Stay on Top of Late Blight of Tomatoes in 2013

Late blight was devastating to tomato and potato gardeners and some commercial growers last year.  Late Blight has just been reported in home gardener stored potatoes, some for consumption but some for planting.  While the report is from Wisconsin we expect this to occur in all the northern states.  Because of the high risk of late blight overwintering in potato tubers in compost piles and garden soil it’s important to reach gardeners with this information more than ever.

Late blight brochure for home gardeners:

Connect with the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress

The Beginning Farmer Project is finally diving into the world of social networking, and we hope you will share these new communication venues with new farmers in your county. We have a new blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account to allow us to share news, events, resources, tips and anything else of interest to beginning farmers.

Please share this information with new farmers in your county!



Also, we’re developing a new site, which will build on the lessons, FAQs, and videos of our existing website, adding:

  • a region-wide searchable map to help new farmers find service providers (including you!) near them
  • many more videos, including instructional production footage
  • new online courses
  • an entire section for educators, with favorite curricula and best practices for helping new farmers

The site will launch in October of this year, but we’ll seek your input on it mid-Summer.


“Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative Launches Website

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan launched a new USDA website for the ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ initiative to continue the national conversation about developing local and regional food systems and finding ways to support small and mid-sized farms. “We want this website to serve as a hub of ideas, success stories, and USDA resources for linking local producers with consumers, because by rebuilding our local and regional food systems, we can spur economic opportunity in rural communities and strengthen American agriculture,” Merrigan said. “Americans are more interested in food and agriculture than they have been at any other time since most families left the farm and we are marshalling resources from across all of USDA to help create and strengthen the link between local production and local consumption.”



DEC Open Burning Regulations

The Department of Environmental Conservation recently finalized regulations that would restrict  “open burning” in New York State. These new regulations go into effect on October 14. The final regulation addresses a number of the concerns raised by New York Farm Bureau in the Department’s earlier proposal.  While this proposal allows the burning of many agricultural waste components for disposal, it would still prohibit the burning of plastic in the state.  Funding from New York State Environmental Protection Fund has been provided to offset the costs of an agricultural plastics recycling program – for more information on this program go to

Under the new regulations, you are allowed to burn the following items on your property;

  • On-site burning of agricultural wastes as part of a valid agricultural operation on contiguous agricultural lands larger than five acres actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use, provided such waste is actually grown or generated on those lands and such waste is capable of being fully burned within a 24-hour period. This includes the use of liquid petroleum fueled smudge pots to prevent frost damage to crops.
  • DEC defines “Agricultural Land” as the land and on-farm buildings, equipment, manure processing and handling facilities, and practices that contribute to the production, preparation and marketing of crops, livestock and livestock products as a commercial enterprise, including a ‘commercial horse boarding operation’ and ‘timber processing’. Such farm operation may consist of one or more parcels of owned or rented land, which parcels may be contiguous or noncontiguous to each other.
  • DEC defines “Agricultural Waste” as any waste from naturally grown products such as vines, trees and branches from orchards, leaves and stubble. In addition, any fully organic waste either grown or generated on the premises, including but not limited to paper feed bags, wood shavings used for livestock bedding, bailing twine, and other non-plastic materials. Agricultural waste does not include pesticide containers, fertilizer bags, large plastic storage bags (including bags commonly known as “Ag bags”), offal, tires, plastic feed bags, and other plastic or synthetic materials.
  • Individual open fires as approved by the Director of the Division of Air Resources as may be required in response to an outbreak of a plant or animal disease upon request by the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, or for the destruction of invasive plant and insect species.
  • Downed limbs and branches (including branches with attached leaves or needles) less than six inches in diameter and eight feet in length between May 15th and the following March 15th (Meaning no burning of these items between March 15 and May 15).
  • Barbecue grills, maple sugar arches and similar outdoor cooking devices can be used only for cooking or processing food.
  • Small fires used for cooking and camp fires provided that only charcoal or untreated wood is used as fuel and the fire is not left unattended until extinguished.
  • Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires provided that only untreated wood or other agricultural products are used as fuel and the fire is not left unattended until extinguished.
  • Small fires that are used to dispose of a flag or religious item, and small fires or other smoke producing process where not otherwise prohibited by law that are used in connection with a religious ceremony.
  • Fire training, including firefighting, fire rescue, and fire/arson investigation training, performed under applicable rules and guidelines of the New York State Department of State’s Office of Fire Prevention and Control. For fire training performed on acquired structures, the structures must be emptied and stripped of any material that is toxic, hazardous or likely to emit toxic smoke (such as asbestos, asphalt shingles and vinyl siding or other vinyl products) prior to burning and must be at least 300 feet from other occupied structures. No more than one structure per lot or within a 300 foot radius (whichever is bigger) may be burned in a training exercise.

