Feb. 25-27, State Fairgrounds, Syracuse, New York

The weather may be a bit chilly but the interest is always red hot when it comes to the annual event that is the New York Farm Show. Held at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, the farm show will feature hundreds of exhibitors as well as thousands of attendees who will get a glimpse of the latest products and services for the winter season. FARMING chatted with several featured exhibitors about their expectations and thoughts of the winter show.

What are you promoting during the New York Farm Show?

Victoria Diegnan, Marketing Coordinator, Seneca Iron Works: Seneca is continuously looking for ways to improve efficiency on dairy farms. This year we will highlight our newly designed quick-release headlocks, and our improved curtain keder and curtain automation options. These exciting new products along with our freestall, ventilation, gate, fan and waterer solutions will be on display.

Hal McCabe, Outreach Director, NY FarmNet: Our free and confidential services to NY Farm Families. Our booth will be staffed with consultants who can answer questions and even set up on farm meetings to discuss the issues and your options. And as always, every service we provide is 100 percent free and confidential.

Dennis Ortel, President, Ortel Supply Inc.: As we work with our major supplier and not our own as for the summer show, we have less impact on promotion. After our dealer meeting in January, we try to inform customers of any new products that may be at the show.

Alan Hoskins, President/CEO of American Farm Mortgage & Financial Services: We just want to let people know who we are. We look for opportunities for all farmers, not just farmers who are already on the successful end of the financial spectrum. We also understand the challenging times in agriculture that we are seeing nationwide: the dairy business in New York as well as the corn and soybeans in the Midwest. What we recognize is that there is a fabulous opportunity to help.

Could you elaborate on the importance of reaching New York farmers via the state’s winter farm show?

Diegnan: Being a NY-based business, we look forward to the NYS farm show and the opportunity to get in front of our farmer customers and interact. The show is a great way for us to talk to current customers and show members of the dairy community what solutions we have to offer them.

McCabe:For NY Farmnet, a program designed to provide free consulting to NY Farmers in times of need or in times of change, winter seems to be the time that many farms, most notably dairy farms, are starting to realize the state of their finances and are determining if they need help. We are available 24/7 for free to help with business plans, financial troubles, acquiring financing, farm transfers to the next generation or to non-family members, and estate planning. We also help farmers who are looking to exit the business.

Hoskins: There’s a multitude of things. Number one: It’s fantastic meeting producers in a single location. It allows us to listen to a broad base of producers. That is what we are about – listening to the challenges that they are currently facing. We are there to have a presence and allow them to understand our products and services. At the end of the day, our participation means taking the opportunity to listen to challenges and being able to understand that in a short time frame. Of course, we may not get into in-depth conversations and they are not going to discuss finance at this event. At the New York Farm Show, we try to get an introduction and get a good feel for what they are going through. Based upon that, we can understand how we can assist those people.

What type of feedback have you received from New York farmers as you helped to assist in their dairy equipment needs?

Diegnan: We are proud to say that we have amazing customer loyalty. The proof is in the referrals, and the many farms that use us on one project are so pleased with the quality and service that they call us for all their renovation and expansion projects.

McCabe: Our feedback is overwhelmingly positive. We routinely have farmers tell us that we helped them save their farm, or helped them expand and become profitable for the first time in decades. We are lucky in that NY Farmers now recognize NY FarmNet as not simply a place you call in a time of crisis, but also in a time where you are wondering what steps to take next with your business. Is it time to build a new barn? Is it time to do some value-add production on the farm? Should you change the business structure from a sole proprietor to an LLC? NY FarmNet is there to help with all of those types of issues as well as our traditional core efforts in helping in times of crisis or uncertainty.

Ortel: Farmer response to the New York Farm Show is and has been positive. Timing is good, as there is no pressure from crop harvests and wet weather – feedback generally parallels milk price.

Hoskins: I’m an active farmer. I actively bind and sell farm equipment. When I speak to fellow farmers and discuss the issues that concern them, by being an active farmer, they know I’m going through the same things they are. In our conversations, there’s not a learning curve that traditional lenders go through. For example if we are having a discussion about a John Deere 444, I understand that’s a tractor, and I understand what size that tractor is. With farmers in particular, and in all business, the trust level is built on commonality. I found that over the years perhaps the trust curve is shortened by that fact.