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News stories tagged with "farming"

Photo: David Sommerstein
Photo: David Sommerstein

2014 could be a good year for dairy farms

2013 was another comeback year for the dairy industry, after near-record low milk prices forced thousands of dairy farmers out of business during the recession. But the high cost of energy and feed still made it hard for farms to make money.

Two of the top industry forecasters say that could change for the better in 2014. David Sommerstein spoke with Mark Stephenson, who directs the Center for Dairy Profitability at the University of Wisconsin, and Andy Novacovic, a professor of agricultural economics at Cornell University, about what the new year might hold for dairy farmers and how the Farm Bill debate in Congress could affect life on the farm.

Stephenson says soaring corn prices are finally coming down, with a record harvest last summer and declining use of corn in producing ethanol. That means dairy farmers will pay less for feed, so they'll end up with better profit margins this year.  Go to full article
The "Big Four"--John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, and Neil Young--with Pete Seeger, Saturday night in Saratoga Springs. Photo: © Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve, Inc., used with permission
The "Big Four"--John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, and Neil Young--with Pete Seeger, Saturday night in Saratoga Springs. Photo: © Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve, Inc., used with permission

Food, politics & The Big Four at Farm Aid

This week, we're listening back to our favorite stories from 2013.

For the first time in its 28 year history, Farm Aid came to Upstate New York this year. It's the longest running benefit concert in the country, started to help farmers devastated by drought and a credit crunch.

Today it's about much more than good music to help farmers stay in business. It's about buying local, sustaining rural communities, and considering the roles of "Big Agriculture" and "small family farms" in America.

Natasha Haverty and David Sommerstein tagged teamed our coverage at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs back in September.  Go to full article
Lenny Merculdi and Blake Putnam fill the "Bigfoot" with used plastics. Photo: David Sommerstein
Lenny Merculdi and Blake Putnam fill the "Bigfoot" with used plastics. Photo: David Sommerstein

Story 2.0: More farmers recycle ag plastics

Four years ago, state environmental officials made it illegal to burn trash and other waste anywhere in New York. That meant the end of the burn barrel, then a common sight across the countryside. Burn barrels were a major source of cancer-causing dioxin and other toxic chemicals in the air.

The burn ban also meant farmers could no longer burn the agricultural plastics that have become ubiquitous in farming. Trucking them to a landfill is the most common, but expensive, alternative. But more and more farmers are recycling them.

Our ongoing series, Story 2.0, checks back in on stories from the past.  Go to full article
Milk Not Jails' Lauren Melodia and her team want to convince New York to invest in farms, not prisons. Photo: David Sommerstein
Milk Not Jails' Lauren Melodia and her team want to convince New York to invest in farms, not prisons. Photo: David Sommerstein

What could replace the North Country's prison industry?

This week, our Prison Time Media Project is examining the North Country's vast complex of prisons. It's an industry from Cape Vincent to Chateaugay that employs thousands of people in a region with few other options.

Today we ask - what if? What if the crime rate continues to drop and the number of inmates locked up continues to fall? What if, as Governor Cuomo has advocated, New York keeps closing prisons, as it did in Lyon Mountain and Gabriels?

What's next for the North Country's prison towns?

One tiny not-for-profit from New York City has an idea. Take the money saved from shuttering prisons and spend that money on agriculture. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
A cut in the federal excise tax would help all the state's brewers, including St. Lawrence Brewery in Canton. Photo: David Sommerstein
A cut in the federal excise tax would help all the state's brewers, including St. Lawrence Brewery in Canton. Photo: David Sommerstein

Craft brewers want a break from federal excise taxes

The number of craft brewers in New York State has risen to more than 140 over the last 20 years, thanks to demand for more flavorful, and more local, beers.

Now some of those craft brewers are lobbying for tax reductions they say would help them keep their momentum.  Go to full article
A methane dome is a recognizable part of an anaerobic digester system. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/45914503@N00/7269576888/">Dan Hartung</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.
A methane dome is a recognizable part of an anaerobic digester system. Photo: Dan Hartung, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

St. Lawrence co. dairy gets digester grant

A large dairy farm in St. Lawrence County is getting more than $400,000 for a methane digester. The grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help Woodcrest Dairy in Lisbon pay for the estimated $2.5-million project.  Go to full article
Aubertine launching his first State Senate campaign in Watertown in 2008. Photo: David Sommerstein
Aubertine launching his first State Senate campaign in Watertown in 2008. Photo: David Sommerstein

Aubertine steps down as NY's farmer-in-chief

Long time North Country politician and lifelong farmer Darrel Aubertine is stepping down from New York's top agriculture post. As David Sommerstein reports, Aubertine's leadership coincided with a higher profile for New York farmers.  Go to full article
Bill Knoble in his studio in Chestertown in 2011.  Photo courtesy of Jim Carnahan.
Bill Knoble in his studio in Chestertown in 2011. Photo courtesy of Jim Carnahan.

Remembering potter, farmer Bill Knoble

Last week, one of the North Country's most celebrated artisans passed away.

Bill Knoble spent much of his career in Chestertown in Warren County and later moved to Dekalb in St. Lawrence County. He was a nationally-renowned potter.

He was also a respected outdoorsman, a farmer, a scholar, and a businessman. Brian Mann has our remembrance.  Go to full article
You'll find horses, axes, logs and more on Saturday during the Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival at the Paul Smiths VIC.  Photo: Brett McLeod
You'll find horses, axes, logs and more on Saturday during the Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival at the Paul Smiths VIC. Photo: Brett McLeod

Learning rural "lost arts" at the Paul Smiths VIC

NCPR is media sponsor for the Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival this Saturday (10-to-4) at the Paul Smiths VIC. Exhibitions will include logging and farming with horses, and competitive lumberjack sports with the Paul Smiths College Woodsmen's Team. Workshops range from canning and cider making to wood working and small-scale farming. Paul Smiths College professor Brett McLeod calls these "lost arts", and he told Todd Moe that the event is all about learning from past generations.  Go to full article
Photo: David Sommerstein.
Photo: David Sommerstein.

Putting farmers on the map, literally

One more story from last weekend's Farm Aid in Saratoga Springs.

There was a huge tent at the concert showcasing farm-related not-for-profits called the Homegrown Village.

Essex County-based group Adirondack Harvest had a nifty and popular display. You wrote the name of your neighborhood farmer on neon-colored post-it note and stuck it on a big map of the Northeast.

The result was an impressive visual guide to the small farms of the region. Listen to an interview with Adirondack Harvest coordinator Laurie Davis.  Go to full article

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