Agriculture News
Steuben and Schuyler Counties
October 2020
Dear Readers:

Beginning in January 2021, we will be limiting mailed versions of the Agriculture Newsletter to only those who pay to subscribe. This email version will continue to be free to everyone. Many of you will be receiving a letter this month describing the options available to you. Use the QR code shown here or sign up online to continue receiving your Agriculture News by email.

- Ariel Kirk, Agriculture Educator
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Program Committee
Joe Castrechino          Prattsburgh
Linwood Ford             Savona
Drew Heisey               Hornell
Allison Lavine             Savona
Gary Mahany             Arkport
Greg Muller               Bath
Bob Nichols                Addison

Legislative Representatives:
Hilda Lando
Fred Potter
Q&A About Posting a Property
Nick Jensen, CPA, CFP®
NY Forest Owners Association (NYFOA) Member and Newsletter Contributor

Landowners spend a lot of time in their woodlots in the late summer and early fall gearing up for heating season and hunting seasons. Even if you are not a hunter yourself, you may have wondered what the rules are for posting your property and what this effort accomplishes. It may be worth your time to address the signage on your property if you are already on the property. This could even be a good (and less dangerous task than running a chainsaw) to get younger generations involved with.
What follows is a brief Q&A about posting your property.

Do I have to post my property?
On the one hand; posting is useful for preventing and prosecuting timber theft and prosecuting trespass cases. It therefore discourages recreationists from using your property without permission. 
But on the other hand; case law indicates that recreational liability is no greater on unposted than on posted property. Also posting your property may anger local residents, and, therefore, may lose a valuable property protection tool: the happy, helpful eyes of friendly neighbors. The protections under NYS General Obligations Law (GOL) 9-103 arise regardless of whether the landowner posts the property.
So, while posting is essential to winning a trespass case, it does not affect liability under the statute. Likewise, the statutory protection arises regardless of whether the recreational user has permission to be on the property.

Are there alternatives to posting?
Fencing: If your rural lands are entirely fenced, you may be able to prosecute trespassers under Penal Law 140 without actually posting your lands. However, when prosecuting under this law, the burden of proof is on the landowner to show that the fence was designed to exclude intruders. A well-maintained, tall fence topped with barbed wire is likely to be adequate proof of intent. However, a lower stock fence probably would not qualify. This is impractical for most property owners.

Posting with “By Permission Only Signs”: Are a good option for landowners who are generally sympathetic to recreationists but who wish to control the number on their property at any given time. These signs are not readily available in the usual retail outlets, however, some hunting and fishing clubs in areas of New York are making such signs and erecting them for cooperative landowners. Also the state fish & wildlife board sponsors an “Ask” program in which these signs are made available to landowners.

Communication: If it is a limited number of people causing the problem and you can identify them, try talking to them to work out a solution. Or write a letter which contains a description of the property and which activities are not permitted. Consider sending by certified mail. According to New York law, any person must leave your property upon request, even if it is not posted.

What are the rules about posting?
For your property to be legally posted, signs must meet the following criteria:
  • They must be at least 11 inches square.
  • They must be posted no more than 40 rods (660 feet) apart, along the boundaries of the area where posting is desired.
  • At least one sign must be posted along each border and at each corner of the plot.
  • Posting notices must include the name and address of the person posting.
  • Illegal or torn-down notices must be replaced annually in March, July, August, or September.
  • If you secure a sign directly to a tree, aluminum nails will prevent tree health problems.

Do I have to put warning signs on my tree stands?
Landowners who have obviously hazardous man-made situations on their property (like open wells, unsafe buildings, or invisible wires strung across a trail) may be found liable for injuries to anyone, including trespassers. Tree stands may be considered a hazardous situation depending on their condition. It is best practice to remove or remediate hazardous situations rather than putting a warning sign on them.
It is a good idea anyway to take all removable tree stands down after the season is over anyway to check their condition and let the tree grow without growing around the stand.

