Tennessee Beef Promotion Board to Meet

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | 02:58 pm

NASHVILLE– The Tennessee Beef Promotion Board will meet April 16 at 1 p.m. CDT at the Tennessee Beef Industry Council located at 530 Brandies Circle Suite A in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The agenda includes a review and approval of minutes, review of board finances and a program update.

The meeting is open to the public. Individuals interested in addressing the board should plan to arrive prior to noon in order to be placed on the agenda.

New Options Offered with 2015 Agricultural Enhancement Program

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | 02:30 pm
The TAEP Application A is now available for download.
The TAEP Application A is now available for download.

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has set June 1 – 7 as the application period for the 2015 Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP).

TAEP is a cost-sharing program. Producers fulfill requirements to defray the costs of strategic investments in their operation. The goal is to increase profitability and efficiency while promoting long-term investments in Tennessee’s agriculture.

“TAEP doesn’t just help individual producers.  It also provides an economic boost to their communities,” Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Governor Bill Haslam recognizes the importance of Ag Enhancement, and we are thankful for his support and the support of the Tennessee General Assembly in approving $21 million in funding for another year.”

Tomato Growers to Meet, Consider Association to Promote Industry

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | 09:20 am
Tennessee Tomato Initiative to launch
Tennessee Tomato Initiative to launch

NASHVILLE— Tennessee tomato growers have the opportunity to help build a foundation for their industry’s future at a number of scheduled meetings across the state.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has been granted federal Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) funds to launch the Tennessee Tomato Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to provide growers necessary information to determine if a grower-owned organization can increase national recognition and markets for Tennessee tomatoes. The growers will decide by vote in May.

Stanley Trout, consultant for the statewide initiative, will host three regional meetings to discuss the benefits of forming a statewide growers association. “The goal of the association would be better promotion of the Tennessee tomato as a brand with inherent qualities, in much the same way that Vidalia onions are promoted,” Trout said.

Fruit and Vegetable Farmers Offered Reimbursement

Friday, March 27, 2015 | 11:17 am

NASHVILLE—Tennessee farmers who grow fruits or vegetables and have received Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) certification are eligible to receive reimbursement for costs related to certification for field or packing house audits.  The reimbursement program will be administered through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

“The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Market Development Division understands the increasing demands placed on fruit and vegetable growers,” TDA marketing specialist Tammy Algood said. “The department has partnered with the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant program to develop a GAPs cost share program for Tennessee producers who successfully pass a GAP audit.”

Organic Farmers Offered Reimbursement for Certification Costs

Friday, March 27, 2015 | 09:30 am

NASHVILLE—Tennessee farmers who grow organic crops and have become USDA certified can now qualify for a cost share reimbursement for the costs of their certification.

Certified organic producers can apply to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture for a 75 percent cost share up to a maximum of $750 to help defray costs related to receiving and maintaining organic certification, including inspection costs. Organic operations that have achieved certification since October 1, 2014 meet the time qualification to seek reimbursement, as do organic operations that become certified between now and September 30, 2015.

Organic certification typically costs small farm producers between $600 and $1,000 annually.  Costs increase based on product and sales volume.

If You Have Brush to Burn, Don't Forget the Permit

Thursday, March 26, 2015 | 12:16 pm
Escaped debris fires burned 5,366 acres in 2014.
Escaped debris fires burned 5,366 acres in 2014.

Nashville – The recent winter storms were hard on Tennessee’s landscape. Heavy ice brought down limbs and trees across the state. Brush pile burning is one of the best ways for landowners to clean up woody debris from the storms.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry is reminding citizens that outdoor burning requires a permit through May 15.

“Burning woody debris from the ice storms is an efficient way of getting rid of such material,” State Forester Jere Jeter said. “However, it is very important that citizens be safe when conducting a debris burn. Obtaining a burn permit in advance of outdoor burning is our way of making a landowner aware of when, where, and how it is safe to burn.”

Specialty Crop Block Grant Applications to be Available Online

Thursday, March 26, 2015 | 09:25 am
Producers can apply beginning April 15.
Producers can apply beginning April 15.

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Agriculture will soon accept applications for the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These federal funds are granted to enhance production and competitiveness of specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts, floriculture and other nursery crops. The grants are authorized through the federal Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 and are administered by TDA.

“For experienced producers who want to advance, Specialty Crop Block Grants can take their operations to the next level,” assistant commissioner for Market Development Ed Harlan said. “The projects funded by these grants have the potential to benefit our rural communities and the citizens of Tennessee.”

Dye the Easter Eggs, but Don't Handle the Chicks

Monday, March 23, 2015 | 04:33 pm
Baby chicks carry Salmonella risk.
Baby chicks carry Salmonella risk.

Nashville – Those Easter baskets are often filled with candy and colorful eggs. However, there is one type of gift you should avoid during the holiday—baby chicks and ducklings.

Live poultry commonly carry Salmonella germs. When humans handle the birds, the bacteria can spread. Exposure to Salmonella commonly causes extreme abdominal upset. In severe cases, the illness can be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 400 people die each year with acute salmonellosis.

Children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions are most susceptible to a severe reaction.

Tennessee Lawmakers to Celebrate "Ag Day on the Hill"

Friday, March 20, 2015 | 10:31 am

Tennessee lawmakers will celebrate “Ag Day on the Hill” this year beginning with an awards presentation Monday, March 23 at 4:30 p.m. on Charlotte Avenue between the Capitol and War Memorial Plaza.

In January, three Tennessee Farm Bureau members were runners-up in a national competition to recognize top farmers and agriculturalists. Each will be presented with a Case IH tractor.

The festivities continue on Tuesday, March 24 starting at 8 a.m. with displays from agricultural organizations, including outdoor exhibits of live animals and farm equipment at the entrance of Legislative Plaza on 6th Avenue. At 9 a.m., lawmakers will compete in a corn shucking/shelling contest. The Farm and Forest Families of Tennessee organization will present a check to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee in honor of contest participants.

Tennessee Celebrates Agriculture Day

Monday, March 16, 2015 | 03:07 pm
Rep. John Forgety milks a cow during Ag Day on the Hill 2014
Rep. John Forgety milks a cow during Ag Day on the Hill 2014

NASHVILLE—Governor Bill Haslam has proclaimed March 18 as Agriculture Day in Tennessee. This day coincides with National Agriculture Day to celebrate the abundance provided by the farms and producers of America.

“We thank Gov. Haslam for recognizing the influence of agriculture on our state,” Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson said. “As the world population soars, the demand for food, fiber and fuel continues to grow. Tennessee is helping to meet that demand.”

Agriculture contributes to almost everything we eat, use and wear every day. The purpose of Agriculture Day is to unite Tennesseans and to appreciate the role the industry plays in our lives.