January 20, 2013

Farm briefs: Jan. 20, 2013


Tools to match maple producers, landowners

LAKE PLACID — As part of a Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded outreach program, Northern New York Maple Specialist Michael Farrell has developed tools to encourage producers and landowners to help Northern New York realize its true maple-industry potential.

“For New York State and the Northern Forest Region to increase its production of maple syrup, it is imperative that additional landowners become engaged in the industry,” said Farrell, director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Maple Research Forest at Lake Placid.

Farrell has documented the potential for growth in the northern forest area of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. He says that in an average year, more than 75 percent of the total U.S. syrup production comes from those four states, yet of the 640 million potential taps, only 6.3 million were being used for syrup production in 2009, a utilization rate of less than one percent.

The number of maple taps in the Northern New York region increased by 26 percent from 2005 to 2010, but there is still a lot of room to grow. Farrell is encouraging landowners to consider leasing their maple trees or harvesting sap from those trees to sell to maple producers looking for the raw material from which to make syrup or confections.

For woodlot owners wondering if they should lease their maple trees for maple production rather than sell them for lumber, Farrell developed a Net Present Value Analyses tool that compares a single maple tree’s potential for annual leasing income to the long-term return for timber production.

According to Farrell, “Several large landowners have already used this tool to determine that they would earn greater revenues by leasing their land for sugaring than harvesting the maples for timber production. With the added benefit of qualifying for agricultural assessment by leasing a sugarbush to a maple producer, many landowners are discovering that they can reduce their property-tax burden while generating income in the process.”

To help producers calculate whether it makes sense to buy sap from other producers, Farrell has created a spreadsheet software program to help them determine pricing and return on investment.

“The larger producers with a substantial investment in their sugarhouses and maple equipment — evaporators, reverse-osmosis units, filter presses and confections makers — need to produce a quantity of syrup and value-added products to realize profit through economies of scale,” Farrell said. “Purchasing sap can be one way to increase the overall profitability of a sugaring operation and to help pay the fixed costs of investments.” 

For sugarmakers already buying sap, Farrell offers a spreadsheet to track volumes and payments. He suggests sap buyers need to use reliable ways to measure the volume of sap delivered to them, like using a water meter, and the sugar content of that sap. He also suggests using a simple contract between sap buyer and seller.

Find more details on the maple-resource tools for producers and landowners and learn more about the Northern New York maple industry at The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is a farmer-driven research, outreach and technical-assistance program for farms of all types in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

Courses focus on using Facebook for farm business

PLATTSBURGH — A program titled Using Facebook to Promote Your Farm Business — Beginner Level will be held Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Office, 6064 Route 22, Plattsburgh.

This hands-on class is meant for beginners. Instructor Bernadette Logozar will walk participants through setting up a Facebook account, page and establishing a presence for a business using Facebook. This is a working session, and attendees will need to bring their own laptop to participate fully.

Participants do not need to be familiar with Facebook or social media in order to take the class. Basic computer skills are a must. Light refreshments will be provided. The cost is $20 per person or farm. Class size is limited to 12, and participants are encouraged to register early.

Also, a seminar titled Using Facebook to Promote Your Farm Business — Intermediate Level will be held Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the CCE Office, 6064 Route 22, Plattsburgh.

This hands-on class is meant for those who are already using Facebook but would like to take it up a notch or two. Logozar is also the instructor for this seminar. This is also a working session; bring a laptop to participate fully. Light refreshments will be provided. The cost is $20 per person or farm and class size is limited to 12, so register early.

 Call 561-7450 or email Amy Ivy at for more information.

Pesticide applicator training offered

PLATTSBURGH — Cornell Cooperative Extension is holding a series of classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays in February that will fulfill various Commercial Pesticide Applicator requirements.

Those already certified to apply pesticides in New York can attend any of these sessions for recertification credits. Each day is broken into two three-hour sessions, from 9 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $30 per session for commercial applicators and $15 per session for private applicators. Most of the sessions will be held at the Plattsburgh Cornell Cooperative Extension office except for Feb. 5 and 19, which will be held at the Westport office.

The 30-hour qualifying course for those not yet certified in commercial categories costs $275 plus any required books. Private applicators are not required to take the 30-hour course if they have had prior experience. This year, the 30-hour commercial course will be in categories 3a (ornamentals and turf), 7a (structural pests) and 7g (cooling towers).

Call CCE at 561-7450 or email Amy Ivy at for a detailed program flier and registration form, or visit and click on events. Class size is limited and registration is due by Friday.

Gillibrand urges USDA to reclassify Greek yogurt

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has renewed her call to officially reclassify Greek yogurt as a source of protein under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate nutrition guides. Currently, Greek yogurt is not differentiated from traditional yogurt, despite having twice the amount of protein.

“Greek yogurt is packed with healthy protein and should be available to our children in schools,” Gillibrand said. “New York State is home to a strong and growing Greek yogurt industry. And when we connect these businesses to lunchrooms across the country, we can give our children better access to healthy, nutritious food while strengthening New York’s own dairy industry.”

In a letter to the USDA, Gillibrand urged the secretary of agriculture to update the MyPlate nutrition guides to reflect the health benefits of Greek yogurt. She asserted that Greek yogurt should be permitted as an affordable, high-protein option under the national school-lunch program, which is responsible for feeding 31 million students daily. The inclusion of Greek yogurt in the National School Lunch Program would save school systems money while purchasing wholesome meals for students.

This industry in New York produces about 70 percent of the nation’s $6 billion Greek yogurt market. An estimated 1,500 New Yorkers are directly employed by Greek yogurt operations in New York, with 800 more jobs expected to be created as additional Greek yogurt plants begin operation.