Agriculture | WAMC


farm tractor in field
WAMC/Pat Bradley

The New York Department of Labor’s Farm Wage Board held three meetings in late December to determine if the overtime threshold for farm workers should be lowered. Their decision to wait at least a year was issued on New Year’s Eve.

farm tractor in field
WAMC/Pat Bradley

New York’s Farm Workers Fair Laborers Practices Act mandates that all farmworkers, including foreign visa employees, receive overtime after working 60 hours in a week.  A wage board created as part of the legislation is now considering lowering the overtime threshold to 40 hours.  But some legislators and farmworkers say it’s too soon to make changes to a law that has been in effect for less than a year.

dairy cows

Dairy farmers are facing numerous challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic including a loss of markets and falling milk prices.  Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York’s 21st district held a call with the district’s dairy farmers on Wednesday to talk about what Washington can do to help.

farm tractor in field
WAMC/Pat Bradley

Many sectors in agriculture were struggling before the coronavirus pandemic and in its wake some are reaching crisis points, including dairy producers. This afternoon, Vermont at-large Democratic Congressman Peter Welch held an online meeting with the state Farm Bureau to discuss the situation and what federal help is needed.

WAMC, Allison Dunne

A New York state senator from the Hudson Valley is urging the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to deliver relief to dairy farms impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

dairy cow

Agriculture is being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic as markets for all products tighten.  Dairy farmers in particular have been hurt. Vermont Congressman Peter Welch discussed the situation with farmers and co-ops Thursday afternoon.

a farm field and a tractor

    The coronavirus pandemic has impacted agriculture.

The Hart Cluett Museum’s ‘The Way We Work(ed)’ exhibit, will open to the public tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.The exhibit was organized by The Hart Cluett Museum in collaboration with the Smithsonian as part of a pilot project to develop a unique humanities-based exhibition about local work history. The museum is one of just 10 museums in the United States chosen through a competitive selection process.

The exhibit is divided into four sections: “Where We Work,” “How We Work,” “Who Works?” and “Why We Work.” An advisory panel consisting of more than two dozen area professionals from widely different facets of the region’s workplaces was assembled to provide a contemporary perspective on the ever-changing nature of work. The panel included experts from backgrounds in technology, construction, agriculture, education and workforce development, among others.

Stacy Pomeroy Draper, the Curator of the Hart Cluett Museum joins us this morning.

New York Farm Bureau logo
New York Farm Bureau

The New York Farm Bureau recently outlined its legislative priorities for the 2020 session.

By the late nineteenth century, Americans rich and poor had come to expect high-quality fresh beef with almost every meal. Beef production in the United States had gone from small-scale, localized operations to a highly centralized industry spanning the country, with cattle bred on ranches in the rural West, slaughtered in Chicago, and consumed in the nation’s rapidly growing cities.

"Red Meat Republic," by Joshua Specht, tells the remarkable story of the violent conflict over who would reap the benefits of this new industry and who would bear its heavy costs.

Dairy cow
WAMC/Pat Bradley

Members of the 100-year-old St. Albans Cooperative recently approved merging its assets, which include a milk hauling company and a creamery plant, with Kansas-based Dairy Farmers of America.

Farmacy Project Coordinator Kiana French in front of a Farmacy cooler at the Keeseville Pharmacy
Pat Bradley/WAMC

There are many rural areas across the region where residents must travel significant distances to shop at supermarkets.  Keeseville, New York is about 25 miles south of Plattsburgh and its only supermarket closed several years ago.  In 2017, a project to bring fresh locally produced food to underserved areas opened the first “Farmacy” – spelled with an “F” — in the state inside the Keeseville Pharmacy.  This week the program will expand to a second village in rural Essex County.

farm tractor in field
WAMC/Pat Bradley

The U.S. Agriculture Secretary and other federal agriculture officials are outlining the details of an updated $16 billion package aimed at compensating farmers for the impacts of the trade war.

Mark Arax is from a Californian family of Central Valley farmers, a writer with deep ties to the land who has watched the battles over water intensify even as California lurches from drought to flood and back again.

In "The Dreamt Land," he travels the state to explore the one-of-a-kind distribution system, built in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, that is straining to keep up with California’s relentless growth. The book is about the land and the people who have worked it; from gold miners to wheat ranchers to small fruit farmers and today’s Big Ag. Since the beginning, Californians have redirected rivers, drilled ever-deeper wells and built higher dams, pushing the water supply past its limit.

Mark Arax is an author and journalist whose writings on California and the West have received numerous awards for literary nonfiction. A former staffer at the Los Angeles Times, his work has appeared in The New York Times and the California Sunday Magazine. His books include a memoir of his father’s murder, a collection of essays about the West, and the best-selling "The King of California," which won a California Book Award, the William Saroyan Prize from Stanford University, and was named a top book of 2004 by the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

farm tractor in field
WAMC/Pat Bradley

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this week signed the Farm Workers Bill, which establishes worker rights and labor protections.  While the governor calls it a great achievement, farm advocates say it threatens family farm operations and won’t necessarily help workers.

dairy cow
WAMC/Pat Bradley

The Vermont Senate Agriculture Committee heard testimony earlier this week on a proposed merger of the St. Albans Cooperative and Dairy Farmers of America.

Citizens of the Arava.
Award-winning photograph by Nghĩa Trương from Vietnam in the 1st AICAT student photography competition.

