December 23, 2012

Farm briefs: Dec. 23, 2012


---- — New York ranks third in number of organic farms

ALBANY — The 2011 Organic Production Survey has counted 9,140 certified organic farms and ranches in the United States comprising 3.6 million acres of land, according to the New York Agricultural Statistics Service. Total certified organic product sales for the United States was $3.5 billion, up $340 million from 2008.

The average organic producer had sales of $414,725 in 2011 compared to $217,675 in 2008. The top three states by number of farms were California with 1,898, Wisconsin with 870 and New York with

597 certified organic farms.

In 2011, New York’s certified organic farms sold a total of $107 million in organically produced commodities, including $38.5 million in crops sales and $68.3 million in sales of livestock, poultry and their products.

Average sales were $186,668 per farm. Fifty-six percent, or $60.2 million of total organic sales in New York, were from milk from cows. Milk-cow sales totaled $3.77 million. Crop sales included more than $22.1 million from field crops, $14.5 million from vegetables and $1.36 million from fruits and berries.

In New York, just 10 percent of sales were direct to consumers via farm stands, farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSAs) and other arrangements, while 83 percent of New York organic sales were through wholesale channels, including processors, millers and packers, and grower cooperatives.

Seven percent of New York sales were direct-to-retail buyers such as natural-food stores, supermarkets and restaurants.

Speaker for organic conference announced

AUBURN — Attendees are invited to join the Northeast Organic Farming Assocation of New York (NOFA-NY) on March 1, 2013, for its second Annual Organic Dairy and Field Crop Conference at the Holiday Inn in Auburn featuring experienced organic keynote speaker Jerry Brunetti.

In 1979, Brunetti founded Agri-Dynamics with a vision of providing a line of holistic animal remedies for farm livestock, equine and pets. After witnessing firsthand the results of conventional, chemically dependent, grain-based rationed farming practices, he embarked on a crusade to educate and consult for farmers who made the choice to transition to ecologically responsible and sustainable farming. Brunetti works towards improving soil and crop quality and livestock performance and health on certified organic farms.

Brunetti will share his perspective on how organic dairy and field-crop farmers can address the current challenges in agriculture so that they find success and optimism for moving forward.

The day’s program will highlight workshop topics including Soil Sampling and Test Reading with Soil Agronomist Mark Kopecky; Herd Health with Brunetti; Growing Small Grains with Mary-Howell and Klaas Martens, owners of Lakeview Organic Grain; Sprouting Fodder with dairyman John Stoltzfus; Farm Transfer with FarmNet director Ed Staehr and more. The conference will include a half-day intensive session on transitioning to organic dairy management. New farmers and farmers interested in transitioning are encouraged to attend.

NOFA-NY Certified LLC staff will be available throughout the day to answer questions on organic certification. An expanded trade show will be featured with with company representatives. An organic lunch prepared by Holiday Inn Executive Chef Todd Field will be offered.

Space remains available for those interested in sponsoring the event or participating in the trade show. For more information on that, visit or contact Bethany Wallis at 585-271-1979, Ext. 513, or

Owens applauds decision on school lunch rules

PLATTSBURGH — In response to pressure from school administrators and elected officials concerned over calorie limits on school lunches, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced recently that his department will eliminate daily and weekly limits on grains and meat.  Owens wrote to the department earlier this year asking that it revisit regulations on calorie limits for school lunches and applauded USDA’s reconsideration of the issue.

“U.S.D.A. set guidelines for school lunches that just didn’t work for many students, parents and school administrators,” Owens said. “It is my hope that eliminating the limit on grains and meat will give school districts the flexibility they need to provide school lunches that are both healthy and sufficient. However, I will look to local administrators for guidance to determine if additional changes are required.”

Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, U.S.D.A. was given greater authority to set standards for school lunches to ensure a high-quality meal for students. However, they issued regulations setting calorie limits that many school administrators complained were overly strict and left many students hungry.