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agriculture

Root Brothers Farm wins state soybean yield contest

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 January 2020 at 10:18 am

ALBION – Root Brothers Farm in Albion has won the New York State soybean contest with a yield of 80.56 bushels per acre.

Root Brothers grew the top yield with a FS HiSoy seed, number HS 18X70.

Verratti Farms in Gasport had the second and third highest yields in the state, with entries of 76.40 bushels and 74.56.

Root Brothers Farm is the second farm in Orleans County to win a yield contest in the state in 2019.

Adam Kirby of Albion won the corn yield competition with an entry of 277.44 bushels per acre.

For more information on the competitions, click here.

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Adam Kirby of Albion has top NY corn yield

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 December 2019 at 10:26 am

ALBION — Adam Kirby of Albion has the top corn yield in New York in the 2019 Corn Yield Contest, which is organized by the National Corn Growers Association.

Kirby had a 277.0 bushel yield in the strip till, non-irrigated category. That topped Jason Swede of Pavilion with a 259.8 yield and Gary Swede of Pavilion at 255.4 bushels.

Kirby’s yield also topped the other category leaders from New York. Jeremy Silsby of Gasport won the conventional non-irrigated category with a yield of 254.6 bushels. John Macauley of Mount Morris won the no-till non-irrigated category with 229.3 bushels and Paul Campbell of Nichols won the conventional irrigated division with 258.5 bushels.

Kirby used a Pioneer seed, P0843AM, to grow the winning corn.

The National Corn Growers reported the results of the contest, including a new all-time record yield of 616.2 bushels by David Hula of Charles City, Va.

Corn growers were able to achieve impressive yields despite adverse growing conditions that impacted most farmers, the National Corn Growers said.

This is the 55th year of the annual contest. The organization said improved seed varieties, advanced production techniques and innovative growing practices allowed corn growers to boost their yields.

“Yield contest participants create and share information that shapes the future of the industry while participating in friendly competition,” said Roger Zylstra, chairman of the Corn Growers’  Stewardship Action Team. “At both the state and national levels, contest winners find new ways to excel in a variety of situations. In turn, these innovations can help their fellow farmers face challenges as well. Our contest emphasizes invention and improvement, both from growers and technology providers, that enables U.S. farmers to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber.”


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50th annual Corn Congress set for Jan. 8 in Batavia

Posted 26 December 2019 at 1:58 pm

Press Release, Cornell Cooperative Extension

BATAVIA – Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Northwest NY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team will be hosting the 50th Annual Corn Congress for producers from across the region on Jan. 8 in Batavia and Jan. 9 in Waterloo.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with presentations starting at 10 a.m. DEC Recertification points and Certified Crop Adviser credits will be available.

• Wednesday, January 8 – Quality Inn & Suites, 8250 Park Rd., Batavia, NY

• Thursday, January 9 – Quality Inn, 2468 NYS Route 414, Waterloo, NY

Guest speaker Clarence Swanton, Weed Scientist at University of Guelph in Canada, will present: Talking Plants: The Science Behind Good Weed Management.

His research is focused on weed ecology and the development of integrated weed management systems for field and horticultural crops. He has won numerous awards for his research including: the Ontario Agricultural College Distinguished Researcher Award, University of Guelph Presidential Distinguished Professor Award, Excellence in Weed Science for Canada and the Weed Society of America’s Outstanding Researcher Award.

Guest speaker Jake Kraayenbrink, farmer/entrepreneur in Ontario, Canada, will present: Soil Compaction: Measuring and Mediating Machinery Damage.

He has always had a passion for soil health and has worked with the Ontario Ministry of Ag, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the University of Guelph. He is a Compaction Action team member in Ontario is the director of the Innovative Farmer’s Association of Ontario (IFAO), that helps organize Compaction Action field days for the Ag community.

Additional topics to be discussed by Cornell University researchers include:

• Changing Pathogens, Hybrids, and Weather: Wither Corn Diseases?

• Effective Programs for Controlling Waterhemp in Corn

• Building a Corn Yield Potential Database in New York

• Biocontrol of Corn Rootworm

Registration is $65 per person and includes proceeding book, morning refreshments and hot buffet lunch. To register online, and choose your location, click here. To register by phone, contact Brandie Waite at 585-343-3040 x138.

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Albion FFA students loading up thousands of pounds of produce

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 December 2019 at 9:37 am

Food will be delivered to Community Action this morning

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Albion FFA students load a flatbed trailer this morning with produce donated by local farmers. This is the FFA’s 10thannual food drive. Last year there was 35,000 pounds delivered to Community Action.

