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This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

by Ulf Kintzel

“What do I need when I start?” It is a question that is posed to me often. The almost inevitable follow-up question almost always is “Where do I get it”? I figured I should compile a list of items that one needs and while I am at it, also state where to get it. I remember how difficult I found it to figure out where to source various times when I first started out. This list should be helpful.  I will not get into much detail about each item since this would go beyond the scope of this article. However, if you want to read about it in depth you may find your answer in one of the comprehensive articles I wrote for Small Farm Quarterly over the years, which almost certainly address any item or subject I touch in this article; all nicely compiled on my website under “articles” here.

Please note that I don’t have any financial interest in any of the companies or their products that I will mention. I merely will state my preference of where I purchase my supplies. Call them up if you don’t have Internet access. They all send you a free catalog. Furthermore, this is part one of two. The second part will be published three months from now, which will leave you time to ask for the source of a specific item on the commentary page. I will include any relevant info if it wasn’t already included in the second part of the article.

First, I will start with some general information about companies that offer supply for sheep farming. On that list is Premier One Supplies, 800-282-6631.  In my view, the company tends to be on the high end of prices compared to others. However, their free shipping policy can at times make an item competitive or cheaper if you spend enough money to get over their $100 threshold for free-shipping. Aside from that, this company carries a few items that no other US-based company seems to carry or not at that quality. For instance, I get my leg crook there, although you can always get the leg crook attachment at other places and mount it on a handle. I also order my customized scrapie ear tags from their wide variety of choices.

For fencing needs I can recommend Kencove, 800-536-2683. It isn’t specifically a company catering to sheep farmers, but is a good source if you are an able fence builder yourself. I like their clip-on plastic electric fence signs that I found nowhere else….

Read the rest of the article here.

If you are taking some time to get out of the heat this summer, go online and check out USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s improved  online census questionnaire demonstration site. “Responding to the census will be easier than ever before in December. It is our hope that producers will become familiar with the online census questionnaire demo this summer, like it, and return to report online when responding to the Census of Agriculture later this year,” said NASS Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater.  The updated online questionnaire, which will go live late fall, will be accessible on any electronic device. New features save time by calculating totals automatically and skipping questions that do not pertain to the respondent’s operation.  While on the Census of Agriculture website, explore the census introduction video, view a video of USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue talking about the 2017 Census of Agriculture,   see some examples of how census data are used, access frequently asked questions, and explore past and current data. And if you want to help promote the 2017 Census of Agriculture among your friends, colleagues and neighbors, see the partner tools.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

For those who could not attend, a brief recap of several of meetings across ENY Liz Higgins of the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program (ENYCHP) held to discuss the reality of hunting and gathering funding for starting or expanding ag businesses.

By Liz Higgins and Sandy Buxton, Cornell Cooperative Extension

My phone rings on a regular basis with a future client asking questions about grants available to help them start farming. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is often not what they want to hear.

There is no such thing as free money. And money which may appear free, rarely is. A business owner must choose a funding source which complements the business and does not create a distraction or drive the business in a direction outside of the business plan.

Several months ago, Liz Higgins of the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program (ENYCHP) held several of meetings across ENY to discuss the reality of hunting and gathering funding for starting or expanding ag businesses. While many wannabe or expanding farmers seek grant money, it is rarely the boon they hope for…

Read the rest of the article here.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

By RJ Anderson

When it comes to shopping for meat, more consumers are looking for products raised locally. Many of those consumers, however, have trouble connecting with nearby farms to satisfy their buying preferences. Looking to break down that barrier in upstate New York was the inaugural Meat & Greet Farmer and Chef Fair.

Held March 11 at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, the event was a collaboration between Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Finger Lakes Institute. Also sponsored by the Meat Suite Project and Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty, the event brought together more than 20 farms and well over 100 consumers, including home cooks, professional chefs, restaurateurs and food distributors.

