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Monday, August 25, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Onion crop looking good for 2014

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, mucklands, onions

There's some big onions growing in the muck of Genesee and Orleans counties.

A photographer lining up his focus on a particularly bulbous specimen observes, "I don't remember seeing any onions this big last year."

"I haven't seen onions this big in 15 years," responds Paul Mortellaro, co-owner of Mortellaro Brothers in Elba.

On the one hand, the heavy rains of spring created near optimal growing conditions, especially for the onions that were started as transplants. On the other, heavy rain caused some flooding and damaged portions of some fields.

"You're not going to get 100 percent of your crop on 100 percent of your land, but I haven't seen a crop like this in 10 years," Mortellaro said.

Over the next few weeks, local onion farmers will be reaping that harvest. Already, several hundred acres of onions have been crated and bagged.

Much of the success so far of the onion crop is really the near ideal growing conditions of the middle of summer, where enough rain fell to feed the onions, but cool weather and enough dry days allowed perfect growing conditions.

The muckland farmers still have potential weather problems to worry about before the growing and harvest season is over. Mortellaro recalled one year when a severe hail storm came through and heavily damaged the crops of a couple of farms unlucky enough to have their fields right in the line of the main part of the storm.

But if conditions remain good, 2014 will go down as an excellent year for local onions.

A Mortellaro field. Once onions are ready for harvest, a machine pulls them from the ground and sets them back on the soil so the onions can dry before being harvested.

A big onion in a Torrey Farms field.

Mortellaro onions ready for harvest. As part of processing, the dry outer skins are removed, so they'll have a nice shine on store shelves.

Dried onions in a Torrey field being harvested.

Workers at Torrey Farms crate harvested onions. At the Torrey plant, workers arrange three rows of 20 crates each, with enough space between to drive a truck through. Trucks come in only minutes apart, giving workers very little time between loads to get the trucks empty. Mortellaro said it's a difficult job, hot and dusty and constant motion.

Crates full of onions at Mortellaro's processing facility.

Torrey Onions

Not onions. Beets. MY-T Acres land at Transit and Chapell roads, Byron.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Goat Education Field Day at GC Fairgrounds is Sept. 20

post by Billie Owens in announcements, agriculture, goats

Press release:

Niagara Frontier Dairy Goat Association is hosting a Goat Education Field Day to be held Saturday Sept. 20 at the Genesee County Fairgrounds in Batavia.

The following workshops will be held:

  • Soap making
  • Understanding ADGA reports and programs
  • Basic Management
  • Lotion Making
  • Parasite/Coccidia Control
  • Fudge making
  • Poisonous Plants
  • Artificial Insemination
  • Cheese making
  • Nutrition/Hay Quality
  • Packing/Driving
  • Basic Vet Care
  • Boer Breeding and Conformation Selection
  • Dairy Breeding and Conformation Selection
  • Plus, how to make a lambar and a game of fun filled jeopardy

Registration will be from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and the first workshop will start at 9. Pre-registration is $10 or $15 on the day of the event. Pre-registration is greatly appreciated as we will have handouts available.

Our Pre-registration deadline is Sept. 3.

We are looking for sponsors and donations for our raffle table.

More information can be found on our Web site at https://nfdga.shutterfly.com If you have any questions you can contact Dawn Weaver at [email protected] or 585-281-0869 or Pete Snyder at [email protected] or 716-863-1317.

We look forward to seeing you at our education day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Local chef plans special dinner at City Slickers of all locally grown food

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, agriculture, City Slickers, food

Farm-to-table is a growing movement nationally, but it's a term that hasn't popped up in Genesee County too often -- until now.

Brad Kujawaski, sous chef at City Slickers, is passionate about local food and he would like to see more people in Batavia realize how much great food is grown on our local farms.

"I think it's really important to give credit where credit is due and that starts with the farms," Kujawaski said.

He is preparing a five-course meal created entirely with local ingredients at City Slickers on Aug. 31.  

The produce will come from Porter Farms, a certified organic farm in Elba, and chicken will be from HLW Acres, Attica.

