The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct its biannual Agricultural Labor Survey during the second half of October. The survey will collect information about hired labor from more than 4,000 farmers and ranchers across the 11-State Northeastern Region.
USDA and the U.S. Department of Labor will use statistics gathered in the Agricultural Labor Survey to establish minimum wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs, and assist legislators in determining labor policies.
In the survey, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about hired farm labor on their operations, including total number of hired farm workers, hours worked, and wages paid for the weeks of July 7-13 and October 6-12. For their convenience, survey participants have the option to respond online.
“By asking about two separate reference periods each time we collect data during the year, we are able to publish quarterly data and capture seasonal variation,” said Whetstone. “This approach reduces the number of times we ask farm operations to respond to surveys while ensuring that accurate and timely data are available for anyone conducting research or analyses.”
NASS will compile, analyze, and publish survey results in the November 21 Farm Labor report. All previous Farm Labor publications are available online at: www.nass.usda.gov/Publications .
For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office at 1-800-498-1518.
During the week of August 26th, growers of small grains around the country will receive survey forms from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The agency is taking a comprehensive look into the 2019 production and supply of small grains, which include wheat, oats, barley, and rye.
“The small grains industry is an important part of Northeastern agriculture and it is crucial for all involved with the agriculture sector to have accurate data about this key sector of the economy,” explained King Whetstone, director of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. “We will contact more than 4,000 producers in Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to accurately measure 2019 acreage, yield, and production for small grain crops. The data collected from this survey will also help set small grain acreage, yield, and production estimates at the county level, to be published in December 2019.”
NASS will contact survey participants to gather information on their 2019 production and the quantities of whole grains and oilseeds stored on farm. As an alternative to mailing the survey back, and to help save both time and money, growers will have the option to securely respond to the survey online. Farmers who have not responded by August 30, 2019 may receive a phone call or visit from a NASS representative who will help them fill out the survey form.
“NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents and publishes only county, State and National level data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified,” stated Whetstone. “We recognize that this is a hectic time for farmers and ranchers, but the information they provide helps U.S. agriculture remain viable and capable. I urge them to respond to these surveys and thank them for their time and cooperation,” said King Whetstone.
NASS will analyze the survey information and publish the results in a series of USDA reports, including the annual Small Grains Summary and quarterly Grain Stocks reports, both to be released September 30, 2019. Survey data also contribute to NASS’s monthly and annual Crop Production reports, and the USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE).
General computer usage and internet access categories increased from 2017 to 2019 in the United States. Nationally, 75 percent of farms reported having access to the internet, while 83 percent of farms in New York reported having access to the internet. Farms that used a desktop or laptop computer to conduct farm business was down 4 percent from 2017 in New York. While nearly 60 percent of the farms in New York used a smart phone or tablet to conduct farm business, equal to that in 2017. Notably, the percentage of farms with internet access in 2019 was 81, down from 83 in 2017.
In 2019, 21 percent of N.Y. farms used satellite, significantly up from 8 percent in 2017, and 25 percent of farms used a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) to access the internet. Since 2017, Satellite and DSL continue to be the most popular choices that United States farms use to access the internet. While mobile access has also seen an increase since 2017, up 3 percent.
Cornell University, with support from Sustainable, Agriculture, Research, and Education (SARE), is conducting a survey for all fruit, vegetable, field crop, grain, and mixed crop-livestock producers in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Vermont to identify the biggest challenges that farmers face, as well as the best solutions in regards to cover crop incentive programs. You do not need to have experience with cover crops to participate.
Our goal is to understand what the most important factors are for farm owners and managers when deciding whether or not to use incentive programs. Notably, the survey also provides an opportunity to share your experience managing issues related to cover crops and incentive program requirements.
Key findings from the survey will be published and communicated to grower organizations and other farmer advocates so that recommendations, actions, and outcomes reflect what you identify as being most helpful for your operation. Whether your farm is small or large, organic or conventional – your responses to this survey can be a powerful tool for change.
The New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) is a small nonprofit grant making organization funded by a NYS legislative appropriation. It runs a competitive grant program seeking proposals that will improve the economic viability of NY’s farmers. The NYFVI Board of Directors recently announced the 15 projects selected for funding in its competitive Farm Viability grant program. A total of $1.58 million was awarded. The projects reflect a diverse mix of strategic approaches for improving the economic viability of New York farmers.
All proposals are reviewed by commodity specific farmer review panels as well as the board. 14 of the 46 proposals submitted in the 2019 FVI grant round were specific to dairy and/or field crops. Six projects were funded for a total of $667,605.