If you have questions regarding this new regulation, please contact NYFB at (518) 546-8495.

The DEC has a Questions and Answers web site at



Soil Testing Transition to Agro-One

Transition from the Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab (CNAL) to Agro-One (Dairy One) has occurred. (Tissue sample analyses will continue at CNAL). Considerable effort was needed to modify Agro-One’s test for phosphorus (P). The Mehlich test, which had been used, could indicate high P in low pH soils when the P was actually tied up by aluminum and unavailable to plants. CNAL and Agro-One continue to work closely.

Pre-paid Cornell soil test bags in circulation will continue to be honored. For new Agro-One sample submission forms and sampling supplies go to the Dairy One website Local milk tester, Tom Waild will take soil samples with checks left at his home at 4530 Lower Mountain Road, Lockport and Stacey Jowdy will accept them at  (the east end of the county tbd).  Cornell Cooperative Extension, Niagara County has soil test boxes and forms. The organization will continue to package and deliver the samples for $14 or one can mail the samples himself/herself.  The base test is $10 per sample at Agro-One.  Further questions may be answered by Agro-One at 800-496-3344, fax: 607-257-6808, 730 Warren Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850. Be sure to request “Cornell Recommendations.”



Report Crop Damage Promptly

If you experience damage on insured crops, a report must be filed with your insurance agent immediately.  Ask your agent for a copy of your records.  Do Not destroy evidence of damage until a loss adjuster evaluates it.  Contact a crop insurance agent for details through your FSA office or locate an agent at



Minimum Wage Increase

As of Dec. 31, 2013, New York State’s minimum wage has increased to $8 per hour. If you have questions, please review the Frequently Asked Questions below. If you need additional assistance or to file a complaint, please call: 1-888-4NYSDOL (469-7365).

You can see the new additional information from the state Department of Labor here:

USDA Offers Payments Through Farm Transition Program

The Transition Incentives Program (TIP), a new program under the Conservation Title of the 2008 Farm Bill, encourages retiring farmers to transition their land to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. If all program requirements are met, TIP provides annual rental payments to the retiring farmer for up to two additional years after the date of the expiration of the Conservation Reserve Program contract. To learn more about program, producers interested in applying and participating in TIP should contact their USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.  To find a local office, visit:



Farm Product Dealers

Article 20 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law (AML) requires farm product dealers to be licensed. The law provides financial protection for producers against nonpayment for their products sold to licensed dealers from the dealer’s security and the Agricultural Producers Security Fund.

Your Responsibilities as a Producer:

Do business with a licensed dealer.

Do not continue to sell products to a dealer who has failed to make timely payments.

File a claim when a dealer has failed to make timely payments.

To be eligible for coverage, all claims must be filed no later than 365 days after the sale and delivery of the farm product, but in no event, beyond the expiration of the 30-day period provided in the notice published by the Department. Claim forms may be obtained by contacting the Department at 1-800-554-4501 or by downloading the forms from the Department’s website at: