Public Advisory for Undeclared Allergen

Thursday, April 23, 2015 | 01:55 pm

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is issuing a public advisory in the Memphis area for an undeclared peanut allergen in chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies produced and packed by Backermann’s Bakery of Whiteville, Tenn.

On April 17, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture conducted routine retail food product sampling in West Tennessee markets. The department’s test results for two products—Backermann’s Bakery chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies with best by date of April 24, 2015—showed positive for the presence of a peanut allergen not disclosed on the product labels.   

The products have been distributed throughout the Memphis area. As of the date of this release, Backermann’s Bakery has contacted its distributors to issue a recall. If the products are found in additional Tennessee stores, the department will embargo these products with best by dates of April 24, 2015, as adulterated and/or misbranded pursuant to the Tennessee Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Learn to Pick Perfectly at Strawberry School

Thursday, April 23, 2015 | 10:29 am

NASHVILLE—Pick Tennessee Products will host a “Strawberry School” media day at the Wagner Berry Farm near Spring Hill on Friday, April 24.

Tammy Algood, Pick Tennessee Products spokesperson and acclaimed food expert, will conduct “Strawberry School,” demonstrating proper strawberry picking, care, storage and preservation techniques. Participating media can tour the farm, interview farmers and gather information about this year’s strawberry crop.

Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson and Assistant Commissioner Ed Harlan will attend, as will Maury County Mayor Charles Norman and other area officials.

Rainy Weather Puts Tennessee's Promising Strawberry Crop on Hold

Thursday, April 16, 2015 | 09:06 am
Tennessee Strawberries
Tennessee Strawberries

NASHVILLE – Hopes remain high for Tennessee’s famous strawberry crop, but cool wet weather has postponed the start date for the state’s strawberry season, temporarily.  

Strawberries require consistent warm sunshine to ripen and sweeten, and in Tennessee, it is not unusual for some farmers to have ripe berries by mid-April. This year, however, a brief burst of sun and high temperatures was quickly replaced with persistent rains. Middle Tennessee growers will have some berries by the end of the month, but yields will be light until the first week of May.

Tennessee Forestry Commission to Meet April 23-24

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 | 08:15 am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Forestry Commission will tour Standing Stone State Forest on April 23 and will meet on April 24 beginning at 8:30 a.m. CDT at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Cumberland District Forestry Office, located at 929 West Jackson Street, Suite C in Cookeville, Tenn.

The agenda includes an overview of the district office and introductions of staff, a review of winter storm emergency responses, a report from the Cookeville Tree Board, and updates on the Shortleaf Pine Initiative, legislation, and tree seedling production and pricing.

State Officials Join Citizens for Rural Opportunities Roundtable

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 | 12:41 pm

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee departments of Agriculture, Economic and Community Development and Financial Institutions are hosting a Rural Opportunities Roundtable for farmers, landowners, extension agents, local economic development officials, county leaders and citizens in East Tennessee.

The meeting will take place April 15 at 10 a.m. EST at the Bush Brothers Plant in Dandridge. The purpose of the roundtable is to explore opportunities for developing the state’s rural economy and hear citizen and stakeholder concerns about agriculture and forestry issues.

Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, Financial Institutions Commissioner Greg Gonzales, Harriet Cannon with USDA Rural Development and other agency representatives will all be on hand to discuss programs and services to support rural economic development. There will also be time for open discussion.

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.