Farm News for the Mid-Atlantic Region
Note: Many stories are written in broadcast style
New resource guide assists military veterans in agriculture
WASHINGTON - A new resource guide developed by Farm Bureau and the Farmer Veteran Coalition Partnership is now available.
Farm Bureau and the FVC are working together to train beginning farmers, make equipment available to veteran farmers and help find farm ownership or employment opportunities for members of the military transitioning into the civilian workforce.
The Farm Bureau Resource Guide to Assist Veterans in Agriculture
“Through this partnership, I am optimistic returning veterans will learn how to continue their service to our country by helping feed its citizens, nourish its land and make its rural communities more viable through the many entrepreneurial opportunities agriculture has to offer,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.
The resource guide provides Farm Bureaus with a simple framework outlining the many ways that are available to participate in the new partnership and assist returning veterans interested in staking their futures on agriculture and rural America.
“We’re working to cultivate a new generation of farmers and food leaders, in addition to developing viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities,” said Michael O’Gorman, executive director of the FVC.
“We believe that veterans possess the unique skills and character needed to strengthen rural communities and create sustainable food systems for all,” O’Gorman continued. “We believe that food production offers purpose and opportunity, as well as physical and psychological benefits.”
Service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have become the latest group of veterans in need of employment and who, by some measures, may be the most likely young people to enter agriculture and other rural-based businesses. Only 17 percent of the U.S. population calls rural communities home, yet 44 percent of military recruits come from rural America.
The FVC is an organization aimed at mobilizing veterans to enter agriculture and help feed American while rebuilding rural communities. Learn more at http://www.farmvetco.org/.
Fire season still in effect in West Virginia
CHARLESTON - The West Virginia Division of Forestry reminds residents that the state’s fall forest fire season started Oct. 1, 2013 and runs through Dec. 31, 2013. During these three months, daytime burning is prohibited from the hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outdoor burning is permitted only between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.
State law requires a ring or safety strip around outdoor fires to keep the fire from spreading into the woods. This safety strip must be cleared of all burnable material and be at least 10 feet wide completely around the debris pile.
Additional requirements of the state’s fire laws include staying on-site until the fire is completely extinguished, and only burning vegetative materials like leaves, brush and yard clippings.
If you allow a fire you have started to escape and it causes a wildfire or forest fire, you will be subject to fines ranging from $100 to $1,000. An additional civil penalty of $200 also will be assessed against you.
Penn State Dairy Products Evaluation Team places high in contest
UNIVERSITY PARK - A student team from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences recently finished fifth overall in the Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest. The team placed third in the cottage cheese competition, fourth in butter, fourth in milk and fourth in ice cream.
Team members included senior undergraduate and graduate food science majors. Stephanie Schalles of Jefferson Hills, Pa., placed second in butter and third in milk in the individual rankings. Other team members were Tony Herdzik of Rochester, N.Y., Joe Syrko of Donora, Pa., Nick Pappert of Allison Park, Pa., Caitlin Anderson of Milford, Pa., and Rachel Primrose of Stroudsburg, Pa.
They were coached by Kerry Kaylegian, dairy foods research and extension associate.
"It was a challenging competition, and our students were great," Kaylegian said. "The contest this year was held in conjunction with the International Dairy Show, which gave the students a chance to learn more about the dairy industry and interact with dairy professionals."
Held in Chicago, the contest consisted of teams of three undergraduate students, up to two alternates and two graduate students. Commercially available samples of butter, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, vanilla ice cream, milk and strawberry Swiss-style yogurt were judged on appearance, body and texture.
Eleven teams competed in the national event.
Hay and pasture situation in Maryland and Delaware looks positive
ANNAPOLIS - Hay supplies in late November were rated mostly adequate in Maryland, while Delaware hay supplies were rated mostly short to adequate. Officials with the USDA say pasture conditions were rated fair to good in both states. The fourth cutting of other hay in Maryland and Delaware was 65 percent and 90 percent respectively. The fifth cutting of alfalfa hay was 58 percent complete in Maryland and 30 percent complete in Delaware.
As of November 17, corn harvested for grain was 97 percent complete in Maryland. Delaware corn harvested for grain was 99 percent complete. With the corn harvest winding down, Maryland farmers expect to yield 158 bushels per acre for the 2013 crop year, up 3 bushel from September forecast. If realized, this will be a record yield for corn in Maryland, previously set at 155 bushel in 2000.
In Maryland soybeans were 100 percent dropping leaves with 84 percent harvested. Delaware soybeans were 100 percent dropping leaves and 80 percent harvested.
Turning to small grains, winter wheat planting was 95 percent complete in Maryland and 83 percent complete in Delaware. Barley planting was 100 percent complete in Maryland and 100 percent complete in Delaware.
N.C. Forest Service accepting entries for 2014 Arbor Day Photo Contest
RALEIGH — The N.C. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is accepting entries for its 2014 Arbor Day Photo Contest through Feb. 28. The contest is open to North Carolina students in fifth through 12th grades, including public, private and home schools. The theme is 'Young and Old.'
“The theme reflects not just the beauty of North Carolina’s trees and forests, but also the values and benefits that many generations have enjoyed,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.
The competition will be divided into fifth through eighth grades and ninth through 12th grades. A panel of judges will select a winner from each division and one grand prize winner. Honorable mentions may also be awarded.
Winners of each division will receive $50 and a tree to plant on their school grounds. The grand prize winner will receive $150, a tree to plant at school and a framed reproduction of the winning photo.
To enter, participants should download and complete an entry form, and include a caption and photographer’s statement. One photo per photographer may be entered.
Entry forms and a list of submission requirements can be found under the Urban and Community Forestry link on the N.C. Forest Service website at http://ncforestservice.gov.
Schools may select up to six best photos for entry. Each photo should be submitted electronically in a JPEG format (maximum of 6 megabytes), along with an accompanying entry form and emailed to email@example.com. Any school submitting more than one photo should submit photos on a CD by mail to Jennifer Rall, N.C. Forest Service, 1616 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1616.
Entries will be judged on how well the photo and caption express the contest theme; overall aesthetics of the photo; evidence that the student researched the benefits and importance of trees in communities as related to the contest theme; how well the photographer’s statement addresses the contest theme; spelling and grammar. All decisions of the judges are final.
Winners will be selected and notified by March 14. Prizes will be awarded at the N.C. Arbor Day celebration on March 22 in Raleigh.
For more information, call 919-857-4849.
