Fall online courses for farmers offered
ITHACA — The Northeast Beginning Farmer Project is offering online course for farmers, and six out of seven, including four new topics, are still open for registration.
Courses are taught by experienced Cooperative Extension educators, farmers and other specialists. Courses are usually six weeks long, cost $175 and include both real-time meetings (online webinars) and on-your-own-time reading and activities. No academic credits are offered, but those who successfully complete a course will receive a certificate and are also eligible for Farm Service Agency (FSA) borrower training credit, which can improve eligibility to receive a low-interest FSA loan.
To write a farm business plan, participants may sign up for the BF 202: Planning to Stay in Business course, which will help document the feasibility of a business and prepare to seek funding from banks and other lenders. For guidance in setting up a record-keeping systems, BF 104: Financial Records is available.
BF 120: Veggie Farming is divided into two parts (with BF 121 being offered in January). BF 120 covers the planning, budgeting, site selection and planting, while BF 121 will take participants through considerations in season-long care, harvest and marketing.
A new course, BF 130: Poultry Production, will cover the basic requirements of producing and profiting from chickens, ducks and turkeys.
BF 105: Machinery and Equipment is another new course designed to help weigh options and make smart decisions about the best equipment for any farm situation.
BF 110: Soil Health returns to introduce growers to practical on-farm applications of soil-health concepts. This course will again incorporate an optional in-person field day at a farm in Northern New York that will demonstrate improvement of soil health.
To learn more, visit http://nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses. From this site, visit the Annual Course Calendar, learn more about instructors, see answers to frequently asked questions, read details for each course and visit a sample online course.
Guide for apple pickers now available
ALBANY — New York's apple farmers are establishing an online guide for apple pickers this fall in what is seen as a bumper crop.
A guide to apple picking is scheduled to be at www.nyapplecountry.com. The New York Apple Association is urging New Yorkers to hit the orchards for fresh apples and cider from one of the best apple harvests in years.
They say the estimated 30 million apples are especially crispy this year because of favorable weather.
Apples are a major crop in New York throughout the upstate region.
Cheese plants host open houses at farms
CHATEAUGAY —More than 50 Cabot Creamery Cooperative member farms from all over New England and Upstate New York will be opening their barn doors and welcoming participants to visit their cows, learn about the farms and the people who work them, and offer a chance to taste some of the world's best cheddar cheese.
On Sunday, Oct. 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the public is invited to visit participating farm families to learn about life on the farm and how local dairy farmers are using family traditions as well as modern technology to care for their cows and produce quality products for the people in their communities. Come see the attention to detail and the compassion for the cows that makes the farmers of Cabot and McCadam among the best in the country.
New York Open Farm Sunday participants include Dimock Farms LLC, Peru; Hidden View Farm, Champlain, Papa's Dairy, North Bangor; and Twin Mill Farms, Ogdensburg,
For those who can't make it on Oct. 16, Cabot has created a virtual open farm where the public can visit some of the Cabot family farmers at www.OpenFarmSunday.coop.
Farmers seek package of disaster aid
ALBANY —New York Farm Bureau has announced a package of disaster-aid requests to state and federal officials to help the agricultural industry recover from the devastation of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
"This is a critical situation for farmers," said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau. "This is an unprecedented, catastrophic disaster which calls for an unprecedented response from government. We need help. If there was ever a time for government involvement and investment, this is it."
Farmers throughout the impacted areas lost crops, precious soils, barns and other outbuildings, equipment and livestock.
"Without help, we are concerned about the potential permanent loss of many family farms, which will certainly have a negative impact on our rural economy," Norton said.
The best way for the public to support farmers is to walk into a grocery store, a farm market or local farm stand and purchase New York grown fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and specialty agricultural goods, he said.
Farmers are also asking for quick Congressional passage of the Post-Irene Emergency Farm Aid Act. The bill would authorize $10 million to help pay for the removal of debris in crop fields, repair damaged stream banks and waterways, replace soil washed away by flood waters, replace conservation fencing and meet other emergency needs.
Farm Bureau is also asking for Congress to fully fund the existing USDA disaster programs, including the Emergency Conservation Program, which already have a backlog from the national weather events that have occurred this year.
Farm Bureau is asking that USDA drop mandatory up-front buy-in requirements for farmers to be eligible for disaster aid. Other big requests include state and federal ex tension of tax deadlines for farmers and farm businesses.
Due to the destruction of produce and crops, many farms have no cash flow for the rest of this year and will have no income until harvest and sale of their produce/crops next year. Similarly, many dairy farms will not break even until their milk production reaches pre-disaster levels, which takes time. They will also have a major new expense of purchasing cattle feed, since their forage crops were destroyed.
To help farm families manage through this crisis, farmers and Farm Bureau are also asking for state funding for New York FarmNet, which helps farmers deal with mental-heath and financial crisis situations and the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, which helps farmers with on-farm safety and safety issues related to flooding clean-up.
August milk production decreases
ALBANY — New York dairy herds produced 1,089 million pounds of milk during August. Milk cows were down and production per cow was down from the previous year, resulting in a 0.5 percent decrease in milk production compared to August 2010. The number of milk cows averaged 610,000 head, down slightly from August of the previous year. Milk per cow averaged 1,785 pounds, down slightly from last year at this time.
Dairy farmers in the Empire State received an average of $23.20 per hundredweight of milk sold during August, up 20 cents from July and $5.20 more than August a year ago.
Milk production in the 23 major states during August totaled 15.3 billion pounds, up 2.2 percent from August 2010. July revised production at 15.4 billion pounds was up 0.5 percent from July 2010. The July revision represented a decrease of 45 million pounds, or 0.3 percent, from last month's preliminary production estimate.
Production per cow in the 23 major states averaged 1,810 pounds for August, 18 pounds above August 2010. The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major states was 8.47 million head, 102,000 head more than August 2010 and 3,000 head more than July 2011.