October 7, 2012

Farm briefs: Oct. 7, 2012


---- — Bill expands opportunity for farm distilleries

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that will allow licensed farm distilleries to sell their liquor at the New York State Fair, recognized county fairs, and not-for-profit farmers’ markets. This new law will help local farms to grow by providing distilleries with the same access to marketing opportunities currently allowed to licensed wineries, farm wineries and farm breweries.

“Farm distilleries and the agricultural sector play a major role in New York State’s economy,” Cuomo said. “By easing restrictions on farm distilleries and permitting tastings and sales outside of their premises, we are giving these distilleries an equal chance to compete in the industry and a better opportunity to reach new customers and grow their businesses. This in turn will offer a needed boost to the state and local economies, while allowing New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy products of the Empire State.”

Currently, farm distilleries, which are required to primarily use New York State agricultural products in their New York State labeled liquors, are allowed to sample and sell their products only on their distillery premises. On the other hand, farm breweries, farm wineries and licensed wineries are not subject to these restrictions and are allowed to sample and sell their New York State labeled products at fairs and markets across the state.

However, they are required to have a State Liquor Authority permit, as well as have a distillery representative on site to ensure that tastings and sales are conducted responsibly. The law will be effective in 180 days.

“New York’s brewers, distillers and vintners have made their mark by producing exceptional home-grown products and driving tourism. Gov. Cuomo clearly recognizes the value of creating synergies among these growing industries and his support will help these small businesses expand and draw attention to the top quality spirits made right here in our backyard,” Assembly Member Kevin Cahill said.

Farmer-to-farmer mentorship programs offered

ALBANY — Applications for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York Mentorship Program and NOFA-NY/Stone Barns Center Technical Consultancy Program are due by noon on Oct. 26. Beginning and experienced farmers must complete a brief sign-up form, which can be accessed at

The NOFA-NY Mentorship Program ( assists beginning or transitioning-to-organic farmers in finding a farmer mentor who will help them develop their career and farming practices. Following the Oct. 26 deadline, new farmers (“mentees”) will select potential farmers to contact in hopes of formalizing a mentorship agreement to fit both farmers’ needs and communication styles.

The Technical Consultancy Program ( distributes a roster of experienced farmers, listed by areas of expertise to participating beginning farmers. Beginning farmers can contact the experienced farmers for short-term guidance within the farmer’s defined area of technical expertise.

Experienced farmers can be compensated on an hourly basis for the first six hours they spend with a new farmer (either as the start of their formal longer-term mentorship or as a stand-alone technical consultation).

These programs are supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA.

NOFA NY Inc. is an organization of farmers, gardeners and consumers working together to create a sustainable regional food system which is ecologically sound and economically viable. Through demonstration and educational opportunities, they promote land stewardship, organic food production and local marketing. NOFA NY brings consumers and farmers closer together to make high quality food available to all people. 

Owens urges dairy, poultry be part of trade talks

PLATTSBURGH — Rep. Bill Owens and Congressman Reid Ribble of Wisconsin recently led a bi-partisan group of colleagues in writing to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk calling for Canadian tariffs against U.S. dairy and poultry products to be eliminated as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, a proposed trade deal.

“The TPP presents a tremendous opportunity for farmers in New York to make their products available in new or expanded markets,” said Owens. “As we look for ways to increase U.S. exports, we must ensure local farmers and businesses are given full and fair consideration throughout the process.”

Virtually all U.S. dairy and poultry products were excluded from the U.S.-Canada portion of NAFTA. Despite Canada’s restrictions on imported dairy products, it remains the United States’ second largest export market, totaling $443 million in 2011. 

The letter also urges the Administration to reach an agreement that strengthens and reinforces the World Trade Organization’s sanitary and phytosanitary measures by including safety measures based on sound, objective science. Agricultural producers, processors and exporters have for years complained about non-tariff restrictions from other countries that are not science-based.

