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Suffolk County Agriculture and Fishing E-Newletter

by Submitted by Janet Sklar
Thu, Feb 2nd 2017 03:00 pm

Welcome to this week's edition of the Suffolk County's Agriculture & Fishing E-Newsletter. We hope you find these e-newsletters to be a useful tool as you plan for your harvest and fishing seasons. If you have any questions, or if you have an agenda item you would like to have shared with the public, please do not hesitate to contact August Ruckdeschel at [email protected] or at 631-853-4714. 

Also, please remember there is always information related to economic opportunities in the agriculture and marine industries on our Agricultural & Fishing Website.

Public Hearing for Legislation Regarding IR 1025-17 to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 7th


On Tuesday, January 3, 2017, County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislators Al Krupski and Bridget Fleming, introduced IR 1025-17, County legislation which would allow the County's historic and highly successful Farmland Preservation program to continue and allow sound agricultural practices to be permitted under the Suffolk County Farmland Preservation Program. A copy of the legislation is attached.


A September 2016 NYS Supreme Court ruling overturned provisions of Chapter 8 of the Suffolk County Code which allowed for hardship exemptions and special permits for certain structures on preserved farmland. Particularly, the ruling indicates that the Suffolk County Farmland Committee shall no longer have the authority to issue agricultural development permits, permits for farm stands and processing facilities, or special event permits, nor may the Committee waive maximum lot coverage requirements. 


In 1974, Suffolk County created the Farmland Preservation program, the oldest farmland protection program in the nation. Since its creation, over 10,750 acres have been preserved in in the program. 


The first opportunity for the public to comment on this new legislation will be on Tuesday, February 7th at the William H. Rogers Legislature Building, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Smithtown, New York 11787. The legislature will begin to hear comments at approximately 2 p.m. Attendees will be given 3 minutes to give comment. Upon arrival, please be sure to fill out a comment card in order to be heard.

Join the 27th Annual Long Island Horticulture Conference - March 2nd


Topics featured this year include new plant introductions, salt water intrusion effects on the landscape, worst management practices to avoid, how secondary pest outbreaks happen, pervious pavements, an afternoon design session, and so much  more! The following Continuing Education Unit credits will be available: DEC Pesticide Recertification, ISA Certified Arborist, NYS Licenses Landscape Architect, and CNLP. 


NEW Date: Thursday, March 2nd. 7:30 AM to 4:15 PM.

Location: Berkner Hall on the Brookhaven National Laboratory campus in Upton--off the Wiliam Floyd Parkway. Berkner Hall is a 3-minute drive from the Main Gate. At the Main Gate they'll instruct you to Berkner Hall.

Ample parking is located by Berkner Hall. Attendees must first check in at the entry booth and show a picture ID before gaining entry to the campus.  Please allow extra time for this quick procedure.  Speed limits are strictly enforced by campus police.

Fee: Early registration is $80. $100 after February 24th and at the door. Morning refreshments and lunch is included with registration.


Full program information is attached along with the registration form. Three ways to register! 1. Mail in the attached registration form. 2. Contact Melissa Elkins to register over the phone using your credit card (Visa or Master Card only) at 631-727-7850, x341. 3. Register online. Additional fees apply if you register online.  All major creditcards accepted. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/long-island-horticulture-conference-tickets-31416751349

Produce Safety Alliance - Long Island Grower Training Course Information - March 21-22


On March 21st and 22nd, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County will be hosting the Long Island Grower Training Course. The Produce Safety Rule, part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), addresses requirements or standards for the growing, harvesting and handling of fresh produce aimed at preventing contamination from human pathogens. The rule was published November 27, 2015 and went into effect 60 days later on January 2016. Depending on the size of the operation, growers have until January 2018, January 2019 or January 2020 to come into compliance with the Rule. The Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course in March 2017 will satisfy FSMA requirement outlined in section 112.22(c) that requires "At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration".  Registration is required. Please see attached brochure for detailed program and registration information


Who Should Attend?

Fruit and Vegetable growers and others interested in learning about produce safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), and co-management of natural resources and food safety practices.


What to Expect at the PSA Growing Training Course

The trainers will spend approximately 7 hours of instruction time covering content contained in these seven modules on Day 1. Key parts of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements are outlined within each module. Day 2 will be optional and is limited to those who have attended a PSA/FSMA 7-hour course (day 1) or a GAPs training. The


Costs to Attend

Day 1: $100/per person

Day 2: $35/person

Fee includes PSA Grower Training Manuals ($50), a Certificate of Course Attendance from AFDO ($35), lunch, breaks and other program related fees. Please specify any special dietary requirements and need for special accommodations upon registration.


