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agriculture

New book pays tribute to ‘Mom and Pop’ farms in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2016 at 10:08 am

Holly Ricci-Canham’s nearly 300-page effort includes 150 interviews, 400 photos

Photo by Tom Rivers: Holly Ricci-Canham holds a copy of “Mom & Pop Farming in Orleans County, New York – The past brought to life.” She will sign copies of the book on Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. at Hoag Library in Albion.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Holly Ricci-Canham holds a copy of “Mom & Pop Farming in Orleans County, New York – The past brought to life.” She will sign copies of the book on Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. at Hoag Library in Albion.

ALBION – Holly Ricci-Canham has a new book out that is a tribute to the “mom and pop” farms that were once commonplace in Orleans County.

The farms were part of a close-knit community with neighborhood schools and churches.

Ricci-Canham grew up on a “mom and pop” farm in Kenyonville run by her parents, Pete and “Mike” Ricci. They would relocate the fruit and vegetable farm to West Avenue in Albion. Her upbringing on the farm made her want to tell the stories of local farms.

“You see the gigantic farming tractors now, which is so different from the farming I grew up with,” she said.

Ricci-Canham, 63, interviewed more than 150 people and included more than 400 photographs for her nearly 300-page book, “Mom & Pop Farming in Orleans County, New York – The past brought to life.”

The book covers farm operations throughout county with sections about muck farmers, dairies, fruit and vegetable farms, canning companies, migrant labor camps, “ladies accounts,” technology changes as well as country schools, “kids play” and fairs and celebrations.

Many people she interviewed had strong memories of attending one-room schoolhouses and learning to drive – sometimes at age 5. They shared some hard times on the farm, and how neighbors often pitched in to help them get through it.

“Farm people are a deep, kind, loving people,” Ricci-Canham said. “They have an unconditional love of helping each other.”

Ricci-Canham’s son Andrew, vice president of student success for McLellan Community College in Waco, Texas, served as editor of the book.

John Long, a long-time farmer on Zig Zag Road in Albion, also helped edit the book and connected Ricci-Canham to many of the farm families. (Long and his wife Loretta are pictured on the front of the book with their sons, Jeff and Doug, in a photo from 1969.)

Ricci-Canham has the book in chapters, including one on dairy farmers. Rudy Kludt was among those interviewed for the section on dairy: “My Mother did a lot of work on the farm,” he says in the book. “She could milk a cow faster than anybody could milk a cow! She did all of the milking – Dad was out on the farm … we made butter. She sold eggs for groceries – sometimes traded for groceries. Today you can’t do anything like that.”

Rudy Kludt would also recall when the farm acquired its first combine in 1936. His father didn’t like the Allis Chalmers and switched to an International two years later.

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This quote from Rudy Kludt is on the back cover of the book.

The book shares memories from farmers of labor-saving equipment, from tree shakers to self-propelled harvesters.

Bill Lattin, the retired Orleans County historian, wrote the forward of the book, and praised Ricci-Canham for an “invaluable” book of local history.

“These are first-hand accounts relating to a lifestyle which has all but vanished,” Lattin writes.

Fifty years ago, few farms topped more than 100 acres. Now many farms in Orleans County work thousands of acres.

“In this book, farmers tell the history of farming in their own words,” Matthew Ballard, current county historian, writes in a forward. “Little is left for interpretation by the author, providing an informative and precise examination of our agricultural heritage.”

Ricci-Canham delayed the publication of the book by several months so she could include a chapter about labor camps. She interviewed people who lived at the former Coloney Camp in Carlton. (Any from the camp attended a popular night club, The Brick Wall, where a young Chubby Checker performed. The Brick Wall is where the current Olde Dogge Inn is located.)

The camp also didn’t have running water for the residents and was often rodent infested.

Howard Ward, a vice president at Rochester Institute of Technology, grew up in the camp. He would earn a doctorate in education. He said there was a strong community at the camp, with people helping each other.

“I never minded farm work,” he told Ricci-Canham in the book. “I picked cherries, all kinds of fruits. I didn’t like picking cucumbers. The fields were 5 miles by 5 miles and the plants were prickly. They used DDT back then and your hands would be green! I say it was because of cukes that I went to college!”

The book includes many pictures of “farm kids,” including this one of Holly Ricci as a girl on a pedal tractor.

