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GCC will host one of 6 ‘Beginning Farmer’ meetings in NY

Staff Reports Posted 8 August 2017 at 8:12 am

BATAVIA – Genesee Community College will host an event on Aug.30 for a beginning farmer initiative through the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The event will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Conable Technology Building, Room T121, One College Road, Batavia.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball is starting a statewide listening tour to support early-stage and prospective farmers.

Joined by state and industry partners, the Department of Agriculture and Markets will host six town hall-style meetings across the State to address challenges and concerns facing beginning farmers and to provide information about existing resources available to them.

Seneca Falls is hosting the first event on Aug. 9 at Empire Farm Days. (Click here to see the schedule.)

These sessions build on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State initiative to establish a beginning farmer program, which includes a one-stop shop for new or future farmers to learn about various government and non-profit programs designed to benefit them.

“There are a lot of exciting things happening in New York agriculture, but for farmers just starting out, it can seem overwhelming. We want them to know their success is our priority,” Commissioner Ball said. “We are here to help them navigate the process and understand the resources at their fingertips. This listening tour is also an opportunity for us to gain valuable feedback directly from the industry on how the State can better support current and future farmers.”

In addition to holding these listening sessions, the Department also serves as a one-stop shop for new farmers and those interested in farming as a second career. This new resource provides support to farmers in starting, diversifying, or expanding an agricultural operation.

The one-stop shop offers individual assistance to early-stage and potential farmers on job training, land ownership, farm financing, compliance, marketing and other areas critical to starting a farm operation.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Agriculture is a crucial component of New York State’s economy and providing early-stage farmers with State funding and resources helps promote job creation and industry sustainability.”

The average age of New York State farmers today is approximately 55, increasing the likelihood that many of them will be opting to retire or scaling back their operations. At the same time, there is a growing interest from women, veterans, new Americans, and others in beginning a career or starting a second career in farming.

At the direction of Governor Cuomo, the State Department of Agriculture and Markets has established a Beginning Farmer Program, including a one-stop shop, to help these groups overcome obstacles to entering the profession and launch a successful agricultural operation in New York.

The program focuses on four priority areas: access to land; capital and financing; business and technical assistance; mentorship, training and apprenticeship opportunities.

Additional resources for beginning farmers are available on the Department’s website (click here), or by contacting the one-stop shop at (718) 722-2668 or

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Collins backs bill that would create tax exemption for first $5K earned from 4-H projects

Photo by Tom Rivers: Lisa Beam shows a pig during the market auction last Saturday at the Orleans County 4-H Fair.

Posted 4 August 2017 at 1:00 pm

Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins

Legislation is currently being debated in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce that would lower the tax burden for students involved in 4-H programs and provide them with an opportunity to invest their earnings in future projects, college funds, or savings accounts.

Congressman Chris Collins released the following statement, in which he highlighted his support for the bipartisan legislation titled the Student Agriculture Protection Act of 2017.

“4-H programs offer constructive ways for students to expand their knowledge of agriculture and animal sciences,” said Congressman Collins. “With agriculture being the largest industry in New York’s 27th Congressional District, those who participate in local 4-H programs will soon be amongst the primary contributors to Western New York’s economy. For this reason alone, it’s critically important that incentives are set in place that will drive up participation and spread awareness of 4-H programs.”

If signed into law, the Student Agriculture Protection Act of 2017 would create a tax exemption for the first $5,000 of revenue earned by students 18 years or younger from either the sale of livestock or agriculture projects completed through 4-H or Future Farmers of America (FAA) programs. In effect, it will eliminate the tax-filing burden for eligible students and allow them to invest their earnings in future projects or college funds.

“Plain and simple, the Student Agriculture Protection Act is an investment in the next generation of American farmers,” Collins said. “This bill will have a direct and positive impact on New York’s 27th Congressional District and will ensure the U.S. remains the world leader in agriculture. As a proud cosponsor, I will continue my advocacy in support of this legislation to ensure it is put up for a vote on the House Floor.”

For more information on H.R. 1626, the Student Agriculture Protection Act of 2017, click here.

