Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross holds listening session in Newport 

CN-MR-1-Vermont Secretary 1by Bethany M. Dunbar

NEWPORT, VT — Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross held a listening session and talked with local farmers about agriculture issues. The two-hour session Dec. 3 was part of a series of meetings, the Secretary has been holding around the state.

Ross had met with U.S. Senator Pat Leahy shortly before, and he told the local farmers that the farm bill is in better shape than it was a few months ago. It passed the Senate some time ago, but more recently a version has passed the House and now is in a conference committee. “The biggest battle is not dairy. It’s SNAP,” he said, referring to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. [Read more…]

Maness uses lanes and a mclanahan sand separator to reclaim clean bedding sand

CM-MR-3-Maness uses 1by Karl H. Kazaks

STATESVILLE, NC — There’s something about doubling your herd size that makes you reconsider how to manage and handle inputs.

That’s how Jeff Maness decided to take a new approach to reclaiming bedding sand on his dairy. He went from dredging sand from manure pits to using passive settling lanes and a 36-inch McLanahan sand-manure separator to catch the majority of his dairy’s sand before it reaches the pits.

By installing the sand catching system, M & M Dairy (a partnership between Maness and his wife Carolyn) has cut its sand use by 95 percent.

Five years ago, the dairy was buying about five tractor trailer loads of sand a week, when milking 800 cows.
“It was a huge expense,” Maness said. [Read more…]

Love it or leave it? Farmers debate hydrofracking at Farm Bureau Conference

CEW-MR-1-Love it or leave it253by Pat Malin

LIVERPOOL, NY —  Hydraulic fracturing. Also known as “hydrofracking,” it is one word guaranteed to stir up a hornet’s nest of comments.

Whether you live in an urban neighborhood or rural district in the northeastern U.S., you’re sure to have heard about fracking at town, city council and school board meetings, or attended scholarly lectures and viewed certain films and television shows. Upstate New York, in an area roughly from the western border with Canada, including the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier east to the capital district, is home to several large natural gas deposits.

Hydrofracking is the process of injecting liquids, water and chemicals at high pressure into the ground to fracture shale rock. In addition, the region’s proximity to Pennysylvania and Ohio, where fracking is a large-scale, and some say profitable industry, brings the topic to mind more often. [Read more…]

Median grazing: Crazy enough to work?

CEW-MR-1-Grazing mediansby Troy Bishopp, The Grass Whisperer

I’m pleased The New York Times released an op-ed piece titled, Keep Farmland for Farmers, poignantly written by Hudson Valley Farmers, Lindsey Lusher Shute and Benjamin Shute which chronicles the plight of finding land and making a go of it beyond the boroughs of New York City. In it they reveal that one-quarter of the land trusts that oversee conservation easements have seen protected land go out of production. Why? A non-farmer had bought it. [Read more…]