To register call Melissa Elkins, CCE-Suffolk County at (631) 727-7850 ext. 341. Registration closes March 14, 2017. Seating is limited.

Reimbursement for Good Agricultural Practices Audits - On-Going


Administered through the United States Department of Agriculture, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Good Agricultural Practices program verifies that safe food handling practices are being used on farms, from growing and harvesting to packaging and handling. The Good Agricultural Practices program certifies the fresh fruit and vegetable farms that have implemented the necessary steps in their operations to minimize the possibility of product contamination and food-borne illness in accordance with USDA regulations.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, is providing up to $1,000 to reimburse farms for Good Agricultural Practices audits. More information about the Good Agricultural Practices certification process and how to apply for the grant is available on the new
website. The Department has conducted 234 audits in 2016 so far, already exceeding last year's total number of audits.

Cornell University is a key partner in training and education for farmers as part of the program. The university holds online courses and in-person training throughout the year to help producers learn about the program and write their own safe food handling farm plan prior to the third-party audit. More information on Cornell University's training opportunities and how to sign up is available

Exciting Agritourism Opportunities with Discover Long Island


Discover Long Island, the region's designated marketing organization, frequently receives requests for groups who want to do a farm tour. This might be an incentive group, an activity for corporate outings, or a bus of leisure travelers who want an education on farming as part of their itinerary here on Long Island.  Currently, Discover Long Island does not have a list of existing Suffolk County farms that offer intensive, experiential tours of their farming operation.


The Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning (SCEDP) and Discover Long Island are looking for farms across a variety of commodity groups that are willing to host farm tours and we would like to host a meeting to discuss comprehensive tourism options. We hope to build daylong or weekend long agritourism experiences that showcases all forms of agriculture in Suffolk County including our fruits and vegetables, vineyards, shellfish aquaculture, livestock, commercial horse-boarding, indoor greenhouses, etc. Please think broadly about the types of experiences you can be offering. There is no form of local agriculture that cannot offer an extremely interesting agritourism experience.


Tours should have an educational component (how does your farm work, how do you grow/harvest your crop, etc.) and practical, first-hand opportunities (working a piece of equipment if it is safe to do so, picking the crop if appropriate, or simply going into the field to experience crop production first-hand).  Groups can be as small as 10 or as large as 50. Larger groups would be split into smaller groups to maximize the experience.


Agritourism, corporate social responsibility and the farm to table movement are all popular right now and overlap with existing local agricultural production methods. If you are interested in attending a meeting with Discover Long Island, please reach out to August Ruckdeschel at [email protected] or at 631-853-4714. We will be looking to schedule a meeting in March.

Survey for NY Vegetable Producers on Viability of Wholesale


Cornell Cooperative Extension regional vegetable teams are conducting a study to examine the viability of current wholesale market channels for vegetable producers and to determine what the primary barriers to entering the wholesale market are. Please take ten minutes to fill out this survey, which is designed for both growers who are wholesaling and those who are not. This information will help us to understand the current situation for growers, and will help us select a smaller group to participate in focus groups later in the winter. If you have any questions please contact Crystal Stewart at [email protected]

Free Equipment to Support SNAP at Farmers Markets - Learn More Through These Webinars


The USDA has continued funding through May 2017 to assist direct marketing farmers and farmers markets join SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) by providing free equipment to qualified farmers and farmers markets. The Farmers Market Federation of NY will be holding webinars to help direct marketing farmers and market managers understand the program and will schedule phone appointments with attendees to complete the application process. The webinar is free to join and will help you understand the process and the value of adding SNAP to your farm or market. Click here for the registration information, then click on the link for your choice of dates and complete the registration information. For more information, contact the Farmers Market Federation of NY at 315-400-1447 or email  [email protected]

Farm Apprentice Opportunity


Apply now to be a farm apprentice on the East End of Long Island. The Amagansett Food Institute connects individuals who are interested in working on an East End farm with farmers who want to share their expertise. They work with a range of small, sustainable farms, each with different business models and varying educational programs. Most farms provide housing, fresh produce, and a stipend, while apprentices receive intensive, hands-on training. AFI's apprentice service offers the opportunity to apply to multiple farms through one application. Click here to learn more and access the Apprentice Application. Please send your apprentice application, resume, and cover letter to [email protected]

Loans up to $500,000 for Farmers, Commercial Fishermen and Related Industries


The NYS Targeted Loan Fund for LI is offering 4% fixed rate loans, up to 10 years for working capital, 20 years for capital projects. These loans can finance up to 100% of the project cost and there are no prepayment penalties. Please contact the LIDC at 516-433-5000 or at [email protected]

NY Agriculture and Markets Announces Availability of $600,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Funding - Due Feb. 14th


New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced that the Department, in partnership with the New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI), is now accepting applications for projects to utilize up to $600,000 under the Specialty Crop Block Grant program through a competitive bid process.  The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The Department and NYFVI are seeking proposals for research and grower education projects that aim to enhance the competitiveness of New York's specialty crop producers and increase the long-term success of the State's agricultural industry.  New York State's specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, hops, maple syrup, honey, horticulture and nursery crops. Since the USDA began the program in 2006, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets has provided $9.76 million for 107 specialty crop projects across the State.