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Farrow has been leader in apple industry, sharing successes with peers

Posted 3 August 2017 at 4:34 pm

Rod Farrow is on the cover of this month’s issue of American Fruit Grower.

Press Release, American Fruit Grower magazine

WATERPORT – Rod Farrow, co-owner of Fish Creek Orchards in Waterport, NY, has been named the 2017 Apple Grower of the YearSM by American Fruit Grower and Western Fruit Grower magazines, published by Meister Media Worldwide.

(Editor’s Note: Farrow is the owner of Lamont Fruit Farm, which is changing its name to Fish Creek Orchards.)

Farrow will receive his award during the USApple Outlook and Marketing Conference, August 24, in Chicago, IL.

The Apple Grower of the Year award program, sponsored by Valent U.S.A., honors apple growers who have gone beyond the confines of the orchard and have, through their involvement and leadership, made a real impact on the apple industry.

Farrow was honored for developing a creative succession plan so the farm will continue to flourish, leading volunteer grower organizations, and hosting numerous trials to boost the knowledge level for all growers in the apple industry.

Farrow is well-known in the industry for encouraging fellow growers to adopt modern, high-density, intensively farmed orchards. He is currently president of the prestigious International Fruit Tree Association and has hosted countless Cornell University research trials.

Mark Mason, Tree Fruit Crop Manager at Valent U.S.A. — the award sponsor — says he finds Farrow to be an inspiration.

“The Apple Grower of the Year celebrates the tenacious spirit of the American apple industry today and tomorrow,” Mason says. “Growers face a host of challenges every day. It’s growers like Rod Farrow who face these challenges head-on, look for proactive solutions and inspire the rest of us to do the same.”

Farrow is a first-generation apple grower, and the first honoree to be born outside the U.S. Growing up in England, he decided on a career in fruit growing, and did internships in France, Japan, and New Zealand, in addition to the U.S. In this country, he was fortunate to live and work with the family of George Lamont.

Photo courtesy of American Fruit Grower: Rod Farrow has his apple trees in high-density plantings.

Besides being a big believer in sharing horticultural knowledge freely across the globe, Lamont was the 1997 Apple Grower of the Year. That makes Lamont Fruit Farm, now called Fish Creek Orchards, the only farm to be operated by two honorees — exactly two decades apart.

Lamont’s own children were not interested in following in their father’s footsteps, so he and his brother worked with Farrow to develop a plan so the ambitious Brit could eventually succeed them. It worked so well that two decades later, when Farrow’s own children said they weren’t interested in farming, Farrow developed a similar strategy. Two young go-getters who initially worked for him, Jason Woodworth and Jose Iniguez — the latter having started as a picker — are now his partners.

“It’s a great honor to be the Grower of the Year and receive such a prestigious award. It’s also very humbling to see yourself on a list of previous winners that includes the likes of Grady Auvil and Bill Zirkle,” Farrow says. “Individuals usually receive the award but teams earn it. I am very proud of the amazing team we have put together on the farm over the last 15 years, from my wife Karyn to partners Jose and Jason all the way through to our full-time and H-2A employees. Everyone on the farm contributes to the vision we have and they are the reason for our past, present, and hopefully future success.”

“Most apple growers were born to it, but Rod wasn’t. He chose growing apples as his career, and that passion shows in everything he does,” Jim Bair, President & CEO, USApple, says. “Because he had influential mentors along the way, he pays it forward by sharing every bit of technical knowledge he’s learned. The apple industry is richer for his generosity.”

A member of the award selection committee, David Eddy, Editor of American Fruit Grower and Western Fruit Grower, notes Farrow received by far the most nominations of any grower in the country.

“It is with great pleasure we honor Rod Farrow, a fine horticulturist and industry leader, as Apple Grower of the Year,” he says. “He — as did his mentor, George Lamont — has shown fellow growers how they can give a helping hand to the next generation, helping ensure their farms will continue to succeed for decades to come.”