The book includes many pictures of “farm kids,” including this one of Holly Ricci as a girl on a pedal tractor.

For the sections on fairs, celebrations & entertainment, Ricci-Canham writes about the world largest apple pie created in 1929 by Charlie Howard (before he started a Santa Claus School). In 1977, the 4-H Fair set a new record for the world’s largest apple pie. In 1931, the fair was the site of the world’s largest cake, which stood 14 feet high.

In 1859, tragedy struck during a celebration in Albion. Hundreds of people gathered to watch a tight-rope walker cross the canal. The Main Street bridge collapsed, killing 14 people.

The book includes a section on the canning factories. Ricci-Canham remembers growing up with the scent of ketchup at Hunts in Albion and the chicken soup at Liptons.

“The area smelled so good back then,” she said.

Canham will sign copies of the book on Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. at Hoag Library in Albion. She had about 450 printed, but already is working on a second printing for January.

Ricci-Canham is a founder of Orleans County Genealogical Society. She co-wrote “Carlton and Point Breeze” with Avis Townsend in 2006, a book that is a photographic history of the community. Ricci-Canham also wrote “Legendary Locals of Orleans County” in 2012, highlighting prominent residents who excelled in civic affairs, business, agriculture, sports, politics and the arts.

The book on the farm families proved to be “the most humbling and most fulfilling experience of my life, short of having children,” Ricci-Canham writes in the conclusion.

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NY Farm Bureau elects new president

Staff Reports Posted 9 December 2016 at 9:16 am

Dean Norton of Elba led the organization the past 8 years

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

David Fisher

David Fisher

Fisher will replace Dean Norton, a dairy farmer from Elba. Norton led the organization the past eight years. He was seeking another two-year term as the organization’s leader.

Norton posted a Facebook message, thanking the many friends he has made in the past 8 years as Farm Bureau president. He also thanked his wife Melanie, an Albion native, for her support.

“They say for every door that closes another opens. I will be looking for that door,” Norton said. “It has been a wonderful journey and one that we are both grateful to have taken.”

Fisher and his family have operated Mapleview Dairy in Madrid 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.

“I am humbled that the farmer members of New York Farm Bureau have placed their confidence in me to lead this great organization,” Fisher said. “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.”

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.

Pat McCormick, a dairy farmer from Wyoming County, was re-elected as director of District 2, which includes Orleans County.

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Farmers’ Market in Medina will go into winter

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 November 2016 at 2:13 pm

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Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Ken and Rose Baker from Baker Farms in Medina, right, are pictured on Saturday with Kari Kasmier, a  beekeeper who sells honey.

The Canal Village Farmers’ Market expected to call it a season at the end of October. But many vendors still have vegetables, beef, honey and other products from the farm.

So the farmers’ market is staying open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. for the foreseeable future. That’s good news for the vendors who appreciate the extended season.

“This is the only one that I know of that is staying open in the winter,” said vendor Jo Marie Human of Human Farms and Greenhouses in Appleton.

She was selling wreaths, potatoes, winter squash, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and other vegetables n Saturday.

“We’ll keep coming until it freezes,” she said.

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Jo Marie Human has wreaths and vegetables for sale at the farmers’ market.

The farmers’ market is at the old Bank of America drive-thru and parking lot, across from the Post Office on West Center Street. SK Herefords is selling beef products inside the former bank building.

Dawn Keppler of SK said the farm will be at the market every Saturday during the winter except for the month of January.

The market had at least five vendors each Saturday in November. This Saturday will include one new one: Nice Farms from Knowlesville.

Ken Baker of Medina is happy the market is staying open.

“We want to keep up our customer base,” said Baker, who had bacon, eggs, garlic, garlic powder and other products for sale on Saturday.

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Cost of Thanksgiving meal decreases in 2016

Posted 24 November 2016 at 7:12 am
File photo by Tom Rivers: These turkeys were part of the 2014 meat auction at the 4-H Fair in Knowlesville. The cost of a turkey has dropped a little compared to Thanksgiving a year ago.

File photo by Tom Rivers: These turkeys were part of the 2014 meat auction at the 4-H Fair in Knowlesville. The cost of a turkey has dropped a little compared to Thanksgiving a year ago.

Press Release, American Farm Bureau

WASHINGTON, D.C – The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 31st annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.87, a 24-cent decrease from last year’s average of $50.11.

