The US House of Representatives have finally passed a Farm Bill, with a variety of protections, promotions and programs to keep agriculture going for another 5 years.  Bradd Vickers of the Chenango County farm bureau said that the Food Labeling program was included:


(Bradd Vickers 1-30-14)


Vickers said that the Farm Bill moves onto the US Senate, where it is expected to pass shortly.


State DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said yesterday that his agency has no plans to issue permits for Hydraulic Fracturing for shale gas in the 2014-15 fiscal year.  Lawmakers asked Martens at a legislative budget hearing Wednesday if the Governor’s executive budget proposal allocates any money for regulating hydraulic fracturing, which was stopped by moratorium in 2008, Martens responded that no money was allocated.  The decision has been slowed down by state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah of possible health issues relating to the process, Governor Cuomo set The DEC budget at the same level as last year.


The Walton Central School District Board of Education will hold a community budget forum on February 6th, at 6:30 pm at the Walton High School cafeteria.  The forum will begin with a brief presentation, followed by attendees meeting in smaller groups, those wishing to attend & participate must RSVP at 865-4116, extension 6130.


Governor Cuomo announced an executive order directing several State agencies to do review of safety procedures and emergency response preparedness related to railroad shipments of crude oil from North Dakota, following accidents in North Dakota and Quebec.   The Executive Order directs the agencies to report to the Governor no later than April 30th.


Free energy assessments are available for eligible property owners in Broome, Chenango and Otsego counties. The assessments are funded through NYSERDA’s Home Performance with Energy Star grant.  The program offers free energy assessments by Building Performance Institute-accredited contractors. After the assessment, the program helps homeowners through the process of financing their home improvements with grants, up to $5,000 for a single-family home and up to $10,000 for a two- to four-family building. For more information call 723-0110.


New York ranked as the third largest producer of milk nationally last year for the first time since 2009 due to the state’s booming yogurt industry. In 2012, milk production rose 2.2 percent in the state while nationally there was only a 0.4 percent growth. That same year, the state produced 695 million pounds of yogurt, nearly triple the amount in 2009, and was the number one producer of yogurt in the country.  The dairy industry is the state’s leading agriculture sector. The state is also the largest producer of cream and cottage cheese in the country.


US Senator Charles Schumer said the agreement on the farm bill includes a measure to help New York’s maple syrup producers. Schumer said a measure in the bill would provide federal grants of up to $20 million annually to states that create programs to encourage private landowners to open up their trees to maple tapping. There are more than 280 million maple trees with syrup-tapping potential in New York, less than 1 percent of them are tapped. Schumer’s legislation also would also provide grants to states for marketing and research.


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