Soil health: Appreciating a new agenda

2013-09-03T09:55:26+00:00September 3rd, 2013|Eastern Edition, Western Edition|

CEW-MR-3-Soil health1by Troy Bishopp
SKANEATELES, NY — President Barack Obama arrived in the Syracuse area and spoke about a new agenda for higher education which is more affordable, encourages and embraces innovation and becomes a good investment because it pays off over time.
At the same time, just south of Orangeman country adjacent to the Owasco Lake Watershed, there was a different kind of meeting. Gathered in the middle of a wheat field were over 80 farmers, extension educators, agri-business service providers and conservation professionals learning about a new agenda and demonstrations to improve soil health which also embraced innovation and was a good investment over time. As Cayuga County farmer, Steve Nemec said, “We need to do the right thing by our soils.”
The theme of the gathering was to inspire the ‘biologicals’, according to farmer hosts, Steve and Jason Cuddeback, who’s lineage goes back three generations on their 800 acres of land. After practicing with diverse rotations, conservation tillage and no-till cropping with cover crops for years and seeing the production increase while expenses decrease, they have become true advocates. “Being that we are in a sensitive watershed and with the high prices for nitrogen and fuel, we must do everything we can to enhance our biology in the soil. Give them the right environment and they do all the work. It just makes good economic and environmental sense,” said Steve. (more…)

Despite stalled Farm Bill, Central New York Farmers proceed with own plans for marketing products at food hub

2013-09-03T09:52:52+00:00September 3rd, 2013|Eastern Edition, Western Edition|

CEW-MR-2-Gillibrand visits2by Pat Malin
HUBBARDSVILLE,  NY — When asked about Congress’s handling — or lack thereof, of the Farm Bill, New York State Farm Bureau director Darrell Griff let out a deep sigh.
“How can you get politics figured out?” Griff replied during a visit to neighboring Endless Trails Farm in August.
Griff was visiting Endless Trails for two reasons: to get an update on the Farm Bill directly from U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and to promote the new Side Hill Farmer’s Cooperative Market in Manlius.
It’s been exasperating, he admitted, to follow the snail-like pace of the bill. A five-year Farm Bill was passed by the U.S. Senate in June, but the House of Representatives came up with its own watered-down counterpart which has only complicated passage of the new legislation.
Now Congress is in summer recess, so the two sides will try to negotiate a compromise measure when the representatives return to their desks in September.
Griff, who raises pigs and beef cattle on a 70-acre farm in Hamilton, Madison County, wonders how long it will take Congress to reach an agreement. “A lot of farmers are concerned about next year. How can you operate when you don’t know the rules of the game?” (more…)

Soil health important to farmers, the environment and society

2013-09-03T09:49:35+00:00September 3rd, 2013|Eastern Edition, Western Edition|

CEW-MR-1-Soil Health 1cby Paul Salon
More than 250 people came together to see firsthand the importance of soil health at three events in Cayuga County, NY, on Aug. 21-22. The events were a collaboration between the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) the New York Soil and Water Conservation Committee, the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County. The meetings came about as part of a national soil health campaign initiated by conservation farmers, NRCS and SWCD’s. Farmers from North Dakota to North Carolina and beyond — who after years of no-till farming followed by cover cropping — are recognizing lower production costs and improved soil function. After the meeting, NRCS-NY State Conservationist, Don Pettit said, “Soil Health is the ability of the soil to perform at its full potential to grow crops. NRCS is proud to partner with farmers and organizations dedicated to sharing the technologies, management and programs available to improve soil health to all those involved in agriculture.” (more…)

Schoharie County’s inaugural Family Farm Day attracts folks from far and wide

2013-09-03T09:44:21+00:00September 3rd, 2013|Country Folks Article, Eastern Edition|

CE-MR-7-Schoharie Farm Day7by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
Folks from as far away as New York City had an opportunity to visit working farms, see the diversity of Schoharie farms and their products and view the remarkable recovery progress from the 2011 flooding, during the inaugural Schoharie County Family Farm Day that took place on Saturday, Aug. 17.
Twenty-two farms and three farmers’ markets participated in welcoming visitors.
Visitors were given tours, received samples and had the opportunity to participate in a variety of farm activities and demonstrations. (more…)

Baleage — a better way to save hay in wet seasons

2013-09-03T08:31:39+00:00September 3rd, 2013|Eastern Edition, New England Farm Weekly|