The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at a total of $22.74 this year. That’s roughly $1.42 per pound, a decrease of 2 cents per pound, or a total of 30 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2015.

“Consumers will pay less than $5 per person for a classic Thanksgiving dinner this year,” AFBF Director of Market Intelligence Dr. John Newton said. “We have seen farm prices for many foods – including turkeys – fall from the higher levels of recent years. This translates into lower retail prices for a number of items as we prepare for Thanksgiving and confirms that U.S. consumers benefit from an abundant, high-quality and affordable food supply.”

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

Foods showing the largest decreases this year in addition to turkey were pumpkin pie mix, milk and a veggie tray comprised of celery and carrots. A 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix was $3.13; a gallon of milk, $3.17; a one-pound veggie tray of celery and carrots, $0.73; and a group of miscellaneous items including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour), $2.81.

“Due to a significant expansion in global milk production, prices fell to the lowest levels since 2009, leading to lower retail milk and dairy product prices. Additionally, this year’s pumpkin prices are slightly lower following the production decline and higher prices seen in 2015,” Newton said.

Items that increased modestly in price were a dozen brown-and-serve rolls, $2.46; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.59; one pound of green peas, $1.58; 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, $2.39; a half-pint of whipping cream, $2.00; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.67; and a three-pound bag of fresh sweet potatoes, $3.60.

The average price is down slightly from last year to $49.87. After adjusting for inflation, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner fell to $20.66 – the lowest level since 2010.

A total of 148 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 40 states for this year’s survey. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons.

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Dobbins pushing $5 million expansion in Lyndonville

File photo by Tom Rivers: Ward Dobbins is pictured inside H.H. Dobbins in this photo from September. Dobbins is working on a 10,300-square-foot expansion to accommodate a larger packing line.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 November 2016 at 8:21 am

LYNDONVILLE – A business that packs about 1 million bushels of apple each year is moving ahead with a $5 million expansion that will include a new packing line with the latest technology.

H.H. Dobbins (Empire Fruit LLC) will put a 10,300-square-foot addition on its complex at 129 West Ave. The added space will accommodate a new state-of-art packing line that can detect internal and external blemishes on fruit.

Right now, Dobbins has workers on the packing lines that sort fruit that doesn’t quite look perfect. The new packing line will have a defect sorter that quickly scans for exterior imperfections in fruit. Another big advantage to the technology will be seeing problems inside the fruit, such as water coring, that aren’t detectable to the human eye, Ward Dobbins, the company owner and chief executive officer, said in an interview in September. (Orleans Hub featured him in article in September because he was honored by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce.)

Dobbins said the new line won’t displace workers. They will instead be packing boxes and bags of fruit. The new line will increase the volume from 140 bushels packed per hour to 900 bushels, Dobbins said.

The expansion project is estimated to cost $5 million for the new equipment, machinery, fixtures and furnishings, as well as construction of the new space.

The Orleans Economic Development Agency has approved a sales tax abatement that will save H.H. Dobbins $220,864 in sales tax. That is an exemption on the 8 percent tax on an estimated $2,760,800 in taxable purchases of equipment and materials. The EDA board of directors approved the incentive on Nov. 10.

That is the only tax break Dobbins will receive from the EDA for the project. The company isn’t pursuing a property tax discount with the project.

This is the second recent significant expansion and investment by Dobbins. The business last year opened a new 26,240-square-foot controlled atmosphere storage building on Millers Road, about 2 miles from the main packing house on West Avenue.

That $3.4 million project boosted Dobbins’ on-site storage by 300,000 bushels of apples. The CA also acts to put apples “to sleep,” allowing them to be stored for many months, sometimes up to a year.

H.H. Dobbins was started in 1905 and under the leadership of the fourth-generation owner, Ward Dobbins.

Dobbins is working to have the new packing line in production by next harvest season, EDA officials said.

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NY has $1.5 million available for farms to join ‘New York State Grown & Certified’ program

Posted 15 November 2016 at 7:20 am
Photo by Tom Rivers: A farmer works a field by an orchard on Route 31 in Ridgeway in May.

Photo by Tom Rivers: A farmer works a field by an orchard on Route 31 in Ridgeway in May.

Press Release, Gov. Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $1.5 million is available to help New York fruit and vegetable farmers join the New York State Grown & Certified program.

