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The results of a survey titled “Building a Future With Farmers II” from the National Young Farmers Coalition offers important insights to policy, education, and justice efforts needed to keep farming strong across the US. The survey, which solicited 3,517 respondents with the help of 94 partner organizations, offers a number of specific challenges young farmers face, most notably access to land and the burden of student loan debt.

The survey also highlighted the changing demographics of farmers. Young farmers (under 40 in this case) are more likely to be women (60% of respondents), NOT from farm families (75%), and highly educated with one or more degrees beyond high school (69%). The proportion of young farmers who are people of color or indigenous is also roughly double that of the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture.

Another big finding was the overwhelming focus of young farmers on environmental stewardship, with 75% describing their practices as “sustainable,” and 63 percent describing their farming as “organic,” though only 17% are actually certified. Even this low number is great compared to the 1% of current farms in organic certification programs.

The report ends with several excellent and specific recommendations, from ways to improve land access and support housing and business training, to ways to support the vital participation of immigrant farmers and to reduce barriers to entry for those who have been historically underserved by federal programs.

One of the great mysteries of the soil are the mycorrhizal fungi, which live by forming beneficial relationships to plants. “Myco” means mushroom, and “rhizal” root, and these truly unique organisms are seen as one of the keys to healthy soil and plant communities.

Until now, information to better understand the ways they work and how we can support their vitality was left to obscure and complex texts littered with scientific jargon. Farmer and orchard master Michael Phillips offers a wonderful book that helps explain the phenomenon, in terms anyone can understand.

In his book, Phillips explains the science and different forms mycorrhizae can take, linking this in the process to healthy plant metabolism and ultimately crop health, be it in gardens, fields, orchards, or forests. The text is full of practical examples that offer a way to apply newfound understanding immediately to improve many situations.

Above all, the focus is on creating “fungal conditions” and managing the system, not just the plant. Phillip’s approach and language is sure to benefit farmers and gardeners alike, giving voice to an unseen force of any natural system.

Learn more about the book at:

by Rich Taber

An industry approved helmet providing eye, ear, face, and head protection.

Chainsaw Safety, Part One

This second part article on chainsaw safety is part of our CCE Chenango grant project done in collaboration with the New York Farm Viability Institute, “Increased Farm Profitability and Diversity through Value-Added Forest Products Initiative”.  We have been encouraging farmers and woodland owners to develop forest based enterprises, many of which at one time or another require the safe use of chainsaws.  In the Fall 2017 edition of SFQ I began with part I, Chainsaw Safety, an Absolute Necessity”, in which I listed the general requirements for Personal Protective Equipment, or “PPE”.

To reiterate: head, hearing, eye and face, leg, foot, and hand protection needs to be present in order to safely and efficiently operate a chainsaw. The rest of this Part II article will deal with the specifics needed for each category of protection.  Some good information on this topic can be found in the books To Fell a Tree: A Complete Guide to Successful Tree Felling and Woodcutting Methods”, by Jeff Jepson, and the Chainsaw Operator’s Manual: Chainsaw Safety, Maintenance and Cross Cutting Techniques”, published by ForestWorks; both books are available from online vendors.

Head, eye, ear, and face protection can all be accomplished by wearing a good quality helmet specifically designed for chainsaw use.   OSHA, (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires it, and it would still be imperative to wear one even if it were not required by law.  The helmet style that is becoming the standard among tree cutting professionals is the “helmet system”. The helmet incorporates a face shield for eye and face protection, earmuffs to reduce ear noise to a safe decibel level, and of course the

Bill Lindloff of the Game of Logging shows damage to a helmet that occurred during a logging event.

helmet for head protection.  Inspect your helmet daily for cracks, frayed straps, or other signs of damage to the shell, suspension, or helmet components. Repair of the helmet is NOT an option, and should be replaced every two or three years.

Hand protection can be provided for by using gloves; such as traditional leather, latex covered “gripper gloves”, and styles that are chainsaw resistant. Gloves protect your hands from injuries such as cuts, scratches, splinters, and burns and provide a firm grip on the things you handle daily while working: limbs, logs, chainsaws, rope, and other work related tools.

Leg protection is another necessity when working with chainsaws. The majority of chainsaw injuries occur on the legs and knees. It is important to wear protective pants, chaps, or bibs designed specifically for chainsaw use.  Cheaply constructed pants are no bargain; typically no leg protectors are cut-proof.  Instead, the fabric of leg protection is designed to slow or jam the cutters of the chainsaw when contact is made, thus reducing the severity of the injury.

Foot protection can be provided with a good work boot.  Many woods workers use steel toed boots, which can protect feet from being crushed by logs rolling onto the user’s feet.

There are many excellent places to acquire the required safety equipment.  I suggest going to vendors who cater to the logging industry, rather than “big box” type stores. The personnel in the logging oriented businesses tend to be quite knowledgeable and helpful.  The clerk in the big box store may not possess any firsthand knowledge for you to seek advice from.

Two different protective leg chaps are compared for the effectiveness of their lengths.

The New York State Woodsmen’s Field Days that are held each year in Boonville, in August, are another excellent showcase for all kinds of forest industry equipment.  Many of the vendors in attendance offer good discounts on merchandise during this three day event.

Again, one of my main motivations for writing this series on chainsaw safety has been the awful, unsafe, and unprofessional use of chainsaws that I sometimes see on television and that I have observe d in person.  People are depicted “drop starting chainsaws”, running saws with loose chains, using saws with only one hand, and operating the saw with no personal protective equipment at all. Don’t be like those people!

