State's farmers donate to food bank

ALBANY -- When New York Farm Bureau members traveled to Albany recently for the State Annual Meeting, they didn't come empty-handed. Members and supporting food companies kicked off the meeting with food donations to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.

Today's donations bring the year-long total of food donated by farmers across the state to more than 3.5 million pounds. With a few weeks left in the year, it is expected that farmer donations will exceed last year's record of 3.7 million pounds.

Food is collected through the "Harvest For All" donation program. "Harvest For All" is a nationwide annual farm donation partnership linking the Farm Bureau and Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest) in each state.

In New York, the Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers and the Food Bank Association of New York State administered the statewide donation partnership. Under the project, NYFB members donated excess farm products to the 10 New York State Feeding America food banks located across the state.

"With the amount of food donations dwindling, a national economic downturn and food inflation hitting record highs, the generosity of New York's farmers and the Farm Bureau couldn't come at a better time," said John Evers, executive director of the Food Bank Association of New York. "The incredible amount of produce and farm products donated by local farms provided millions of wholesome, nutritious meals to hungry New York State residents."

Farm Bureau members elect new president

ALBANY -- New York Farm Bureau members have elected Dean Norton, a dairy farmer and agricultural consultant from Batavia, as the organization's new president. Eric Ooms, a dairy farmer from Kinderhook, was elected as vice president.

The election was held at Farm Bureau's State Annual Meeting in Albany. Membership delegates representing farmers from around the state cast ballots. New York Farm Bureau is the statewide lobbying/trade organization that represents approximately 30,000 farm families.

Norton takes over for John Lincoln, who retired after 14 years as president and after 29 years in various leadership positions in Farm Bureau.

Norton is a senior agriculture consultant with Freed Maxick and Battaglia CPA's. His family owns a dairy farm in Elba and runs a custom trucking operation for forage and commodity harvesting. Norton has served on Farm Bureau's state Board of Directors since 2004 and was the Genesee County Farm Bureau president from 2000-04.

"I am proud to have the opportunity to represent this organization during such a critical time for the farm families of New York," Norton said.

Ooms owns and operates a 425-cow dairy farm with his father and brothers in Kinderhook in Columbia County.

He has served New York Farm Bureau for 10 years as Columbia County Farm Bureau President and six years on the state board as Young Farmer and Rancher chair and District 10 director.

Dry-bean and potato production up

ALBANY -- Dry-bean production in New York for the 2008 crop totaled 316,000 hundredweight, up 41 percent from last year's production, according to Stephen Ropel, director of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York office.

Harvested acreage, at 16,800 acres, was up 2 percent from last year. Yields averaged 1,880 pounds per acre, a new record replacing the 1,860-lb. yield set in 2003, compared with 1,360 pounds per acre in 2007.

Light, red kidney-bean production in the state is estimated at 137,000 hundredweight compared with 86,000 hundredweight in 2007. Production came from 7,000 acres harvested.

Light, red kidney beans accounted for 43 percent of the total dry-bean production in New York. Dark, red kidney-bean production is estimated at 38,000 hundredweight compared with 20,000 in 2007. Black-turtle bean production is set at 130,000 hundredweight, up 29 percent from the 101,000 hundredweight produced a year earlier.

Production of all other varieties totaled 11,000 hundredweight, down 35 percent from a year ago.

U.S. dry edible bean production is forecast at 25.7 million hundredweight for 2008, up 2 percent from the October forecast and up 1 percent from 2007. Planted area is forecast at 1.5 million acres, up slightly from the October forecast but down 2 percent from 2007. Harvested area is forecast at 1.45 million acres, 2 percent above the October forecast but 2 percent below the previous year's harvested acreage.

New York production of fall potatoes for 2008 is estimated at 5.7 million hundredweight, up 9 percent from a year ago. Harvested acreage at 17,800 was down 3 percent from last year. Yields averaged 320 hundredweight per acre, breaking the previous record of 300 hundredweight in 2006 and 2003, up 35 hundredweight from 2007.

U.S. production of fall potatoes for 2008 is forecast at 374 million hundredweight, up slightly from the November forecast but down 8 percent from 2007. Area harvested, at 921,200 acres, is virtually unchanged from the November forecast but 8 percent lower than last year. The average yield, forecast at 406 hundredweight per acre, is down one hundredweight from November's forecast and down 3 hundredweight from last year's record high yield.

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