While Kujawaski expects to include a main course of roasted chicken and chicken soup, the rest of the menu will depend on what's farm fresh at Porter Farms that week.

"We're going to pick for him what's ready and he's going to cook it," said Peter Metzler, of Porter Farms. "To me that's about as fresh as it can get."

At least three courses will be paired with a beer from Rohrbach.

Kujawaski interned at Porter Farms during college and the fact that Brad is a good friend and a great cook is just part of the reason Porter decided to partner with him on this first-ever local farm-to-table meal, Metzler said.

It's also a chance to show off to more people in the community what Porter offers through its CSA.

"It's another way for us to get our food into the community," Metzler said. "We've never done anything like this before. It's pretty common elsewhere, so we wanted to try it out and see how it does."

The Aug. 31 meal is from 5 to 7 p.m. The cost is $60 per person or $100 per couple. Tickets can be purchased at City Slickers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Dairy farmers urged to apply for grants to form profit teams for their farms

post by Billie Owens in agriculture, business, dairy

Press release:

The New York Farm Viability Initiative strongly encourages dairy farmers to apply now for $2,500 grants to form dairy profit teams for their farm.

Ron Robbins, owner of North Harbor Dairy in Sackets Harbor and a NYFVI board member said “Right now, with milk prices so good, is the time to think about improvements. You want to maximize your yields, while continuing to manage your costs. The right team of experts, all chosen by you, can help you see where the opportunities are. Lining up your money now, while it’s available, is a smart move.”

Robbins went on to say “I understand that taking that first step can be challenging. It’s hard to step back from the daily priorities and share with others the big picture of your operations.”

Profit teams are a well-proven concept in New York. The state’s farmers have been using this approach, sometimes called advisory teams, successfully for the last 10 years.

NYFVI is honored to have been entrusted with a legislative appropriation through the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to help dairy farmers who haven’t used profit teams get started.

NYFVI Managing Director David Grusenmeyer added “I hope more farms will enroll and utilize the funds available to them. Over the years I’ve seen such great results from this approach. In many cases the work from these teams has literally saved a business.

"The funds are directed solely by the farmer; some teams are improving herd health, others are focused on milk quantity. Some are even working with financial advisors to develop succession plans. It’s all up to the farmer to decide.”

The simple one-page application for a Dairy Profit Team grant can be found at www.nyfvi.org

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 11:05 am

Lieutenant governor candidate tells local residents he supports ag, is against the SAFE Act and Common Core

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, agriculture, Chris Moss, Rob Astorino

Chris Moss, running for lieutenant governor, made three campaign stops in Genesee County on Tuesday, starting with Batavia Turf Farms, where he got a look at a natural roof covering that Batavia Turf/CY Farms grows for a company in France, Vegitel.

In the photo above, Moss, in the dark suit on the left, talks with local farmers while standing on flats filled with sedum plants.

Craig Yunker, CEO of CY Farms, explained that rooftops covered in Sedum absorb more water, preventing runoff, and help cool the building more efficiently.  

"They (Vegitel) supply green roofs to buildings looking to help control stormwater, help reduce energy costs and reduce the hotspots in cities," Yunkers said.

After the briefing on sedium-covered roofs, area farmers shared some of their issues with the state, particularly in the area of farm labor and a renewed effort by New York City activists to raise wages beyond what would be sustainable for Upstate farmers.

Moss said he and his running mate, gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, fully support New York's agriculture industry.

"We understand the importance of farming and what it does for New York State, the importance to the economy," Moss said.

The discussion then turned, led primarily by Rep. Chris Collins, to how folks such as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are holding back the New York economy with taxes and regulations.

Collins hit on themes he would return to when he and Moss appeared later at the Genesee County Women's Republican Club event at Batavia Downs and the Genesee County SCOPE meeting at the Calvary Baptist Church on Galloway Road, Batavia.

Collins said "New York is losing." People are moving away. Businesses are moving away. There was a time when New York had 45 members of Congress and Florida had seven. Now, New York has 27 and Florida has 29.

