Losing our land grant

CDM-45-1-Losing-our3816by Steve Wagner

Like a bombshell that falls on a city’s buildings, the one that is falling on Penn State’s Extension Services is just as destructive in its way as the one destroying buildings. Jobs will be lost, services ruined and/or done away with, and cultures, namely agriculture and horticulture, will suffer irreparable damage.

“After vetoing two previous budget proposals last year,” explained PA Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert, “the Governor decided to line-item veto the Legislature’s third proposal, in order to disperse some public funds to keep public schools and human services functioning. As a result of the line-item veto, funding for PSU Cooperative Extension and Research, along with other agricultural priorities, have been zeroed out of the existing state spending plan that was supposed to run from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. [Read more…]

Conservation, biodiversity and produce safety

CN-MR-2-Conservation-Biodiversityby Tamara Scully

The USDA recently announced that organic farmers are eligible to enroll land utilized as conservation buffers in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP). Buffers include windbreaks, pollinator strips, riparian buffers, filter strips and field borders planted with native vegetation. Grass strips, wetlands restoration, and living snow fences are also eligible practices. These types of conservation practices promote biodiversity, encourage farmers not to grow crops on marginal lands, provide waterways and soils with protection from contaminants, and create wildlife habitat. [Read more…]

Avoiding the unexpected (and potentially expensive) with H2A and other labor rules and regulations

CN-Hiring-H2A-pt3-0891by Bill and Mary Weaver

H2A workers are not an inexpensive source of labor. “The visa fee is $190 per worker, paid across the border, and you’ll need to budget about $250 per worker for transportation direct to your farm,” said Kerry Scott of MAS Labor, who specializes in the H2A program.

“Plan to reimburse your workers for their travel soon after they arrive,” added Scott, “They most likely will arrive stone broke, either because they are very poor, or because their money was taken from them.” [Read more…]

New spokesperson crowned for New York Dairy industry

CW-MR-2-New-Spokesperson-2cSyracuse, NY — Emily Ooms, of Valatie, was crowned the 2016-2017 New York State Dairy Princess on Feb. 17, at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool, NY. Having served as the Columbia County Dairy Princess since spring of 2015, Ooms will devote an additional year promoting milk and dairy products with the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, Inc. (ADADC). As state princess, Oooms receives a $1,200 scholarship and will represent ADADC at county dairy princess pageants, farm meetings and a variety of special events. In addition, she will help train new county promoters at seminars and workshops. Sponsored by ADADC, the 53rd annual coronation completed the yearlong reign, of Stephanie McBath, of Saratoga County, NY. [Read more…]

Real Christmas trees remain a popular treat for the public and with fussy deer, too

CW-MR-3-Christmas3by Pat Malin

LIVERPOOL, NY – The unusually mild winter of 2015-16 has been a blessing for some people. Can it also become a curse for Christmas tree farmers in New York State?

Many of the farmers were pleased to see a robust business in early November. Farmers attending the Christmas Tree Farmer’s Association of New York’s recent convention reported that the public took advantage of rare good weather last fall to personally pick out a homegrown conifer. [Read more…]