Find us on Facebook


With dairy farms struggling, Collins promotes initiatives to increase milk consumption

Posted 17 June 2018 at 8:10 am

Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins

LE ROY – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) toured Stein Farms in Le Roy on Saturday to discuss dairy issues he has been leading in Congress that deal with the decline in milk consumption and economic challenges facing dairy farmers.

Collins announced a letter he sent with 11 of his colleagues to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue encouraging the agency to continue advertising campaigns such as “Got Milk?”.

“Years ago, messages that resonated with all Americans included ‘Got Milk?’ and ‘drink milk, love life,’ and we saw some of our favorite celebrities with milk mustaches,” said Collins. “The fact is, this type of marketing works. In recent years, we’ve seen an overall decline in milk consumption, which has created tough economic times for our dairy farmers and we are hoping Secretary Perdue can provide some additional help.”

Milk prices have dropped over 9 percent since 2014, and are expected to continue to decrease given the decline in milk consumption and Canada’s unfair trade practices, Collins said.

The bipartisan letter voices support of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which is responsible for programs dedicated to educating consumers and increasing the consumption of fluid milk. Past AMS campaigns successfully helped push the consumption of milk as it competes with other beverage products on the market.

Collins’ letter requests that the USDA not only continue these programs but also look for other ways to boost our nation’s dairy industry and has the support of members from across the country. To read a copy of the letter, click here.

Representing one of the nation’s leading dairy producing districts, Collins has been a strong advocate for issues related to nutrition, labeling, trade, and immigration as they impact our nation’s farmers.

“I want to thank Congressman Collins for helping raise the awareness of the situation dairy farmers are going through right now, and his help in showing New York consumers the benefit of having dairy as part of a healthy nutritious diet,” said Dale Stein, co-owner of Stein Farms. “So have that extra glass of milk, that serving of cheese and yogurt. Enjoy that ice cream on a hot summer afternoon and know in doing so you are also helping your local dairy farmer.”

The following members of Congress also weighed in on the issue:

“I care about the struggling dairy farmers across our district, and I am proud to stand with them through difficult times,” said Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23). “Low milk prices and unfair Canadian dairy tariffs are causing tremendous harm. I am happy to urge our Agriculture Secretary to pull out all the stops so that we can provide relief for dairy farmers.”

“After traveling across the district and meeting with numerous people in the dairy industry, I understand the problems they face each day,” said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-22). “Farm milk prices are dropping at an alarming rate and in order to stop this trend, we are asking Secretary Perdue to look into ways to boost our nation’s dairy industry and promote dairy consumption. The dairy industry is the backbone of our rural communities and I encourage the USDA to work to support all of our vital dairy farmers.”

“Dairy farmers play a vital role in Ohio’s agriculture economy,” said Congressman Jim Renacci (OH-16). “It is important that we continue to look for ways to promote the dairy industry and protect the dairy farmers who are so important to our local economy.”

“Dairy products are nutrient-rich and have many positive health benefits for consumers. It’s essential that American families are informed about the positive health benefits of dairy products so they can make the most-informed consumer decisions,” said Congressman Sean Duffy (WI-07). “That’s why it’s imperative that the USDA continue to their efforts to raise awareness through the Dairy Research and Promotion Program. Secretary Perdue has been an incredible ally for dairy, and I am hopeful that he will continue to work with us to make sure families know of the dairy options available to them.”

“Dairy farmers across the country are struggling to stay afloat in the face of low milk prices and new trade threats. While there are no easy solutions to these challenges, USDA has played an important role in spurring demand for dairy through advertising and marketing campaigns made possible by dairy checkoffs,” said Congressman Peter Welch (VT-at large). “I encourage USDA to continue supporting these efforts, and will do all I can to keep supporting the industry.”

Return to top

Devastating plant disease for potatoes and tomatoes detected early this season

Posted 15 June 2018 at 3:26 pm

Farmers, gardeners urged to keep watch for late blight

Press Release, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets

Image from NC State University: This photo shows a potato late blight lesion

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today urged New York’s home gardeners, greenhouse growers, and vegetable farmers to look for and report any suspicions of late blight in their tomato and potato plants and crops this summer.

