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What investments will help grow our livestock sector?

Are you faced with challenges in the production of livestock on your farm? Do these affect your ability to grow your business? Or do you work with livestock producers as an educator, researcher, service provider or veterinarian?

The Cornell Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension want to understand what you see as the priorities for research and education to increase viability of livestock production in NY and beyond.  There is growing demand for regionally produced meat, milk and fiber. Yet we know our farmers are facing challenges that could constrain their productivity and profitability as they grow their businesses.

We are asking experienced livestock producers at all scales to prioritize research and extension topics that will help grow the livestock sector in NY. This anonymous survey will take about 15 minutes to complete. Your perspective and feedback is essential to shape research and extension support for livestock production in NY!

Gift Card Drawing!  After completing the survey, you will have the opportunity to register for one of three $100 gift card drawings to an agricultural supplier of your choice!


How this survey will be used: This survey information will help us to prioritize research and educational programs and resources to address current or emerging livestock production challenges. We will never share individual farm information with anyone ever; all results will be aggregated and anonymized. We will review preliminary results at our upcoming NY Livestock Summit on March 30, 2017. The findings will be summarized in a report this summer and be shared widely to elevate the needs of the Livestock sector across the region.

LEARN MORE about the 2017 NYS Livestock Summit, to be held on Thurs Mar 30 from 1-4pm at 8 sites around the state. We hope you will join us!

GENEVA, NY – Soil amendments such as raw manure offer clear benefits to agricultural production, but they can also pose potential environmental and food safety risks if not handled properly. The Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule outlines some requirements for using soil amendments because of the microbial risks associated with their use.  Raw manure has been shown to have a higher potential to contain foodborne pathogens that can cause illness, especially if fruits and vegetables become contaminated, either directly (e.g., improper application or processing of compost) or indirectly (e.g., through contaminated irrigation water from runoff).

To discuss the benefits and challenges of using soil amendments such as raw manure and compost relative to the safety of fresh fruit and vegetable production, Cornell food safety experts are convening a summit on March 28-29, 2017 . The Soil Summit will provide the opportunity for produce growers, educators, and researchers to discuss and identify barriers to using/producing compost while also identifying management strategies, resources, and additional support necessary to support growers in minimizing food safety risks on the farm, especially when using raw manure.

Held at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, the summit will address the need to support produce growers in identifying management options that preserve the benefits and minimize the risks from using soil amendments such as manure and compost, while also addressing the environmental impacts. The summit will include presentations and break out discussions, and provide participants a better understanding of current research and risk assessment efforts by the U.S Food and Drug Administration. Participants will learn details about the final Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and the standards it sets in the use of biological soil amendments of animal origin and human waste.

The summit costs $100.

Registrations can be made at Please note: the registration deadline is Friday 3/24.

Calling experienced livestock producers: We know you face tremendous challenges to grow your business. What are the undeveloped opportunities and how can we collectively address them?

Cornell University’s Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension are partnering to host the NYS Livestock Summit on March 30, 2017 from 1-4 pm at 8 locations throughout the state.

Our aim is to prioritize needs to grow the livestock sector in NY.  The target audience for the Summit is the experienced producer (beef, swine, sheep, goat, poultry) and supporting agencies/industries. Your perspective and feedback is essential to shape the future of livestock industry support in NY!

You can choose from any of the following locations around the state:

Albany County Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) in Voorheesville, NY. Contact Hank Bignell (, 518-272-4210) or Tom Gallagher (, 518-765-3518)
Cortland County CCE in Cortland, NY. Contact Heather Birdsall –, 607-391-2660 x 405
Franklin/St. Lawrence County CCE in Canton, NY. Contact Betsy Hodge –, 315-379-9192
Jefferson/Lewis County CCE in Watertown, NY. Contact Ron Kuck –, 315-788-8450 x234
Orange County CCE in Middletown, NY. Contact Rachel Moody (, 845-344-1234), Jason Detzel (, 845-340-3990 x327), or Michele Lipari (, 845-292-6180 x129)
Otsego County CCE in Cooperstown, NY. Contact MacKenzie Waro –, 607-287-1292
Schuyler County CCE in Montour Falls, NY. Contact Brett Chedzoy –, 607-535-7161
Wyoming County CCE in Warsaw, NY. Contact Nancy Glazier (, 585-315-7746 or Lynn Bliven (, 585-268-7644 x18)


Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email containing your site host’s contact information and the street addresses for all the sites.

If you have general questions about this event, please contact the host of the site closest to you (info. above).

Cornell Small Dairy Support Specialist Fay Benson is recruiting participants for the New York edition of the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program, the groundbreaking, nationally-recognized apprenticeship program for the agricultural industry.

Modeled after apprenticeship programs such as those for developing a highly skilled level of experience for new plumbers and electricians, the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, or DGA, is recognized by the federal Department of Labor.

The two-year DGA requires 4,000 hours of instruction, including 277 hours of online classes, and on-the-job training on farms approved for good agricultural practices and safety measures. The federally-registered apprentices are paid on an established wage scale to work on an existing grazing dairy farm while they gain knowledge, skills, and early experience. The wage increases over time as skill level grows.