The $1.5 million comes from the Environmental Protection Fund to help farms implement an Agricultural Environmental Management plan, and a reimbursement of up to $1,000 is available for growers who participate in a third party audit of safe food handling practices.

Farmers must participate in programs supporting good agricultural practices and environmental management to be eligible for New York State Grown & Certified, and this funding will help more farms join the certification program.

“New York farms produce world-renowned, high-quality food, and the New York State Grown & Certified program strengthens the link between producers and consumers and promotes environmentally sustainable and safe practices,” Governor Cuomo said. “This funding will help more farmers certify their products to these higher standards and access the many opportunities offered by New York State Grown & Certified.”

Launched in August, the New York State Grown & Certified program assures consumers that the food they are buying is local and produced to a higher standard by requiring participating producers to adopt good agricultural practices and enroll in an environmental management program.

Reimbursement for Good Agricultural Practices Audits

Administered through the United States Department of Agriculture, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Good Agricultural Practices program verifies that safe food handling practices are being used on farms, from growing and harvesting to packaging and handling. The Good Agricultural Practices program certifies the fresh fruit and vegetable farms that have implemented the necessary steps in their operations to minimize the possibility of product contamination and food-borne illness in accordance with USDA regulations.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, is providing up to $1,000 to reimburse farms for Good Agricultural Practices audits. The Department has conducted 234 audits in 2016 so far, already exceeding last year’s total number of audits.

Cornell University is a key partner in training and education for farmers as part of the program. The university holds online courses and in-person training throughout the year to help producers learn about the program and write their own safe food handling farm plan prior to the third-party audit.

Funding for Agricultural Environmental Management Plans

The Governor on Monday also announced $1.5 million is available for the implementation of an Agricultural Environmental Management plan to assist fruit, vegetable and other specialty crop growers in producing their products in an environmentally responsible manner.

Funding for the implementation of the Agricultural Environmental Management plan is provided through the Environmental Protection Fund. Assisting specialty crop farms to produce foods with the highest environmental standards will protect and improve New York’s natural resources, including water and soil quality.

New York’s County Soil and Water Conservation Districts are eligible to apply for the program on behalf of farmers. Maximum award amounts for projects are $50,000. Applications are due January 20, 2017.

Benefits for Growers, Buyers and Consumers

For growers, participation in Agricultural Environmental Management and Good Agricultural Practices certification allows for greater access to programs, especially New York State Grown & Certified, which includes a major marketing campaign to promote New York producers who meet the program standards. This includes on-product labels and promotional materials, such as a website, video and sales materials, to encourage program participation among producers and to educate retail, wholesale and institutional buyers on the value of the program. Consumer advertising and retail promotion will begin this fall.

The Good Agricultural Practices certification also provides producers access to the Farm to School procurement pilot program, which requires growers selling to school districts to be certified. The program also helps farms prepare for potential regulation from the Food Safety Modernization Act.

In addition, the Good Agricultural Practices program is significant for buyers. By purchasing products from a farm that is certified, there is a reduction in the potential for future food safety recalls, which can be costly to buyers and also impact consumer confidence and loyalty. Many consumers are looking for reassurance that the items they purchase in the supermarket have been properly handled on the farm.

Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President, said, “New York’s farmers value the quality and safety that goes into everything they produce. This includes taking part in AEM and GAP programs that work with farmers to be good stewards of the environment and have additional safe food handling protocols in place. The additional steps the state is taking to increase access to these valuable programs will not only benefit farmers but consumers as well who are looking to New York’s family farms for fresh, local food.”

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4-H’ers show cooking skills in annual Produced in NY contest

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Sadie Gregoire of Murray participated in the Junior Novice division, her first time participating in Produced in New York competition on Saturday at the Trolley Building.  She used eggs and butter produced in New York to make a brownie recipe.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 7 November 2016 at 11:48 am
Ella Dahlhaus prepares Provolone Chicken Pizza which features New York ingredients provolone and parmesan cheese, tomatoes and chicken.

Ella Dahlhaus prepares Provolone Chicken Pizza which features New York ingredients provolone and parmesan cheese, tomatoes and chicken.

KNOWLESVILLE – Orleans County 4-Hers put their cooking skills to the test during the annual Produced in New York contest on Saturday morning. Food made and grown in New York State must be used in the competition.