WV nurseries support Farm-to-Table Initiative
CHARLESTON - More West Virginia farmers are working diligently to make sure their food goes directly to local tables. One of the hardest working businesses in southern West Virginia is Greenbrier Nurseries.
Greenbrier Nurseries owner Jim Monroe says southern West Virginia is especially starved for a Farm to Table program.
“We are so excited to bring together over 20 local food vendors from across southern West Virginia to our garden center in Beckley for our Farm to Table Market,” Monroe said.
The market will be held year round every Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and gives everyone a chance to experience different varieties of food.
“The winter market is a unique concept that will provide both vendors and consumers with much better access to locally grown, healthy foods,” said Monroe. “The Beckley area is starved for a place to find quality foods like what we will offer at the Farm to Table Market. Whole foods are hard to find in our area. We will have excellent vendors with products ranging from apples, beef, pork, poultry, veggies, mushrooms, eggs, salad greens, canned goods and much more.”
Greenbrier Nurseries is a 59-year-old horticultural company with growing operations headquartered in Talcott in Summers County. They also have two garden centers in Beckley and Roanoke, Va., which have been recognized as one of the Top 100 Garden Centers in America in 2013. They also own a plant genetics and marketing company called HORT COUTURE that is sold throughout North America.
Virginia, West Virginia students to serve as 2013-14 National FFA Officers
INDIANAPOLIS - Two young men from the Mid-Atlantic Region have been selected to serve as National FFA Officers for the next year. FFA is one of the largest youth organizations in the U.S. with more than 579,000 active members.
Brian Walsh of Virginia will serve as National President. He was once asked in a small group discussion to share what has been the best day of his life. He fumbled for an answer. But one never developed. After telling the group he had no story, people quickly countered, teaching Walsh that everyone has a story – about themselves, what they believe in, the people in their lives and their goals and aspirations for the future.
“My story is that of a shy young boy who wanted so badly to be a part of FFA as a timid eighth grader,” he said. “After developing a passion for agriculture, I promised myself that I would be a part of FFA. My journey began as a boy too scared to ask a simple question and continues today as a confident leader who has been blessed over the past six years with incredible interactions, experiences and growth.”
Today, Walsh is an agribusiness major at Virginia Tech. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural education and become an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor.
Wes Davis of West Virginia will serve as Eastern Region Vice-President. At age 11, Davis bought a chicken at the county fair. A spark ensued and since, he has immersed himself deeply into the world of agriculture. He joined FFA and immediately began racking up state and national honors in competitions involving poultry judging, public speaking, marketing, agribusiness and more.
“Growing up on a small property and raised by parents who were not involved in agriculture, I didn’t have the opportunity to grow up on a farm,” Davis said. “But the experience I gained through FFA allowed me to create my own path.
“The day I joined FFA, I never imagined that I had just made the best decision of my life.” After graduation from West Virginia University, Davis hopes to go into the classroom and educate the next generation of agricultural leaders.
Walsh and Davis were elected to the 2013-14 National FFA Officer team at the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo.
Other members of the team are Mitch Baker of Tennessee as secretary, Steven Brockshus of Iowa as Central Region vice president, Jackson Harris of Alabama as Southern Region vice president and Jason Wetzler of Oregon as Western Region vice president.
National officers commit to a year of service to the National FFA Organization. Each travels more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with business and industry leaders, thousands of FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders, the general public and more. The team will lead personal growth and leadership training seminars for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.
32 tons of empty pesticide containers recycled in Maryland; Program hopes to protect the Chesapeake Bay
ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Department of Agriculture has recycled nearly 800,000 plastic pesticide containers – 64,000 of them this year – through its pesticide container recycling programs for farmers, golf courses, government agencies and commercial applicators. This program, in its 21st year of operation, helps prevent pesticide residues from entering the soil and local waterways and saves valuable landfill space. This recycling service is free and paid for with money collected from licensing and certification fees and pesticide product registration fees.
“This beneficial pesticide recycling program helps to protect the Chesapeake Bay by removing potential contaminants from the environment through proper disposal and provides sources of recycled materials for vendors,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “We are very pleased with the response of farmers, commercial pesticide applicators and other pesticide users.”
The state regulates the use of pesticides and provides educational programs for private (farmer), public agency and commercial pesticide applicators that operate in Maryland to ensure that pesticide are used properly and that adverse effects from their use are avoided or minimized. For more information, visit: www.mda.maryland.gov.
Farmers urged to follow safety tips around manure storage facilities
HARRISBURG – Agricultural producers and manure haulers and brokers in Pennsylvania are being reminded by the State Department of Agriculture to exercise caution to minimize health risks when managing animal waste.
Officials say hazardous levels of gases, including ammonia, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and methane, can accumulate when manure is stored, especially in confined spaces like underground covered waste storage tanks. Open air waste storage facilities and lagoons can also develop and release hazardous levels of these gases, especially during the agitation and pump-out process.
Ongoing research suggests that using gypsum for bedding may increase hydrogen sulfide in manure storage facilities. Gypsum is a low cost byproduct of drywall and contains sulfur. Producers are urged to use extra caution when managing manure storage facilities on operations where gypsum is used.
Hydrogen sulfide can cause discomfort, headaches, nausea and dizziness. At levels above 200 ppm, collapse, coma and death due to respiratory failure can occur within seconds after only a few inhalations.
Farmers are being encouraged to implement safety practices including:
* Always have a first aid equipment nearby;
* Wear personal protective equipment, including air packs and face masks, a nylon line with snap buckles and a safety harness;
* Do not enter a manure pit unless absolutely necessary and only then if the pit is first ventilated, air is supplied to a mask or a self-contained breathing apparatus, a safety harness and attached rope is put on and there are two
people standing by;
* To minimize hazards, agitation of manure is best done on windy days;
* Understand the symptoms and effects of gas poisoning; and
* During agitation and pump out operations, ensure non-essential workers or bystanders are away from the manure storage facility.
Online tool helps match wine grape varieties to vineyard sites
BLACKSBURG—Virginia’s wine industry generates $747 million for the state’s economy. According to a 2012 report released by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office, that figure is more than twice a 2005 estimate of how much the industry would grow in seven years.
But long before grapes are turned into wine, growers must consider a staggering amount of variables in deciding where to plant vines and which varieties are best-suited to a particular soil.
Growers in the eastern United States soon will be able to use a Web-based tool to help evaluate land for vineyard sustainability. It’s based on a similar, Virginia-specific application developed by researchers in Virginia Tech’s Center for Geospatial Information Technology and viticulturists at Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center near Winchester.
