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Join an Upcoming Farmer Veteran Training

This year will bring two Armed to Farm (ATF) trainings to New York state, hosted by the Cornell Small Farms Program’s Farm Ops and the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The ATF trainings allow veterans and their spouses to experience sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and explore agriculture as a viable career.

This residential, five-day ATF program has been delivered by NCAT since 2013 and is available to veterans enrolled at NYS VA facilities (VISN2) at no cost as part of a project of the VA’s Office of Rural Health. The program includes classroom and on-farm learning through exercises, discussions, presentations, hands-on skill practice, and tours at host farms in the area.

Instructors include sustainable agriculture specialists from NCAT, Cornell University and Extension staff, USDA agencies, and host farmers, some of whom are veterans. According to NCAT, the peer teaching by other farmers is what sets ATF apart from many other programs.

NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists will lead the training sessions, with additional contributors from Cornell University and USDA agencies, plus experienced crop and livestock producers.

The first ATF will be held in Victor, NY, from July 29 to August 2 with a special networking dinner open to all farmer veterans. The second ATF will be a “2.0 version” with more in-depth curriculum on business planning, financial management, marketing, and scaling-up production. Attendees participate in hands-on activities at area farms, visit top research facilities, and attend workshops tailored to their individual needs and focusing on more advanced production, marketing, and entrepreneurship techniques. The second ATF will be held in late October, with the application process starting in July.

Additional single-day training workshops are being offered throughout 2019 for veterans interested in agriculture. These trainings are being offered through the VA, and veterans interested in these programs must be enrolled at a VA facility in NYS (VISN2 area). These events will be held at the EquiCenter Farm in Mendon, NY, unless otherwise specified. Upcoming workshops include:

August 6: Pasture Management

August 20: Holistic Planned Grazing

September 10: High Tunnel Production (second in a series)

October 8: Value Added and Advanced Production for Mushrooms (third in a series)

For more information, and to stay up to date, visit the Farm Ops website at smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/farm-ops/. Here you will find the latest information on trainings and resources for farmer veterans in New York State.

 

Exciting Changes to Our Online Courses

This year, SFP is moving our online courses to a new, more user-friendly platform that will allow registrants to have permanent, year-round access to their courses. Also, to make access more equitable, all courses will have tiered pricing based on household size and income level.

SFP offers more than 20 online courses to help farmers improve their technical and business skills. Most courses are six weeks long, and each week features an evening webinar with follow-up readings, videos, and activities. If you aren’t able to attend the webinars in real-time, they are always recorded for later viewing. You can check out the full range of offerings at smallfarms.cornell.edu/online-courses.

Registration opens August 19 for courses starting in Fall 2019, with more courses rolling out as their migration to the new platform is completed. We’ll announce the opening of registration via our e-newsletter and social media channels. Be sure you are subscribed to our emails and following us on social media, so you don’t miss out!

For more information, visit our website or contact our online course manager Erica Frenay at ejf5@cornell.edu.

 

Baskets to Pallets Project Offers Farmers Technical Support

Now in its fifth year, SFP’s Baskets to Pallets project has offered three regional trainings to a sum of 120 farmers. The goal of our farmer trainings is to better prepare small and mid-sized farmers to successfully sell into scale-appropriate wholesale markets. While farmers usually leave trainings with a list of action items to address, the best intentions are lost in the frenzy of the growing season.

The Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort, a group of 14 service providers across NY, are now offering one-on-one assistance to farmers who have attended regional trainings. Farmers can receive up to 10 hours of coaching to address issues like improving storage and handling facilities, planning for production, wholesale pricing, locating buyers, transportation and delivery, and food safety requirements.

Learn more about Baskets to Pallets on its project page at smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/wholesale/.

 

Free Webinar Series Highlights Specialty Mushrooms

This spring SFP’s mushroom project launched a monthly mushroom webinar series on specialty mushroom cultivation. These webinars will be broadcast from 3:00-4:30 pm on the first Wednesday of every month through December.

