Editor’s Note: August is Show Month


It’s the Ag Days of Summer, yet still dog-hot!

August is one of the busiest months for everyone in the FARMING offices, as well as for you in your operations. For us, the two biggest outdoor shows of the season, Empire Farm Days and Ag Progress Days provide the perfect opportunity to see our readers and partners and learn what most concerns them in agriculture. For our readers, it’s also a time to learn about the new research and technologies that keep them operating at a high level.

That’s why we would like to acknowledge the hard work of the two educational institutions that offer this information to these attendees: Cornell University at Empire Farm Days and Penn State University at Ag Progress Days.

Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Center has been a mainstay at Empire Farm Days where specialists teach many disciplines such as sustainable farming practices and local food production. Also, our beef columnist, Dr. Michael Baker from Cornell, hosts a beef cattle handling demonstration that is always popular with show-goers.

Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences will hold more than 40 special exhibits spread throughout eight locations at this year’s Ag Progress Days. As with past years, the school will focus on topics such as sustainability, crop management, forage and nutrient management.

For our readers, this may be the month to kick the tires on a new tractor and find some good tools, but it’s also a time to learn something new about the industry. Best to take advantage and visit.

We always love to hear from our readers, especially those with an attention to detail. Noting as such, Pennsylvania Mushroom Farmer Joseph Poppiti made a worthy observation on our July cover: “I am not an authority on all the OSHA rules and regulations, and they might not apply to a single owner/operator such as Mr. Michael Orefice. As I look at the cover photo, the Turner Mills saw mill equipment seems to have all the required safety guards in place. However, Mr. Orefice is not wearing a safety helmet, safety glasses for eye protection, ear (hearing) protection, gloves or steel-toed shoes. This cover photo might have just been a staged photo for the magazine, but it might be used as a teaching example for the agricultural farm community. We all know that agriculture is a dangerous occupation, and maybe future articles could be directed to farm/farm employee (including owners) safety. Someone was thinking safety when they put hearing protection on the youngster.”

Thank you for your helpful words, Mr. Poppiti.

New York Beef Council to Play Larger Role at New York Farm Show 2017


It’s that time of year again when farmers and ag businesses from around the upper Northeast brave the cold to gather under the heated roofs at the fairgrounds for the New York Farm Show in Syracuse, New York.

In its 32nd year, the event is expected to host more than 400 exhibitors in six different buildings showcasing various agricultural equipment, services and products. As always, beef will be one of the major areas of focus at the show.

According to the Executive Director of the New York Beef Council (NYBC), Jean O’Toole, the beef industry is experiencing the same trends that are happening throughout other agriculture sectors.

“Consumers are more interested in where their food comes from and how it is being produced,” he said. “They have questions about production practices, safety and different choices available. In addition to this, their definition of quality is changing as well. We in the industry define quality as ‘prime, choice and select.’ The consumer is defining quality based on taste, production practices as well as price.”

O’Toole says that the NYBC, a non-profit organization working for the cattle producers of New York, will be playing a more active role at this year’s show.

 “The New York Beef Council has had a long standing presence at the farm show, however this year our involvement is shifting,” O’Toole said. “The NYBC staff is excited for the opportunity to take a more active role in connecting with more beef and dairy producers during the farm show and highlight the resources we have to offer and the work we do throughout the year to promote the beef they produce.”

Farm show visitors will be able to stop by the NYBC booth to learn more about programs that promote the production of safe and healthy beef. Visitors will also have the opportunity to sit in on multiple presentations delivered by NYBC staff. These presentations will discuss tips and resources useful for the advocacy and marketing of the high quality beef produced here in New York as well as throughout the United States.

Beef Sundaes at New York State Farm Show
Tasty hot beef sundaes are a popular part of the New York State Farm Show. Photo: New York Beef Council

Something for the young ones

The final day of presentations will shift to the youth demonstrating their experiences and knowledge of the beef industry. According to O’Toole, these special clinics will provide them with the unique opportunity to practice being advocates for agriculture.

“Youth play an important role in the beef industry because they will serve as the next generation that moves our industry forward,” said O’Toole. “Telling the agriculture and the beef industry’s story is growing increasingly more important and our youth will be faced with the task of serving as even stronger ‘Agvocates’ in the future.”

A new concept offered in the beef area this year, “Face of Farming,” provides an innovative way for beef producers to share their stories on social media. Those interested can fill out a short questionnaire and have their picture taken by an NYBC staff member. The images are posted on the NYBC Facebookand Instagram pages to engage with other beef producers who are using the sites.

In addition, a special scavenger hunt will take place that requires participants to the use information found in “Face of Farming” posters in order to find answers and win the prize. Also there will be a live beef cattle display with information on different breeds as well as numerous beef recipes that visitors can take home with them.

Of course a visit to the beef area would not be complete without tasting the ever popular Hot Beef sundaes made up of mashed potatoes, beef, gravy, shredded cheese and topped with a cherry tomato. Sundaes will be served up daily starting at 11 a.m during each day of the show.

The New York Farm Show is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 23-25. Admission is $5 at the door and free for children under 18.