Following are profiles of each of dairy and field crops projects that were selected for funding.
Faster Cheaper and Safer: Re-engineering Best Management Safety Practices on NY Dairies Between 2007 and 2014, 36 workers died on NY dairy farms. Although, on-farm safety training has been provided for decades by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) , injury statistics demonstrate that additional solutions for encouraging workers to adopt safety best practices are needed. This project seeks to apply advancements in human behavioral research to the field of dairy safety. Led by Julie Sorenson with NYCAMH/Basset Healthcare Network, the project will integrate international expertise in “behavioral nudging”. Anticipated outcomes include the development of safety solutions that increase worker adoption, reduce risks, reduce time and effort required to complete identified work-tasks and increase farm profitability either through improved work efficiencies or the elimination of waste. Farmers will be involved in many phases of the project, from identifying priority work-tasks to evaluating solutions. Results can be implemented on most NY dairy farms and will be shared through multiple, existing partner networks and NYCAMH promotional activities.
Onboarding Dairy Farm Employees: Safe, Productive and Engaged from Day One! Recent research with large dairy farms indicates annual employee turnover rates ranging from 20% to 80%. Assuming a 500 cow farm with 10 employees, a 50% turnover rate mean 5 new employees each year. Getting them started right can make or break the business. The goal of this work is to help farm managers learn how to “onboard” their farm employees to help them be safe, productive, and engaged from day one of employment. A closely related goal is for farm employers to become more professional in their human resource practices and fully compliant with existing state and federal employment regulations. This project, led by Richard Stup of Cornell University and executed through regional extension educators will work with 50 NY dairy farms to develop their onboarding process. A wide array of templates and training materials will be created and made available to ensure the knowledge can be utilized by all dairy farms.
Measure to Manage: Why Does the Colostrum Vary?
Colostrum is the “liquid gold” produced by mammals before giving birth, and is known to be critical for a healthy start of the newborn. Prepartum risk factors influencing colostrum production of modern dairy cows are largely unstudied despite the fact that the volume and/or quality of colostrum may vary significantly among operations and individuals. Cornell researcher Sabine Mann, with the College of Veterinary Medicine and her colleagues want to understand what factors affect the quality and quantity of colostrum produced. The possible contribution of age of animal, nutrition, stocking density and season (photoperiod/temperature/heat stress) will all be evaluated. This information will help farms understand the practices that they can modify to ensure that all their calves receive high quality colostrum to aid in the prevention of preweaning diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Research will take place on 21 New York dairy farms.
Forage Evaluation On-Farm Using Handheld NIR Units The use of Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) analysis for forage quality was developed in the mid 1970s. It allows for fast, accurate and precise evaluation of the chemical composition and associated feeding value of forages and other feedstuffs. Since that time, the knowledge of animal nutrition has grown exponentially, and now dairy farms are increasingly practicing “precision feed management” an approach that evaluates the nutritional value of feed relative to its cost and the benefit of increased production. In the US, most farms that are using this approach are sending forage samples to labs for testing on a regular basis. The development of new handheld NIRS devices offers potential for on-farm testing and immediate results. Jerry Cherney with Cornell University wants to help farmers know how well these tools work. This project will evaluate four commercially available devices for accuracy, precision and practicality of use on the farm. At its conclusion NY dairy farmers will understand the potential value of using these tools on their farm.
Regaining Control of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds in Corn and Soybean. New York corn and soybean growers are fighting to keep horseweed (marestail) and waterhemp out of their fields. Both plants have developed resistance to certain herbicides and improved management approaches are needed to keep corn and soybean fields productive. Bryan Brown, with the Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell AgriTech will be trialing a number of options at five farms across the state to help growers understand which combination of cultural, mechanical and chemical processes may prove to be most effective. Cost effectiveness of the practices will also be evaluated. Results will be shared via the NYSIPM YouTube channel, podcasts other traditional outreach methods such as field days.
Growing the Potential of Red Clover: Optimum Stage of Harvest, Feed Value Compared to Alfalfa Across New York there are soils that simply don’t drain well enough to grow alfalfa, particularly in a wet year. Farmers are looking for profitable alternatives. Recent Cornell varietal trials demonstrated that red clover can match alfalfa yield in short rotations and the University of Wisconsin found it potentially equals or exceeds alfalfa in feed value. In this project, Tom Kilcer, with Advanced Ag Systems, seeks to establish the value compared to alfalfa in NY; and the unknown optimum time frame for NY farmers to harvest based on the analysis of the nutritional profile at various stages. Trials will take place on three farms and the results will be shared broadly within the ag community. The livestock panel also reviewed this proposal.
