Tennessee Observes National Fire Prevention Week by Reminding Citizens to Burn Safe

Tuesday, October 09, 2012 | 10:49 am

-TDA’s Division of Forestry begins requiring burn permits Oct. 15-

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry and the Department of Commerce and Insurance’s Division of Fire Prevention are observing National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 7-13), by reminding homeowners to follow simple safety practices to prevent forest fires. The official start of forest fire season in Tennessee is Oct. 15.

“Burning vegetative material that has accumulated around the yard or using fire to clear an old field can be an efficient way to get rid of debris,” said John Kirksey, Fire Chief for the Division of Forestry. “However, this activity needs to be done safely. The division’s burn permitting system focuses attention on the safe use of fire for debris burning.”

Activities requiring a burning permit include unconfined outdoor burning of brush and leaves, untreated wood waste and burning to clear land. Burning permits are free of charge. Citizens can apply for burning permits online or by calling their local Division of Forestry office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Forestry offices are listed in your local phone directory under state government, or can be found by visiting The website also includes tips for safe debris burning and provides access to the online permitting system. Permit holders should also check for other restrictions in their locale.

Tennessee Forestry Commission to Meet Oct. 16 - 17

Thursday, October 04, 2012 | 04:12 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Forestry Commission will meet Oct. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT in the Bruer Building conference room at Ellington Agricultural Center, located at 440 Hogan Road in Nashville.

The commission will conduct interviews with applicants for the vacant State Forester/Assistant Commissioner position, which is responsible for planning, directing and implementing programs and services of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry.

2012 Tennessee Farmland Legacy Conference Set for Nov. 1 - 2

Monday, October 01, 2012 | 12:28 pm

NASHVILLE - The 2012 Tennessee Farmland Legacy Conference “Planning Today for Tomorrow’s Farms” will be held Nov. 1 at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, Tenn. 

Nov. 1 will be a day of information, networking, questions and answers from professionals in the fields of farmland preservation, farm and estate planning, land and community planning and more. A reception honoring Century Farmers and open to all conference participants will bring the workshop to a close. On Nov. 2, an optional tour (included with registration) will visit the Sanders Spring Forest Century Farm founded in 1808 in Dickson County. 

This conference will benefit farmers, landowners, city and county planning officials, elected leaders, community planners and others who are inspired to help preserve and protect Tennessee farmland. General and breakout sessions and panel discussions with well-known speakers and experts on a variety of topics will offer invaluable resources, information and knowledge to Tennessee landowners, farmers, community planners and officials.

Tennessee Beef Promotion Board to Meet

Friday, September 28, 2012 | 02:23 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Beef Promotion Board will meet Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. CDT at the offices of the Tennessee Beef Industry Council, located at 530 Brandies Circle, Suite A in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The agenda includes a review and approval of minutes, a review of board bylaws, finances and fiscal year and a program update.

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

Emerald Ash Borer Found in Middle Tennessee for the First Time

Thursday, September 20, 2012 | 03:51 pm

TDA foresters stress importance of not moving firewood to help slow spread

NASHVILLE – Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect that destroys ash trees, has recently been found in Smith and Jefferson counties. Smith is the first county in Middle Tennessee where EAB has been found. Both cases have been confirmed by USDA.

While Jefferson County is adjacent to previously quarantined areas where EAB has been confirmed, the find in Smith County was of particular concern because of the distance the insect was found from the already quarantined areas in East Tennessee. The location in Smith County where four EAB were caught is at Cordell Hull Lake in the Elmwood/Granville area.

“It is unfortunate, yet typical, to have found this destructive pest at a campground well outside the known area of infestation,” said Tim Phelps, Public Outreach Specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry. “Tree-killing insects, such as EAB, and diseases can lurk in firewood. These insects and diseases can’t move far on their own, but when people move firewood they can jump hundreds of miles. New infestations destroy forests, property values, and cost huge sums of money to control.”