Beef and dairy producers will be showcasing some of their best livestock at the beef area of New York State Farm Show. Photo: New York Beef Council

Beef Producers Focus on the “Vermont Brand” at State Farm Show

Bill Emmons, owner of Mountain Meadows Farm, Chip Morgan of VBPA and Brian Kemp, manager of Mountain Meadows

Chip Morgan, Vermont Beef Producers Association (VBPA) president, set a tone of optimism for the year ahead saying that the long-term beef cycle was near bottom last year and is on the way up again.

The Vermont Beef Producers Association held its annual meeting at the Vermont Farm Show in February. Chip Morgan, Vermont Beef Producers Association (VBPA) president, set a tone of optimism for the year ahead saying that the long-term beef cycle was near bottom last year and is on the way up again.

A day earlier, the USDA released its January Cattle Inventory showing a two percent increase in all cattle and calves across the United States while Vermont numbers remained the same.

Morgan sees great value in building the “Vermont Brand” in and outside of New England. He expressed eagerness to expand the association’s marketing strategy by adding a “Board Sale” to the standard on-site spring feeder cattle. In this case, cattle are sold directly from the farm via video. VBPA will also continue to encourage Vermont beef producers to provide cattle on consignment for the Fall feeder cattle sale in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The out-of-state auction offers an opportunity for sellers to be exposed to a large range of buyers outside of New England. The association will also provide transportation both ways if sellers don’t have the means to transport them. Billed as a first-come, first-serve opportunity, VBPA encouraged sellers to reserve a place in the auction early since early consignors are more likely to have lower shipping costs.

Morgan and VBPA past president Bill Emmons also told members that they both see the benefit of dairy farmers expanding their operations to include beef sales. Emmons noted that adding a beef herd can only benefit dairy farmers when milk prices drop. Emmons says, “The animal should work for you,” Emmons said.

The association also announced the hiring its Marketing Coordinator Maria Slattery. Slattery said that marketing is a growing concern to producers. Marketing solutions in the maple industry can be applied to other Vermont products and the “Vermont Made” label has a lot of value and using it to promote Vermont beef is a high priority, she noted. Slattery said that her focus is on building partnerships with the USDA, as well as nurturing VPBA’s budding agreements with both Pennsylvania and New York.

Bill Emmons, owner of Mountain Meadows Farm, Chip Morgan of VBPA and Brian Kemp, manager of Mountain Meadows. Photo by Dale Cahill.

Beef Producers, Education Highlight 2017 Maine Ag Trades Show

image of maine ad trade show

Couldn’t make it to the 2017 Maine Agriculture Trades Show? Check out our recap from the event.

The Maine Agricultural Trades Show, in its 76th year, offered the opportunity for agriculture businesses, trade groups, farmer networks and industry representatives to discuss the industry, shop for needed equipment, and equip themselves with the resources they need for a successful farming season.

“The 2017 Agricultural Trades Show was a great success,” Samantha Howard, Agricultural Promotions Coordinator, Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry said. “We had over 120 vendors at the show, and over 30 meetings that all focused on education, industry innovation and networking, to help grow agriculture in Maine.”

A variety of programming tracks on each of the three days, allowed everyone from the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, to the Beginning Farmer Resource Network, the Maine Cheese Guild, the Maine Christmas Tree Association, and the Maine Beef Producers Association – among many other fruit, vegetable and grain grower groups – to hold annual meetings, present workshops and connect members with the latest in research, review best management practices, and offer training and certification.

“The Maine Agricultural Trades Show and the concurrent meetings that take place at the show are very useful to farmers,” Richard Brzozowski, Food System Program Administrator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension said. “Everyone typically returns home with ideas to apply. The show takes place at a time of year that most farmers can participate.”

Brzozowski spent some time introducing Colt Knight, newly hired State Livestock Specialist with University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Knight was on hand to meet with Maine’s beef producers, sheep breeders, dairy farmers and many others during the show.

Beefing Up

“The Maine Beef Producers Association is made up of Maine beef farmers who are working together to maintain a viable beef cattle industry through producer education, cooperative marketing, and development and support of youth programs,” Donna Coffin, University of Maine Cooperative Extension said. “Now that the nation’s beef herds is rebuilt, the commodity prices of beef have gone back down,” and beef producers are facing some challenges heading into 2017.”

The annual show offered the group the opportunity to explore options to enhance processing and direct market sales opportunities. Maine farmers have been working to establish direct market sales to consumer, institutions, restaurant and retailers. Animals raised with a variety of protocols, such as grass-fed, natural, or humanely raised can offer the opportunity to aggregate animals, reaching new markets.

“One option we reviewed at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show was the use of a food hub facility, like Mad River in Vermont, where the carcass could be aged, cut and wrapped, or developed into a value-added product, with storage onsite, until it is distributed,” Coffin said.