The Virginia Viticulture Suitability Investigative Tool (vmdev.cgit.vt.edu/Vineyards/#) considers features of potential vineyard sites such as soil type, drainage capability and nutrient status and helps users evaluate grape varieties for compatibility.
The ability to evaluate land before planting matters to growers because topography, which affects the local climate, and soils are key to both consistency and quality of grape production.
The Eastern U.S. Vineyard Site Evaluation Tool is funded by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crops Research Initiative through a grant to Virginia Tech and six other institutions. The application represents one part of the $3.8 million grant that includes research initiatives in variety evaluation, grapevine management practices, wine marketing studies and outreach and extension education.
“This is a great tool for tech-savvy growers to use when planting grapes,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “It also could be utilized by a home gardener who wants to plant grapes.”
According to horticulturist Mark Viette of Augusta County, only a few grape vines are needed to grow grapes in a backyard setting. Viette appears on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s weekly television program.
“Grapes like full sun, and the existing clay soil in Virginia is excellent for growing grapes,” Viette said.
Grapes grow best on a multi-strand trellis system in an area that is 25 to 50 feet long, with each plant spaced 6 to 8 feet apart, he said. Drip irrigation systems, organic plant food and organic insect sprays can help make grape-growing more successful. Vines should be pruned in February.
Virginia is ranked fifth nationwide for wine grape production and has held that ranking since 2009.
Professor: Pennsylvania's forest cover remains stable at 59 percent
UNIVERSITY PARK - Despite continuing development, urban sprawl and changing land use, Pennsylvania's forest area has remained stable in recent decades, according to a forest scientist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
The most recent USDA Forest Service forest inventory report offers data from 2009, the latest available. The report indicates that the amount of forest cover hovers at about 59 percent of total land area, or about 16.7 million acres.
Some parts of the state are gaining forest cover while others are losing it, explained James Finley, Ibberson Professor of Forest Resources Management. This trend has been occurring since the mid-1960s as the forest recovered from heavy cutting in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
"Land-use patterns suggest that the amount of forested acreage has remained stable because losses caused by development in the Southern Tier have been offset by gains resulting from agriculture declines in the Northern Tier counties," he said. "As reported by the Forest Service, trees and forests still dominate Pennsylvania's landscape. Most of this forestland -- about 71 percent -- is held privately by individuals, families, partnerships and other entities not in the business of harvesting and using trees."
A recent Penn State study estimated there are 738,000 private ownerships in the state. Most of these ownerships are small parcels; often, they come with the home. In fact, about 420,000 of these ownerships are smaller than 10 acres, and about 25 percent of the private forest is in ownerships of less than 20 acres.
"Statewide there are only about 25,000 privately owned forest tracts larger than 100 acres in size," Finley said. "This study and others suggest that the average size of our privately owned forest tracts is decreasing."
Pennsylvania still is growing more wood than it uses, Finley pointed out. As a major part of the state's rural economy, the forest industry harvests trees for many uses. Recent data shows that the "growth-to-remove" ratio is 2:1 for timberland -- meaning that the forest is growing twice as much as is harvested.
MD wheat growers average 67 bushels per acre; total production up 22 percent from one year ago
ANNAPOLIS - Above average yields were recorded for both wheat and barley in Maryland this year. Farmers reported adequate soil moisture throughout the small grain growing season. The majority of the barley and wheat crop was rated between good and excellent throughout the crop year.
Maryland farmers planted 345,000 acres of wheat, the highest since the 1948 planted acreage of 361,000 acres. Acres harvested for grain is estimated at 260,000 acres with an average yield of 67 bushels per acre of wheat, down 1 bushel from 2012. Total wheat production is estimated at 17.4 million bushels, 22 percent above the 14.3 million bushels produced last year.
Maryland producers planted 75,000 acres of barley and harvested 52,000 acres for grain. Yield for barley was 3 bushels above the 2012 yield at 85 bushels per acre. Total barley production is estimated at 4.4 million bushels, up 35 percent from 3.3 million bushels produced in 2012.
WV poultry grower Lois Alt prevails against EPA
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Poultry and livestock farmers declared victory recently when a federal court ruled in favor of West Virginia poultry farmer Lois Alt in a lawsuit she brought against the Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled that contrary to EPA’s contention, ordinary stormwater from Alt’s farmyard is exempt from National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements.
Alt filed suit against EPA in June 2012 after the agency threatened her with $37,500 in fines each time stormwater came into contact with dust, feathers or small amounts of manure on the ground outside of her poultry houses as a result of normal farm operations. EPA also threatened separate fines of $37,500 per day if Alt failed to apply for a NPDES permit for such stormwater discharges. AFBF and the West Virginia Farm Bureau intervened alongside Alt as co-plaintiffs to help resolve the issue for the benefit of other poultry and livestock farmers.
“We are pleased the court flatly rejected EPA’s arguments and ruled in favor of Lois Alt,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The outcome of this case will benefit thousands of livestock and poultry farmers who run their operations responsibly and who should not have to get a federal permit for ordinary rainwater from their farmyards.”
In ordering Alt to seek a permit, EPA took the legal position that the Clean Water Act’s exemption for “agricultural storm water discharges” does not apply to farms classified as “concentrated animal feeding operations” or “CAFOs,” except for areas where crops are grown. In other words, any areas at a CAFO farm where crops are not grown, and where particles of manure are present, would require a permit for rainwater runoff.
In April of this year, the federal court rejected efforts by EPA to avoid defending its position by withdrawing the order against Alt. In opposing EPA’s motion to dismiss, Alt and Farm Bureau argued that farmers remained vulnerable to similar EPA orders, and the important legal issue at stake should be resolved. The court agreed.
“This lawsuit was about EPA’s tactic of threatening farmers with enormous fines in order to make them get permits that are not required by law,” said Stallman. “Lois Alt was proud of her farm and her environmental stewardship, and she stood her ground. We’re proud to have supported her effort.”
Dairy exports up significantly
U.S. dairy exports set a record in the first half of 2013. The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) reports export sales totaled $3.168 billion from January through June, up 16 percent compared to the same period in 2012.
On a total solids basis, U.S. suppliers exported 14.7 percent of U.S. milk production in the first half of the year compared to 13.5 percent exported a year ago.
Compared to the first six months of 2012, skim milk powder exports are up 10 percent this year; whey product sales are 5 percent higher; cheese exports up 6 percent; lactose exports are up 15 percent on a volume basis.
