JCC purchases plot to grow grapes

Jefferson Community College students will get hands-on experience planting and nurturing grapes next semester.

The college is renting a half-acre plot on Ridge Road to allow winery marketing and management students better to work with the sweet, cold-hardy grapes that flourish in the north country.

The Ridge Road plot near the Black River Trail was approved by the college board of trustees at its Sept. 4. meeting.

“Students will actually be planting these cold-hardy grapes,” winery management and marketing Program Coordinator and instructor Julie Purpura Hosbach said. “The first year, we’ll plant half an acre, about 200 vines.”

The winery management and marketing associate degree and certificate were developed last year to fill local vineyards’ needs for trained employees. The degree is supplemented with an oenology, or wine appreciation and selection, class and an introductory winery marketing and management class.

Until the college’s own vines are planted around May, however, viticulture students will get their hands-on experience tending to vines at local wineries, Mrs. Hosbach said.

“The plot can also serve to research,” she said. “All the local vineyards are experimenting themselves.”

The grapes that will be planted are Marquette, La Crescent, Frontenac Gris and Frontenac Blanc. These were developed by the University of Minnesota to withstand temperatures as cold as minus 30 degrees — a temperature with which the north country is familiar. More grapes may be added as they are developed.

For more information about the class or the degree, call Mrs. Hosbach at 786-2348.

-Reena Singh, Watertown Daily Times

Craft breweries becoming cash cow for hops growers

John K. Bartow holds bags of the harvested dried hops from his garden in Adams Center. Norm Johnston/ Watertown Daily Times

Hops — small flowers that provide the tangy flavor in beer — are becoming an attractive specialty crop in the north country, where the burgeoning craft beer industry has planted roots.

By partnering hops and grain growers with craft breweries in the state, farm brewery legislation passed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last summer could provide a catalyst to expand the industry here over the next decade, said John K. Bartow Jr., executive director of the Tug Hill Commission.

After starting a hops yard three years ago behind their Adams Center home on Route 11, Mr. Bartow and his wife, Janet L., had their first successful harvest this August. But while the Bartows started the small plot as a hobby, they now plan to sell a portion of their harvest to craft breweries in the area seeking to buy locally grown hops.

“We mostly started growing them as an experiment for relatives who are home brewers, but we had extra this year,” Mr. Bartow said, explaining it takes about three years for hops to mature. Hops are planted in the spring as underground stems called rhizomes; they emerge during the summer as bines that grow over 20 feet tall and are harvested in August.

The Bartows’ plot, which has 24 bines of five varieties of hops, yielded a harvest of about 40 ounces this year. That supply is enough to brew about 40 gallons of craft beer. Varieties include Cascade, Centennial, Brewers Malt, Mt. Hood and Sterling.

Because plants will be more mature next year, Mr. Bartow said, the field should produce about 60 ounces. He plans to sell a portion of those hops to a craft brewery planned in Lowville by co-owners Gerald J. Haenlin and Dean T. Richards. To be called BarkEater Craft Brewery, the business will open in early 2014 at 5411 Shady Ave., Lowville.

BarkEater is applying to become a licensed farm brewery, which requires a portion of its hops and grains to be grown in New York state under the legislation approved last summer by Gov. Cuomo. Through 2018, at least 20 percent of ingredients must be produced in New York State to keep the farm brewery license. That figure gradually will climb to 90 percent by 2024 under the law.

Mr. Bartow believes the legislation will spur more breweries, like BarkEater, to purchase their ingredients from local farms, providing a niche market for the production of hops and grains.

“The microbrewery industry in New York and across the country is growing pretty big, but how profitable remains to be seen,” he said. State legislation “will create a demand for hops and grain that go into the beer. And as the percentage of local ingredients required (by state law) goes up, that will put demand on farmers or hops growers to generate products in New York state.”

BarkEater will obtain most of its hops from White River Farm CSA in Turin, where it has established an agreement to grow hops on five acres of land. It now has 75 bines that were planted two years ago on one acre, Mr. Richards said. It eventually could grow over 125 bines on the land for employees to harvest by hand, he said.

To expand beyond than that, the brewery would need to acquire harvesting equipment because of the labor-intensive work involved.