Conclusion:
It is a good general practice to post your property and annually inspect and maintain your signage. It does not, however, impact your liability should someone get hurt on your property. So it is also a good practice to remove any potentially hazardous conditions that may exist on your property.
Second Round of USDA Assistance for Farmers, Specifically for Grape Growers
The USDA recently announced the availability of the second round of assistance for farmers whose sales and markets have been impacted by COVID19. Unlike the first round of funding earlier this year, specialty crops like grapes are now part of the program. Grape growers are eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2.0, which is being administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The amount of the assistance is based on each grower’s 2019 sales of grapes ($ figure amount). All grape growers who sold grapes in 2019 are eligible for the program – I am not aware of any criteria that would exclude any growers at this point. If the grower just started in 2020 then they could provide their 2020 sales to date at the time that they apply for the program. Currently how procedure reads, only grape sales are eligible. Thus, wine or juice sales are not currently eligible for consideration, but if that changes we will get the word out. Applications are being accepted now through December 11, 2020.

To see how the payments will be calculated, go to https://www.farmers.gov/cfap, click ‘Start’ under the ‘CFAP 2 Eligible Commodities Finder’, and select Grapes on the drop down box.

More information about specialty crops in the CFAP program, including grapes, can be found at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/specialty, or by contacting your local FSA office.

Hans Walter Peterson
Viticulture Extension Specialist
Finger Lakes Grape Program
Upcoming workshops and events
Organic Grain: Harvesting, Storage, and Processing online workshop series

October 19, 26, and November 2, 2020 from 6:00 - 7:00 pm

Three workshops regarding the harvesting, handling, storage, and processing of grain crops. It's the final year of our NE SARE grant lead by Elizabeth Dyck, the coordinator of the Organic Growers' Research and Information-Sharing Network (OGRIN). The training program will be a series of three intensive 75 minute online short courses with video field days/workshops that will largely be taught by farmers and NE Grain Experts and located on farms and/or at processing venues. 

Session One 10/19: 
Production with a focus on harvesting. Harvesting continues to be critical especially for new grain farmers who are not familiar with combines. 

Presented By: Elizabeth Dyck of OGRIN with Joe Heckman of Rutgers and Scott Morgan of Morganics Farm.


Session Two 10/26: 

Presented By: Elizabeth Dyck of OGRIN and Aaron Gabriel of Cornell Cooperative Extension.


Session Three 11/2: 
Processing and Marketing

Presented By: Elizabeth Dyck of OGRIN and Joel Steigman of Small Valley Grains.


Sponsored by NOFA-NJ
 
Virtual Gardening Class: Let’s Grow Garlic
 
October 13, 2020; 2:00 – 3:00 PM. Do you love garlic? Garlic has a range of potential health benefits. In this one-hour webinar, we will be talking about how to select and grow great garlic in the home garden. You will also learn garlic storage and cooking tips. 

Speaker: Jingjing Yin, Horticulture Educator at CCE Chemung
 
Fee: Free. 

The Zoom link to access the class is provided immediately upon completion of registration in your registration confirmation email. 
Fall Tasks for your Garden Bed
Much of the harvest is coming to a close for home gardens, but there much you can do before the snow flies:

  • Test your soil. You can do this about every three years in the spring and fall, or if you observe issues of fertility. Having a good baseline of your soil's characteristics will give you vital information for management during the season.
  • Divide perennial plants. They've grown well during the season but will likely need to be thinned for the next spring.
  • Redesign beds and plant spring bulbs, perennials, and shrubs. Take stock of what worked well and what you'd change, either stylistically or due to plants performing poorly. Your observations will give you great information to future planning and plantings.
Assessing Farmland Webinar Series
LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ON HOW TO EVALUATE OR VALUE FARMLAND?

DO YOU NEED TO CREATE A LAND LEASE BUT AREN’T SURE WHERE TO START?

Please join our zoom workshop series hosted by CCE Broome, with support from American Farmland Trust

The cost is $40 for the series or 10.00 per workshop. 

Oct 7th, 6:30-8PM: How to Evaluate Your Land 
There is plenty of reasons why you should not rent your land on a handshake. One of the main reasons is to be sure your land is protected in health and in receiving a fair price. The following things should be considered: 

  • Know how farmland values are calculated & how to communicate the long-term value of your land
  • Know the conditions of your land & how you expect your land to be cared for 
  • Know how to choose a farmer & prepare a formal lease 
  • Know how to use general liability insurance 

Oct 21st, 6:30-8PM: How to Determine an Appropriate Value for Your Land

Nov 4th, 6:30-8PM: How to Put Together a Lease that Makes Sense
Did you know that many lease “agreements” are nothing more than a handshake and an annual payment? This leaves both the landowner and the farmer leasing the land at risk. There are very important considerations not accounted for with a handshake like the term of the lease so that the farmer does not end up putting a lot of time and effort into a piece of land only to have it rented out to someone else before the next harvest. There are other items to work through such as how improvements can and will be made to the property and who is liable for injury on the property. A formal lease agreement can eliminate many of these issues. Myron Thurston, Agricultural Economic Development and Marketing Specialist of CCE Madison, will walk through some of the common pitfalls of lease agreements and will provide several templates that can be used to create your own.

