October 27, 2013

Farm briefs: Oct. 27, 2013


Extension meeting honors contribution to agriculture

PLATTSBURGH — The annual meeting and dinner of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Clinton County will be held Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Butcher Block Banquet Room on Route 3 in Plattsburgh at 6:30 p.m.

This year’s program will honor Joe Giroux as the 2013 Friend of Extension in Clinton County. The guest speaker, David Smith, professor emeritus from Cornell, will highlight Giroux’s leadership of the Northern New York Agriculture Development Program.

After dinner, volunteers including board and committee members, 4-H leaders and master gardener volunteers will be recognized, and there will be an election of directors and appointment of program committee members.

The public is invited to attend and participate. The cost of dinner is $35 per person. Reservations and payment are needed at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office by Wednesday, Nov. 6. Dinner is at 6:30 and the meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m.

The public is also welcome to attend the meeting only at 7:30 p.m. for no charge. For more information or to make reservations, call Cornell Cooperative Extension at 561-7450.

Miner Institute to host annual Dairy Challenge

CHAZY — More than 120 students from 14 colleges and universities across the Northeast and Canada are expected to attend the 2013 Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge this year hosted by William H. Miner Agricultural Institute in Chazy. The three-day event is a hands-on educational opportunity to prepare students for careers in the dairy industry.

This year’s event will be held Oct. 31 through Nov. 2. The program is designed to create an educational environment and facilitate a real-world dairy-team situation. To accomplish this, students are placed on mixed-university teams. The Dairy Challenge strives to incorporate a higher-learning atmosphere with practical application to help prepare students for careers in the dairy industry.

Students will arrive on Thursday evening, Oct. 31, and participate in event orientation and team-building activities. On Friday, students travel to one of three host farms to conduct an evaluation of the operation. Teams of students then develop a comprehensive program for their host farm including recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management.

Saturday is presentation day and team members present recommendations to a panel of judges. Participant knowledge is tested as they field questions from judges. Presentations are evaluated based on student analysis and recommendations. The evening concludes with a reception and awards banquet.

The event was established in 2002 as a management contest to incorporate all phases of a specific dairy business. Its mission is to facilitate education, communication and an exchange of ideas among students, agribusiness, dairy producers and universities that enhances the development of the dairy industry and its leaders. NAIDC is supported by donations from agribusinesses and dairy producers, and programs are coordinated by a volunteer board of directors.

For more information, visit or

Cover crops in the North Country topic of seminar

CHAZY — The Miner Institute Auditorium will be the site of a panel of crop personnel and farmers who will gather to discuss why they are using cover crops on corn ground. It will be held Friday, Nov. 8, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Miner Institute is located at 1034 Miner Farm Rd. in Chazy. The discussion will include the benefits of cover crops, seeding rates and opportunities for 2014.

Dr. Kitty O’Neil, regional extension crop specialist, will talk about the benefits of cereal rye as a cover crop and why it is well suited to the region.

From Miner, attendees will visit several fields where aerial seeded rye is growing. Vans will be available for transport to and from Miner Institute.

The program is hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Miner Institute.

Attendees are encouraged to come prepared for any weather. Registration is appreciated. Call 561-7450 or email

Cutoff dates setfor conservation programs

MALONE — The New York Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has stated that Nov. 15 is the extended application cutoff date for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) for fiscal year 2014.

Applications accepted after that date may be considered for funding if additional application rounds are announced or for potential consideration in 2015. All applications are competitive and are ranked based on national, state and locally identified resource priorities and the overall benefit to the environment.

Although a new Farm Bill has yet to be approved, applicants may still apply for funding through the same programs offered through the 2008 Farm Bill. At the time of application, applicants must specify the resource concerns that they intend to address. Once further guidance on the 2013 Farm Bill is provided, NRCS will work with applicants to transfer applications to the appropriate conservation program.

“NRCS NY looks forward to helping farmers and rural landowners address priority resource concerns on their land,” said Donald Pettit, NRCS state conservationist. “Each year NRCS offers a variety of programs which help landowners address a wide range of conservation needs in New York.”

EQIP offers financial assistance for practices which address soil erosion, water quality and habitat degradation. Practices include strip cropping, grassed waterways and manure storage facilities. Focus areas include soil health, livestock waste, habitat, forestry and grazing. WHIP helps participants restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat in grassland and shrubland areas.