Chainsaw Safety, Part Three

Chainsaw Safety, Part Four

Rich Taber, M.S., M.S.F., is Grazing, Forestry, and Ag Economic Development Specialist with CCE Chenango.  He lives with his chainsaws on a farm that has a 100 acre woodlot in Madison County. He can be reached at phone: 607-334-5841 ext. 21 or email:

For the community members of the St. Regis Mohawk/Akwesasne Tribe of northern New York, seeds are not just commodities to be planted for food, they are sacred. When their seeds disappear, so do their ceremonies, language, songs, farming practices, and connections to their ancestors.
The Native American Seed Sanctuary project is an outgrowth of an existing partnership with The Hudson Valley Farm Hub and, a nonprofit founded by Hudson Valley Seed Company founder, Ken Greene. In 2016, the opportunity to create a Native American Seed Sanctuary was realized with the Farm Hub’s pledge of land, equipment and staff, and made possible through Ken’s friendship with Rowan White, a renowned seed keeper, farmer, educator, and member of Mohawk Akwesasne tribal community.
Seedshed is managing the hand cultivated plots and will be overseeing the harvest and seed saving of the larger corn plot in collaboration with Farm Hub team. This collaborative project forged strong bonds between the Akwesasne community, Mexican farm workers, youth from the Bronx and Kingston, staff at the Farm Hub, and many volunteers in the community.
For the first year of the collaboration, Rowan provided Seedshed with Onondoga sunflower seeds as well as Mohawk Red Bread corn, Canada Crookneck squash, Buffalo Creek Squash, and Iroquois Buckskin Brown beans for a traditional “Three Sisters” planting. There were only two ears of the sacred Mohawk corn left in existence. Rowan
entrusted six pounds to Ken and to date, the project has produced almost 2000 pounds of the corn. All of the seed and food produced is rematriated to the Akwesasne community to feed people traditional foods and increase seed stock to help them work towards seed sovereignty.
There is no doubt that logistical support and seed saving know-how are key to the success of the crop. But what truly lends meaning and integrity to the project is the participation of members of the Haudenosaunee community in Akwesasne. Only with their advisement can we ensure that the sacred nature of these seeds is fully acknowledged and that the plants and seeds are cared for with the utmost respect for their Native American origins.
Learn more about the Project:
Some of the participants in this project appeared in the film Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds:
A short film is currently being produced about the project.

by Jake Claro

When you ask people their definition of the Vermont food economy, they’ll often talk about farms, farmers’ markets or CSAs. What’s often missing from the conversation are the supply chain of local businesses such as distributors, food processors and manufacturers, and seed, feed, and equipment dealers.

Vermont’s local food economy not only extends well beyond the farm, it’s also an important part of our state’s economic engine. Sales from food and beverage manufacturing and wholesale distribution in 2012 totaled $9.1 billion. In terms of employment across the food system—spanning farm inputs (seed, feed, fertilizer), production, processing, distribution, and retail—64,000 Vermonters are employed in the food economy.

In Vermont, local food is considered to be anything produced or processed in Vermont plus 30 miles.

Essential to Vermont’s food economy, food manufacturing and processing involve a series of mechanical (chopping, mincing, mixing ingredients) or chemical (fermentation, pickling, curing) operations to preserve or change raw food into other forms, such as cheese, beer, maple syrup, meats, and sauces.

Food and beverage manufacturing has boomed since 2010 as one of the few growing manufacturing sectors in Vermont. Employment increased 47 percent from 2009 to 2015, up from 4,628 jobs to 6,810. Processing and food manufacturing facilities in Vermont represent a diversity of products and scales, from large commercial facilities like Cabot Creamery Cooperative and King Arthur Flour to smaller operations like Green Pasture Meats, Baird Farm Maple Syrup, 14th Star Brewing, and Mad River Food Hub.

The growth in food manufacturing is even more impressive when you contrast growth in food manufacturing with non-food manufacturing in Vermont. From 2004 to 2013, total value-added, non-food manufacturing in Vermont decreased 37 percent (-$2.3 billion). But in the food economy, it’s an entirely different story. Net value-added food manufacturing (when raw products are processed into something else, like beer, salsa, or ice cream) increased 58 percent ($359 million).

A Values-Based Supply Chain

Traditional supply chain businesses view relationships as transactional, competitive, and benefits are unevenly distributed—the average U.S. farmer, for example, only receives approximately 17 cents of each dollar spent on food, while the remainder goes to food service, processing, and retail.

Vermont’s food economy emphasizes the relationships between supply chain businesses and their shared commitments to be financially profitable, as well as provides positive benefits to the community and environment.

In Vermont’s values-based supply chain, businesses work together to boost the entire local economy and contribute to our self-sufficiency as a state.

For Example:

  • Butternut Mountain Farm, one of the largest maple processors and distributors in Vermont, has created lasting connections over the past 40 years by purchasing and distributing maple syrup from approximately 350 small producers who manage over 100,000 acres of land, helping get their products into consumers’ homes.
  • The Mad River Food Hub in Waitsfield is an incubator for business development, providing processing space and distribution to clients, as well as marketing opportunities through the new Mad River Taste Place.
  • Pete’s Greens established The Vermont Farm Fund, which was inspired by the outpouring of support the farm received after a fire destroyed the barn that was the heart of its operation. The fund was started to help other farms get back on their feet and has evolved to include a Business Builder Loan Program that’s designed to help other food businesses innovate and grow. Since 2011, the Fund has lent $764,000.

