06/23/15 6:00am
06/23/2015 6:00 AM
North Fork egg farms such as Ty Llwyd (above) have not noticed a substantial increase in demand even though conventional egg prices are rising due to bird flu. (Credit: Chris Lisinski)

North Fork egg farms such as Ty Llwyd in Riverhead haven’t noticed a substantial increase in demand even though conventional egg prices are rising due to bird flu. (Credit: Chris Lisinski)

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) implored Congress Sunday not to cut federal funding for research to combat avian influenza as the price of eggs continues to rise.

Outbreaks of bird flu have damaged the poultry industry, Mr. Schumer said in a press release Monday, noting the average price of eggs in New York City is almost 50 percent higher than it was at this point last year.

As part of the proposed federal budget, the government would scale back its allocation to the U.S. Department of Agriculture by $500 million.

“This funding can be used towards preventing the outbreak from spreading,” Mr. Schumer said. “I am urging Congress to give USDA the funds it needs before the egg shortage gets worse, and before grocery bills continue to rise.”

But despite rising prices elsewhere in the state, many North Fork farmers haven’t noticed a change in demand for their locally produced eggs.

“We have been selling out of eggs most days, but that’s fairly normal for this time of year,” said Elizabeth Wines, owner of Ty Llywd farm in Riverhead. “We’ve been busy, but I think it’s probably because of the summer season.”

At Browder’s Birds in Mattituck, owners Chris and Holly Browder both noted a similar situation: they sell so many eggs in the summer that it’s difficult to see whether there has been a true increase in demand.

“How it plays out in the fall and the winter will be interesting to see if the flu is a problem, but right now, we really haven’t seen a big difference,” Mr. Browder said.

Although both the Browders and Ms. Wines hadn’t noticed much change from individual consumers, they said they have received a handful of inquiries from businesses looking to cut down on rising egg costs.

“I had one baker call who bakes for a lot of farmers markets because she buys the liquid eggs that are already broken, and her price doubled overnight,” Ms. Browder said. “She wanted to revert to buying dozens of whole eggs from me, but at this point in the season, I’m already maxed out.”

More than 48 million birds have died so far from bird flu in the United States this year, either as a result of the disease itself or from being culled to prevent further infection, according to the USDA. Bird flu has been confirmed in 15 states, most of which are in the Midwest.

No state east of Indiana has a confirmed case of avian flu, but because the Midwest produces so many eggs, consumers around the country have felt the diseases’ effects on the market.

“When the cost of eggs skyrockets, we all feel it in our wallets because, unlike other foods, most egg substitutes use egg ingredients,” Mr. Schumer said in his release.

In the New York region, the wholesale price for eggs — what businesses pay — was about 30 percent higher this May than in May 2014, according to a Tuesday report from the USDA. Schumer’s press release stated that supermarkets in New York City have increased the price of a dozen eggs by up to 48 percent.

Mr. Browder said such an uptick could be beneficial for his and other local farms.

“We’re expensive relative to a store-bought egg, so if the differential becomes smaller, then maybe the demand would pick up,” he said. “People who have said ‘Browder’s Birds is too expensive for us’ — maybe they’d reconsider.”

The Browders also said while it is important to fund an immediate solution, the government must also think critically about how industry standards affect the disease.

“As far as I know, outdoor hens like ours haven’t had a problem with avian flu,” Mr. Browder said. “Isn’t that interesting? To me, it’s the system of farming that’s probably to blame.”

[email protected]

06/24/14 9:06am
06/24/2014 9:06 AM

east end helicopter noise long islandA mandate for helicopters to stay off Long Island’s north shore that was set to expire in August has been renewed by the federal government — though a loophole will still permit aircraft heading to the Hamptons to fly over the North Fork, and local representatives are still working to close it and force pilots to detour around Orient Point.

The goal of the renewed route, implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2012, has been to reduce noise in residential areas that helicopters fly over on their ways to other locales on Long Island — namely, the Hamptons. The only way pilots can deviate from the route is for safety reasons, weather conditions, or if transitioning to or from a destination or point of landing.

But Southold Supervisor Scott Russell has said the last excuse to deviate from the plan hasn’t brought the expected results to Southold he was hoping for. And after U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop issued a joint statement last week announcing that the current route was extended — and not expanded to require flights to head around Orient Point — Mr. Russell called the oversight of Southold residents “deplorable.”

“Quite candidly, our federally-elected representatives just sold us out for the interests of western Long Island,” he said. “This is a disaster for Southold.”

Mr. Schumer and Mr. Bishop said last week that the current route — which towns to the west of Southold have embraced — has been extended for another two years, and the two are working to make it permanent. The announcement came weeks after the two stated that they were attempting to get an extension on the current route requirements, while also pushing for an expansion to require flights to go around Orient Point.

The route requires every helicopter operating along Long Island between Visual Point Lloyd Harbor (VPLYD), located 20 miles north of LaGuardia Airport, and Orient Point to fly one mile off the north shore.

If pilots do not follow the route, they may face fines or have their pilots’ license revoked.

“Luckily for Long Island residents, the beginning of August will not also mean the return of onerous helicopter noise that once interrupted dinners, disrupted people enjoying their backyards and had an effect on quality of life and on property values,” Mr. Schumer said in a release.

Mr. Russell said on Tuesday that last week’s announcement was indeed good news for those on the western part of Long Island, and shrugged off any suggestion that it might have anything to do with the political make-up of Southold’s Town Board — which has no elected Democrats on it.

“This isn’t a partisan issue. This is an East versus West issue,” he said. “The lesser populated East End simply has less clout at the voting booth.”

While expressing satisfaction for the current route’s extension, both Mr. Schumer and Mr. Bishop stated that they hope to see further results and relief for Southold residents.

“It is my sincere hope that FAA will continue to review ways to minimize the reach of noise pollution,” he stated.

Mr. Russell said he would be reaching out to Mr. Bishop’s office this week to try to remedy the issue for Southold residents.

05/28/14 4:05pm
05/28/2014 4:05 PM


A temporary Federal Aviation Administration requirement that helicopters fly over Long Island Sound rather than homes on the North Fork is set to expire on Aug. 6, according to Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton). Mr. Bishop and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-Brooklyn) are now working on a bill to make that requirement permanent and to also extend the area where helicopters must stay over the water.  (more…)

02/18/14 7:00am
02/18/2014 7:00 AM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Coast of the Long Island Sound in Greenport.

The Long Island Sound in Greenport. (Photo by Carrie Miller)

New legislation that would provide $325 million in federal funding for a Long Island Sound restoration project is heading to the U.S. Senate for a vote, according to a press release issued by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s office.