Luce’s Meats, a USDA inspected slaughterhouse and butchering plant, operated by Arnold and Elaine Luce, tempted passersby with the aroma of sizzling sausage. Luce’s Meats processes animals for other farms, as well as the family’s own farm. Under their Maine Farms Brand label, the family offers meat grown by a variety of Maine’s small farmers, and aggregated to develop relationships with consumers, restaurants and retailers.

Emerging Opportunities

The Hops School was a full day affair, run by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s David Handley. Featured speakers included Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Hop Specialist Steve Miller, Maine hops growers Ryan Houghton, from the Hops Yard, and local craft brewers.

While Maine has a high density of craft breweries, hop growers in New York are “further along than Maine,” Miller said. Maine hops growers can learn from the fledgling industry’s successes and mistakes as the industry evolves.

Certified organic producers had the opportunity to learn about scaling up, too. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association hosted a moderated panel discussion, featuring both livestock and vegetable producers, who’ve had success scaling up their operations to serve wholesale markets.

Fiber producers, too, learned about opportunities in the industry. Sheep and alpaca farmers were well-represented at the show. Bartlettyarns, a historic wool mill located in Harmony Maine, hosted a presentation on their operation, discussing wool processing opportunities available to Maine’s fiber producers.

“It is a great way to start the new year as farmers plan for their respective operations,” Brzozowski said.

Cover Photo: The Maine Department of Agriculture

4 Events Not to Miss at the Keystone International Livestock Exposition


The Keystone International Livestock Exposition will take place from September 30 to October 9. Don’t miss these four events while you’re there.

The Keystone International Livestock Exposition will take place September 30 to October 9 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Go to their website to register and see a list of exhibitors.

Don’t miss these four events while you’re out enjoying the show:

1. The KILE Trade Show

The Keystone International Livestock Exposition (KILE) trade show will take place October 6 through 9 in the Northeast Hall. Attendees can visit booths and learn more about different companies. The show is family friendly and will offer games and a spectator’s guide for children. Read more about their games and guide on their website.

2. BBQ State Championship Contest

The ninth annual Keystone Classic BBQ State Championship will take place October 7 and 8 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. There will be a total of $7,250 in prize money. According to their website, contestants can select from four categories: chicken, pork ribs, pork (shoulder or Boston butt), brisket or select all four. The grand champion must excel by barbecuing all four categories of meat and only one entry per team per category is allowed in the meat division. The rules on meat preparation can be found on the Kansas City Barbeque Society website.

3. Stock Show University Fitting Clinic

TheStock Show University Fitting Clinic will take place October 3 at 7 p.m. Professors Kyle Fleener and Lacey Murray will present and the clinic is free to attend. This event is sponsored by Sullivan Supply. There will also be a Live Hog Evaluation Contest that will take place on October 9 at noon.

4. Open Horse Show

The Open Horse Show will take place September 30 to October 2 and a class list can be found on their website. The entry fee is $10 per class, PEC entry fee is $20 per class and a $45 fee per stall. There will be no refunds after September 22. A scholarship opportunity is also available to anyone who has exhibited or assisted with the Open Horse Show. The applicant must be enrolled in a degree or certification program at a post-secondary or graduate level institution, according to their website. The $2,000 scholarship will be awarded at noon on October 2.

Photo courtesy of KILE

Come to Penn State: Ag Progress Days 2016


Field demonstrations at Ag Progress Days will feature hay mowing, mergers, tedders, rakes, baling and bale handling.

With more than 490 exhibitors and vendors showcasing innovations in agricultural equipment and related industries, Ag Progress Days Aug. 16-18 features Penn State Extension research and offers educational presentations and guided tours on the university’s 55-acre indoor and outdoor exhibit site.

2016 Field Demonstrations

Field demonstrations at Ag Progress Days will feature hay mowing, mergers, tedders, rakes, baling and bale handling. New this year is the Sprayer Demo for selfpropelled and pull-type models at 12:30 p.m. daily.

Several of the major equipment companies had units in the field for the producer to compare them side by side in actual planting conditions. Get a chance to view the state-of-art equipment and tractors for large-scale farming operations provided by commercial exhibitors.

Demonstrations are approximately one hour in length.

  • 10:30 a.m. Alfalfa Hay Mowing
  • 11:30 a.m. Hay Tedders
  • 12:30 p.m. Sprayer Demo
  • 2 p.m. Hay Mergers and Rakes
  • 2:30 p.m. High-Moisture Alfalfa Hay Baling
  • 3:30 p.m. Bale Handling

PaOneStop and AgMap

PaOneStop provides online tools to help farmers meet regulatory requirements for erosion and sediment plans and nutrient management planning. Demonstrations take place at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on West 10th Street each day. AgMap is Pennsylvania’s leading web-based directory for agricultural products and services and is now available nationwide.

  • PaOneStop – Online tools help farmers meet regulatory requirements for erosion and sediment plans and nutrient management planning.
  • AgMap – AgMap helps consumers find farmers markets, mulch, Christmas trees, landscapers, equipment and much more. For the business owner, AgMap provides an opportunity to advertise their products and services over the internet. Stop by the AgMap/PaOneStop tent to find all the agricultural products or services you want right at your fingertips, and if you are a business owner, stop by and register your business.

