Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A new dairy processing facility under construction in Cayuga County plans to make most of its money on the export market and its owners are hoping trade rule changes don’t hinder that.

An $80 million dairy facility going up in Auburn plans to sell powdered milk to countries in Asia and North Africa, but current trade rules with some of those countries could make exporting their products difficult.

Local food craze hits booze market, too

Oct 30, 2013
Joanna Richards

The local food trend in the North Country is starting to fill a new niche: alcoholic beverages. And not only are brewers and winemakers crafting their products there, but they're also taking advantage of the rural region to double the local appeal, with homegrown ingredients. Several of these businesses just opened in Jefferson County.

fishhawk / Flickr

A Northeast dairy cooperative headquartered in Syracuse plans to merge with a larger national operation from Missouri.

Century-old Dairylea told members at its annual meetings this week of its plan to merge with Dairy Farmers of America. Dairylea has been a partner organization since 2002.

The move, pending approval from members, will better position its farmers for the future, Dairylea spokeswoman Karen Cartier said.

New work space fills gap for small food producers

Sep 26, 2013
Joanna Richards

A new commercial kitchen in Sackets Harbor is starting to help small food producers grow their businesses. The shared-use facility is the first of its kind in Jefferson County.

In a dining room full of chattering officials from local government, agriculture and economic development, people dug into the first products of the new kitchen: Christine Hoffman's pepper jelly and fruit jam.

Robert S. Donovan / Flickr

Farmers in the Champlain Valley often use tile drains in their fields. They help the region’s clay soil drain faster and produce higher crop yields. But for years, Lake Champlain has had high levels of phosphorus pollution, which can result in toxic blue-green algae blooms, and farm runoff is one of the primary contributors.

Now scientists are trying to figure out whether there’s a link between tile drainage and phosphorus pollution.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

Back in the 1930s, when Finger Lakes resident Carl Mortensen was a kid, agriculture was his small town’s link to the rest of the state.

“New York City was full of horses,” Mortensen said. “They used horses for everything. And our big thing then was to put up oats, straw and hay and like that and ship it to New York City.”

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy filled in for Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the official opening of the New York State Fair in Syracuse today.  While Cuomo was hosting President Obama in Buffalo, Duffy was tasting New York state products in the new Taste New York Tent at the Fair.

The Daily Refresher

As people increasingly stray from mass-produced products, demand is growing for locally produced food, wine and beer. In upstate New York this trend is spilling over into the field of craft distilleries, and the state is seeing a comeback of the small, artisan liquor operations of the pre-Prohibition era.

From the Adirondacks to the Hudson Valley, and down to New York City, dozens of micro-distilleries are popping up.

In western New York, Jason Barrett is adding another operation to the ranks.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Brian Reeves is plucking dead leaves off of pepper plants on his farm in Baldwinsville.

"If it keeps up, they will lose more and more leaves and you come back here in two weeks and it's like a stem with no leaves," he says. "It's just gone."

Low-lying spots in his fields are wetter than they should be with large puddles collecting in some areas. Crops trying to grow in those areas are showing signs of too much moisture - like dead leaves and disease.

It's a result of the wetter-than-average summer so far in upstate New York.

Protesters pressure Watertown Walmart on animal welfare

Jul 9, 2013
Joanna Richards / WRVO

Animal welfare demonstrators caught motorists' and shoppers' attention Monday morning along Watertown's busy Arsenal Street. A giant balloon showed a bruised and wounded pig confined to a tiny metal crate, and two activists held a sign reading, “Walmart tortures pigs” on the grassy median in front of Watertown's Walmart store.

Kate O'Connell/Innovation Trail

It’s soft, stinky and delicious, and it’s an opportunity for economic development.

Upstate New York looks ready to usher in a new era of cheese production. A partnership between supermarket chain Wegmans Food Markets and Cornell University hopes to make the region a leader in the artisanal cheese industry.

Dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Kathy Boor, says growing demand for local quality cheese presents an opportunity to diversify the region’s dairy industry.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News File Photo

The five year Farm Bill, likely to pass a vote in the U.S. Senate next Monday, includes an amendment from New York Sen. Charles Schumer that attempts to address rising demand for milk.

Schumer says the amendment could help New York’s dairy farmers supply a fast-growing yogurt industry.

It would create a $5 million pilot program aimed at helping small dairy farms access technical help for  things like animal nutrition and business planning.

