NRCS and FWS Working With Farmers to Protect Wildlife

For those farm owners who may have some conservation areas set aside to protect native habitat and wildlife, here is a great opportunity that you might be interested in especially if this area protects gopher tortoise sites.  It is nice when we can point to programs on farm that benefits the greater community by protecting biodiversity. 

Release No. 152012 Contact: Jeffrey Woods, 352-338-9515
For Immediate Release
Historic Agreement Reached to Extend Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Regulatory Predictability will help Florida Farmers and Ranchers Improve Gopher Tortoise Habitat

GAINESVILLE, FL, Sept. 21, 2012 –An agreement between the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will provide long-term regulatory predictability for up to 30 years to Florida’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) initiative.

Under the WLFW partnership, federal, state and wildlife experts jointly identified at-risk or listed species that would benefit from targeted habitat restoration investments on private lands. Using the best available science, these wildlife experts prioritized restoration actions on a large regional scale to focus assistance most cost effectively. In Florida, the gopher tortoise was identified. NRCS, FWS and numerous state and local entities such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are partnering to implement WLFW.

“This agreement provides Florida landowners with a way to keep working lands in production while complying with the Endangered Species Act (ESA),” Carlos Suarez said. “It helps our farmers, ranchers and forest landowners rest a little easier knowing their operations are protected in the long term and that they are helping conserve gopher tortoise habitat and essential natural resources.”

The agreement builds on a $33 million investment NRCS announced last spring dedicated toward producers who develop and implement conservation plans to manage and restore high-priority habitats for seven specific wildlife species across the country.

With today’s agreement, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who implement and voluntarily agree to maintain the proven conservation practices in WLFW will have addressed the related ESA regulatory responsibilities for up to 30 years. These landowners will be able to operate their farms and ranches as agreed upon, providing economic benefits and species conservation simultaneously.

The federal government will grant farmers, ranchers and forest landowner’s regulatory predictability in return for voluntarily making wildlife habitat improvements on their private agricultural and forest lands. Participating producers must adhere to the requirements of each conservation practice during the term of their contract, which can last from one to 15 years. If landowners would like to receive regulatory predictability for up to 30 years, they must maintain the conservation practices as outlined in the NRCS and FWS agreement.

For more information about Working Lands for Wildlife, please visit the national WLFW website. Additional information on NRCS, conservation assistance, and other programs is available on the web at www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov or at your local USDA - NRCS office. To find the nearest office go to your telephone directory under “U. S. Government, Department of Agriculture”, or http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.

USF Seeking Farmers For Market

Having a backup plan for marketing your plants is always a good thing.  You never know where a valuable customer might be found.  Here is a communication I received from Colleen Mucahey from USF about their need to find some farmers who are willing to sell produce at their farmers market on campus.  They are seeking ornamental plant growers as well.

It is all student volunteers at the moment and it is the last Tuesday of every month from 11-3pm. There are typically about 5-6 farmers because they are just starting out, we've had about 5 markets. This is the mission statement of the group:  FARM is a student-led group of students, staff, and community members, working to reconnect people with the food they eat. FARM seeks to promote eating lifestyles that are more ecologically sound, local/community-based, nutritionally-balanced; and to educate the USF and Tampa community about food production, natural food certifications, and the positive environmental, economic, and health impact of such diets.

Right now we are in need of farmers. We are looking for individuals who do not necessarily have to be farmers. Maybe even a backyard gardener or someone who specializes in something just anyone who might be interested in selling at our market. We would prefer organic but will take conventional to grow the market as long as it is not wholesale or resale produce. We are also trying to educate the USF community on what’s in season and the health benefits of what we are selling. We also will sell plants, flowers, herbs and some packaged items. Right now the university has strict rules on anything homemade related to food but we can sell jams, jellies, one lady sells salsa as long as it is not in containers or plastic baggies (with the exception of dried herbs). We can sell baked goods but they must be things like artisan breads but we don't want to sell anything that is processed so no cookies, cakes, etc. There is a small application I can provide and we discuss these things with the farmer.

