Farm disaster-preparedness workshops set
KEESEVILLE — The Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Northern New York are offering Extension's new Farm Disaster Preparedness workshops.
The training will help farmers prevent and prepare for accidents involving farm vehicles on the road, on-farm fires or structure collapse, agricultural products storage and storm damage.
All types and sizes of farms, including dairy farms, are invited to attend this training in Keeseville at the AuSable Valley Grange from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, April 16.
Dealing with livestock injuries and biosecurity issues and reducing the opportunity for on-farm crime are also part of the workshop agenda.
Cornell Cooperative Extension Essex County Executive Director Anita Deming said the workshops cover potential problems on the farm and provide recommendations for preventing or minimizing impact.
"The goal is to avoid problems or reduce the cost of dealing with them," she said.
The training will help farmers increase their resilience to small and large disasters through planning and management readiness.
Farms that complete the training will receive a certificate to provide to their insurer as a condition of eligibility for receiving a credit, discount or preferred status.
The program fee is $35 and includes lunch and information materials. Preregistration is requested by April 13; contact Sharon or Judy at 962-4810 Ext. 0 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
USDA to survey maple producers
ALBANY — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be conducting a maple-syrup survey during April and May. Representatives from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will be surveying producers in 10 of the nation's largest maple-producing states, including New York.
This survey will gather information on number of taps, yield, production, price and value of production in New York. Results from last year's survey established New York's rank as second in the nation for production of maple syrup behind Vermont.
As with all NASS surveys, information provided by respondents is confidential by law. "NASS safeguards the privacy of all responses, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified," said King Whetstone, director of the New York Field Office. The National Agricultural Statistics Service is even exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, so producers can be guaranteed that their individual data will not be released to any person or any other agency.
Survey results will be published in NASS's Crop Production Report to be released on June 12. This and all NASS reports are available on the agency's web site, www.nass.usda.gov. For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS New York Field Office at (800) 821- 1276.
USDA offers anaerobic digestion funding
ALBANY — An opportunity to help farmers install an anaerobic digester as part of their manure-management system is being offered, according to Acting State Conservationist Carrie Mosley.
This year, up to $1 million is set aside to promote this conservation practice in New York. Funding is provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).
"This funding will install a treatment system that reduces odors, greenhouse gases and pathogens while producing electricity and recycling nutrients back to the land," Mosley said. "The addition of an anaerobic digester can benefit the dairy and the community though clean air, clean water and renewable energy."
One kilowatt of electric can be produced for every five to seven cows. Federal programs for farm-based clean energy production provide an economic incentive for dairies to gain a cutting edge in the industry while helping the environment.
Funds from NRCS will be available to those farms ready to build a digester within the next year. USDA has made digester installation a national priority and hopes to install one per week for the next three years. NRCS funding can be combined with Rural Development's Rural Energy for America Program and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority programs as a package of incentives.
Farms may apply by signing up at the USDA Service Center at 6064 State Route 22 in Plattsburgh. Call 561-4616 by April 20. Or, contact Zenik Crespo, 51 Finney Blvd., Malone, 483-4061.
Yankee Farm Credit refunds $3.7 million
WILLISTON, Vt. — Yankee Farm Credit recently distributed $3.7 million to its members who borrowed from the cooperative. This distribution represents approximately 52 percent of Yankee's 2011 net income of $7 million.
George Putnam, Yankee Farm Credit's president and CEO, said that Yankee sent out payments to 1,272 borrowers on March 21. The payments represent patronage refunds, which allow Yankee borrowers to share in the cooperative's 2011 earnings.
"The patronage refunds we provide to members are based on the profits that our association generated from loan volume last year," Putnam said. "This cash patronage refund effectively reduced average loan rates to members by approximately one full percentage point."
When Yankee Farm Credit has a successful year, patronage refunds represent one of the advantages of borrowing from the local agricultural cooperative. The refunds were possible due to a high-quality loan portfolio.
Yankee Farm Credit has paid patronage refunds to its members every year since 1995. Total payments over those 17 years have exceeded $44 million.
