Agricultural Development Conference on March 23

Jay Matteson

On Friday, March 23, agriculture will be showcased at the annual Jefferson County Agricultural Development Conference at the Hilton Garden Inn in Watertown. The conference is free to attend, but advance registration is required by March 16. The morning agenda will look at local agricultural development efforts underway or proposed for Northern New York. A nationally recognized keynote speaker will discuss opportunities and challenges for our agricultural industry in 2018 and beyond during our midday program. In the afternoon, the event will feature panel discussions that examine the future of agriculture and workforce development issues. Those interested in more information or in registering should call (315) 782-5865.

    Our keynote speaker, Moe Russell, is the cofounder of Russell Consulting Group, a leading provider of marketing and financial advice to crop and livestock producers.  Moe is a frequent business speaker on motivation, planning and entrepreneurship. He developed a webinar series on commodity marketing and writes for Farm Journal magazine.

    Prior to starting Russell Consulting, he spent 26 years with Farm Credit Services and served as division president, branch lending, where he was responsible for 82 lending offices in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. Moe has international consulting experience in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Middle East and South Africa. He is also on the faculty of the “The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers” (TEPAP) program at Texas A & M University.

    Our keynote presentation will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 1:30 p.m. with a break for lunch. Immediately following the keynote presentation, Moe Russell will be joined onstage by Mr. Chris Laughton, director of knowledge exchange at Farm Credit East and John Jennings, plant manager of Great Lakes Cheese in Adams. The panel will build upon Mr. Russell’s presentation, examining current events in agriculture, the strengths and weaknesses of Northern New York agriculture, and will discuss their thoughts on how to grow our industry.

    The conference begins at 8:15am with an important update on the Regional Food Hub Program and what efforts are being made to help farms with marketing and distributing their food products. Building upon the food hub program, we’ll also learn about the Drive for 25 Farm to School initiative to get more local farm products onto our school lunch menus.  These two programs are chipping away at the barriers that have made it difficult for produce farms to thrive in our region.

    At 9:30 a.m., there will be a report on the International Agribusiness Park of the Thousand Islands. Much work is being done to develop this industrial park for agriculture and conference participants will hear the progress being made on this exciting project. Tied to the Agribusiness Park presentation, Dr. Travis Maddock from Dakota Global Group of North Dakota will be on hand to discuss the feasibility of a USDA meat processing facility here in northern New York. 

    Our final program of the day features a panel discussion on pathways for agricultural workforce development.   The panel discussion begins at 2:30 p.m. and features Dr. Stephen Todd, superintendent of Jefferson – Lewis BOCES, Dr. William Jones, who helped create the new agribusiness degree program at SUNY Canton, and William Stowell, agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at South Jefferson High School. This panel will discuss the various programs they are involved with at their institutions and what opportunities and needs they see affecting our agricultural workforce.

    The Jefferson County Agricultural Development Conference begins at 8:15 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Watertown.  Participants may choose to attend a portion or all of the conference.  Lunch is served from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. The entire program is free thanks to sponsorship from Afgritech LLC, Great Lakes Cheese Co., Midway International Logistics, North Harbor Dairy Farms, Farm Credit East, Monroe Tractor and Jefferson County Local Development Corporation.  To learn more about the program or register, one may call (315) – 782-5865, email coordinator@comefarmwithus.com or visit www.jeffersoncountyagriculture.com .

Jay Matteson is agricultural coordinator for the Jefferson County Local Development Corp. Contact him at coordinator@comefarmwithus.com. His column appears every other month in NNY Business.

Agriculture Through the Ages: The changing, youthful face of north country agriculture

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY BUSINESS
The Porter family still owns an operates Porterdale Farms in Jefferson County, from left, Stephen, and wife, Angela, with children Landon, 11, Collin, 8, Kennedy, 6, and Katelyn, 5, David Porter, and Lisa, and husband Greg.

[Read more…]

Thompson Park announces USDA survey results, talks winter hours

JUSTIN SORENSEN / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES Two otters arrived at the Thompson Park Zoo in July. The Thompson Park Zoo said they recently passed a United States Department of Agriculture inspection, following a negative review earlier this year.

JUSTIN SORENSEN / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
Two otters arrived at the Thompson Park Zoo in July. The Thompson Park Zoo said they recently passed a United States Department of Agriculture inspection, following a negative review earlier this year.

By GORDON BLOCK
GBLOCK@WDT.NET

The Thompson Park Zoo said they recently passed a United States Department of Agriculture inspection, following a negative review earlier this year.

The USDA review in June criticized the zoo for poor animal handling and for not having an adequate animal curator. Among the issues were an injury to a lynx kitten from an unsecured playpen, and a decision to handfeed the kittens without full consultation with their veterinarian.

“The June 2016 inspection was less than favorable but staff and volunteers used this report as motivation to correct all concerns immediately,” said Lesley Clark, the zoo’s director of operations, in a statement. “The October 2016 report shows the progresses the staff and volunteers have made at the zoo.”

She told the Times on Wednesday that the zoo resolved many of the USDA’s issues within a week.

The zoo’s news release said that the zoo is nearing the end of its search for a curator that would meet the USDA standards, and expects to have the position filled by mid-winter.

The zoo’s next inspection will be in October 2017, which Ms. Clark noted was a change from the quarterly inspections that the zoo has had on and off for a couple of years.

