April 14, 2013

Farm briefs: April 14, 2013


---- — Applications being accepted for crop funding

ALBANY —The state Department of Agriculture and Markets is accepting applications for U.S.D.A. Specialty Crop Block Grant funds, according to Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine.

Agricultural associations, industry groups, community-based organizations and producer groups seeking to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops in New York are eligible to submit proposals for grants from $30,000 to $100,000 per project.

“New York has an abundance of specialty crops that are extremely important to our state’s agricultural economy,” Aubertine said. “Specialty crops help New York agriculture maintain its diversity and also help attract new farmers into the mix every year. This funding will assist with cutting-edge research to expand opportunities within emerging agricultural fields, fight diseases and keep New York agriculture strong.”

In December 2012, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced $1 million in federal funding under the Specialty Crop Block Grant program to support the research, development and promotion of specialty crops including fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops. The funding also included $200,000 to help support the growth of the state’s wine, beer, and spirits industry, an emerging and growing specialty crop sector in New York State.

In awarding the funds, the department will give priority to grant proposals with the purpose of enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops and ones that benefit the greatest number of beneficiaries as they pertain to research and grower education, marketing and promotion and food safety.

A detailed list of commonly recognized specialty crops is provided in the Request for Proposal (RFP) and on U.S.D.A.’s website. The grant funding is contingent on the availability of funds from U.S.D.A. and New York’s allocation has yet to be determined. Applications must be received by the department by 4:30 pm, May 9.

Although individual producers are not eligible, they may join with groups and organizations to apply for these grants.

For program information, application forms or submission criteria, visit Funding Opportunities on the department’s website or contact Sue Santamarina at

Homegrown beer industry to work with brewer

ALBANY — The Great New York State Fair is teaming up with one of the state’s largest breweries to offer one home beer hobbyist the opportunity of a lifetime.

It all begins with the State Fair’s annual Home Brew Competition, which takes place on Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1. In 2012, dozens of amateur beer brewers submitted bottles of their best work for judging. Judges from the Salt City Brew Club handed out bronze, silver, gold and double gold medals in the American Homebrewers Association-sanctioned event. This year, there’s an additional prize for the best beer in the competition.

Utica’s F.X. Matt Brewing Co., brewers of Saranac beers, will offer the winner the opportunity to have his or her beer recipe brewed in Saranac’s new pilot brewery, its research and development facility. The beer that results from the work in the pilot brewery will be entered in the Pro Am Competition at the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado.

“This is a great opportunity for us to work more closely with the homebrewing community,” said F.X. Matt’s Product Development Manager Rich Michaels, who runs the state-of-the-art pilot brewery. “There’s actually a chance for us and the homebrewer to win a medal.”

Michaels said that the winner will provide him with two bottles of the winning brew. The beer will then be analyzed in the pilot brewery. The recipe may undergo slight modification, if necessary, so it can be brewed in a commercial facility. Michaels will set a date for the beer to be brewed and the winning homebrewer will be on hand to watch and assist in the production of the final product to be sent to the competition.

“This competition and our partnership with F.X. Matt Brewing Co. is one more way that the fair will live up to its theme of ‘Sharing the Bounty and Pride of New York’ and its mission of showcasing the state’s agricultural industry,” said New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine. “Our support of amateur brewers in turn helps them support a growing sector within agriculture, strengthening farms and local economies.”

The deadline for entries is May 16. Full entry rules and instructions can be found on the State Fair website