These are just a few examples of numerous Vermont food system businesses who are going beyond the traditional supply chain model to succeed in the local, regional, and national marketplace.

Local food is truly a bright spot in Vermont’s local economy. Increasing consumer purchases of local food keeps more money here in Vermont—and in turn creates jobs, supports businesses committed to their communities, protects family farms, and helps more local food be accessible for more Vermonters.


For more information:

Learn more about the work taking place to implement Vermont’s Farm to Plate food system plan at

by Dan Welch

Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are some of the highest value crops grown on farms in New York State on a per acre basis, but it is a challenge to consistently harvest a high yielding crop that meets your revenue expectations. Berry growers face production risks like late frosts in strawberries, bird damage in blueberries, or spotted wing drosophila in raspberries. On the marketing end, risks include lower wholesale prices, rainy weekends that depress u-pick turnout, or greater competition at the farmers market that leads to lower prices. While there are tools available to help reduce the impact of production challenges, there haven’t been many tools available to growers to manage market and price risk in berries.

Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) is a new type of crop insurance that was developed to give diversified farms an additional option for risk management. Berry growers can use WFRP to manage multiple forms of risk. Since many berry farms are diversified either by growing more than one berry crop or by growing other fruits and vegetables, WFRP may be a good option for berry farms in New York. WFRP is available in all counties in New York and can cover many crops and livestock products under a single policy. Currently there are no single crop insurance policies available for berries in New York, so WFRP makes crop insurance available to berry growers.

With Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, all farm revenue can be insured together in one policy, and actual revenue determines if there is a loss. Like most federal crop insurance programs, there is a premium subsidy paid by the USDA to the insurer to lower the cost of insurance to growers and to encourage broad participation. The subsidy for WFRP is based on diversification of the farm, so if two are more commodities are covered under the policy, the subsidy will be higher. This is an additional benefit for many berry growers in New York, because growers often grow several crops or commodities. Not only could you cover your berry crops, you could include sweet corn, pumpkins, and tomatoes. Also, if you cover more than three commodities, you are eligible for 80% and 85% coverage levels. Beginning farmers and ranchers can qualify for an additional 10% premium subsidy.

Your “coverage level” is the percentage of your total anticipated revenue covered by your policy. You can choose which coverage level to purchase. A higher coverage level would lead to a higher likelihood of payments, but will also have a higher premium. Lower coverage levels tend to have higher premium subsidies. As an example, say you were expecting $42,000 in revenue from two acres of strawberries; that was the only crop you insured under the policy; and you chose a coverage level of 65%. You would be insuring $27,300 of revenue. Your estimated premium would be $1,802. The total premium cost of your policy would be $4,395, but 59% of that would be paid by the federal government in the form of a premium subsidy. In other words, if your actual revenue dropped below $27,300 due to “insurable causes” such as a drop in price or bad weather, you would receive an indemnity payment. There are several factors that can influence what coverage level is best for a farm and those factors should be reviewed with a crop insurance agent.

Faculty and staff at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University have a partnership with the USDA Risk Management Agency to deliver crop insurance education in New York State. Crop insurance materials and decision support tools are available at to help growers analyze their options for coverage and subsidies for several crop insurance products, including WFRP.

To obtain WFRP, you will need your Schedule F for the past five years (for the 2018 closing date, taxes from 2012-2016). These records determine  your Historical Allowable Revenue. If you are a beginning farmer and have been farming in the previous year, three years of taxes qualify. WFRP has provisions for growth and expansion, so if you are in a high growth stage discuss this with a crop insurance agent to ensure you are within the policy guidelines. You will also need the expected revenue for each crop you want to insure. You would work with your agent to project your expected revenue based on your actual expected prices. These may be based, for example, on producer sales records or contracted prices with a wholesaler. Examples of producer sales records are cash register records from you-pick sales, or contemporaneous records which document market sales.

A loss is triggered under WFRP when natural causes cause a crop loss and/or there is a decline in market prices that causes farm revenue to drop below the insured revenue level. If you want to know more about how Whole Farm Revenue Protection can help you manage the specific risks in your berry patch, contact a crop insurance agent. To find a crop insurance agent in your area, go to the RMA Agent Locator. The agent will need your historical tax records and your production plans for the insurance year. More information on Whole Farm Revenue Protection can be found at this USDA Risk Management Agency website. Sales of WFRP policies for New York close on March 15th of each year.


This article is a part of the activities of the New York Crop Insurance Education and Risk Management Project, which is managed by Cornell University in partnership with the USDA Risk Management Agency to deliver crop insurance education in New York State

Projects ranged from winery establishment and expansion in New York’s North Country to enhancing children’s play and parents’ knowledge in Suffolk County, Long Island.

by R.J. Anderson

Stepping up to the podium at the 2017 Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) internship reception Oct. 11, at Cornell Biotech, 26 students shared their experiences of working at CCE county association offices across the state this summer. One theme emerged from each presenter: an enhanced appreciation for purpose-driven research through hands-on community engagement.

Working on projects ranging from winery establishment and expansion in New York’s north country to enhancing children’s play and parents’ knowledge in Suffolk County, Long Island, the interns learned how applied research from Cornell, the state’s land-grant institution, benefits citizens across New York state. Sixteen of the students are in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and ten are from the College of Human Ecology (CHE).