CN-MR-3-Baleage 3by Sanne Kure-Jensen
Baleage is fermented hay. In damp regions with less chance of speedy drying and high quality hay production, baleage is a good alternative. Most farmers can get one to two additional cuts off the same fields each season.
Farmers making baleage typically cut and gather baleage 12 to 24 hours after cutting. Round bales must be wrapped in plastic within eight hours of baling. This prevents overheating and reduced quality.
Bales should be stored on their flat ends to reduce settling, air infiltration and reduced quality. Jim Booth of Aquidneck Farms in Portsmouth, RI said, “We have reduced our waste to 5 percent from 20 percent eight years ago.” The farm’s twin auger feed mixer saves another 10 percent. Booth said the feed alleys are completely empty each winter morning. (more…)

The art, science and skill of forage management

2013-09-03T08:25:44+00:00September 3rd, 2013|Eastern Edition, Mid Atlantic, Western Edition|

CM-MR-3-The art, science 3by Sally Colby
A dairy farm that’s milking 1,550 cows in a four times a day system while maintaining a 30,000 pound herd average and a SCC of 150,000 is doing a lot of things right, starting with forage management.
That’s the case at Mercer Vu Farms, Inc., in Mercersburg, PA, where the Hissong family recently hosted a Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania (PDMP) issues forum. One topic of interest for many who attended was forage management. Troy Brown, national forage consultant for Cargill, addressed silage harvest and bunker management.
“Harvesting at the correct moisture level is critical, whether it’s corn silage or haylage,” said Brown. “Then we need the right additive for each situation, whether it’s a bag, baleage, a traditional upright silo, a bunker or a drive-over pile.” (more…)

Knap-Time

2013-08-23T07:57:09+00:00August 23rd, 2013|Eastern Edition, Western Edition|

CEW-MR-1-Knap timeby Troy Bishopp
You’re probably looking at my title and thinking that I spelled in error, the act of slumber after a heavy lunch. In my defense, naptime is usually when I think about how to react to all the purple knapweed growing on my farm this year. Just as I enjoyed an intense drool, dreaming of endless pristine pastures devoid of unsightly weeds, the annoying alarm clock of Mother Nature goes off and brings me back to the reality — weeds (also known as forage) are here to stay!
Poet, Phillip Pulfrey said it best
I learn more about God                                                                                                                                     
From weeds than from roses;                                                                                                          
Resilience springing                                                                                                                                     
Through the smallest chink of hope                                                                                                          
In the absolute of concrete…. (more…)

Government and Industry Day luncheon highlights Wednesday activities at Ag Progress Days

2013-08-23T07:52:31+00:00August 23rd, 2013|Eastern Edition, Mid Atlantic|

CEM-MR-3-APD luncheon50by Jon M. Casey
While the unseasonably cool weather took center stage at this year’s Ag Progress Days Wednesday Aug. 14, the Government and Industry Day luncheon was warm and friendly where approximately 300 members of Pennsylvania’s Ag community gathered at midday for an update on the latest in agriculture. Barbara Christ, Sr. Associate Dean at the College of Agricultural Sciences, who is currently serving as interim Dean began by saying that despite the changes in funding and departmental leadership, the overall effort continues under her leadership at the same level of “ownership, pride and passion” as it did in the past. She said the support of local and state governmental officials during the restructuring of the PSU Ag Extension Service, has been excellent and appreciated by all within the university system. These changes are the result of reduced funding.
Penn State President, Rodney Erickson, said while there have been a number of challenges during the past year including federal financial sequestration, at the same time, Penn State University has been named as one of the top 10 universities for Agricultural and Forestry education, worldwide. He noted the efforts of researchers at the university who are looking for a solution to the ongoing problem with the disappearance of pollinators like the honeybee and certain butterflies, continues as well. At the same time as this year’s Ag Progress Days, there is an international conference on Pollinator Biology taking place at the nearby Nittany Lion Inn. According to Penn State information, “Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research is a consortium of more than 25 faculty members involved in research, education and extension efforts focused on improving pollinator health, conservation and ecosystems services.” (more…)

