NEAFA Board Member Profile: Janet Beken Smith, Embrace Local

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Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance’s (NEAFA) board member Janet Beken Smith grew up with agriculture in her life in Bloomville, NY. “Growing up in rural Delaware County,” said Beken Smith, I always loved animals.” Beken Smith attended Cobelskill for her undergraduate work, before going to Cornell for their Agricultural Sciences program. “I started with the equine tract when I went to college at Cobelskill, but once I took one of Cornell’s Dairy classes, I fell in love with the science behind feeding cows.” Today, Beken Smith is the General Manager at the Stamford Farmers’ Cooperative in Stamford, NY. The former Agway retail store that specializes in fertilizer blends, custom chemical applications, and operates as a feed mill. Beken Smith started as their Dairy Nutritionist 6.5 years ago, before becoming the GM 3.5 years ago.

Beken Smith got involved with NEAFA after attending an annual meeting after she started working with the coop, which was followed by helping out during a lobby day. “It’s so important to give our farmers a voice in Albany and Washington,” said Beken Smith. “So many legislators don’t understand rural America, and NEAFA does a great job representing our industry and educating those that are coming up with legislation and laws that effect our industry.” Beken Smith also enjoys the fundraising and coordination that NEAFA has with Cornell. “I love the collaboration and support that NEAFA gives to Cornell, since it’s my alma mater, and I know the great work they do within the state. When John Clark approached me about an open board seat, I was happy to join.” Beken Smith is in her second year on the board currently.

Working at the cooperative, Beken Smith sees the challenges that are facing the dairy industry on a regular basis. “The crisis that the dairy industry is facing - it’s not just a dairy problem, it’s a rural America problem. We’re a small organization with 15 employees, but those are local jobs that are important for a community to have. Sadly, we’re seeing farms become farther and fewer between, and as we try to continue growing our business, agritourism is huge part of that. People are figuring out that we’re an easy commute from New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, etc. The Catskills are amazing and beautiful, and Delaware County is in the heart of watershed. More and more people are coming to vacation, buying second homes, getting backyard chickens, and enjoying the agricultural landscape. As a business, we’ve been transitioning towards the homesteader market. We’re seeing folks holding events on their farms, becoming an air b&b, and frankly I see it as a win win. It’s income for the farm, and helps people understand where our food comes from, and how truly safe our dairy and beef supply is in our country.”

In that vein, Beken Smith has made sure that the cooperative has embraced the buy local, eat local movement. “Right by the front door we keep a local, refrigerated case full of cheese, eggs, milk, maple milk, honey, and other local products. We see the animals that produce those products. Our farm fresh local brown eggs come from chickens that eat the egg layer mash and other feed that comes from our store. It’s the same for our dairy products. We feed the cows that make the products. And it brings things full circle and we sell them all year long. We definitely see an uptick on weekends when visitors come into the area to enjoy the agricultural tourism that our area has to offer.”

Agricultural tourism also leads to an education for all visitors to the area. “I think that it’s important to know your local farmers and where your food comes from - these are shopping choices that people can make. When I’m grocery shopping, I’m willing to look for Meyers apple juice because I know it’s made locally - and if I forget to get milk while I’m at work, I look for the 36 source code number on the bottle that tells me that it’s local, NY made milk. We need to take care of what’s in our backyard so that we can take care of our community. A local dairy’s dollar is spent $7 times over in a community. It equals dance classes, baseball cleats, an instrument for band class, etc. I think that the worries that some have over their food is prompted by fear and lack of knowledge. NEAFA does a wonderful job explaining how safe our industry really is in our country on the whole. Getting that word out and helping people understand is such an important endeavor that NEAFA undertakes.”

NEAFA's 13th Annual Golf for Good Works Tournament a Success

First place winners Josh Lincoln, Tim Buck, Blake Lutz and Steve Lutz receive congratulations and prize money from President John Clark.

First place winners Josh Lincoln, Tim Buck, Blake Lutz and Steve Lutz receive congratulations and prize money from President John Clark.

The 13th annual Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) Golf for Good Works tournament took place June 27th and 28th at Turning Stone Resort's Shenendoah Golf Club, in Verona, NY. This 18 hole course is set up for the rigor and demands of PGA Tours. Ninety golfers took to the green this year, and NEAFA raised more than $15,000 that will be used to support agricultural outreach and education programs. New for the Good Works Program this year, four high school seniors heading off to college to study a field of agriculture received $500 each. The NYAAC Birthing Center at NYS Fair, the Junior Dairy Leader Program, the Spring Carousel, Open Houses on the farm, and LEAD NY were some of the other organizations receiving these funds. “Golf for Goodworks is a demonstration of how the agribusiness community comes together to help support future generations,” said NEAFA President John Clark. “These are the people who will make their own mark on the feed and related industries in the upcoming years, and we’re proud to help them along their journey in a field that we are all passionate for.” 

The Alliance for Science Director Dr. Sarah Evanega, spoke at the packed Golf for Good Works reception on Thursday, June 27. “The reception & tournament has something for everyone,” said Clark.  “The reception is a nice time to visit with others in a classy but casual atmosphere.  Once the golf carts start rolling then the actual competition, mostly friendly, starts. These golfers take it seriously, except for the team that works for the highest score, which is good fun for all involved” Speaking of winners, foursome Tom Buck, Josh Lincoln, Blake Lutz and Steve Lutz took first place in the tournament, closely followed by second place winners Nick Stacy, Justin Baldauf, Steve Dearstyne, and Rich Pugsley. Corwin Holtz, Cory Giroux, Jesse Holmes, and Chris Talcott took third place. Bryan Adams proved to be surgical in his aim, landing a mere 12’9” from Pin #3. And our most honest team, aka the one with the highest score were Bill Colten, John Grandinetti, Don Kimber, and Irwin Koss.

NEAFA would like to thank everyone that attended and enjoyed themselves while raising funds for numerous worthy agricultural causes. NEAFA would also like to thank the generous support of the many sponsors that made this tournament possible. Through your support we are able to contribute to more good works each year!

John’s Jottings: Summer Has Finally Arrived

By John Clark, NEAFA President

John Clark presents a donation to the Alliance for Science to Director Sarah Evanega.

John Clark presents a donation to the Alliance for Science to Director Sarah Evanega.

With each season, and especially as you get another year older, your thoughts easily turn to those seasons in years gone by you’ve experienced. For me, this was magnified recently by our Golf for Good Works Tournament that was held at the Shenendoah Golf Course at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY on June 27th and 28th – a sure sign summer has arrived. Each year generous sponsors and enthusiastic golfers come together to raise funds that will be given primarily to youth and agricultural entities that relate to NEAFA’s core mission and the businesses run by our members. That represents the next generation of young people in agriculture.

What will life be like for them? It makes me reflect on when I started in the feed business, and every major, as well as many minor towns in each county had at least 1 Agway store. And each county had multiple independent feed dealers. At a recent dinner, one regional manufacturer recounted how there were 4 feed businesses sharing the same railroad siding, years ago. Many of those businesses had made the transition from a mobile miller to a permanent spot working with brick & mortar stores. Some would simply truck feed from a national company’s regional mill back to their customers, or bring back feed to be mixed at their dealership. The exceptions to that would manufacture feed from the ground up. Those days are mostly gone, and with it the culture as well. I am not suggesting that today is better or vice versa, just that we have seen a change to the very fabric of rural New York and New England.