USDEC says steady global demand, faltering production from other nations and favorable pricing all contributed to the increase in sales and an increase in global market share for U.S. dairy producers.
Decrease in turkey production in West Virginia follows national trend
CHARLESTON - The number of turkeys raised in West Virginia during 2013 is forecasted to be 3.1 million birds, down 6 percent from the 2012 total of 3.3 million birds. This shift follows a national trend in turkey production. The total number of turkeys raised in the United States during 2013 is forecasted at 242 million, down 5 percent from the number raised during 2012.
A combination of six states account for nearly two-thirds of the turkeys produced in the United States during 2013.
The largest turkey producing state is Minnesota, at 45.0 million turkeys, down 2 percent from the previous year. North Carolina decreased by 3 percent from last year, producing 35.0 million turkeys. Arkansas produced 29.0 million turkeys, which is unchanged from the previous year. Indiana increased by 3 percent from a year ago to 17.0 million turkeys. Missouri decreased by 3 percent from last year, producing 17.0 million turkeys. Virginia decreased the number of turkeys raised compared to the previous year by 6 percent now at 16.0 million.
Maryland approves easement purchases of 2,358 acres of farmland
ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently announced that the Board of Public Works approved the purchase of 18 easements protecting 2,358 acres of prime Maryland farmland in 12 counties for approximately $12.3 million in state and local funding. This approval brings the total farmland protected in perpetuity or approved by BPW by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) to 292,178 acres.
“Maryland has one of the strongest agricultural land preservation records in the nation. Each easement purchase proves our commitment to keep farming a viable and sustainable industry in our state,” said Governor O’Malley. “By working with our local partners through the MALPF program, we will keep Maryland’s future smart, green and growing by helping farmers stay on their land, preserving open space, protecting our environment, and maintaining the rich agricultural heritage of our State.”
Created by the General Assembly in 1977, MALPF purchases agricultural preservation easements that forever restrict development on prime farmland and woodland and has permanently preserved land in each of Maryland’s 23 counties, representing a public investment of more than $617 million. With county and other state preservation programs, nearly 800,000 acres of farmland and resource land are protected by easements in Maryland. This is the greatest ratio of farmland preserved to total landmass of any state.
According to the last survey conducted by the Schaefer Center for Public Policy, public opinion supports this investment. A full 97 percent of respondents believe that it is important that the state preserve farmland for farming.
Livestock industry inducts leaders into Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame
BLACKSBURG - Seven prominent livestock industry leaders were inducted into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame at the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Teaching Arena at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Sept. 21.
"The Livestock Hall of Fame allows Virginia’s beef, sheep, dairy, pork, and horse industries to recognize those who have made outstanding contributions to the commonwealth’s livestock industry," said Ike Eller, a retired Virginia Cooperative Extension animal scientist who chairs the hall of fame committee. "We are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s honorees. They join a distinguished group of leaders who have helped make Virginia’s livestock industry what it is today."
The 2013 inductees are
* John Henry Carter Jr. of Suffolk, Va.; 1954 and 1959 Virginia Tech graduate, Virginia Cooperative Extension animal scientist, and state swine specialist.
* Ernest E. Copenhaver (1931-2012) of Meadowview, Va.; cattleman, businessman, and beef industry leader.
* Harold W. Craun (1912-1990) of Roanoke, Va.; 1935 Virginia Tech graduate, Extension agent, dairyman, and state and national dairy industry leader.
* Hubert John Gerken Jr. (1929-2012) of Blacksburg, Va.; 1954 and 1966 Virginia Tech graduate, Virginia Cooperative Extension agent, and Extension animal scientist.
* Ervin T. Kornegay (1931-1999) of Blacksburg, Va.; professor of animal science and swine nutritionist at Virginia Tech.
* David A. Leonard of Lebanon, Va.; 1962 Virginia Tech graduate, cattleman, banker, businessman, and civic leader.
* John William Riley (1925-1994) of Staunton, Va.; livestock producer and agricultural leader.
Established in 2009, the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame bestows honor and recognition on outstanding Virginians who have made significant contributions to the state’s livestock industry and people. The Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, Virginia Pork Industry Association, Virginia Sheep Producers Association, Virginia State Dairymen’s Association, and the Virginia Horse Council have the opportunity to nominate living or deceased individuals to the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame.
Farmers embracing technology; study reports computer use up
WASHINGTON - According to a recent USDA report, computer usage on farms has increased, as has the number of farmers who are using computers for their farm businesses.
The most common way farmers access the Internet is through a digital subscriber line, or DSL, but NASS found that only 35 percent of U.S. farms are using it today, compared to 38 percent in 2011. Wireless was the second most common method of Internet access at 24 percent in 2013, up from 20 percent in 2011. Dial-up access dropped from 12 percent in 2011 to 5 percent in 2013.
As many as 67 percent of U.S. farms now have Internet access, compared to 62 percent in 2011, and more farmers have access to a computer, with 70 percent using one compared to 65 percent two years ago. The report also said 40 percent of farms use computers for the farm business, up 3 percent from 2011.
The higher the farm income, the more likely owners are to use computers. According to the report, in 2013 84 percent of farms with sales of $250,000 or more have access to a computer, and 72 percent of those are using it for their farm businesses. Of those with sales between $100,000 and $249,999, 73 percent have access to a computer, and 56 percent of them are using it for farm business. For farms with sales between $10,000 and $99,999, 68 percent have access to a computer, and 45 percent of them are using it for business.
Seventy-one percent of crop farms and 70 percent of livestock farms reported computer access.
“The report shows that U.S. farmers are keeping pace with non-farming households with respect to general computer use and Internet access. Farmers have computers and Internet access for both business and personal use just like anyone else,” said Tony Banks, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing specialist. “In fact, many farmers use technology even more than most when you consider they may be using computers, or technology, dedicated to specific tasks such as monitoring and adjusting climate and feed systems in livestock and poultry barns, or linking a satellite with GPS-guided equipment in the field.”
Pennsylvania continues to dominate mushroom productionHARRISBURG - Pennsylvania’s 63 growers led all states by producing 547 million pounds, or 62 percent of all U.S. Agaricus mushrooms sold during the 2012-2013 growing season. Second-ranked California contributed 13 percent. This is a slight decrease from 2012’s 547.9 million pounds.
Pennsylvania mushroom growers received, on average, 93.4 cents per pound for all Agaricus mushroom sales up 2.7 cents from the previous year. Pennsylvania’s Agaricus crop was valued at $510.9 million, up 3 percent from the 2011-2012 crop.
