Press-Republican

June 23, 2013

Farm briefs: June 23, 2013

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Press-Republican

---- — Strawberry festival to feature food, entertainment

PERU — Rulfs Orchard is celebrating strawberry season at the second annual Rulfs Orchard Strawberry Festival on Saturday, June 29, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The festival boasts all things strawberry including pie, shortcake, cookies, cupcakes, smoothies and more.

The fruitful fete will also feature all day fun for the entire family with music from WOKO and Mike Croghan, a petting zoo from Country Dreams Farm, a strawberry shortcake eating contest, a strawberry rhubarb pie baking contest, U-pick strawberries, interactive wagon rides, kids games and face painting and a farmers/crafters market.

Participants may enter their best strawberry rhubarb pie into the pie competition where it will be judged on presentation, taste and general delectableness. Judges are Amy Ivy from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Larry Ewald from Peru Central School District and Ian Ater from Fledging Crow CSA.

Pies should have local ingredients (no pie fillings), but ready-made crusts are allowed. Pies with nuts must be clearly labeled and pies must be in disposable tins. Pies can be dropped off by 1:30 p.m. at the pavilion. There are two divisions for the competition, junior (under 18) and adult.

“Strawberry season is one of our favorite seasons at Rulfs,” Shannon Rulfs, manager of Rulfs Orchard, said. “The strawberry festival is a way to celebrate this year’s crop and provide entertainment and education to families within our community. New for 2013, we have added a farmers market to showcase other local farms and extend our support of local products.”

For more information on Rulfs Strawberry Festival and the strawberry rhubarb pie competition entry forms, visit rulfsorchard.com.

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Funds boost healthy foods at farmers markets

ALBANY — A total of $3.4 million is being provided to help low-income Women, Infants and Children (WIC) increase their access to healthy, locally grown food at farmers markets across the state, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The funding will provide more than 215,000 families with access to healthy food at 470 farmers markets. WIC families can find Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) checks at their local WIC clinic. New York operates the largest such program in the nation.

“Farmers markets help pump money back into local economies while encouraging New Yorkers to support local agriculture and promote healthy eating,” Cuomo said. “The WIC program connects low-income families with affordable, fresh and locally grown food at farmers markets in their communities. Not only does this program help New Yorkers to eat better and healthier, it also expands the customer base for our local farmers and promotes New York-grown products.”

FMNP check booklets are available for WIC families in June, July, August and September. The booklets each contain six checks with a face value of $4 each, a total of $24 once per season.

In many neighborhood markets, the farmers who participate in the FMNP are an important source of scarcely available fresh fruits and vegetables. The FMNP facilitates interaction between farmers and WIC families while encouraging WIC families to try fruits and vegetables that they might not otherwise purchase.

Participating farmers must grow at least half of what they are selling at the market and items that are purchased by the farmer for resale must be locally grown. Farmers may cash or deposit the FMNP checks just like any other check.

For more information about the WIC program, call 1-800-522-5006. To find a WIC clinic, go to www.health.ny.gov/prevention/nutrition/wic/local_agencies.htm. For a list of participating farmers markets, visit www.agriculture.ny.gov.

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New York maple production up 59 percent

ALBANY — New York maple syrup production increased 59 percent from last year. 

Syrup production is estimated at 574,000 gallons, up from the 360,000 gallons produced in 2012, according to Blair Smith, state statistician of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York Field Office.

Only Vermont produced more syrup than New York. 

The number of taps, 2.2 million, increased 6 percent from last year. Syrup produced per tap averaged 0.261 gallons, up from 0.174 gallons in 2012. The final value of the 2012 crop is $15.7 million, 29 percent below the previous year’s value of production. The average price in 2012 was $43.50 per gallon equivalent for all sales.

Nationally, maple syrup production in 2013 totaled 3.25 million gallons, up 70 percent from 2012. In 2012, prevailing high temperatures limited sap flow. The number of taps is estimated at 10.6 million, 8 percent above the 2012 total of 9.77 million. Yield per tap is estimated to be 0.308 gallons, up 58 percent from the previous season’s revised yield.

