Agriculture News
Steuben County
June 2021
Dear Readers:

In NY we celebrate Dairy Month in June. Be sure to shop locally when you purchase your milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.

Please read on for the newest happenings from CCE on agriculture, horticulture, and natural resources topics.

- Ariel Kirk, Agriculture Educator
Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Committee
Ed Merry
Chris Comstock
Allison Lavine
Gary Mahany
Cody Lafler
Kevin Costello
Joe Castrechino
Legislative Representatives
Hilda Lando
Fred Potter
Grant Opportunities:
Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) Grants are Now Available

On May 5, 2021, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced $92.2 million in competitive grant funding for LAMP programs:

For farm to school stakeholders, these programs support building out local and regional food systems. FMLFPP supports the development and expansion of direct-to-consumer markets and indirect producer-to-consumer marketing through intermediaries. The RFSP program supports partnerships in the planning and development of local and regional food systems. Funding is provided for coordination efforts, such as priority setting, connecting partners to resources and services, and measuring progress towards common goals.

Eligible entities are organizations across local and regional food sectors. The USDA is looking to help underserved local and regional agricultural entities respond to COVID-19 disruptions and impacts through projects that develop and expand their local and regional food systems. The USDA strongly encourages projects to support small farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, veteran producers, and underserved communities. For more information check out the respective program pages linked to above.

There is a great need for businesses and farmers to accept WIC and Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons

Are you a farmer that vends at Farmers Markets?

Do you own a farmstand or garden nursery that also sells produce?

Apply for the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and allow your produce and products to be purchased with Senior Nutrition Coupons and WIC Nutrition Coupons. These funds can only be used with sellers that are within the program.

This year, between the months of June and September there has been an increase in funds for every woman and child in need, but there are very few producers listed as accepting the program's benefits. We hope more farms will join the program for those in need.

Please visit the NYSDAM website to apply here
Where Does Your Milk Come From?

Did you know that you can learn where your milk comes from right on the packaging?

In Steuben County we have 206 dairy farms with 22,500 dairy cows. We also have some goat dairies as well. With that many cows, Steuben County alone produces over 165,000 gallons of milk a year, contributing to the nutritional needs of over 10,000 people a day.

Look for the "36" in the processing code to know where your milk is originating from in this region of NYS. Want to learn more? Check out the website Where is My Milk From? for more interesting facts and information.

-Ariel Kirk
Opportunities to be Involved

We are looking for volunteers to help in the Community Garden. Volunteer with a Master Gardner that promotes a safe work environment where learning is encouraged and supported. One of the primary focus areas of Steuben County AmeriCorps Seniors/RSVP is Food Insecurity.

This is a perfect opportunity to help address this issue in our community. Produce grown in the garden is given to local food pantries and to the Red Door free lunch site at the church. The garden beds are raised for easy accessibility. Volunteers needed Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9-noon. Growers may choose to work for 1-3 hours on the designated days on one or more days.

For more information, call or email Mary Dugo here or 607-664-2298.
Bath Village Needs Volunteers for Liberty Street Flowers

The Village of Bath is looking for help watering the hanging flower baskets that are along Liberty Street through the summer.

If you have your own flowers, you know that hanging baskets need to be watered often to keep the plants healthy and happy.

Bath Village is seeking volunteers to water the flower baskets, preferably in 2-person teams, from June 1 to September 21. The volunteer shifts are throughout this time and are very flexible.

Please reach out to Tess McKinley here or call (607) 664-2301 (Office) for more details.
Evening Discussion about Marketing for Steuben County Producers and Agribusiness Owners

Wednesday, 6/23
7pm - 8-pm

This casual Zoom gathering will be on the topic of marketing- what you're doing, how it's working for you, what you're exploring, or what you would like to explore but haven't made that jump yet (and why).

This informal meeting needs your participation to be successful. I am interested to hear what you are experiencing in this important business topic and by talking together, we can share other methods or techniques from neighboring farmers.

I welcome beginning and established farmers to this discussion. I'll be working with Katelyn Walley-Stoll, SWNYDLFC team's Business Management Specialist to develop resources based on what needs are revealed during our discussion.

Register for the discussion here or call the office at 607-664-2300.

-Ariel Kirk, Agriculture Educator
Volunteers Sought for NY
Dairy of Distinction Program
It is a highly anticipated time of year, the time of year when spring weather finally arrives and productivity on our Northeast farms runs rampant. As we round the corner into June, the bulk of the corn and soybean crop is planted and many farms have successfully completed first cutting hay harvest. The month of June is notoriously known as Dairy Month. First introduced to consumers as National Milk Month back in 1937 as a way to promote and encourage milk consumption during times of peak supply. Dairy Month still resonates with consumers and serves as an annual tradition to celebrate the wide variety of contributions from our local dairy industry. 

Another approach to the promotion and recognition of local dairy farms was established nearly forty years ago with the North East Dairy Farm Beautification Program’s Dairy of Distinction Award. Since 1983, the Dairy of Distinction Award has been awarded to dairy farms that strive to maintain an attractive farmstead. The award is based on the premise that clean and attractive farmsteads promote a positive dairy industry image and encourages dairy product consumption. While recipients of the award predominantly hail from New York and Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont and Maryland also offer this recognition to their deserving dairy producers. 
Qualifications for receipt of the award, which is a metal Dairy of Distinction sign that is displayed roadside, are as follows: completion of an application, farms must actively ship milk and must score a 90 or above out of a possible 100 points on the evaluation. Volunteer judges typically conduct evaluations during the month of May or June. Farms awarded the Dairy of Distinction Award are reviewed annually to ensure they are in good standing with the program’s requirements. Here in New York there are roughly 500 Dairy of Distinction farms. An aging farming population combined with shrinking profitability margins and limited milk marketing options have significantly influenced the number of dairy farms that call New York home. 

The NY Dairy of Distinction Program is a volunteer run organization that continues to oversee both the award process as well as the annual re-evaluation of farms. The continued effort to maintain the integrity of this long established program is made possible with help from volunteers that cover ten districts across NY State. We are fortunate to have the help of several Cornell Cooperative Extension personnel with ties to the dairy industry that provide much needed assistance. 

American Dairy Association- Northeast (ADANE) generously provides significant financial support. The financial contributions allow us to supply winning farms with signage, district representatives plan recognition events for farms and mileage costs incurred from judging will be reimbursed to drivers. In addition to the regional Dairy of Distinction Awards awarded across the state, our organization participates in the annual Dairy Day Celebration during the New York State Fair. During this event, awards for Person of Distinction and Business of Distinction are presented as a way to recognize those individuals and organizations that support the Dairy of Distinction’s missions and values.
On behalf of the NY Dairy of Distinction Program, I would like to invite you to become a part of our organization by volunteering. District representatives and judges are needed in various regions across the state. Our Board of Directors will have an opening for secretary after July 1 2021. This is the only paid position in our organization. 

Please feel free to contact NY State Dairy of Distinction President, Marylynn Collins, for more information on volunteering or to apply for the secretary position. Email Marylynn at
Producers with Crop Insurance to Receive Premium Benefit for Cover Crops