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Rod Farrow of Waterport named apple grower of the year by national magazine

Photo by Tom Rivers: Rod Farrow is pictured in a fruit orchard in this file photo.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 August 2017 at 8:45 am

WATERPORT – An Orleans County fruit grower has been named “Apple Grower of the Year” by American Fruit Grower, a national agricultural magazine run by Growing Produce.

Farrow is the owner of Lamont Fruit Farm. He has been an industry leader in growing high-value fruit through high-density orchards.

Farrow, a native of England, worked with George Lamont for many years before Farrow became the farm’s owner and expanded the operation.

Farrow has begun transitioning ownership of the farm to Jason Woodworth and Jose Iniguez.

Farrow was praised in the apple industry for management of the farm and its long-term future, and for his leadership in the industry with different co-ops including The Next Big Thing, which grows the SweeTango apple variety.

Farrow will be formally presented with the award at the annual USApple Association Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference in Chicago, Aug. 24-25.

To see the article in American Fruit Grower about Farrow, click here.

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Exhibit on farmworkers ‘needs to be seen’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 July 2017 at 10:20 am

ALBION – This photo shows workers at a dairy farm in northern New York. It’s part of a photo exhibit by Lisa Catalfamo-Fiores from Kingsbury, near Glens Falls. She took a series of photos over two years that show farmworkers. She also travelled to Mexico to show the photographs to the workers’ families.

“DREAM of America: Separation & Sacrifice in the Lives of North Country Latino Immigrants” is on display at The Salih Gallery in Albion until Aug. 19. The gallery at 24 East Bank St. is open Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It needs to be seen, especially in Orleans County because we have a significant population of migrant workers,” Idris Salih, gallery owner, said during an opening reception. “It’s a compelling exhibit. It has an emotional pull to it. It is intimate.”

Photo by Tom Rivers: Maria Gomes Neilans is shown with some of the pottery she created through the “Voices from the Earth” program, which will be displayed in a gallery in Albion through Aug. 19. She is shown with Deborah Wilson, who leads a pottery at the World Life Institute in Waterport. Farmworkers make the pottery, which is entirely handmade from earthenware clay. Most are glazed in an array of lively colors. They range from baking dishes and platters to fanciful garden fountains and jars with tropical vines and lizards.

Catalfamo-Fiores lives on a small farm in Kingsbury with her husband Omar, 20 milking goats, 250 chickens, and 4 dogs. A school social worker for the past 18 years, she is also an advocate and volunteer with her local Hispanic community.

Her photos represent separated family members of Latino workers in the North Country.

“Consistently, the message conveyed while visiting families was one of sadness and frustration,” Catalfamo-Fiores writes in a message as part of the exhibit. “However, in each home visited I was welcomed warmly and shown gracious hospitality. Parents spoke of longing to physically embrace children and in some cases, grandchildren they have never met. Children of workers eagerly listened for any details of their parents’ lives here in New York. Wives spoke of the challenges of raising children alone and the struggle of daily life so far from their spouses. Most poignant, I arrived as a stranger and after these emotional visits, left with a feeling of authentic connection and appreciation.”

A worker named Chuy is an assistant herdsman at a dairy farm in northern New York.

Chuy started working at a dairy farm in Northern NY in 2004 when he was 17. He is now the assistant herdsman at dairy farm. He financially supports his wife and daughter locally, and his parents and younger brothers in Mexico.

“I miss the hugs…” Chuy, with tears in his eyes, told the photographer.

Catalfamo-Fiores showed Chuy’s mother a picture of her son working at a dairy farm.

“This is the first picture I’ve seen of him in six years,” Chuy’s mother said. “His youngest brother was 1 year old when he left for the U.S. I’m longing to see and hug my son.”

The photo exhibit will be on the move, going on tour around the state. GO-Art! is the first arts council to display it after its debut last year in Glens Falls.

Gregory Hallock, GO-Art! executive director, pushed to have the exhibit displayed locally.

“There is so much negative press about immigration,” Hallock said. “This is a chance to see another side. I want people to have some empathy.”

This family in Mexico holds photos of loved ones that working at farms in northern NY.