All states showed an increase in production from the previous year. Cool temperatures in the early spring months delayed budding of maple trees, which contributed to a longer season of sap flow than last year. The earliest sap flow reported was Jan. 1 in New York.

The latest sap flow reported to open the season was Feb. 15 in Wisconsin. On average, the season lasted 37 days, compared with 24 days in 2012.

The 2012 U.S. average price per gallon was $39.10, up $1.20 from the 2011 price of $37.90. The U.S. value of production, at $74.6 million for 2012, was down 30 percent from the previous season.

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Horse owners encouraged to vaccinate animals

ALBANY — State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine, State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah and State Gaming Commission Acting Director Robert Williams are urging horse owners across New York State to vaccinate their horses against Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV). In 2012, two cases of EEE were reported in horses in New York State, as well as seven WNV cases. No confirmed cases of either disease have been reported thus far in 2013.

“Every year in New York, cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus pop up in horses across the state — diseases which are largely preventable,” Aubertine said. “Good prevention programs are a key component to any animal health plan, and I encourage horse owners across New York to take the necessary precautions and vaccinate their horses against these diseases today.”

While it is preferable to vaccinate horses against these diseases in the spring before the mosquitoes that transmit them are active, early summer is not too late, since New York often has mosquito activity into the month of November. Vaccines for EEE and WNV can be effective for six to 12 months, and horses should be re-vaccinated at least annually.

In an area where the diseases occur year round, many veterinarians recommend vaccinations every six months. For the vaccine to be effective, it must be handled and administered properly, prior to an anticipated increase in mosquito activity in a local area. For these reasons, state veterinarian David Smith recommends that the vaccines be administered by a veterinarian.

Other prevention methods include eliminating standing water breeding sites for mosquitoes, using insect repellents and removing animals from mosquito-infested areas during peak biting times, usually from dusk to dawn. In addition, water in water troughs should be changed at least twice a week to discourage mosquito breeding.

There is no human vaccine for EEE or WNV. The best way to protect against it is to keep mosquitoes from biting. EEE is rare but serious and can affect both people and horses. Five cases have been diagnosed in humans in New York State since 1971, and all have been fatal. Prior to 2009, there had not been a human case detected in the state in more than 25 years.

WNV is more common than EEE and can also cause serious illness or, in some cases, death. Not all mosquitoes carry WNV, but human cases have been reported in counties across the state. In 2012, there were 107 reported human cases of WNV statewide, nine of which were fatal.

For more information on EEE and West Nile Virus in horses, visit www.agriculture.ny.gov/AI/equine/equine.html#3.

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Deal announced on cideries, labeling bills

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Coalition Leader Dean Skelos, Senate Majority Leader Coalition Leader Jeffery Klein and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have approved a three-way agreement on two bills that follow through on the promises made after the New York State Wine Beer and Spirits Summit. 

The Farm Cideries Bill will establish a new license for farm cideries similar to the licenses already available to farm wineries, breweries and distilleries.

The Brand Label Registration Bill will streamline and modernize the brand label registration process for all alcoholic beverages and provide an exemption to the registration fee for craft manufacturers producing small-batch spirits and hard ciders. 

“Today’s agreement on these two bills delivers on promises we made at the Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit to help our growing cideries and eliminate red tape to make doing business in New York easier,” Cuomo said. “The Farm Cideries Bill will authorize and promote the manufacturing and sale of hard cider made from crops grown right here in New York. The Brand Label Registration Bill will simplify and update the labeling registration process and provide financial relief to smaller manufacturers. The wine, beer, spirits and now hard-cider industries are important sectors of our agricultural and tourism industries, and we are committed to helping them grow and stay in New York.”

Assemblyman William Magee, chairman of the Agriculture Committee, said this is another important measure in supporting New York’s agricultural industry.

“Last year, we passed legislation to bolster our craft breweries,” he said. “It is a logical next step to extend these provisions to promote our growing craft cider makers.”