Greene County Now Buffer Regulated for Thousand Cankers Disease

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 | 02:14 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture today announced the discovery of Walnut Twig Beetles, which transmit Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD), a walnut tree killing disease, in Greene County. The county is now buffer regulated. Citizens in buffer counties can move walnut tree products and hardwood firewood within buffer counties, but not outside. Products can also be moved into a quarantine county, but not taken back out.

In addition to Greene County, Bledsoe, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Cumberland, Fentress, Grainger, Hamblen, Hamilton, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Polk, Roane, Scott, and Sequatchie are also considered buffer regulated counties because the Walnut Twig Beetle was found or they are adjacent to a quarantined county. Bradley County is also in the buffer regulated category because it is surrounded by other buffer regulated counties.

“We will continue to survey for the Walnut Twig Beetle and Thousand Cankers Disease to help slow the spread of the disease,” said TDA Plant Certification administrator Gray Haun. “We are working with stakeholders to help educate citizens on the symptoms of TCD and how they can help.”

Tennessee Signs On to Plan to Protect Dairy Industry

Monday, June 23, 2014 | 10:19 am

NASHVILLE – Four of the most dreaded words in agriculture are Hoof and Mouth Disease, which can be devastating to livestock producers and wreak havoc on the farm economy. In conjunction with June Dairy Month, Gov. Bill Haslam has signed an agreement that partners Tennessee with eight other states to protect the dairy industry in the event of an HMD outbreak.

Known as the Secure Milk Supply Plan, the agreement sets standards by which milk producers, haulers and processors would interact with animal health authorities to reduce the risk of spreading HMD during an outbreak. The regional effort is part of the national initiative to develop biosecurity measures that would allow for the movement of milk without undermining HMD control and eradication efforts. 

“Livestock and livestock products are the largest generator of revenue for Tennessee farmers, so an HMD outbreak here would be especially crippling to our ag economy,” Tennessee Department of Agriculture state veterinarian Charles Hatcher said. “This plan allows us to take appropriate disease protection measures during an outbreak while minimizing the impact to producers and processors so that the dairy industry can continue to function.”

Tennessee’s Food Makers Take Honors at Pick Tennessee Products Event

Thursday, June 19, 2014 | 01:42 pm

NASHVILLE – Makers of foods or food related products from across the state met in Nashville last week to debut their products, do business and vie for awards at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Pick Tennessee Products Tradeshow. The event was held in conjunction with the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association’s annual convention.

Among the day’s best were Gold Award winning Chubby Bunny Baby Foods, owned by Madison resident Jem Boyd, who took the top prize for her products made with local produce. The Silver Award went to Bradley’s Chocolate Factory, owned and operated by Knoxville’s Hamlett family. The Bronze Award went to Veronica Hawbaker for her Soberdough Brew Bread, a packaged bread mix. 

This was the first time any of the three winning companies had participated in the tradeshow, which is conducted every two years.

TDA Announces Funding Available for Organic Certification

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 | 03:36 pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee farmers pursuing USDA Organic Certification can qualify for financial assistance to help defray the costs. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now taking applications for cost share funding made available through the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program as authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The program provides cost share assistance to eligible producers and handlers for certification-related expenses incurred from Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2014. Payments will be up to 75 percent of an individual producer’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification.

“Organics is a growing and important market for Tennessee farmers as consumer demand for these products are increasing and will continue to increase in the future,” TDA organic marketing specialist Amy Tavalin said. “Having the USDA Organic Certification not only allows producers and handlers to label and better market their products as organic but it assures consumers of product quality and that best management practices were followed.”

Putnam County and Five Additional East Tennessee Counties Quarantined for Emerald Ash Borer

Friday, June 06, 2014 | 09:43 am

NASHVILLE – A quarantine for Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect that destroys ash trees has been expanded to include another Middle Tennessee county and five more northeastern Tennessee counties. Putnam, Sullivan, Washington, Unicoi, Carter and Johnson counties have been added to the list of areas restricted for the movement of ash trees and ash tree products. This brings the total number of Tennessee counties under a state and federal EAB quarantine to 27.

Over the past three years, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture have regulated only the counties where at least one EAB specimen was detected. EAB has been found in Putnam County, but because small EAB populations can sometimes go undetected, TDA is taking the precautionary measure of expanding the EAB quarantine to the five northeastern counties without a positive detection. 

“Because EAB has been found in all the East Tennessee areas surrounding these counties there is a high likelihood that it is there as well, but has so far, gone undetected,” Gray Haun, TDA’s Plant Certification administrator said. “We feel it is in the best interest of the state to go ahead and quarantine these locations.”

Tennessee Forestry Commission to Meet May 29

Monday, May 19, 2014 | 02:28 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Forestry Commission will meet May 29 at 1 p.m. CDT at Agricenter International,  located at 7777 Walnut Grove Road in Memphis, Tenn. The meeting will take place in the main office board room. 

The agenda includes approval of previous meeting minutes, consideration of proposed tree seedling production and prices for 2014-2015, a report on recent industry visits, and updates on the Tennessee Residence tree project, state forest timber sales and proposed federal legislation to support and encourage careers in logging.

Farms and Markets Fill Up With Fresh, Local Fare - Now What?

Friday, May 16, 2014 | 10:25 am

NASHVILLE - Tennessee’s growing season is here. It starts with hanging pots of flowers, baskets of turnip greens and flats of tomato plants, and it ends with bushels of sweet potatoes, apples and mountains of pumpkins. Soon, farms and farmers markets across the state will be filled with fresh, beautiful fruits and vegetables. All you have to do is go and get it—but once you have it, then what? 

The idea of buying local is popular, but many shoppers have never thought beyond pounds and ounces when purchasing produce. Most farm-direct fresh products are still presented the way they were a hundred years ago, measured in amounts like bushels and pecks, which no longer have meaning for many consumers. Further, a bushel of apples is heavier than a bushel of green beans, which weighs less than a bushel of potatoes, and so forth.

To help shoppers use farm-direct produce, a farm measures conversion chart is available online at From the home page, choose “Farmers Markets” to find links to the farm measures conversion chart plus tips for choosing produce and a Tennessee growing seasons chart. The measures chart goes all the way from bushels down to a “pinch,” starting with an approximate weight for a bushel of a particular fruit or vegetable.

West Tennessee Strawberry Media Day on May 6

Friday, May 02, 2014 | 11:59 am

--Tennessee Strawberries Easy to Find With New Mobile App--

NASHVILLE -- The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is hosting a Pick Tennessee Products strawberry media day on Tuesday, May 6 at Green Acres Farm near Milan. Media will have the opportunity to interview farmers and area officials in attendance, get footage and photographs of visitors, tour the farm, and receive a “goody bag” including digital images and information about local foods and farms.

A new way to find local strawberry patches is now available through a Pick Tennessee mobile app. With the free app, downloadable on both iTunes and Google Play, berry hunters can identify farms and markets with local berries within a designated radius of the user. The user can see that farm’s contact information and website and then get point to point directions to that location with GPS mapping.

“Strawberry season is only in full swing for a month or so,” Pamela Bartholomew, TDA marketing specialist said. “The Pick Tennessee mobile app will be a big time saver, and also take the anxiety out of getting to farms you’ve never visited.”

2014 Ag Enhancement Program Application Period Set

Thursday, May 01, 2014 | 07:36 am

- Livestock Working Facility Covers and Used Equipment Added -

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has set June 1 – 7 as the application period for the 2014 Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program.

“Governor Haslam recognizes the importance of the Ag Enhancement program to farmers and has once again fully funded the program, with the support of the Tennessee General Assembly,” Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “As we enter the 10th year of the program, we are utilizing online services and broadening our project offerings to reach more farmers than ever before.”

Farmers will have the opportunity to apply online again this year, or they can submit paper applications, which must be postmarked between June 1 and June 7. Through TAEP, farmers can qualify for 35 or 50 percent cost share, ranging from a maximum of $1,200 to $15,000 depending on the project. Funding in 2014 will continue to be approved based on applicant determined priorities.