Nov 18th, 6:30-8PM: It’s All About Relationships
Learn how to work with lawyers, land trusts, finance officers and ag support agencies, such as USDA.

Please register for the entire series or single workshops Here
Participants will receive the Zoom link the morning of the program.
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) is now accepting applications for its Farmer Grant Program. Up to $15,000 is available per project. Applications are due online at 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 17.

The Farmer Grant Program funds farmers to enable them to explore new concepts in sustainable agriculture on production, marketing, labor, farm succession, social capital and other areas through experiments, surveys, prototypes, on-farm demonstrations or other research and education techniques. Grants may not be used to help start or expand farm businesses.

Application materials, including detailed instructions and supporting documents, are posted on the Northeast SARE website at www.northeastsare.org/FarmerGrant. Questions about the grant program should be directed to Northeast SARE grant coordinator Candice Huber at candice.huber@uvm.edu.

Farmer Grant projects address issues that affect farming with long-term sustainability in mind. There are no restrictions on the topics that may be addressed as long as the proposed project leads to new information that enhances Northeast agriculture. Reviewers look to fund projects that are well-designed to meet the objectives and promise significant benefit to farming communities.
All commercial farm business owners and farm employees in the Northeast region are eligible to apply. Farms must be located in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C. or West Virginia.
Northeast SARE encourages projects submitted from or in collaboration with women, LGBTQ+ and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers.
All projects must enlist a technical advisor that provides support to the farmer applicant. The technical advisor can be an Extension educator; Natural Resources Conservation Service or other government staff; university researcher; nonprofit staff; private consultant; veterinarian or other technical expert, including another farmer.
Northeast SARE, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, offers competitive grants and sustainable agriculture education. The program is hosted by the University of Vermont.

Original article source:
New York Sick Leave Requirement: What We Know, Still Don’t Know, and Action Items
What We Know:
The Law 
New York State, in the 2020 budget act, mandated annual sick leave on a permanent basis. There is no exemption for farm employers from the sick leave requirement and we expect most farms with hired employees to be affected. The amount and type of sick leave required varies by employer size and income, as follow:
  • For employers with 4 or fewer employees and less than $1 Million in net income: 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per employee
  • For employers with 4 or fewer employees and greater than $1 Million in net income: 40 hours of paid sick leave per employee
  • For employers with between 5 and 99 employees: 40 hours of paid sick leave per employee
  • For employers with greater than 100 employees: 56 hours of paid sick leave per employee

Note that this is a new requirement for all employers, if you already provide sick leave that meets or exceed these levels then your policy already meets the requirement. Employers are not required to provide the sick leave until January 1, 2021 but they are required to begin accruing hours of sick leave for employees on September 30, 2020.

Reasons to Use Sick Leave:
The new law has detailed requirements about reasons for sick leave that your policy must also meet, including some that you might not expect. According to the law, employers must provide leave:
(i) for a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of such employee or such employee’s family member, regardless of whether such illness, injury, or health condition has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time that such employee requests such leave;
(ii) for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of, or need for medical diagnosis of, or preventive care for, such employee or such employee’s family member; or
(iii) for an absence from work due to any of the following reasons when the employee or employee’s family member has been the victim of domestic violence (…), a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking: (a) to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program; (b) to participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee’s family members; (c) to meet with an attorney or other social services provider to obtain information and advice on, and prepare for or participate in any criminal or civil proceeding; (d) to file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement; (e) to meet with a district attorney’s office; (f) to enroll children in a new school; or (g) to take any other actions necessary to ensure the health or safety of the employee or the employee’s family member or to protect those who associate or work with the employee.

Accrual and Carryover:
Employees can accrue sick time at a rate of no less than 1 hour of sick time per 30 hours worked, or the employer can choose to award all of the sick time upfront at the beginning of the calendar year. If the upfront approach is used the employer is not permitted to reduce or revoke the awarded sick time if the employee ends up working fewer hours during the year than expected. Unused sick time must carry over to the next year but employers with less than 100 employees can limit accrued sick time to 40 hours, and employers with greater than 100 employees can limit it to 56 hours.