The Commonwealth mushroom producers sold 452.7 million pounds of Agaricus mushrooms for fresh market. Fresh market sales tallied $452.7 million. In addition, Pennsylvania growers supplied 94.3 million pounds of Agaricus mushrooms sold in the U.S. for processing. Processing sales in Pennsylvania totaled $58.3 million for the 2012-2013 season. Prices and value for mushroom sales are based on the average price that the producer receives at the point of first sale.
The 53 growers of Agaricus mushrooms in Chester County, Pennsylvania produced 384 million pounds, decrease of 4 percent compared to the 2011-2012 growing season. This production was valued at 361 million dollars, down 1 percent from last season. The growing area in Chester County was 11.8 million square feet, down 5 percent from the previous growing season.
Weekly crop progress reports found here:
Trivia Question: What percentage of farms in the United States are operated by families?
A. 54 %
B. 64 %
C. 88 %
Answer - D. About 97 percent of U.S. farms are operated by families – individuals, family partnerships or family corporations.
Source: American Farm Bureau Federation
Virginia ag trade office opens in Canada; trade conference set for early March
RICHMOND - Virginia now has agricultural trade offices in eight locations around the world. State officials recently announced the opening of a representative trade office in Canada, which imported $205 million in Virginia farm products in 2012. Canada is Virginia’s second-largest international export market for agricultural products, behind China.
Todd Haymore, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry, said Canada “has long been an important market for a number of Virginia agribusinesses, but we know we can grow our market share given our high quality products and close proximity. Because we are geographically close and easily accessible by truck and rail, Virginia's focus will be on increasing business and trade opportunities in eastern Canada, thus helping increase employment in the commonwealth. Indeed, every $1 in agricultural exports generates $1.40 of in-state business activity to process, package, finance and ship these products."
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services hired the Toronto-based consulting firm Argyle Communications to represent the state’s agricultural and forestry interests in Canada.
Overall agricultural exports from Virginia were more than $2.61 billion in 2012, an all-time high. VDACS has agricultural trade offices in India, China, Latin America and Europe, all regions that contain some of the world's largest and fastest-growing economies. The department has operated a trade office in Hong Kong for more than 20 years.
The 2014 Governor’s Conference on Agriculture Trade will be held March 6 and 7 at the Richmond Marriott. The event is being organized by VDACS, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the Virginia Port Authority and Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
“The addition of an export office in Canada now gives Virginia farmers and processors access to eight different trade offices in prime regions, with experts ready to work with producers to explore new and expanded markets. However, it all starts with VDACS staff in their Richmond headquarters, and our annual trade conference has become a premier venue for those new to or already involved in international markets to get updates on the world of trade,” said Spencer Neale, VFBF director of commodity marketing.
“It’s also a great opportunity to network with a diverse set of stakeholders who have a common interest in this growing economic segment of agribusiness in the commonwealth.”
Maryland approves $162,703 in Agricultural Cost-Share Grants
ANNAPOLIS - The Board of Public Works in Maryland recently approved $162,703 in Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share grants, which help farmers install best management practices that significantly reduce nutrient runoff in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and accelerate Bay restoration. Officials say the O’Malley-Brown Administration has supported more farmer pollution reduction projects cost-share program than any other administration in the nearly three decades since the program began.
The Board approved grants for 13 projects in six counties that will prevent soil erosion, manage nutrient pollution and safeguard water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Together, these projects will prevent 613.36 pounds of nitrogen, 279.91 pounds of phosphorus, and 501.2 tons of soil from entering the Bay and its tributaries. These projects are funded by state general obligation bonds.
“Our farmers are true partners in protecting our natural resources, and Maryland continues to support their efforts by providing grants to install proven conservation measures and innovative, state-of-the-art practices,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Working together, we can ensure a smart, green and growing future for future generations, preserve open space, and maintain the rich agricultural heritage of our State.”
Since the program started in 1984, farmers have installed 21,900 water quality projects.
Large crowds expected in Hershey for Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention
HERSHEY - About 2,200 fruit and vegetable growers and other industry persons from throughout the mid-Atlantic region and beyond will be gathering at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, for the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention which will run from January 28 to 30, 2014. Registration is open to all interested commercial fruit and vegetable growers and allied industry personnel.
The eighth Annual Mid-Atlantic Apple Cider Contest will be held during the Convention. Entries from commercial orchards in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware will be accepted and judged on the opening day of the Convention. The results will be announced on the closing day of the Convention.
The Convention has been jointly sponsored by the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association, the Maryland State Horticultural Society and the New Jersey State Horticultural Society for the past 36 years, making the 2014 Convention the 37th meeting. The National Peach Council also meets at the Convention for their annual meeting, and beginning in 2014, the Virginia State Horticultural Society will be joining the Convention. The North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association will be meeting in conjunction with the mid-Atlantic growers for the 2014 Convention.
Penn State University, University of Maryland, Rutgers University and Virginia Tech University Cooperative Extensions all assist in organizing the three days of educational sessions. The Convention has become one of the premier grower meetings in the Northeast.
More info at www.mafvc.org
This year’s corn harvest is a bin-buster in Virginia
TAPPAHANNOCK—As combines roared across Virginia cornfields this fall, farmers enjoyed good weather and great yields.
In late November, 97 percent of the state’s corn harvest was complete. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest crop survey estimates Virginia corn yields will average 150 bushels an acre, a huge increase from last year’s drought-stricken crop and possibly a new record.
“A good corn crop is certainly something that boosts everybody’s spirits, and I think everybody at this point is feeling pretty good,” said Keith Balderson, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Essex County. He spends much of his time advising farmers on how to improve their yields and protect the environment. But one thing no-one controls is the weather, and this year brought good weather for corn.
“Overall the rainfall in June and July was very beneficial,” Balderson said. “It did have a negative impact for small grains, because the harvest was delayed and the quality of our harvested wheat and barley was very poor.”
Corn is an essential crop in the nation’s farm economy, and the U.S. corn crop also is expected to be better this year.
While an increased yield might seem like it would result in lower food prices, market specialists note that, when adjusted for inflation, U.S. food prices haven’t gone up for years.
“Its portion of the Consumer Price Index has remained very steady, at about 14 to 15 percent of the index,” said Jonah Bowles, senior agriculture market analyst for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “The food price index can go up, the index can go down, but food costs as a percentage of that index have remained very, very steady.”
There are many other costs associated with producing food, Bowles said.
“From planting the crop to harvesting to processing, energy costs have gone up. And we’re also seeing, in many cases, labor costs are going up. Those factors have a greater influence on our food prices at the grocery store than the price received by the farmer in the field.”
Despite the challenges of staying in farming, this is a good fall to be a corn grower.
“Anytime we can make a good crop, we enjoy that,” Balderson said. “Starting off from the beginning, you never really know when you plant a crop what you’re going to harvest because of the rainfall patterns and the potential for other weather effects, such as hurricanes.”
Bumper crops reported by Pennsylvania farmers
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's corn and soybean production is forecast to be above a year ago based on November 1 conditions, according to the Northeast Regional Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Corn for grain production is forecast at 164.3 million bushels, 24 percent more than last year. Acreage for harvest is estimated at 1.06 million acres, the largest since 2000. The forecasted average yield is 155 bushels per acre, up 5 bushels from the September forecast, and up 23 bushels per acre from last year.
Soybean production is forecast at 25.0 million bushels, up very slightly from last year’s production. If realized, this will break last year’s record for Pennsylvania soybean production. Acreage for harvest is estimated at 510,000 acres, compared with 520,000 acres last year. Yield is expected to average 49 bushels per acre, down 1 bushel from the September forecast and up 1 bushel from last year’s final yield. If realized, this would be a new record yield for Pennsylvania.
Entomologist is State Fair of NC’s giant pumpkin king
RALEIGH - As an Extension entomologist at N.C. State University, Dr. Jack Bacheler helps folks grow crops without giving up too much to insects that feast on plants. This year, Bacheler himself has a gardening success story – he is the proud producer of the North Carolina State Fair’s biggest pumpkin. Bacheler’s pumpkin, raised in the backyard of his Clayton home, tipped the scales at 799.6 lbs.
For three years, Bacheler tried his hand at growing big pumpkins, but the first two years he didn’t have much success. Groundhogs attacked his pumpkins, so this year he protected the pumpkins with reinforced fencing.
Bacheler says there is much information available on the Internet on growing big pumpkins. And though the biggest pumpkin raised in the state was over 1,000 pounds, states like Ohio regularly produce pumpkins in the 1,500-pound range.
Bacheler started the pumpkin seeds indoors and transplanted young plants into the garden in May. By late June, the first female flowers were pollinated, and then the real work of raising the pumpkins began. July through September, Bacheler said he spent about an hour and a half every evening tending his pumpkins.
“It made it impossible to even go on vacation,” he said.
Water and fertilizer are keys to producing a big pumpkin, Bacheler said. He used a drip irrigation system to feed the pumpkins with water, fertilizer and pesticides. Starting with good genetic stock also helps – Bacheler said he paid $40 for two seeds from a parent pumpkin weighing 1,500 pounds.
“Pest management is a problem. Insects are my kind of things, so they were easier to deal with. But plant diseases are harder to manage,” he said.
The pumpkin was harvested by a small Bobcat that lifted the pumpkin by straps wrapped around it. Once it was raised, it was placed on a pallet so it could be moved by a forklift.
Before its debut at the State Fair, Bacheler’s pumpkin was weighed at the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival.
Report: Virginia looking at record corn crop
RICHMOND - Virginia’s corn yield as of November 1 is estimated to be 150 bushels per acre, up 5 bushels per acre from the previous forecast. This yield is 4 bushels per acre above the 2000 record yield of 146 bushels per acre. Corn producers in the Commonwealth are expected to harvest 355,000 acres, up 5,000 acres from last year. Production is forecast to be 53.3 million bushels, up 48 percent from last year.
The Commonwealth’s peanut yield is forecast to be 3,700 pounds per acre, down 400 pounds per acre from the previous forecast. Production is estimated to be 59.2 million pounds, down 30 percent from last year. Producers are expected to harvest 16,000 acres in 2013.
Cotton yield is forecast to be 997 pounds per acre, down 25 pounds per acre from the previous forecast and down 121 pounds per acre from last year. Production is expected to total 160,000 bales. Cotton growers in the Commonwealth expect to harvest 77,000 acres in 2013.
Virginia’s soybean producers expect to average 40 bushels per acre, unchanged from the previous forecast but down 2 bushels per acre from last year’s record yield. Soybean production is expected to total 23.6 million bushels from 590,000 acres.
Nov. 15 was the last day Maryland homeowners may apply fertilizer to lawns this year
ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Department of Agriculture has published a reminder that November 15 was the last day homeowners they may fertilize lawns under Maryland’s newly enacted Lawn Fertilizer Law. Lawn care professionals have until December 1, provided they use specially formulated products that reduce the risk of nutrient runoff into streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Both citizens and lawn care pros may resume lawn fertilizer applications March 1, as long as the ground is not frozen or heavy rain is not predicted.
“To help protect the Bay from nutrient runoff, Maryland farmers are prohibited from applying commercial fertilizer products to their fields in winter and new regulations banning winter applications of manure and other organic nutrient sources are currently being phased in,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “With some estimates placing Maryland’s grass crop at close to 1 million acres, it’s important that homeowners and lawn care pros join farmers in protecting water resources from nutrient runoff.”
Maryland’s lawn fertilizer law became effective October 1, 2013 and includes new requirements for fertilizer manufacturers, homeowners and lawn care professionals. Under the law, lawn fertilizer products sold in Maryland no longer contain phosphorus with certain exceptions for specially labeled starter fertilizer and organic fertilizer products. Label directions on fertilizer bags are written to ensure that no more than 0.9 pound of total nitrogen is applied per 1,000 square feet with part of this nitrogen in a slow release form. Environmental use statements are printed on these products to further ensure proper application.
For more information, visit www.mda.maryland/fertilizer.
NC livestock producers should be on the lookout for cattle disease
RALEIGH – Two cattle herds in North Carolina have been confirmed positive recently for anaplasmosis at the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Rollins Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. Anaplasmosis is an infectious disease that causes red blood cells to be removed from circulation, resulting in fever, severe anemia and even death. Cows from both herds have died. An additional herd is awaiting confirmation, which would make this the 12th herd to be confirmed in North Carolina this year. Eight cases were reported in 2012. The herds are located in Granville, Duplin and Person counties.
Anaplasmosis is commonly found throughout the country and is spread by ticks, insect bites, and the sharing of contaminated needles and instruments contaminated with blood. It is more prevalent in the fall and mainly affects adult cattle, although any age can be affected. Clinical symptoms are those typical of severe anemia, including lethargy, loss of appetite, muscle tremors or weakness, pale gums, labored breathing and dry muzzle. The disease can also affect sheep and goats, but is not a threat to humans.
