sets to books, will run from 10:00am to 5:00pm Saturday and from 10:00am to 3:00pm Sunday. Admission is $2 per day or $3 for both days. Some coupons are available at selected locations around the city. Visit Mothertime Marketplace online for more information. St. Joseph's School is located at the corner of Summit and East Main streets downtown.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at

LeRoy dairyman talks with D&C about immigration and energy

By Howard B. Owens

LeRoy resident and Genesee County Farm Bureau president Dale Stein gets to talk politics in the Democrat & Chronicle this morning.

Spoiler alert: He says he is voting for John McCain. He says that's his personal decision, not an endorsement from the Farm Bureau.

Among his concerns are the high cost of energy and immigration.

"Too much of this country believes we have enough labor, and we don't," said Stein, who owns Stein Farms in LeRoy, Genesee County.

The labor shortage hasn't affected Stein's own farm but he said it has caused 25 percent less cabbage to be grown in western New York because farmers knew they wouldn't have the workers for harvest.

Congress won't talk about it because they won't get re-elected," said Stein, president of the Genesee County Farm Bureau.

On energy, he favors more drilling and nuclear power.

Stein's energy costs have increased 40 percent in two years, and now his electricity bill is $7,000 a month. Electricity powers the milking system and the fans that keep the cows cool.

Authentically Local