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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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‘New Farmers Grant’ includes Hartway Brothers in Orleans

Staff Reports Posted 20 June 2017 at 7:30 am

The state has announced more than $1 million to support early stage farms, including one in Orleans County.

Hartway Brothers was approved for $42,500 in Orleans, one of 27 grants announced on Monday to support early stage farms.

Since its launch in 2014, the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund has provided nearly $2.5 million to 66 farms across the state to expand operations and improve profitability.

“Agriculture remains a major New York industry, and with support from the New Farmers Grant Fund, we will be making investments that will pay dividends for future generations of farmers,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Fund continues to provide access to capital to help new and early farms grow, while supporting the expansion of businesses statewide, and with this latest round of awards, New York will help increase production and support this critically important part of our economy for years to come.”

Other nearby farms approved for funding include First Light Farm & Creamery, Genesee County – $50,000; Lyman and Chelsey Rudgers, Wyoming County – $50,000; Camman Acres, LLC, Monroe County – $18,021; and Black Bird Cider Works, Niagara County – $46,245.

The New Farmers Grant Fund is administered by Empire State Development, in consultation with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Nearly 60 applications were submitted for program funding this round, with applicants scored based on specific criteria, including demonstrating how the project expands or diversifies agricultural production. Grant funds will be used for project costs associated with the construction of farm buildings, and the purchase of equipment and supplies.

The Fund provides grants of up to $50,000 to assist with up to 50 percent of eligible project costs, with the remaining 50 percent being matched by the recipient. All eligible farm owners must be within the first 10 years of ownership and the farm must have a minimum of $10,000 in income from sales of products grown or raised on the farm. This year, the program eliminated the 150 acres or less requirement and accepted farm applicants of all sizes.

“By providing these beginning farmers with the boost they need to expand their operations now, they’ll be able to grow their business and reinvest in their communities well into the future,” said Richard A. Ball, New York State Agriculture & Markets commissioner.

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30-day window to put land in ag district starts June 1

Posted 30 May 2017 at 3:05 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Department of Planning and Development

ALBION – Orleans County is accepting enrollment of additional parcels in certified agricultural districts during the month of June, pursuant to New York State Agricultural and Markets Law.

This annual 30-day window is for inclusion of property which is predominantly viable agricultural land. During this time period, land may only be added and not removed from an agricultural district.

This opportunity does not replace enrollment in an existing agricultural district during the eight-year, formal review process, but allows a once-a-year opportunity for a property owner to request that the County Legislature add parcel(s) to one of Orleans County Consolidated Agricultural District No. 1 (District C-1). Eight year in-depth reviews are expected to continue for District C-1 as scheduled.

At the conclusion of June, requests for inclusion in agricultural districts will be reviewed, in order, by the Orleans County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board, the Orleans County Legislature, and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Enrollment forms are available from the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development both in-person and online by clicking here.

Completed forms should be sent by June 30th to:

Sarah Gatti
Orleans County Department of Planning and Development
14016 Route 31 West
Albion NY 14411

The agricultural districting program provides eligible operations right-to-farm protection, among other benefits. Please note that requesting enrollment during this 30-day time period is not a guarantee that your property will be added to an existing agricultural district. Moreover, it will not automatically qualify your property for a reduced agricultural property tax assessment. For information on obtaining a reduced agricultural property tax assessment, please contact your local assessor.

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With fruit trees in bloom, bees go to work

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 May 2017 at 10:43 am

Photo courtesy of Brett Kast

ALBION – The apple orchards and other fruit trees are starting to bloom. Local fruit growers have many hives of bees in their orchards, hoping bees will be busy pollinating in the coming days.

Brett Kast, an Albion fruit grower, would like the weather to warm up and the rain to hold off so bees can be active pollinators.

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With more rain in forecast, muck farmers worry about their crop

Photos by Tom Rivers: A field in the muck along Transit Road is flooded after the big rain on Monday. Farmers have been pumping water since a severe thunderstorm on Monday.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 May 2017 at 9:13 am

Mucklands are at saturation point after deluge

Joe Bezon stands in one of his fields in Clarendon on Tuesday evening. Bezon said the water has gone down significantly since the storm on Monday. He worries about the forecast that calls for one to two inches more of rain from Thursday to Friday.

CLARENDON – Joe Bezon, a third-generation muck farmer, had just headed home after a hard day’s work on Monday afternoon when it started raining. A sprinkle soon turned into a deluge.

Bezon’s home in Byron was pounded by the rain. He drove to the muck and saw water, everywhere. Bezon was about 75 percent done planting onions for the season. Now there was standing water in the fields.

Bezon said about an inch of rain fell at his house, and 2 inches in the muck.