There isn’t a final tally available yet today, but FFA members said it looks like there is more food this year.

Paige Derisley, left, and Meganne Moore carry crates of carrots from the ag shop. Many of the FFA students arrived at 6:30 this morning for the big effort.

Paige (Levandowski) Hungerford, lower left, is the FFA advisor this year. She was a student in 2010 when the FFA organized the first food drive. They filled four pickup trucks with food the first year. Now the fill a long flatbed trailer and other vehicles.

Barry Flansburg, a member of the Albion FFA Alumni, helps with the food packing this morning. He is moving a bin of squash.

David Bertsch, right, and Patricia Levandowski (Paige Hungerford’s mother), help with the packing this morning.

The FFA students fill bags with squash and other produce which is headed to Community Kitchen and other local food pantries.

(Click here to see a video of the students loading up the flatbed trailer with produce.)

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FFA growing in New York faster than any other state in country

Posted 13 December 2019 at 3:59 pm

41 new FFA chapters since 2017, with total membership up 60%

Press Release, New York Department of Agriculture

Photo by Tom Rivers: Makayla Heideman, a Medina student, brought her hedgehog, Sonic, to the Medina FFA’s Animal Appreciation Day on April 26, 2018. The hedgehog is about 2 months old. This was the first time a hedgehog was part of the Medina FFA animal showcase.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball congratulated the New York FFA on its significant growth in membership since 2017, helping to further agricultural education and strengthen the State’s future workforce.

The New York FFA is a youth organization that helps middle and high school students become leaders in a variety of career fields, including agriculture. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State dedicated nearly $5 million over the last three years to support agricultural education programs.

A record $3.6 million was invested in the 2017-18 Budget to support the New York FFA, New York Agriculture in the Classroom, and to expand the number of agriculture teachers. In November, the New York FFA received national recognition for its membership increase in the 2018-19 school year, a 60 percent increase from the previous year and the highest increase in the nation.

“It is such an exciting time for New York FFA, which is experiencing substantial growth and leading the nation in program expansion,” said Commissioner Ball. “I want to congratulate New York’s FFA members and thank its leadership for their passion and dedication to building the future of agriculture, and our Governor and Legislature for continuing to support this important program at record levels. FFA is a powerful program that helps our young people learn more about the industry and obtain the skills they need to succeed in meaningful careers in agriculture and related fields. The program is clearly a model for the nation, shining a spotlight on the many strengths of New York agriculture.”

The New York FFA currently has 7,084 members across the state, up from 4,300 in 2017. As part of the growth in young people joining the FFA, the number of new FFA chapters is also on the rise across the state. This year, the New York FFA celebrated the addition of 13 new chapters in high schools across the state, for a total of 41 new chapters added since 2017. The New York FFA is on track to meet its goal of developing 100 new chapters statewide.

FFA Educational Center Under Construction

The 2017 State Budget also included $2 million to build a state-of-the-art test kitchen and food science lab at the New York FFA Leadership Training Foundation’s Oswegatchie Educational Center in Croghan, NY.

The facility, which is currently under construction and expected to open this summer, will offer instruction in food safety, basic food preparation skills, and agricultural-related careers in food processing. It will also provide space for producers to test new processed food products. Training will be available to FFA members, agricultural educators, farm owners, beginning farmers, and other members of the public.

By educating current and future New York farmers about emerging trends in food safety, the test kitchen will serve as a valuable resource to increase participation in the New York State Grown & Certified program. In order to participate in the program, farmers must be located in New York and have food safety and environmental stewardship plans in place on their farms. More information about New York State Grown & Certified is available here.

“The 19-20 NY FFA State Officer Team set a goal at the beginning of this year to increase our membership and the number of chapters throughout the state to give students the opportunity and experiences that agricultural education and FFA can offer,” said NY FFA State President Peyton Fontaine. “We were very excited to be a part of this extraordinary achievement for New York FFA. We are working to sustain this growth by continuing to provide the resources and education to individuals that may not know about these programs. Although we have made significant progress, we still have room to grow and more students to reach!”

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High rate of farmer suicides needs government action, Schumer says

Staff Reports Posted 10 December 2019 at 9:54 am

U..S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants the federal government to increase mental health resources in rural communities, especially for farmers, who have a suicide rate 3.5 times the general population.

Sen. Schumer

Schumer was at a Wyoming County dairy farm on Nov. 27 for a news conference about the issue. Schumer said farmers face a number of stressors that can negatively impact mental health, including financial issues, climate and weather challenges, farm or business problems, and fear of losing their farm.

