All posts by Amanda Overstreet?

EPA Issues PFAS Limits in Parts Per Trillion

July 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

EPA published ‘Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisory for Four Perfluoroalkyl Substances’ in the Federal Register on June 21, 2022.  The new health advisory levels are in the parts per quadrillion range which is not currently achievable by commercial laboratories. 

Interim updated health advisory for PFOA = 0.004 ppt 

Interim updated health advisory for PFOS = 0.02 ppt 

Final health advisory for GenX chemicals = 10 ppt 

Final health advisory for PFBS = 2,000 ppt 

Though PFAS compounds are derived in industrial processes, they have been known to impact agriculture through groundwater close to where PFAS compounds were used and through the application of biosolids on forage crops (including pasture) for livestock.    

Given EPA’s new health advisory levels, farmers and ranchers utilizing municipal biosolids need to be aware of the potential presence of PFAS compounds and the risks associated with application.   

More information about PFAS compounds and the impact on agriculture can be found on a very thorough webpage provided by Dragun Corporation.  The webpage can be accessed by clicking here. 

Reimbursement for COVID-19 Prevention and Protection Expenses

July 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has funding available to reimburse growers for 100% of their COVID-19 Prevention & Protection expenses between April 2, 2021 and now (or until September 2025). The process to get fully reimbursed only takes a few steps. Eligible expenses are: Personal Protection Equipment (PPE): Gloves, face masks, hand sanitizer, touchless thermometers, clothing and foot coverings, disinfectant spray, COVID-19 test kits.

Facility Adjustments for Worker and Product Safety: Plexiglass barriers and installation, handwashing stations, appropriate sanitary dividers and installation, portable ventilation/air filtration systems, touchless faucets and installation, touchless toilets and installation, touchless hand dryers and installation, touchless soap dispensers and installation. 

Specialty Crop Assistance Available 

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will provide assistance through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program HR133 Assistance Program for eligible expenses related to costs associated with COVID-19 prevention and protection.

To be eligible for the Specialty Crop Assistance Program, applicants must be specialty crop growers, specialty crop processors, and/or specialty crop distributors. Please refer to the USDA-AMS lists of specialty crops and eligible and ineligible crops. 

  • Applications will be processed on a first come, first served basis until funds are depleted. 
  • Each operation may only receive one reimbursement per year the program is offered. 
  • Expenses prior to April 2, 2021 will not be approved for reimbursement. 
  • Last day to apply for assistance: September 1, 2025. 
  • Application reimbursement minimum: $565. 
  • Program funds available: $2,735,124. 

Eligible Expenses:

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE): Gloves, face masks, hand sanitizer, touchless thermometers, clothing and foot coverings, disinfectant spray,  COVID-19 test kits.

Facility Adjustments for Worker and Product Safety: Plexiglass barriers and installation, handwashing stations, appropriate sanitary dividers and installation, portable ventilation/air filtration systems, touchless  faucets and installation, touchless toilets and installation, touchless hand dryers and installation, touchless soap dispensers and installation.

Application Instructions: 

  1. Register as a state vendor at www.myfloridamarketplace.com. 
  1. Provide a substitute W9 form to the Florida Department of Financial Services. 
  1. Complete the HR133 Assistance Program application. 
  1. Provide proof of purchase: Invoices marked “paid”, cancelled checks, or other substantial documentation of any costs to be reimbursed detailing purchased item or installations. 

Where to Apply: Email the application and proof of purchase cost documentation to:  SpecialtyCrop@FDACS.gov

For additional questions call (850) 617-7397 or email SpecialtyCrop@fdacs.gov.  

 

 

Rooted in Resilience: Clay Cooper

July 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Clay Cooper
YF&R State Leadership Group, District 5

Being introduced to agriculture at a young age has cultivated a passion and appreciation in Citrus County native, Clay Cooper. Cooper’s passion began when he started showing beef heifers and steers at his county fair. Throughout the years, he decided he wanted to pursue a formal education in agriculture.

Following his college career, Cooper accepted a job as the UF/IFAS agricultural and natural resources Extension agent with Citrus County. During his six years with UF/IFAS, Cooper gained a diverse knowledge base of agriculture, preparing him for his current job as general manager of Fenco Farms. Fenco Farms focuses on beef production, specifically commercial, registered Brangus and club calves. In addition to raising beef cattle, the farm produces Bahia grass seed, hay and harvest sod.

Cooper’s involvement with Farm Bureau began when he was asked to sit on the board of directors for Hernando/Citrus County Farm Bureau. Since that first ask, Cooper has served as the Hernando/Citrus County Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee co-chair and currently serves on the YF&R State Leadership team as well as the Florida Farm Bureau Federation’s Water and Natural Resources Advisory Committee.

“One of the things I enjoy most about Farm Bureau is the fellowship, networking and seeing everyone come together as a unified voice for agriculture,” he said. “Florida agriculture is constantly evolving and it is refreshing to see a group of like-minded people continue to push forward to preserve and conserve our way of life.”

During his time in YF&R, Cooper has seen firsthand how Farm Bureau members in his county have given back to their community. Every holiday season, the Hernando/Citrus County YF&R group hosts fundraisers in partnership with local school programs.