“It’s very labor-intensive, and that’s going to be the challenge for farmers in New York state,” Mr. Richards said. “Research shows it takes a man 12 hours to harvest one plant — that’s how many hops grow on a mature bine. As the state tries to grow hops farms, they need to provide more support for farms to harvest them. A commercial harvester is over $100,000, so we have to find ways to do it collectively.”

The Northeast Hops Alliance, a nonprofit that promotes the specialty crop, allows farmers to rent portable harvest machines during harvest season.

BarkEater — an English translation of the Mohican word Adirondack — will qualify as a nanobrewery according to state law, Mr. Richards said, because it will use a small half-barrel production system. The 1,500-square-foot brewery, which is now being renovated, will be allowed to sell an array of beers on tap as a certified farm brewery. The beer will be produced at a production area in the back of the building.

The business’s long-term plan includes building a large production facility and opening three more tap rooms across the north country, Mr. Richards said. Sales in the craft brewery industry in New York have climbed by about 15 percent over the past five years, he said, and that trend is expected to continue. In turn, he believes farmers who start hops production will also reap the benefit.

“The attractive thing is it doesn’t take much land to grow a tremendous amount of hops,” he said. “A one-acre footprint will produce 2,000 gallons of beer. It’s a big expense to get started and takes three years for plants to mature, but I think farmers who commit to it are going to be hard-pressed to keep up with the demand” in the future.

BarkEater plans to purchase its grain from Farmhouse Malt, an artisanal malthouse based in Newark Valley. That company buys its barley grain from farmland in Madison County, east of Syracuse.

“The whole purpose of the farm brewery legislation is to increase farm-to-table products — the hops and grains.” Mr. Haenlin said. “There’s very little grown barley and few malthouses in the state, and there’s a huge need in this industry. The brewery industry should kickstart farming, because they need a market for the product.”

-Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times

Primed for Production: Jefferson County farmers expect outstanding harvest

Eric C. Gehrke expects a good harvest out of the 11-foot-tall stalks of corn in his field in Ellisburg. Amanda Morrison/ Watertown Daily Times

Farmers say the wealth of rain and sunshine this summer has corn, hay and soybean fields across Jefferson County primed for an outstanding harvest.

Some cornstalks, for example, stand 12 feet tall at Fairlawn Farms on Route 289 in Ellisburg. Similar lush farmland is a common sight across the southern half of the county, said Albert M. Gehrke, who co-owns the farm with his son, Eric C. The cash-crop farmer expects to harvest higher-than-average yields from 650 acres of grain corn planted in May and 250 acres of soybeans planted in early June.

“If you drive down through here, the farmland is as good as you’re going to find anywhere,” said the 69-year-old, who plans to harvest crops in early October. “We have some seriously good-looking corn. If we don’t get any monsoonal moisture, the harvest is going to be as good as it ever has — maybe better.”

By planting corn in early May, Mr. Gehrke avoided the long stretch of June rainfall that delayed planting and the first hay cutting at many farms. The farm’s light-textured loamy soil, which has drainage tiles, helped prevent flooding on farmland. Flooding in June was more pervasive on farmland in northern Jefferson County, which tends to have heavier clay soil.

Cornfields at the Ellisburg farm, about 5 miles east of Lake Ontario, normally yield an average of 175 to 180 grain bushels per acre, Mr. Gehrke said. This season’s crop, though, likely will top that mark.

“We’ve done some testing and know some areas are going to exceed 200 bushels per acre,” he said.

Cornfields planted in May are expected to produce higher-than-average yields, said Michael E. Hunter, field crops expert for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County. Helping that cause were above-average temperatures in April, May, June and July recorded by the National Weather Service at Watertown International Airport near Dexter. Rainfall measured at the airport from May 1 through Sept. 5 was 13.09 inches, up from the 12.24-inch average for the same period, according to data collected since 1949.

Above-average yields for corn silage and hay this season should help some dairy farms rebuild their stocks after a poor hay harvest last summer, Mr. Hunter said, when a monthlong drought significantly reduced yields.

“Farms may hit over 25 tons of corn silage per acre, and I know some fields that will exceed 30,” he said. “Hay yields are going to be above average at most farms, and some of them even had a surplus to sell.”

Sackets Harbor dairy farmer Ronald C. Robbins said cornfields in Jefferson County are “probably better than anywhere in the state.” The maturity of cornfields planted in May at Old McDonald’s Farm off County Road 145 is about two weeks behind schedule, he said, because of June rainfall that slowed growth. But unless an early frost arrives this month to kill plants, the harvest is expected to be excellent. The 950-cow farm planted about 2,600 acres of corn, 2,200 acres of hay and 900 acres of soybeans this season.