Research Tours

  • Dairy Beef Feedlot – This tour will provide participants with information regarding the practice of rearing Holstein calves for beef. Management and nutrition of calf-fed Holsteins in a feedlot setting will be emphasized. Observe cattle fed by this system. Hear about marketing strategies and techniques for Holstein steer calves. Gather information from, and ask questions of, nutritionists, PA Beef Council and cattle buyers. This demonstration is being brought to you by the PA Beef Working Group (a collaboration of Penn State Extension, PA Beef Council, Center for Beef Excellence and PA Cattlemen’s Association) and PA Department of Agriculture with support from JBS.
  • Habitat Management for Deer and Other Wildlife – Visit habitat demonstration plots in the woodlot and neighboring fields. This tour will focus on food plots and natural habitat management practices used on public or private property as part of a Quality Deer Management System to improve habitat for many wildlife species while producing healthier and larger deer.
  • High Tunnel – High tunnels are inexpensive structures used for extending the growing season and improving yields and quality of vegetables, berries and cut flowers. At Penn State’s High Tunnel Research and Extension Facility, strawberries and raspberries are being grown in containers in 15 tunnels with five different types of plastics to better manage plant growth, temperatures and pests. To learn how to better manage heat load, four additional tunnels are equipped with various types of solar-powered automated venting options, including a ridgevent, roll-up roof, roll-down sides and roll-up sides. Tomatoes are also being grown in three tunnels to better understand tomato nutrient needs.
  • Precision Ag Tour – This tour will demonstrate use of several precision ag technologies in corn production that can help to improve yields, reduce costs and improve the potential for better understanding crop responses to inputs in the field. In this demonstration we have planted a field scale evaluation of different plant populations with a variable rate corn planter and will be able to harvest for silage with a yield monitor to evaluate both yield and forage quality. We will discuss the potential of this system and other tools to improve crop management decision-making in the future.

For more information, visit http://www.agsci.psu.edu/apd, call 814-865-2081 or email agprogressdays@psu.edu.

Navigating County Fair Season

farm fair image - outdoor event

Blue ribbons and food are ample rewards for a summer’s work.

Can the local farm fair compete for attention in an era of Xbox games and 3-D movies? The answer for farm families and town folk is a resounding “Yes!”

“I’m sure you’ll see the 4-H kids with their iPhones, texting,” said Jim Grant, fair authority secretary with the Jefferson County Fair in Pennsylvania. But those kids definitely are at the fairgrounds. “Fairs are especially popular with the 4-H programs,” he said.

“Fairs historically are a family event,” said Andy Imperati, general manager for the Dutchess County Fair in New York. “Kids are into the fair scene if it’s a family event.” However, the 18- to 22-year demographic is noticeable by its absence, off doing its own thing.

“The fair is a whole different thing,” said Bruce Shallcross, general manager of the Three County fair which runs Sept. 2-5 in Northampton, Massachusetts. “We still have a very strong 4-H contingent.”

In fact, last year the youth dairy show had 200 cows, and a strong turnout is anticipated for this year, too.

“We have 2,000 young people actively participating,” said Mike Froehlich, general manager of the York Fair in York, Pennsylvania. That includes Future Farmers of America (FFA), 4-H and those in the marching band competition.

“The young crowd is getting involved in art and other nonlivestock areas,” Froehlich added, noting that bodes well for future fairs.

Adults participate, too. For some, the fair represents a reward for a silo-full of fine-chopped silage and a good third-cutting of hay in the barn. Some compete in tractor pulls. For others, it is a time of tension and worried last-minute touches as 4-H animals are paraded before judges and decisions are made by those judging the quality of honey or tastiness of pies.

OK – so a stomach-wrenching ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl or Himalayan might not be for everyone. But cotton candy and a chance to look at livestock ranging from lambs to chickens are sure to thrill everyone.

Educational affair

Fairs are educational, too. At the Ephrata Fair in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, the local Cloister FFA classes will give livestock demonstrations at different stations. The 98th running of the fair is Sept. 20-24.

The Dutchess County Fair, which runs Aug. 23-28, is another one of the grand events of summer. Held in Rhinebeck, about 90 miles north of New York City, the fair will see 400,000 visitors come to its 162 acres. This fair traces its roots back 170 years and claims to be the second oldest in the U.S.

“Our geographic location gives us the opportunity to educate folks from the city about where food comes from,” Imperati said.

New this year will be the fair’s MOO-U – a barn tour that will lead visitors around ag hill and discuss how much milk a cow produces or how old a hen must be to lay eggs.

On the infield will be a mock farm that will let the 3- to 10-year-old group see how food is grown and sold. The kids can dig up mock potatoes from a sandbox, shear a wooden (and woolen) sheep or pick apples from a plywood tree. They then will take their crop to a warehouse where they will sell it for funny money. That money will buy them a half-pint of milk or bag of carrot sticks. “The idea,” Imperati said, “is to show them that food doesn’t just appear on grocery shelves.”