Late blight is a plant disease that has the potential to cause devastation to these crops, infecting and destroying the leaves, stems, fruits, and tubers of potato and tomato plants. Photos and additional information of late blight on potatoes and tomatoes can be found by clicking here.

“Late blight is a serious plant disease that can wreak havoc on the state’s tomato and potato industry, which ranks high nationally in production,” said Commissioner Ball. “We want home gardeners, greenhouse growers and vegetable farmers to be vigilant and, at the first sign of late blight, report the finding to the Department and a local Cornell Cooperative Extension office so action can be taken as quickly as possible to prevent the spread of this extremely harmful disease.”

Late blight was detected in several tomato plants in Onondaga County as a result of an inspection conducted by the Department’s Division of Plant Industry, and confirmed this week by Cornell University’s Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. The plants were destroyed and inspectors will continue to monitor field plantings of tomatoes. The late blight strain detected was not one of the known or common strains.

Late blight was first discovered in the United States in the early 1840s, devastating crops across the northeast. It was also responsible for the Irish potato famine in the mid-nineteenth century.

Growers can identify late blight of potato and tomato by looking for black/brown lesions on leaves and stems. In humid conditions, visible white spores appear. As many lesions accumulate, the entire plant can be destroyed in only a few days after the first lesions are observed. The plant disease thrives in humid, wet conditions and can spread quickly from field to field, and over several miles.

Home gardeners should monitor for late blight as it can be transferred from the home garden to commercial operations. If home gardeners observe tomato plants with late blight symptoms, the Department urges them to contact their local Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) for assistance. It is important not to compost any diseased plant material.

Greenhouse growers should contact the Department’s Division of Plant Industry at 518-457-2087 if late blight is suspected. In addition, commercial vegetable growers should survey their tomato and potato fields for late blight and watch the blight forecast, which predicts disease incidence and directs growers to apply fungicides to protect plants.

If a commercial vegetable grower suspects late blight on their crops, they should work with a local CCE office or regional vegetable specialist, who can help commercial growers select the appropriate fungicide to treat the crops. Vegetable growers should employ standard late blight management procedures. Because we do not know if the strain detected is sensitive to fungicides containing mefenoxam, growers should use fungicides with other active ingredients and should be certain to rotate chemistries. Organic growers will want a product with copper.

Dr. Christine Smart, Professor of Vegetable Pathology and Director of the School of Integrative Plant Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, said, “Cornell is working as quickly as possible to learn more about the strain of the pathogen identified here in New York.  We are glad to partner with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to help potato and tomato growers manage late blight.”

Return to top

Hurd Orchards creates a pollinator meadow for bees

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Amelia Sidonio, 15, of Holley led the planting effort on Thursday for a new bee pollinator meadow on Hurd Road near her family’s farm market at Hurd Orchards. Amelia, left, is joined by Joan-Marie Gabalski and Grace Gregoire in scattering seed in the newly tilled pollinator meadow.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 June 2018 at 7:28 am

HOLLEY – A local teen-ager is leading an effort  to create a pollinator meadow where bees will be encouraged to flourish.

Amelia Sidonio, 15, and a group of local 4-Hers spread wildflower seed on Thursday for the new meadow which is about a half mile from Hurd Orchards, which is owned by Amelia’s family.

Bayer, which has an agricultural products division, provided a $2,500 grant for the project. Bayer is paying for pollinator meadows in all 50 states, part of an effort to encourage native bee populations.

Amelia Sidonio distributes seeds to Grace Gregoire, Sadie Gregoire and Luke Gregoire prior to planting.

The colony collapse disorder and other diseases have decimated the honey bee population, making the fruit industry vulnerable because bees are needed to pollinate crops for them to grow. The new meadows will provide pollen for native bees and honey bees.

“I’m just really happy to have the opportunity to work with Bayer and start the movement of wildflower plantings,” Amelia said.

She is a sophomore at the Harley School in Rochester. She has been involved with the Orleans County 4-H program since she was 5, starting as a Cloverbud with the rabbit program.

During a 4-H public presentation, she researched the crisis with the declining bee population and presented that report. She wanted to do something to help bees, and learned about the funding opportunity through Bayer.

