Let's dig in!

David's daughter, Olivia, and wife, Lisa, planting garlic last fall.

Welcome to this new forum for discussing all things farm and food!  We're two veteran reporters for North Country Public Radio.

Farming and food issues are hotter than ever these days, from going local to feeding the world.  There's so much exciting and challenging news out there about how people farm, garden, buy, sell, and eat food that we can't keep up through our broadcasting.  So a blog seemed just right.

Our focus, geographically, is Upstate New York.  But we strive to make connections between what's going here and other stories and trends around the country and around the world.

Coming on January 1, I'll kick things off with a view from the top — controversial statements from the United States' "farmer-in-chief" Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and what they might mean for U.S. farm policy.

You're the real experts out there – farmers, industry experts, scientists, consumers, eaters.  We'd love to hear your thoughts in our comments section.  And we'll be calling out for some guest blog posts in the future.

So to begin, what do you think are the most important issues facing agriculture and farmers in 2013?

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  1. As farmers, I don't know that we have any new or different issues for 2013. We always worry that the state's cost share program won't come through to reimburse us for 75% of our organic certification costs. We are always challenged with efficiency. How to make the most off our limited space. And markets. We just drove through Ohio and were in awe of the gorgeous soil, but we don't think we could sell much at the local farmers market… they don't have the food-minded community we have here in the land of rocky, clay soil.

  2. One important issue for our local farmers is finding enough consumers/demand. CSAs should be organized (with incentives) to accept SNAP money. Otherwise food stamps just act as subsidies for imported, processed food. It would also be really helpful if local food could be processed and preserved so it could be sold to schools and other institutions.

  3. I'm very to see this new food and farm related blog. Food issues tie into famine issues, and relate to climate change issues, and I for one am worried. Our gardens here at home in Potsdam get bigger every year. Our pantry is very well stocked with 500 jars of last season's goodness, but there are often 10 or 12 people at our table and we are not self sustaining.
    Recently, I read a NY Times article about the continuing drought in the Mid-west. Our wheat and corn crops will be severely impacted in the coming season, and last year America ate more that it produced. Every time I read a news piece like that…my garden gets bigger.

  4. Happy to see this effort – very much needed! Assuming that you are going to delve into questions of policy, I suggest keeping a focus on the role of corporate agriculture in the formulation of domestic and international regulation. Funding of oversight agencies, USDA and FDA; export of agricultural technologies (read: seed stock, pesticides, fertilizers); commodity subsidies – much of what ends up in regulatory policy is written by special interests. We have wised up to the influence of oil companies on energy policy: we need to educate ourselves about the influence of agriculture companies on farm policy.

  5. Wow,.great idea! New York food and ag is.so diverse. I am looking.forward to community discussions

  6. I think one of the largest for the dairy industry right now in the beginning of 2013 is what is happening in Washington. There is a dairy support action that has been temporarily set off until the end of January. If this bill passes, there will be some changes moving forward and should become a great concern to anyone who buys local, wants to still have the ability to deal with smaller farms when it comes to things like milk, cheeses, yogurts, etc.
    CONSUMERS NEED THIS INFORMATION NOW! This reform will put us on a quota system much like the one in Canada. It makes it extremely difficult for new farmers to start. PLEASE MAKE THIS ONE OF YOUR FIRST PRIORITIES!

    • Milk sales at farmgate equal $2billion in revenues to rural NY. This is very important for rural communities,.especially in the more rural areas

  7. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for the first comments on our new blog. We'll try to get to many of these issues as we move forward. Coming up later today, more reaction to the temporary Farm Bill extension. Spoiler: it won't go down as the most beloved move in Congressional history.