The following is posted on behalf of our colleagues at the New York State Agribusiness Association
The Battle to Ban key agricultural protectants is heating up in Albany. I am told that Chlorpyrifos will see action as early as next Monday.
We need each of you take action now. We have been asked by the legislators to produce farmer testimony to oppose the protectant bans.
On the hotseat are:
*Neonics as a group
It appears Chlorpyrifos will be the test case, and thus needs immediate action.We need Chlorpyrifos letters before MONDAY MORNING!
The ask- We have been asked to provide letters of testimony from farmers who use the product
· Product Name-
· On which crop-
· To combat-
· What alternatives are and why not used-
· Farmer name-
· Farm detail-
· Effect ban would have on farm-
Hit up your farm clients today. Gather the testimony and send it to me at email@example.com. I will coordinate getting the testimony to the right hands in Albany. *Remember to remind your farmers that these chemicals may be in their mixes also.
Are you considering beginning to grow industrial hemp in New York State? The Cornell Hemp Team has produced a very helpful fact sheet with keys for successful production. View below or download a PDF of the hemp production fact sheet.
Small dairy farm operators in New York may soon be faced with the prohibition of winter spreading of manure by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. As an option to winter spreading, farmers considering updating barns or building new facilities can consider a bedded pack barn system for manure storage and animal comfort. There may also be government assistance to help build such a barn.
Farmers who have used bedded packs will be featured at the NY Certified Organic (NYCO) meeting on January 8, 2019, beginning at 10 AM, in Jordan Hall, 630 West North Street, Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY. There is no cost or need to register to attend the NYCO winter meetings in January, February, and March. Participants are asked to bring a dish to pass at the potluck lunch.
NYCO Winter Meeting Organizer and Cornell Cooperative Extension Small Dairy Specialist A. Fay Benson provides the following information on the two types of bedded pack systems with some pros and cons of each type and examples of one system in Vermont and one in New York.
The Deep Bedded Pack (DBP) uses fresh bedding daily to keep the pack dry and clean. The pack grows to a depth of 5-6 feet by the end of one winter.
The Composted Bedded Pack (CBP) requires the farmer to stirring once or twice a day with a tractor tractor-mounted rototiller. This system works best with wood shavings or chopped straw.
The choice of pack depends upon each individual farm’s needs. Both systems have been used by confinement and grazing operations and with beef and dairy cows. Benson has seen CBPs mostly on grazing dairy operations using the barn only during the 150 days or so of the winter.
A DBP system generally consists of a foundation of concrete or hard clay. Most DBPs use straw which is more absorbent than hay. DBP systems use more bedding, for example, one farm used 20 lbs. of straw/day/animal. As more manure and bedding are added daily, the pack grows deeper and requires strong retaining walls. DBP cleaning is more difficult due to the wetter, compressed material.
CBPs have a foundation of concrete covered by a layer of thick wood chips to allow moisture and air movement at the base. Composting in the pack happens just as in a compost pile. When the pack has the correct carbon-nitrogen ratio and air is regularly introduced to the pack by stirring, microorganisms flourish and break down the carbon structures of bedding and manure.
The main drawback to a CBP is the requirement of an expensive piece of rototilling equipment and the daily labor to run it. The bedding requirement for a CBP is less since stirring releases moisture to the air and the bedding is drier. Some CBP barns direct fans at the packs to increase drying.
The CBP’s main benefits are less material to be spread and nutrients (N, P, & K) that are more stable in the compost and will not run off with water when applied to the land.
Microbial activity in the CBP provides heat throughout the bedding for animal comfort through the winter. A farmer with a CBP barn in Vermont measured 60-80 degrees F up to 12 inches into the pack.
For both types of bedded packs, side-retaining walls need to be strong enough to contain 4-6 feet of the pack and stand up to cleaning. As with any type of housing management, using adequate bedding, properly maintaining the bedding system, and consistently applying good milking and animal hygiene help manage the pathogens naturally found in a bedded pack system. Cow access, animal grouping, and travel-to-the-feed-alley patterns can be managed by electric fences. Cows make more manure in eating areas so daily scraping those areas will also help reduce manure in bedded areas.
Good ventilation, whether the pack barn is positioned for natural wind ventilation or uses mechanical assistance with fans, helps keep cows healthy, the pack dry, and odors down.