Right now it is $15.00 to table and the farmer would have to bring their own tables, chairs, tents. This would cover the tabling fee and parking pass. Right now if a farmer tables with us they pay the $15.00 dollars and the rest they keep. If a farmer is not tabling the fee is $10 and we will sell it for them and give them the money. The tabling fee is our only profit. Consignments work like this. We pick up the product, it is counted and put on a spreadsheet. The farmer names the price and we discuss a few things. Do you want to take back anything we don't sell? If not then we tell them that we will sell their items at the market and then for the rest of that week through word of mouth. On Friday it will be half price. Whatever is left on Friday close of business will be donated to the students and the money will be given to the farmer along with the signed spreadsheet detailing what was sold and for what price. Additionally if there is a need we have gone on a Sunday to pick the crop for the market since most of the farmers that we use are one or two man operations.
Farmers don't have to commit to any specific market we call everyone each month and see what they want to do. So they can come in and out as they please, there is no obligation. We also try and visit the farm/property of the person that is selling to us so both of us can see how they operate and what they do. We try to do this before they come to their first market.

 My contact information is listed below.
Colleen Mulcahey
HR Specialist
University of South Florida
College of Arts & Sciences-DO
4202 East Fowler Avenue, CPR 107
Tampa, Florida 33620
Tel +1 813 974 9102
Fax +1 813 974-3457


Help Support 4-H at Hillsborough County Fair BBQ

This was forwarded to me from Mike McKinney.  He is trying to help support the 4-H Extension program and get disadvantaged kids to the Hillsborough County Fair.

Here is a great opportunity to support 4-H and at the same time give disadvantaged kids an opportunity to visit the Fair and enjoy a Bar-B-Que lunch on your dime. Your Bar-B-Que ticket gets you FREE Admission into the Hillsborough County Fair on Saturday, October 20th at the corner of State Road 60 and Sydney-Washer Road. (This is a $15.00 value just for $8.00) If you cannot attend, you can still donate your tickets to a deserving charity such as The Children's Home or A Kids Place.

I have attached an order form for your convenience. All proceeds will provide Leadership and Citizenship sponsorships to our 4-H Youth in Hillsborough County. 
Your help and generosity is most appreciated. THANK YOU!

Mike McKinney
4-H Foundation Member
1850 Ravenridge Street
Wesley Chapel, FL 33543

You can have your name or business displayed at the Bar-B-Que for being a CLOVER Sponsor.
$100.00 Clover Sponsorships include 12 meal tickets and is tax deductible if donated to charities.

UF/IFAS Extension Helping You--Financial Management Class

Although most people equate Extension Services with helping agricultural clientele, we also have a long history of improving the home front as well.  Here is just such an example with an excellent class series being offered at Hillsborough County Extension office on financial management.  The classes end with a valuable one-on-one session with a financial planner.  Maybe you or your employess might benefit from attending...

Achieving Financial Goals Classes Series & One-on-One Sessions
What: Achieving Financial Goals Class Series
When: October 4, 11, 18, & 25, 2012, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Hillsborough County Extension Office, 5339 County Road 579 in Seffner.
Registration: $8 per household for the entire series. No shows and late cancellations will not receive a registration refund.
Registration Deadline: September 27, 2012. Seating is limited.

Hillsborough County Extension Service in partnership with Financial Planning Association of Tampa Bay is offering a class series to help people achieve their financial goals. The series will include a pro-bono session with a financial planner. This is a non-commercial, educational program. No products or services will be sold.
Topics will include:
Evaluating your financial situation
Cash & credit management
Saving & investment options
One-on-one pro-bono session with a financial planner
For additional information contact Lisa Leslie at 813-744-5519 ext. 54143.
Persons with disabilities requiring special accommodations, please contact Lisa at 744-5519 x54143 at least five working days prior to the program so proper consideration may be given to your request.


UF/IFAS Extension Helping You--Virtual Marketing

I will be filming short video spots for nursery producers (at your location) to group together into a virtual tour of ornamental plant producers in Hillsborough and Polk Counties.  If you would like to be added to the list of "tour stops" please contact me by email or phone (813-744-5519 ex 54147) at the Extension office.  This is a great way to advertise your business with a media form and to an audience that you may not have reached in the past.  YouTube streams 4 billion videos to users per day according to Wikipedia!  Your farm visit video may be one of them.

UF Grad Student Seeks Survey Takers

Here is an opportunity to assist in a graduate student's research on opinions about soil surveys.  The survey is only about 10 minutes long and would help her get some data for her thesis.  Please read below...

My name is Corey Hanlon and I am a graduate student at the University of Florida. I'm trying to conduct some research on how farmers perceive soil testing, through the use of a 10-minute, anonymous online survey. The sample of respondents that I am searching for includes any farmers that produce horticultural goods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, nursery stock, sod, trees and more. If you are willing to help me reach my goal of 200 respondents, the survey can be accessed through the following link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WYWF3YD Thank you for your help!

Corey Hanlon
SARE Project Research Assistant
Interdisciplinary Ecology Master's Student
University of Florida