When Kyli Knickerbocker, co-owner of Firestone Farms in Livonia, New York, first heard about the Meat & Greet Fair, she was quick to sign on as vendor. In taking advantage of the networking opportunity – both with consumers and fellow farmers – she and her partner, Jake Stevens, appreciated having a much-needed forum to explain and promote their farm’s value-added agricultural practices…

 

Read the rest of the article here.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

Nothing captures summertime in New England like fresh, locally-grown heirloom tomatoes. Heirlooms have captured the imaginations of chefs and the hearts of farmers’ market shoppers, who just can’t seem to get enough of them; they are the poster fruit of the “buy fresh, buy local” movement. Small farmers have responded to the opportunity with gusto, but it hasn’t come without its challenges, namely, that heirlooms are prone to unpredictable flavors, a short shelf life, irregular shapes and sizes, cracks, splits, and blemishes.

Despite these drawbacks, farmers are willing to assume the production risks to bring an allegedly better-tasting tomato to market, and consumers are certainly willing to pay for the experience. Knowing that taste quality varies considerably in the heirloom tomato market, both within and between varieties, we wanted to better understand how farmers choose to grow and market heirlooms. Our Research included in-depth interviews with fifteen Massachusetts heirloom tomato growers who sell at farmers’ markets to explore these questions:

(1) How do they decide how many and which varieties to grow?

(2) Why do some lump their heirlooms together in one colorful display while others separate and identify the varieties?

(3) How do they consider tomato flavor and texture when making broader production and marketing decisions?….

Read the rest of the article here.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

Two month old industrial hemp plant.

In early June, Cornell University researchers established three industrial hemp trials, one in Ithaca on the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station and two in Geneva on the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.  There are no industrial hemp varieties developed for New York, so we are testing commercially available varieties from central and eastern Canada as well as from Poland, France, Denmark, Ukraine, and Italy.  We will determine which varieties yield well under different field conditions.  We have seventeen entries in our trials including four fiber varieties and thirteen grain or dual purpose ones.

For more information about this research program including dates and times for field days, please visit http://blogs.cornell.edu/industrialhemp/.

Read the rest of the article here.

Calling all military veterans interested in oyster farming! This free event will take place on August 12th, from 9:00am-1:30pm, and will include a tour of a shellfish hatchery, a boat ride, and a hands-on workshop in the shallow water focusing on the following topics: oyster farming demonstration, equipment, oyster management, and financial aspects of a small oyster farm. The workshop will be followed by a free lunch. RSVP and ask questions to melissa@farmvetco.org

Location: Little A’s Oyster Farm Great South Bay. 1.1 miles north east of Captree NY state park.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

by Reuben Dourte

If farming was to be broken down to its most simple definition, one could describe it as the supply side of a complex ‘manufacturing’ assembly line.  Agricultural products raised or produced by farmers find their way into an expansive array of goods.  As with any type of manufacturing, a products liability exposure inherently exists.  Additionally, the alteration of farm produce can create different liability exposures, and in a time where farmers are looking for additional revenue streams, the insurance conversation quickly lends itself to new, and more nuanced, questions.

If you have begun to engage in farming operations, hopefully you have already realized the need and benefit to insuring your operations via a Farmowners policy.  A typical, unendorsed Farmowners policy will provide you with liability coverage for your premises and your operations, including the farm products that you produce.  The definition of exactly what qualifies as “farm products” may vary greatly between insurance companies.  It is important to verify that your operations fall within the definition of farming and the items you are selling are not outside of the scope of farm products.

For example, Insurance Company A may consider the apples you sell at a roadside stand on your premises as farm products and thus covered for product liability on an unendorsed Farmowners policy, while Company B may consider the roadside stand and the gross receipts you make from this enterprise as a commercial exposure.  This may mean you will be compelled to purchase an agribusiness policy to receive the Products Liability coverage you need, or endorse your Farmowners policy to provide coverage for “Incidental Business Pursuits”.

