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Triple G Farms presented Empire Award by State Senate

Staff Reports Posted 29 April 2019 at 7:55 pm

Photo courtesy of State Sen. Rob Ortt: Guy Smith, co-owner of Triple G Farms in Barre, is presented an Empire Award by State Sen. Rob Ortt.

BARRE – Triple G Farms, which is based in Barre, was presented with an Empire Award last week by State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda. Ortt also serves on the State Senate’s Agriclutre Committee.

“Triple G Farms is a shining example of the monumental impact a family-owned farm can have on a local community,” said Sen. Ortt. “Their work with local conservation groups and farm service agencies has helped transform community farming practices, while work with environmental quality programs has helped establish new agrichemical handling plans. I’m proud to honor such a wonderful community partner and look forward to the incredible work they will continue to do for the agriculture community in the future.”

Triple G in February was honored as Orleans County’s “Conservation Farm of the Year.” Triple G started as a muck farm in 1925. Triple G Farms is run by brothers Guy and Greg Smith, and their nephew Pete Smith.

They grow potatoes and onions on 645 acres of muckland in Barre, Clarendon and Elba.

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Ortt, Farm Credit hosting discussion about impact of proposed overtime legislation for agriculture

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 April 2019 at 8:16 am

BATAVIA – State Sen. Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) is a member of the Senate’s Agriculture’s Committee. He is concerned about the impact on agriculture with legislation in the Senate that would allow for overtime pay for farmworkers and the right to collective bargaining.

Ortt will be hosting a roundtable on May 2 at Farm Credit in Batavia with local farm owners, farmworkers, and agriculture organizations. They will discuss the current state of New York’s farming industry and how newly proposed labor laws could affect the future of New York farming.

Ortt will be joined by several state senators, including Pam Helming (R-Canandaigua), Mike Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst), Tom O’Mara (R, Big Flats), Pat Gallivan (R, Elma), Rich Funke (R, Fairport), Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo).

Farmworkers from Torrey Farms will join the roundtable, along with farmers, including Jeff Toussaint, a fruit and grain grower in Knowlesville; Christian Yunker, co-owner of CY Farms in Byron; and several others.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) also will attend the roundtable, and so will Michael Kracker, director of Unshackle Upstate.

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Extension offers Seed Bank program at local public libraries

Photos courtesy of the Cooperative Extension: Instructor of the Seed class Katie Oakes (far right) stands with the Scofill family – Mark, Bessie, Isaac and Ruth.

Posted 24 April 2019 at 11:25 am

Press Release, Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension

KNOWLESVILLE – Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orleans County launched its new Seed Bank program on Tuesday at the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina.

The program kicks off with Seed Starting classes offered at Hoag Library in Albion today at noon, the Yates Community Garden in Lyndonville on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and at the Community Free Library in Holley next Wednesday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m.

Katie Oakes, Horticulture Educator at Orleans County CCE, came up with the idea for the program over dinner one night with her husband.

“Our CCE Association had received this huge donation of seeds last season, more than we could ever possibly plant or sell for our internal programs,” she said. “So my husband and I started brainstorming ways that we could get these seeds into the hands of our community members.”

The Seed Bank that will remain in the library with free seeds for the public.

Traditional Seed Banks usually function on the idea that people who take seeds will grow them, save them, and bring new seeds back to replenish the bank after the growing season. But seed saving can be tricky, and often when there’s an obligation for follow-up it can deter people from even participating at all. So Oakes designed her Seed Banks with the intention that all seeds will be free to anyone as long as supplies last.

“The bottom line is that I wanted these seeds to be grown,” she said. “And more importantly, I’m hoping they might be grown by people who perhaps have never grown anything before.  This is a low-cost way to try vegetable gardening for the first time.”

She’s hoping that these free seeds might encourage people in Orleans County to try their hand at growing their own food.

The Seed Starting class on Tuesday night at Lee-Whedon was attended by local families and individuals looking for guidelines for starting seeds at home and gardening in general.

“We have been gardening on our own for a few years, and we came tonight for any tips and to see if we’re doing it right,” said Heather Calder of Shelby.

The Get Growing – Seed Starting classes go over the basics for starting seeds at home, from supplies needed to light and moisture requirements. The classes follow a presentation format and then Oakes opened the program to an informal question and answer sessions. Afterward, participants were able to browse through seeds to take home.

“We feel inspired to try some new plants and maybe even attempt indoor gardening,” Bessie Scofill remarked after the class.  She attended the class with her husband Mark and their two children Ruth and Isaac.

Following the Seed Starting classes, the Seed Banks will be left behind in each library through the 2019 growing season for patrons to select seeds that they can take and start at home.  Oakes will restock the Seed Banks as needed as long as there are seeds available.

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Mini Farm Day is a hit with elementary kids at Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 April 2019 at 8:09 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – This baby duck gets lots of attention from elementary students on Thursday during the annual Mini Farm Day at Albion High School. About 25 FFA members welcomed 560 elementary students to 13 different stations.

Sierra Kast, right, holds the duck while elementary students look in on baby chicks.

Aly Knaak holds her pet hedgehog which was popular with these third-graders.

The hedgehog was new to the Mini Farm this year. The menagerie of animals also included a peacock for the first time.

Mariah McDaniels holds a goat.

Emily Graham, left, and Bryne Dysard take questions from kids about the alpaca.

Levi Coughlin, a third grader, pets the baby duck.

These elementary students walk underneath a large sprayer. Panek Farms and Kast Farms both brought tractors and large farm equipment for the display.

Leah Pritchard introduces students to one of the baby chicks.

The kids enjoyed a close up view of the chicks and other animals.

These two pigs, both 2 months old, are being raised by the Krenning family. The pigs were tuckered out by early afternoon. Olivia Krenning was in the pen with them, taking questions from students.

Medina’s FFA also held its annual Animal Appreciation Day on Thursday, with the student body stopping by to meet a lot of creatures.

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Farm revenues stagnant in latest ag census

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 April 2019 at 1:59 pm

Orleans farm revenues rank 14th most among counties in NY

Photo by Tom Rivers: Hay bales are pictured in Yates near Lake Ontario in this photo from August 2014.

The latest agricultural census from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows farm revenues are stagnated from 2012 to 2017.

The U.S. government does the Census of Agriculture every five years. In New York, farm revenues totaled $5,369,212,000 in 2017. That was down slightly from the $5,415,125,000 in 2012. (From 2007 to 2012, the farm revenues increased 24.9 percent or by $1.1 billion from the $4.42 billion in 2007.)

In Orleans County, farm products sold for $155.3 million in 2017. That was up 3.3 percent over 5 years from the $150.3 million in 2012 for sales of fruit, vegetables, milk, livestock and other farm products. The 2012 figure was a 48.8 percent jump from the $101.0 million recorded in 2007, according to the Agricultural Census.

Agriculture is Orleans County’s leading industry. The 2017 Ag Census counts 498 farms in the county. The number of farms in the county is up from the 487 in 2012. (It was 554 in 2007.)

However, the number of land farmed dropped from 135,090 acres in 2012 to 129,573 acres of land in farm production in 2017.

In Orleans, there were 31,711 acres of corn for grain which produced 5,732,321 bushels in 2017. Orleans farmers also worked 21,614 acres for soybeans, producing 1,056,311 bushels. Farmers also used 13,011 acres for vegetables, and 6,006 acres for fruit orchards.

In Orleans, more than half of the farms had less than $10,000 in revenue. The Ag Census reports there are 181 farms in the county with less than $2,500 in revenue; 41 between $2,500 to $4,999; 44 between $5,000 to $9,999; 60 between $10,000 to $24,999; 40 between $25,000 to $49,999; 23 between $50,000 to $99,999; and 109 with $100,000 or more.

The top 15 counties in NYS for farm revenue

1) Wyoming, $307.5 million

2) Cayuga: $287.9 million

3) Genesee: $234.9 million

4) Suffolk, $225.6 million

5) Wayne, $221.3 million

6) Ontario, $205.2 million

7) Steuben, $196.0 million

8) St Lawrence, 191.1 million

9) Livingston: $183.7 million

10) Onondaga, $178.4 million

11) Clinton, $167.8 million

12) Jefferson, $165.1 million

13) Chautauqua: $161.0 million

14) Orleans $155.3 million

15) Lewis, $153.1 million

Source: U.S. Ag Census

NY saw 20 percent drop in dairy farms

David Fisher, president of New York Farm Bureau, issued this statement about the Ag Census:

“The most startling statistic is we now have 33,438 farms in the state, about 2,100 fewer farms than 2012. This is the largest drop in more than two decades and is triple the national average of a 3 percent loss. The losses run the gamut, including a 9 percent drop in both the smallest and largest farms in terms of value of sales.