Her mother, Amy Machamer, was honored in 2016 by Bayer with a farming innovation award. Machamer was recognized by Bayer welcoming the public on their farm to learn about agriculture. Hurd Orchards hosts luncheons and dinners that teach about growing fruit. Machamer also teaches people how to prepare dishes with ingredients grown from the Hurd farm.

A 4-Her holds a handful of seed. Wildflower seed planted included red poppies, yarrow, milkweed, oxeye and painted daisies.

The first pollinator meadow is about a half mile from the market at Hurd Orchards. Machamer and her daughter want to add another meadow closer to the market. That was the plan last year but it was too rainy to get the meadow started.

A group of Orleans County 4-Hers met in a small field on Hurd Road in Murray on Thursday to plant a pollinator meadow. Amelia reached out to her 4-H friends who filled pails with wildflower seeds and scattered the seed in the newly tilled meadow.

“It’s important to get the community involved,” Amelia said. “It’s good to connect to different kinds of agriculture.”

Orleans County 4-Hers are pictured after the planting. They are, from left: Luke Gregoire, John Gabalski, Amelia Sidonio, Grace Gregoire, Joan-Marie Gabalski and Sadie Gregoire.

She wants to raise more public awareness of the issue affecting bees. She said the wildflowers also have the added benefit of beautifying the countryside.

The plants will germinate this year and some may flower. Next year the planting will really take hold and provide blooms for many years to come.

“That field will be absolutely gorgeous,” Machamer said. “It will be really pretty. It will be really beautiful. It will provide beauty and a pollinator meadow, and raise consciousness.”

For more on the Bayer program to help bees, click here.

Return to top

30-day window starts to put land in ag district

Posted 5 June 2018 at 5:05 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Department of Planning and Development

Photo by Tom Rivers: Fruit trees at Watt Farms in Gaines are shown in bloom on May 9.

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 County Agricultural District No. 1, which in 2016 became the sole agricultural district in the county as a result of a consolidation process.

This opportunity supplements, but does not replace, enrollment in an existing agricultural district during the eight-year, formal review process. The next eight-year anniversary review — the only time during which parcels can be both added and removed — will not occur for several more years. Presently, there are over 116,200 acres in County Agricultural District No. 1.

Requests for inclusion in District No. 1 this month will be evaluated, 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 July 2nd to:

Sarah Gatti

Orleans County Department of Planning and Development

14016 Route 31 West

Albion NY 14411

Please note that requesting enrollment during this 30-day time period is not a guarantee that your property will be added to Agricultural District No. 1. 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.

Return to top

NY has $38 million available to protect farmland

Posted 31 May 2018 at 2:46 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Blossoms at an Albion fruit orchard are pictured on May 9.

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced nearly $38 million is now available through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program to help farmers across New York protect valuable and at-risk farmland. Since Governor Cuomo took office, the state has reinvigorated the program and committed historic investments, including doubling the funding in this latest round from last year – marking the highest level of ever offered through the program.

“By investing in the sustainability and growth of New York’s farmland, we are protecting an important economic driver for communities across the state while providing opportunities for our agriculture industry to grow,” Governor Cuomo said. “This unprecedented $38 million commitment to land preservation will ensure New York’s vast farmland is used for agricultural purposes and remains protected for generations.””

Municipalities, counties, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and land trusts are eligible to apply for individual grants of up to $2 million to help offset the costs of conservation easement projects that protect viable agricultural land from being converted to non-agricultural use. The Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program is funded through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund, which was included in the State Budget at $300 million for the third consecutive year. The application deadline is August 31, 2018 and the Request for Proposals is available by clicking here.

Since the governor took office in 2011, the state has invested more than $62 million in 82 farmland protection projects statewide. This funding opportunity continues the state’s commitment to provide financial and technical assistance for farmland protection on a predictable two-year cycle. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ previous streamlining measures have resulted in significant reductions in the overall time needed to complete projects.

This year, to explore additional tools in preserving land for agricultural production, the state has included preemptive purchase rights as an eligible cost that may be partially covered through the grant program. This is the first time state financial assistance may be used toward this eligible project cost.

