What the Heck is a Feed?

This kind of feed is not what you would give to your livestock. It is a way to get blog information up to date and in a timely manner.

With every technological leap there is a learning curve associated with it. Usually it requires new skills and some time to understand it. And at first it doesn't make your life any more efficient...just another hassle to deal with. The real question to ask yourself is, will this add value to my everyday life?
I hope that this Online Magazine does add value to your operation in identifying information you may or may not know about. But checking this site all the time could be a hassle. "How do I know when something useful is going to show up?", you may ask me. Well here is a way for this technological hurdle to be less painful.

Here is a great way to deal with blogs such as this and find updates when a new post is published. This link is a quick video and a great teaching tool about RSS feeds. It explains in under 3.5 minutes how feeds work and how they can make your life easier and more efficient. I found it well worth the time to watch and it was entertaining as well as informative.




How do I ship plants to that state?

Ever wonder what regulations are required to ship your product to another state. Are there any quarantined items? Are there any inspections needed? Do they allow my products into that state? Here is a great resource that may help to answer that question. This is a link to the National Plan Board--http://www.nationalplantboard.org/laws/index.html

This website has information that you will need to have your plants shipped into another state. The NPB site reads, "Each State summary lists the relevant plant health agency and contact information; definition of nursery stock; general shipping requirements; and quarantines or other specific certification requirements that apply for shipment into that state."

Remember that this is not an all inclusive list and some extra information may be obtained by contacting your local plant inspectors. Here is a link to find your local state plant inspectors--http://www.doacs.state.fl.us/pi/plantinsp/pi_inspectordirectory/pi_insp_map.html

There may be federal regulations that may need to be met in order to move your plants across state lines so it would be a good idea to check with your local office to find out all relevant information.


Hurricane Disaster Preparation

If a hurricane was barreling up the bay or across the state with devastating winds and rains, would you be able to say to yourself, "My business and family are as prepared as I could possibly be for this event."? Obviously planning is an extremely important necessity before the storm approaches. It is always amazing to me that we know when a hurricane is approaching and if it is severe enough we know it will be causing millions and millions of dollars in damage when it hits land. Yet many people take this fact extremely lightly.

I will share some of the small tips I learned when preparing for storms:
-Always have spare greenhouse plastic on hand and order it in advance of a storm season.
-Have everything backed up on computers. Customer lists, inventory, payables, receivables, and take that information with you to a secure place.
-Have employee contact information up to date.
-Make sure everyone has a plan, a job, and know who is responsible for what.
-Irrigate before a storm to help hold pots or trays to the ground.
-Make sure generators and back up electrical parts are ready to go.
-Cut or remove the plastic from greenhouses if high winds will be present.
-There is never enough time to prepare the way you would like to in a disaster. Because of the unpredictable nature of a storm, we always wait until the last minute to start getting ready.

If you have a great tip you have learned please share it with the rest of us.

Here are some important links for disaster preparation from UF/IFAS.

The farmer and rancher hurricane and preparedness page-- http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/agriculture/hurricane_prep_ag.html
The hurricane page --http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_hurricanes
The disaster and preparedness page --http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_disaster_preparedness_and_recovery

There are many links to follow on those two pages and they are a great reference source. If you have any important ideas about this topic please post a response and share with the rest of your fellow nursery community.


Money for Producers Part IV cont.

There were about fifty people that showed up for the Value Added Producers Grant workshop we had at the extension office. Stephen Gran from the Agricultural Economic Development office spoke about what value added products are. I analysed about seven years of previous winners and pointed out what kinds of topics they covered. I also discussed the point scheme for the grant and what the maximum points are for the various judging criteria. We also had Joe Mueller from the USDA FL state office come and talk about the nuts and bolts of the grant so that you could tell if what you want to do is covered and if you meet the criteria to apply for the grant.

If you missed the program, we have the presentations on the web that you can click through at your pace. We don't have the slides narrated...that is one of the benefits for being at the live program. If however, you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Here is the link to the presentations. http://hillsborough.extension.ufl.edu/Ag/AgOrnProd/AgPresentations2009.html


Money for Producers Part IV

Are you an ag producer with a new marketing idea? Are you a farmer with a product and know that with a few tweaks to what you produce you could gain a bunch more customers and profit? Are you seeing ways that your product could fill a niche by changing the delivery? Are you an ag operator who looks at that pile of waste but sees energy written all over it? Well, Uncle Sam says "I believe in you, give it a shot."