“We could potentially have some of the best yields we’ve ever had,” Mr. Robbins said. “We had rain when corn was pollinating, and then we’ve had this August rain to fill the corn ears out. Other than June, it’s hard to believe things could be better than this. Our soybeans are loving the August rain and sunshine, which is critical.”

From June 1 through July 11, 7.48 inches of rain were tallied at the Watertown airport. That’s the second-wettest six-week stretch — behind the summer of 1999 — ever recorded over that period. Lingering June rainfall waterlogged many farms in the county’s northern region because heavy clay soil couldn’t absorb moisture fast enough, said Philadelphia dairyman Michael B. Kiechle, who has 115 acres of corn and 175 acres of hay. Though he managed to plant corn in early May, other farms weren’t as fortunate.

“It depended on your natural resources, your labor and what equipment you have,” he said. “For some farmers in the area, this has been a frustrating year. For others that have the labor and soil to get the job done, it’s been a challenging but good year. The rain made it challenging to get crops dry enough to harvest and to plant corn. You can’t do everything all in one day.”

Because of the unpredictable weather, Mr. Kiechle said, the quality of cornfields in the surrounding area has varied widely this season. Farmers who planted corn in early May have been successful, he said. But those who waited until the rain cleared in late June paid the price.

“It’s all over the board here,” he said. “On the same road, I can show you corn that looks pathetic and absolutely super. There’s more variability in the corn this year than I’ve ever seen. Corn that was planted the first half of May looks good, but if it was planted past Memorial Day or at the end of June, it doesn’t look good. If you put the seed in and then got heavy rains, the seeds didn’t germinate as well.”

Farmers now are waiting for cornfields to dry enough for harvesting, Mr. Hunter said, which usually starts the last week of September. The first frost usually doesn’t occur until October, he said, but Mother Nature could play a spoiler role if freezing temperatures arrive this month before farmers have a chance to harvest fields.

Over the past decade, the earliest frost in which the temperature fell below 32 degrees at the Watertown airport was Sept. 19, 2008. The latest frost was Oct. 20, 2005.

-Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times

Young agriculture professionals discuss industry’s opportunities, barriers

Young people meet Wednesday at Old McDonald’s Farm in the town of Hounsfield to discuss the future of the agriculture industry and expanding opportunities for youths on north country farms. Photo by Justin Sorensen/ Watertown Daily Times

With the average dairy farmer now in his late 50s or early 60s, opportunities exist for young farmers and professionals to start careers in agriculture. Finding them, though, is the catch.

To brainstorm about opportunities and barriers in today’s industry, a group of young agriculture professionals — ages 40 and under — gathered Wednesday at Old McDonald’s Farm in the Town of Hounsfield for a discussion led by Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay M. Matteson. Launching an internship program to connect young people with opportunities at dairy farms emerged as a takeaway from the discussion. Also discussed were opportunities for farms to add vineyards and grow hops as wineries and craft breweries continue to crop up.

Stephen D. Porter and his wife, Angela M., moved from Rochester to return to their hometown, Adams Center, this past fall. Mr. Porter now co-owns Porterdale Farms with his uncle, David G., and cousin, Gregory G.
Returning to raise their four children at the family farm was attractive to the couple, Mrs. Porter said.

“We wanted our kids to have the skills to be able to do things on their own,” the 32-year-old said. “And we were lucky to have our core family here to come back to.”

Mr. Porter, 33, often works 16 hours a day on the farm. He said young people raised on farms, like himself, often spend a period of their lives away from home before committing to becoming full-time farmers. They often take years soul-searching and exploring other career options.

Mr. Porter said he is friends with a man who spent eight years in the military, for example, before he decided to continue operations at his family farm in the Orleans County town of Kendall.

“He only worked there as a kid, but he ended up becoming one of the owners,” Mr. Porter said. “But young people today have a hard time with patience. They have to be willing to wait for the right opportunities.”

Young people also perceive the rising cost of farmland, along with regulations faced by today’s farmers, as barriers in the industry, said E. Hartley Bonisteel, a 26-year-old community development coordinator for the Jefferson County Planning Department. Ms. Bonisteel, who visits farms when the county is assessing land, said that finding affordable farmland can be a challenge.