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Orleans woman participated in National Angus Show

Staff Reports Posted 26 July 2017 at 2:56 pm

Photo by Pearls Pics on behalf of the American Angus Association: Jayne Bannister of Kent represented New York at the 2017 National Junior Angus Showmanship Contest, held in conjunction with the National Junior Angus Show on July 9-15 in Des Moines, Iowa. Forty-five youth from across the country competed for top honors in the 51th annual event.

Jayne Bannister of Kent was one of 45 college students from across the country who participated in the 2017 National Junior Angus Showmanship Contest.

The show was held in conjunction with the National Junior Angus Show on July 9-15 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Jayne studies Animal Science and Agricultural Education at Kansas State University. She represented New York at the national show.

National Junior Angus Association members have one opportunity in their junior career to represent their state in the National Junior Angus showmanship contest. This year at the National Junior Angus Show hosted in Des Moines, Iowa.

During the 2017 National Junior Angus Show, 45 junior members competed for the title of champion showman. Claudia Hissong of Greencastle, Pa., claimed the honor of top showman.

Three judges evaluated the juniors on their skills while handling an animal, their ability to follow instructions, and evidence of courtesy and sportsmanship in the showring.

The 2017 NJAS in Des Moines, Iowa, was a record breaker for the Angus breed. More than 1,260 head of Angus cattle were shown — the largest number since the last record was set 10 years ago.

Visit for complete show results.

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4-Hers get ready for next week’s annual fair

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: 4-H Rabbit Raisers Brian and Owen Shaw (back to camera) of Kendall remove benches from the Wachob Building. Benches are removed from storage and placed around the fairgrounds during the annual work bee.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 20 July 2017 at 9:14 am

Rabbit Raiser Nate Shaw of Kendall sweeps out the Wachob Building in preparation for cage set up.

KNOWLESVILLE – The 2017 Orleans County 4-H Fair is just days away and the fairgrounds in Knowlesville was busy Wednesday evening as 4-Hers, their families, club leaders and Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension volunteers and staff worked to get the barns, buildings and grounds ready during the annual pre-fair work bee.

Orleans Count Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director Robert Batt said this year’s work bee was especially well attended.

“The work bee is a night when the kids get together and put their muscle into preparing for fair week,” Batt said.

The 2017 4-H Fair runs from July 24-29.  Admission is $7 per vehicle.  Opening ceremonies are set for 6 p.m. on Monday at the Flag Pole Garden and Orleans Hub stage. This year’s entertainment features Horses, Horses, Horses! World Champion Performing Horses, The Creature Teacher live show with wild animals not typically seen on the fairgrounds, and live chalk art in addition to the $1,000 Karaoke Challenge and the Fair Talent Show.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary year of Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension, two nights of fireworks are planned (Thursday and Friday).

The annual Flower Show will also take place in the Lartz Building.  The show is open to the public. Entries are accepted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 22.  Entry forms and additional information can be found at

Rabbit Raiser Club members and families work to move cages from the Wachob Pavilion into the Wachob Building to house 4-H rabbit, cavy and poultry fair entries.

4-Hers and their families prepare to set up the beef and dairy barn for 4-H exhibits. The barn was completely empty when they arrived Wednesday evening.  Stalls and demonstration areas needed to be put in place for fair week.

4-H horse club members, families, and their leaders gather in the Knights Building Wednesday evening as they prepare for the 2017 Fair.  Sheep and goat club members also worked to set up the barn for their entries and shows.

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Exhibit in Albion highlights farmworkers, Latino immigrants

Provided photos: This is one of the photographs in an exhibit about farmworkers and their sacrifices. There will be an opening reception on Sunday at the Salih Studio for “DREAM of America: Separation & Sacrifice in the Lives of North Country Latino Immigrants.”

Staff Reports Posted 19 July 2017 at 9:12 am

ALBION – There will be an opening reception on Sunday featuring a collection of photographs depicting the lives and sacrifices of Latino workers in this country along the US-Mexican border and the families they left in Mexico.

The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council presents “DREAM of America: Separation & Sacrifice in the Lives of North Country Latino Immigrants” by Lisa Catalfamo-Fiores.

