A former Brant farm boy who has made good in another field, but who has not lost touch with grape and produce farming, will be the guest speaker Tuesday at this year's annual dinner meeting of the Erie County Farm Bureau. He is state Attorney General Dennis Vacco, and he will be speak at the Old Log Cabin in Elma.
Vacco, now of Hamburg and Albany, remains well-informed about agriculture because his father and uncle, Carmen and Bill Vacco, still run the Brant farm where he grew up and worked before turning to a legal career.
The Niagara County Farm Bureau's annual dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wilson House. At least 80 people are expected. The speaker will be Paul McDowell, a governmental relations specialist with the State Farm Bureau. For reservations, call Elaine at 735-7791.
This week, New York Farm Bureau President John Lincoln bestowed a "Friend of Agriculture" certificate on Rep. Bill Paxon, R-Amherst, at the Genesee County Farm Bureau's annual meeting.
And on Friday, Rep. Amo Houghton, R-Corning, met with Cattaraugus County Farm Bureau members during a potluck supper at Ellicottville. Last week, the Cattaraugus unit re-elected Phyllis Coudert of Ashford as president and passed resolutions that asked for an end to Canadian tariff on American dairy products and for a study of why the prices dairies get for their milk are so much lower than the prices paid by consumers.
A number of growers this fall are harvesting the first-ever corn and soybean crops from genetically engineered seed. The corn has a built-in insecticide. And the soybeans can now survive doses of Roundup weed killer. Federal regulators and most scientists say there's no reason to label food derived from these bioengineered plants. But critics remain skeptics, demanding the right to choose between "normal" and bioengineered products.
Corn, America's most valuable field crop, is grown on 80 million acres. So far, just 500,000 acres are planted with the genetically altered seed. But the number is expected to rise. Corn feeds livestock, sweetens soft drinks and provides cooking oil. Soybeans, grown on 64 million acres, ranks closely in value and uses. Nationwide, 1 to 2 percent of soybean acres were planted in 1996 with altered seed.
The 60-member Niagara Frontier Orchid Society today and Saturday stages its annual judged show in the Creative Arts Building of the Erie County Fairgrounds. Dolores Galbo says that it can take as long as six years for an orchid to bloom. Today's hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday's hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Barnyard gossip -- Cornell Cooperative Extension Service is touting the Food Venture and Processing Center at its Geneva location as a way to increase the development and sale of New York grown and processed foods. Last year, the Venture Food Center responded to 368 calls for assistance and 93 of them were licensed to produce. . . . The price farmers will get for a quart of packaged milk will rise another penny in November, to 37.8 cents. Cheese prices will climb almost a penny a pound. . . . The state Housing Department has invited farmers and/or banks to apply for low-cost loans to build or repair housing for migrant farm workers. Loans of up to $50,000 for single and $100,000 for multiple projects are available on a first-come basis. . . . The World Wildlife Federation has reached an agreement with Wisconsin's potato and vegetable growers to reduce pesticide use on their crops to preserve biodiversity. . . . The Aberdeen Angus Association salutes Andolina Farm, Eden, which showed the reserve grand champion female beef animal, and Kasondra Hubbard of LeRoy for her reserve junior and intermediate heifer calves at the State Fair.