A taste of history

Pennsylvania’s York County Fair bills itself as the oldest nationwide, calling itself “America’s First Fair.” Last year, the York Fair celebrated 250 years since the first York Fair in 1765. “We like to say this year we are starting on our second 250,” Froehlich said. The York Fair has grown steadily. In 1853 a group of forward-thinking York County ag leaders teamed up to form the York County Agricultural Society. The society’s goal was to make the county fair a mind-blowing three-day event.

About 10 years after the Civil War, the York County Ag Society decided its fair had once again outgrown its grounds. So the ag leaders purchased land and moved the event to the 73-acre site that was eventually expanded to become the current York Fair/York Expo Center property.

In 1997, the fair expanded its schedule to become a 10-day event that spans two full weekends. It now opens the first Friday after Labor Day and closes on Sunday of the second weekend.

The Franklin County Fair in Greenfield, Massachusetts, is run by the County Agriculture Society. The event, Sept. 8-11, is in its 168th year.

At any fair, visitor safety is paramount. In Ephrata, the Farmers Day Association engages police, EMS, guards and traffic directors to assure everyone has a good and safe time. Billing itself as “the largest Street Fair in Pennsylvania,” the event has been a significant part of the local community history for almost a century, showing off agricultural products and exhibits, as well as giving kids fun rides on the Midway.

The Three County Fair, run by the Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden Agricultural Societies, claims to be the oldest continuously operated agricultural fair still running in the U.S. “Every fair has a claim to fame,” said Shallcross. “We are the oldest ag fair.” This year’s event is the 199th for the Three County Fair. The Three County Fair still seeks to meet its goal of agricultural promotion, education, and science through exhibitions, displays, competitions, and demonstrations.

At almost any county or local fair, area 4-H and FFA members raise, groom and show a variety of livestock including swine, beef, goats, lambs, rabbits and dairy beef. These young people put enormous amounts of time and effort into raising and caring for these quality animals.

There is more to a fair than just blue ribbons. The Dutchess County Fair awards an annual $8,000 scholarship to a local student enrolled in college. The New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs and the New York State Showpeople’s Association also sponsors many scholarships. Sometimes, Imperati said, they will make additional $500 or $1,000 awards to students who are long-time exhibitors.

In addition, fair queens are chosen. At the York Fair, for example, contestants must be a female, U.S. citizen who is either a resident of York County, attending a school in York County, or is a member of an FFA Chapter or regularly organized 4-H Club within the county. At many county fairs, an opening day highlight is the royalty pageant. At others, it is the grand finale of the event.

Froehlich sees growth in attendance by the millennial generation. He points to the number of young families and strollers visiting York Fair’s Kiddie Land. This year they will have a straw bale maze for the 3- to 6-year-old set and a stingray encounter (minus barbs). “If Kiddie Land is any indication, the future is good,” Froehlich said.

The entertainment at fairs ranges from favorite local bands to national acts like Alabama and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, both of whom will appear at the York County Fair.

But folks still flock to attractions like Goat Mountain to feed and laugh about the goats climbing over bales or to the fair’s birthing education area where cattle, sheep and hogs drop their young. “This is our fifth year with that and it is very successful,” Froehlich said. “We are always trying to find new ways to educate the public about agriculture.”

Some fairs, like Jefferson County’s, limit performances to local groups and bands. Although their big covered seating pavilion draws interest from travelling groups, they choose to limit performances to community fiddlers and queen contests.

For the first time, Relay for Life will offer two nights of bingo as a fundraiser at the Jefferson Fair.

There is entertainment and tension of another type in the judging tents. Just how sweet is that silage put up a week or two ago? Is that third-cutting alfalfa as leafy and protein-packed as it might be?

It is not just the future farmers who participate. Adults show everything from honey to hay, tomatoes to tobacco and hope for ribbons in their class. And beware Mom’s dismay if “that woman” from across the county edges her out again in the quilting contest or for the tastiest apple pie.

Personal experience with judging at several fairs lets this writer assure everyone that the judges do their level best to be fair to every competitor. If there is one true winner, it is the judge who gets to sample the dozen best pies the county has to offer. However, taste and an eye for animal conformation do vary from judge to judge and year to year. Just be sure that those show pigs do not explode in talcum powder when the judge pats their flanks. And don’t even bother to submit a hay show entry with shattered leaves or caramelizing.

Every fair provides plenty of room for livestock. The Three County Fair, for example, has 540 stalls available in a variety of barns, including the 300 stalls constructed in 2010-11 as part of the fair’s expansion.

Shallcross said that livestock at fairs tends to circle from cows to sheep and around again for no apparent reason. However, the animal judging always is popular.

If it is an objective winner you seek, look to the horse and tractor pulls.

Pennsylvania Opens Fairs to Poultry

After a year-long hiatus on poultry exhibits, Pennsylvania has lifted its ban on poultry shows. Imposed in May 2015, the ban was put in place as a precaution to protect Pennsylvania’s $13 billion poultry industry against the threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus.

The ban against what is commonly called bird flu was lifted effective June 1, 2016. All of the state’s 109 county fairs and the 2017 Farm Show will be able to show poultry. Now kids can see peeps hatch!