“New York also saw a nearly 20-percent decline in the number of dairy farms in the state. These losses coincide with 9 percent increase in labor costs, while some other production costs like feed, gasoline and chemicals declined. The average net farm income of $42,875 per farm is slightly below the national average.

“On the positive side, there were elements of growth. New York saw a 35 percent increase in organic farms, from 864 in 2012 to 1,330 farms in 2017. According to the market value summary, the number of vegetable farms in the state is 3,544 farms, up 2 percent, and fruit farms rose 8 percent to 3,083 farms. New York had a 15 percent jump in maple operations to 1,662 in the state.

“While there is still much more to learn as we evaluate the mountain of data, it is clear that the depressed farm economy has taken a toll on the overall number of farms in New York, as labor costs continue to mount for our family farms. At the same time, there are still opportunities across the board. Agriculture remains a leading driver of our rural economy and the data shows we must continue to invest in the farming community while also finding ways to improve the business climate for our more than 33,000 farms in the state.”

Additional numbers:

• 98% of farms in New York are family owned

• 6,866,171 acres in production, down from 7,183,576 in 2012

• Average farm size is 205 acres, up from 202 acres in 2012

• 21,860 female producers and 35,985 male producers

• Average producer age is 55.8 years old.

• 6,718 producers under the age of 35

• Hired farm labor is 55,363 employees

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Niagara-Orleans dairy princess touts the many benefits of milk

Posted 15 April 2019 at 9:09 pm

By Hayley Roehling, Niagara-Orleans Dairy Princess

Provided photo: These five are in the Niagara-Orleans dairy court for 2019-2020. They include from left: Alexis Giordano, Dairy Princess alternate Sadie Klumpp, Dairy Princess Hayley Roehling of Akron, Madison Slattery, and Ella Seib. The dairy princess pageant was April 6 at the Hartland Fire Hall.

HARTLAND – On Saturday, April 6th, I was crowned the 2019-2020 Niagara-Orleans County Dairy Princess. I am beyond excited to promote the dairy industry and create long-lasting memories with the court throughout the year.

Currently, the dairy industry is not doing as well as one would hope due to the increase in the amount of liquids made from nuts to be imitated as milk. In reality though, the nut juice does not compare to the nutritional value that is in milk.

Most consumers are switching to buy non-dairy products because they believe the ideas that are spread around by uneducated people; but these thoughts are falsehoods. Becoming Dairy Princess has led me to be highly motivated in promoting the dairy industry and the elements of the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council (ADADC), so that people can have a better understanding of what actually happens.

The first element to promote is the nutritional value of milk. There are nine nutrients in milk: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, protein, riboflavin and niacin. These elements within dairy products keep your bones and teeth strong, regulate muscles which allows movement, help an individual have energy, help recover from an injury, build muscle and bones, help with eyesight, keep your immune system strong to fight off sickness, and reduce cholesterol levels. Clearly, milk has a variety of health benefits available to the body if three servings of dairy products are consumed daily.

Some people question the quality of milk before it even comes out of the cow. The questioning begins with the care of the animals and the stewardship towards the land. Farmers themselves take really good care of their land. The land is the source of the food for the animals; without the land to farm, there would be no farm itself. For this reason, the land is very important and there is a lot of work involved to care for the property.

Some also believe that the cows are not treated in the best way which is just another falsehood. Dairy cows are taken care of in the greatest possible manner by farmers. The cows always have access to fresh food and water to have the essential qualities for milk production; there is also a nutritionist specialized in dairy cattle that frequently visits the farm to formulate a proper ratio for each component of the total mixed ration (TMR) that the cows consume.

The barn is cleaned out multiple times a day, and cows are milked on a set schedule to make them as comfortable as possible. There are so many other things that the farmer does daily to make the facilities a positive environment.

