February milk production increases
ALBANY — New York dairy herds produced 1,055 million pounds of milk during February. Milk cows were unchanged, but production per cow was up from the previous year resulting in a 6.8 percent increase in milk production compared to February 2011.
The number of milk cows averaged 610,000 head, unchanged from February of the previous year. Milk per cow averaged 1,730 pounds, up 110 pounds from last year at this time.
Dairy farmers in the Empire State received an average of $18.80 per hundredweight of milk sold during February, down $1.70 from January and 80 cents from February a year ago.
Milk production in the 23 major states during February totaled 15.2 billion pounds, up 8.3 percent from February 2011. However, adjusting production for the additional day due to leap year causes February milk production to be up 4.6 percent on a per-day basis. January revised production, at 15.8 billion pounds, was up 3.9 percent from January 2011. The January revision represented an increase of 24 million pounds, or 0.2 percent, from last month's preliminary production estimate.
Gillibrand bill to support apple growers
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has introduced legislation that would help New York apple growers streamline operations and save money.
The bill, endorsed by New York Apple Association and U.S. Apple Association, would exempt bulk shipments of U.S. apples to Canada from inspection required by the Apple Export Act, offering growers immediate savings of approximately $300 per truckload and allowing growers to create their own distribution schedules, eliminating costly after-hours inspection procedures.
"Our farmers play a vital role in the economic development and food security of the state," Gillibrand said. "This bill would ease burdensome regulations and allow our apple producers to streamline operations, cut costs and continue to grow their businesses."
Last year, more than 1.5 million bushels of New York apples were exported to Canada. Every year, 1,500 trucks each export close to 1,000 bushels of apples to Canada, so the inspection exemption would save growers close to $450,000 annually. In addition, the exemption would expedite the exportation process of more than 500,000 bushels of apples from New York to other countries by freeing up staffers to perform the required inspections on exports to other countries.
Currently, the Department of Agriculture requires the inspection of all apple exports under the Apple and Pear Export Act of 1933. In 1999, the law was changed to exclude pears. A similar version of the bill was introduced in the House last month by Rep. Bill Owens.
Asgaard Farm gets animal-welfare honor
AuSABLE FORKS — The dairy goats, beef cattle and laying hens of Asgaard Farm and Dairy have been certified as Animal Welfare Approved. This certification and food label lets consumers know that these animals were raised in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards in the United States, using sustainable agriculture methods on an independent family farm.
Like other AWA farmers across the country, the farmers at Asgaard Farm and Dairy understand the growing consumer interest in how animals are being raised. Raising animals outdoors on pasture or range has known benefits for animals, consumers and the environment.
Rhonda Butler and her husband, David Brenner, bought their 1930s-era dairy in 1988. After years of renovations and building, the historic dairy was reestablished with just two kids bought from a neighbor. Now, their goats, cattle and chickens all work together in a well-managed rotational grazing system, keeping the farm healthy and balanced.
Following best practices in every arena that Asgaard participates in is a priority for Asgaard farmers, including animal care, cheese making and land stewardship.
"When it comes to who establishes best practices for raising animals, Animal Welfare Approved is it," said Rhonda. "We were following 99 percent of the AWA standards already — why not get recognized for it?"
AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther said the accountability and integrity offered by Animal Welfare Approved farmers are unmatched in food production. We're glad to have Asgaard Farm and Dairy in the AWA family."
Producers may join minority farm register
PLATTSBURGH — The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) invites minority farmers and ranchers in Clinton and Essex counties to join the USDA Minority Farm Register to receive information and opportunities from USDA agencies.
"The new Minority Farm Register is an outreach tool to reach underserved farmers and ranchers who are not currently enrolled in USDA loan, farm or conservation programs," said Jennifer Bosley, Clinton-Essex FSA county executive director. "The register is a shared outreach list that will help USDA, community-based organizations and minority-serving educational institutions to communicate with minority farmers and ranchers."
By joining, minority producers may receive outreach materials, newsletters and program announcements from USDA agencies. They may also receive information and assistance from other USDA-approved outreach partners, such as community-based organizations, faith-based organizations and minority-serving educational institutions.
The pamphlet with the registration form is available at the Clinton-Essex USDA Service Center or from approved USDA outreach partners. Completed forms may be mailed to USDA Minority Farm Register, USDA Stop Code 0503, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C., 20250.
Forms are also available on the FSA web site (www.fsa.usda.gov) under "Forms."
Lake Champlain watershed programs offered
ALBANY — A total of $665,000 for conservation projects in the Lake Champlain watershed is now available, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting State Conservationist Carrie Mosley.
Farmers and landowners can apply for these funds at their local USDA Service Center through Friday, April 6.
"I am pleased NRCS is part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative to empower locally led conservation while supporting the working landscapes," said Mosley. "Making these funds available gives New York's farmers and landowners a chance to install conservation practices that reduce sediment and nutrients from entering the lake, securing healthy lands and wildlife habitat for future generations."
Examples of activities eligible for funding include streambank restoration, obstruction removal, stream buffers and wildlife-habitat management. Landowners can apply for funding to install conservation practices that prevent nutrients and sediments from reaching Lake Champlain and to improve wildlife habitat around the lake.
Within New York, the Lake Champlain Watershed includes all or portions of Clinton, Essex, Warren and Washington counties.