With last year's migrant farm labor raids and disruptions by the Immigration and Naturalization Service still a raw memory, president John Lincoln led a New York Farm Bureau delegation to Washington to urge Congress to enact a guest worker law that fruit and vegetable growers and processors and their foreign workers can live with.
The USDA plans a "listening session" Monday on the proposed changes in its federal milk marketing system. It will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Four Points Hotel Syracuse, Liverpool. Written comments will be accepted until April 30. Send them to Richard McKee, USDA/AMS, Room 2968, South Building, Box 90456, Washington, D.C. 20090-6456.
Local dairy farmers who support the Milk for Health promotional advertising are unhappy that producers of milk sold here but produced and processed elsewhere pay nothing to support this program.
"Milk advertising money should follow milk sales," said Jim Schotz, president of Western New York's Milk for Health campaign. But it does not always. Farmers who supply milk for the Syracuse-based Byrne Dairy pay nothing here, nor do producers who supply milk processed in Johnstown and Erie, Pa. Milk sold at a Williamsville area Quality Market has been priced as a loss leader at 79 cents a half-gallon. The Eckert's drug store chain sells milk at 99 cents a half-gallon, while prices in other markets range from $1.19 to $1.35.
Dry beans, hardly as colorful as tomatoes or corn or as slinky as asparagus, nevertheless are vegetables worthy of attention. Last year, farmers, mainly in Western New York's Lake Plains region, raised 61 million pounds of red, pink, black and kidney beans on 40,000 acres. They sold for an average of $16.50 per hundredweight, bringing in $12 million.
Extension agents Steve Childs of Wyoming County and Lee Stivers of Monroe County ran a recent dry bean school and say that 40 percent of the crop is exported to Central and South America as a low-cost protein source. North American consumers eat eight pounds a year, a rise stimulated by increased use of light red beans in fast food restaurant salads. Flavorsome black bean soup also contributes to rising dry bean sales.
A coalition calling itself New York Farms, which hopes to draw members of any group interested in food, not just farming, has elected Grange Master Bruce Croucher as its first executive. The leaders include representatives of National Grape Cooperative, State Horticultural Society, Cornell's Farming Alternatives and the Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides. They believe farming should be preserved in New York as a sound business.
Getting the government to leap off the back of the tobacco tiger isn't quite so simple. While Senate Ag Committee Chairman Dick Lugar, R-Ind., opposes government cash and quota support of tobacco growing, some health and farm groups fear that dropping them would give cigarette companies much more industry control.
Barnyard Gossip -- The current cheese inventory buildup forecasts a drop in milk prices during the summer months. . . . Cornell's Ag Economics Department gives an insight into why farmers complain. While retail prices rose 1.9 percent between January 1997 and January 1998, prices farmers received fell 4.8 percent. . . . Removing scary sensationalism and nonsense from food safety news is the mission of Thursday's food safety symposium in the Statler Hotel on the Cornell campus. . . . The USDA says that in a test with 80,000 chickens, a bacterial spray called PREEMPT reduced the presence of illness-causing salmonella bacteria from 7 percent to zero. . . . Erie County 4-H Clubs are preparing for their April 28-May 11 fund-raising cookie sale. . . . The Concord Agricultural District, embracing parts of Boston, Colden and North Collins, is now in its third eight-year cycle. . . . Farmers in Western New York counties who sustained property losses during the Jan. 5-17 severe weather are invited to inquire about eligibility for low-interest emergency loans by calling the Chautauqua area Farm Service Agency at (716) 664-2351. . . . Water management for small watersheds is the topic of the April 1 and 2 Hydrology workshop in the Extension Center, 21 S. Grove St., East Aurora. The fee is $35. . . . USDA researchers have produced the first offspring from super-cooled hog embryos, marking world-wide genetic improvements.