Dairy farmers are one of the hardest working class of people in this world who deserve more credit than they are typically given. They are on the clock 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No matter what happens, the animals and the farm comes first; the necessary tasks need to be completed. The animals need to be fed and milked on their schedule. It is a lot of work, but the work is worth it!

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Murray decides to hold off and rework law for special events at farms

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 April 2019 at 11:21 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Town Supervisor Robert Miller says Murray officials are trying to encourage more farms to hold special events that can strengthen the operations and draw visitors to the community.

MURRAY – The Town Board didn’t pass a new law regulating special events at farms and wineries on Tuesday, after several residents shared their concerns that the legislation could hurt the operations by imposing new restrictions.

The town will have the Planning Board and attorney Jeff Martin take another look at the law and try to address residents’ concerns.

That will push back enacting the law for at least a few months. The Town Board wanted to have the law in place to assist Kateland Farms, a miniature horse farm, with hosting weddings. The farm owned by Ted Jenney on Lake Road has been hosting weddings and special events in recent years.

However, the property currently can’t host those events, according to regulations for a residential-agriculture zoned district by the town. Murray last year agreed to allow Kateland to host scheduled weddings for 2018, but the town didn’t give approval for weddings in 2019 until Murray has a legal mechanism in place. That was the impetus for the new local law, with the town also wanting to encourage events at other farms and wineries, as long as the farms secured a special use permit with the town.

“We want to promote agri-tourism but not encroach on the neighbors,” said Town Supervisor Robert Miller. “We’re trying to strike a nice balance.”

Farms and wineries can host events if they are in an agricultural district. The Ag and Markets Department says the events are permissible as long as they don’t account for more than 30 percent of the farm’s revenue. Ag and Markets advised the town that Kateland Farms wasn’t covered under Ag & Markets for its events because weddings weren’t a direct tie to a farming operation, town attorney Jeff Martin said during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

The town wanted to help Kateland Farms continue to host weddings and special events. The proposed local law was geared towards farms and wineries that aren’t in agricultural districts.

David Piedmonte, a Holley garlic grower, said the proposed law might prove a hindrance to farms, rather than a help.

However, the Town Board was told by some farmers who do special events now that the proposal was vague in some parts, making the farmers nervous how the law would be interpreted by the Town Planning Board and code enforcement officer.

“It was a valiant effort by the town to try to resolve this issue,” said Town Councilman Paul Hendel. “Is this law perfect? I have no idea. But if we are waiting for perfection we will spend a long time waiting.”

Amy Machamer, co-owner of Hurd Orchards, said the farm relies on events to see fruit, flowers and other farm products. Hurd has been doing events for at least 40 years.

The farm wouldn’t be affected by the town’s proposed law, attorney Martin said, because it is covered by Ag & Markets.

Machamer, however, said she remains concerned the law could be interpreted differently by town officials in the future, potentially impacting Hurd’s events. For example, the town proposed law requires 100-foot setbacks from the road for buildings. Hurd has many historic buildings that are close to the road.

The proposed law also has regulations for noise, bathrooms and other proposals to help mitigate the impact to neighbors.

“We’re trying to control it but not for the sake of controlling it,” Miller said. “It’s so it doesn’t get out of control.”

Joe Sidonio, Machamer’s husband, believes Kateland Farms is already covered in the town’s Right to Farm legislation. Sidonio said the proposed law is “overregulation” with unintended consequences.

Town officials said the law doesn’t include farms and barns that host graduation parties and family reunions – events where no profit is made.

Hendel said the town will continue to work on what he said it a “hard issue.” The town wants to help more farms to be able to sell products and host events that can help the farms supplement their income.

“I think this has the potential to be a win-win for everybody,” Hendel said.

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Ortt, several state senators want hearings across state on farm labor legislation

Posted 9 April 2019 at 11:16 am

‘This legislation will dramatically impact the leading industry across much of New York. Considering the grave harm it could have on our state’s small family farms, hard-working farm employees, and consumers, it’s unfathomable that entire geographic regions and sectors of agriculture are excluded from the discussion.’ – State Sen. Robert Ortt

Press Release, State Sen. Robert Ortt

Today, Senator Rob Ortt (R,C,I,Ref-North Tonawanda) and his Senate Republican colleagues raised concerns over the release of hearings surrounding the proposed Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act.

In a letter to the respective Chairs of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Labor Committee, they questioned the limited scope of only holding three hearings, which are set to take place in Nassau, Sullivan, and Madison counties. The Capital Region, Hudson Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York – along with farm industries specific to those regions – will be without input into the sweeping legislation.

“It’s disheartening to see that Senate Democrats ignored our request to host statewide hearings on the proposed farmworkers unionization legislation,” said Sen. Ortt. “This legislation will dramatically impact the leading industry across much of New York. Considering the grave harm it could have on our state’s small family farms, hard-working farm employees, and consumers, it’s unfathomable that entire geographic regions and sectors of agriculture are excluded from the discussion. Once again, I am calling on both Senators to expand their planned schedule and include hearings in the Capital Region, Hudson Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York.”

Joining Sen. Ortt in signing the letter were Senators Pamela A. Helming, Robert E. Antonacci, Rich Funke, George A. Amedore Jr., Chris Jacobs, Sue Serino, James N. Tedisco, Daphne Jordan, Betty Little, Thomas F. O’Mara and Fred Akshar. Last month, Sen. Ortt and his Senate colleagues authored a letter to the Agriculture and Labor chairs requesting that community hearings be held across the entire state. In a study conducted by Farm Credit East, it is estimated that the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act would add at least $299 million of costs on the backs of New York’s farming community, which would reduce net farm income by a staggering 23 percent.

(Editor’s Note: The hearing schedule is as follows: April 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at SUNY Morrisville in Morrisville; April 26 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Suffolk County Legislature in Smithtown, Long Island; and May 2 from 1 to 5 p.m. at SUNY Sullivan in Loch Sheldrake)

Sen. Betty Little (R,C,I-Queensbury) said, “This is an issue that could severely impact our agricultural industry causing a ripple effect throughout the state’s economy. Most farmers I know don’t have the time to travel a great distance to attend a public hearing, but they want to be heard. They deserve to be heard. That’s why we’re imploring our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to take the time to organize and hold hearings all across the state.”

Sen. Rich Funke (R,C,I-Fairport) said, “Holding hearings in upstate New York would force the Senate Majority to see first-hand the damage their policies are creating for upstate families and farmers. I can understand why they would prefer to stick their heads in the sand but we simply can’t allow it. If they want to shut down farms in my district, I’m calling on the Senate Democrats to at least look my constituents in the eye while they’re doing it. We need hearings on the Farm Labor Bill and we need them now.”

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Albion accepts $2,500 from Monsanto for school’s ag program

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 April 2019 at 2:31 pm

ALBION – The Albion Board of Education accepted a $2,500 grant from Monsanto on Monday through the company’s “America’s Farmers Grow Communities program.”

Monsanto chooses a customer for the grant, and that customer picks a local organization for the funding.

Phil Panek of Albion was picked by Monsanto for the grant, and he chose to support the Albion agriculture program at the school.

This is the second time a local Monsanto customer picked the Albion agriculture program to receive the grant. In 2014, Albion farmers Doug and Mitchell Kirby also chose the school’s agriculture program for the $2,500 grant.

This is the 10th year of the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program, where farmers have the chance to direct a $2,500 donation to a nonprofit of their choice. So far Monsanto has awarded more than $33 million to over 8,000 nonprofits across rural America.

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New Niagara-Orleans dairy princess will be crowned on April 6

Staff Reports Posted 28 March 2019 at 2:49 pm

Provided photo: Sadie Klumpp, left, of Newfane will be the alternate Niagara-Orleans dairy princess this year while Hayley Roehling serves as the dairy princess.

HARTLAND – New royalty will be crowned on April 6 during the annual Niagara-Orleans County Dairy Princess Pageant.

The reigning princess, Gwenna Goodenough, will reflect on her accomplishments over the past year before she passes her torch to the next princess, Hayley Roehling, of Akron. The alternate this year will be Sadie Klumpp of Newfane.

Dairy princesses from across the North East region visit schools, appear at community events and attend civic meetings to talk about milk and dairy products and the dairy industry.

Both Hayley and Sadie are seniors this year and exhibit dairy cattle in the Niagara County 4-H program. They are eager to share their knowledge of the program as well as work on new ways to promote the dairy industry.

The Dairy Princess Pageant will be at 7 p.m. on April 6 at the Hartland Fire Hall.

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