by Troy Bishopp

SUNY DELHI, NY — Well at least the snow that disguised the muddy fields and blanketed the hills and valleys of Delaware County didn’t deter over 180 farmers from attending the 16th Annual Catskill Regional Agriculture Conference. “The weather is always on our minds but the learning must go on,” said Dale Dewing from the hard working folks at Delaware County Cornell Cooperative Extension who coordinate and sponsor the conference every year with the Watershed Agricultural Council.

The jam-packed agenda started with the early-bird sessions focusing on growing your business, positioning your farm for future opportunities and an intro to beef farming in the Catskill region.  Utilizing local farmer panels, round-table discussions and practical experiences filled the rooms with interested guests. “We want to make sure there are enough good resources of information so farmers can make good sound decisions with their agricultural pursuits,” said CCE Watershed Livestock Educator, Rich Toebe.

With dairy, vegetable, livestock and grazing tracks, there were topics for every agricultural genre.  This year’s event featured renowned veterinarian and author, Dr. Hubert Karreman who lectured on managing dairy health, holistic approaches to ruminant animal health and multi-species grazing.

The vegetable production session paired the dynamic duo of Roxbury Farm’s, Jean-Paul Courtens and ENY CCE Vegetable Specialist, Crystal Stewart leading a lively discussion on soil health practices. Organic dairy farmer and GRAZE magazine contributor, Nathan Weaver, teamed up with Delaware Co. CCE’s Nutrient Management Community Educator, Benjamin Hepler in sharing their perspectives on approaches to getting high performance from pastures.

Cornell’s Beef Specialist, Dr. Mike Baker presented on the idea of raising dairy x beef cross-bred calves to diversify dairy farm income. Maire Ullrich from Orange County CCE gave farmers a humble look at the opportunities and market challenges to growing hemp. In addition, there were speakers espousing about efficiently feeding hay crops to livestock, animal husbandry practices for the retail grass-fed meat market, high tunnel soil fertility and disease management and looking at creative ways farmers use grazing tools.

A highlight is always sharing the bounty of the Catskills region with a delicious lunch prepared by the SUNY Delhi culinary staff. Nothing resonates more for guests than sharing stories and reuniting with friends over the hearty feast of meat, veggies and abundant dairy products. The dessert phase was enhanced by a keynote presentation on Consumer Focused “push” and “pull” Marketing techniques by Tompkins County CCE Ag marketing Specialist, Matt LeRoux.

For more information on what was shared contact Dale Dewing at or 607.865.7090.