If you’ve ever dreamed of getting away from it all and starting a new life, you might consider joining an initiative to turn a desert green.

Sterling College
Sterling College/Flickr

An agricultural training program targeting veterans will be held for the first time in Vermont this summer.  As WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports, the application deadline is in a week and a half.

The Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association’s 2019 Maple Open House Weekends are this coming weekend and next. Events include demonstrations, samples, and free tours of area sugarhouses. Maple Weekends happens at locations all across New York State.

Here to tell us more are marketing manager for the Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association Mary Jeanne Packer – she lives on Mapleland Farms in Washington County.

We are also joined by Vernon “DJ” Duesler IV. DJ is a 4th generation maple syrup farmer from in Fulton County. DJ operates Mud Road Sugarhouse and Ben Mady is here from Maple Leaf Sugaring.

New York Farm Bureau logo
New York Farm Bureau

The New York State Farm Bureau outlined its 2019 national priority issues during a conference call Wednesday morning. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports the group has been advocating for a number of the initiatives for several years.

farm tractor in field
WAMC/Pat Bradley

The three-day Vermont Farm Show begins today in Essex Junction.  The trade show brings together farmers, agricultural vendors, food producers and educators to discuss the current status and future trends of the industry.

Congressman Antonio Delgado
Antonio Delgado, official portrait, 116th Congress / public domain

Freshman New York Congressman Antonio Delgado visited workers and others impacted by the record-long partial federal government shutdown this weekend. The 19th District Democrat also wrote a letter to the agriculture secretary about impacts to SNAP benefits.

  Our Falling into Place series spotlights the important work of -and fosters collaboration between- not-for-profit organizations in our communities; allowing us all to fall into place.

Falling Into Place is supported by The Seymour Fox Memorial Foundation, Providing a helping hand to turn inspiration into accomplishment. See more possibilities … see more promise… see more progress.

This morning we focus on the Phillies Bridge Farm Project – a Hudson Valley not-for-profit working farm with a mission to promote local sustainable agriculture, to provide CSA shareholders with abundant organically grown vegetables and herbs, to share part of the harvest with people in need, and to educate people of all ages about the sources of healthy food and the study of nature. We are joined by board members and co-presidents Ariana Basco, Brian Obach, and board member and treasurer Terence Ward.

Garlic bulbs with faces drawn on them

Let’s celebrate garlic! It is the 30th anniversary of the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival! The festival will be held on Saturday, September 29th from 10 am till 6 pm and on Sunday, September 30th from 10 am till 5 pm.

Follow your nose to Cantine Field in Saugerties, NY for acres of garlic farmers selling this year’s harvest, food vendors with scrumptious garlic offerings (including garlic ice cream and coffee!) and craft vendors galore. There will be day-long entertainment and special demos by chefs and garlic growers.

This morning we welcome Festival Chairperson Richard Kappler and Publicity Committee member Pat Praetorius.

Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times bestselling author of "Havana," "Cod," "Salt," "Paper," "The Basque History of the World," "1968," and "The Big Oyster," among other titles. He has received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Bon Appetit's Food Writer of the Year Award, the James Beard Award, and the Glenfiddich Award.

Profoundly intertwined with human civilization, milk has a compelling and a surprisingly global story to tell, and historian Mark Kurlansky is the perfect person to tell it. Tracing the liquid's diverse history from antiquity to the present, he details its curious and crucial role in cultural evolution, religion, nutrition, politics, and economics.

Kurlansky will be part of the Food Panel discussion at the Albany Book Festival at the University at Albany on September 29th from 11 a.m. to noon in the Campus Center Ballroom.  

farm tractor in field
WAMC/Pat Bradley

The 56-member Farm Bill conference committee met for the first time this week. The current Farm Bill, which sets agriculture and nutrition program policy for five years, expires on September 30th.  The House and Senate conferees expressed hope that a compromise bill can be crafted despite significant differences in the bills approved by each chamber.

Will the Farm Bill be reconciled?

In today’s Congressional Corner, Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern, a Democrat from the second district, wraps up his discussion with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

farm produce
US Department of Agriculture

Both chambers of Congress have passed versions of the 2018 Farm Bill and are now moving the bills to conference committee.  As farmers and advocates in the Northeast assess the bills, deliberations are expected to be most contentious over nutrition assistance program provisions.

a piglet
Hancock Shaker Village Facebook page

It may not feel like spring has sprung – but it is nearly time for a major regional spring event: Baby Animals at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

On April 14, Hancock Shaker Village will begin welcoming visitors to visit their newly restored silos, Dairy Ell, and Round Stone Barn – which will be full of lambs, piglets, calves, chicks, and kids through May 6.

We are joined by Hancock Shaker Village’s Director of Facilities and Farm Billy Mangiardi and Director of Education Cindy Dickinson.

bottles of syrup
Cindy Schultz /

The Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association’s 2018 Maple Open House Weekends are this weekend and next. Events include demonstrations, samples, and free tours of area sugarhouses.

Maple Weekends happens at locations all across New York State. Here to tell us more are marketing manager for the Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association Mary Jeanne Packer – she lives on Mapleland Farms in Washington County.

We are also joined by Vernon “DJ” Duesler IV. DJ is a 4th generation maple syrup farmer from Ephratah in Fulton County. DJ and his dad Vern operate Mud Road Sugarhouse.