Agricultural producers who have coverage under most crop insurance policies are eligible for a premium benefit from the USDA if they planted cover crops during this crop year. The Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP), offered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), helps farmers maintain their cover crop systems, despite the financial challenges posed by the pandemic.
PCCP provides premium support to producers who insured their spring crop with most insurance policies and planted a qualifying cover crop during the 2021 crop year. The premium support is $5 per acre, but no more than the full premium owed. All cover crops reportable to FSA are eligible and include cereals and other grasses, legumes, brassicas and other non-legume broadleaves, and mixtures of two or more cover crop species planted at the same time.
To receive the benefit for this program, producers must file a Report of Acreage form (FSA-578) for cover crops with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) by June 15, 2021, which is distinct from the normal acreage reporting date. The normal acreage reporting deadline with FSA has not changed, but to receive the premium benefit, producers must file by June 15. The cover crop fields reported on the Report of Acreage form must match what the producer reported to their insurance company for crop insurance policies. To file the form, producers must contact and make an appointment with their local USDA Service Center. To learn more about the program eligibility, click here
ARLINGTON, Va. — A bipartisan group of more than 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack urging USDA to address the underconsumption of dairy foods among American school-aged children, specifically by making permanent a current flexibility that allows schools to offer low-fat flavored milk—a nutrient dense option for improving the quality of children’s diets.
The letter cites the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report, which found that 79 percent of 9–13-year-olds, who rely on the school meal programs to meet their nutritional needs, are not meeting the recommended intake of dairy foods. “Both the 2015 and 2020 editions of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) amplified this concern, stating that, beginning at a young age, average dairy consumption falls short of recommended amounts,” the letter states.

While current USDA flexibilities allow schools to offer low-fat flavored milk through the 2021-2022 school year, USDA has before it a proposed rule that would make these flexibilities permanent. Importantly, this action would remain consistent with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) today issued the following statements applauding the lawmakers’ proposed solution to addressing underconsumption of dairy among school-aged children:
“Milk benefits children in many ways – but it can’t benefit them at all if they don’t drink it, and ensuring that they do so requires a wide range of options,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation. “Milk’s unique nutritional package is of great benefit to the nation’s schoolchildren, and this message to Secretary Vilsack strongly supports the critical goal of boosting consumption of essential nutrients of public health concern, including calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report found that 79 percent of 9-13-year-olds, who rely on school meals to meet their nutritional needs, are not meeting the recommended intake of dairy foods. Milk provides the foundation of a lifetime of better health, and we thank the signers of this letter, led by Reps. Courtney and Thompson, for recognizing and advancing its benefits.”

“Milk, including low-fat flavored milk, is an important way for children to access the nutrient profile of dairy, providing thirteen essential nutrients and unique health benefits,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO, International Dairy Foods Association. “IDFA appreciates the leadership of the more than 50 champions for dairy in the House of Representatives for encouraging USDA to prioritize dairy in federal nutrition programs, specifically through the inclusion of low-fat flavored milk in school meal programs. Right now, USDA has before it a proposed rule that would return to flexibilities allowing flavored, low-fat milk to be served in child nutrition programs, and IDFA strongly encourages the USDA to adopt school milk flexibility in the rule as a long-term solution. By doing so, the USDA would help ensure more kids meet the recommended intake for dairy set forth in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”
–National Milk Producers Federation
** Your Advertisement Here! **

Dear Readers,
Through this publication, CCE Steuben serves farmers, agribusinesses, and county residents of all ages interested in current agriculture, horticulture, and natural resources topics. You can contribute a logo and/or have space for a promotional message to reach the local agriculture community.

$100.00 for the remainder of the year - December 2021

Contact Anne at 607-664-2300 or email her here for more details.
Grazing Livestock in Mud Season
Cornell Cooperative Extension shares strategies to help take advantage of early season grazing on wet pastures
By: Amy Barkley

SOUTHWEST, NEW YORK (May 6th, 2021) – Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Program (SWNYDLFC) knows that while pastures are greening up nicely, damage can be made to them by the hooves of livestock, especially if they are wet. However, there are ways to decrease potential injury to plants and compaction of soil while still taking advantage of this nutrient-rich feed source.

In many parts of Southwest NY, farmers are in the middle of what is affectionately (or not so affectionately) known as “mud season”. In fields with clay-type soil and/or poor drainage, wet ground can stick around until early summer. For farmers with grazing livestock, this is unfortunate since the spring flush of cool season grass growth is the largest of the season, and not grazing it can leave money on the table. However, management strategies can play a large role in when you can get out onto a wet pasture and not damaging it when you do.