Individual projects can be awarded up to $100,000.  Proposals may address a wide range of challenges and opportunities related to the competitiveness of the State's specialty crop industry, including research and grower education projects that will increase efficiencies, reduce costs, foster innovation and enhance the long-term viability of specialty crop agri-businesses across the State.


The following priority areas have been identified: 

  • research and/or education addressing a key conventional or organic production problem or need specific to New York State;
  • developing and increasing the utilization of Integrated Pest Management strategies and programs;
  • prioritizing and addressing native and exotic pests and disease threats through development of pest risk assessments;
  • supporting plant breeding for the development of specialty crops resistant to exotic and native pests;
  • applied research and development to extend the growing season of New York specialty crops through new technologies, improved management practices, or other innovative production strategies; and
  • developing new seed varieties and specialty crops with optimal performance under New York State conditions.


The Specialty Crop Block Grant program is administered through the Department in coordination with the NYFVI. The NYFVI will evaluate the proposals and submit its recommendations to the Department for inclusion in the agency's application to the USDA.


Eligible applicants include not-for-profit organizations, not-for-profit educational institutions, and local and Indian tribal governments. Grant funds will only be awarded to applicants whose projects have statewide significance to the specialty crop industry and do not propose to only benefit a single organization, institution, individual or commercial product. Applications are due Tuesday, February 14, 2017. Projects must be completed within two years from the award date. 


The full Request for Proposals for the 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant program and online application are available here. For more information on the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, please click here.  For application details, please visit: www.nyfvi.org.

Maple Syrup Contest For Grades Pre-K Through 12: Win $250 for Your Classroom - Due Feb. 15th


In partnership with the New York State Maple Foundation, NY Agriculture in the Classroom is excited to announce a maple syrup contest for grades Pre-K through 12! Engage your students in the process of turning sap to syrup while integrating science, social studies, math, and ELA. Fourth grade teachers may find this contest to be an exciting direct connection to their New York State history lessons, and the Colonial Farming CCLS domain.


Your classroom will be paired with a local Suffolk County maple producer (yes we have some!) to help guide you through the syrup-making process. Each division (elementary, middle school, high school) will be judged for taste, clarity, and color by a panel of maple experts this May. Every registered classroom will receive grade-specific lessons, a book, and an official contest plastic maple jug to package your syrup in. Register your classroom for this special experience by February 15, 2017

2017 Agricultural Education in the Classroom - Due Feb. 28th 


The Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District is requesting proposals for projects to develop, sustain, and expand agricultural education programs in Suffolk County schools. The goal of this grant is to increase awareness and understanding of local agricultural production in Suffolk County and to strengthen the connection students have with healthy, fresh, local foods, as well as to provide unique educational opportunities that are not always available in schools. This grant will provide funding for programs aimed at increasing student awareness of growing food. These include, but are not limited to, programs in an indoor setting (grow lights/grow table, hydroponics, etc.) or programs in an outdoor setting (raised beds, school gardens, etc.)


This is a competitive grant with awards ranging from $500 to $3,000. Proposals will only be accepted from schools in Suffolk County. Proposals must be received by COB February 28th, 2017.  For more information see attached and/or contact [email protected] of funding awards will be announced in March.

FoodCorps Application Now Open - Due March 15th


As a FoodCorps service member, you can help kids learn what healthy food is, fall in love with it, and eat it every day. FoodCorps recruits talented leaders for a year of paid public service building healthy school food environments in limited-resource communities. As a service member, you will:

  • Teach students hands on lessons in growing, cooking and tasting healthy food;
  • Promote healthy eating options in the cafeteria: and,
  • Make schools healthier places to eat, learn and grow.

Applications are due March 15th. For more information, click here.

USDA Announces $27 Million in Grants Available to Support the Local Food Sector - Due March 27th


The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the availability of $27 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed to strengthen market opportunities for local and regional food producers and businesses.