Throughout the years those businesses have either changed, grown, or gone out of business due to the rapidly changing business landscape. Farmers required more services, including forage testing, and ration balancing. Feed went from burlap sacks to bulk deliveries and now full tractor trailer loads. Dairy teams made up of veterinarians, extension agents, lenders, nutritionists, independent consultants and others started to appear. In addition to local extensions, regional teams were formed, and out of this grew Pro-Dairy to support the industry. The best in the feed business continually “sharpened their sword.” They sought out cutting edge technology and the knowledge of how to use it. See how I wove the importance of our land grants in there? Those nutritionists strived to keep educated and apprised of what services were needed, how they could offer feed at competitive prices and off the services required.

This all brings me back to the point of the next generation. Summer has arrived and with it a multitude of college and high school graduations. What will their generation face as the industry continues to advance technological, mature, and likely further consolidate? What will their feed business of the future look like as laboratory grown protein is on the horizon?

NEAFA, through your efforts, does its part. NEAFA has given away well over $100,000 in the 15 years of the Golf for Good Works Tournament. Where does it go? Well I won’t attempt to duplicate the entire list here, but if you watch for it, you’ll be able to see the signs of it. For the first time in 2019, 4 high school Seniors heading off to college to study a field of agriculture received $500 each. The NYAAC Birthing Center at NYS Fair, the Junior Dairy Leader Program, the Spring Carousel, Open Houses on the farm, LEAD NY were some of the other organizations receiving these funds. Be on watch for the NEAFA banner and or folks wearing NEAFA attire at the next event you attend! You never know where support may come up.

New this year was a donation to the Alliance for Science. Their director, Dr. Sarah Evanega, spoke at the well-attended Golf for Good Works reception Thursday, June 27. She captivated the audience describing her work that takes place literally around the world, and how it is making a difference in educating third world countries, and really all of us, can benefit from the use of sound, science-based agricultural technology. There were powerful video clips illustrating firsthand experiences from individuals in areas desperate for food and how modern agriculture can benefit them. I encourage you to check out this very positive organization and the work that they’re doing.

In closing, while we know future generations will face technological changes and other challenges, as one of my first ever bosses used to say, “the only thing that really changes is the rate of change.” We wish them well, and we will continue to give them all that we can to make a better tomorrow.

Enjoy your summer, see you again in the fall.

John’s jottings over and out.

Landmark Legislation Threatens NY Agriculture; Outcome Significantly Mitigated

By Rick Zimmerman, Executive Director

Over 300 farmers and farm workers gathered in front of the NYS Capitol to rally on the farmworker bill.

Over 300 farmers and farm workers gathered in front of the NYS Capitol to rally on the farmworker bill.

The Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act passed the NYS Senate and Assembly on June 19th and threatens to alter the face of NY agriculture as we know it today. It is a bill that will be incredibly difficult for agriculture to absorb, but also has significant improvements compared to where we started. On January first, the bill contained a 40-hour/week and 8-hour/day overtime threshold for farmworkers and a collective bargaining provision that would allow for worker strikes. Versions of this bill have been thwarted for the past 35 years. When the NYS Senate majority flipped to the Democrats last fall, the bill had enough sponsors in both houses to pass with these crippling provisions. But agriculture would not let that happen.

Agricultural organizations, including NEAFA, farmers, and farmworkers came together like never before to pool resources, organize outreach, and develop an effective public affairs strategy that ultimately moved the needle. It was the largest legislative undertaking that many can remember for the New York farm community. Weekly, if not daily conversations to strategize and coordinate were held by the group for the past six months.

In the end, revised legislation passed overwhelmingly in both houses. The bill includes a 60-hour overtime threshold, collective bargaining with an anti-strike clause, and farms will no longer have to pay unemployment insurance on H2A employees. A simple “hell no, we won’t go” opposition would not have been effective in achieving these significant improvements. Political realities meant we had to attempt to find middle ground with lawmakers who were philosophically against us, and we were on track to accomplish all our goals. Unfortunately, last minute additions, outside the negotiated agreement, negated much of the gains achieved, thus leading the coalition to oppose the bill.

The last-minute provisions that lead to opposing the bill include:

  • Mandatory overtime on a “day of rest” if a farm worker chooses to work.

  • Narrow farm family definition that will subject extended family members (cousins, nephews, etc.) to the farmworker provisions

  • Requirement of a wage board to study and consider lowering the overtime threshold from 60 hours.

  • Collective bargaining provisions that favor labor unions at the expense of fairness to farm workers.

Organized under the banner of “Grow NY Farms,” the coalition of farm organizations will continue to work to fix the above listed flaws to achieve a more balanced outcome. Governor Cuomo has yet to sign the bill and we will continue to promote amendments now and into the new year.  

You may be unaware of what went on publicly and behind the scenes to work on this legislation. Here is a brief timeline of where things started:

  • Meetings with both newly elected and incumbent Senators and Assembly Members started in home districts in the immediate days following the November 2018 elections, when democrats assumed large majorities in both chambers.

  • New York agriculture leaders gathered in Syracuse last December to assess the situation and strategize a path forward to address the political realities.

  • NEAFA’s February Lobby Day prioritized this issue and unveiled the powerful Farm Credit East Report on the financial impact of overtime.

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  • The agriculture community pushed for hearings on the bill because we felt strongly that legislators must first hear from farmers and farm workers.

  • John Clark and Lon Stephens presented testimony, on behalf of NEAFA and the agribusiness community, at one of three hearings scheduled by the Senate Labor Committee.

  • Countless meetings continued in Albany and district offices during winter and spring months.

  • Two regional press conferences, featuring farmers in central and western NY, to share their stories and coordinated additional regional press coverage in advance of the legislative hearings and roundtables.

  • Senator Mike Ranzenhofer hosted a farmer forum for Senator Ramos (sponsor of the farmworker bill) where more than two dozen progressive farmers and farm workers articulated their concerns to the Senator. Following this forum senator Ramos met with over two hundred farmers and farm workers at Torrey Farms where they talked to her directly about their desire to work as many hours as they can get.

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  • The “Grow NY Farms” coalition (www.GrowNYFarms.com) was formed from leading NY farm organizations with resources devoted to both the lobbying on the bill and to promote farmer image. NEAFA was a charter member of Grow NY Farms

  • Signs were dispersed across the state encouraging farmers to share positive messaging about their role in the economy and need to grow New York agriculture.

  • We coordinated with county legislatures and boards of supervisors to get more than 15 municipal resolutions denouncing the farm labor bill that were then forwarded to the legislature in Albany.

  • A large rally in Albany, featuring more than 300 farmers and farmworkers, was timed to coincide with the final weeks of session to express that agriculture was a part of the solution. It was important for all sides to work together to find common ground on a bill that would do the least harm possible to agriculture. The rally included six busloads of participants, t-shirts, signs and banners were passed out to participants. Farmer Tim Stanton and his family drove three tractors and a hay wagon to circle the Capitol as four Albany TV stations covered the event live on their morning and noon programs.

Farmer Tim Stanton and family drove tractors and hay wagon to the NYS Capitol to deliver a message to lawmakers.

Farmer Tim Stanton and family drove tractors and hay wagon to the NYS Capitol to deliver a message to lawmakers.

  • Negotiations at the highest levels of state government, including with the Senate Majority Leader, Assembly Speaker and officials in the Governor’s office, continued for days in the final weeks of session.

  • As what looked to be a somewhat workable compromise fell apart on the last day of the legislative session, the coalition quickly mobilized to oppose the bill and to attempt to make additional changes to the bill. We were successful in conducting several news interviews during the debate that reengaged the Governor’s office in the conversation.

  • Efforts to modify the bill, will continue.

Thank you to everyone who spoke out, attended a hearing, hosted a tour, spoke to media, attended the rally, came to Albany or made a phone call. This is grassroots advocacy at its best.