The Department has established certain criteria to guide the use of this unique easement provision in awarded projects. Preemptive purchase rights encourage agricultural land to remain in active production and to be sold to other farmers at its agricultural value. Certain requirements must be met in order for eligible applicants to use grant funding for these purchase rights, which will also provide a potential avenue for new and beginning farmers in acquiring land.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Department has made great strides in improving regional collaboration on its farmland preservation programs and ensuring we move the Farmland Protection program forward.  We are pleased to make available nearly double the funding this year than we have in previous years and are committed to preserving our land base, which not only retains the state’s farmland for our future New York farmers but also helps protects our environment.”

Return to top

Pear tree endured for five generations of the Root family

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Five generations of the Root family are represented in this photo taken in front of a pear tree planted by Arnold Root in 1945 for his wife Ellen “Nell.” From left are grandson Dale Root, his mother Lorraine Root of Albion holding a picture of Nell (her late husband Pierson’s mother) and Dale’s son Joe Root of Medina holding his son Barrett. Missing from photo is Joe’s sister Jessica Root Olinger.

Posted 29 May 2018 at 3:25 pm

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent

ALBION – Family heritage runs deep in the Root family, even when it comes to trees.

In 1945, Arnold Root was going to plant an apple orchard on his farm near Millville, when his wife Ellen “Nell” said she would like a pear tree.

Arnold agreed and planted one lone pear tree among the varieties of apple trees. For years, Nell picked and canned the pears.

Generations would pass; Arnold ’s son Pierson married Lorraine Webber of Medina and took over the farm; and since Pierson’s death, his sons Dale, Scott and Robin have run the farm.

Recently, Dale’s son Joe and his wife Kari started their own farm operation, called Heritage Roots. They purchased the old orchard and decided to cut down the apple trees to plant a new orchard of modern varieties.

However, Dale’s mom Lorraine , who will be 90 this year, wanted a picture of the family with the pear tree, so it was left standing until the snow melted.

On Mother’s Day in May, the tree, full of blossoms, stood out among the bare apple tree stumps when Dale , Lorraine , Joe and his son Barrett posed for a picture, with Lorraine holding a picture of Ellen. Absent from the photo shoot was Joe’s sister Jessica, who does office work for the farm.

Joe said even though the orchard was one of the oldest on the farm, Arnold always called it the “new orchard.”

Joe said it was amazing to see the apple trees up to two feet in diameter, while right in the middle of the orchard was this pear tree, a mere eight inches in diameter.

“It was always said if you plant a pear tree, you plant it for your grandchildren, as it is slow growing,” Joe said.

Joe said they decided to cut down the old orchard because the standard trees had gotten so large, the help didn’t like trimming or picking them. The new varieties are miniature trees and are much more productive, he said.

A back part of the orchard was kept with trees which Pierson planted in the 1980s. Joe said they plan to keep that while they work to build a new orchard.

“The old pear tree was the last of a dynasty, but Grandma knew things have to move forward,” Joe said. “And Pierson would have understood.”

Lorraine said it was an example of how one busy farmer had time to do something nice to please his wife.

Gillibrand seeks federal assistance for dairy farmers

Posted 16 May 2018 at 7:42 am

Dairies, facing historically low milk prices, are critical to rural economy

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, on Tuesday called on U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to authorize $300 million in emergency relief funding for dairy farmers immediately.

Dairy farmers across New York are suffering from historically low dairy prices and are forced to shoulder an increasing amount of debt in order to continue operating their farms. The USDA has the authority to provide direct financial assistance to struggling agricultural industries. This authority has been used most recently in 2016 and 2018 to support and protect cotton farmers. Gillibrand called on the USDA to utilize this authority once more for dairy farmers in New York and across the country.

“Dairy farms are at the heart of New York’s rural economy, but milk prices are so low that more than 1,200 dairy farms have shut down in just the last decade, and many more are on the brink of failing. This is a crisis right in our own backyard,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m calling on the USDA to immediately provide financial assistance to our dairy producers. I want this emergency funding to go directly to the farmers who need it, so they can keep producing milk without going bankrupt. The USDA should do the right thing and give our dairy farmers the help they need now.”