The Salih Gallery at 24 East Bank St. in Albion is hosting the exhibit and is open Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Aug. 19 for the exhibit.

Maria Gomes Neilans is shown with some of the pottery she created through the “Voices from the Earth” program, which will be displayed in a gallery in Albion through Aug. 19.

This Sunday there will be an opening reception from 1 to 3 p.m. The exhibit is part of GO ART’s Genesee-Orleans Culture Connects Series.

The exhibit also includes a display of pottery made by local farmworkers at the World Life Institute in Waterport. The pottery is created through the “Voices from the Earth,” a joint project of World Life Institute, the Orleans-Niagara BOCES and the GO Art!

The pottery in the exhibit is entirely handmade from earthenware clay. Most are glazed in an array of lively colors. They range from baking dishes and platters to fanciful garden fountains and jars with tropical vines and lizards.

These pieces complement the theme of the photography show. Newcomers to the U.S. acquire new skills and new possibilities to express themselves, while in many cases referring back to pottery and imagery that was familiar in their home countries. Pottery specialist Deborah Wilson has led the program since its inception in 2006.

The Dream of America photography exhibit was originally produced at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls in 2016.  GO ART! is pleased to be the first host of the exhibit on a statewide tour in 2017, with showings in Batavia from May-July, and Albion July 15-August 19.

The exhibit, created by Lisa Catalfamo Flores, takes viewers from the milking parlors of New York’s North Country counties to the cinder-block homes of Coyula, Guadalajara, Mexico, and back again.

Catalfamo Flores, after two years of photographing workers on local farms, traveled to Coyula to share these photographs with family members, which is also documented in the exhibit. In sharing stories with loved ones, a fuller picture of the worker comes into focus. Individual talents, abilities, and desires become evident, leading us to a more complete and human point of view.

Catalfamo Flores lives on a small farm in Kingsbury, NY, with her husband Omar, 20 milking goats, 250 chickens, and 4 dogs. A school social worker for the past 18 years, she is also an advocate and volunteer with the local Hispanic community.

The exhibit also includes a large Oaxaca puppet made by Antonio Cruz Zabaleta. Called monos de calenda, these puppets rest on people’s shoulders as they dance and spin in parades in Mexico for weddings, community festivals and holidays.  Cruz Zavaleta is a native of Oaxaca, Mexico.  He is a professional artist in multiple media, including visual, painting, drawing, sculpture, and Mexican traditional arts.  The puppet was created with the assistance of students attending GO ART!’s Creative Arts Camp in April, 2017.

Ana Rios of Albion is shown with some of the pottery made through the Voices from the Earth program at the World Life Institute.

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Dairy processor to invest $200 million at idle facility in Batavia

Posted 11 July 2017 at 3:16 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

BATAVIA – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was in Batavia this afternoon to announce the sale of the former Dairy Farmers of America plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia to dairy processor HP Hood LLC.

The plant, which was originally constructed by Muller-Quaker to process yogurt, was later purchased by DFA, a national, farmer-owned dairy cooperative in 2016. HP Hood will invest more than $200 million over several years and create 230 new jobs in New York State over five years.

“This major commitment from one of the nation’s most prominent dairy companies will inject new life into the community, creating hundreds of jobs and spurring new investment in the Finger Lakes,” Governor Cuomo said. “Agriculture and food processing is a key pillar of economic growth in our Upstate Revitalization Initiative plan, and this latest investment shows that our multi-pronged strategy for growing the region’s economy is working.”

Rick Smith, President and CEO of DFA, said, “We originally made a strategic decision to purchase this plant, as it’s in an important milk shed for the industry and this area. Our primary goal was to ensure that this facility remained active in dairy for the long term. We explored opportunities with more than a dozen dairy companies and think HP Hood is a great fit to serve the local milk shed and community.”

John A. Kaneb, President and CEO of HP Hood LLC, said, “We are fortunate that our need for more capacity coincided with an opportunity to expand our capabilities in the great State of New York. We have been welcomed by a resourceful and business savvy team at the Genesee County Economic Development Center and we look forward to becoming a supportive member of the local community and an employer of choice.”