Feed Manufacturers: Credit Survey Coming Your Way From Cornell University

By Chad Fiechter, Cornell Graduate Student

The current depressed dairy market has broad rural economic impacts. Input suppliers are among those who have been squeezed by multi-year low milk prices. Cornell University Assistant Professor of Agribusiness and Farm Management Jennifer Ifft, and graduate student, Chad Fiechter, are working to identify some of the impacts on the feed manufacturing industry.

Feed manufacturers in the Northeast have shared many stories of financial and personal stress from extending credit to their dairy customers. Some stories have positive endings—family farms who are able to weather the current farm economy due to partnership with suppliers. Others have negative endings—feed manufacturers saddled with thousands of dollars of unsecured debt after farm bankruptcies. The Cornell team has worked with several Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) members to develop a simple survey to analyze some of the impacts of extending credit to farms.

The Proposal:  Gather 10 years of basic, limited, historical information from feed manufacturers. This information will include 4 key financial categories and the typical credit terms offered to customers.  Confidentiality is extremely important and multiple provisions have been developed to protect the survey information.

  • All data will be presented as a whole industry average, no individual data will be shared or disseminated privately or publicly 

  • A Data Use Agreement (DUA) developed by the Cornell University Office of Sponsored Programs provides additional legal protection

    • Contains the language of a Non-Disclosure Agreement 

    • Limits researchers with availability to the data 

  • An oversight board formed by the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) 

    • A voluntary board whom will review any reports generated from this project

  • The participation clause for data use within the data use agreement

    • Must obtain 75% of the total industry tons

    • Must obtain at least 10 participating feed manufacturers

    • If both items are not met, the data cannot be used for research

The objectives of the project are as follows:

  • Set a benchmark for industry-standard trade credit practices: is your firm above or below the industry average?

  • A better understanding of economic conditions within the Northeastern agricultural economy

  • Valuable information for public policy discussions

  • Industry specific information for discussions with agricultural lenders

This project has been graciously supported by a voluntary NEAFA oversight board. With their help, the survey has been simplified and shortened. Expect a call from Chad Fiechter to ask for your participation.

Chad Fiechter - (219)-208-2016 – cmf268@cornell.edu

Ag Impacted by VT Legislative Session

By Meg Nelson, NEAFA VT Legislative Representative

Vermont’s 2019 Legislative session was busy with agricultural and agribusiness related topics. Ranging from neonicotinoids to water quality, our policy makers were busy taking testimony and mulling each subject carefully. Industry leaders and producers raised numerous concerns over changes to current wetland permitting, treated seed articles, pesticide restrictions, and increases to the minimum wage. The session wrapped up a week later than scheduled to finalize the written bills and get them to the Governor’s desk.

H.205, which restricts homeowner’s use of neonicotinoids, has passed and was signed into law. The bill raised the pesticide applicator fee but exempted treated seeds from the restrictions of neonicotinoid use. The bill was designed to protect bee colonies, although many believed it did not follow the science on this issue. Next year we will face new challenges in order to protect other pesticides that are currently under scrutiny.

H. 525 is the House Agricultural and Forestry Committee’s miscellaneous agriculture bill, and it was signed into law. It contains important language concerning wetland permit changes, ecosystem service payments, and mandatory seed sale reporting for seed retailers. Wetland permitting fees have been capped at $200 per project and requires collaboration between both state agencies of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The prospect of payment for good land and water stewardship, as prescribed by the ecosystem service payments, is positive for Vermont landowners. Seed companies will now have to report to the Agency of Agriculture exactly how much treated and non-treated seed is sold each year. Changes were also made to the sale of unpasteurized (raw) milk within the state, making it legal to sell raw milk off farm directly to consumers.

S. 160 is the Senate Agriculture Committee’s miscellaneous agriculture bill and was signed into law. It overlaps key parts of H. 525, as both contain ecosystem service language. Unfortunately, S.160 will require each new genetically modified seed trait introduced to the state to be reviewed by a “stakeholder panel” before sale is legal in the state. The panel will include agricultural industry leaders and representatives from the Agency of Agriculture. While this requirement is not ideal, agricultural leaders will be part of the conversation when new traits are introduced to the state.

Minimum wage and paid family leave efforts were big topics circulating the Statehouse hallways this year. Nothing was decided, but conversations will likely continue next session. Proposals this year worked to bring the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024. This potential change remains daunting for many small business owners, specifically those that offer other incentives such as housing, transportation and/or utilities to bring employee pay above minimum wage. Paid family leave had a few different versions of voluntary and mandatory programs suggested, and again, small businesses would be heavily affected.

The 2019 VT legislative session posed several challenges to the agriculture community, and more can be expected next year. The Vermont agricultural community is no stranger to heavy regulation and water quality parameters. In time, the industry hopes ecosystem services can provide some financial relief, provided further regulation does not undermine our efforts to be good stewards of land and water.

NEAFA Highlight: Dr. Kristan Reed, NEAFA Sesquicentennial Fellow at Cornell

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Dr. Kristan Reed, Assistant Professor of Dairy Cattle Nutrition and the NEAFA Sesquicentennial Fellow, is helping change how farmers and researchers assess nutrient cycles, production efficiencies, and resource uses by developing a new Ruminant Farm Systems model.

The NEAFA Sesquicentennial Fellow was created through a successful campaign, due to the generous support of 47 agribusiness companies and individuals, that raised one million dollars to seed two faculty positions within Cornell’s Department of Animal Science. Dr. Reed was appointed in 2018 and Dr. Joe McFadden was appointed in 2017 to the other fellow position. “I think that the NEAFA fellowship is a huge benefit for the agricultural community,” said Reed. “It really helps make sure that my research stays grounded in the realities of dairy production. I work to meet the industry’s needs for information, instead of going down the rabbit hole of something that is interesting but not applicable to problems on the ground. NEAFA has been great about introducing me to industry leaders as well as providing feedback on my thoughts and ideas with the industry in general.”

Growing up in St. Croix in Virgin Islands, Reed came to New York for college and pursued Animal Science for her bachelors degree at Cornell. “While I was shadowing dairy cattle veterinarians, I realized that wasn’t the field I wanted to go into, and I became much more interested in animal agriculture instead of the health side,” said Reed. After Cornell, Reed spent 2.5 years in Lesotho with the Peace Corps, before returning to the US to study animal biology for her Ph.D. in animal biology at UC Davis. During her time at UC Davis, Reed focused on statistical modeling of dairy nutrition.

Reed continued that focus during her post-doctoral work in Madison, WY for the USDA at the Dairy Forage Research Center. “My project there was to look at nitrogen cycling and efficiency at the farm level,” said Reed. “Not just with the cows but how the everything ties back into the rest of the environment. It’s a way to better understand how our management practices and weather patterns effect environmental impacts and production efficiency. The problem Reed ran into however was that the current Ruminant Farm Systems model wasn’t able to keep up with her research, so she’s working on a new and more capable model.

At Cornell, Reed has a research and extension position, with a mandate to conduct extension outreach instead of teaching classes. At this time, her extension and research coincide, where she uses her research and other relevant information to improve management and reduce environmental impact. Reed is looking forward to finishing the new model and making sure it is “accessible and adaptable for numerous users to meet future needs.”

NEAFA is proud to be a sponsor of such important work in the agricultural industry. Dr. Reed was elected to the NEAFA Board of Directors last March and also serves on the NEAFA Agronomy Committee.

