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2024 is just around the corner. But before we can look ahead, let’s take a look back.
It’s been an interesting 2023. The slideshow highlights a list of the top 10 stories, in no particular order, that ran in print this year. These stories were picked based on the following criteria:
farmers in the region who won national-level awards
topical stories with a regional impact
national-level policy stories that could also have a big impact
Weather was one of the biggest stories this year. It was a dry early spring in much of the region. So dry that it had many producers concerned about this year’s growing season and whether the corn and soybean crops could be ruined. Thankfully, rains arrived. Yields, for the most part, were not affected, at least not on a wide scale.
But some Vermont producers were devastated by flooding in early July. Thousands of homes and businesses sustained damage because of the flooding. More than 10 inches of rain fell in several areas in the span of 24 to 48 hours. More than 200 farms reported some sort of damage.
It was a roller-coaster ride for dairy. After a great 2022, this year was a reminder of just how volatile the dairy business can be, with milk prices tumbling and input costs remaining high.
There was good news for New York’s dairy industry when, earlier this year, Fairlife announced it would build a new processing plant near Webster, beating out a bid by Pennsylvania to bring Fairlife to the Keystone State.
But Empire State producers now must deal with the prospects of not being able to use seeds coated with neonicotinoids. The proposed “Birds and Bees Protection Act” passed the state Legislature earlier this summer, but Gov. Kathy Hochul has yet to sign it into law.
National policy also was a big issue. Farm bill hearings were held in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and other areas across the country, but as of this writing, there is still no new farm bill going through Congress, even though the 2018 Farm Bill has expired.
Of course, this was also the year that “Waters of the U.S.” had its day in the court. The Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision on May 25 that significantly curtails the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate certain bodies of water. The court ruled in favor of an Idaho landowner in the long-running Sackett v. EPA case. The government has since come out with a new WOTUS rule.
Editor, American Agriculturist
Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.
Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.
"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."
Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.
Editor, Michigan Farmer
While Jennifer is not a farmer and did not grow up on a farm, "I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone with more appreciation for the people who grow our food and fiber, live the lifestyles and practice the morals that bind many farm families," she says.
Before taking over as editor of Michigan Farmer in 2003, she served three years as the manager of communications and development for the American Farmland Trust Central Great Lakes Regional Office in Michigan and as director of communications with Michigan Agri-Business Association. Previously, she was the communications manager at Michigan Farm Bureau's state headquarters. She also lists 10 years of experience at six different daily and weekly Michigan newspapers on her impressive resume.
Jennifer lives in St. Johns with her two daughters, Elizabeth, 19, and Emily 16.
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