The USDA rural business development is encouraging you to put together a proposal and send it off to have your idea tested and reviewed. If the USDA likes what you put together it will match your funds and help you get your idea out of your head and into the real world.

They are offering two types of grants under the Value Added Producer Grant. This is a cost sharing grant that will award up to $100,000 in a planning grant or up to $300,000 in working capital grant money to get you on your way.

The grant is focusing on small to medium family farms. They want to see ag. commodities turned into value added products or renewable energy projects. They are hoping that producers capture or retain more of the inherent value of the products that they produce.

For more information on this grant the official website is www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/vadg.htm

We will have a special workshop on the Value Added Producer Grant for you to learn more about it or ask any questions you might have.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009
10:00 am – Noon
Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension Service
Extension Auditorium
5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33584


The Health of Ag Farmers and Families

Have you ever wondered if farmers are more apt to get chronic illnesses from applying pesticides? Well here is a study that looks at pesticide applicators versus the non farm population. Dr. Fred Fishel has summarized the findings of the Ag Health Study which has looked at this question for some years.

The study is being conducted in Iowa and N. Carolina and with collaboration between the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The study has looked at 89,000 participants to investigate the effects of environmental, occupational, dietary, and genetic factors on the health of the agricultural population.

Some of the findings are that farm families had more pesticide residue within the home than non-farm families. This suggests that farmers or their families are bringing pesticides into the homes via contact with pesticides or material that has contacted the pesticides.

Another study connected diabetes to those who used seven pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, heptachlor, dichlorvos, trichlorfon, alachlor, and cyanazine. The study also reaffirms the link between obesity and diabetes.

Although some of the findings are not good, it was found that farmers are generally healthier than their non-farming counterparts and farmers have a lower risk of colrectal cancer.

I believe that as farmers we should try to find ways to better protect the health of our selves, families, and communities. Use this information to minimize contact with pesticides, follow the label for proper pesticide use, use BMPs, follow restricted entry intervals, and protective equipment. And just food for thought...you might want to kick off your shoes before entering into your house. This simple step might prevent pesticides associated with soil from entering into your home. For more information on this topic, here is the link to the IFAS EDIS summary is http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/PI/PI21600.pdf and the link to the agricultural health study is http://aghealth.nci.nih.gov/.

Money for Producers Part III

If you are trying to become a more sustainable operation it seems like there are a lot of funding opportunities for you. Here is one more. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program or (EQUIP). This is funded through the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. This program is a matching funds program that helps producers cost share to protect the natural resources located within the farm. Projects like grassed waterways, irrigation retrofits, tailwater ponds, water conveyance or energy conservation are some of the things they can help you with. This program will also work with the SWFWMD FARMS program to cover some of the engineering or earth moving that the FARMS grant doesn't cover. The EQUIP program will cover projects up to $300,000 to producers that have produced $1000 of ag products in the last 2 of 5 years. To get more information on this program contact myself or Juan Vega with the NRCS 813-759-6450 ext.2. you can also visit the EQUIP website http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/PROGRAMS/EQIP/

Money for Producers Part II

Another funding source for doing smaller projects to protect our water resources is the mini-FARMS program which gets its approval from the SWFWMD. This program matches nursery owners' funds to save water, reduce fertilizer runoff, store chemicals properly and mainly protect the ground water. The grants are up to $8000.00 and will cover material costs but not labor. Nurserymen will be reimbursed up to 85% of the costs. This is available to anyone in the SWFWM District and have under 100 irrigated acres. You must sign a notice of intent to implement the BMP practices. The contact person is Jessica McCoy and her number is 800-836-0797. You can also call me and I will help you identify possible projects and help with the grant proposal. I know a number of nurseries that have been awarded grants to help build soil pads, potting barns, solar mist clocks, weather stations, variable speed pumps, EC meters, pH meters, and chemical storage sheds. More information can be found at the mini-FARMS website http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/agriculture/farms/files/mini-FARMS_brochure.pdf