Bezon and the muck farmers were able to pump lots of the water off the muck on Tuesday, leaving them optimistic the plants and seeds would survive. But he is nervous about the forecast for Thursday, which says another inch to 2 inches is headed our way.

“The water has gone down a lot,” he said Tuesday evening on the muck. “It all depends on Thursday and the through the weekend. It’s wait and see what happens next. It looks like another 10 days of poor weather.”

Another big rain and farmers will struggle to get rid of the water. Bezon said the ground is saturated and the drainage ditches at near capacity.

The drainage ditches are getting full in the muck.

Bezon’s grandfather was one of the original muckers in the 1920s. Bezon, 60, said there has been years when the entire crop was lost due to the weather.

Last year there was little rain after May, but Bezon and other farmers on the muck made up for it by irrigating. Bezon said he had one of his best crops ever last year.

But too much rain is hard to deal with. Even if some of the water is pumped into ditches, Bezon said farmers can’t get back in the field for perhaps a week or more to spray for weeds because their equipment would get stuck.

Sandy Bezon took this photo on Monday evening after a big rainstorm on the muck. A lot of the water has since been pumped out of the fields.

Bezon farms 110 acres in the muck and was 75 percent done with planting at about $2,500 per acre. There is a chance the seeds and plants may not survive the flooding. Bezon said planting again, at $2,500 per acre, means extra work with likely no profit.

Triple G Farms is about 85 percent of way done with planting onions on about 200 acres. Co-owner Guy Smith said the farm has little standing water in its fields, but he is concerned about the forecasted rain.

“Right now we’re pretty good,” he said. “But it will be hard if we get more rain.”

One rain gauge on the muck showed 1.25 inches of rain on Monday, May 1. That followed 6 inches in April. That is far more than usual on the muck.

In April 2016, rain totaled 1.4 inches. Previous April rain amounts include: 3.2 inches in 2015; 5 inches in 2014; 4.2 inches in 2013; and 1.8 inches in 2012, according to the Cornell Vegetable Program.

Bezon said the rainfall so far this year is a start contrast from 2016.

“Last year we prayed for rain,” he said. “Now we have all the pumps running. The ground is saturated.”

Muck farmers set May 10 as a goal to have their crop planted. The corn and soybean farmers set June 10 as a deadline. After those days, the yields tend to diminish 1 to 2 percent each day the crop is planted after the target dates.

The big rains and wet fields could keep farmers from planting for a week or more, even if the rain stopped.

“We still have time because farmers have bigger equipment these days and can cover a lot of ground,” said Larry Meyer, the Farm Service Agency director in Orleans County. “These guys are amazing and can get a tremendous amount of work done. They work around the clock.”

But Meyer said they can’t plant the crop in waterlogged fields.

“The main thing with agriculture and rain is when is it going to stop?” Meyer said.

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State budget includes tax credit for farmers who donate food

Photo by Tom Rivers: Albion FFA students are pictured on Dec. 17 with a thank you message for the farmers that donated to the drive. Local farmers donated 33,000 pounds of produce. The FFA started the food drive in 2010, and collected more than 160,000 pounds of produce that are given to Community Action and local food pantries.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 April 2017 at 7:37 am

New York Farm Bureau said the state budget provides strong support for agricultural program and includes “Farm to Food Bank” tax credit for farmers who donate produce.

David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau president, issued this statement about the state budget:

“New York Farm Bureau is pleased that the final New York State budget addresses several of our farmers’ priority issues for the legislative session. This includes funding for numerous programs that support research, promotion and economic development of our diverse agricultural community in New York. However, the impacts of the state budget will be felt far off the farm as well.

“For starters, $50 million earmarked for nutrient management under the Governor’s new water infrastructure plan will build on the agricultural community’s strong record of environmental stewardship. It will assist dairy farms through cost sharing to invest in manure storage. The result is more flexibility on farms to manage the organic matter, which helps protect water quality for all New Yorkers.

“In addition, we are excited that the Farm to Food Bank Bill will finally receive funding. The small tax credit for donated food will offset a portion of the costs to pick, package and deliver the fresh produce to regional food banks and pantries. In turn, more New Yorkers in need will have access to locally grown food.

“Farming is important to New York State and that sentiment is reflected in the final New York State budget. At a time when farm income is down due to low commodity prices, the investments in agriculture are especially needed. New York Farm Bureau would like to thank Senate Patty Ritchie for her diligent work in securing funding that will benefit family farms across New York. In addition, Assembly Agriculture Chair Bill Magee continues to be a great advocate as well for agriculture. Finally, we appreciate the support of Governor Cuomo and the leaders in the Senate and Assembly for making agriculture a priority during budget negotiations.”

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