Items which can be used include fruits, meats, vegetables, grains, maple syrup, and dairy products.

Twenty-five Orleans County 4-H’ers and Cloverbuds took park in this year’s contest, which was held in the Trolley Building on the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Participants were evaluated during the demonstration for proper techniques and ability to prepare their recipe.

Judges also evaluated the product for eye appeal, taste and nutritional content.

Taylor Soule used pumpkin as her featured NY ingredient for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins during Saturday's competition at the Trolley Building.

Taylor Soule used pumpkin as her featured NY ingredient for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins during Saturday’s competition.

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Cloverbud Olivia Andrews measures oats for her Blueberry Oatmeal Crisp featuring NY blueberries.

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Makenzie McGrath whips up a tasty Grape Salad featuring grapes and NY dairy products.

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Olivia Kroening carefully adds ingredients to her Apple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting which featured NY apples.

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Partyka will make push to grow market for popular pumpkin seeds

Photos by Tom Rivers: Steve and Scott Partyka, and their father Jeff are looking to expand the customer base for their dry roasted pumpkin seeds.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 November 2016 at 4:46 pm

KENDALL – It started as a bit of an experiment. Jeff Partyka was at a presentation by Cornell University more than a decade ago and a researcher talked about pumpkins that produced hull-less seeds (those without a shell).

Partyka was guardedly intrigued. The owner of a fruit and vegetable farm with a market on Countyline Road said farms need to diversify, and look for many sources of revenue. A drought could hit like this year or prices could crash, imperiling a farm if it relies too much on one crop.

Partyka and his sons, Steve and Scott, planted some of the pumpkins. The seeds, after they were dry roasted, were popular with customers. The seeds are a healthy snack, high in iron and low in cholesterol.

“This is something that we have been playing around with for a while,” Partyka said today at the farm in Kendall. “It’s something different. It’s a niche that not a lot of other people are doing.”

The pumpkin seeds have jumped in popularity in the last three years, with Partyka selling them at Wegmans, and many other farm markets and natural food stores in the region.

Partyka sells the seeds, which are grown without shells, at the Partyka Farm Market, 1420 County Line Rd., Kendall. The seeds are available at Wegmans, and many other farm markets and natural food stores in the region.

Partyka sells the seeds, which are grown without shells, at the Partyka Farm Market, 1420 County Line Rd., Kendall. The seeds are available at Wegmans, and many other farm markets and natural food stores in the region.

The Partykas have equipment that pulls the pumpkins apart in the field and extracts the seeds, which are then washed, dried and roasted.

The Partykas see a bigger market for the product and the federal government announced on Thursday the farm was approved for a grant to help with marketing.

U.S. senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer announced a $170,465 matching grant for Partyka Farms. It was one of 14 grants, totaling $2,279,655, allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value-Added Producer Grant program. The money goes to help farmers create new products and improve their marketing strategy to raise brand awareness and increase sales.

“Ensuring that agriculture is able to flourish – and the unique needs of New York agriculture are considered in federal programs – has always been a top priority of mine,” Schumer said in a news release. “This direct USDA assistance will allow these businesses in New York State to generate increased economic revenue by bringing new products to market and expanding their operations. Helping our local companies grow their business will be a win-win for our agriculture industry, New York consumers, and the entire regional economies.”

The Partykas have to match the grant. They are looking at developing new bags for the pumpkin seeds and expanding their marketing efforts.

“We need our farmers and local producers to thrive if we’re going to have a strong and growing economy in New York,” said Gillibrand, the first NY senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. “This investment will help our producers receive the resources needed to bring their products to market and continue to help drive economic growth across the state.”

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Cuomo presses Canada to resolve potential export barriers with NY milk suppliers

Posted 1 November 2016 at 8:09 am
File photo by Tom Rivers: A dairy cow is pictured during the Orleans County 4-H Fair in Knowlesville in July 2013.

File photo by Tom Rivers: A dairy cow is pictured during the Orleans County 4-H Fair in Knowlesville in July 2013.

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced his opposition to proposed regulations that would create a barrier for New York’s dairy farmers exporting a key New York dairy product to Canada.

In a letter to Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, Gov. Cuomo called on the Canadian Government to develop a national agreement that will mutually benefit trade across borders. If proposed provincial standards are implemented across Canada, they could result in a $50 million market loss for New York’s dairy industry.