Anyone interested in applying may visit Or, applications can be made by visiting the local NRCS field office, which can be located using the web site

Treatment to protect strawberry crop underway

PERU — A low-cost, easy-to-implement on-farm solution for controlling a highly destructive alfalfa pest is now expected to pay off for New York strawberry growers.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) has granted funds to Cornell University entomologist Elson Shields to evaluate the use of alfalfa snout beetle-controlling nematodes to manage two strawberry crop pests.

Strawberry root weevils and black vine weevils attack a wide array of plants from woody ornamentals in the urban landscape to commercial cane berry crops, including raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.

“Strawberry root weevil and black vine weevil are very closely related to alfalfa snout beetle, and like alfalfa snout beetle, these weevils are difficult to control with conventional pesticides, but they are very susceptible to attack by the biocontrol nematodes,” Shields said.

Shields developed a protocol for using native New York nematodes to control alfalfa snout beetle, which had become the single most limiting factor for alfalfa growers in nine New York counties. Similarly, the two weevils are causing economic havoc for strawberry growers.

In the fall of 2013, with assistance from the Shields’ research and extension team, Rulfs Orchards applied biocontrol nematodes to most of a 12-acre strawberry field at the Peru farm business. The untreated areas will serve as a control for evaluating the true effectiveness of the nematode treatment.

Shields estimates weevil damage at the farm was causing $20,000 to $30,000 worth of economic loss due to the loss of fruit and plants and the cost of reestablishing the strawberry planting.

Robert Rulfs said that strawberry root weevil and black vine weevil larvae feed on the strawberry plant roots, killing the plants, and they have been causing large-scale crop losses. To apply the nematodes, a crop sprayer already on the Rulfs’ farm was used with only a nozzle change, removal of all screens and filters, and a good cleaning of the equipment to reduce any pesticide residue.

SUNY campuses to use more local produce

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Students on four State University of New York campuses will be eating more locally grown vegetables thanks to a federal grant award to American Farmland Trust’s Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS) Initiative for a pilot project called Farm to College.

The four campuses are the University of Albany, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oswego and SUNY Oneonta.

Funded by a $99,427 Specialty Crop Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm to College pilot program will increase the use of fresh, frozen and processed vegetables raised by New York farmers by all SUNY colleges.

“This funding will help American Farmland Trust and its partners expand markets for New York farmers while getting even more nutritious New York products into our state’s colleges,” said Acting State Agriculture Commissioner James Bays.

The initiative involves a statewide partnership of agricultural, public-health and economic-development interests who will work with food-service providers on these campuses to increase their purchases of locally grown produce such as potatoes, greens, tomatoes, squash and beans.

“Our state’s colleges and universities represent a huge market for New York’s farmers,” said David Haight, New York state director for American Farmland Trust. “More than a million college students are enrolled in the state’s 64-campus SUNY system as well as in private universities, community colleges and other institutions of higher learning. Expanding these markets will create economic opportunities for farmers and reduce the likelihood that they will be forced to sell their land for real-estate development.”

The goal of FINYS is to remove the barriers to increasing the volume of food produced in New York that is served in public and private institutions such as colleges, schools, hospitals and senior centers. For more information, visit or contact AFT’s New York office in Saratoga Springs by calling 581-0078.

Cuomo signs law capping ag land assessments

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation to cap agricultural land assessments at two percent per year, ensuring a more predictable tax climate for New York’s agricultural sector. Coupled with the governor’s two percent property tax cap, this legislation will keep farmers on their lands and help them reinvest in their operations.

“Protecting our farmers from unsustainable tax hikes is part of our work to change our state’s reputation as the tax capital of the nation by controlling spending while reducing the tax burden on New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “Agriculture is big business in New York and our state government is committed to doing everything we can to help this vital industry thrive and continue to create jobs and economic prosperity, particularly upstate.”

Over the past seven years, the base assessment value for agricultural lands has nearly doubled, leading to skyrocketing property-tax increases. This, coupled with increases in municipal and school taxes, has led to a difficult business climate for some farmers. Previously, the annual change in the base agricultural assessment property value could not exceed 10 percent. The new legislation will help maintain agricultural lands in both high pressure development areas as well as rural areas, and save farmers thousands of dollars in property taxes every year.

Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau, said that putting the brakes on rising agricultural land assessments shows a commitment to helping control the heavy property tax burden farmers carry.

“New York Farm Bureau takes great pride in working with the governor on this priority issue for the agricultural community,” he said.

Currently, 25 percent of New York’s land is in agriculture. High property taxes on agricultural lands put New York at a competitive disadvantage with other states. A two percent tax cap on annual agricultural assessment increases will keep New York’s family farms competitive and maintain the high quality local food network that the consumers expect, Cuomo said.