NEAFA President John Clark addresses the NYS Senate Labor Committee Hearing

On April 26th, 2019, Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) President John Clark addressed the NYS Senate Labor and Agriculture Committees on the topic of the farm labor, Senate bill 2837. Clark took the opportunity to inform the gathered senators about NEAFA, its mission and its constituents, which include central New York members Bailey’s Feed in Boonville, Brown’s Feed in Frankfort, Louis J. Gale and Son in Waterville, Gold Star Feed and Grain of Sangerfield, and Lutz Feed Company in Oneonta. “We all have deep roots in the farming community, and we know that without a viable, profitable production sector, none of our agri- businesses would exist,” said Clark. “Therefore, NEAFA is here today to stand with the farming community, in strong opposition to S.2837, and implore you to find a path forward that effectively addresses the economic realities of New York’s farming sector. No state policy that attempts to address the issues identified in Senate bill 2837 will be successful unless the policy effectively respects and addresses the economic impacts to New York farmers. Absent a win-win solution, Senate bill 2837 will alter the face of agriculture as we know it in New York State.”

Dairy farmers represent the largest sector of New York’s agricultural industry. Nevertheless, this industry produces a commodity, raw milk, and therefore dairy farmers are price takers for their commodity. The price for raw milk is formula driven and farmers do not know what they will receive for their milk until several weeks after it has been shipped to the milk processing plant. The economics of commodity milk production are extremely tough due to a worldwide surplus of production. Currently dairy farmers are struggling to remain profitable due to an extended period of low milk prices and dairy economists do not forecast a significant improvement in milk prices to dairy farmers anytime soon.

“The agribusiness community stands with the production sector in strong opposition to collective bargaining and mandatory overtime as prescribed in S.2837,” said Clark. “We know how economically devastating this legislation will be if passed into law.” According to the Northeast Dairy Farm Summary and Cornell PRO-DAIRY, feed purchases represent the largest expense on New York dairy farms. In the agricultural industry, feed manufacturers particularly, extend significant amounts of credit to dairy farmers to help them manage their expenses. The current dairy farm economic stress has imposed significant levels of outstanding debt onto feed mills, creating a stressful relationship between farmers and their feed supplier. This economic reality reflects the seriousness of current conditions that will only be made worse should overtime over 40 hours per week, 8 hours per day be mandated.

Clark also highlighted the Farm Credit East report assessing the economic impact from this proposed legislation. According to their analysis, this legislation will decrease net farm income on NY dairy farms by 40 percent. If the 40 hour per week, 8 hour per day overtime were mandated on dairy farms over the five-year period between 2013 and 2017, the increase in labor costs would have exceeded the average net income for those years. The impact of the increased labor costs could be enough in some cases to move some farms from positive net earnings into a loss situation.

New York’s farmers are competing with other states, such as Pennsylvania and Vermont, that do not mandate overtime payments and collective bargaining. New York is already an economically challenging place to milk cows due to high business costs driven by property taxes, environmental regulations, high minimum wages among other factors. “Time and a half will be the factor that renders New York to the category of ‘no longer economically viable’ for milk producers,” said Clark. “And the ripple impact will be felt throughout the communities of upstate New York. Rather than establishing policy to better farm worker opportunities, this bill could strike at the heart of New York’s agricultural industry and eliminate jobs or reduce income for each job that is offered.”

The impact of a mandating overtime pay in New York may shift agriculture in several ways. Labor intensive agriculture operations could shift to agricultural enterprises that are less labor intensive, such as dairy production shifting to grain or hay production. Farms may transition to multiple shifts of workers to avoid the overtime mandate, thus forcing farm workers to reduce their weekly income. Technology could substitute for workers and an overtime mandate will incentivize farmers to invest in robots over humans. In all these examples, farm workers lose job opportunities.

The ripple effect onto the rest of the agriculture economy is obvious. Businesses like feed mills, seed and fertilizer suppliers will experience a reduction of business, thus imposing job reductions and less economic activity in local communities. The threat of an overall decline of the upstate economy, due to mandatory overtime, is real and obvious to those in the industry.

“Senate bill 2837 will clearly make a significant difference on the future of New York’s agriculture industry,” said Clark. “As it currently stands, it will dramatically alter the course and future of our industry. I strongly encourage you to heed the warnings of the agriculture community. They are not hollow threats.”


The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance is a 300 member organization committed to supporting a thriving northeastern agricultural community through advocacy, education, and collaboration. Members of the Alliance include feed, seed, fertilizer companies, financial service providers, transportation companies, veterinarians, nutritional services providers, and professional advisors.

NEAFA Signs onto USMCA Message to Congress

The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA), along with dozens of other agribusiness associations and companies, signed a letter of support for the US- Mexico - Canada Agreement (USMCA) and urges swift ratification by Congress. This action follows the announcement by the Trump Administration to drop steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on these two countries. “We appreciate the President’s decision to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum products, as this action will pave the way for the resolution of this critical trade agreement,” stated John Clark, NEAFA President. “The Agribusiness and Feed Alliance stands with the rest of the agriculture industry in strong support of free and fair-trade agreements. The USMCA, if passed by Congress, will once again set us on a path of growth for our agricultural exports, which is an essential element to a prosperous and viable US agricultural economy.”

Over the last 25 years, U.S. food and agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have more than quadrupled under NAFTA – growing from $9 billion in 1993 to nearly $40 billion in 2018. NAFTA significantly helped create a reliable, high-quality supply of food products for U.S. consumers, while supporting more than 900,000 American jobs in food, agriculture, and related sectors of the economy. USMCA builds on the success of the NAFTA agreement, and will ultimately lead to freer markets and fairer trade. This modernized trade agreement makes improvements to further enhance U.S. food and agricultural exports to our neighbors and would deliver an additional $2.2 billion in U.S. economic activity.

Mitloehner: Cows Getting Bad Rap for Climate Change

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Frank Mitloehner, PhD, UC Davis, was a keynote speaker at 2019 NEAFA/PRO-DAIRY Herd Health and Nutrition Conference April 8th-9th in East Syracuse, NY. Attended by over 150 dairy farmers, agribusiness and feed industry professionals, dairy nutritionists, animal scientists, cooperative extension specialists, the conference was an excellent opportunity for agriservice personnel, feed industry representatives, veterinarians, and dairy producers to increase their knowledge of current herd health and nutrition management techniques while interacting with other professionals.

Mitloehner, a professor and air quality specialist in the Dept. of Animal Science at UC Davis, is world renowned for research on understanding and mitigating air emissions from livestock operations. He presented on the impact livestock management practices has on climate change. Reproduced below with permission from Mitloehner is an article on the subject that originally ran in The Conversation.


Cattle grazing on public lands near Steens Mountain, Oregon.  BLM/Greg Shine ,  CC BY

Cattle grazing on public lands near Steens Mountain, Oregon. BLM/Greg Shine, CC BY

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences.

Global livestock production by region (milk and eggs expressed in protein terms). FAOCC BY-ND

Setting the record straight on meat and greenhouse gases

A healthy portion of meat’s bad rap centers on the assertion that livestock is the largest source of greenhouse gases worldwide. For example, a 2009 analysis published by the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute asserted that 51 percent of global GHG emissions come from rearing and processing livestock.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the largest sources of U.S. GHG emissions in 2016 were electricity production (28 percent of total emissions), transportation (28 percent) and industry (22 percent). All of agriculture accounted for a total of 9 percent. All of animal agriculture contributes less than half of this amount, representing 3.9 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. That’s very different from claiming livestock represents as much or more than transportation.

Why the misconception? In 2006 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published a study titled “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” which received widespread international attention. It stated that livestock produced a staggering 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The agency drew a startling conclusion: Livestock was doing more to harm the climate than all modes of transportation combined.

This latter claim was wrong, and has since been corrected by Henning Steinfeld, the report’s senior author. The problem was that FAO analysts used a comprehensive life-cycle assessment to study the climate impact of livestock, but a different method when they analyzed transportation.

For livestock, they considered every factor associated with producing meat. This included emissions from fertilizer production, converting land from forests to pastures, growing feed, and direct emissions from animals (belching and manure) from birth to death.

However, when they looked at transportation’s carbon footprint, they ignored impacts on the climate from manufacturing vehicle materials and parts, assembling vehicles and maintaining roads, bridges and airports. Instead, they only considered the exhaust emitted by finished cars, trucks, trains and planes. As a result, the FAO’s comparison of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock to those from transportation was greatly distorted.

Researchers have identified multiple options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector. Red bars represent the potential range for each practice. Herrero et al, 2016, via Penn State UniversityCC BY-NC-SA

I pointed out this flaw during a speech to fellow scientists in San Francisco on March 22, 2010, which led to a flood of media coverage. To its credit, the FAO immediately owned up to its error. Unfortunately, the agency’s initial claim that livestock was responsible for the lion’s share of world greenhouse gas emissions had already received wide coverage. To this day, we struggle to “unring” the bell.

In its most recent assessment report, the FAO estimated that livestock produces 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. There is no comparable full life-cycle assessment for transportation. However, as Steinfeld has pointed out, direct emissions from transportation versus livestock can be compared and amount to 14 versus 5 percent, respectively.

Giving up meat won’t save the climate

Many people continue to think avoiding meat as infrequently as once a week will make a significant difference to the climate. But according to one recent study, even if Americans eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by only 2.6 percent. According to our research at the University of California, Davis, if the practice of Meatless Monday were to be adopted by all Americans, we’d see a reduction of only 0.5 percent.

Moreover, technological, genetic and management changes that have taken place in U.S. agriculture over the past 70 years have made livestock production more efficient and less greenhouse gas-intensive. According to the FAO’s statistical database, total direct greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. livestock have declined 11.3 percent since 1961, while production of livestock meat has more than doubled.

Demand for meat is rising in developing and emerging economies, with the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia leading the way. But per capita meat consumption in these regions still lags that of developed countries. In 2015, average annual per capita meat consumption in developed countries was 92 kilograms, compared to 24 kilograms in the Middle East and North Africa and 18 kilograms in Southeast Asia.

Still, given projected population growth in the developing world, there will certainly be an opportunity for countries such as the United States to bring their sustainable livestock rearing practices to the table.

In developing countries, raising livestock such as these goats in Kenya is an important source of food and income for many small-scale farmers and herders. Loisa KitakayaCC BY-SA

The value of animal agriculture

Removing animals from U.S. agriculture would lower national greenhouse gas emissions to a small degree, but it would also make it harder to meet nutritional requirements. Many critics of animal agriculture are quick to point out that if farmers raised only plants, they could produce more pounds of food and more calories per person. But humans also need many essential micro- and macronutrients for good health.

It’s hard to make a compelling argument that the United States has a calorie deficit, given its high national rates of adult and child obesity. Moreover, not all plant parts are edible or desirable. Raising livestock is a way to add nutritional and economic value to plant agriculture.

As one example, the energy in plants that livestock consume is most often contained in cellulose, which is indigestible for humans and many other mammals. But cows, sheep and other ruminant animals can break cellulose down and release the solar energy contained in this vast resource. According to the FAO, as much as 70 percent of all agricultural land globally is range land that can only be utilized as grazing land for ruminant livestock.

The world population is currently projected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050. Feeding this many people will raise immense challenges. Meat is more nutrient-dense per serving than vegetarian options, and ruminant animals largely thrive on feed that is not suitable for humans. Raising livestock also offers much-needed income for small-scale farmers in developing nations. Worldwide, livestock provides a livelihood for 1 billion people.

Climate change demands urgent attention, and the livestock industry has a large overall environmental footprint that affects air, water and land. These, combined with a rapidly rising world population, give us plenty of compelling reasons to continue to work for greater efficiencies in animal agriculture. I believe the place to start is with science-based facts.

By Frank M. Mitloehner, Professor of Animal Science and Air Quality Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis. This article was first published in The Conversation.

AFIA Names Constance Cullman As New CEO

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Feed Industry Association’s Board of Directors has selected Constance Cullman, current president of Farm Foundation, to succeed Joel G. Newman as president and chief executive officer of the association, upon his retirement later this year. She will also become the president of the industry’s public charity, the Institute for Feed Education and Research. Cullman will officially join AFIA on July 29.

AFIA’s Board chair Bruce Crutcher made the following statement upon the announcement:

Over the past several months, AFIA’s Board selection committee has interviewed a diverse range of highly qualified candidates looking for someone who is a visionary leader with strong communications skills and is proven to bring together teams across the organization and industry to lead on priority issues. Constance Cullman not only has a high track record of success, but she has the vision, integrity and passion for leading the U.S. animal food industry into its next chapter.

As the U.S. animal food industry looks to create market opportunities in the global trade environment and better communicate with consumers about the industry’s sustainability efforts, we believe Cullman’s experience and foresight will serve our members well by opening new doors for dialogue about the issues impacting U.S. animal food manufacturers’ license to operate. On behalf of the Board and AFIA’s members, I would like to welcome Constance Cullman to the animal food industry and thank Joel Newman for his 15 years of dedicated service to our industry.”

Cullman has served in her current position as president and CEO of Farm Foundation for the past three years. Prior to that role, she served as the U.S. government affairs leader for Dow AgroSciences; senior director of regulatory, technical and international affairs at the Corn Refiners Association; associate administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service; vice president of agricultural ecology at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; and extension associate at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Cullman has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and a master’s degree in agricultural economics with an emphasis on international trade and agricultural policy from Ohio State. She hails from Marysville, Ohio, where her family owned and operated a cow/calf farm.

About AFIA

Founded in 1909, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), based in Arlington, Va., is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to representing the business, legislative and regulatory interests of the U.S. animal food industry and its suppliers. The organization’s membership is comprised of more than 680 domestic and international companies that represent the total feed industry—manufacturers of commercial and integrated feed and pet food, ingredient suppliers, pharmaceutical companies, industry support and equipment manufacturers. AFIA members manufacture more than 75 percent of the feed and 70 percent of the non-grain ingredients used in the country. AFIA is also recognized as the leader on international industry developments, and holds membership in the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF).

Preventive Controls for Animal Food Training Seminar Scheduled

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Cooperative Feed Dealers in partnership with Cornell University and Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance will be hosting FSPCA Preventive Controls for Animal Food Training July 10-11, 2019 at Cornell University, Ithaca NY.  

The Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-based Preventive Controls for Animal Food regulation (also referred to as FSMA Preventive Controls for Animal Food regulation) is intended to ensure safe manufacturing, processing, packing and holding of food products for animal consumption in the United States.

This course, developed by FSPCA, is the standardized curriculum recognized by FDA; successfully completing this course is one way to meet the requirements for a preventive controls qualified individual.

The course will be instructed by Barbara Simeon of CFD.

Course will begin daily at 8:00AM in the M01 Stocking Hall (Mezzanine Level),  411 Tower Rd., Cornell University, Ithaca NY 14853.

Register Link - https://fsma.cfd.coop/training/

FDA Withdraws CPGs Related to the Use of Rendered Products in Feed, Pet Food

In response to a citizen petition, the Food and Drug Administration withdrew three compliance policy guides (CGP) today that dictate how certain animal-derived food materials can be used in animal food. The FDA said the action will “clarify” for animal food manufacturers the agency’s regulatory policies and expectations for the use of materials from dead or downer animals.