State Veterinarian David Marshall recommends that cattle owners contact their veterinarians if any of these symptoms are noticed. “If severe anemia sets in, any stress on the animal could result in death,” Marshall said. “The sooner the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better for the herd.” The disease is fatal in about 30 percent of cattle who contract the disease.
Marshall encourages producers to consult with their veterinarian on a plan to diagnose and treat a herd if anaplasmosis is suspected. NCDA&CS Veterinary Division field personnel are available to assist producers and veterinarians as needed in diagnosing and eliminating the disease from a herd.
NC researchers explore tomato flavor
Tomatoes are a $2 billion crop in the United States, and we demand a lot from them. No matter where we live, we want fresh, delicious tomatoes to be available year-round. Large-scale producers ship tomatoes long distances, and that makes firmness and long-term storage top priorities for tomato breeders.
Consumers value garden-fresh flavor when it comes to tomatoes, but such flavor isn’t always available on grocery store shelves year-round. Recently published research from N.C. State University scientist Dilip Panthee and colleagues aims to change that.
The researchers found that good flavor is related to sugar and acid, and they calculated the ranges of flavor-related components in 173 tomato varieties.
With this information, the researchers say, tomato breeders now have valuable clues to developing varieties that are most promising for enhancing flavors.
Panthee, the lead author of the paper outlining the findings, is assistant professor of plant breeding and genetics in N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Read more from the website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/oct13/tomatoes1013.htm
Adopt-a-Teacher program helping to spread agriculture to schools across Virginia
RICHMOND - Thirty-one public and private schools and 38 teachers have been adopted as part of the Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom Adopt-A-Teacher and Adopt-A-School programs.
Participating donors’ contributions were earmarked for the educators or schools of their choice, and those teachers and schools received agriculture education resources and the opportunity to attend an AITC workshop at no cost.
Teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade and schools in seven cities and 19 counties were adopted.
All five of Accomack County’s elementary schools were adopted by Virginia Foundation for AITC board members, and Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. employees. The donors asked that AITC choose schools and teachers that had a need for agriculture resources.
“The Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. is a longtime supporter of the Agriculture in the Classroom program throughout Virginia,” said Darlene Wells, VFBMIC executive vice president. “As an organization, we believe it is important to give back to the communities where our employees live and work.
“I supported Agriculture in the Classroom’s Adopt-A-Teacher program because I personally believe in the importance of the work they do and wanted to help provide some of the great educational resources to schools and teachers that needed them most.”
Adopted teachers received an education kit that included a copy of a dairy DVD and other materials; access to more than 150 lesson plans; information about upcoming AITC workshops; the latest AITC teacher newsletter; and a copy of “Jump Start Your Garden,” a collection of lessons and instructions related to school gardens.
Adopted schools received the education kit and additional resources like AITC’s Virginia agriculture map puzzles and “Math Ag-tivities” and “Garden Chef” curriculums.
“The Adopt-A-School and Adopt-a-Teacher programs were successful and helped us meet our goal of getting Agriculture in the Classroom in front of teachers who may not have been aware of our program,” said Karen Davis, AITC executive director. “We hope to bring the program back next fall and reach even more teachers and students.”
Virginia AITC has been providing resources to educators for more than 25 years and is part of a nationwide effort to help teachers and students understand and appreciate agriculture, which is Virginia’s and the nation’s largest industry. All AITC services are provided to educators at no cost.
The AITC program in Virginia is funded by donations received through the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. For more information, visit www.AgInTheClass.org.
Pennsylvania’s wheat and barley production increases
HARRISBURG - Final estimates of Pennsylvania’s 2013 small grain crops are complete. Production of winter wheat and barley were above last year’s levels while oats production shows a decrease. There was a decrease in oats acreage within the state but an improvement in the yield per acre in 2013, according to the Pennsylvania Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Oat yield was estimated at 62 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel per acre from last year. Acreage for harvest, at 50,000 acres, was down 23.1 percent from last year, with the resulting production at 3.10 million bushels, 21.8 percent below last year.
Barley yield was estimated at 68 bushels per acre, the same as the per acre yield from last year. Barley acreage for harvest increased by 7,000 acres from last year’s 53,000 acres to 60,000 acres. The resulting production was 4.1 million bushels, up 13.2 percent from last year.
Winter wheat yield was estimated at 68 bushels per acre, up 3 bushels per acre from last year. Acreage for harvest was 160,000 acres, up 15,000 acres from a year ago. The resulting production, at 10.9 million bushels, was up 15.4 percent from last year.
U.S. farm exports expected to rise with populations, incomes in developing countries
WASHINGTON—Population and income growth in developing countries is expected to result in increased demand for and consumption of U.S. agricultural imports.
And that means more opportunities for U.S. farmers.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture projections, developing nations are expected to account for much of the world demand for meats and crops—81 percent for meat, 83 percent for grains and oilseeds and 95 percent for cotton—between 2013 and 2022.
World population growth is projected to slow while population growth in developing nations continues, resulting in increased consumption and demand for exports. At the same time, growth of agricultural production is expected to lag in developing nations.
“As economies improve around the world, mostly within the developing nations, the need for a larger and more nutritious food supply can be expected,” said Jonah Bowles, agricultural market analyst for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
Over the next decade, meat consumption is expected to rise by 2.4 percent per year in developing countries, compared to .9 percent in developed countries. Imports are expected to rise annually by 3.9 percent for poultry, 2.9 percent for pork and 4.1 percent for beef.
The demand for livestock feed also is anticipated to increase by 34 percent in developing nations and account for 93 percent of the growth of coarse grain imports worldwide. Those same nations are expected to account for 82 percent of the increase in global wheat consumption and 93 percent of the increase in world wheat imports in the next decade.
“Increased production technologies and efficiencies have been able to keep up with this expanding demand, but the ability to sustain this positive balance could become difficult in the future,” Bowles said. “All of this highlights the importance of maintaining a very strong domestic agriculture industry in the United States.”
Penn State to develop national approach to youth farm safety education
UNIVERSITY PARK - In the United States, more than 2 million youth work in agricultural production, which is among the country's most hazardous industries. Reducing the risk of injury or death for young people on farms is the goal of a new project aimed at developing a coordinated national approach to youth farm safety education.
Led by safety experts in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, the Safety in Agriculture for Youth project will serve as an umbrella for curricula, programs, activities and expertise across the country, with an eye toward increasing safety and health knowledge and reducing hazard and risk exposure to youth on farms and ranches.