What We Still Don’t Know:
In spite of repeated requests by employers, business organizations, accountants, attorneys and this author, the NYS Department of Labor has not yet provided details about many important questions relevant to farm employers.
  • How will net income be calculated? What formula will NYS Department of Labor use?
  • What about seasonal farm employees, are they included in the sick leave requirement? How many hours or days must they work each year to be included in the employer’s number of employees?
  • Can employers provide a pro-rated amount of sick days upfront to seasonal employees, such as 20 hours for employees who work 5-6 months, or must the hourly accrual of 30:1 be used?
  • What about family members who work on the farm as defined in the Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act, is sick leave required for them?
  • What about youth workers, employees under age 18, are they included in the sick leave requirement?
  • What about different business entities with varying levels of share ownership? Which of those entities will be combined in order to calculate the number of employees?
We will continue to press for answers to these and other relevant questions and will share this information through written releases and employer training when available.

Actions Items for Employers:
  1. Track hours worked for all employees beginning September 30, 2020, if not already doing so. Employers can always go back and credit employees with sick time earned if the number of hours worked is known.
  2. Consider adopting modern software and tracking systems to create employee schedules, record hours worked, integrate with payroll, and keep track of sick leave and vacation accrual and usage for all employees.
  3. Review your current sick leave policy and update as needed.
  4. Train managers and employees about your sick leave policy and any changes that will occur.
  5. Stay tuned to the Ag Workforce Journal and other industry newsletters for more information about New York’s sick leave requirements.

Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.

Green Practices Can Negate Climate Emissions on NY Farms
New York agriculture has the capacity to mitigate its own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, two Cornell researchers say in a state-funded report commissioned by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The 65-page report, New York Agriculture and Climate Change: Key Opportunities for Mitigation, Resilience, and Adaptation, provides a scientific assessment of opportunities and barriers supporting climate adaptation and mitigation practices on New York’s farms.

It comes on the heels of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law last year. The law mandates that all sectors of society mitigate 40% of GHG emissions by 2030, and 85% by 2050.

“This report provides a pathway for farmers, policymakers and citizens to increase productivity and the greenhouse gas mitigation of the land while also attempting to ensure a less variable climate for future farmers,” said Jenifer Wightman, a research associate in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the report’s first author.

“In an industrialized state like New York, we need every sector to step up and make a contribution to mitigating climate change,” said co-author Peter Woodbury, senior research associate in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section. “There’s the opportunity to do that with agriculture and forestry while also getting other benefits” such as improved profitability and cleaner air and water, he said.
Though people mostly focus on carbon emissions, the authors said it’s important to account for three greenhouse gases produced on farms: carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
“It’s not commonly known, but methane and nitrous oxide account for 75% of agricultural emissions,” Wightman said, noting that methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a GHG, and nitrous oxide is 264 times more potent, making them important mitigation targets.
The report identified practices that remove GHGs more permanently from the atmosphere, as opposed to temporary fixes. Planting trees, the researchers wrote, can sequester carbon for hundreds of years if harvested for building materials that store carbon for the life of the structure.
“Because climate change is a 100-, 300-, 1,000-year project,” Wightman said, “we want to make sure that we’re supporting projects that lead to permanent greenhouse gas emission reductions and aren’t just temporary.”
The report includes a table that ranks 13 mitigation opportunities based on the scale at which they could be implemented, and whether they met important criteria.

These standards were summed up by the acronym SMART, for “services” or co-benefits of an action; whether a strategy is “measurable,” “achievable” and “realistic” to implement; and whether the action provides a more permanent mitigation “time” frame.

The top five SMART mitigation actions were:
  • Manure storage cover and flare: Storage units improve water quality by reducing manure spreading in winter months, but they create methane. By adding a cover to collect the methane and adding a flare, the methane can be destroyed. These systems last up to 20 years, cost $300,000 and remove large amounts of methane making it an inexpensive GHG mitigation for society, though it is a high cost per individual farm;
  • Nitrogen management: Nitrogen inputs help plants grow, but ineffective use results in nitrous oxide emissions. Improving nitrogen use saves money, can increase yields and reduce ammonia and nitrous oxide emissions;
  • Livestock feed management: Increasing feed efficiency can reduce cow methane emissions, decrease feed costs while increasing milk produced and decrease manure, all of which lessens GHG emissions;
  • Woodland management: More than 21% (approximately 1.4 million acres) of farmlands are wooded. By protecting, maintaining and managing woodlands, farms can conserve and enhance this important New York state carbon sink while generating valuable hard wood timber to support retirement or a child’s college education; and
  • Activation of underutilized lands: About 1.7 million acres of underutilized or former farm land in New York state could be used for bioenergy production, solar arrays and/or growing new forests – all of which offer diverse mechanisms of GHG mitigation and rural economic development.

