Despite stalled Farm Bill, Central New York Farmers proceed with own plans for marketing products at food hub

CEW-MR-2-Gillibrand visits2by Pat Malin
HUBBARDSVILLE,  NY — When asked about Congress’s handling — or lack thereof, of the Farm Bill, New York State Farm Bureau director Darrell Griff let out a deep sigh.
“How can you get politics figured out?” Griff replied during a visit to neighboring Endless Trails Farm in August.
Griff was visiting Endless Trails for two reasons: to get an update on the Farm Bill directly from U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and to promote the new Side Hill Farmer’s Cooperative Market in Manlius.
It’s been exasperating, he admitted, to follow the snail-like pace of the bill. A five-year Farm Bill was passed by the U.S. Senate in June, but the House of Representatives came up with its own watered-down counterpart which has only complicated passage of the new legislation.
Now Congress is in summer recess, so the two sides will try to negotiate a compromise measure when the representatives return to their desks in September.
Griff, who raises pigs and beef cattle on a 70-acre farm in Hamilton, Madison County, wonders how long it will take Congress to reach an agreement. “A lot of farmers are concerned about next year. How can you operate when you don’t know the rules of the game?” [Read more…]

Soil health important to farmers, the environment and society

CEW-MR-1-Soil Health 1cby Paul Salon
More than 250 people came together to see firsthand the importance of soil health at three events in Cayuga County, NY, on Aug. 21-22. The events were a collaboration between the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) the New York Soil and Water Conservation Committee, the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County. The meetings came about as part of a national soil health campaign initiated by conservation farmers, NRCS and SWCD’s. Farmers from North Dakota to North Carolina and beyond — who after years of no-till farming followed by cover cropping — are recognizing lower production costs and improved soil function. After the meeting, NRCS-NY State Conservationist, Don Pettit said, “Soil Health is the ability of the soil to perform at its full potential to grow crops. NRCS is proud to partner with farmers and organizations dedicated to sharing the technologies, management and programs available to improve soil health to all those involved in agriculture.” [Read more…]

Schoharie County’s inaugural Family Farm Day attracts folks from far and wide

CE-MR-7-Schoharie Farm Day7by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
Folks from as far away as New York City had an opportunity to visit working farms, see the diversity of Schoharie farms and their products and view the remarkable recovery progress from the 2011 flooding, during the inaugural Schoharie County Family Farm Day that took place on Saturday, Aug. 17.
Twenty-two farms and three farmers’ markets participated in welcoming visitors.
Visitors were given tours, received samples and had the opportunity to participate in a variety of farm activities and demonstrations. [Read more…]

Baleage — a better way to save hay in wet seasons

CN-MR-3-Baleage 3by Sanne Kure-Jensen
Baleage is fermented hay. In damp regions with less chance of speedy drying and high quality hay production, baleage is a good alternative. Most farmers can get one to two additional cuts off the same fields each season.
Farmers making baleage typically cut and gather baleage 12 to 24 hours after cutting. Round bales must be wrapped in plastic within eight hours of baling. This prevents overheating and reduced quality.
Bales should be stored on their flat ends to reduce settling, air infiltration and reduced quality. Jim Booth of Aquidneck Farms in Portsmouth, RI said, “We have reduced our waste to 5 percent from 20 percent eight years ago.” The farm’s twin auger feed mixer saves another 10 percent. Booth said the feed alleys are completely empty each winter morning. [Read more…]

The art, science and skill of forage management

CM-MR-3-The art, science 3by Sally Colby
A dairy farm that’s milking 1,550 cows in a four times a day system while maintaining a 30,000 pound herd average and a SCC of 150,000 is doing a lot of things right, starting with forage management.
That’s the case at Mercer Vu Farms, Inc., in Mercersburg, PA, where the Hissong family recently hosted a Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania (PDMP) issues forum. One topic of interest for many who attended was forage management. Troy Brown, national forage consultant for Cargill, addressed silage harvest and bunker management.
“Harvesting at the correct moisture level is critical, whether it’s corn silage or haylage,” said Brown. “Then we need the right additive for each situation, whether it’s a bag, baleage, a traditional upright silo, a bunker or a drive-over pile.” [Read more…]