The zoo’s news release said that it will be open every Saturday starting in November, after three years of being closed due to safety concerns. The zoo said those safety concerns have been addressed.

“It’s very important for our members,” Ms. Clark said, in a phone call with the Times earlier in October. “Our members support us, and they want to enjoy all four seasons of the zoo. The past few years we haven’t been able to offer that for them.”

She also said that many of the animals are more active during the colder months of the year.

May 2016 Cover Story: Economic Development

Securing a stronger future for the north country

COR Development’s Mercy Health Center Redevelopment project is set to begin its first phase of construction this summer on 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 108 apartments. Overall, the project will house 168 units and a community center on the grounds of the former Mercy Hospital in Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

COR Development’s Mercy Health Center Redevelopment project is set to begin its first phase of construction this summer on 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 108 apartments. Overall, the project will house 168 units and a community center on the grounds of the former Mercy Hospital in Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Despite workforce challenges, regional economic development continues to power positive growth across Northern New York

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

A rural and historically challenged region where economic development was often stagnant, the Great Recession dealt a significant blow to New York’s north country as its counties saw a spike in unemployment and manufacturing jobs disappear, including about 600 from Jefferson County alone. [Read more…]

Schumer urges USDA to help Watertown company with permit

Courtney Schermerhorn, site manager for Midway International Logistics, gives the Times a tour of the facility Friday. Bureaucratic red tape has caused the company to lose a $1.75 million contract to import meat from Canada. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

Courtney Schermerhorn, site manager for Midway International Logistics, gives the Times a tour of the facility Friday. Bureaucratic red tape has caused the company to lose a $1.75 million contract to import meat from Canada. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer has stepped in to help a local company get through bureaucratic red tape to receive a federal permit to import meat from Canada. [Read more…]

Governor could bridge funding gap for Orleans water project

A state Department of Transportation truck makes a stop at the salt barn on Route 12 in Collins Landing. Photo from Watertown Daily Times.

A state Department of Transportation truck makes a stop at the salt barn on Route 12 in Collins Landing. Photo from Watertown Daily Times.

COLLINS LANDING — The office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo may soon award grant funding needed by the town of Orleans to break ground on a $12.3-million water project, according to a businessman who learned about the matter from an aide to an elected state official. [Read more…]

January 2016 Cover Story: Economic Outlook

Slow and steady
growth wins the race

OUTLOOK 2016 / MILITARY: A soldier salutes during the presentation of the colors last year in an activation ceremony for the 10th Mountain Division Divarty. As the post avoided major cuts in 2015, Fort Drum officials remain positive that 2016 will be a healthy year for one of region’s top economic sectors. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

OUTLOOK 2016 / MILITARY: A soldier salutes during the presentation of the colors last year in an activation ceremony for the 10th Mountain Division Divarty. As the post avoided major cuts in 2015, Fort Drum officials remain positive that 2016 will be a healthy year for one of region’s top economic sectors. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

Despite a few challenges, experts say the region is on pace for a positive year in 2016. Six sectors of the north country’s economy are ripe with opportunities for growth.

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

A grim fate cast a pall over the north country in early 2015, as federal budget sequestration threatened to cut up to 16,000 personnel from Fort Drum in an effort by the army to trim its active duty force from 490,000 to 450,000 by fiscal year 2017. [Read more…]

January 2016 Feature Story: Agribusiness

Ag jobs need new grads

Anna Bica, 14, a member of the South Jefferson FFA, is pursuing agricultural education opportunities. Local experts say job opportunities in agriculture will continue open up in Northern New York and nationwide, but more college graduates will be needed to fill them. Organizations like FFA play a pivotal role in educating students about opportunities available in the field. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Anna Bica, 14, a member of the South Jefferson FFA, is pursuing agricultural education opportunities. Local experts say job opportunities in agriculture will continue open up in Northern New York and nationwide, but more college graduates will be needed to fill them. Organizations like FFA play a pivotal role in educating students about opportunities available in the field. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

USDA: Too few earn degrees required for agriculture roles

By Ted Booker, NNY Business

Jobs in the agriculture industry will open up in Northern New York and across the country, but more college graduates will be needed to fill them, local experts say. [Read more…]

Organic farm plans $1 million meat processing facility

Kandace Dietschweiler-Hartley poses for a portrait at her route 68 farm in Oswegatchie. Mrs. Dietschweiler-Hartley is planning to build a 6,000 square foot slaughterhouse and retail outlet. Photo by Larry Robinson, Watertown Daily Times.

Kandace Dietschweiler-Hartley is planning to build a 6,000 square foot slaughterhouse and retail outlet in Oswegatchie. Photo by Larry Robinson, Watertown Daily Times.

OSWEGATCHIE — A local farm that already specializes in certified organic meat and other regional agriculture products is planning construction this spring of a 6,000-square-foot slaughterhouse and meat processing facility that will include an adjacent retail store and gas station along state Route 68 near the Ogdensburg International Airport. [Read more…]

Poultry company buys Renzi warehouse to create up to 30 jobs

WATERTOWN — In a move expected to create up to 30 full-time jobs within a year, a Canadian businessman has bought a Bradley Street warehouse building from Renzi Foodservice to expand his poultry inspection company there.

[Read more…]