The state has instituted a 30-day testing protocol for entering poultry exhibits at county fairs. Previously, birds had to test negative for Avian Influenza six months prior to the exhibit date. Now, per the fair guidance, poultry must be tested within the 30 days prior to the opening date of the exhibition. The interstate quarantine remains in effect.

Tractor pulls

While many Northeastern fairs predate John Deere, tractor pulls remain an exciting part of the fair-going experience. The Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, fair roars into action each July with its ATV Racing Extravaganza, followed by the 4-by-4 Gas/Diesel Truck and Tractor Pull. Next day, fairgoers to the event in Brockway, just off I-80, can enjoy the Pennsylvania Posse Semi-Trucks and super farm tractor pull.

“We’ll have the full-pull truck and tractor pulls on two nights this year,” Grant said. The antique tractor pulls have been suspended this year. “The pulls last too long,” Grant said. Look for the antique competition to be back in 2017, however.

If it’s a bang-up time you want, Shallcross noted that Three County will have a school bus demolition derby on Labor Day. That will complement the demo-cross offered as well.

Supporting the fair

Some fairs offer free admission; others require a ticket. No matter where the fair, plan on spending some money. Bidding and buying show animals is a great way to support our local 4-H and FFA youth and the future of agriculture.

Buying funnel cakes, milkshakes and corn dogs is another aspect of the fair that everyone loves.

Fairs like Ephrata’s allow people to bid on livestock but take possession of the animal. Instead, a buyback price is offered for all species.

Most fairs would agree with Three County Fair’s motto: “To promote agriculture, agricultural education and agricultural science in the Commonwealth.” To that end, Dutchess County Farm Bureau is working with the fair to supply 3-by-6 foot posters with farm facts.

No matter one’s reason for attending, fair time makes for a great day (or two) with friends and neighbors, sights and sounds.

What’s New at 2016 Empire Farm Days


Empire Farm Days will be held on August 9 to 11 in Seneca Falls, New York.

It’s August, which means it’s time again for the summer tradition of Seneca Falls, New York: Empire Farm Days. The largest outdoor ag show in the northeastern region, the 300-acre Empire Farm Days event will be held at Rodman Lott and Son Farms, Aug. 9-11. Parking is $10 per vehicle. This year, organizers have added a few twists to the show. Here’s a list of the new attractions for Empire Farm Days:

New times

An important change for those who enjoy the Field Equipment Demonstrations: 10 a.m. is the new time for the daily tillage and GPS-guided demonstrations followed by hay mowing at 11 a.m. Forage chopping and handling demonstrations move to 1 p.m. daily, followed by hay raking, baling, processing and handling at 2 p.m.


  • Dairy Profit Seminars on Enhancing Herd Health Through Effective Protocol Management, Spreading the Word: Manure: the Planning and Implementation Process, and The Changing Labor Environment: Responses and Approaches.
  • The 2016 Empire Farm Days Soil Health Center Seminars, crop plot tours and farmer panel discussions are focused on the use of cover cropping, interseeding, soil biology, reduced tillage practices and utilizing winter grain cover crops for forage. Presenters include Dr. Matthew Ryan and Dr. Janice E. Thies of Cornell University, and Cornell PRODAIRY Dairy Forage Systems Specialist Joe Lawrence. New York grower Donn Branton, farmer and nutritionist Gabriel Carpenter and Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance President Jim Hershey are among several farmers participating in panel discussions. Western New York Crop Management IT Manager Avery DeGolyer, Ben Flansburg with BCA Ag Technologies and a farmer panel will present a Precision Ag Seminar sponsored by the New York Farm Viability Institute on Wednesday, Aug. 10, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Soil Health Center. Presentations will cover field prescriptions, data management and security, different hardware and software systems, and how to develop the right prescription for specific farm needs.
  • Planter Technology and Tile Plow Seminars will be offered respectively at 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. daily by White’s Farm Supply. The short presentations will cover the advantages of using variable rate seed and fertilizer applications; section control and technologies that ensure proper seed depth and placement for optimal corn and soybean production; and how farmers can use a tile plow to install farm drainage for water management to improve crop production.
  • A Small Farm Seminars series will be offered only on Wednesday, Aug. 10, in the theatre area of the Cornell Empire Building. The series includes programs on the Cornell Small Farms Program, the Northeast Beginning Farmers Program, building soil health, agroforestry, mushroom production basics and the NY Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program.