In other situations, Farmowners policies may not provide product liability when a product is sold directly to the public vs. being sold to a contractor or wholesaler.  For example, if you raise organic chickens and sell directly to a large integrator, a typical Farmowners policy will be able to provide you with coverage.  However, if you sell those same eggs directly to the consumer, many agricultural insurers will require that you declare this as a Business Pursuit on your Farmowners policy, and pay additional premium as consideration for the company providing coverage for the heightened liability exposure inherent with sales to the public.  Likewise, products you buy for resale, even if they are the same products you raise on your farm, are not considered farm products.  This means if you have a bad tomato crop and need to supplement your supply with some of your neighbor’s tomatoes, the sale of the products bought for resale will (likely) be considered, by your insurance company, as a commercial business pursuit, and as such the products exposure would need to be covered through a Farmowners policy endorsement or a commercial Agribusiness policy…

Read the rest of the article here.

Are you a Military Veteran interested in Urban Farming? Attend a day long workshop for aspiring farmers! The workshop will kick off at Brooklyn Grange where you will get your hands in the soil working alongside the crew. Followed by a guided tour of the Union Square Greenmarket. The day will be tied up by sharing lunch at Project Farmhouse, hearing from an established veteran farmer, and learning about resources and programs available for veterans interested in farming.

The event will be held in Brooklyn at Brooklyn Grange on Wednesday August 9 9:30am to 1:30pm, Free! Lunch provided. Send questions or RSVP to melissa@farmvetco.org by August 1 .

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

by RJ Anderson

For optimal yield and fruit quality, apple growers in the United States have long relied on chemical solutions to generate spring blossom thinning to promote the growth of larger, higher-quality fruit by giving them less competition for carbohydrate. However, in the last couple of years, one of the apple industry’s go-to thinning chemicals, carbaryl, has come under fire with retailers such as Whole Foods Markets prohibiting the chemical’s use on produce sold in stores.

Equally alarming for growers, says Cornell Cooperative Extension’s (CCE) Mario Miranda Sazo, an orchard management and mechanization specialist with CCE’s Lake Ontario Fruit Team, are the continued whispers of potential U.S. ban on carbaryl. The carbamate insecticide has been outlawed in Europe since 2008.

“Growers in the Northeast are especially dependent on carbaryl – nearly all of them chemically thin in the spring using carbaryl in combination with either naphthaleneacetic acid or benzyladenine,” said Miranda Sazo. “Because of this region’s humid climate, removing a key contributor like carbaryl from current management practices could create obstacles for growers and make them less competitive.”

Jason Woodworth operates a tractor-mounted Darwin string thinning machine to thin apple blossoms at the Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York. Lamont Fruit Farms participated in a recent Cornell study examining mechanical alternatives to chemical blossom thinning.

Such concerns prompted New York apple producers, CCE educators and Cornell researchers to team up for a recently-completed three-year study examining a mechanical blossom thinning alternative to carbaryl. Published in the winter 2016 issue of New York Fruit Quarterly, research led by Miranda Sazo and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) scientists Poliana Francescatto, Terence Robinson and Jaume Lordan Sanahuja, tested mechanical string thinning on Gala and Honeycrisp apple varieties at Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York.

Mounted on the front of a tractor, the Darwin string thinner resembles a large weed whacker crossed with a feather duster. Featuring rotating flexible two-foot-long injection-molded plastic spindles, the machine whips away a third to a half of a tree’s blossoms. What remain theoretically will grow into bigger, healthier fruit.

“With this study, we wanted to identify the ideal thinning parameters while monitoring and mitigating potential spread of fire blight (a destructive and highly contagious fruit tree disease exacerbated when tree tissue is wounded),” said Miranda Sazo, who received funding for the study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and New York Apple Research and Development. “While measuring return bloom and potential yields for each tree, we looked at supplementing mechanical thinning with other chemical treatments.

Read the rest of the article here.

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