"The governor says there are now two blocks around University at Buffalo that are now tax free and I say, 'governor, in Texas, the entire state is tax free; in Florida, the entire state is tax free,' " Collins said. "This is all smoke and mirrors. If it wasn't so sad, it would be a joke. He's creating this illusion that New York is prospering."

Moss also spoke out against the SAFE Act and Common Core.

He said first thing on the agenda for an Astorino/Moss administration would be defunding and repealing the SAFE Act.

He also announced that yesterday, the campaign had turned in 65,000 signatures had been gathered to create a party line on the election ballot for an Anti-Common Core Party. Such a line, he said, could tip the election to Astorino.

Yunker, Collins and Moss.

Chris Moss

Moss, who is sheriff of Chemung County and president of the New York Sheriff's Association, with Susan Maha and Sheriff Gary Maha.

Monday, August 4, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Photo: Scarecrow protects crop in Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, oakifleld

A firefighter's reflective safety vest makes for a unique scarecrow outfit in Oakfield.

Friday, July 25, 2014 at 4:39 pm

New documentary highlights immigration policy that harms local dairy farmers

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, immigration

Via Orleans Hub, a documentary on the difficulty WNY dairy farmers face because of current immigration policy.

Fruit and vegetable farms have access to legal foreign workers through the H2A program, but the federal government hasn’t made that possible for dairies because the work isn’t considered seasonal. Dairies haven’t had much success finding local Americans to work the night shifts.

Many dairies say they have been forced to hire Mexicans who don’t have proper documents. They are hard-working and dedicated, but they are also vulnerable to sudden removal by immigration officers. Germano interviews one dairy farmer who will soon have long-term milking employees deported.

“I am tired of the inaction in Washington,” a WNY dairy farmer tells Germano. “We’re trying to run a business. We’re the ones caught in the crosshairs between the government that makes the laws and the other agency that has to enforce the laws.” 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Calves and farm equipment stolen in Le Roy area

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, crime, Le Roy

A case of calf rustling has hit Le Roy and Western Monroe County.

A farmer is out 14 black and white bull calves along with a Dewalt generator, Dewalt saw, and Napa battery charger. A nearby farm is also missing a milk replacer and hay.

Sheriff's Office investigators suspect the thefts are related and that the people responsible for the calf thefts are raising the animals but not bringing them to auction.

The thefts occurred within the last week or so and a witness describes one of the suspects as a larger white male with either a bald head or very short hair and another suspect as a white female.

The suspect vehicle is a dark-colored minivan, possibly burgundy, with tinted windows.

Anyone with information are asked to contact Investigator Timothy Weis at (585) 345-3000, ext. 3572.

Friday, July 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Photos: 4-H livestock auction at the Genesee County Fair

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, 4-H, agriculture, Genesee County Fair

One of the great annual community events in Genesee County is the 4-H livestock auction at the fair. This year's auction was held last night. The event draws people from throughout Genesee County -- not just farmers and those involved in ag. The event is the culimination of a lot of hard work by 4-H members in raising their sheep, goats, swine and beef. 

Auctioneers from William Kent kept the bids flowing.

To purchase prints, click here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Rep. Collins calls proposed EPA rules on waterways 'overreach,' a burden on agriculture

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, chris collins, environment, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today questioned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator, Honorable Robert W. Perciasepe, at a Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing on the EPA’s overreaching rule proposal entitled “Definition of the ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act.”

“The problem is the public doesn't trust the EPA, farmers don't trust the EPA not to overreach, Congress doesn't trust the EPA,” said Congressman Collins during today’s hearing.

“Deputy Administrator Perciasepe and the EPA fail to recognize that their agency’s overreach is causing real harm for farmers and stalling business development across our country,” Congressman Collins said. “When I visit with farmers in my district, the heavy burdens under the Clean Water Act come up each and every time. When the bureaucrats at the EPA decide to call a divot in the ground that fills with rain a ‘navigable waterway’ under the CWA, we know our federal government has run amuck. The fact that the EPA and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are now looking to formally broaden the definition of ‘navigable waters’ is an insult to hard working farmers all across this country.”

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