The greatest damage to a wet pasture is caused by grazing livestock punching up the ground. The relatively small surface area of a hoof compared to the animal’s relatively large body weight means that each step that creature takes results in a significant amount of weight in a small area. When that animal steps through the sod, not only does it cause damage to the plants, but it also compacts the soil. Compacted soil loses its porous structure, keeping a wet pasture wetter longer. It also puts the plants growing in that area at a disadvantage. Plants perform better when a soil’s porous structure allows for water and air movement as well as spaces for roots to grow.

While wet pastures are a thorn in the side of some, there are management strategies to help reduce compaction and plant damage while still taking advantage of early season forage. Grazing lighter animal groups, such as a smaller species or younger stock can help reduce the extent of compaction. Drastically decreasing the stocking density can help get some forage from the pasture, but the lower number of animals means less of an impact to the soil. This will not prevent hooves from sinking, but will result in fewer repeated punches.

The best management strategy for pasture health and longevity is to not graze until it’s dry enough to do so. However, sometimes this is not possible. Wet weather results in little drying of the soil, which may make pastures that are otherwise grazable too wet for a few days. Let them dry for 3-5 days before turning livestock out.

When waiting for an early grazed wet pasture to regrow, increasing the time the animals are off pasture allows more time for damaged roots and shoots to recover. To avoid the risk of livestock punching up the ground, there may be an opportunity to take hay off a wet pasture, but careful consideration needs to be made regarding potential damage by the tractor and haying equipment. Lighter equipment with wider tires that can float more easily over the ground surface is recommended here.

While the management strategies listed above can be successful, they can be further aided by the following considerations. Patchy pastures or pastures with less-than-optimal forage growth will likely benefit from a soil test and adjusting the pH and fertility based on the results. Optimized soil nutrition allows for the growth of desired species, filling in patchy or weedy pastures, and increasing the density of the sod (stems and roots). In wetter pastures, sod-forming species are desirable, since their sod forms a mat which is less easily damaged by grazing livestock. Species such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and bermudagrass are good choices for wet areas. Some seed companies have pasture mixes that are designed to thrive in wet soils and build a dense sod.

The recommendation when grazing is to take half, leave half. Plants like to have a balance of roots and shoots and grazing too low means that the plant will kill off some of its root system to maintain the balance. To keep the greatest amount of root structure, which stabilizes soil, graze conservatively. On pastures that are typically wet at the beginning of the season, leaving 4” – 6” of residual at the end of the season can help give a jump-start to forage growth in the spring while maintaining a dense root mass.

With these management tips in mind, it’s possible to successfully harvest forage from wet pastures.

For more information, contact Livestock and Beginning Farm Specialist, Amy Barkley, at or (716) 640 – 0844.
Regenerate NY Cost-Share Grants Available for Forest Landowners

Do you own between 10 and 1,000 acres of forest land and have interest in improving your woods?

DEC’s Regenerate NY program provides cost-share grants to New York landowners looking to enhance forest regeneration on their property.

Landowners who want to plant trees, control competing vegetation, restore a degraded forest stand, or exclude deer are encouraged to apply for project funding. To find out more about getting funding for your forest, please visit

Applicants will need to apply through Grants Gateway. Private landowners are encouraged to team up with a cooperating forester who may provide application support. Check out the Regenerate NY webpage on the DEC website for more information. 
Grow-NY Food and Agriculture Competition
Grow-NY is a business competition focused on growing an enduring food and agriculture innovation cluster in the Grow-NY region. The competition attracts innovative, high-growth food and agriculture startups from across the globe and engages them in the region’s rapidly-growing startup ecosystem.

