Focusing on Agriculture’s Workforce at Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance annual meeting

CEW-MR-3-NE-agribusiness21by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

Two days of panel discussions and presentations focusing on the future of agriculture’s workforce took place at the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance’s 2016 annual meeting in Albany on Feb. 2 and 3.

One topic explored was the problem with immigration reform and how it concerns the Ag industry. Reports of dairy herd managers and other farm employees being suddenly removed from farms by local authorities has been an ongoing issue for farms across the country, and New York farmer Jeff True of Perry, Wyoming County, NY, spoke to the large audience about “what goes on behind the scenes” on his farm. [Read more…]

Hiring your farm workers through H2A ~ part 1

CN-MR-1-Hiring-workers-part1-1413by Bill and Mary Weaver

“It would certainly be ideal if growers could put an ad in the newspaper, accept applications, and hire American workers,” stated Kerry Scott of MAS Labor. Unfortunately, that approach isn’t working. For example, a grower/packer near Reno, NV needs 1725 seasonal laborers. Some of the work offered is in an air-conditioned packing shed, and even the fieldwork doesn’t involve actual “stoop labor.” Harvesting is done mechanically, with workers at the back of the harvesting machines. The grower also pays very well.

“The area around Reno, Nevada has the highest unemployment in Nevada, and most of the time, Nevada has the highest unemployment in the country,” Scott continued, speaking at the Mid Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Growers Convention recently. “The grower ran ‘Help Wanted’ ads in the local papers. They had zero applicants for these well-paying jobs!” [Read more…]

Environmental Protection Agency regulations updated

CEW-MR-1-EPA-Regs3`by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

An overview of pesticide use and changes to worker protection standard (WPS) regulations highlighted Central New York Cornell Cooperative Extension 2016 Field Crop Pest Management meetings.

James Carrabba, Agricultural Safety Specialist with New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), advised attendees on changes in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and instructed them on usage of personal protective equipment, safety data sheets (SDS), decontamination, reducing take home exposure and use of respirators. [Read more…]

Winter feeding made easy for young farmers

CEW-MR-1-BALE-GRAZING11by Troy Bishopp

WORCHESTER, NY — American economist and professor at the Harvard Business School, Theodore Levitt, said, “Creativity is thinking up new things; innovation is about doing new things.” As a thinker and doer, Organic Dairyman, Tom McGrath resembles this remark when it comes to out-wintering dairy cows and enhancing the bottom line. What’s this fresh strategy revolutionizing the way for many farmers? Bale grazing.

In the tiny hamlet, Tom, Caroline and daughter, Elaine McGrath of Autumn Valley Farm raise 45 certified organic cows and produce 100 percent grass-fed organic milk for Maple Hill Creamery. Unique in that they are the youngest farmers in the cooperative, they also produce milk seasonally with cows dry during the winter months. “For us and our hill farm, this approach makes sense and gives everybody some needed downtime to recharge our minds and bodies,” said Tom. [Read more…]

Grazing alternatives

by Tamara Scully

Pasture, which typically contains less than a half-dozen primary plant species, can be seeded and planted, and can be considered a type of crop land. Grazing management increases the harvest efficiency of the pasture. Rangeland, however, consists of native grass, shrub or savannah which is not typically fertilized or planted. It contains upwards of 100 species, and is managed via natural ecological events, such as fire or wildlife grazing.

Livestock can graze rangelands or pasture, but a rangeland system ‘may never recover’ from improper livestock management, while a pasture can undergo restoration. The risk of improper management, from a conservation standpoint, is much more significant on rangeland. Jess Jackson, Jr., of the Natural Resources Conservation Service emphasized the differences during a webinar presentation, Grazing System Designs for Non-traditional Livestock. [Read more…]