The open barn area of a bedded pack system allows for natural animal movement which will become increasingly important as animal care standards are implemented. Opinions differ on how much room should be allowed per cow; 85 to 100 sq. ft. per animal is usually the recommendation and is higher than for a freestall system. Breed, age, and animal condition impact that decision when planning a new barn. The general consensus is the more room, the better. The extra housing cost per animal is one reason BP barn structures are used more on smaller dairies.
The comfortable environment of a BP system reduces lameness and provides for cows’ deep and restful sleep that in turn positively impacts milk production. A report at the 5th National Small Farm Conference in 2009 noted that a 2000-lb. increase in milk sales/cow was attributed in part to use of a bedded pack management system (http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p373821_index.html). That same year a study by the Cornell University Department of Applied Economics and Life Sciences concluded that the bedded pack management system was “an excellent environment for cattle and provided the intended environmental benefits.”
Vermont Pack Barn Shows Innovation
Bedded pack barns have been used in Vermont as a way for a smaller operation to build manure storage since the state prohibited winter spreading of manure in 1995. At his organic Butterworks Farm in Westfield, Jack Lazor used a DBP with three animal groups in a 60X120-foot barn. He separated them with electric fences suspended from the ceiling and raised as the pack grew. A 6-foot coil of water line inside water troughs unwound as the waterers rose with the pack. Jack used bale rings to feed baleage on the pack.
Jack noted that the return for the significant expense of straw for the pack: $40-$45 every other day plus the labor of composting the pack, was in the positive effect on the soil and soil nutrients. Once the cows went out to pasture, Jack would usually remove the pack after first cutting. He left it in long, 6-foot-high windrows on a nearby field until after the last harvest. By leaving it for 3 months, the pack composted to reduce the amount to haul to fields for spreading. Jack reasoned that applying the aged manure in the fall mimicked nature applying carbon to the soil in the fall with dead leaves and grass.
“Raw manure is hard on the soil and the environment; many of the nutrients are volatile or water soluble. By adding the extra carbon through the straw more of the volatile nutrients are captured and stored. Allowing them to go through the biological activity of composting, the nutrients are stabilized and won’t run off with significant rainfalls,” Jack said.
NY Farm Adds Pack Barn, Then Free Stalls
In 2010, Super Milk producers Ben and Kate Whittemore of Dead End Farm, an 80-cow organic dairy in Candor, NY, built a 70×120-foot bedded pack barn with a 16-foot feed alley and 16-foot scrape alley.
“Our cows loved the bedded pack barn with its thick, cushy bedding and wide open space to kick up their heels,” Kate Whittemore wrote in her farm blog, noting that most of the cows chose the bedded pack at night over the pasture.
The Whittemores first used chopped hay in the pack since it was less expensive, but found it more labor intensive and not as dry. They switched to sawdust as easier to apply and easier to stir with their rotovator. Stirring three times a day improved the composting efficiency. and they could go more than a year between barn cleanouts.
The Whittemores decided to add more animals and felt the best way to expand was to replace the bedded pack with free stalls. In 2014, they increased from 85 milkers to 120 milkers in the same barn.
Resources and Funding Assistance
Because of the environmental benefits of a bedded pack system, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) may offer funding incentives for designs that pass their engineering specifications. Learn more by contacting your local NRCS office.
The NRCS also has a 5-page Compost Bedded Pack Dairy Barns fact sheet, published in 2007, that is still relevant, as is an 18-page Bedded Pack Management System Case Study resource published in 2009 by a team with the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Applied Economics and Management.
For more information, Benson with Cornell University’s South Central NY Regional Team can be reached at 607-391-2660, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout the United States, farmers are using innovative approaches to sustainably produce crops and improve soil health. However, farmers are also faced with numerous challenges, and they are often not included in decision-making that affects the way they farm.
Cornell University, University of California—Berkeley, and The Nature Conservancy are conducting a nationwide survey for all fruit, vegetable, grain, and field crop producers to identify the biggest challenges that farmers face, as well as the best solutions.
Our goal is to understand what the most important factors are for farm owners and managers when deciding whether or not to use certain practices related to soil, crop, and pest management.
Key findings from the survey will be published and communicated to grower organizations and other farmer advocates so that recommendations, actions, and outcomes reflect what growers identify as being most helpful for their operation.
All responses will remain anonymous. If you choose to enter your e-mail address at the end of the survey, you will receive a summary report of the findings and you will be eligible for a chance to win $500. The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete.