Teacher Represents Tennessee Educators at International Conference

Thursday, July 03, 2014 | 11:32 am

NASHVILLE – Marsha Parsons, 5th grade teacher at Whiteville Elementary, was one of two Tennesseans who joined 120 environmental educators from 46 states, Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico at Project Learning Tree’s International Conference in Traverse City, Mich. in May. Parsons was selected based on her work using the environment and hands-on teaching techniques to instruct students in math, language arts and science in a fun way. 

Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. PLT is coordinated and managed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry and the Tennessee Forestry Association in association with Tennessee Department of Education’s and Environment and Conservation’s CENTS program.

“At Whiteville, I take my students outdoors, where there is a grape vine hanging off a tree near a creek,” Parsons said. “My students use the scientific method in observations, asking questions, creating hypothesis, and drawing conclusions about the grapevine. Each time we go outside, the students monitor the grapevine progress and the production of grapes. We also use this time to describe the demographics of our neighborhood and community, along with finding small trees and completing a circumference of the tree. It’s an amazing process for me, as well as for them.”

McLaughlin Returns to TDA as Diagnostic Lab Director

Tuesday, July 01, 2014 | 01:26 pm

NASHVILLE – Dr. Bruce McLaughlin has returned to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as the new director of the Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory announced Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson.

McLaughlin was a veterinary pathologist at Kord from 2007 to 2012, spending several months in 2012 as acting director. He has 33 years of experience as a pathologist.

“The Kord diagnostic lab provides an invaluable service to livestock and pet owners through private veterinarians,” Johnson said. “Dr. McLaughlin has the credentials and experience to help us provide the best service possible, and we are happy to have him back.”

Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission to Meet July 8

Monday, June 30, 2014 | 03:00 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission will meet July 8 at 2 p.m. CDT at the Ed Jones Auditorium, located at Ellington Agricultural Center, 416 Hogan Road in Nashville. 

The commission will discuss plans to conduct a market study on the potential for future growth and development of the Tennessee State Fair. The commission will also hear a report on plans for the 2014 Tennessee State Fair. The meeting may be conducted permitting electronic means of communication by some members of the commission. The meeting is open to the public.

Grand Opening of “One of a Kind” Dresden Farmers Market on Saturday

Thursday, June 26, 2014 | 11:40 am

NASHVILLE –   Dresden’s new farmers market will feature lots of the common things you’d expect: “We’ll have all sorts of produce, eggs, homemade breads, baked goods, beef and chicken, etcetera,” says Lauren Bean, market manager.” According to Bean, however, the new facility will benefit from some attributes Dresden has in uncommon amounts: careful long term planning, plus extraordinary community cooperation, creativity, effort and pride.

The Dresden Farmers Market Grand Opening is scheduled for June 28, from 8 a.m. until noon, and Bean says the event will give visitors and customers an up close look at what she calls “a one of a kind structure. You won't see anything like it elsewhere and it provides certain luxuries to our vendors and customers that many other markets in the region don't have.”

The covered market includes tangible amenities like public restrooms, a bike rack, water fountains, and a prime location, with the less obvious but just as important appointment of a market committee, an official manager, and implementation of what Bean calls “an aggressive marketing program.” The market is located at 421 Linden Street.

Greene County Now Buffer Regulated for Thousand Cankers Disease

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 | 01:14 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 | 09:19 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 | 12:42 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 | 02:36 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 | 08:43 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.”