farming

Young farmers head effort to feed those in need

8 hours ago
Veronica Volk / WXXI

Farmers and agriculture industry leaders are coming in from all over the state for the New York Farm Bureau’s 58th State Annual Meeting.

The Bureau kicked off its meeting by announcing they had broken their record for this year’s “Harvest for All,” a national farm donation program. In partnership with the Regional Food Bank Association and FoodLink, New York farmers have collectively donated 9.6 million pounds of produce.

FoodLink's Co-Executive Director Jeanette Batiste-Harrison says this particular program is especially valuable to the community.

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

First time farmers gathered at the Stone Barns Center, a teaching farm in rural Westchester County for the Young Farmers Convention. The 3-day conference provides supportive classes and networking opportunities to new businesses in agriculture.

The Stone Barns Center helps young farmers build the foundation they need to for successful, sustainable farms.

fishhawk / Flickr

New York’s dairy industry likely won’t see more of the good times next year farmers experienced in 2014, largely because dairy prices and profits are expected to level off.

Andy Novakovic, a professor of agriculture economics at Cornell University, says dairy markets in New York are already starting to decline to be in balance with the rest of the world, "but we have quite a bit of altitude to lose before we get to where the rest of the world is," he said. 

This was a great year for the dairy industry, he said. 

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

Want to know what crops local farmers are producing? There’s an app for that, or at least there will be one soon.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced federal funding for Greene County food distributor Field Goods, to integrate that technology into their business model.

Donna Williams’ company Field Goods connects many Capital Region and Hudson Valley farms with a larger, diverse consumer base, but it can be tricky.

publicenergy / Flickr

For farmers in upstate New York, going organic isn’t easy. But one farmer who’s made the switch is happy that the new Farm Bill will make it easier to transition from traditional to organic farming in the future.

Ben Simons has been a dairy farmer in Remsen for two decades. Two years ago, he decided to convert his operation over to an organic dairy.

"Because I did not want to expand my dairy anymore," Simons says. "It was very difficult to stay a small family farm and compete with conventional milk.”

News Briefs: Thursday, Jan. 30

Jan 30, 2014

Plans for a casino siting board are delayed; National Grid receives a credit to save customers some cash; New York shows positive workplace safety signs; and $1.24 million is sent toward state farms. Catch up on the news of the day with WRVO news briefs.

Siting board appointment likely behind schedule

Chances are becoming slim that a casino siting board will be appointed by the end of January as called for by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Proposed FDA rules for produce farms to be changed

Jan 1, 2014

The Food and Drug Administration is, for the first time, proposing new food safety rules for produce farmers across the country. The FDA asked for comments on the rules this year and thousands of upstate farmers responded. Many of them criticized the rules, saying they could spoil their livelihood. So the FDA announced last week they would re-draft some of the contentious rules.

Richard Ball runs Scoharie Farms on Route 30 outside of Albany. He walks over to a metal gate closing in one of his fields and yanks up the hood on his coat, blocking the wind.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

Rep. Richard Hanna is urging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to delay its new random inspection program for dairy farms. He and six other upstate members of Congress, including Dan Maffei, Bill Owens and Tom Reed, signed a letter to the assistant secretary of labor for OSHA asking for consideration.

Matt Martin / WSKG

Every year Christmas tree farmers lose a portion of their crop to a fungus that attacks the root of the tree.  One tree farm in the Southern Tier has started planting a species that seems to be more resistant to the disease.

Kate O'Connell/Innovation Trail

The U.S. frozen food market is on the rise, with expectations it will become a $70 billion industry within the next two years.

Last year, upstate New York got in on the action when France-based company Bonduelle acquired three facilities to expand their production of canned and frozen vegetables. They took over the floundering Allen's plants in March 2012, with the intention of repairing and developing the facilities.

Local growers are now set to benefit from the company’s expansion and investment plans.

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.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A new exhibit at the New York State Fair in Syracuse this year shows cows giving birth; and you just never know when you might be able to see a maternal miracle.

When the ribbon on the new Dairy Cow Birthing Center was cut, visitors were milling about, enjoying some dairy related snacks. Reporters were interviewing the experts who would explain why fairgoers should want to see the birth of a calf, when there was an interruption.

"We have a calf coming. Didn't mean to interrupt, but nature calls."

Matt Lavin/flickr

An infestation of True Armyworms was identified last week in a hay field in central St. Lawrence County, prompting growers to take an extra look at their grass and corn fields.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average age of a farmer in 2012 was 57. Forty percent of all farmers right now are over the age of 55. But in an era of increasing age among the men and women who grow our food, there are some younger people bucking the trend. Some of these new farmers are sending down roots in Madison County.

The cadre of 20 and 30-somethings running Greyrock Farm in Cazenovia are as likely to have a smartphone in their pocket as a pitchfork in their hands.

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.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

St. Lawrence County may be losing population, but there's one group that keeps growing: Old Order Amish. They've moved to northern New York because of cheap, available farmland. But in order to maintain their lifestyle, the Amish need a market for the milk the produce. So they've turned to an unlikely partner: dairy co-op Agri-Mark. 

Drive down some roads in the county, and it’s like stepping back in time. Traffic comes from buggies, not cars. Children in dark clothes and straw hats and bonnets play in neatly kept farm yards.

To the farmers market you go

May 26, 2013
Joe Beasley / Flickr

According to Ben Vitale, the secret to successfully shopping at a farmers market comes down to one simple statement: “Know your farmer, know your food.”

Click 'Read More' to hear our interview with Ben Vitale.

Farmers' property taxes rise as land values increase

May 23, 2013
Joanna Richards

Agriculture is one of the most dynamic and innovative economic sectors in New York state. All this week, the Innovation Trail team is reporting on some of the current challenges and opportunities facing upstate farmers.

One of those challenges is property taxes. Agriculture is a land-intensive industry, so rising property taxes can mean much higher costs for farmers. And taxes have been rising, thanks mostly to increases in the production value of farmland.

Matt Richmond/Innovation Trail

Since 2006, honey bees have been abandoning seemingly healthy hives in large numbers, raising alarm among beekeepers, farmers and researchers. But, the industries that are dependent on honey bees are finding ways to manage the losses.

Kate O'Connell/Innovation Trail

New York is the second biggest apple producing state in the country. But, last year production dropped dramatically due to a warmer winter, early blooms, and harsh spring frosts. The total production from the state plummeted from 1.2 million pounds in 2011, to just 710,000 pounds in 2012. But, weather isn’t the only challenge growers are contending with.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The steaks stacked in the coolers of butcher shops in New York may be marketed as local, but just what that label means varies widely.

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.

Matt Richmond/Innovation Trail

In New York’s central region, there are hundreds of farms selling meat and produce directly to the public, and a Binghamton group is working to connect restaurants with those farms. The downtown Binghamton restaurant Lost Dog Café recently held a "Meet the Farmer" event. Sixty people attended a catered dinner in the back of the busy restaurant.

WBFO

A coalition of farmers and foodies are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York state right away. Groups across the state are expected to meet throughout the week to alert the public to the risks they believe fracking poses to the state’s agricultural viability.

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.

Farming

Dec 12, 2012

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.

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.

fishhawk / Flickr

Greek-style yogurt now accounts for about a quarter of all yogurt sales in the United States.  Much of it is made in upstate New York, where this low-tech industry is having a big economic impact.

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