To address this escalating issue, which is doing real damage to farmers in the GLOW Region of Upstate New York, Schumer launched a two-pronged plan. First, he called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive study of suicides among farmers. Second, he called on Congress to expediently pass the Seeding Rural Resilience Act, which would establish a number of initiatives designed to quell farmer suicides.

“On a good day our family farmers work long hours on tight margins,” Schumer said. “Our farmers are beset by enormous pressures, and so many factors out of their control—from bad weather to bad government policy to giant swings in the economic cycle—that for too many it becomes too much and tragedy ensues. That is why we need to break through the silence, and why we must together confront this challenge, offer better avenues for our farmers who are hurting to getting help, and do more studies so we have a real handle on the depth of the mental health challenge we face,” said Senator Schumer.

Schumer explained that suicide has increasingly become a major public health crisis in Upstate New York and the GLOW Region. In New York State, the suicide rate has increased by more than 28 percent over the past two decades. Specifically, Wyoming County has the 8th highest suicide rate in New York State, and the highest in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region.

According to the New York State Department of Health, 22 individuals died by suicide in Wyoming County from 2015 to 2017, representing a rate of 18 deaths per 100,000 people. Nationwide, a total of 47,173 Americans died by suicide in 2017, well above 2016’s recorded total of 44,695. Schumer said that this follows an alarming trend that has seen the national suicide rate increase by 33 percent since 1999.

“Farmers face a number of unique circumstances that can negatively influence mental health, including a constant fear of losing their farm,” Schumer said. “These stressors, which can be exacerbated by stigma and inadequate access to mental health services in underserved, rural areas, have manifested in a disproportionate rate of suicide among farmers. We need better mental health care for farmers, better information on how they can access that care, and better data on the nature and extent of the problem.”

The CDC has previously acknowledged that its 2018 report on suicides was limited in scope, as it only considered data from 17 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) in both 2012 and 2015. Also, it is estimated that the 17 states included in the 2018 study only represented roughly one quarter of farms across the country. Now that all 50 states participate in the NVDRS, Schumer explained the CDC now has data that is representative of the entire nation and the farmer population.

Second, Schumer urged Congress to expediently consider and pass the Seeding Rural Resilience Act. Introduced in the Senate by Senators Jon Tester [D-MT] and Chuck Grassley [R-IA], this bipartisan legislation would establish three initiatives designed to help farmers cope with issues of mental health, including:

• Establish a requirement for USDA to offer voluntary stress management training to employees of the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and National Resources Conservation Service.

• Authorize the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and USDA to execute a $3 million public awareness campaign about mental health issues on farms and ranches and to destigmatize mental health care in rural areas

• Require the Secretary of Agriculture to collaborate with stakeholders from state and local governments, as well as the agricultural industry, to issue best practices to address mental health issues on farms and ranches.

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Schumer: Federal government issues new financial guidance to lenders in industrial hemp industry

Photo by Tom Rivers: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer a week ago visited Miller’s Organic Hemp Farm on Route 98 in Albion to discuss the emerging industry and the need for federal government to improve regulations for sampling and testing hemp. Terry and Gina Miller hosted Schumer’s visit on Nov. 27 to their farm, which is north of Albion and Gaines near the Carlton town line.

Posted 4 December 2019 at 10:39 am

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer on Tuesday revealed, following his major push, that the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), in tandem with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, have confirmed the legality of banks and other financial institutions extending services and products to industrial hemp-oriented businesses and farms.

Schumer explained that without access to traditional financial services, local farmers and the industrial hemp industry across Upstate New York had been unfairly restricted on capital investment, preventing further economic growth and the creation of good-paying jobs, and choking off valuable income for farmers.

Schumer explained that the lack of awareness by lending institutions about the legality of industrial hemp had created an unwarranted murkiness around the legality of financing hemp-oriented businesses—and that new guidance was urgently needed. With that now cleared up, the industrial hemp industry can continue to seed and grow across Upstate New York.

“This is a strong step in the right direction to boost the growth of the industrial hemp industry, and I am glad federal regulators, including the Fed, heeded my call to provide clarity to banks that industrial hemp is fully legal and their member banks are free to lend to farmers and producers,” Schumer said. “Now that the feds have issued to lenders updated guidance clarifying hemp’s legality as a crop, the industry will really start to take root and grow.”