The NY apprentices and Master Graziers will work with Benson as the New York DGA Education Coordinator and a ‘job book’ containing several hundred dairy industry topics to prepare the apprentice to successfully own, operate, or manage a grazing dairy farm business.

Apprentice candidates must be at least 18 years old; have a high school diploma or equivalent, e.g., GED or composite ACT score of at least 18; be physically able to do the work a farm requires; and have reliable transportation.

A Master Grazier must have at least five years experience with managed grazing or certified organic dairying an an interest in mentoring someone interested in dairy career entry.

Master Graziers often find their own apprenticeship candidates. In some cases, once the training is complete an apprentice stays on as a dedicated farm employee, becomes a farm partner, or eventually transitions into farm ownership.

Successful completion of the DGA provides the apprentice with a journeyman certificate recognized for college-level credit by the New York Department of Labor. The journeyperson experience may help secure a beginning farmer loan with FSA or a bank.

The Cornell Dairy Farm Business Summary has shown that dairies that use grazing are more profitable than non-grazing dairies of similar size. Grazing is a way to lower fee costs while maintaining animal health and agricultural stewardship.

The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program that began in Wisconsin in 2009 is now approved in nine states: IA, ME, MN, MO, NJ, NY, PA, VT, and WI.

Those interested in becoming an apprentice or serving as a Dairy Master Grazier may apply online at; for assistance, contact Abbie Teeter at, 607-391-2660 ext 412. Once registered, the apprentices and Dairy Master Graziers can search the entries across the 9-state region to initiate discussion of a possible apprenticeship opportunity.

To learn more about the New York Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, contact Fay Benson at 607-391-2660, Benson is project manager for the NY Organic Dairy Program, an educator with the Cornell University South Central NY Regional Team, coordinator of the NY Soil Health Trailer, and a member of the New York Crop Insurance Education Team.

How does health insurance affect farmers and ranchers? Help influence rural health policy in upcoming survey

Farmers and ranchers: How does health insurance affect you? Help influence rural health policy by participating in an upcoming USDA funded survey. Your responses will help researchers understand how health-insurance policy affects farmers’ and ranchers’ decisions to invest, expand, and grow their enterprises.

Selected participants received a letter about the survey in February. If you did not receive a letter and survey but would like to participate follow this link:

This survey is a chance for farmers and ranchers to make their voices heard about their experiences with health insurance and how that affects both their economic development and family’s quality of life.

“We’re interested in hearing from multi-generation, beginning, and first generation farm and ranch families across all ages and  sectors of agriculture. We want to understand what parts of health insurance are working well for farmers and ranchers and what types of policy and program modifications need to be made. Results will be shared with agriculture and health policy makers,” said lead researcher, Shoshanah Inwood, rural sociologist and professor at the University of Vermont. All responses will be confidential and only summary statistics will be reported.

“We know from our prior research that farmers identify the cost of health insurance as a key barrier to growing their farms or farming full-time,” said Inwood. This study is a joint effort with the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Policy, and the four USDA Rural Development Centers. Findings will be used to guide the development of training materials for professionals who work with farmers and ranchers—such as Extension Educators, farm consultants, and tax accountants—so that they can support farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to make well-informed decisions regarding health insurance.

The survey questions are based on interviews conducted in 2016 with smaller groups of farmers and ranchers in the 10 states being researched. This study is a four-year national project exploring how health insurance options impact the farm and ranch population in the U.S. The project, titled “Health Insurance, Rural Economic Development and Agriculture” (HIREDnAG), is funded by a $500,000 USDA Rural Communities and Regional Development grant. States included in the study are California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

Project partners include the Northeastern, North Central, Southern and Western Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs); University of Vermont Center for Rural Studies; University of Vermont Extension; Center for Rural Affairs; University of Maryland Extension; and, the Farm Foundation.

For more information, visit the HIREDnAG website:
Or contact Katlyn Morris, HIREDnAG Project Coordinator at or by phone at 802-656-0257.

Calling All Farmers! Learn about Reduced Tillage for your Organic Vegetable Farms The series is free, but registration is important.

Michigan State University is teaming up with Cornell University and the University of Maine to offer a 3-part webinar to share the latest research on reduced tillage for organic production and learn about the practices, equipment, and cover crops that can work for your farm. Click here to register!

The webinar topics include:

1. Reduced Tillage Organic Vegetables on Permanent Beds

Ryan Maher (Cornell University)

Mark Hutton (University of Maine)

Brian Caldwell (Cornell University)

On: Thursday, March 9, 3-5 pm EST

About: Permanent bed systems can help small farms improve soils and reduce tillage

for a diversity of crops. Learn how these systems take shape and how different practices

are being used to manage weeds, reduce labor, and improve productivity.