Specialty mushrooms are defined by USDA as any species not belonging to the genus Agaricus (button, crimini, portabella). The most common specialty mushrooms are shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and oyster (Pleuterous ostreatus), and demand for specialty mushrooms is rapidly rising. Specialty mushroom production systems are scalable and highly adaptable to a wide range of farms in both rural and urban settings.

The May webinar included an overview of the mushrooms project and available resources from extension specialists Steve Gabriel and Yolanda Gonzalez. Additionally, Renee Jacobson from Firefly Farm in Hornby, NY, presented results from a farmer grant she conducted trialing oyster cultivation on coffee grounds and sawdust.

In the June webinar, participants conducted production research to develop budget tools with Steve Gabriel of the Cornell Small Farms Program, and heard from Yolanda Gonzalenz from CCE Harvest NY about the Cornell Mushrooms project’s plan to train new mushroom educators. Viewers additionally heard from William Padilla-Brown of Mycosymbiotics, who forages, teaches, and grows many mushrooms in many forms, focusing on the connections to healing people and planet.

This project supports new and existing mushroom growers in all aspects of production, marketing, and sales through ongoing research and education efforts. Freely available factsheets, videos, and guidebooks, as well as a directory of suppliers and a grower network email list, can be found on the project website. This material is combined with workshops and events to train growers in both indoor and outdoor production. Partners on the project include CCE Harvest NY, FarmSchool NYC, Just Food, Grow NYC, and Fungi Ally.

Learn more and view past webinars at: www.CornellMushrooms.org.

 

Summer Field Days to Feature Reduced Tillage Project’s Tarping Research

Join us for an Organic@Cornell field tour at the Thompson Vegetable Research Farm on July 31 in Freeville, NY, to talk about using tarps to suppress weeds with less tillage. We’ll be sharing results alongside other Cornell and CCE educators in partnership with NOFA–NY. At the “Innovations in Organic Vegetable Production” field day, you’ll tour the fields and learn about soil health, perennial cover crops, hemp production, variety trials, and vegetable breeding for organic production. Find more information at: nofany.org/our-events/2019-on-farm-field-days

We’ll also be at the Empire Farm Days Soil Health Center on August 8 in Seneca Falls, NY, sharing the latest research on strip tillage and cover cropping practices. We’ve been working on adapting these systems for organic crops while avoiding the pitfalls with weeds and residue. Come to talk cover crop mixes and tillage tools and hear lessons learned. Check out the full schedule, including the soil health and cover crop demonstrations at empirefarmdays.com.

We’re also happy to announce that we have recently received a NE SARE Research and Education Grant to support small-scale vegetable farms in adopting tarps to reduce tillage. Collaborating with the University of Maine, we’ll continue our research in permanent bed systems, combing tarps with other soil building practices, to learn how tarps change soils, weeds, and crop yields. Stay tuned for a schedule of intensive farmer-farmer workshops this winter, where you can share your own tarping practices and learn from the experience of others transitioning to reduced and no-till systems on their farm. See our project overview here: projects.sare.org/sare_project/LNE19-382/.

To learn more about our research and events, visit the Reduced Tillage project page on ur website at smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/reduced-tillage or contact Ryan Maher at rmm325@cornell.edu with questions.

The next installment of the Cornell Small Farms Program’s specialty mushroom project’s monthly webinar series is coming up on July 3. These free webinars occur on the first Wednesday of each month, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST, and will be recorded and posted for later viewing on the Cornell Small Farms Program’s YouTube channel.

Click here to sign up for the free webinars.

During the July 3 webinar, our mushroom project specialist Steve Gabriel will share considerations for the safe harvesting and handling of mushrooms on the farm. Also, Yolanda Gonzalez (CCE Harvest NY) will discuss the state and federal regulations those selling mushrooms need to consider.

