It is now crystal clear that GMOs, topically and acronymically, will be conversational fodder for the next few years and possibly the next decade. Equally clear is the notion that American public understanding, or lack thereof, stems largely from European thinking, especially British attitudes toward the subject. At a farmer’s breakfast in 2013, former PA Ag Secretary George Greig said something that bears repeating and sets a general tone for this discussion. “I think a lot of this comes from Europe because there has been an effort against GMOs in European countries. We’ve met with quite a few different countries including Germany about a month or six weeks ago to form an ag co-op. Their concern is that they won’t be able to produce the food for their population. So they came here to talk to the Department of Agriculture. They also talked to Penn State to see what they could do. They were interested in how we’re keeping up with our population, and still have food to export. I don’t know the answers to what people’s fears are with GMO. There have been studies done at Penn State and the University of Michigan which have stated that conventional food supplies are as safe as organic and non-GMO products. I would say that we have to keep educating our people. Germany’s cash receipts were about a little over a third of what Pennsylvania’s are. In other words, Pennsylvania produced more food, which was enlightening to Germany to learn that they are not quite so big a country as they thought they were.” [Read more…]
Farm ponds can be both beautiful and functional as irrigation reservoirs. In addition, having a pond can save you about 10 percent on your farm insurance premium, if you install the right type of fire hydrant hookup for your local fire department. “These hook ups cost only a couple hundred dollars to put in,” commented Bryan Swistock, Penn State Water Resources Extension Coordinator. Some regular attention to potential problems can help to keep your pond from causing you headaches. Here are some suggestions from Swistock for irrigation pond owners, starting with ones that could be less obvious until you find yourself clobbered by them. [Read more…]
Dr. Gary Bergstorm, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences School of Integrative Plant Science Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, spoke to attendees at the 2015 CNY Small Grain Workshop about identifying and controlling some common diseases in small grains. [Read more…]
by Tamara Scully
Drug residues, from antibiotics or other chemicals being given to livestock, are found in milk as well as in beef. These chemicals are “certainly problematic. If there’s a residue, then somehow that chemical got into the food,” Dr. Dwight Bruno, BSc, DVM, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets said in a recent PRO-DAIRY workshop addressing milk quality. The workshop — the third in a three-part series held this winter — was broadcast live to various viewing locations throughout the state.
One hundred percent of repeat violators — those with more than one instance of drug residue in milk and/or in beef animals — in New York State in 2014 were cited for neomycin or other drugs in veal calves, Bruno said. This could be directly correlated to feeding bob veal calves medicated milk replacer. [Read more…]
Make decisions regarding labor management and new equipment investment is something that most farmers face during normal business operations. Chris Blanchard of Purple Pitchfork shared his experience gathering accurate farm costs and production data for investment decisions at the 2014 Beginning Farmer Learning Network Conference recently. The lecture covered ways farmers can track, extrapolate and weigh labor costs and capacity against hiring staff or investing in tractors or other equipment; Using accurate data and careful budget analysis, farmers can maximize profits and make fewer poor decisions. [Read more…]
WASHINGTON — The American Bankers Association is celebrating National Ag Day on March 18 by providing financial tips to the next generation of America’s farmers and ranchers. Unlike established farmers, young and beginning farmers may need to learn the basics of creating business relationships and what goes into making financial decisions.
“Farming is a tough business, and as with any other business, bankers are eager to lend a helping hand,” said Frank Keating, ABA president and CEO. “If you’re launching a new ag business or taking over an existing operation, be sure to talk to your local banker. Let the financial experts guide you while you focus on the farm.”
Agricultural training programs designed for veterans should include plenty of hands-on experiences for this high-energy group. Norm Conrad, Northeast Director of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) strongly suggests having extra materials on-hand as well as an extra group exercise or activity in the curriculum. Veterans are often more focused, productive and efficient than other workshop attendees. [Read more…]
by Katie Navarra
A lot of people are talking about permaculture, a system that relies on designing planting configurations to work more like an ecosystem. Until recently, the practice has largely been associated with the landscape industry. However, farms nationwide ranging from less than five acres in production to more than 100 acres in production are beginning to incorporate the principles of permaculture on their farms.
During the e-Organic webinar, Permaculture on Organic Farms, Rafter Ferguson along with Ron Revord and Kevin Wolz, all graduate students at the University of Illinois, Urban-Champaign campus, explained the basics of permaculture, offered information on how to incorporate the concept on farms and discussed opportunities and challenges associated with a permaculture design system. [Read more…]