Yankee Farm Credit is a member-owned cooperative that provides loans and financial services to farmers and other rural customers. Yankee is an agricultural credit association (ACA) within the national Farm Credit System. Yankee serves all of Vermont, four counties in New Hampshire and Clinton and Essex counties in New York.
For more information, visit www.yankeeaca.com.
Conservation representative in Essex County
WESTPORT — Sarah Fitzwater, Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist for Clinton and Essex counties, will hold office hours at the Essex County Soil and Water Conservation District Office on the first and third Thursdays of the month from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The office is located at 3 Sisco Steet, Westport, in the Cornell Cooperative Extension building. Call 962-8225 for more information.
Sustainable farming certificate offered
ITHACA — This spring, the Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming will again offer its full-season training program for aspiring and beginning farmers and market gardeners.
Running April 18 to Nov. 14, the Sustainable Farming Certificate Program provides 100 hours of classroom training, hands-on workshops, farm visits and supervised work experience on sustainable farms.
Trainees can choose to concentrate their studies on the management of vegetables and fruits, livestock and poultry or pursue a diversified curriculum. Each trainee will have an individualized Learning Contract, and will be evaluated on the basis of that contract before being awarded Groundswell's Sustainable Farming Certificate. Instruction will be provided by experienced farmer mentors, as well as subject matter experts from partner institutions such as Cornell University, USDA and Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Groundswell is committed to the vision of a regionally self-reliant food system that provides good food and economic opportunities for everyone.
Tuition is on a sliding scale and ranges from $125 to $800, with substantial support offered to people of color, new immigrant and limited-resource trainees. Visit www.groundswellcenter.org to learn more and apply.
Program announces farm research projects
PLATTSBURGH — The farmer-led Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has announced 12 regional on-farm research projects.
The projects focus on growing corn and grass-based energy crops, producing Northern New York-branded cold-hardy wine grapes, using high tunnels to extend the growing and sales seasons for fresh greens, and developing alfalfa varieties resistant to damage to brown root rot and highly-destructive alfalfa snout beetle.
Farmers from Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties prioritize the region's agricultural production research needs and select projects for funding under the program, which was established in 1961 with funding through the New York State Legislature.
Northern New York farmers credit the program with providing the region's agricultural industry with practical results that benefit farms, communities and the regional economy.
"State funding that supports on-farm research in Northern New York is vital to assuring its economic value to the regional economy," said Program Co-Chair Joe Giroux, a Clinton County dairy farmer.
Champlain Valley Milling owner Sam Sherman in Essex County said the value of projects made possible by the program extends to businesses that depend on local sources of raw products for value-added production that provides jobs and generates dollars to feed the local economy.
Learn more about the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, its projects and practical results on its new-look website at www.nnyagdev.org.
North Country energy projects completed
MALONE — Homeowners in the North Country embraced energy-efficiency projects in record numbers last year, completing 49 percent more projects through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's (NYSERDA) Home Performance with Eneregy Star program than during 2010.
The 188 projects completed in the North Country resulted in average annual savings of more than $940 per participating household.
"The Home Performance with Energy Star program helps homeowners reduce their energy use, cut their energy bills and improve the comfort of their homes. We expect to see this program grow in 2012 due to free energy assessments and low-cost financing that is available to homeowners," said Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA.
Home Performance with Energy Star uses a whole-house comprehensive assessment approach to home energy usage. Homeowners work with contractors trained in building science and accredited by the Building Performance Institute. The assessment is free for most homeowners, as it is funded through Green Jobs-Green New York, a program created by New York State to increase the number of energy-efficiency improvements while creating green jobs.
Two North Country organizations — Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Jefferson County and The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) — are working with NYSERDA to educate residents.
To help homeowners pay for the energy improvements, NYSERDA provides cash-back incentives and low-cost financing. As of Jan. 30, on-bill recovery financing also has been available, enabling homeowners to pay for energy efficiency improvements through their utility bills, using the energy savings from the improvements to offset the cost of the work.
Contact CCE of St. Lawrence County at (315) 379-9192 or ANCA at (315) 771-1923 for more information.