 2.  Strip Tillage – How To and Its Values

Anu Rangarajan (Cornell University -Soil Health)

Dan Brainard (Michigan State University – Weed Management)

Meg McGrath (Cornell University – Disease Management)

Zsofia Szendrei (Michigan State University – Pests and Beneficial Insects)

On: Thursday, March 16, 3-5 pm EST

About: Adapting strip tillage for organic production requires system-wide changes. Learn

the tools and equipment and what research is showing about integrating cover crops,

managing residue, attracting beneficial insects, and controlling diseases and weeds.

3. Cultivation for Reduced Tillage Systems

Dan Brainard and Sam Hitchcock (Michigan State University – Tillage to manage weeds)

Eric Gallandt and Bryan Brown (University of Maine-Soil management)

On:  Thursday, March 23, 3-5 p.m. EST

About: Cultivation of the in-row zone is challenging, especially in reduced tillage

systems. Learn about innovative in-row cultivation techniques in reduced tillage crops.

Direct questions to Vicki Morrone, Organic Farming Specialist at or 517-282- 3557.

The New York State IPM Program is searching for a Livestock and Field Crops IPM Coordinator. An M.S. or Ph.D. (preferred) is required in entomology, plant pathology, weed science, agronomy, animal science, general agriculture or a closely related field; and the candidate must have experience in extension. The position is 80% extension and 20% research, and will be housed on Cornell’s main campus in Ithaca NY. Alternatively , the position could be housed on the Geneva NY campus if desired by the candidate. Please note that this position requires a wide range of knowledge and skills across field crops and livestock IPM. However, we realize that potential candidates may not have experience in all aspects of the position, but they must be willing to learn and grow into those areas.

A brief description of the position and the NYSIPM program are below. For further details and to apply, go to are due March 6, 2017.

Summary Statement of Job’s overall purpose:

The position of Livestock and Field Crops IPM Coordinator in the New York State IPM Program is needed to facilitate and lead statewide IPM demonstration, implementation, and research activities in Livestock (primarily Dairy and Beef Cattle), and field and forage crops production within Cornell Cooperative Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This position addresses the needs associated with:

-multi-county and statewide IPM program planning

-impact documentation

-evaluation of pest management practices

-applied IPM research

-on-farm demonstration of IPM

-development of educational IPM programs and materials, and

-promotion of IPM adoption by farmers.

This position requires multidisciplinary knowledge and activity including, but not limited to, the disciplines of entomology, plant pathology, weed science, and agronomy. Please note that this position requires a wide range of knowledge and skills across field crops and livestock IPM. We realize that potential candidates may not have experience in all the aspects of the position, but they must be willing to learn and grow into those areas.

The NYS IPM Program

The New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM) is a nationally recognized leader in the development and promotion of IPM practices. The mission of NYSIPM is to develop sustainable ways to manage disease, insect, weed, and wildlife pests and to help people use methods that minimize environmental, health, and economic risks. NYS IPM has both Agricultural and Community programs, with issues and settings that overlap. NYSIPM’s Agricultural IPM programming includes fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and livestock and field crops. Community IPM is the management of insects, weeds, plant diseases and wildlife in all settings that are non-production such as lawns, gardens, landscapes, golf courses, parks, and buildings; and also includes invasive species and public health pests. The personnel of NYS IPM operate in a collegial and cooperative environment where teamwork is emphasized and appreciated.

Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC), a national nonprofit organization that assists military veterans embarking on careers in agriculture, has announced that the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund will begin accepting applications February 1 for the 2017 award cycle. The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund is the largest grant program in the country that provides direct assistance to veterans in agriculture and has awarded more than $1 million since it was established in 2011.

The 2017 Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund application is posted to the FVC website at Applicants have a little more than six weeks to complete and submit the application. The deadline to submit an application is Monday, March 20. The fellowship awards, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 per person, are paid to third-party vendors of the awardees choosing for purchases that make the largest impact on the farmer veteran’s operation, such as livestock, fencing, tractor implements, barns and greenhouses.

While there is no guarantee a fellowship will be awarded to a farmer veteran, FVC’s goal is to award as many who apply as possible. During the 2016 cycle, 20 farmer veterans who were previously denied fellowship awards were surprised with $1,000 Tractor Supply Company gift cards shortly before Christmas.

For more information about eligibility and the application process, please visit

Our Small Farms Bi-Monthly Update brings you small farm announcements, events, job and internship opportunities, grant and loan opportunities, other small farm resources. It is intended for farmers and agricultural service providers in New York and the Northeast. If have an item to be included in the update, please contact Violet Stone at Sign up here!

2016 Small Farm Updates

Looking for a grant opportunity or resource that appeared a few issues back? To view previous 2016 issues, click on the links below.

Issue 1  Issue 2
December  December 1st December 15th
November  November 1st Issue  November 15th Issue
October October 3rd Issue  October 15th Issue
September September 1st Issue September 15th Issue 
August August 1st Issue August 15th Issue
July July 1st Issue July 15th Issue
June June 1st Issue June 15th Issue
May May 2nd Issue May 16th Issue
April April 1st Issue April 18th Issue
March March 1st Issue March 15th Issue
February February 1st Issue February 15th Issue
January No Issue January 15th Issue


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