“This program is a wonderful representation of the powerful and effective collaboration between CCE, CALS, CHE and the Office of Engagement Initiatives,” CCE director Chris Watkins said. “Our internships are unique in that students work on projects proposed by faculty and staff from CALS and CHE and are hosted by extension educators at local extension offices in counties and boroughs all over New York State.”

Cornell Cooperative Extension intern Ryan Graff ’20, left, stands with Michael Spiak, owner of The Fossil Stone Vineyards, Greenfield Center, New York.

CALS Dean Kathryn J. Boor Dean said: “Pairing the university’s research expertise with CCE’s statewide presence through this program facilitates significant and far-reaching impact in areas as diverse as production agriculture, nutrition and health, youth and families, economic and community development and sustainable natural resources. The internships also have a tremendous and life-changing impact on our students.”

Ryan Graff, a CALS food science major, spent his summer in Plattsburgh, New York, working in the CCE Clinton County office to provide cost-benefit analysis for prospective winery and vineyard owners in northern New York’s burgeoning cold-hardy grape industry.

“I wanted to create an interactive spreadsheet that would help develop effective strategies for establishing future wineries as well as expand the existing ones in that area,” says Graff. His project was overseen by Miguel Gómez, associate professor at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and supervised in the field by Lindsey Pashow, ag business development and marketing specialist for CCE’s Harvest New York economic development team. “So not only did I have an opportunity to explore my own interests, I was also creating something that hopefully will benefit the community I was working in,” Graff said.

Cornell Vice Provost Judy Appleton, who leads the university’s public-engagement mission, said projects like Graff’s demonstrate the impact that can only be achieved with reciprocity. “The CCE educators share their knowledge from the field with students and faculty, to our benefit,” Appleton said. “Meanwhile, students share their learning with communities in ways that are beneficial to them.”

In interviewing 20 or so winery and vineyard owners to collect data for his economic tool, Graff said the conversations with people with diverse needs and perspectives made his internship experience unique. “Learning how to connect and relate at that level isn’t something you get in a classroom setting and it helped me realize what I’m capable of communication-wise,” he said. “It also reaffirmed that what I’m learning through CALS is applicable in the real world and prompted me to re-evaluate the types of classes I’ll take going forward.”

Said Alan Mathios, Dean of CHE: “As both an administrator and a faculty member, I can attest to the value and uniqueness of the CCE intern program. The program builds on two key strengths we have here at Cornell – our amazing undergraduate students, and our mission as a land grant institution – bringing the two together to enhance not only the student experience, but also the impact Cornell is able to make across New York State.”

R.J. Anderson is a writer/communications specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension.

by Matthew LeRoux

For small-scale farms, the need for marketing skills has increased as the local food marketplace has become crowded with more competition. Perhaps 15 years ago the supply of local meat was smaller than the demand, allowing farms to simply “show up and sell out” in their markets. However, here in the Northeast we have seen many farms, both old and new, respond to market demand for local meat and enter the marketplace. In addition, national corporations responded to consumer demands for non-commodity meat, putting many “look alike” products on to grocery store shelves, where they are easy for consumers to grab during their regular food shopping. These pressures of supply and demand require the savvy farm marketer to step-up their game.

The good news is that, even in an increasingly competitive market, applying a few standard marketing techniques will show results. One such technique is to choose a target market and focus your marketing resources on it. Some thoughtful discussion among your farm’s team, paired with basic market research, should reveal the best target market for your business. Some questions that can help you determine a viable target market are:

  • What is the quintessential customer of my farm now?
  • How would I describe an exaggerated caricature of my stereotypical customer?

It is tempting to think, “I sell meat to everybody, everybody has to eat” but with target markets, specificity counts. In fact, the more specifically you can describe your target customer, the easier marketing to them will become. A specific description of your customer should reveal details about their needs, preferences, and the reasons they are more likely to purchase your product. Each target customer has characteristics that you should explore and discuss with your farm’s marketing team (your team may simply be your family, employees and/or friends). The more you can understand about the customer, the better you can communicate to and serve them.

A handy method for working out a description of the target customer is to write a strategy sentence. The strategy sentence describes the customer, their characteristics, and your product. A very specific sentence provides guidance for your marketing efforts which improves the payoff for each marketing investment you make, whether it is a paid ad, a special offer, or the use of your time. An example of a strategy sentence is:

Our farm sells pasture-raised pork by-the-cut to busy working moms with young children who don’t have time to slow-cook something for dinner.

If this sentence sounds very specific and a little bit amusing, that’s a good sign! When you have created such a sentence, you work to understand the customer as best as possible and answer questions to guide your marketing.

Given the sample sentence, think of how the farm might answer these marketing questions:
What cuts make sense for this customer? Should we get our pork shoulders ground into sausage?
How many pounds should each package weigh?
Is our customer more likely to buy for one meal at-a-time or a large supply?
Should we sell it fresh or frozen?
What flavors of sausage would be most popular with young kids? Should sausage be in patties or bulk?
Where is the best place for this customer to get the product?
Should we offer home delivery? Should we talk to a local grocer in an effort to get into their meat case?
When advertising, where can we best reach this customer? What should the message be in our ad?
What attributes of our farm and product should we highlight in our advertising and materials?
What is the best format for promotions and what will motivate the customer to make a purchase?

A well-written strategy sentence will provide guidance in every marketing decision right down to the most basic. The specificity of your strategy will resonate with your target customer and pay off better than a broad-casting attempt to reach all consumers. Some folks worry that targeting one specific group of consumers might mean that you lose all the ones that don’t fit that description. A valid concern, however, when your brand and product identity are clear it has the effect of attracting lots of different customers to you, not alienating them.