Joanna Richards

Agriculture advocates are welcoming progress on state legislation that would slow rising property taxes for farmers. The Senate passed a bill last week that tightens the cap on farmland assessment increases. Yesterday, that measure also passed out of the Assembly's Agriculture Committee. 

novemberdelta / via Flickr

An increased demand for long-lasting dairy products has prompted Byrne Dairy to expand one of its three dairy processing facilities in the Syracuse area.

Byrne Dairy-owned Ultra Dairy wants to add about 100,000 square feet to its plant along Interstate 481 in DeWitt. The company says the expansion will allow them to add about 50 more jobs at the plant.

Ultra Dairy uses a more sterilized pasteurization process that allows products to have a shelf life of up to 140 days. The plant hasn't been able to keep up with orders lately, it told county economic development officials.

Ashley Hassett/Innovation Trail

The quiet western New York farming community of Alabama sits among acres of farm and wetland. It’s also the site chosen for a new Science Technology and Manufacturing Park, known as STAMP. The high-tech park has also been the subject of some public scrutiny, as Genesee county rates highly amongst top agricultural producers in the state. The project is also an example of when the values of agricultural communities are starting to rub up against an upstate development agenda focused around high-tech manufacturing.

As more and more people become interested in trying to eat locally produced foods, New York state's farmers markets are also becoming more popular. But how can you make sure what you buy at the farmers market is really healthier than what you might get at the supermarket? Linda Lowen and Lorraine Rapp, hosts of WRVO's health and wellness show "Take Care" asked Ben Vitale, who oversees the Central New York Regional Market Authority, a year-round farmers market in Syracuse. Vitale is also a farmer himself.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

Dairy farms in northern New York and Vermont have faced a major labor shortage, which means that migrant laborers from Mexico and Guatemala are now milking many of the region's cows. But farm country here is not an easy place to be a migrant worker: It's rural, hard to get around, and there's not a big Latino population. But a new law means that migrant workers in Vermont will soon be able to drive legally.

Joanna Richards

A Tylerville dairy farm, in Jefferson County, is growing, in part thanks to help from National Grid. The company awarded the farm a grant of $50,000 to increase its access to electricity.  

The chemical responsible for the death of 14 people and injury of over 200 in West, Texas, is in wide use. Leaving many upstate New Yorkers wondering how ammonium nitrate is regulated in New York state.


Empire State Development approved funding for two upstate food and agriculture related measures in their meeting Friday.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Dave Pasick moved back to his family’s farm just north of Utica a few years ago, naming it Szaro Farms, after an old family name.

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Small businesses from around the state took their concerns to legislators in Albany Wednesday. The message from leaders in the agricultural industry particularly highlighted the need for reforms to support small farms, and boost local economies upstate.

Funding for a program to promote locally grown produce through a network of duty-free stores across New York has been axed from the final version of the state's budget.

urban sea star / via Flickr

Here's a catchphrase someone who's been to a farmer's market is probably familiar with: "buy local." And for those who try and follow the mantra closely, you may also be familiar with "food miles," the notion of counting how far your strawberries traveled to land on top of your bowl of Cheerios.

Syracuse Grows

The organization that supports community gardens in the city of Syracuse is growing, particularly in the city's immigrant community. Syracuse Grows is going into it's sixth year with an eye on the Northside.

Fred Chiang / Flickr

It’s wine competition season, a time of year when judges offer their opinions at dozens of events around the world. New York Wine and Grape Foundation’s Jim Trezise was at an event in Sonoma to see how Finger Lakes wines have been faring.

baristaj9 / Flickr

Despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recent zest for upstate beer and wine, some industry leaders think his plan has a missing link. Thy say the lack of wine experts known as Master Sommeliers in the upstate region could be a road-block to the sector reaching its full potential and bringing with it growth in tourism.

NY Farm Bureau hopeful on immigration reform

Jan 31, 2013
Doug Kerr / Flickr

The New York Farm Bureau is optimistic following news that Congress is working to pass new immigration reforms. The bureau, a lobbying group, says it was very excited to hear the proposals made by a bipartisan group of senators and by President Barack Obama this week.

Utica-area Rep. Richard Hanna is one Republican who expects to be on board with any immigration reform that is being proposed in Washington currently. The 22nd Congressional District representative says it's an important issue in a region where agriculture is key.

Hanna says he's heard about the labor crisis facing the dairy industry ever since he came into office. Farmers tell him they can't find enough documented employees to work the farm.

State budget puts more focus on agriculture

Jan 29, 2013

The state budget proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls for new efforts to boost sales of New York produce, a change from previous administrations, says a pro-farming group.