Tennessee’s Apple Crop Down - But Still Delicious - Despite Challenging Season

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 | 03:34 pm

NASHVILLE - Despite weather challenges in 2012, Tennessee apple orchards will yield about 7.5 million lbs. of apples for harvest before a hard freeze ends the season. Typically the state produces closer to 9 million lbs. of apples between June and the end of October. This is good news for lovers of local, seasonal foods, who know that apples are one of the few foods that can be stored fresh through the winter.

Apples can be picked fresh off the tree right up until frost time, then, if carefully stored, useful up to a few months after picking. Most orchards grow several varieties, and although there are scores of apple varieties, most generally fall into one of two categories: cooking apples or “eating” apples. 

Keep apples fresh for as long as possible with smart selection and cold, dry air. Apples that are the most ripe or have any blemishes, including spots or bruises, should be used immediately. Eat them right away or preserve them by freezing or canning. Keep blemish-free, firm apples refrigerated and away from moisture as much as possible. Depending on refrigerator conditions, freshly picked quality apples can stay fresh for months.

TDA Now Accepting Water Quality Grant Proposals

Friday, September 14, 2012 | 11:58 am

-Funds support projects aimed at improving water quality and reducing pollution-

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now accepting grant proposals for projects that will help improve water quality and reduce or eliminate nonpoint source pollution. The deadline for submitting grant proposals is Dec. 1. Proposals will be evaluated based on program goals and objectives, performance evaluation criteria and applicable EPA nonpoint source grant guidelines.  

“Through the Nonpoint Source Pollution Program, we’ve been able to make measurable improvements in water quality in watersheds across Tennessee,” state Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “We’re seeking local governments and other organizations that we can partner with to address water quality problems and encourage stewardship in both urban and rural areas.”

Local governments, regional agencies, public institutions, private nonprofit organizations and other state agencies are eligible to apply for federal dollars administered by TDA’s Water Resources office. Priority is given to projects that seek to make measurable improvements to waters known to be impaired by nonpoint source pollution.

Tarkington Named Division Forester of the Year

Friday, August 24, 2012 | 11:54 am

- Annual award is Division of Forestry’s highest honor -

NASHVILLE – Ward Tarkington was recently named the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry’s Forester of the Year. The award is presented annually to a division forester who exemplifies the highest level of professionalism in serving the citizens and forest landowners of Tennessee.

“The citizens of Tennessee are fortunate to have such a dedicated individual working to improve the sustainability and quality of our forests through the use and integration of technology,” said recently retired State Forester Steven Scott.

Ward was born and raised in the Nashville area. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry Resource Management from the University of Tennessee in 2002. Upon completing his degree he joined the division doing geographic information system analysis work for the 15 state forest properties managed by the division. Following four years in that position, Ward was identified for his leadership skills and qualities and was promoted to the Data & Technology Unit Leader position where he has been since.

Precautions Urged to Protect Against Illness Spread by Mosquito Bites

Friday, August 24, 2012 | 11:04 am

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s Department of Health and Department of Agriculture are urging Tennesseans, including horse owners and veterinarians, to be on the alert for the re-emergence of viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. As many states are experiencing one of the largest outbreaks of West Nile virus this year, Tennessee is beginning to see cases in humans and horses. In Tennessee, most human WNV cases occur in August and September, and so far this summer, there have been six human cases reported in the state.

Cantaloupes Identified as Source of Salmonella Infection in Tennessee

Friday, August 17, 2012 | 02:21 pm

Tennessee Departments of Health, Agriculture Investigating Multi-State Outbreak

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee departments of Health and Agriculture are alerting Tennesseans about an ongoing outbreak of Salmonella linked to cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana. Cantaloupes grown on one farm have tested positive for the same type of Salmonella causing illness in Tennessee and several other states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and affected states are collaborating in an ongoing investigation to identify all possible sources of contamination and prevent additional cases of illness. At this point no cantaloupes grown in Tennessee have been confirmed to be involved in this outbreak.