Earlier this year, Owens applauded Canada’s invitation to join the TPP negotiations. Last year alone, Canada imported more than $280.9 billion in U.S. goods and $56 billion in U.S. services, making it the United States’ largest export market.

Northeast New York Maple Producers elect officers

PLATTSBURGH — The Northeast New York Maple Producers Association have elected the following officers for 2012-14:

President, Angela Swan of Homestead Maple, Chazy; vice president, John St. Mary, coordinator of the Brushton-Moira Central School FFA program; secretary, Joy Hastings of D&H Hastings Family Maple, Dickinson Center; and treasurer, Dean Lashway of Lashway’s Flat Rock Maples in Altona.

Delegates to the State Committee include Mike Parker of Parker Family Maple, West Chazy; alternate delegate, Scott St. Mary of Cedarbrook Farms Maple Products, Malone.

The Northeastern New York Maple Producers Association is a regional chapter of the New York State Maple Producers Association covering Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. The state association supports maple production, marketing and education for all levels of sugar makers from backyarders to commercial, representing their interests in Albany through lobbying efforts with the Farm Bureau and also through free webinars through Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Locally, the association hosts an annual maple school (Feb. 2, 2013 at the Brushton/Moira Central School), supports booths at the county fairs, participates in the statewide Maple Weekend and provides educational and networking opportunities through three to four meetings per year.

More information is available at and 

Free Christmas Tree Farming Workshop offered

BRAINARDSVILLE — A free pre-season Christmas tree growing workshop is being offered on Friday at 10 a.m. at the Red Barn Christmas Tree Farm in Brainardsville, a well-known Franklin County “choose and cut” tree farm operated by Joyce and Richard King. The event is sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The two-hour workshop will include a walking tour and discussion about the King family Christmas tree farm operation with a focus on what they grow, how they market, value-added products that they sell, and a history of their business. The session includes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques for disease, insect and weed management; and things to consider when starting a Christmas tree growing business such as site selection, obtaining and caring for planting stock and cultural practices such as planting and spacing, shaping and shearing, maintenance and equipment.

Cornell Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Ornamentals Specialist Betsy Lamb will be the guest presenter.

This is an opportunity to look at stands of production trees in different stages of development, to speak with experienced growers and to ask questions of both the growers and Lamb.

For experienced growers, this will be an opportunity to brush up on current insect and disease-management strategies for pests found on Christmas-tree farms in the region and for future Christmas tree growers to become familiar with management requirements and techniques for successful production and sales.

For additional information or to register, email or call 483-7403.

The workshop is free and open to the public, and it is anticipated that one Department of Environmental Conservation pesticide applicator recertification credit will be available for attendees needing recertification credits. Attendees are urged to dress for the weather.

Free technical assistance for biomass energy offered

PLATTSBURGH — The New York Biomass Energy Alliance is inviting individuals, groups and businesses interested in developing New York’s green energy sector to apply for technical assistance grants that will pay for the engineering, design, feasibility and financial analysis, and other technical assistance needed to move their projects closer to commercialization.

This may apply to landowners looking to profitize uncultivated grass fields, business owners with start-up plans to provide centralized heating for rural communities, entrepreneurs interested in developing biomass processing and storage facilities and innovators with an eye toward developing biomass processing but needing to identify end-users. 

“The funding pays to connect project leaders with experienced professionals who understand energy production, combustion, heat transfer, sustainable feedstock crop handling, business model evaluation, end-user marketing and regional economics,” said New York Biomass Energy Alliance Executive Administrator Alice Brumbach.

Technical assistance will be awarded on a rolling basis. Successful applicants may work with specialists to assess and/or improve project design, to scale-up a project for commercial application using up to 20,000 tons of biomass annually, or to develop strategies for securing project financing and loans.

“Biomass crops and applications become more and more important as New York State transitions to a green energy economy. The New York Farm Viability Institute is pleased to support this program that enables project developers to move forward with feasibility assessment, barrier identification and success strategies,” said NYFVI Managing Director David Grusenmeyer.

More information and grant application are online at