Since the CPGs were issued 40 years ago, FDA said its “knowledge of, experience with, and focus on preventing safety problems with animal food has increased.” Referencing the Food Safety Modernization Act, which placed sweeping new authorities and requirements on both the human and animal food industries, and its resulting 21 CFR Part 507 (the “Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals”), animal food manufacturers, including renderers, are now required to do more than ever before to identify hazards, develop risk-based preventive controls and test and monitor their safe manufacturing protocols in their animal food safety plans.

Given the breadth and depth of FSMA, the FDA stated in its letter that the CPG on Rendered Animal Feed Ingredients (CPG Sec. 675.400) and the one on Canned Pet Food (CGP 690.300) are no longer necessary:

“We have determined that the CPGs that we have withdrawn are outdated because they do not inform animal food manufacturers of the part 507 regulation, a new, integral part of the animal food safety framework. Furthermore, they are incomplete because they highlight only one type of hazard (biological) that has been associated with tissues of animal origin. … since the two withdrawn CPGs were originally released, we have issued regulations and other more extensive guidance and draft guidance that are directly relevant to animal food safety.”

In addition, on the CPG on Uncooked Meat for Animal Food (CPG Sec. 690.500), the FDA said it “simply restates the adulteration provision” of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act’s section 402(a)(5) and its ability to “take action on uncooked animal food products derived from ‘diseased animals or animals that died otherwise by slaughter’.”

The FDA reiterated that the use of rendered ingredients in many pet foods, including canned pet food, can provide a safe source of fat and protein. The American Feed Industry Association agrees that the rendering process is sophisticated and regulated to ensure that only quality animal food products are ever used, in accordance with all state and federal laws and regulations, and is one way the industry can be more sustainable.

The FDA’s actions today should not impact animal food manufacturers' ability to produce safe feed and pet food for animals. The FDA still maintains the same authority it has had to take action against animal food products or manufacturers that could pose a threat to human or animal health.

What does this mean for you?

If you are an animal food manufacturing facility that uses rendered ingredients from dead or downer animals, you must ensure that any hazards these ingredients could pose are accounted for in your hazard analysis and animal food safety plans as part of 21 CFR Part 507.

If you do not use rendered ingredients from these animal sources, it is still a good policy to know your suppliers and validate your supply stream to ensure you are properly managing hazards and accounting for them in your animal food safety plans.

Contact AFIA’s legislative and regulatory team with any questions on this policy. For more information, see the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine Update or its response to the citizen petition.


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. If you would like to photocopy, otherwise reproduce, or publish any of the foregoing material, please contact AFIA's Sarah Novak or Victoria Broehm for permission.

Executive Director’s Notes

Much is happening on the public policy front, in state capitals and in Washington, and it may feel a bit overwhelming at times. News sources are filled with headlines about trade disputes, low commodity prices, weather events challenging farmers’ planting schedules, and state legislatures considering bills that could severely impact our industry. It’s hard to keep up! But you should know that NEAFA is keeping up and working aggressively, in collaboration with others, to address many of the policy issues facing our industry.

As new trade agreements continue to be at the forefront of national news, our partnerships with AFIA and NGFA provide us with opportunities to weigh in with a host of other agribusiness associations across the country, to express our concern over current trade disputes and calling for rapid resolution. Our great agriculture industry depends extensively on international markets, and we have invested heavily over the years to become a dependable trading partner of high-quality commodities. In particular, our industry is calling for swift resolution of all disputes, and NEAFA is part of this loud outcry.

In New York, the state legislature is considering drastic changes to current farm labor laws that will mandate collective bargaining and overtime above 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. State Senate Labor Committee hearings took place in April and NEAFA was there. NEAFA President John Clark and Secretary Lon Stephens presented testimony echoing a broad farm community outcry of concern to ability of New York’s agriculture to survive such burdensome mandates (see article about Clark’s testimony below). Both Clark and Stephens pointed to the Farm Credit East study that determined that farm income is likely to go down by an average of 28% should the current bill pass as-is. Both statements emphasized the ripple effect onto the agribusiness community should the state legislative proposal be enacted into law. NEAFA will remain an active participant of a collaborative industry wide effort to mitigate this serious threat.

Further state legislative concerns come in the form of pesticide bans, seed regulation, and additional taxes to fund water quality regulations and these are only a few of the many state legislative challenges facing northeast agriculture. At least a half dozen bills banning various pesticide products including Lorsban, Atrazine, Glyphosate and neonicotinoids have been introduced in the NYS Legislature. One bill banning Lorsban (Chlorpyrifos) has already passed both houses and will be considered by the Governor. We are actively promoting a veto and have joined with NYSABA and other agriculture organizations to get letters into the Governor’s office. Be sure to respond to our action request to sign a petition calling for the Governor to veto the pesticide ban bill (www.northeastalliance.com)! In Vermont, the state legislature is considering a last-minute effort to further regulate the introduction of new seed traits into the state, along with raising funds to fuel water quality regulations. Both items could place additional burdens onto the agriculture industry, and we are part of a collaborative effort, along with the Vermont Dairy Farm Alliance, Green Mountain Dairy Federation and Vermont Farm Bureau, to push back on both fronts.

Thankfully, there are several bright spots for northeastern agriculture in the past month as well. In an effort to spread good news about farming in the northeast, NEAFA is active on several fronts. As part of the farm labor debate in New York, NEAFA joined the Grow NY Farms Campaign (www.grownyfarms.com) to help communicate the messages of what farmers are doing for their workforce, their families and their communities. Check out their website to view high-quality messages and videos that are being shared with policy makers and the general public. In addition, through the leadership and expertise of Meg Nelson, our legislative representative in Montpelier, we have been sharing excellent examples of Vermont’s dairy farm families and all they do for their communities. Check out our Facebook page by clicking here and see “What’s Happening in Vermont Agriculture.” There’s a lot of good news to share!

Clearly, this is a very active period for public policy discussions, some that pose significant change to our industry. NEAFA will continue to be part of the debate and make sure that the needs of the agricultural industry are heard by lawmakers.

The Spotted Lanternfly is Headed North! Watch that it Doesn’t Hitch a Ride!

Spotted lanternfly, adult - Photo by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Spotted lanternfly, adult - Photo by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

By Barbara Simeon, Regulatory Compliance Consultant, Cooperative Feed Dealers Inc. Conklin NY.

Back in November of 2018, I received a visit from the New York State Department of Agriculture asking if I had heard of the Lycorma delicatula (White), commonly known as the Spotted Lanternfly. I had not; after a brief introduction and a conversation about an external quarantine being imposed by New York State, I thought I better learn more. The good news is… there is no shortage of information on the internet about this invasive bug.

To make a long story short, the Spotted Lanternfly, native to Asia, is thought to have arrived on US shores sometime around 2012. For the next two years it remained undetected as it mated and multiplied, until its presence was confirmed in Berks County, PA on September 22, 2014 by the USDA and PDA. By 2016 it had spread to 174 square miles, by 2017 it had invaded 3,000 square miles, and it continues to spread. As of May 15, “infestations” have been identified in areas of PA, NJ, DE, MD and VA. It has also been “spotted” (pardon the pun) in areas of NY, MA and CT. Most recently, my home county, Broome, was added to the map.

