Betsy Brightly

The owners of an area farm say the nation needs to strike a balance between public health concerns and getting the economy going again, as many farms struggle during the COVID-19 crisis.

Dean and Betsy Brightly run Brightly Farms in Hamlin and have around 4.5 million pounds of cabbage and hundreds of tons of butternut squash in cold storage. With restaurants and schools closed, the product isn't moving.

It's a similar story for many dairy farms which have had to dump milk; other farms had to plow over crops.

Michael Bloomberg is taking criticism for his comments about farmers and American workers. His campaign says he was taken out of context. Farmers respond that their work is not as simple as Bloomberg described.

We discuss the dignity of work and the challenge of farming with our guests: 

provided photo

The 800-pound butter sculpture that was on display at the New York State Fair isn't one, gigantic, solid slab of butter.

It was sculpted around a hollow, wood frame. 

"So, when it's all said and done," said Chris Noble, watching the deconstruction of the sculpture Tuesday morning at the State Fairgrounds, "it looks like a bit of a butter zombie, because all you have left is the frame and the plywood behind it."

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

There are about 20 people in a basement conference room at the Wyoming County Agriculture and Business Center, sipping coffee and playing an introductory name game. Today, participants will learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts and more in a course called Mental Health First Aid.

These people aren’t mental health professionals.

They’re agricultural workers, they’re neighbors, and they just want to help.

The New York Times recently published a piece describing the kinds of regulations under which farmers and small businesses work. It sparked conversations about which regulations are necessary and appropriate, and which create unnecessary burdens.

We hear from local and regional farmers. Our guests:

Is New York State spending enough on food from local farms? A new report from the New York Academy of Medicine and the American Farmland Trust says the state can do more. Four years after Governor Cuomo passed the Food Metrics Law to encourage state institutions to buy fresh food from farmers, it isn’t clear how much the state is actually spending on local foods. The report estimates the number could be about 10 percent, but it recommends an increase in spending to 25 percent. The groups say purchasing local food could increase the state’s economic output and improve the health and wellness of many New Yorkers, especially those who are food insecure.

We discuss if that goal is realistic, the challenges local farmers face why trying to meet institutional needs, and projections for New York’s food future. Our guests:

Local farms are uniting to bring more people into their CSAs. Soon enough, we'll see asparagus leading the spring crop, and CSAs will be in full swing.

Our panel explains how CSAs work, how they've grown, and we talk about how building community gives CSAs an opportunity to talk about a wide range of issues that impact farms. Those include why local food can be healthier for consumers as well as the environment, why teaching your kids where their food comes from is important, and what climate change is doing to local farms. Our guests:

Krenzer Farms

You've probably enjoyed the mild early winter weather, and we know winter is coming. For area farmers, an extended fall allowed many to recoup crops planted late following a wet spring and dry summer.

A new online magazine called Boomtown Table launched December 7. It covers food, agricultural issues, drink, and more.

We go inside the planning and the hopes for the future of this ambitious new site. Our guests:

  • Leah Stacy, co-founder and editor in chief  
  • Chuck Cerankosky, co-founder and creative director
  • Eric Houppert, agriculture editor 

Flickr: jetsandzeppelins

New federal rules aim to protect farm workers from the risks associated with exposure to pesticides. Advocates in New York are applauding the changes.

Now children under 18 will not be allowed to handle pesticides. Adult farm workers will have to be trained each year on how to protect themselves from the chemicals used around them. They used to be trained every 5 years.

It’s been 23 years since the Environmental Protection Agency updated its standards.