I recently attended the annual meeting of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture, which represents 15 southeastern states and territories. As diverse as agriculture is in our respective states, I'm reminded that we all ultimately share the same goal – to ensure farm profitability and productivity to feed the world.
Our meeting in New Orleans underscored the importance of the Mississippi River corridor and agriculture's reliance on this magnificent resource to handle 60 percent of U.S. grain exports. The economic and environmental importance of the Mississippi River cannot be over emphasized, and we need a concerted effort to maintain and improve infrastructure while protecting water quality.
Another area of concern is the plight of southern dairies. Tennessee and other southern states continue to lose family-owned dairies at a staggering rate even though the Southeast is a milk-deficit region. The current federal milk pricing system puts Tennessee and other southern dairy producers at a disadvantage. I'm proud to report that SASDA members endorsed my proposal to encourage federal milk pricing policies that ensure fair competition for southern dairy producers. I hope to share more with you as we try to build broader support for reform on this front.
For the first time, producers applying for Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program cost share funds were able to submit some of their applications online.
During the June 1 – 7 application period, TDA received nearly 1,600 applications for Livestock Equipment, Genetics, Hay, Grain and Feed Storage from online submissions and more than 2,900 paper applications. More than 200 people submitted applications for producer diversification all of which still had to be submitted in person or by mail. In total, approximately 7,000 applications were received, nearly 700 more than last year.
"We're extremely pleased with the increased number of applications submitted this year. This shows the growing support for the program," TAEP administrator Justin Bryant said. "Also, this was the first year for the online application, and the number of applications submitted online far exceeded our goal."
Funding in 2013 will continue to be approved based on applicant determined priorities. Approval notices will begin going out in mid-August.
It's that time of year again in Tennessee when you'll start seeing three-sided purple insect traps that resemble box kites hanging in ash trees across the state.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture are partnering to survey for Emerald Ash Borer, a non-native, wood-boring beetle that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the eastern United States and Canada.
"Trapping is a very important tool for us to know how extensive the infestation is and whether additional control measures are needed to slow it from spreading to new areas," TDA Plant Certification administrator Gray Haun said. "This year, as last year, traps have been placed across the state as a part of a national survey program."
The goal of the trapping program is to provide a more complete national assessment and to locate new infestations for possible treatment and quarantine. The nearly 1,400 traps are coated with an adhesive that captures insects when they land. The color is attractive to EAB, and is relatively easy for people to spot among the foliage.
"The triangular purple traps pose no risk to humans, pets, or wildlife; however, the non-toxic glue can be extremely sticky," said USDA State Plant Health Director, Yvonne Demarino. "It's important people understand that the traps don't attract or pull beetles into an area, but rather they are a detection tool to help find EAB if it is present in the area."
EAB was first discovered in Tennessee in 2010 at a truck stop along I-40 in Knox County. In addition to Knox, seventeen other counties in Tennessee including Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Greene, Grainger, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Loudon, Monroe, Roane, Sevier, Smith, and Union counties are under state and federal quarantines. This means that no hardwood firewood, ash logs, ash seedlings, ash bark and other restricted materials can be moved outside these counties without approval.
State plant health officials suspect that EAB entered the state on firewood or ash wood materials brought in from another state where infestations have occurred. Other pests can also be artificially transported by individuals moving firewood. Citizens and visitors are urged to buy their firewood near where they camp and not transport it from one area to another.
At times, traps can be blown out of the trees. To report a trap that is down, contact the national EAB hotline at 1-866-322-4512 or visit www.purpleEABsurvey.info. For more information about EAB in Tennessee, contact TDA at 1-800-628-2631 or visit http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/regulatory/eab.html. An EAB fact sheet can also be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/2013/faq_eab_survey.pdf.
Tennessee's farmers markets are popping up everywhere--even in the heart of Tennessee farm lands. You’d think that in areas where many in the community still farm and grow gardens, the farmers market concept wouldn't get much traction, but in fact, it's in small towns and rural communities that most new farmers markets are showing up.
Pick Tennessee Products, the state campaign to help people find local food and other farm direct products, plans to host several media day events at farmers markets in rural communities across Tennessee this summer.
Visitors who come out to a farmers market media day can also take home free recipe cards and have the chance to win a basket of artisan and other popular foods from Tennessee. Media are invited and local officials are encouraged to attend.
June 15: Dickson County Farmers Market
Vickie Witcher, UT Extension Agent
284 Cowan Dr., Corner of Beasley and Cowan
Dickson, TN 37055-2020
June 21: Selmer Farmers Market
Sybil Dancer, Director
100 Front Street
Selmer, TN (McNairy County)
Phone: 731-645-3866 or 731-610-3444
June 29: Southern Middle Tennessee Farmers Market of Franklin County
John Ferrell, U.T. Extension Agent & Farmers Market Manager
Hwy 41-A (Dinah Shore Blvd.)