Wightman and Woodbury have also authored a companion report, “Sources and Sinks of Major Greenhouse Gases associated with New York State’s Natural and Working Lands: Forests, Farms, and Wetlands” (2020), commissioned by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell Chronicle, August 13, 2020
Original article Here

Dear Readers,
The 2020 census has been extended through October 31, 2020. This gives us more time to fill out this important information that helps all of us in our communities. Below is background information about the census, where to visit to complete it, and what programs it helps (including CCE!) - Ariel Kirk

Have you completed your 2020 Census?
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Steuben County is encouraging everyone to make sure your town’s story is told by responding to the 2020 Census—the count of everyone living in the United States. When you do, you’ll also help your town get the most out of the American dream.
 
The 2020 Census is your chance to shape your community’s future. You can respond online using a mobile phone, tablet, or computer - even if you haven’t received your census invitation. Visit 2020Census.gov and click “Respond.” Compete the online form and be sure to include everyone who lives in your household. That’s all there is to it.
 
The Census is a complete population count of every individual living in the United States and takes place once every 10 years. The U.S. Constitution mandates this population count. Census responses provide data that can attract new businesses and the jobs that come with them. The data also informs where over $675 billion in federal funding is spent each year in states and communities. That includes money for things like:
 
·    Cooperative Extension
·    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
·    Rural Rental Assistance Payments
·    Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
·    Medicare Part B
·    Children’s Health Insurance Program
·    Unemployment Insurance
·    Community Development Block Grants
 
The Census also determines our political representation in Congress. Census data is used to determine how many seats each state will receive in the U.S. House of Representatives based on population changes (reapportionment process). The House of Representatives is a part of the U.S. Congress, and works to pass federal laws.
 
CCE Steuben Executive Director Tess McKinley says, “Completing the Census is important because funding goes to various communities based on how many people take the Census in their area. Doing the Census is a free, quick and easy way to support your region especially during these unprecedented times. Make Steuben count and do the Census today!”
 
Participating in the Census will ensure that our communities receive their fair share of resources. Resources determined by the Census are essential to the health, wellbeing, and advancement of our communities, particularly immigrant communities of color. We must participate, stand together, and make ourselves heard!
 
The Census questionnaire will ask for your name, age, date of birth, race, Hispanic origin, sex, whether you own or rent your residence, number of people and children living in your household, and telephone number. The Census questionnaire will NOT ask you for your government identification number. By law, the Census Bureau is required to keep all Census information confidential.
 
Some ways to determine if the correspondence you receive is legitimately from the Census Bureau are:
 
·    It has the U.S. Department of Commerce in the return address (The Dept. of Commerce is the Census Bureau’s parent agency)
 
·    The return address is set in Jefferson, Indiana. Most Census/survey materials are mailed from The National Processing Center at 1201 East 10th St, Jefferson, IN.
 
·    You may receive a reminder letter from the Census Bureau’s headquarters in Washington DC or from one of the Regional Offices (Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York or Philadelphia).
 
·    Correspondence from the Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security Number or Identification Number.
 
Despite delays due to the current pandemic, the Census Bureau is working to complete data collection as quickly and safely as possible, while ensuring a complete and accurate count as it strives to comply with the law and statutory deadlines. All offices are scheduled to complete their work by October 31, 2020.

Every Person Counts! Whether it’s funding in communities across your state or helping determine the number of seats your state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives—every count makes an equal impact. Visit http://putknowledgetowork.org/finance/2020-census for more information.
Fall Honey... Goldenrod!
For beekeepers, the final honey collection usually occurs at the very end of September or beginning of October, weather depending. Goldenrod, or Solidago canadensis, is an important source of pollen late in the season when not many other flowering plants are available any longer.
While often seen as a weed species, it gives great value as a hardy, genetically diverse pollinator-friendly plant, offering a chance to bulk up on food stores for the winter.