Minimum wage increase ~ maximum impact on New York farmers

by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

In a press conference with NY Farm Bureau President Dean Norton, farmers presented their concerns about the impact raising the minimum wage will have in agriculture.

Expecting farmers to pay more to employees will mean even less income for farmers and cause a greater disadvantage in competing with ag products being imported from other states where production costs are less.

“The choices become very dark and very serious for everyone that is milking cows and farming in New York,” said Sandie Prokop of Crossbrook Farm in Schoharie County. Crossbrook is a multi-generation dairy farm, milking 375 and is still recovering from the effects of tropical storms Irene and Lee, which left the farm stranded for 11 days and caused $500,000 in damage. [Read more…]

Maple Syrup Program enriches Central New York FFA students in many ways

CEW-FF-3-VVS-Maple1by Pat Malin

VERONA, NY — There’s no doubt the Future Farmers of America chapter at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Central School is a student group.

It’s also highly successful, winning recognition as the best FFA chapter in the state four of the last six years, according to the club’s adviser and VVS agriculture teacher, Keith Schiebel.

It takes an actual visit to the school in Oneida County during its annual maple syrup weekend, to realize this is also a thriving business. [Read more…]

Shaking milk up: going grass-fed

CW-MR-1-Shaking milk1Cby Tamara Scully

Today’s conventional dairy farmer is more likely to use his land for producing grass, corn, soybeans and other feed crops for his cows than to use the land for grazing. Likewise, today’s dairy cow is more likely to consume its calories and meet nutritional needs from a total mixed ration (TMR) than from pasture grazing.

TMRs provide an efficient, nutritionally balanced and measured means of providing the dairy herd with food designed to meet their specific needs, thereby increasing milk output and components. A mixture of forages and grains, along with protein and mineral supplements, TMRs — when done properly — offer a homogenous feed supply with a known nutritional content. [Read more…]

Soil fertility: getting it right

by Tamara Scully

“Feed the soil to help feed the crops that you want to grow,” Neil Kinsey, soil fertility specialist, advised. “If you just put down what the plants need, you aren’t feeding the soil.”

Feeding the plants does not feed the soil. Growing plants remove essential elements from the soil. If those elements aren’t replaced, and aren’t in balance, then soil fertility is compromised, and crop health and yields will be impacted, Kinsey cautioned.

Just getting the pH right is not nearly enough. The result of the interactions of soil chemistry is pH, and a target pH can be achieved even when the chemistry is out of balance. But when the chemistry is unbalanced, important elements are not available to the plants. [Read more…]