AMS announced the request for applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, which includes Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grants, and the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP).  These programs and other resources across USDA are helping to revitalize rural America by supporting local and regional food stakeholders.


The FMPP provides funds for direct farmer-to-consumer marketing projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands, and agritourism.  Over the past 10 years, the FMPP has awarded more than 870 grants totaling over $58 million.  The successful results of these investments are summarized in the Farmers Market Promotion Program 2016 Report. The LFPP supports projects focused on intermediary supply chain activities for local food businesses. LFPP was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase funding for marketing activities such as aggregation, processing, storage, and distribution of local foods.


The FSMIP provides about $1 million in matching funds to state departments of agriculture, state colleges and universities, and other appropriate state agencies. Funds will support research projects to address challenges and opportunities in marketing, transporting, and distributing U.S. agricultural products domestically and internationally.


AMS will host a webinar for potential FMPP and LFPP grant applicants on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and a teleconference for potential FSMIP grant applicants on Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time.  For more information about FSMIP, FMPP and LFPP, visit: www.ams.usda.gov/AMSgrants.  The website also contains a link to a grants decision tree, "What AMS Grant is Right for ME?", to help applicants determine which AMS grant fits their project best.


AMS will also host a webinar to introduce potential applicants to Grants.gov on Wednesday, February 8, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time.  Applicants are urged to start the Grants.gov registration process as soon as possible to ensure that they meet the deadline and encouraged to submit their applications well in advance of the posted due date.  The grant applications for FSMIP, FMPP and LFPP must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov/  by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, March 27, 2017.

Agricultural Capital Equipment Grant Program - On-Going


To assist established and beginning farmers and to ensure that farming remains an economically viable industry on Long Island, the Peconic Land Trust was awarded $1 million from New York State Empire State Development to assist Long Island farmers making capital investments for their farming operation. Under this Program, eligible farmers may seek reimbursement for up to 20% of the purchase cost of new or used capital equipment and infrastructure. The maximum award per farmer/farming operation (i.e., applicant) is $50,000.


All agricultural equipment and infrastructure will be considered for reimbursement as long as the equipment and infrastructure is used for at least one of the following purposes: 1) A beginning farm operation, including emerging, second-career, next generation or transitioning farmers with an operation less than ten years old; 2) An established farm operation transitioning to a new commodity, method of production, or a new business plan or 3) An established farm operation upgrading equipment and infrastructure to come into compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and other food safety regulations. Additional information and the grant application can be found here. For more information contact the Peconic Land Trust at [email protected] or at 631-283-3195.

Organic Certification Cost Share Program - On-Going


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that starting March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.


Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic or transitional certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/ arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage are all eligible for a cost share reimbursement from USDA.


Once certified, producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope—crops, livestock, wild crops and handling. 


To learn more about organic certification cost share, please visit www.fsa.usda.gov/organic or contact a local FSA office by visiting http://offices.usda.gov.

DEC Asks for Hunter Input on Fall 2017 Waterfowl Seasons


Hunters are invited to submit recommendations to regional Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces to help set the dates of the fall 2017 duck hunting seasons for each of the state's waterfowl hunting zones by Feb. 19, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced.


DEC evaluates Waterfowl Hunter Task Force recommendations in setting waterfowl seasons, which must comply with federal rules. New York is divided into five waterfowl hunting zones: Western, Southeastern, Northeastern, Lake Champlain, and Long Island.


Each task force includes representatives from the New York State Conservation Council, established waterfowl hunting organizations, and individual waterfowl hunters who provide input representing diverse points of view.


The recommended season dates must be within federal guidelines established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). For fall 2017, DEC expects the USFWS to allow a 60-day duck season, split into no more than two segments per zone, opening no earlier than Sept. 23, 2017, and closing no later than Jan. 28, 2018.


In an effort to encourage input from the public, DEC developed an on-line input tool for hunters to provide opinions on waterfowl seasons. The feedback received will be summarized and shared with the task forces at their annual meetings in March. The task force uses this feedback, as well as feedback received from other sources to develop season date recommendations.


There are three ways for interested hunters to provide their opinions on future waterfowl seasons:

  • Directly contacting one of the Task Force members in the hunter's zone. The list of members can be found online at the Waterfowl Season Input web page on DEC's website.
  • Sending an e-mail to the Waterfowl Season Input mailbox ([email protected]). Suggestions sent to this mailbox will be forwarded to all of the task force members in the zone.


Descriptions of New York State's waterfowl hunting zones can be found on the DEC website and are listed in the annual New York Hunting and Trapping Guide. The final waterfowl hunting season dates will be posted on DEC's website and announced by news release in mid-summer.