Usually that answer would be simple, grow a safe high-quality product for your vendors, while fulfilling all of your contracts at a fair price. This has become far from simple with the advent of Covid-19. Life as we have known it has changed over the last few months. As a cold March gave way to spring, I speculated how Covid-19 would affect the crop of 280,000 Bushels of apples we had set out to grow. This led to the question, how will the virus affect the industry as a whole?
Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys, Stal) (BMSB) is an invasive species which causes economically significant damage to tree fruit, vegetable, ornamental and field crops. This pest was first discovered in the US in eastern Pennsylvania in the late 1990s but has subsequently spread to over 40 states including many where fruit production is widespread (citation for BMSB first detection (Hoebeke and Carter 2003)“StopBMSB.org” 2020). Initially, stink bugs were primarily a nuisance pest for homeowners who ombatted populations invading their homes each fall (Nielsen and Hamilton 2009). However, damage from BMSB feeding was soon observed in commercial orchards and by the late 2000s, this pest was a growing concern for fruit growers in the Mid-Atlantic states. Currently, BMSB is considered a serious pest of tree fruit within the US, causing major damage to apples, pears and especially peaches (Holtz and Kamminga 2010).
Confirming the breakdown of apple scab resistance in Malus floribunda 821, the most important source for scab resistance breeding, in North America | Hummingbirds Can Reduce Spotted Wing
Drosophila (SWD) Fruit Infestation | Strategies for Sunburn Prevention on ‘Honeycrisp’ and Management of the Apple Insect Complex Employing Complete Exclusion Protective Netting in the Hudson Valley of NY State | Prohexadione-calcium at Pink: A strategy for managing fire blight in apple orchards | Improvements to the Cornell Apple Carbohydrate Thinning Model – MaluSim | Drape Net Field Netting Investigation & Results
If you really stop to think of it every one of us is on a different life path. Yes, we may have many similarities with family and friends but none of us are exactly alike. The reason is because when presented with a “life altering” decision we each have different keys to making that decision.
There is no one perfect formula to how to manage your business. Every farm has select pressure points. In 2020 you will be asked to begin to make choices as to how to coexist with the new Farm Labor Act here in New York State. One choice you will not have is to decide to ignore it. It is the law so we must accept it for what it is and learn to function within its rules.
Most every person I have confronted is nervous as to how to deal with the pending possibility of having a labor union on their farm. At the Becker Forum this last January Brad Goehring, a wine grower from California, addressed the group. California has had many seasons of dealing with labor unions. His message was really quite simple. Your help really has no desire to join a labor union so long as you choose to be a good employer. Less than 10% of the farm labor in California is currently under union direction. Farm workers do not want to be told what they can and cannot do by a union. They most certainly do not wish to have to pay dues.
I feel very confident in stating that as an employer you value your work force. You have bu
ilt your team many times over decades. It is the single most important production piece in your portfolio. As needs and wages changed you found ways to meet these demands. In short you made choices that were in the best interest of your farm and everyone associated with it. This is what being a good employer does. You do not fear a union organizer coming to promise new things which they in truth have no control over. They can claim to say they will get workers higher wages but in truth they do not have that power. You on the other hand can act on your promises.
In 2020 we will need to illustrate to our legislators that we are choosing to comply with this new legislation. To try to undermine the basic tenants of the Act will only encourage new legislation that is not necessary. The Democratic controlled Senate has very little in common with production agriculture. From Niagara County to Albany there is only one Democratic Senator. Senator Rachel May in the 53rd district in the Syracuse area is the lone Senator. Senator Tim Kennedy from Erie County in the 63rd district in South Buffalo is the closest. To further illustrate the divide the Republican Senators in New York have in excess of $5 billion of farm assets in their collective districts. The majority of Democratic Senators have a grand total of $365 million in farm assets. We have an enormous educational challenge ahead of us if we are to garner the needed votes to approve the funding for all the various agricultural programs that flow through Albany.
So, we end by accepting that individually and collectively we have many choices to make in 2020. Individually I trust you will make the best choices for your farm and family. Collectively we need to invest in educating our legislators as to the mutual need for a strong and progressive agriculture in New York State. Unfortunately, we all cannot live on a farm in New York State. We all are consumers of the tremendous products and clean water that are a product of our choices.
– Picking the Right Rootstock for Fresh and Processing Apple Orchards – Investigating the Behavior and Biology of Locally Overwintered Spotted-wing Drosophila Disease in Michigan – Establishment, Persistence and Impact of Native NY Entomopathogenic Nematodes on Plum Curculio In Apples Management in Apple Orchards – MSU Apple Replant Field Trial at the Clarksville Research Center
– The Evolution of Planar Canopy Architectures – Unraveling the Mysteries of Apple Replant
Disease in Michigan – Pathogen Detection Assays for Fire Blight
Management in Apple Orchards – The New and Changing Berry Variety Landscape for Northern Growers
– Factors Contributing to the Death and Decline of Young Apple Trees -Rapid Decline of Apple Trees: Looking into Potential Causes – Field Scale Evaluation of an Ozone Airblast Sprayer for Management of Apple Insect and
Disease Pests – Fruit Replant Problem with a Special Emphasis on Nematodes