By the way, that strategy sentence, it’s not for your brochures or Facebook page! It is a sentence for the farm to use to guide marketing decisions and not made for the public. A well-developed sentence with specific details enables the farm to understand their customers’ needs, preferences, and buying habits. This understanding allows the farm to better serve the customer, building a positive and distinct image for the farm.

A strategy sentence can be written for any target customer, including wholesale customers. If you typically sell feeders or breeding stock, you can tailor your sentence to your buyers. The sentence helps you define what the buyer prefers and thus, how to serve them better. Marketing strategy benefits your customers in this way and improves the payoff of every investment you make in marketing!

In essence, strategy is a technique to improve the rate of gross sales per hour of labor spent on marketing. A second technique is to set specific and measurable marketing objectives. Objectives aid the farm in planning, decision making, and execution of marketing activities.

Accomplishing an unmeasurable objective is a difficult task. Consider this example: “I need to start saving more money.”

How do you know when you’ve accomplish this? When you deposit $20 into a savings account, are you done? The more detail you can add to an objective the EASIER it becomes to plan, execute, and ultimately succeed. Objectives transform marketing from a never ending, undefined job to a manageable task with specific outcomes which begin and end.

Different ways of looking at the marketing budget.

Consider this version of the saving money example: “I’ll put $20 from the second paycheck of the month into a savings account, starting in September.”

With this improved statement, we know when to begin and if we are on-track. If September ends and we only saved $10, we know we need to deposit another $10 or adjust our objective. A well-constructed marketing objective will contain a measurable goal, a timeline, a budget, and a target audience for the objective.

A measurable goal is usually a sales quantity but can also include other marketing goals such as, number of restaurants you’ve contacted or Facebook likes. The goal should be quantified, and then, when measured against your timeline it creates a rate to measure your success against. In the example below, the farm must sell 8 quarters/month or 2 quarters/week.

We plan to sell 32 beef quarters (8 head) between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31.

Adding a target audience helps make the task easier. Ideally, the farm will use the target audience from their strategy sentence (see our previous article). The target audience allows you to develop a plan to reach consumers with a product and message that appeals to their specific interests.

We plan to sell 32 beef quarters to homeschool families in a 3-county area between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31.

Finally, adding a budget to get this objective accomplished sets you free to come up with innovative, creative ideas to accomplish your objective. Come up with a percent of gross sales you are willing to spend, or whatever amount seems reasonable to you. Once you know how much you have to spend and your timeline, you can get really creative.

Consider our example: If the average beef quarter brings $600 to the farm, they stand to earn $19,200. The time line is 4 months or 16 weeks. We can also look at the budget per beef quarter sold.

The chosen budget informs the farm’s plan. Here are some creative possibilities:

Idea 1: Hold 2-3 open farm days, invite homeschool groups by email, Facebook, and fliers. Advertise in local media and in places that homeschool families are likely to see it. Offer a farm tour and pass out fliers explaining the value of purchasing a beef quarter. Include a coupon or offer a discount to anyone putting a deposit down for a quarter during that period.

Idea 2: Hold two open farm days and hand out free burgers (your own product). Announce a special raffle for a FREE quarter- everyone who puts down a deposit for a quarter gets entered for a chance to win their quarter for free. Print up fliers and advertise on Facebook, at local churches, and homeschool group email lists.

The budget might look like: Printing & Advertising: $110. Our own ground beef and burger rolls, napkins, charcoal: $250. Give away one quarter: $600. Total budget is $960 (5% of our gross, $19,200).

Specific written objectives make your marketing job easier. Combined with a marketing strategy, objectives make each marketing effort pay off better than the lack thereof. Objectives are measurable, so you can track your progress and adjust midstream when you are not seeing the results you were expecting. Objectives and strategy combined also inform what promotions to offer, where to advertise, when, and with what message.

Like marketing strategy, useful objectives take some thought and time. Try holding a marketing meeting with your team. Brew some coffee, bring some sales goals and get to brainstorming. You might come up with some fun and creative ways to market.

Matt LeRoux works for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Tompkins County, NY as the Agriculture Marketing Specialist. In 2008 Matt developed the Marketing Channel Assessment Tool to assist producer decision making and improve marketing performance. In 2012, Matt started the Finger Lakes Meat Project including, two community Meat Lockers, and the Cornell Meat Price & Yield Calculator. He can be reached at

This article is comprised of Parts 1 and 2 of a 4-part series published by CCE. This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2015-49200-24225.

Harvest NY Farm-to-Pint tours spotlight Empire State craft beer supply chain.

by R.J. Anderson

The essential ingredients of a pint of locally produced New York state craft beer are quite simple: hops, barley, yeast and water. Much more complex, however, is how the supply chain of those elements comes together to create beverages that adhere to New York’s escalating farm brewery regulations.

Taylor and Sons Brewery General Manager Owen Taylor pours a pint during a tasting held his family’s taproom in Salem, New York as part of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest New York Farm-to-Pint Tour.

It’s a recipe further challenged by the relative infancy of the farm brewery industry and its explosive growth. Since the introduction of the state’s farm brewery license in 2013, which offered tax benefits and relaxed regulations for breweries using New York-grown ingredients, there are now more than 160 active farm breweries. And while the path to startup has been made easier, there exists significant challenges for farm brewers looking to procure New York-produced ingredients. In addition to lending distinctly local flavors to their beverages, Empire State hops and barley satisfy the state’s mandate that farm-brewed beers contain at least 20 percent New York-grown ingredients – a requirement that jumps to 60 percent in 2019 and 90 percent in 2024.