How does it spread? While it is not a particularly good flier, it is a plant hopper and a hitchhiker. It adheres to flat surfaces and can travel long distances on trucks, plants and wood products. While beautiful to look at, it is a bad bug! It excretes a sap like sticky urine dubbed “Honeydew”. In highly infested areas people describe the honeydew as “raining down”! It covers trees, porches, decks and other surfaces. It then degrades to a black “sooty mold” that is damaging and very difficult to remove. In the same way it damages crops, fruit trees, hardwoods and other items costing billions in economic damage.

The potential impact on the agricultural community is great and we should all learn what we can about this bad bug! A good place to start is the USDA website https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/profile/spotted-lanternfly. I would be remiss if I did not state that this is one of many invasive bugs in our midst. But this one is of particular concern in the Northeast at this time.

As I mentioned earlier, New York State has an external quarantine requiring commercial vehicles doing business in the infested areas to obtain training and permits (issued by PDA) to enter NY. They will be conducting inspections at DOT stops. PA is inspecting commercial vehicles exiting the quarantine counties and will potentially fine companies that do not obtain training and permits. The good news is the training permits are free! To learn more visit https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly-permit-training. While CFD cannot issue your permits, we can assist with training needs. For more information contact me at barbsimeon@co-opfeed.com.

John’s Jottings: We’re all in this together

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Spring has finally reached my desk here in the Northeast, and with it the yearly transition, struggle, and growth that accompanies it. As we face new and old challenges, celebrate our triumphs and reflect on setbacks, I think it’s necessary to remember that we’re all in this together, no matter the size issue that we’re addressing.

Some of the ways that we can come together are small - letting someone in from a side road in bumper to bumper traffic, taking the time to hold the door for the person behind you, or taking the time to be kind to someone having a bad day. You never know whose day you brighten with a smile.

The large issues in life though, get more complicated. It means being involved in your community, whether that’s geographically based, or related in a wider sense because of your interests, hobbies or careers. For us at the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA), our community is widespread, but we’re proud to work with other organizations throughout the Northeast to promote and grow our common industry. We’re proud to support other organizations, including the Northeast Farm Bureaus, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, the Vermont Dairy Farmers Alliance and of course, many other organizations that are all working towards the common goal of advancing Agriculture in the Northeast.

For our members, there are many ways to help advance these community goals. Of course, financial support is one way. Sponsoring events, investing in scholarships, research grants, etc. Participating in events and leadership roles is another. In February and April, NEAFA hosted lobby days in Albany and Montpelier which members of many different groups took part. We acted as a collaborator, and facilitator, scheduling appointments with legislative members, and coordinating appointments so that members could present highlights to these legislators and have the greatest impact possible.

If you’re not able to make a lobby day, consider spending a few minutes e-lobbying. NEAFA members are currently preparing to testify at the NY State Senate hearings concerning farmers paying overtime and collective bargaining. Both changes would have the potential to devastate those in production agriculture, and the ripple would be felt by virtually all NEAFA members. At NEAFA, we work to make your voice heard.

A final way to connect with your community is to urge your colleagues to join NEAFA. Together, we can make a true difference and advance the needs of our community. A friend of mine, who’s opinion I value, has a favorite phrase that he likes to say. “Life is controlled by those who show up.” We’re happy to show up and help shape the future of agriculture, and hope that you will all continue to support those common goals. We’re all in this together.

John’s Jottings, over and out.

Agri-Pulse: EU approves US trade talks, but not for ag

A council representing European Union countries officially signed off Monday on a narrow mandate to allow trade talks with the U.S. to begin, but, as expected, that mandate does not include agriculture.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has been saying for months that Europe had no intention of addressing ag issues in a trade pact, but that position has met stiff resistance from the Trump administration and many U.S. lawmakers who want to see Europe lift rules that sharply restrict access to U.S. commodities like poultry, pork and beef.

“Elimination of industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers only get us part of the way there, especially when we face major barriers to agricultural trade in the E.U.,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said. “Agriculture is a significant piece of the global economy and it simply doesn’t make sense to leave it out.”

Malmström and others continue to argue that the word “agriculture” was never used when President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to negotiate last summer.

For more information and other Agri-Pulse articles, please visit www.agri-pulse.com.

NEAFA Promotes PRO-DAIRY Before VT Governor, Legislature, Dairy Commission

NEAFA co-hosted a legislative reception in Montpelier on April 10th.  NEAFA representatives Art Whitman, Governmental Relations Committee member, and Meg Nelson, NEAFA’s VT Legislative Representative, join Representative Harvey Smith who stopped by to talk about policy issues.

NEAFA co-hosted a legislative reception in Montpelier on April 10th.  NEAFA representatives Art Whitman, Governmental Relations Committee member, and Meg Nelson, NEAFA’s VT Legislative Representative, join Representative Harvey Smith who stopped by to talk about policy issues.

Vermont dairy producers are recognized as national leaders in the adoption of new technology and management practices for the efficient production of high-quality milk. Investments in buildings, equipment and technical assistance support farms as they strive to adopt practices that address environmental conservation, animal care, and employee wellness. Despite the professionalism and success of a core group of Vermont dairies, the state ranks in the middle of US states for per cow production.

Vermont 2018 milk production represented 1.28% of the national total. The average annual per cow production of 21,102 pounds places Vermont at 18th in the nation. Average production for the eleven states in the northeast region is 21,935 pounds per cow with New York leading the region at 23,885 pounds of milk per cow per year (a full 12% more milk per cow than Vermont farms).

PRO-DAIRY, a program serving New York dairy farmers and supported by state funds, is a model that holds significant promise for Vermont’s dairy farmers. NEAFA, in collaboration with the leaders of Vermont’s dairy industry, has been advocating for a Vermont PRO-DAIRY program to serve Vermont dairy farmers and play a significant role in assuring economic sustainability of Vermont’s dairy industry.

For over 30 years PRO-DAIRY has linked New York dairy farmers and agribusiness professionals to critical research and resources, giving them information they need to build and manage robust businesses. PRO-DAIRY’s contributions to educational programming and applied research have helped farmers implement practices for efficient milk production. With support from PRO-DAIRY, New York has been a national leader in dairy growth for the past 10 years.

From 1992 through 1996 UVM Extension adopted some of the practices and educational programming created by PRO-DAIRY for dairy farmer education in Vermont. The format was highly regarded by Vermont farmers as evidenced by strong attendance and positive evaluations. Staffing changes led to adjustments in UVM Extension’s services and the PRO-DAIRY model was dropped from UVM Extension programming.

“An annual investment in professional resources for business management, facilities design, and animal management will position Vermont’s dairy industry to be the robust economic engine it has long been known for,” Stated Meg Nelson, NEAFA’s Montpelier Legislative Representative. “An economic development investment into Vermont’s largest industry is the right priority for the State that has developed a brand around its rural economic character. This investment would protect and grow this brand that is known worldwide.”

Executive Director Rick Zimmerman joined Meg Nelson on April 10th for a legislative reception, meetings with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees and coffee with the Governor. Governor Phil Scott met with Vermont Dairy Producers Alliance members where he heard first hand about the benefits New York’s PRO-DAIRY program was bringing to Vermont dairy farmers. On April 15th, Zimmerman presented before the Vermont Dairy Commission and emphasized that Vermont is a significant part of the northeast milk shed that is competing against other regions of the country and the world for the opportunity to serve consumers with high quality milk and dairy products. “Vermont dairy farmers must have access to all the latest tools and technologies if we are to compete successfully in local and global markets,” stated Zimmerman.

