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.

Some rights reserved by wiccked

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.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council

Tourism professionals in upstate New York are applauding Gov. Andrews Cuomo’s commitment to the region. In order to augment upstate economic growth, the governor has set aside $7 million in the budget for promotion and marketing initiatives.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Madison County hopes to become a hub for the recycling of agricultural plastics.  It's a waste that's created on farms that's been a problem for years.

Anthony Albright / Flickr

The yogurt industry in upstate New York is getting attention as a bright spot in the region's lackluster economy. Now, Byrne Dairy is will be joining other companies in this growing agribusiness.

Central New York Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle is concerned that the House of Representatives has not yet passed a farm bill. The current one is scheduled to expire September 30, but Congress is scheduled to finish its work this week and passage of a farm bill does not look likely.

Garrett Ziegler / Flickr

Farms still drive New York state's economy, according to a report from the New York State Comptroller's office, which outlines just how important agriculture is to the state's economy.

Local food economy overcomes obstacles

Aug 28, 2012
Joanna Richards/WRVO

Recently, local food has been turning up on more grocery store shelves and restaurants in upstate New York. But the local food economy still faces challenges to bringing agricultural products from farm to table.

New pavilion part of downtown Watertown's revitalization

Aug 27, 2012
Joanna Richards/WRVO

The city of Watertown has built a new pavilion as part of its downtown revitalization project. It's meant to house outdoor activities, including the Saturday farmers market. The farmers market held an appreciation ceremony to thank the city on Saturday.

msr / Flickr

The cherished autumn tradition of apple picking is off to an early start in the Northeast as growers deal with aftershocks from bizarre spring weather that took a toll on fruit crops.

Restaurants are serving up more fresh, local ingredients

Aug 17, 2012
Joanna Richards / WRVO

It's a busy Sunday morning at Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse. Behind the line, cooks shout brunch orders and the dining area is filling up with customers. A blues band is setting up for a set, a weekly tradition here.

Company president David Katleski sits in a big booth near the kitchen. The sounds are like any other busy restaurant, but there's something different going on here.

Retail stores offering more food from local producers

Aug 16, 2012

As fast as veggies are popping up in the garden, local foods are showing up on grocery store shelves throughout northern New York.

A new food co-op recently opened in Clayton, in Jefferson County, that showcases locally-sourced vegetables and other products, but big grocery chains like Hannaford and Wegman's are getting in on the trend, too, adding more of the region's products to store shelves.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he is loosening some environmental regulations so that dairy farmers can more easily own more cows. The news came at the first ever yogurt summit convened by Cuomo at the state Capitol.

Dry weather threatens hay, corn crops

Jul 18, 2012

The hot, dry weather is taking a toll on crops in the region. Scattered heavy rains have brought some relief to some areas, but overall, production of field crops like hay and corn is suffering. In the North Country, it's been decades since the area experienced a summer so dry.