Winchester, TN 37398
July 27: Union County Farmers Market (Corn Festival)
Shannon Perrin, U.T. Extension Agent
3925 Maynardville HWY
Maynardville, TN 37807
July 31: Ripley Downtown Farmers Market
Frankie McCord, Executive Director
134 N. Jefferson St., Suite 3
Ripley, TN 38063
Phone: 731-635-0008 or 731-413-1089
August 3: Newport Farmers Market of Cocke County
Amelia Taylor, Farmers Mkt. Manager
115 Mulberry St.
Newport, TN 37821 (Cocke County)
Farmers Market on Cosby Hwy across from CVS Pharm.
Phone: 423-623-9272 or UT Extension Agent: 423-623-7531
Debbie Stepp Ball has been named director of marketing in the Market Development Division.
Debbie has been with TDA since 2008 serving as statewide outreach coordinator for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program. Her marketing and advertising background quickly led her to assume responsibility for the entire division's producer and consumer web services.
"Debbie is uniquely suited for this position at this point in the division’s history," said Johnson. "I can't imagine a more qualified person in terms of education, experience and skills to help lead the division into its next phase of service for Tennessee agriculture. In addition to her private sector marketing experience, she has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing farming today and in the future."
As director of marketing, Ball will organize and direct the marketing and promotional services of the division to increase farm income and strengthen rural economies. This includes directing the popular Pick Tennessee Products program, which helps consumers connect with sources of locally grown and processed food products. Ball will report to recently appointed assistant commissioner for Market Development, Ed Harlan.
"I understand the honor, opportunity and responsibility of the position," said Ball. "I'm grateful to get the chance to serve this industry that's such a big part of my life. It seems like everything I've ever done has come together to prepare me for this experience. I'm also fortunate to come into the position with a day to day, working knowledge of the division's programs and people."
She replaces former director of marketing, Dan Strasser, who left after eight years with the department to take a position with the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.
She was raised on the family farm in Coffee County where her family ran a purebred hog operation, L.F. Stepp and Sons Registered Hampshire and Yorkshires till 1999. The hogs have now been replaced with cattle. The Stepp family farm will be eligible for Century Farm status in 2017.
The Tennessee Agricultural Museum is the place for family fun during the month of July. Summer Saturdays are fun-filled activities that spotlight farm happenings from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., July 6 through July 27.
From buggy rides and horse shows to special activities at the Strasser Experience Center, there will be different things for families to see and do each weekend. Grooming and riding miniature donkeys, milking goats, sampling foods from the forest, visiting with Smokey Bear, seeing the 30-foot fire tower, making soap or stopping by the cabins to see sheep shearing and spinning wheels – it's a smorgasbord of activities! The museum, located at the Ellington Agricultural Center, features a two-story barn with more than 3,500 artifacts plus log cabins, a farmhouse, gardens and nature trails.
You can also drop by the museum during the week to browse and see exhibits that include quilts, household items, farm equipment, buggies, wagons, wood working tools and a special museum exhibit, Sunshine Salute to Tennessee Farmers.
For a schedule and more information about Summer Saturdays, call 615-837-5197.
This year marked the 64th consecutive Tennessee Forestry Camp, which was held at Fall Creek Falls State Park May 26 - 31. The Camp introduced 55 FFA students to the multifaceted field of forestry and its practices through field lessons including forest ecology, forest mensuration, tree identification, forest protection from insects and disease, fire control and prescription, forest management plan development, urban forestry, wildlife concepts, and core silvicultural methods.
The courses of study were taught by foresters from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry and Domtar Paper Company. Career and Technical Education teachers from around the state attended as counselors and learned a thing or two as well to take back to incorporate into their curricula.
Year after year Tennessee Forestry Camp introduces students to career options in forestry in addition to forming lasting relationships and an opportunity to spend a week in the forest and recreate at camp. The camp is sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry, Tennessee Association of FFA, Tennessee Forestry Association, Domtar Paper Company, Bledsoe County Schools and Grissom Sawmill.
|Jun 21||Selmer Farmers Market PTP Media Day, Selmer|
|Jun 21||TSU Small Farmer of the Year Award Nomination Deadline|
|Jun 25||Summer Color, UT Gardens, Knoxville|
|Jun 27||Tobacco, Beef and More Field Day, Springfield|
|Jun 29||Southern Mid TN Farmers Market of Franklin Co. PTP Media Day, Winchester|
|Jul 8-10||TN Junior Beef Expo, Murfreesboro|
|Jul 15-19||TN Junior Sheep Expo, Cookeville|
|Jul 18||TSU Small Farm Expo, Nashville|
|Jul 19-21||TFBF Young Farmers Conference, Columbia|
|Jul 22-26||State 4-H Roundup and All-Star Conference, Knoxville|
|Jul 27||Union County Farmers Market PTP Media Day, Maynardville|
|Jul 31||Ripley Downtown Farmers Market PTP Media Day, Ripley|
|Aug 3||Newport Farmers Market of Cocke County PTP Media Day, Newport|
|Aug 6||Steak and Potatoes Field Day, Crossville|
|Aug 8-10||AFBF Presidents Conference, Cool Springs|
|Ellington Agricultural Center | 440 Hogan Road |
Nashville, TN 37220