NEAFA is advocating for $1.3 million to support the salary, fringe benefits, administrative and operating expenses for four years to support three PRO-DAIRY professionals.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott (center) joins members of the Vermont Dairy Farmers Alliance, NEAFA Executive Director Rick Zimmerman (left) and NEAFA Governmental Relations Committee member Art Whitman (right) for a discussion on the value of bringing Pro-Dairy to Vermont.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott (center) joins members of the Vermont Dairy Farmers Alliance, NEAFA Executive Director Rick Zimmerman (left) and NEAFA Governmental Relations Committee member Art Whitman (right) for a discussion on the value of bringing Pro-Dairy to Vermont.

NEAFA Elects New President and Vice President

The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) is proud to announce their new president and vice president, John Clark and Danielle Penney-Stroup. Returning officers include Secretary Lon Stephens and Treasurer Barry Baetz. “I am proud to work with the dedicated members of NEAFA, committee members and board members who have pushed our organization forward,” said Clark. 

Clark has filled numerous roles at NEAFA in the past, including the treasurer, vice president positions.  Clark also works with the government relations committees and is the chair of the good works committee. “I enjoy facilitating lobby groups, committee sessions, and board meetings,” said Clark.  “I have big shoes to fill following Andy Dugan (exiting president).  He has been a great leader, always listening to all sides while still helping NEAFA move forward. We have truly grown under his leadership, including the new agronomy committee, increased collaboration with others organizations, and we have increased the amount of monies distributed by our good works program.”

Clark has served the agricultural sector for nearly forty years, since graduating from Cornell with a degree in Animal Science and Agribusiness. He currently works with Feedworks USA, a business that works to create additives for feed. Clark also started the Northeast Agri-Solutions Force (NASF) 15 years ago. According to NASF's website, the business searches “for unique, profitable, and proven solutions that today's dairy producers need to control expenses and maximize efficiency.” For Clark, NASF provides the freedom and flexibility to focus on some of things he enjoys in the industry. “I'm my own boss, so I can work with the groups that I want to, and not have to worry about filing for a day off to give back,” said Clark “Whether it's county fairs, jr. dairy, etc., they're all intertwined with my industry. And if there are products that come my way, I have the ability to represent them.”

Incoming Vice President Danielle Penney-Stroop has been on the board for 4 years and currently serves on the conventions committee. “From majority of my research that in the 100 year history of the combined organizations, but definitely since the inception of NEAFA, I am the first female to be an executive member and serve as Vice President,” said Penney-Stroop. “That’s something that makes me very proud & excited.” Penney-Stroup is currently employed by Novus International as the Northeast Ruminant Manager. “We provide cow comfort expertise to dairy producers, as well offer producers a wide variety of products that enhance overall health & production,” said Penney-Stroop. “I have had a variety of roles in the dairy industry for the past 20 years – from large herd management in northern NY & VT to nutrition & dairy management consulting throughout the Northeast, with specialization of calves & heifers.”

While she has a love for all of agriculture, Penney-Stroop’s passion, core, and roots lie with the dairy industry. “I look forward to and will continue my efforts to bridge the educational gaps between the general populous and production agriculture. Additionally, I look forward to increasing my lobbying efforts and becoming more involved in the political process on the behalf of our producers, and other ag industry manufacturers and professionals.” Penney-Stroop currently resides with her husband Brook and her three teenage children (Kaigan, Keara, and Keegan) in Grahamsville NY, located in the southern Catskills.

Returning Secretary Lon Stephens graduated Cornell University in Ag Engineering in 1981. He worked on a large central NY dairy farm for 3 years. He has been a Co-operative Feed Dealers (CFD) employee for 34 years - 29 as General Manager. CFD was formed in 1935 as a wholesale distributor and commodity trading company owned by its members. Members include independent feed mills and farm supply stores throughout NY, PA, NJ and New England. CFD’s newest venture, Dryshod, is on a dramatic growth curve after its market introduction in December 2017. The product line was created with help from former Muck Boot Company founder and owner, Jim Donohue.

Lon was elected Secretary of NEAFA 3 years ago after serving on the NEAFA Board of Directors. He became involved in NEAFA to represent CFD’s independent feed dealers, collaborate with vendors and feed mill customers at NEAFA events, and keep abreast of issues affecting the feed industry. Outside of NEAFA, Lon was elected to serve a three year term on the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) Board of Directors in March 2018. He is active in his local church and enjoys playing golf.

Also returning for another term is Treasurer Barry Baetz. “I joined the organization in the beginning based on the strength and efforts of its advocacy and education for the Northeast agribusiness region,” said Baetz. Prior to becoming Treasurer, he was the chair of the membership committee for a number of years.  “I am proud of our committee being able to both maintain and increase membership levels of NEAFA.  The new membership is bringing a more well rounded perspective to the organization as a whole, while at the same time increasing the strength of the organization while we focus on advocating for Northeast agriculture.”

Baetz was raised on a small farming operation in Ontario, Canada. He attended the University of Guelph and received his Bachelor of Agricultural Science with a major in Animal Science. Baetz joined Shur-Gain directly upon graduating from University in January 1994. Over his time with the company, his responsibilities grew into the role of Dairy Nutrition Specialist, then Business Development Manager, and on to being the General Manager of Shur-Gain’s US Feed Region. in 2013, Baetz joined Dairy Farmers of America Farm Supplies business in the role of Feed Projects Manager. In 2015, Baetz joined Global Agri-Trade Corporation as Animal Feed Sales Manager for the Eastern US and National Accounts. Since then he has focused on expanding the sales efforts of Palmit 80 and Nurisol Dry Fats. His training and experience in dairy nutrition also allows him to provide Technical Service to customers on a national basis.

NEAFA would again like to congratulate John Clark and Danielle Penny-Stroop on their new roles, and thank Andy Dugan for his service to the organization. Thanks also go to the continued hard work and diligence provided by Barry Baetz and Lon Stephens. With such a strong group of officers, NEAFA is looking forward to another year of growth and promotion of the agricultural industry.

John’s Jottings: Change & Choice

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2019 is certainly a challenging year for those of us in production agriculture, and in agribusiness as well. Recently, many of us attended the NEAFA Annual Meeting in Florida. As an industry, we face a time of change and choice. Sometimes those changes are voluntary, yet other changes happen where we don’t have a choice. Learning to accept what the future holds for us and to adapt with it is the key to growth in the upcoming year. Most likely you have changes going on in your life. Recently, many of us attended the NEAFA Annual Meeting in Florida, where we explored some of the changes and choices that our industry is currently facing.

While all of the speakers did a great job, some really resonated with me. The dairy producer panel of four unique and diverse producers gave us their current perspectives and how they are meeting their current challenges, each differently. Beth Meyer illustrated numerous ways to prepare for public communications on social and other forms of media. Patrick Clark gave us the C6 Advantage in the form of feed mills, and Sheila Pierson showed us how to identify with different generations, including our own.

A true standout for me was motivational speaker Chad Hymas. He was forced to change, and he had many difficult choices to make afterwards. In 2001, as an active farmer in a hurry, he was in an accident that left him without use of all four of his limbs. Imagining the worst day you or I have ever had, it’s hard to think of anything that compares to this challenge. Hymas had to change, he had no choice in the matter. Some of us have a choice to change or not. Hymas told us, if we listened as well as read between the lines, that as he suffered tremendous challenges, he even contemplated suicide. For a long time, he could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. His success today is a stark reminder that even if you can’t see the light in a situation, it may just need more time to come into focus. For Hymas, that light shines when he goes into a room now.

As I close, I’m reminded of a famous Benjamin Franklin quote. “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” For those that missed the annual meeting, please know that you were missed, and we hope to reconnect with you throughout the year at different events and at next year’s meeting. During the remaining months of 2019, think about how will you deal with change. What choices will you make?

John’s Jottings over and out.