The two-year project is supported by a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
"Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the nation, and as such, thousands of youth are injured and hundreds are killed every year by hazards found on the farm," said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Ann Bartuska.
"As youth play a vital role in the productivity of American agriculture, USDA has a responsibility to the education and resources needed to train youth in safe farming practices," she said.
The long-term vision is to develop a sustainable and accessible national clearinghouse for agricultural safety and health curricula for youth.
Maryland courts Canadian horticulture firms
ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Department of Agriculture recently hosted buyers from four Canadian firms specializing in providing plants to garden centers in their country. State officials introduced the buyers to nurseries in Frederick, Baltimore and Harford counties.
“We hope that Canada’s upcoming change in phytosanitary requirements will support increased sales of Maryland nursery products to Canada,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “We look forward to developing relationships for Maryland nurseries with Canadian operations.”
MDA will also be hosting Canadian buyers at the Baltimore-based Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS), January 8-10, 2013. MANTS draws nearly 11,000 associated with the nursery and greenhouse industry throughout the United States to the Baltimore Convention Center.
The buyers were recruited by the Southern U.S. Trade Association, made up of state departments of agriculture from throughout the South, including Maryland. MDA partnered with Florida Department of Agriculture and Tennessee Department of Agriculture in this project to improve exports from nurseries.
The ornamental nursery industry in Canada has sales of about $2.3 billion annually. In Maryland, nurseries had wholesale sales of $422 million in its latest survey, 2007. The industry’s retail sales topped $1.9 billion in Maryland.
WV FFA students are taking their education to the bank.
LEWISBURG - High School Sophomores Andrew Vance, Chandler Piner and Alex Hannah have been growing corn on their family farms for quite some time, but are now seeing an incredible payoff. These three students from Greenbrier East High School in Lewisburg, WV have sold over 12,000 ears of corn to five different county school systems.
Beth Massey is an Agriculture Science teacher at GEHS and says the students, through their Supervised Ag Experience (SAE) program, have seen the true benefits of hands-on learning.
“They learn how to market their product and figure out logistics like how many boxes they will need to ship their products and when they can make deliveries,” Massey said. “And whatever they sell, they keep the money.”
Through the “Farm to School” program these students have worked with food coordinators in different county school systems and have had great success selling their corn to be served on lunch trays in West Virginia schools.
To date, students have sold 4,500 ears of corn in Greenbrier County, 1,000 in Pocahontas, 1,400 in Lewis, 4,000 in Kanawha, and are finalizing a sale for 1,000 more ears in Wyoming County. Massey says, “It’s so encouraging to see these boys go from selling their corn at football games and farmers’ markets to something like this.”
The FFA has been in the Greenbrier County school system since 1968. This particular club has 251 members and continues to grow.
Other students in Greenbrier East’s FFA have sold eggs and potatoes to Greenbrier County schools and they are also implementing high tunnel greenhouses to grow additional crops to sell in the future.
Maryland State Vet advises backyard flock owners attending poultry events to protect their flocks
ANNAPOLIS – Fall is a time for many poultry events such as swap meets, exhibitions, backyard poultry swaps, and backyard poultry tours. Risk for poultry disease increases when a large number of poultry from different flocks come to one place. Backyard flock owners who participate in these events should take precautions to protect their flocks and reduce the risk of exposure to disease.
That's according to Maryland State Veterinarian Guy Hohenhaus, DVM. “Poultry is one of Maryland’s most important agricultural commodities, and we want to keep them all healthy, whether they are commercial, or fair and show, or backyard flocks,” said Hohenhaus. “Take precautions to ensure a positive and successful experience raising poultry. Most importantly, if you take birds to a place where poultry gather, or purchase new birds, be sure to quarantine the birds for 30 days before joining with an existing flock. Too often, flock owners will infect their entire flock by introducing a few new birds right after buying them, and unfortunately many of the birds in the flock, new and old, may die.”
Hohenhaus offers these tips when purchasing birds at a backyard poultry event:
• Ask if the flock is tested. At a minimum a poultry flock must be tested for Salmonella Pullorum- Typhoid (PT) to be at a poultry swap or exhibition. Out–of–state flocks must also be tested for Avian Influenza (AI).
• Look for obvious signs of disease – sneezing, swollen eyes or faces, nasal or ocular discharge, abnormal breathing like wheezing or gasping, mites or lice.
• Take notice of the conditions of the birds for sale. Are the cages clean? Is there food and water available for the birds? If they aren’t taken care of properly while they are for sale there is a good chance they aren’t taken care of in general.
• Keep good records – know who you bought birds from – this information will help trace and stop spread of disease
• Quarantine new additions for 30 days – even from sources you trust. Many diseases take weeks to show. Keep quarantined birds away from your flock.
• Practice good biosecurity. CLEAN hands, boots, clothes, equipment, and housing before and between handling flocks to prevent disease spread.
He also recommends registering flocks. There are currently more than 4,300 flocks registered in Maryland, including more than 200 in Baltimore City.
NC Forest Service using wasps to fight emerald ash borer
RALEIGH — The N.C. Forest Service is enlisting a small, stingless wasp in its battle with the invasive emerald ash borer.
Researchers recently released a species of parasitoid wasp that can kill emerald ash borer larvae. The wasp lays eggs inside the borer larvae, and as the young wasps develop, they kill the ash borer larvae. The release took place in three locations in Granville County, NC.
“The wasps are from China, where EAB originated, and they target this beetle specifically,” said Dr. Kelly Oten, forest health specialist with the Forest Service. The wasps were being reared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a laboratory in Brighton, Michigan. Releases of these wasps are conducted under specific USDA guidelines, Oten said. The release was done in coordination with both private and public entities that have forest resources affected by EAB.
Emerald ash borer is a destructive wood-boring insect that attacks ash trees, including green ash, white ash and several horticultural varieties of ash. The insect kills healthy trees after it bores beneath their bark and disrupts their vascular tissues. The emerald ash borer is not native to the United States and was first found in Michigan in 2002. It has spread to 21 states and has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the United States.
The Plant Industry Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services established an EAB quarantine covering Granville, Person, Vance and Warren counties following detection of the pest this year. This means that ash trees, the ash borers and any hardwood firewood cannot be moved out of a quarantined county into a non-quarantined county. Firewood refers to wood that is cut to less than 4 feet in length.
The quarantine was established to prevent the spread of EAB to other, non-infested parts of the state.