  • New live coverage sprinkler irrigation demonstrations with systems designed for use in field crops, fruit orchards and berry patches will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily, sponsored by Nelson Irrigation and CFS Irrigation Supply. Presenter Steve McCoon will help growers learn how to balance available water supply with plant needs, soil health, depth and intake rates.
  • Mock self-propelled applicator slow-moving vehicle inspection demonstrations with the New York State Police daily at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., sponsored by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, New York State Agri-Business Association and Northeast Region Certified Crop Advisers.
  • The Empire Farm Days Equine Center Round Pen demonstrations with live horses will feature Miniature Horses for Show and Therapy with Jessica Gulvin of Hearts O’Gold Equine on Tuesday, Living American History with American Mustangs with Emma and Jack Minteer of Rose Hill Ranch on Wednesday, and an Introduction to Equestrian Vaulting with Laura Bagley of Sunshine Meadows Farm and Stables on Thursday. The demonstrations take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily and are sponsored by Layden’s Fence and Livestock.
  • Casella Organics is presenting daily 10 a.m. field demonstrations of its Fiberlime product, a mix of recovered lime, clay and short paper fibers. The lime is calcium carbonate, similar to the ground limestone rock commonly used to raise soil pH and add calcium for plant growth while the cellulose fiber helps improve soil structure.
  • The NY Beef Center will feature live cattle handling demonstrations with Cornell University Beef Extension Specialist Dr. Mike Baker daily at 11:30 a.m., a cattle breeds exhibit with live animals and a special Tuesday Beef Quality Assurance Training.

New York State FFA students will test their safe tractor driving skills at Empire Farm Days.


  • The Empire Farm Days Test Drive and Ride Experience in 2016 features the opportunity to try CAT Equipment, a Kubota skid loader equipped with the new Michelin Tweel tires, and RAM trucks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
  • The New York pork industry is in the Farm Bureau Family Education Center spotlight for 2016 with new interactive games for young and old. The Franklin County Farm Bureau Farm Safety Day program will be showcased as the Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Award Winner. The Ag in the Classroom exhibit focuses on What’s in the Garden as the Ag Literacy Week book for 2017.
  • The Potato Field Days started in 1931 by the Empire State Potato Growers is now Empire Farm Days. The new SPUD NATION Food Truck, a 2016 initiative of the U.S. Potato Board, will be at Empire Farm Days with its globally inspired potato dishes menu.
  • Shooting sports take center stage in the Empire Farm Days Outdoor Center for 2016 with members of New York’s first-ever scholastic trap shooting team from Belleville Henderson Central School. They will have information on the growing interest in this student endeavor in New York and nationwide. The Outdoor Center is sponsored by Fred’s Tents and Canopies.
  • A historic 7-foot round boat that looks like a flying saucer will be at the Empire Farm Days pond near the in-water safety demonstrations with New York Sea Grant, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and NYS Marine Services Bureau.
  • The History of Matchbox Toys will be a new program at the New York State Grange Center tent at Empire Farm Days in 2016. The daily schedule of 25-minute programs opens at 9:30 a.m. with Fire Safety is Fun with Dalmatian ‘Sparks’ and Tibbie Dell. The Matchbox Toys program with Richard McKee will begin at 1:35 p.m. daily.
  • The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health and National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) are teaming up to offer grain bin safety presentations with a simulator filled with corn on the half hour all day, every day of the show. NECAS Director Dan Neenan covers the four most common ways people become engulfed in grain bins, the equipment every grain bin operator should have on-site and how to protect yourself from the grain dust and mold associated with the bins. A special four-hour after-theshow training will be provided to firefighters and EMS personnel by preregistration.
  • The new federal Worker Protection Standard requirements and implementation schedule for agriculture chemical handling will be presented only on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 1 p.m. in a presentation by NYSDEC Pesticide Control Specialist Christopher Wainwright, sponsored by the New York State Agri-Business Association and Northeast Region Certified Crop Advisers.
  • For daily schedules and more information, visit http://www.empirefarmdays.com or call 877- 697-7837.

Farm Show 101

outdoor event - farm show

Summer is THE time of year for farm shows. There are two shows in August: Empire Farm Days in central New York and Ag Progress Days in Pennsylvania. The Eastern States Exposition and World Dairy Expo are a bit later in the year, while the Vermont Farm Show and the New York Farm Show are winter events.

Attending farm shows is entertaining, but to make the most of your visits, particularly to shows with a large number of agriculturally related commercial exhibits, you should have a plan or at least some objectives. Are you considering purchasing a new piece of equipment? These events often have company representatives who know a lot more about the particular item you’re considering than the local dealer does. All of the information that’s flying around may be a bit overwhelming but here are a few tips to easily navigate the show room floor.

1. Stay focused

Some farm shows have so many exhibits that there’s no way you’ll have the chance to do more than walk past a lot of them. Consider in advance what you’re most likely to purchase in the near future, and be sure to visit these exhibits. Make these visits early in the day, since some of the more informed representatives may not be at the exhibit the first time you stop by and you’ll need to return later in the day. Some of these folks are stuck at the show for several days and they like to wander around and see what’s new, just like you do.

Pay attention to “show specials,” some of which are not very special at all, while others may represent real bargains. After hauling several pieces of equipment to the show site, dealers may be interested in selling you something at a nice discount just so they don’t have to haul it back home.

2. “Give it to me straight.”

Most farmers are savvy shoppers, and they need to be able to make the most of a day at a farm show. Whether it’s seed corn, silage inoculant or milking parlor equipment, each dealer claims to be selling the absolute best. Look behind the hype and ask for data or other information to back up any claims being made for a particular product.