For the second half of the webinar, Gina Gohl will talk about the food security initiative in Peace Corps Nepal, including why mushrooms are part of food security initiative, info on consumption, methods of production, and challenges faced by mushrooms producers in Nepal.

The specialty mushroom project supports new and existing mushroom growers in all aspects of production, marketing, and sales through ongoing research and education efforts. Learn more about the project’s efforts on CornellMushrooms.org. Here you will also find factsheets, videos, and free guidebooks as well as a directory of suppliers and a grower network email list.

Most of us carry insurance for our home, vehicles and property. Not all of us consider insurance for our farm businesses, products or value added enterprises. In fact, many of you have shared challenges with finding insurance for parts of your business.

This flash poll is to help us understand more about the unmet needs in insurance for small farms. We want to know what types of insurance you purchase, challenges you face, and if you need more support for making insurance decisions. We are particularly curious about your interest in novel insurance packages for small farms that could better support your needs.

Please feel free to share openly and honestly in the poll. It should take you less than 10 minutes to complete, and we appreciate your response by Wednesday, July 3, 2019.

Take the Flash Poll Now!

The results of this poll will be summarized to inspire new ways to better support small farm risk management. Thank you for helping us understand if we should further explore this concept.

Join the Cornell Small Farms Program staff for an Organic@Cornell field tour at the Thompson Vegetable Research Farm on July 31 in Freeville, NY, to talk about using tarps to suppress weeds with less tillage. We’ll be sharing results alongside other Cornell and CCE educators in partnership with NOFA–NY. At the “Innovations in Organic Vegetable Production” field day, you’ll tour the fields and learn about soil health, perennial cover crops, hemp production, variety trials, and vegetable breeding for organic production. Find more information on the NOFA-NY website.

We’ll also be at the Empire Farm Days Soil Health Center on August 8 in Seneca Falls, NY, sharing the latest research on strip tillage and cover cropping practices. We’ve been working on adapting these systems for organic crops while avoiding the pitfalls with weeds and residue. Come to talk cover crop mixes and tillage tools and hear lessons learned. Check out the full schedule, including the soil health and cover crop demonstrations on the Empire Farm Days website.

We’re also happy to announce that we have recently received a NE SARE Research and Education Grant to support small-scale vegetable farms in adopting tarps to reduce tillage. Collaborating with the University of Maine, we’ll continue our research in permanent bed systems, combing tarps with other soil building practices, to learn how tarps change soils, weeds, and crop yields. Stay tuned for a schedule of intensive farmer-farmer workshops this winter, where you can share your own tarping practices and learn from the experience of others transitioning to reduced and no-till systems on their farm. You can see our project overview online.

To learn more about our research and events, visit the Reduced Tillage project page or contact Ryan Maher at rmm325@cornell.edu with questions.

Now in its fifth year, the Cornell Small Farms Program’s Baskets to Pallets project has offered three regional trainings to a sum of 120 farmers. The goal of our farmer trainings is to better prepare small and mid-sized farmers to successfully sell into scale-appropriate wholesale markets. While farmers usually leave trainings with a list of action items to address, the best intentions are lost in the frenzy of the growing season.

The Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort, a group of 14 service providers across NY, are now offering one-on-one assistance to farmers who have attended regional trainings. Farmers can receive up to 10 hours of coaching to address issues like improving storage and handling facilities, planning for production, wholesale pricing, locating buyers, transportation and delivery, and food safety requirements.

Learn more about Baskets to Pallets on its project page.

The Cornell Small Farms Program’s project focused on specialty mushroom farming enterprises is holding a monthly webinar series highlighting the latest research and stories from experienced growers around the region.

These free webinars will occur on the first Wednesday of each month, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST, and will be recorded and posted for later viewing on CornellMushrooms.org and on the Cornell Small Farms Program’s YouTube channel.

Click here to sign up for the free webinars.

During the upcoming webinar on June 5, participants will conduct production research to develop budget tools with Steve Gabriel (Cornell Small Farms Program). You will also hear from Yolanda Gonzalenz (CCE Harvest NY) about the Cornell Mushrooms project’s plan to train new mushroom educators.