“New York’s dairy sector is an essential part of our agricultural industry, and these regulations could have devastating effects on our dairy farmers and their families,” Governor Cuomo said. “I urge our Canadian neighbors to reconsider these potentially harmful regulations and to continue our courteous, mutually beneficial trade relations.”

The Governor’s letter coincided with the 25th Tri-National Agricultural Accord, held last week in the City of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The Tri-National Agricultural Accord provides a forum for the United States, Canada and Mexico to work together toward shared priorities and discuss important topics, including climate change, trade and the expansion of food processing sectors.

The Governor’s actions are in direct response to the Province of Ontario and the Canadian Milk Supply Management Committee’s regulatory plans, which include the Ontario Class 6 regulation and the proposed establishment of a new National Ingredient Strategy that could effectively restrict New York exports of ultra-filtered milk. Ultra-filtered milk is a protein-rich type of skim milk and is primarily used in the production of cheese and yogurt.

The letter calls on the Canadian government to confirm that Ontario’s Class 6 regulations and the Canadian National Ingredients Strategy are both consistent with existing World Trade Organization policies and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Over the course of the last several months, New York State has made several attempts to find a solution agreeable to both parties. During a recent visit to Canada, New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul raised the concerns of New York State with Canadian officials, and in August, New York Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball sent a letter to his counterpart in the Province of Ontario, outlining the critical nature of the proposal and its effects on New York State. Commissioner Ball attended the Tri-National Agricultural Accord last week to raise New York State’s concerns in person.

New York exports more to Canada than to any other country in the world. Last year, the bilateral trade relationship totaled $32.93 billion in goods and supported over 500,000 jobs regionally. New York’s dairy industry is the State’s largest agricultural sector. With more than 5,000 farms, the majority of which are family-run operations, the dairy industry supports the framework of the agricultural economy. The dairy community brought in $2.5 billion in sales, and the dairy industry hired almost 20,000 people in New York in 2015. New York’s dairy products also account for at least 50 percent of all New York State agricultural commodities exported internationally.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “New York’s dairy farmers rely heavily on the export of their products and we need to do what we can to ensure they continue to have a home for their milk. We are hopeful the Canadian government, as it weighs its options, will take into account its long and successful trade partnership with New York, and act to resolve this issue that would be detrimental to our agricultural industry.”

John Gould, Chairman of the Board of Directors of O-AT-KA said, “O-AT-KA Milk Products is a business that reflects the effort, investment and hopes of hundreds of dairy farmers in Western New York and the hundreds of people we employ in Batavia. Canada continually attempts to erect trade barriers where there should be none and this behavior places 20% of our sales or about 180 million pounds of annual milk production at risk of not having a market. We greatly appreciate the Governor’s support in fighting back as Canada should not be able to unilaterally change regulations that contradict their obligations to longstanding trade agreements.”

Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President, said, “Canada is an important trading partner for New York State and our agricultural community. At a time when low milk prices are threatening the viability of some family farms, any step by Canadian leaders to unfairly restrict the flow of milk into the Ontario province and beyond will have detrimental impacts on farmers and the overall farm economy. We appreciate Governor Cuomo and his administration for raising this issue with the Prime Minister, and New York Farm Bureau will continue to work with our state and federal leaders to keep milk flowing across the border.”

Albion FFA hosts fall festival for elementary students

Photos by Tom Rivers: Members of the Albion FFA hold pumpkins painted by elementary students today during a fall festival that continues on Wednesday. These FFA members include, from left: Dylan Fox, Natalie DiCureia and Lizzy Baker.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 October 2016 at 3:22 pm

ALBION – About 700 students will be welcomed to the FFA classroom and ag shop today and on Wednesday to paint pumpkins (donated by Panek’s), play ag-related games, have cider (donated by Roberts Farm Market) and have an apple (donated by Nesbitt Farms).

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Nick Reed, a senior, mans the station where students, including this first-grader Kiri Keller, try to throw a ring on a pumpkin.

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Nick Sacco, a sophomore, makes apple sauce.

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Omar Peterson, a freshman, runs the station where students try to match paper plates with Halloween themes.

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Haylett Farms in Albion loaned a combine for this display. Students in Pat Levandowski’s first grade class hear about the combine from student Harrison Brown.

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Some of the students take a peek underneath the big farm machinery.

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