One year I was at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, and decided to visit every commercial exhibit selling a manure additive. There were at least half a dozen, and at each exhibit I asked the representative two questions. First: “Does this product reduce objectionable manure odors in slurry or liquid dairy manure?” The answer, of course, in almost every case was, “Yes, it sure does!” Second: “Do you have any data or other factual information to support your product’s claim?” In most cases, this second question was met with a blank stare or resulted in some hemming and hawing, because it turned out that there was absolutely nothing factual from any of the companies showing that adding their product to dairy manure, either in the barn or in the manure pit, would have any meaningful impact on odors. Some products claimed to reduce ammonia odors, but ammonia isn’t usually among the more objectionable odors when dairy manure is stored under anaerobic conditions and then applied to a field.

3. In the beginning

Not all of the dealers were rendered speechless by my second question about their manure additive. A couple of them presented me with glowing farmer testimonials indicating that their product worked miracles. It’s likely that these farmers actually believed that the product reduced odors, but consider that what they were almost certainly comparing was manure from one year (or at least one season) versus manure from another year or season, and year-to-year remembrance of manure odors is less than perfect.

For example, one fall we were spreading liquid dairy manure on some of Miner Institute’s cropland when the nonfarming landowner whose home was next to the field stopped the guy on the tractor and said that the institute’s manure didn’t smell nearly as bad as it had the previous fall, and that he really appreciated whatever we’d done to make it less offensive. The employee reported this to me, and I just smiled since we hadn’t done a single thing differently that year. Other than on a small trial basis, Miner Institute had never used any manure additives. However, the landowner was happy, proving once again that sometimes ignorance is bliss.

You should take farmer testimonials with a grain of salt – or perhaps a shakerful. It’s not that the farmer making those comments is intentionally trying to be misleading, but there’s no way to know if the product was responsible for what the farmer saw as a success or if some other factor was involved.

Another thing to consider: Have you ever seen a negative testimonial for a product a company is trying to sell? Such as, “Yep, I tried that Binbuster 101 seed corn and it didn’t yield worth a darn. Worst corn I ever planted.” I didn’t think so. A high percentage of companies are reputable and ethical, and they’re not trying to mislead or sell farmers a pig in a poke, so to speak. They realize that to stay in business, they need to keep you in business.

Farmer testimonials aren’t a bad thing per se, but it sure helps if the comments are backed up with factual information regarding the product’s performance. In the case of seed corn, there are university hybrid trial results; in the case of bull semen, there are bull proofs; and in the aforementioned case of manure additives, it would be useful to have some indication that the stuff really does what it’s advertised to do. Whether it’s at a farm show or when talking to a salesperson visiting you at your farm, remember these four words when claims are being made: Where is your data?

Read more: Children and Farm Show Safety

Dairy Farmers of America To Help Ag Entepreneurs at New York Farm Show


AgTech entrepreneurs don’t want to miss the annual New York Farm Show scheduled for Feb. 23-25.

AgTech entrepreneurs don’t want to miss the annual New York Farm Show scheduled for Feb. 23-25 at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, New York.

AgTech innovators who attend the show will have an opportunity to meet with representatives from Dairy Farmers of America, a national farmer-owned cooperative, and learn about the organization’s 2017 sponsorship of the Sprint Accelerator program. DFA is a Kansas City-based cooperative that is owned by and serves more than 14,000 dairy farmer-members representing 8,000 farms in 48 states.

“Through this partnership we’re offering targeted resources to companies who can benefit from it along with mentoring and business building sessions that are offered as part of the program,” said Doug Dresslaer, a founding member and manager of the Sprint Accelerator.

The Sprint Accelerator, entering its fourth year, is a 90-day program that connects corporations with new start-up ventures to promote and accelerate innovation. The program does not offer investment and is not geared towards businesses in the idea stage. The accelerator is targeting businesses that already have established some traction through revenue and a customer base. Companies in the prototype phase, but pre-customer, are also potential candidates.

“We are a lean company for our size and scale and recognize that there is innovation taking place that we’re simply not aware of,” said Kevin Strathman, DFA’s senior vice president of finance, commercial division.

Strathman said DFA is hoping to find three to four AgTech companies that can bring innovation to the dairy industry. The selected company can be assisted with scaling up more quickly or be provided guidance to tailor their product specifically to the dairy industry.

Through sponsorship of the Sprint Accelerator, DFA hopes to identify AgTech entrepreneurs with ideas on how technology can bring greater value to the DFA. Dairy-farmer owners, whether it’s on the dairy farm, in the transportation network, in DFA’s plants or even connecting with consumers in grocery stores, farmer’s markets or at the dinner table are encouraged to apply.

“AgTech startups related to any component of the dairy value chain, but not limited to product testing, data management, herd health and management, supply chain optimization, sustainability and traceability are encouraged to apply,” Dresslaer explained.

Highlights of the program include:

  • Targeted, strategic meetings with senior DFA team members to discuss business development, pilots and potential sponsorships
  • Mentoring from DFA senior members
  • Business building sessions focusing on branding and marketing