In the second half of the webinar, you will hear from William Padilla-Brown of Mycosymbiotics, who forages, teaches, and grows many mushrooms in many forms, focusing on the connections to healing people and planet.

Last month’s webinar included an overview of the project and available resources from Steve Gabriel and Yolanda Gonzalez.

Additionally, Renee Jacobson from Firefly Farm of Hornby, NY, joined the May webinar to present results from a farmer grant she conducted trialing oyster cultivation on coffee grounds and sawdust.

The specialty mushroom project supports new and existing mushroom growers in all aspects of production, marketing, and sales through ongoing research and education efforts. Learn more about the project’s efforts on CornellMushrooms.org. Here you will also find factsheets, videos, and free guidebooks as well as a directory of suppliers and a grower network email list.

veterans in armed to farm training stand outside high tunnel filled with plants

Participants in the NYS Armed to Farm 2017 listen to Paul Arnold at Pleasant Valley Farm describe his high tunnel management.
Erin Reid Coker / SUNY Adirondack

Military veterans are now welcome to apply to attend the week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) training, hosted by the Cornell Small Farms Program’s Farm Ops and the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) this summer. Held from July 29 to August 2, 2019, in Victor, NY, the ATF training allows veterans and their spouses to experience sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and explore agriculture as a viable career.

ATF’s engaging blend of farm tours, hands-on experience, and interactive classroom instruction gives participants a strong foundation in the basic principles of operating a sustainable farm. Participants learn about business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, livestock production, fruit and vegetable production, and more. In addition, attendees gain a network of supportive farmer-veterans and agricultural advisors.

NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists will lead the training sessions, with additional contributors from Cornell University and USDA agencies, plus experienced crop and livestock producers.

Applications are available at www.ncat.org/atf_NY_19 and are due by Sunday, June 30, 2019. The number of participants will be limited. NCAT will notify selected participants by July 5.

All military veterans, as well as their spouses or farm partners in New York State, are welcome to apply. As this program is part of a Veterans Administration project at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center, participants are expected to be enrolled at a NYS VA facility. Contact Dean Koyanagi at drk5@cornell.edu or (607) 255-9911 for additional details.

By Fay Benson

gran-crop-head-blue-sky

Image courtesy of Fay Benson

As the government moves away from disaster payments and programs, New York farmers are increasing their reliance on crop insurance to take some of the risk out of their cropping enterprises. During the period between 2007 and 2017, liabilities covered by New York farmers increased by 46% according to the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) Summary of Business Records.

In order for farmers to take advantage of crop insurance, certain records are necessary. To determine insurance coverage, all insurance policies have three main components:

  1. Number of units protected: Acres, Bushels, Tons, etc.
  2. Guaranteed price per unit
  3. Actual Production History (APH) for the crop on your farm

Once these are established a “guaranteed” amount of coverage is determined. The most time consuming record required is the APH, because in order to determine the APH database, a farm needs four years of yield records for that crop on their farm.

Without the four years of acceptable records farmers can still participate with crop insurance, but they will have to use their county’s average yields for their production history. County average yields are almost always lower than a farmer’s actual production. For each year the farmer creates an acceptable record of production, they can replace a year of the county average. RMA uses the term T-Yields for county averages. Your county’s T-Yields can be found by using the Cost Estimator tool on RMA’s website.

Acceptable Third-Party Sales and/or Commercial Storage Records

For all crops, acceptable third-party sales and/or commercial storage records must contain the following: Name and address of the buyer or the commercial storage facility, insured’s name, load or ticket number, crop, gross weight, tare weight, date weighed, and unit and/or field identification from which the production was harvested.

Production Harvested and Stored on the Farm

The producer/farmer (insured) is responsible for providing separate records of production for each unit that is stored and notifying the insurance company for measurement when production from another unit, crop year, or uninsured acreage is to be added to existing production in a single storage structure.

For weights, acceptable scale types are non-portable on-farm scales, commercial elevator scales, or grain carts. Each ticket must provide at least the insured’s name, crop, the gross weight, tare, date weighed, load number, identification and location of farm-storage structure in which the load(s) from each field are stored. The insured must hand-write any of the required information listed if the scale being used is not capable of printing a ticket or the required information.

To help with this last record keeping option, contact your Cornell Cooperative Extension Office for a free “New York Crop Insurance Education Program” – Crop Production Record Book.

For More Information

Fay Benson is an extension specialist with Cornell University’s South Central NY Regional Team, and can be reached at afb3@cornell.edu.

This blog post originally appeared on the South Central NY Dairy & Field Crops Team blog. Cornell University delivers crop insurance education in New York State in partnership with the USDA, Risk Management Agency. This material is funded in partnership by USDA, Risk Management Agency, under award number RM18RMETS524C018.

cows field organic farm tompkins county ny

An organic farm in Tompkins County, NY.
Photo by Fay Benson

A new web-based tool will help dairy producers evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

The DMC is a voluntary risk management program that offers financial protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. It was authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, and replaces the program previously known as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy. Sign up opens on June 17 for the DMC program of the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).

“With sign-up for the DMC program just weeks away, we encourage producers to use this new support tool to help make decisions on participation in the program,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press release. “Dairy producers have faced tough challenges over the years, but the DMC program should help producers better weather the ups and downs in the industry.”

According to the USDA, the tool was designed to help producers determine the level of coverage that provides them the strongest financial safety net. Producers can use the tool to calculate total premiums costs and administrative fees associated with participation in DMC. The tool also forecasts payments made during the coverage year.

The tool was developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin.

“The new Dairy Margin Coverage program offers very appealing options for all dairy farmers to reduce their net income risk due to volatility in milk or feed prices,” Dr. Mark Stephenson, Director of Dairy Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin, Madison, said in the same press release. “Higher coverage levels, monthly payments, and more flexible production coverage options are especially helpful for the sizable majority of farms who can cover much of their milk production with the new five million pound maximum for Tier 1 premiums. This program deserves the careful consideration of all dairy farmers.”

For more information, access the tool at fsa.usda.gov/dmc-tool. For DMC sign up, eligibility and related program information, visit fsa.usda.gov or contact your local USDA Service Center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.

Cooperative Extension Dairy Update

By Timothy Terry

Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest New York farm planning specialist Tim Terry helped a Wyoming County, N.Y. farm plan an $800,000 multi-year project that will include a new dairy barn with a robotic milking system, bunker silo and earthen ag waste storage pond.
R.J. Anderson / Cornell Cooperative Extension

Despite the economic concerns stemming from several years of low farm gate prices of milk, some New York dairy operations have adopted a proactive approach by investing in farm improvements to increase efficiency, cow comfort, overall animal welfare, and, ultimately, milk quality.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest New York Farm Strategic Planning Specialist, Tim Terry, was instrumental in the planning phases for an $800,000 (estimated) multi-year project in Wyoming County which includes a new dairy barn with a robotic milking system for ~250 Jersey cows, a bunker silo, and an earthen ag waste storage pond. Once populated, the new barn will relieve current overcrowding issues and will contribute to improved cow comfort and overall farm health.

Robotic milking systems remove much of the labor, reducing the potential for human error. Abnormal and/or unsaleable milk from cows undergoing treatment therapies is automatically diverted and sequestered apart from saleable milk, ensuring high bacteria counts or antibiotics will not enter the food stream.

The new bunker silo with a silage leachate collection system and the ag waste storage pond will protect environmental quality through collection and containment of nutrients until they can be properly applied to crops. This recycles the nutrients and significantly decreases the likelihood of runoff and subsequent contamination of water resources.

Tim Terry is a farm strategic planning specialist for CCE’s Harvest NY agricultural economic development team.

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