Blue ribbons flow as easily as milk at Boonville Fair Goat Show

2013-08-23T07:49:14+00:00August 23rd, 2013|Eastern Edition|

CE-MR-3-Blue ribbons455by Pat Malin
BOONVILLE, NY — Stephanie Finn of Finndale Farms, Holland Patent, showed 15 goats in the 4-H division at the Oneida County Boonville Fair and seemed to have all the bases covered when it came to garnering awards.
Her 7-year-old LaMancha doe, “Chance,” won eight ribbons alone, including best in breed, senior champion and grand champion in the competition on Saturday, July 27. Chance was among a handful finalists in the Best of Show.
Likewise, Andrea Larry of Scotchbriar Nubians, also of Holland Patent, who has been showing goats professionally for 20 years and competing in the open show, was counting on her doe, “Ninue,” to win the top prize.
Both of them were a little disappointed after Jeremy Lesniak of Lesniak-Hill Dairy Goats of Utica took home the trophy with 3-year-old “Leia.” They shouldn’t have been surprised though, since Jeremy’s father, Stan Lesniak, is an established goat breeder in the Mohawk Valley. In fact, he does the breeding for Finndale Farms’ goats.
Patricia Lynn-Ricotta, the judge for the goat show, described Leia as “very strong in her general appearance. She has the strongest mammary system, meaning she has strength in her attachments.”
Stan Lesniak is a former dairy cow farmer who has a modest business with dairy goats. According to its Facebook page, Lesniak-Hill Farm purchased two Alpine does in 1996, and “(t)he growth has never stopped.” They can now boast of 50 show quality Alpine, LaMancha and Toggenburg does and bucks.
Jeremy Lesniak, 32, specializes in raising Alpines. His brother, Justin, raises Toggenburgs and their sister, Stacy, shows LaManchas. The three children all have careers off the farm. Jeremy and Stacy are RNs. Justin works at SUNYIT, a local college. Jeremy was accompanied to the fair by his fiancee, Kate Costello of Massachusetts, and they were planning to get married on Aug. 4. (more…)

NYS FFA District 5 President Kait Isaac ~ living to serve

2013-08-23T07:46:13+00:00August 23rd, 2013|Eastern Edition|

CE-MR-2-Kait Isaac1by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
“Learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live and living to serve” is the motto of the FFA and NYS FFA District 5 President Kait Isaac, of St. Johnsville, NY, took that motto to heart when she volunteered to serve in Haiti on a team with eight other FFA members from around the United States.
“I first heard about this trip through a National FFA notification,” said Mike Settle, retired agriculture teacher/Mohawk Valley FFA advisor, who chaperoned the trip. “I posted the notification to the Mohawk Valley FFA Facebook page and Kait jumped on the opportunity to participate.”
The ‘service opportunity’, a humanitarian effort called “ffa2haiti”, involved working along side of Haitians with a team of other FFA members participating from across the United States. Kait was the only FFA volunteer on the team representing New York State.
“We went to the Village of Hope where GCN (Global Compassion Network) has created a community for the victims of the earthquake,” said Kait.
The earthquake she referred to occurred in 2010, devastating Haiti, which was already one of the poorest countries in the world. The catastrophic quake destroyed an estimated 300,000 buildings, leaving over a million people homeless and thousands of children orphaned.
Efforts are still being made to rebuild communities and lives of the Haitians. And people like Ag Ed Instructor / FFA Advisor, Melanie Bloom at Sioux Central High School in Sioux Rapids, Iowa, are determined to use this opportunity to educate FFA members, raising their awareness and providing them with life changing, service learning experiences. (more…)

What young farmers are taking on

2013-08-16T08:38:40+00:00August 16th, 2013|Eastern Edition, Mid Atlantic, Western Edition|

CM-MR-3-What young farmers 1by Steve Wagner
Recently Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett hosted a breakfast for officers and advisors of the FFA and 4-H at the Governor’s Mansion. Though overcast outside, a homey yet sumptuous meal was served indoors at a long table on highly polished hardwood floors and lit in chandeliered splendor. After breakfast, Governor Corbett spoke to Country Folks. The question was: with all the serious concerns that farmers are facing today — drought, floods, tornadoes, overly ambitious federal regulation, tax burdens, nutrient management issues, and so on — what is it that makes these young people want to lead with their chins when deciding to pursue farming? Corbett answered by saying that it is in 4-H’ers and FFA members to “have a profession, have an ability to take care of themselves, and have a challenge of growing something, whether it’s an animal or livestock or flowers, trees, vegetables, whatever. But I think it’s also an independence issue. In many cases these young people come from families that do this, so it is continuing a culture that is the number one industry in Pennsylvania. People forget that. Small businesses are the majority of businesses. (more…)

Trowbridge Farms

2013-08-16T08:27:32+00:00August 16th, 2013|Eastern Edition, Western Edition|

CEW-MR-3-Trowbridge Angus4by Katie Navarra
When the 2013 National Angus Conference and Tour descends on Albany, NY, this Aug. 28-30, it will be a proud moment for Phil Trowbridge of Ghent, NY.
As the current President and Chairman of the Board for the American Angus Association and owner of the Trowbridge Angus Farms in Ghent, NY, he has the opportunity to showcase the proud tradition of agriculture in New York State.
“A lot of people don’t realize there is so much agriculture in New York,” he said. During the three-day National Conference, participants will learn about topics facing the Angus industry including understanding the importance of transparency, marketing genetics, business issues and preparing for the future. The three-day event also includes tours of local farms.
Following a day of seminars and workshops, Phil has the honor of hosting Convention attendees for dinner and a special sale organized as part of the National Tour at his farm in Ghent. “There will be 100 cows sold in 70 lots,” he said. Sellers and buyers will come from across New York, Pennsylvania and the entire Northeast. (more…)