Applicants must be an established business entity in the food, beverage, and/or agriculture space. This includes food and agriculture companies at every point in the agri-food value chain that are working to serve a growing population, while striving to employ sustainable, environmentally conscious, and/or healthy methods.
Finalists will pitch their business ideas for a chance to win up to $1 million.
Winning companies will be required to execute bold plans to grow jobs, connect with local industry partners, and contribute to a thriving Upstate economy.
The Grow-NY team offers interactive webinars for interested companies to learn more about the competition application process, winner payments, and competition specifics. The schedule can be found at

Applications close July 15, 2021 and finalists will be selected in September 2021. The 2021 Grow-NY Summit is scheduled for November 16-17 in Syracuse, NY.

For more information, visit here.
Dairy Market Watch

Please find the latest issue of Dairy Market Watch here for those reading the email version of Ag News.
For those with mailed copies, it is included as an insert within your mailing.
Below is the most recent alfalfa grass first cutting quality report for the North Country Regional Ag Team. To read the article online and for larger graphics, please visit here.

Our May 17th Alfalfa-Grass Quality Monitoring Report has just been posted to our website, linked above) 

Across the region, alfalfa and grasses progressed nicely over the past week with our cool and wet weather. Alfalfa height averaged 18.6”, up 4.8" from last week. 

60 to 100% grass fields are reaching and surpassing peak quality now. Peak quality for a 60% grass field typically occurs when alfalfa is 20” tall. We recommend checking your grass fields to evaluate where heads are by feeling for them inside stems. Peak grass quality is when that head is just about to emerge out the top of the stem – late boot stage. This week, we observed orchardgrass heads anywhere from 9” above the soil surface to newly emerged out of the stems.

The general order of grass species heading date from earliest to latest in NYS is: Orchardgrass > Perennial ryegrass > Smooth bromegrass = Tall fescue > Reed canarygrass > Timothy. Be sure to check the earliest varieties first.

It is now too late to apply N to first cutting grass fields. Apply urea or manure immediately after first harvest to capture N with 2nd cutting regrowth.

The North Country has received from 0.5” to 2.0” of rain so far in May, resulting in a very welcomed reduction in dry soil conditions. The Abnormally Dry and Moderate Drought classified areas in NYS have been reduced from 84% of the state to 28% with the last bit of Moderate Drought still present along the St. Lawrence / Franklin County border. Click the map at right for a larger view.
Dear Readers,
Please see this reminder from Jamie Earl, County Executive Director of USDA Farm Service Agency in Bath, NY:

Farm Service Agency is now accepting applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2.0). There was a sign-up in late 2020 and FSA has opened the program up for at least 60 days (as of late April). Producers who submitted an application under the last CFAP 2.0 have received top-up payments based upon the CFAP 2.0 applications. This program sign-up would be for producers who did not sign-up for the original CFAP 2.0 program. 

For more details or assistance with the application, please contact the local Bath FSA office at: 607-776-7398 

  • 6+ acres for lease for organic cultivation. Must have ag exemption. Call (607) 483-8758 between 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM, M – F.

  • Available For Rent: Steuben County SWCD has an Esch 10’ No-Till Drill for rent. Rates are $12-$25/acre based on number of acres planted. Delivery/pickup available. Please call (607)776-7398 ext.3 for more information.

  • Seeking conservation minded individual with interests in permaculture to rent 3-4 acre, gentle grade, southern exposure field for agricultural production in Steuben County, NY. Acceptable practices include organic vegetable production, small scale poultry, and organic greenhouse or high tunnel production. Other considerations will be determined by owner. Improved, uncultivated ground will require proper preparation for success. Currently no housing available on the property, but can be discussed with owner in the future. Contact CCE Steuben at (607)664-2574 for further information.

  • Attention Cattle Farmers: I have pasture/farmland for rent, 40-50 acres, reasonable rate. Located in Steuben County on State Rt. 63. Contact Marian Crawford at (585)728-5303.

  • Looking for a farmer interested in a lease agreement for approximately 40 - 50 acres in Howard at the intersection of CR69 and Dublin Road. Please call Bill at (484)794-1400 for more information.
Ariel Kirk, Agriculture Educator -