From chicks to charity

by Lorraine Strenkowski    

Having an agriculturally related job is so rewarding. I am fortunate enough to work at Lyman Memorial High School in Lebanon, CT — my alma mater and home to the Lebanon Regional Agricultural Science & Technology Center. As a paraprofessional I work alongside students and teachers as needed, and am currently assigned to a freshman Ag-Science class. In a first year class the students are introduced to the FFA Program. “As stated on our website,” says Animal Science teacher Brenda Wildes, “The mission of the Agriculture Science program is to provide instruction leading to a career in agriculture upon completion of high school or to prepare students for entrance into a two or four year college.” [Read more…]

And then there were four

CN-29-4-And-then51171by Laura Rodley

Kyle Thayer raises champion Southdowns and Horned Dorsets at the Splendorview Farm in Cummington, MA. Occasionally he buys other stock. So when lambing time arrived this February he expected a lamb or two or from a recently purchased, already bred, mixed breed ewe. What he got late on Tuesday, Feb. 23 was a complete surprise — a set of quadruplets. Four black lambs with little tufts of white on their foreheads. And by Saturday Feb. 27, they were all still hardy and frolicking around like only lambs can.   [Read more…]

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…]