Specifically, the Fed, FDIC, FinCEN and OCC announced that under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks will no longer have to file Suspicious Activity Reports for industrial hemp-oriented businesses seeking to attain loans or other services. Schumer explained that this will significantly increase the likelihood that these businesses receive financial services, and help the industry continue growing and creating good-paying jobs for New Yorkers.

Schumer explained that since the 2018 Farm Bill removed the federal regulatory shackles from industrial hemp production, manufacturing, and selling, New York’s industrial hemp industry has started to grow significantly, with new farms and businesses emerging and existing ones expanding operations. This has brought considerably more good-paying jobs and revenue to Upstate New York, making industrial hemp a critical new part of the state’s agricultural future.

That being said, as industrial hemp farmers and businesses are exploring the full benefits of the 2018 Farm Bill, they have experienced serious difficulty accessing financial products with regulatory uncertainty at financial institutions. While some companies have agreed to offer financial services to the growing hemp industry, many have not due to confusion over the crop’s legal status.

“I fought so hard to strip the burdensome and outdated federal regulations from industrial hemp because of all the good it can do for our farmers, our economy and our consumers,” Schumer said. “Today’s updated financial guidance related to industrial hemp means that we’re one big step closer to the complete emergence of a job-creating, economy-boosting industry across New York State.”

The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). It passed and was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. This legislation:

• Removes industrial hemp from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act

• Empowers states to be the principal regulators of hemp

• Allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); and

• Makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance

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Schumer sees potential in WNY, upstate as major hemp growing region

Photos by Tom Rivers: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer visited Miller’s Organic Hemp Farm on Route 98 in Albion to discuss the emerging industry and the need for federal government to improve regulations for sampling and testing hemp. Terry and Gina Miller hosted Schumer’s visit to their farm, which is north of Albion and Gaines near the Carlton town line.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 November 2019 at 8:17 pm

Senator says federal government needs to establish regulations to help farmers and processors in emerging industry

Gina Miller said there need to be more standards from labs in testing hemp. Right now, she said the results vary wildly among labs in testing the same plants.

ALBION – U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer visited an Albion farm today that is part of an emerging sector in the state’s agricultural industry. Terry and Gina Miller are growing hemp, one of about 500 farms in the state with a permit to grow the plant.

Schumer said the soils and growing conditions in Western New York and the Finger Lakes have proven to be conducive to growing the plants that are about 5 feet tall.

The industry faces uncertainties in the regulations from the federal government. The senator is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend a comment period about the regulations. The USDA has set a deadline for Dec. 31 for comments on the regulations. Schumer is seeking a 60-day extension for comments.

Schumer also wants to the USDA to consider some of the challenges faced by growers and processors working with hemp.

“It’s like the Wild West right now,” Terry Miller said about dealing with the regulations.

Schumer is urging the USDA to establish clear standards that ensure the safety of the public but aren’t overly burdensome to farmers and processors.

“Industrial hemp has a real future for our New York farmers,” Schumer said at a news conference at Miller’s Organic Hemp Farm.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer shakes hands with Terry Miller, owner of Miller’s Organic Hemp Farm. Miller grew the crop on a quarter-acre of land this year.

Hemp is popular for the CBD oil that comes from the hemp plant. CBD is used to deal with pain, inflammation and anxiety.

Hemp, Schumer said, also is used for cosmetics, construction projects and in car doors.

Schumer is asking the USDA to listen to concerns from growers and producers, and to make improvements to the final regulations.

Schumer, at the Albion farm today, expressed his concern over USDA’s proposed Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program, which was published on Oct. 31. The U.S. senator said he’s been approached by farmers, producers and stakeholders from across the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region. They tell him the proposed regulations for sampling and testing of hemp are imprecise, and are not fully reflective of farmers’ challenges.

Chris Van Dusen of Holley is president of Empire Hemp Co. in Batavia. He said hemp is a proven product that helps people with pain.

Miller said growing the hemp plant proved a challenge.

“No one expected the harvest to be this laborious,” he said.

Schumer argued that given the new nature of this industry and the economic potential it holds, USDA should extend the comment period and improve the regulations.

“When it comes to an industry as promising as industrial hemp in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, the feds need to get it right the first time, and not rush to any reckless regulatory decisions,” he said. “Regulating this rapidly-emerging industry is a must, but any rules must be part of a well-thought-out process that carefully considers the needs of all stakeholders—from farmers and growers to producers and manufacturers.”

Schumer explained that the proposed rule, which is a necessary step to support domestic industrial hemp production, potentially includes regulations that could have harmful effects on hemp production in Orleans County and the entire nation. The comment period for the proposed Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program began on October 31 and is set to end on Dec. 31.