Helping the industry link and grow a more inclusive supply chain are Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) specialists. Examples of CCE efforts were recently on display at a pair of Farm-to-Pint tours that brought together more than 70 New York hop and barley producers, maltsters, brewers and state officials with Cornell and industry researchers.

“By design and per New York state legislation, our craft beer supply chain is a relatively short one,” said event organizer Cheryl Thayer, an agricultural economic development specialist with CCE’s Harvest New York regional agriculture team. “Because of those limitations, it’s imperative that the supply chain stakeholders not only know one another, but understand the intricacies involved in each node of the supply chain.

“We thought a perfect mechanism for this was to bring those stakeholders together and follow the life cycle of a pint of New York state beer,” she added.

Funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute, the bus tours – one held north of Albany in Washington County June 29, the other near Rochester Aug. 4 – each began with a stop at a local hop yard and malting barley field. In addition to hands-on, real-world conversations with the growers, those stops included updates from Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences scientists Gary Bergstrom and David Benscher, who joined CCE crops specialist Mike Stanyard and CCE hops specialist Steve Miller for research-based discussions about ongoing trials and trends.

Harvest New York Agriculture economic specialists Cheryl Thayer and Lindsey Pashow sample malting-grade barley at the Argyle Craft Malt House in Argyle, New York.

Each tour also included a visit to a craft malt house.

“Malt house owners are a vital middle link in the craft beer production chain,” said Thayer. “But with the recent reintroduction of malting-grade barley to New York agriculture, they are also the newest additions to the supply chain. Because of that, attendees were very interested in seeing a working malt house in action and spent quite a bit of time picking the maltsters’ brains about their trade and preferences when working with growers and brewers.

Wrapping up each event was a tasting at a farm brewery where the groups networked while sampling beers featuring hops and barley from earlier tour stops.

“The attendees were very appreciative of having a forum where they could absorb new information while making those important new connections,” Thayer said. “The exchange of information and candid discussion about challenges and opportunities currently present in the supply chain was probably the most valuable takeaway for them.

“Along with a lot of people across the state, we at CCE think the craft beer industry has the potential to cultivate emerging market opportunities for growers while simultaneously supporting good agricultural economic development initiatives,” Thayer continued. “That’s why we’re doing all we can to support its continued growth and success. But for those things to happen, the industry needs to develop a strong sense of community and understand the role of each link in the supply chain – and we’ll do everything we can to help make that happen.”

R.J. Anderson is a writer/communications specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension.

by Peter Smallidge

The  white-tailed  deer  (Odocoileus  virginianus)  can  significantly  influence  the  diversity,  longevity  and  sustainability  of  rural  woodlands,  forests  and  maple  syrup  sugarbushes.  As  selective  browsers,  deer  will  eat  some  plants  more  readily  than  they  eat  other  plants.  Many  of  the  tree  species  deer  prefer  to  consume  are  valued  by  owners  as  sources  of  timber,  maple  syrup,  or  as  food-producing  trees  for  wildlife,  such  as  oak  and  maple.  Deer also eat many native wildflower and understory plants.

The effects of deer browsing on woodlands and sugar-bushes can have long-lasting effects (called “legacy” effects) that persist for decades after deer impacts are reduced.  In  areas  with  a  history  of  deer  overabundance,  the  failure  to  establish  and  grow  new,  young  trees is having a detrimental effect on woodlands and the potential to keep these areas healthy and diverse.

Browse impact of deer on stump sprouts.

Under  high  deer  impact,  deer  eat  the  plants  that  are  used  to  assess  if  there  is  a  problem.  As  deer  impact  increases,  the  evidence  for  deer  impact  de-creases.  To  an  untrained  eye,  a  heavily  browsed  woods  may  appear,  open,  park-like  and  picturesque   rather   than   degraded   and   impoverished. In woodlands, the evidence for the over-abundance of deer include one or more of these features:

  • Park-like appearance in the woods
  • An understory dominated by invasive shrubs
  • An understory dominated by ferns
  • An understory  dominated  by  non-palatable  woody brush
  • A browse line of the lower tree canopy
  • Cropped or “Bonsai” tree seedlings
  • Absence of, or stunted,  wildflowers  such  as  Trillium,  Indian  cucumber,  or  Jack-in-the-pulpit.

In  most  cases,  recreational  hunting  is  insufficient  to  control  the  impact  that  deer  have  on  native  vegetation. Depending   on   landscape   pattern,   deer   population  size,  and  food  availability  approximately  40%  to  60%  of  a  deer  herd  must  die  or  be  culled  each  year  to  stabilize  the  population.  Reducing the population requires even greater mortality.  As  the  hunter  demographic   becomes   older   and   less   effective,  and  land  is  less  accessible  for  hunting,  the  management  impact  of  recreational  hunting  is  increasingly  limited.  In  some  cases  recreational  hunting  may  be  able  to  help  augment  other  deer  management  strategies  and  reduce  the  impacts  of  deer.