Dairy farmers could receive $8,000 on average if the USDA complies with Gillibrand’s request. This funding would be paid directly to farmers as part of their milk check. New York is the third-largest dairy producing state, with more than 4,400 dairies producing nearly 15 billion pounds of milk each year. These farms are the bedrock of the agricultural economy and rural communities throughout the state. Every dollar of on-farm milk sale generates $2.29 in the local economy, and for every full-time worker on a dairy farm, another 1.5 jobs are created in other parts of the food industry.

Return to top

Orleans creating new culinary guide with restaurants, farm stands and markets

Posted 14 May 2018 at 4:00 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Departments of Planning & Development and Tourism

File photo by Tom Rivers: Medina held its first Farm-to-Table dinner event on a closed off Main Street on Aug. 4, 2016. There were 137 people at that dinner, a fine dining experience featuring locally grown food and wine.

ALBION – The Orleans County Departments of Planning & Development and Tourism are in the process of developing the “Orleans County Culinary Guide” featuring a restaurant guide and an updated directory of local producers’ markets/retail outlets. Producers include fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, botanicals and craft beverages/wineries.

The purpose of this brochure is to highlight Orleans County’s Farm to Table culture and act as a guide, for both visitors and residents, to local and fresh culinary options as well as food related special events. To be eligible for inclusion in the Producer’s Section, a roadside farm stand and/or farm market must be a part of your operation. The final product will display the location of the restaurant, farm stand/market as well as hours, contact information, and description of items being sold.

If your business is qualified for inclusion, please complete our registration form on our webpage at Submit the form appropriate to your business: Producers/Markets or Restaurants/Prepared Foods. The deadline to register to be included in this year’s guide is June 15, 2018.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions; contact information can be found below. Please share with any other producers you think may be eligible and interested in our Farm Producer/Culinary Directory Initiative.


Sarah Gatti, Dept. of Planning & Development or 585-589-3187

Lynne Menz, Tourism Dept. or 585-589-3103

Return to top

Orleans orchards are in bloom

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 May 2018 at 9:54 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Orleans County’s fruit trees are in bloom, adding lots of color to the countryside. These photos were taken on Wednesday evening at Watt Farms, near the pond behind their country market on Route 98.

The apple trees have white blossoms.

Peaches and cherries have pink blossoms. I can’t say for sure whether these are cherries, peaches or some other fruit.

New York is the country’s second-leading apple producer behind only Washington state, and Orleans County is among the top counties in NY for producing apples, trailing only Wayne and Ulster counties.

While some fruit-growing areas have festivals during blossom season, the spring bloom doesn’t get much attention in Orleans County, despite the visual and olfactory sensation.

The blossom season can be an anxious time for fruit growers who need bees to be busy pollinating so the fruit can grow.

Return to top

GCC will host 120 GLOW students for precision agriculture day

Posted 8 May 2018 at 10:58 am

Press Release, GCC

BATAVIA – Genesee Community College on Thursday will host more than 100 high school students from across the GLOW region.

About 120 students from Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties will be participating in high-tech, agricultural career experience at GCC, hosted by The BEST Center. The third annual Precision Agriculture Day at the Batavia campus features a wide array of presenters from the industry who will share information on the latest technological, science, engineering, and agricultural trends including drones, embryo transfer, precision farming and processing, GPS/GIS, auto steering and robotics.

This emerging technology is anticipated to create new employment opportunities in the future. High schoolers from 13 districts across the four counties have the opportunity to discover more about these potential and exciting career pathways and will be checking out how these technologies are used in their own backyard of Western New York.

The Precision Agriculture Committee, chaired by Nathan L. Rudgers, senior vice president of Business Development at Farm Credit East, was formed in 2015. The committee, comprised of local precision agriculture consultants, agricultural leaders, as well as high school representatives, has been providing guidance and input on the development of programs to address the educational and awareness needs of this growing field.

Advances in technology have resulted in agricultural systems collecting data and using it in multiple operations all controlled through a computer, tablet or smart phone. This technology has created education and training opportunities, but there is a lack of skilled workers. Enter The BEST Center, which is working to provide multiple educational opportunities in this growing arena.

The BEST Center provides businesses and organizations with customized training solutions ranging from supervisory skills to technical training. The Center also offers numerous professional and personal development courses for individuals, including classroom and on-line opportunities.

Return to top