Ms. Bonisteel said that niche crops, like hops and wine grapes, might provide farmers with opportunities to diversify their operations.

“By 2020, 80 percent of hops used by breweries will have to be grown in New York state,” she said. “And hops can be an easier crop to grow than grapes. The winery industry has blossomed here in the region, but it’s still a tough industry to break into. I think now is the time for farmers to be ahead of the game and get invested in hops for the future.”

Young high school and college students who are seeking experience on dairy farms need more opportunities, contended Julia C. Robbins, executive director of the New York Corn and Soybean Growers Association.

“One of the things the Jefferson County IDA could do is help farmers pay for interns,” she said. “Because students can’t live here and pay $1,000 a month for an apartment. The only reason my family’s farm doesn’t have interns is because we don’t have a place for them to stay.”

In response, Mr. Matteson said the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County could team up to launch an internship program. The program could match farms with interns who are seeking experience.

“We could find out what their needs are and where the interns are,” he said.

Mr. Porter agreed that farmers would be receptive to hiring smart young people seeking agriculture experience.

“It wouldn’t be a hard sell,” he said.

Along with exploring that internship program, Mr. Porter said, the JCIDA could expand its marketing efforts to promote agriculture here across the state.

“Branding is something everyone needs to be aware of here,” he said. “Anything that we can do to promote the region and put a good spin on agriculture helps. We need to sell this area so that people think about all of the good farmland here.”

-Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times

U.S. Agriculture Secretary calls passage of immigration reform crucial for upstate NY dairy farms

Dairy farmers across upstate New York are thankful for skyrocketing demand for milk in the region, but they’re often challenged to expand production because they can’t hire enough employees to milk cows.

Immigration reform could be a solution to that problem, though, by providing a legal pathway for undocumented immigrants to work on dairy farms and seek citizenship, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack. During a conference call Wednesday, Mr. Vilsack said New York farmers and residents should urge members of Congress to approve immigration reform and the farm bill this fall. The House of Representatives has yet to vote on the immigration reform bill approved by the Senate in June. And Congress faces a legislative deadline of Sept. 30 to pass a new farm bill, when the bill passed in 2008 expires.

Because the state’s economy depends on support from the agriculture industry, Mr. Vilsack said, the business community at large has a stake in ensuring dairy farms have access to a sustainable labor force. According to a recent study by Regional Economic Models Inc., immigration worker programs in the Senate bill would collectively boost New York’s economic output by $3.4 billion, creating approximately 33,500 jobs in 2014.

Of the roughly 1.1 million farmworkers in New York, about 60 to 70 percent of are immigrants, Mr. Vilsack said. He said the majority of those immigrants are undocumented workers.

“Some people think immigration reform is only about people who are coming out of the shadows and earning their way to citizenship, but this is about a multigenerational agriculture industry’s ability to grow,” Mr. Vilsack said. “It has real-life concerns today for American businesses. When the dairy industry in upstate New York is negatively impacted, small towns and businesses are all negatively impacted.”

A new “W-Visa” agricultural program in the Senate bill — which would replace the H-2A program — would allow foreign workers to be employed on farms for three-year renewable stints.

Workers now here illegally, however, will be required to pay fines to enroll in that program. Dairy farms that employ W-Visa workers also will be required to prove they’ve attempted to recruit Americans for jobs but were unable to fill positions locally.

“In the case of agriculture workers here illegally, they will have to pay thousands of dollars in fines before they go to the back of the line behind workers who appropriately” enter the system, Mr. Vilsack said. “Americans will have the right to fill these jobs, but when they can’t be filled, those working in the shadows today can be encouraged to come out and join the workforce.”

Another speaker during the conference call was Maureen Torrey, chairwoman of the USDA’s Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. Ms. Torrey, who owns a 12th-generation vegetable farm west of Rochester in Elba, said a handful of dairy farms in the region are unable to hire farmworkers needed to expand milk production.

“We’ve had two new yogurt plants built within five miles in the past year,” she said. “But we have a problem because we cannot find enough people to work on dairy farms and aren’t able to expand to meet the growing demand of these plants. Banks have told at least six of these farmers they won’t finance projects unless they have a secure labor force. We need a visa program to retain our current workforce at these operations.”

Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, supports guest-worker programs in the Senate immigration reform bill. He previously said provisions for agriculture workers in the bill would provide a long-term labor force not available in the north country, and provide workers with legal papers that could eliminate the risk farmers face of being shut down for inadvertently hiring undocumented workers.

-Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times

Cost, turnover obstacles for coverage

Jay Matteson

As with many small businesses, farms face tough choices when deciding on health care coverage for farm operators and employees. Agricultural is a high risk industry. A recent accident in July on a dairy farm in the Town of Rodman and a mishap on a farm last spring in the Town of Hounsfield show how quickly injuries can occur, especially given that farm workers are around large pieces of equipment and unpredictable large animals, and in environments where problems happen quickly and without advance warning.

An analysis published in Agricultural Economics in Jan. 2012 documented annual health care expenditures of self-employed farm households in the U.S. The analysis determined that farm households with no health insurance spend the least, an average of less than $4,000 per year. Farm households where the spouse or farm operator are also employed off the farm and receive health insurance through their outside employer spend slightly more, an average of about $5,000 per year. The highest expenditures tend to occur at farm households where either the farm provides the insurance coverage or insurance is obtained through a private insurance company. In these cases, average annual expenditures are $7,500 and $10,000 respectively. Although most farmers are self-employed, the share of farm operator household members who have no insurance equals that of the overall population of the U.S. —16 percent. [Read more…]

USDA makes historic agricultural data available online

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service put 77 years of agricultural statistics online earlier this month.

Statistics were previously published only in the annual bulletin of Agricultural Statistics in print form since 1936. Data highlights annual farmland production, consumption, trade and price data for a wide variety of crops and livestock, along with spending on government programs. Statisticians unearthed the following interesting historical facts:

? U.S. egg exports skyrocketed from 5 million dozen in 1940 to 153 million dozen in 1941, the same year the Lend-Lease policy was enacted to provide food aid to Britain and other allies during World War II. By 1944, that number was nearly 700 million dozen.

? In 1933, hybrid corn seeds made up only one-tenth of 1 percent of the national crop. Within ten years, that proportion reached 50 percent; by 1956, more than 90 percent of the national corn crop was from hybrid seeds.

? Iowa harvested 2.36 billion bushels of corn in 2011, more than the entire U.S. corn harvest of 1935.

? Once staples of American farms, horse and mule populations fell from 18.7 million in 1930 to 3.1 million in 1960, after which the statistic was discontinued.

The data is available at http://wdt.me/oRnHR5.

-Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times

Gov. Cuomo announces $1.8 million to give seniors access to farmers markets

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday an award of $1.8 million in federal funds for a state-administered program aimed at providing low-income senior citizens with access to fresh produce at farmers markets across the state.

This year, the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program aims to distribute more than 100,000 booklets — which contain five $4 checks each — to eligible seniors who can use the checks at 470 farmers markets across the state, including eight in Jefferson County, three in Lewis County and 13 in St. Lawrence County.

The program is administered through the state Department of Agriculture and Markets in cooperation with the state Office for the Aging, state Department of Health’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The checks will be issued by county-based Offices for the Aging.

Eligible recipients must be 60 or older and have a gross monthly income at or below 185 percent of federal poverty guidelines:

? $1,772 per month for a one-person household.
? $2,392 per month for a two-person household.
? $3,011 per month for a three-person household.

Seniors 60 and older also are eligible for the program if they are receiving or eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income, public assistance or a Section 8 housing subsidy.

A complete list of farmers markets that will be accepting the checks, categorized by county, is available at http://wdt.me/J9acLU.

-Daniel Flatley, Watertown Daily Times

Wind developer to pay farmers in Rutland, Champion to install power line through land

The graphic illustrates land affected by the Copenhagen Wind Farm project.

Thirteen farmers who own land north of Route 12 in the towns of Rutland and Champion have signed contracts with a Brooklyn wind developer, allowing it to build a 10-mile overhead power transmission line through their fields that is needed for the Copenhagen Wind Farm project.

Farmers who signed contracts with the company this year were given $1,000 bonus checks on the spot for signing the easement for the 115-volt power line, which will run west from a substation to be built near the Jefferson-Lewis county line in the village of Copenhagen and connect to a National Grid substation near Burrville. Along with that bonus, the company agreed to pay $8,000 per acre of easement property in areas at which the line passes through tillable farmland. That payoff equates to about $2,000 for every 100 feet of farmland the line spans.