Protection  of  isolated  trees  is  possible  with  wire  cages  or  tree  tubes.  Several tree tube designs are available. Tree  tubes  should  be  at  least  5  ft  tall  and  with  ventilation  ports  to  allow  air  circulation.  Tree  tubes  need  to  be  securely  staked  to  the  ground,  and  checked  annually  to  ensure  the  tube  is  functional and the bottom in full contact with the soil. Tree cages made from  2”  x  4”  welded  wire  or  poultry  wire  should  be  5  ft  tall  and  well  staked.  Some  nut  trees  and  conifers  may  do  better  in  larger  diameter cages  than  in  tubes.  Weed  management  around  the  tube  or  cage  is  necessary  to  improve  seedling  growth,  and  will  limit  habitat  for  rodents  that  might  girdle  the  seedling.

Examples of four tube types, both cylindrical and flat designs, the latter being assembled into a cylinder. All are 5 ft tall. Not presence of air-ventilation holes to reduce accumulation of hot air.

For larger areas, fencing is a more efficient and  cost-effective option than tubes or cages. Typical fencing designs include clearing an access trail, driving posts where needed, and the use of large machinery to transport 8 ft woven wire fence spools. Some newer designs use 8 ft plastic mesh fence that allows for the use of small and less expensive fence posts.  No  fence  perfectly  excludes  deer,  and  all  fences  require  inspection  and  some amount of maintenance. The most expensive fences, but most effective, are made of woven wire with driven fence posts. Installation costs are typically $2.50 to almost $4 or more per running foot.

Research  by  Cornell  Cooperative  Extension  and  Cornell   University   Department   of   Natural   Re-sources  staff  is  assessing  the  costs  and  efficacy  of  two  fencing  designs  to  prevent  or  limit  deer  im-pacts. The objective is to identify low cost options that  adequately  exclude  deer  until  tree  seedlings  grow  above  the  reach  of  deer.  The  two  methods  use  either  plastic  mesh  or  high  tensile  wire  as  the  fencing material. These designs are being tested in 0.5 to 2 acre areas that have been managed through thinning or harvesting to increase sunlight and accelerate the establishment and growth of wood-land regeneration.  In some cases, herbicides were used to control interfering understory plants.  The  fencing  designs  are  also  being  tested  in  sugarbushes  to  protect  young  maples  and  promote  regeneration  and  sugarbush sustainability.

As described below, the designs are affordable for private woodland owners, and continued research is evaluating the long-term effectiveness of the designs at excluding deer. Fences will need to be maintained until seedlings of desirable species are at least 5 feet tall. In the early years, vegetation inside the fence will look similar to vegetation outside the fence  and  offer  little  incentive  for  deer  to  test  the  fence.  In later years, deer may recognize that the vegetation is actually “greener on the other side of the fence” and be more likely to challenge the fence.

The fence designs shown in this fact sheet are being tested using the AVID field monitoring protocol (  After one growing season,  seedlings  inside  the  exclosures  were  significantly  taller  than  seedlings  outside  the  exclosure.  If  fences  remain  effective,  then  a  significantly  higher  percentage of seedlings may grow beyond the susceptible  browsing  height  in  a  shortened  time  frame.  An  appropriate  number  and  height  of  seedlings  is  necessary  to  consider  a  woodland  opening  to  have  sufficient  stocking,  or  seedling  density.  Depending  on  seedling height at the time of fencing, past deer pressure,  soil  quality,  and  amount  of  sunlight,  seedlings  may need 5 to 10 years of protection before they have grown  beyond  the  typical  height  of  deer  browsing.  This  fact  sheet  will  be  updated  as  new  data  become  available  on  the  effectiveness  of  these  fence  designs.

The cost savings is through the use of low-value trees as living fence posts, and avoids the purchase and installation costs of fence posts.  However,  rather than attaching fencing directly to the tree, a bat-ten strip made of pressure treated wood is attached to the tree with a nail and fender washer. At most one or two nails per tree are used. On fence corners the trees should be 7” – 8” dbh (diameter at breast height), but trees  as  small  as  3”  dbh  will  suffice  on  straight  runs  of  the  fence.  As the tree grows, it pushes against the batten strip, which pushes against the fender washer, which floats the nail. The design prevents the typical situation where the tree grows around the fence material. If after 5 to 10 years the seedlings may be  at  a  safe  height,  and  the  fence  can  be  removed.

Woven wire fence 8 ft tall and suspended on installed posts is a proven method of limiting deer access to forest regeneration. (photo courtesy of Dr. Gary Alt)

Plastic Mesh Fencing

Plastic  mesh  fencing  involves  higher  material  costs  but  less  time  invested  in  labor  for  installation.  Plastic mesh fencing is available on the Internet through numerous suppliers using a search for “poly mesh deer fence.” Mesh size used in this project is approximately  2”  x  2”,  but  other  sizes  might  be  equally  effective.  Current  designs  started  with  a  10  ft  x  330  ft  roll  of  mesh  fence  on  a  cardboard  spindle,  cut  in  half with a chainsaw. The fence height was 5 ft. Some  vendors  offer  7  ft  fencing  which  is  likely  to  be  more  effective  at  excluding  deer  by  al-lowing  for  a  lower  apron  at  ground  level  and  taller  height,  but  with  added  costs  of  labor  to  install.


  • Plastic mesh fence 5’ to 7’ high. Ten-foot long spools can be cut in half. Prices vary from $0.48 to $0.68/foot on the full-length spool.
  • 12 gauge high tensile wire, single strand
  • Wire tensioner and splicing clips
  • Batten strips of pressure treated lumber, approximately 10-inch pieces of 2×4 or 5/4 x 6 deck boards. One per tree.
  • Plastic electric fence insulators
  • Rust proof (e.g., galvanized) 3” to 3.5” nails
  • Deck screws or galvanized joist hanger nails
  • 25” to 1.5” fender washers
  • Hog rings and hog ring pliers to secure mesh to wire
  • Brightly colored synthetic baling twine

Plastic Mesh Fencing Installation

  1. Determine your perimeter and flag low-value trees to serve as living fence posts. Try to locate a tree every 40-50 feet (avoid spans greater than 60 feet). If possible, select trees to be on the “inside” of the fence. Avoid abrupt corners on the fence. Best results occur if trees are selected before any harvesting occurs, and those trees must be protected from damage or removal during the harvest.
  2. To simplify access, clear significant brush from fence line. It may be less expensive to re-position the fence than to clear the brush.
  3. Attach one plastic insulator to each 10” batten strip using deck screws or joist hanger nails. Pre-drill holes for fender washers and nails to limit splitting of the board. Attach batten strips to trees so that the insulator is approximately 54 to 58 inches above ground.
  4. Thread 12 gauge wire through insulators, and tighten using wire tensioner and splicing clips.
  5. Unroll and position fence to suspend from the wire.
  6. Use hog rings on 18 – 24” intervals to attach the plastic mesh fence to the wire.
  7. Gates are created by severing the fence vertically, and attaching an apron of fence that extends approximately 4 ft on either side of the opening.
  8. If ground topography leaves gaps under fence, pile brush or slash to prevent deer from crawling under the fence. A continuous windrow of brush or slash on the outside edge of the fence will enhance the effectiveness of the fence, and obviate the need for baling twine in the next step.
  9. Install baling twine approximately 30” offset from fence and 30” off ground. Height is important, but distance from fence can vary from 1 ft to 4 ft. Wrap twine around saplings, around wooden stakes, or use fiberglass rods with clips.

On abrupt corners, double batten boards may be necessary to protect the tree. Abrupt corners increase resistance when pulling wire around perimeter.

The fence should be inspected two to three times per year, and after storms.

Total Cost: With labor estimated at $15/hour and materials the total project cost averages $0.59/running foot.

A modification of this mesh design that is likely to be more effective includes the use of 7 ft mesh fence and an additional strand of wire approximately 12 inches off the ground. The vertical section of the fence is approximately 6 ft to 6.5 ft, allowing for an apron plus the low wire to restrict deer moving under the fence. The cost for materials would be marginally higher, but labor costs would be as much as double because of the extra effort to install another wire, handling a 7 ft vs. 5 ft spoon, and using a ladder to hog-ring the fence to the top wire. The 7ft and 5 ft designs have been co-located and will be compared for effectiveness through ongoing research.

High Tensile Fencing

High tensile fencing involves lower material costs but almost twice as much time and thus increased labor costs. It involves the use of standard 12 gauge high-tensile galvanized wire that is secured to trees that form the perimeter of the fenced area.

High Tensile Fencing Materials

  • 12 gauge high tensile galvanized wire: Available at farm stores for approximately
  • $100 for 4,000 feet of wire, approximately $0.03 per foot
  • 8 foot long pressure treated deck boards 1 ¼ inch thick x 5 ½ inch wide,
  • or pressure treated 2x4s (approximately $3.67/board)
  • Wire tensioners and splicing clips (and appropriate tools)
  • Electric fence plastic insulators
  • Deck screws or galvanized joist hanger nails
  • Rust proof (e.g., galvanized) 3” to 3.5” nails
  • 25” to 1.5” fender washers

High Tensile Fencing Installation

  1. Determine your perimeter and flag low-value trees to serve as living fence posts. Try to locate a tree every 40-50 feet (avoid spans greater than 60 feet). If possible, select trees to be on the “inside” of the fence. Avoid abrupt corners on the fence. Best results occur if trees are selected before any harvesting occurs, and those trees must be protected from damage or removal during the harvest.
  2. To simplify access, clear significant brush from fence line. It may be less expensive to re-position the fence than to clear the brush.
  3. Attach plastic insulator to batten strips using deck screws or joist hanger nails. Attach insulators from bottom of batten at approximately 10”, 20”, 30”, 40”, 54”, 68”, 82”, and 96”.
  4. Position batten strips at selected trees. Before nailing board to tree, thread the top wire in the uppermost insulator of each board.
  5. Attach batten strip with a nail and fender washer near ground line and one additional nail and washer at any location along the batten that will secure the board.
  6. Thread 12 gauge wire through insulators, and tighten using wire tensioner and splicing clips. Thread and tighten one wire at a time to avoid intertwining wires. Tightening the wire helps secure the boards to the tree.
  7. If ground topography leaves gaps under fence, pile brush or slash to prevent deer from crawling under the fence. A continuous windrow of brush or slash on the outside edge of the fence will enhance the effectiveness of the fence, and obviate the need for baling twine in step #9.
  8. Use trees that are sufficient in diameter and firmness at angled points in the fence because they will be under significant side strain.
  9. Install baling twine approximately 30” offset from fence and 30” off ground. Height is important, but distance from fence can vary from 1 ft to 4 ft. Wrap twine around saplings, around wooden stakes, or use fiberglass rods with clips.

The fence should be inspected two to three times per year, and after storms.

Total Cost: With labor estimated at $15/hour and materials the total project cost average was $0.51/running foot.

Peter Smallidge is the NYS Extension Forester and Director, and works in the Arnot Teaching and Research Forest as well as at the Department of Natural Resources and the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, NY 14853.

For additional information on woodland management go to:

This article was originally published in Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station’s and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Supporting Sustainable Management of Private Woodands publication.

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