Schumer noted some provisions under the proposed Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program final rule that have concerned farmers and producers, specifically related to the timeframe for sampling and testing of industrial hemp, the lack of available places to do this testing, the guidelines for THC level testing, and the restrictiveness for retesting if the threshold for THC exceeds allowable levels.

Hemp is a demanding plant to grow, peaking at about 5 feet tall.

For example, Schumer said under the rule, producers would have a 15-day timeframe for the harvesting, sampling and testing of crops. However, since this testing typically takes 5-6 business days alone, the proposed final rule creates a tight turnaround and affords farmers very little leeway in the prescribed timeline.

Furthermore, Schumer explained the short 15-day window may be further hindered by the potential scarcity of DEA-registered laboratories in state, to perform testing in a timely manner.

Additionally, Schumer said the current draft regulations do not afford any provisions for growers to salvage or retest crops that initial tests exceed the established .03 THC threshold. Crop insurance, which is often difficult to procure, still affords no protections for most farmers in these circumstances. Other concerns highlighted by Schumer pertain to the sampling methodology to determine accurate THC levels.

The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Schumer noted it had strong bipartisan support and was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. This legislation:

•  Removed industrial hemp from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act

• Empowered states to be the principal regulators of hemp

• Allowed hemp researchers to apply for competitive grants from the USDA

• Made hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance

The Millers created this display board of their first year growing hemp. Garland Miller, Terry’s father, helped grow the crop. He is shown in the photo, second from the upper right.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be utilized for food, oil and cosmetic products. Hemp contains a very small amount, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, it has varied widely in use.

However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was the primary regulator for hemp production.

Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential. With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York will be unleashed, he said.

“This has tremendous, tremendous potential,” Schumer said at Miller’s farm. “We can be one of the industrial hemp centers of the USA. I’ll do everything I can to get the USDA to be reasonable.”

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Tariff relief payments top $4 million for farmers in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2019 at 3:09 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: These soybeans in Albion are pictured in October. The federal government has provided tariff relief payments for farmers who grow soybeans, corn and sweet cherries in Orleans County, as well as dairy farmers.

The federal government has approved a new round of tariff relief payments for American farmers hurt in a trade war.

The U.S. Agriculture Department is distributing another round of tariff relief payments.

In Orleans County, this year the relief payments will add up to $1,895,536 for about 150 farmers who grow corn and soybeans. Milk producers and sweet cherry growers also are receiving some of the payments in Orleans County, said Larry Meyer, director of the Farm Service Agency in Orleans County.

Last year the tariff relief totaled $2,139,065 for farmers in Orleans County, Meyer said.

The payments help make up for a drop in prices for corn, soybeans and the other crops.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Friday announced the second round of 2019 Market Facilitation Program payments.

The funding will be released beginning the week before Thanksgiving. Meyer, the FSA director in Orleans, said the local farmers have all signed up for the new round of funding.

“This second tranche of 2019 MFP payments, along with already provided disaster assistance, will give farmers, who have had a tough year due to unfair trade retaliation and natural disasters, much needed funds in time for Thanksgiving,” said Secretary Perdue. “President Trump has shown time and again that he is fighting for America’s farmers and ranchers. While we continue to have confidence in the President’s negotiations with China, this money shows President Trump following through on his promise to help and support farmers as he continues to fight for fair market access.”

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Albion recognizes dairy farm as ‘Friend of Education’

Posted 6 November 2019 at 11:59 am

Photo courtesy of Albion Central School: Ed Neal and his grandson Brian Neal are recognized at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

Press Release, Albion Central School

ALBION – The Board of Education recognized Poverty Hill Farms as a Friend of Education at Monday’s board meeting.

Ed Neal and his grandson Brian Neal accepted the award on behalf of the entire family. Ed Neal is a former president of the Board of Education.

Adam Krenning spoke about the partnership that FFA has with Poverty Hill Farms.

“The Neal family has always been willing to assist our students in the agriculture programs at Albion with anything we have needed to make the program better for our students,” Krenning said.

Tim Archer thanked the farm family for always hosting his high school Interact exchange program with an inner city school in Rochester. He said the visit to the farm is always a highlight and giving students hands-on activities and experiences on the farm is one they will never forget.

Poverty Hill Farms on West County House Road has also hosted seniors from the Workplace Internship program. The Neal family is happy to educate students about careers in agriculture and give them hands-on experiences to determine if a life in agriculture is something they may want to pursue.

Thank you Neal family for your ongoing support and willingness to educate our students!

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