Hood will repurpose the 363,000-square-foot, idle state-of-the-art processing facility to produce extended-shelf-life beverages. The company will also construct a 100,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse.

Hood plans to commence construction this summer and begin operating by the second quarter of 2019. Construction will create 524 jobs with a payroll of nearly $26 million. Hood has four other manufacturing locations in New York that manufacture fluid and cultured dairy products such as milk, cream, cottage cheese and sour cream.

Members of the community seeking to inquire about employment opportunities are encouraged to call 1-800-428-6329.

To support the project, Empire State Development will provide up to $5 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits and a $2 million capital grant from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The Genesee County Economic Development Center board will also amend the current PILOT, which will provide Hood with more than $7 million in tax abatements over 10 years, with an anticipated total economic benefit to the region of more than $330 million.

HP Hood, headquartered in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, is a 170-year-old company that does more than $2 billion in business annually.  It has four New York State production facilities in Vernon, Oneida, Arkport and Lafargeville.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, “New York’s agriculture and farming industry is one of the most prestigious in the nation, and this tremendous investment by one of the country’s most highly-regarded dairy companies proves we are creating a world-class dairy and farming economy right here in Genesee County.

“Economic development is paramount to our state’s success, and this is an important step toward bolstering our regional economy and creating hundreds of local jobs. I would like to thank all the state and local leaders who have made this possible and I look forward to continued success growing Western New York.”

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Collins, farmers applaud EPA decision to rescind ‘overreach’ on small bodies of water

Posted 29 June 2017 at 7:51 am

‘Requiring farmers to get either the EPA or Army Corps’ approval before farming would have been a nightmare.’ – Jim Bittner, Niagara County Farm Bureau president

Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Chris Collins and local Farm Bureau presidents applauded the Trump Administration’s decision to either rescind or revise the Waters of The United States (WOTUS) rule imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama administration.

“This rule was an example of reckless government overreach, that brought undue burdens to farmers in Western New York,” said Collins. “I was proud to lead the bipartisan effort in Congress to scrap the WOTUS rule and applaud President Trump and Administrator Pruitt for taking this common sense step to support our nation’s agriculture industry.”

Both Congressman Collins and Farm Bureaus located within New York’s 27th Congressional District have been vocal in their opposition to the WOTUS rule.

(Editor’s note: The rule, which has been delayed in its implementation, extended existing federal pollution protections of large bodies of water to smaller bodies that flow into them, such as rivers, small waterways and wetlands.)

In May 2014, Congressman Collins led a bipartisan letter signed by more than 200 members of Congress to former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Department of the Army Secretary John McHugh outlining concerns related to this rule. Collins believed the WOTUS rule was “built on incomplete scientific study and a flawed economic analysis” and formally requested the rule be returned to their respective agencies.

“Farmers are simply trying to provide for their family, community, and the nation, so it is unfortunate the federal government imposed this type of rule in the first place,” said Jeffrey Simons, President of the Erie County Farm Bureau. “Plain and simple, more federal regulations will make it harder for farmers to do their job. Today’s decision is a tremendous victory for Erie County farmers, and I want to thank Congressman Collins for fighting on our behalf since the beginning.”

“The WOTUS rule was an overreach since it was first proposed and we’ve seen the negative impact it has had and would continue to have on our local agriculture industry,” said Christian Yunker, President of the Genesee County Farm Bureau. “In the end, common sense prevailed and everyone’s hard work has paid off. I appreciate all of Congressman Collins efforts—this is fantastic news for all of agriculture, not just here in Genesee County.”

“When the WOTUS rule was first proposed, we knew this was a blatant overreach by the EPA,” said Jim Bittner, President of the Niagara County Farm Bureau. “This rule would have had negative effects on practically every piece of farmland here in Niagara County. Congressman Collins understood this from the beginning, because requiring farmers to get either the EPA or Army Corps’ approval before farming would have been a nightmare. We’re very glad to hear this rule will be rescinded.”

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