OwnEnergy was granted a 20-year tax break from local jurisdictions to help finance the $198.5 million project, which calls for the construction of 49 wind turbines that will generate 79.2 megawatts of power.

To be built on about 9,700 acres of leased land, the project will disturb about 372 acres of fields and 590 acres of forest or active farmland, according to a preliminary environmental impact statement for the project.

Farmers along the route said the plan for the power line didn’t face much opposition because the company found ways to avoid installing electrical poles on their farmland. Much of the farmland north of Route 12 in the town of Rutland is owned by Michael W. Hill, owner of Milk Street Dairy, Woodville. He purchased most of the land near Route 12 in 2010 and 2011 from three local farming families, the Sawyers, Clements and Tousants.

The developer was able to engineer a plan that mostly circumvented Mr. Hill’s property, but it was compelled to pass through a 100-acre cornfield near the substation in Burrville. In recompense, Mr. Hill will be paid about $300,000 by OwnEnergy.

“It’s been an unexpected windfall,” Mr. Hill said. “Land prices have escalated and I bought this land for what it was worth, so this helps pay for it.”

OwnEnergy could start construction on the project by late 2014. The company will own a 1,000-foot easement on property through which the power line passes — 500 feet on each side. The developer will pay farmers based on the total amount of easement property under its control.

About seven power poles are expected be built on land owned by Mr. Hill. Workers operating farm machinery will be compelled to navigate around them. But Mr. Hill, who supports the wind project, called it a minor inconvenience.

“We’ll be able to farm up to the base of the poles after construction,” he said.

Copenhagen resident Lloyd G. Woodruff, who is a vocal supporter of the wind farm project, assisted OwnEnergy by contacting farmers on Route 12 affected by the power line and encouraging them to sign contracts. Only about one mile of the 10-mile line will cross tillable farmland under the plan,

Mr. Woodruff said. Nearly all of the farmers on affected land have signed contracts with the wind developer over the past five months.

“Most of the power line is in between fields from Copenhagen to Burrville, not affecting much tillable land,” said Mr. Woodruff, who is the zoning officer for the town of Denmark.

The 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, he said, “is going to generate the town a lot of money. It will help pay off the debt on the town building, save taxes at the school and help lower our tax rate, which is close to four times more than in the towns of Champion and Rutland.”

The power line will pass through a 50-acre cornfield on the north side of Route 12 at Sawyer Farms, owned by Donald H. Sawyer. The 74-year-old dairy farmer owns about 200 acres of tillable farmland and a small herd of about 90 cattle. Two or three power poles will be installed in that cornfield,

Mr. Sawyer said, which is visible from the backyard of his house.

The Sawyers will be paid about $20,000 by OwnEnergy.

“When you’re struggling like most small farms are, this is a bonus,” Mr. Sawyer said. “It’s just like selling land to big farms who can afford to buy it at $2,000 to $3,000 an acre. The average farmer in America is now 59 years old, so opportunities like these are valuable.”

The welcoming reception for the Copenhagen Wind Farm project stands in contrast with the Galloo Island Wind Farm project proposed by Upstate NY Power Corp., which was rejected by the state Public Service Commission in June. That project would have connected the company’s proposed 246-megawatt wind farm on Galloo Island, town of Hounsfield, to the Fitzpatrick-Edic Substation in the town of Mexico, Oswego County, or to the National Grid Route 12F substation near Salmon Run Mall. A contingent of shoreline owners and dairy farmers in the towns of Hounsfield,

Henderson and Ellisburg voiced their opposition to the plan.

The Jefferson and Lewis County Farm Bureaus will host an informational meeting for farmers about the impact of power transmission lines on agricultural land at 7 p.m. July 30 at Grace Episcopal Church, 21 Cataract St., Copenhagen. Matthew J. Brower, an agriculture resources specialist for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, will highlight the potential impacts of power lines on farmland and best-management practices that construction companies are required to follow.

-Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times

Meeting challenges for a brighter future

Brian Muto, a manager at Locust Hill Farm, Mannsville, lifts the lid of a seed bucket on a tractor used to plant corn. The farm grows about 20,000 acres of corn in southern Jefferson and northern Oswego counties. Precision-planting technology has enabled the farm to maximize crop yields and save money. Photo by Norm Johnston/ NNY Business

Northern New York farmers overcome obstacles, employ innovations that put  region on course for continued success [Read more…]