The schools identify families that are in need and the money raised provides meals for them. Throughout the last couple of years, they have been able to provide meals for more than 400 families. Cooper is proud of the growth and success of this fundraiser.

With his involvement in agriculture, Cooper has witnessed firsthand the resiliency of farmers and ranchers and has learned how to be resilient himself.

“Agriculture is ever changing and each of us must find ways to become more efficient and innovative within our commodity groups,” he stated. “Farming and ranching is more than a job. It truly is a lifestyle and something that you have to be passionate about. It honestly does take resiliency to push through some of the hard times, but at the end of the day, I don’t know of many careers that are any more rewarding.”

Recent Study Shows GMO Corn Does Not Damage Non-Target Organisms

July 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

A study recently published revealed data that showed genetically modified Bt corn has little effect on non-target insects and other organisms. The study, published by Michael Meissle, Steven E. Naranjo and Jörg Romeis, is a culmination of data pulled from studies published over the last 25 years. The studies came from various credible databases, webpages and reference sections of review articles.  

Bt corn has been genetically modified to produce proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. This bacterium controls corn borers, corn rootworms and other major pests that are a threat to corn. Since Bt corn was first approved in 1996, critics have suggested that it can also destroy beneficial insects or other non-targeted organisms.  

The result of the trio’s research proved Bt corn is a highly selective pest control and has few negative consequences for non-target organisms. 

In addition to their findings, the largest pool of high-quality data any scientist has ever analyzed was created. It consisted of 7,729 individual records from 233 experiments in 120 articles. The complete data set has been published in BMC Research Notes. 

 

 

UF/IFAS Begins Research to Update Best Management Practices for Key Florida Crops

July 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

UF/IFAS received $8.8 million to conduct new research that will provide farmers with new and improved recommendations for fertilization of key Florida crops. The funding, approved by the Florida Legislature, will be administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 

Farmers apply fertilizers to their crops within recommended parameters commonly referred to as “best management practices” (BMPs). Florida BMPs come from UF/IFAS research that establishes appropriate fertilization rates for maximum economic crop yields and minimal nutrient losses to the environment. 

With advancements in crop production brought about by selective plant breeding, improved growing techniques and emerging technology, new research is needed to update UF/IFAS nutrient management recommendations for key crops grown across the state. 

“This research and the Extension activities resulting from it are important to Florida producers because many of the UF/IFAS fertilizer and nutrient management recommendations are decades old,” said Thomas Obreza, senior associate dean for UF/IFAS Extension and project leader. “Since that time, better plant genetics have increased yield potential, and technology has improved production practices. Our recommendations need to be brought up to date to align with current conditions.” 

Using the appropriate amount of fertilizer or other inputs is also important for producers because it impacts their bottom line. 

“Economics and resource-use efficiency are also important to our producers when they consider nutrient management,” Obreza said. “We will incorporate both of those aspects as we revise our nutrient management recommendations.” 

Research in the first year will focus on five priority crops identified by the legislature: tomatoes, potatoes, citrus, grain corn and green beans. Hemp and forage grass will also be studied. Most of the work will be done with grower-cooperators in their fields, and it will cover production areas across the state, from the Panhandle to South Florida. 

Research will take place in line with the crop seasons – tomatoes and green beans starting in the fall, potatoes in the winter and corn next spring. Citrus will start once the research teams are ready and will continue year-round. 

UF/IFAS is slated to begin this work in late summer. Projects of this nature take two to three years to complete the research and develop new recommendations. Tomato and potato research will build on work started in 2021, supported by previous Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services funding. The new $8.8 million allows UF/IFAS to continue this research and expand it to additional crops at different locations across the state. 

“UF/IFAS has an abundance of faculty with education, training and experience in soil fertility, agronomy, horticulture, water management and other aspects of Florida crop production that equip us for a project of this size and scope,” Obreza said. “We will have experienced and early-career faculty working together to produce unbiased scientific research results that will allow our Extension specialists to develop nutrient management recommendations for maximum economic yield while minimizing potential negative environmental effects.” 

By Tory Moore 

Your Land Grant Partner

July 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

By J. Scott Angle

jangle@ufl.edu

@IFAS_VP

There’s a huge difference between how people think agriculture works and what actually happens on your farm. You can do something about it in 20 minutes.

Dr. Christa Court’s survey of corn, cotton and peanut farmers’ best management practices is your chance to speak—confidentially and candidly—to researchers who provide this information to policy makers.

The survey (which you can express your interest in participating in here: https://go.ufl.edu/bmp2022) could tell those policy makers if there are practices they’re pushing that just won’t work on your farm. It could also let them know what information or incentives you need to make them work.

Your responses can deliver a dose of reality to the people who make laws, write regulations and design cost-share programs. They don’t know what’s happening on your farm unless you tell them.

Another example of where you can have input is a survey conducted by Dr. Zhifeng Gao and his students. They are asking you about high tunnels, as in why aren’t more vegetable growers using them when the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service offers instruction on how to install and maintain them, and even offers cash incentives to keep cost down. The results will help Extension agents help you figure out how to take advantage of this opportunity, and they could even inform NRCS tweaks that could make the program easier for you to tap into.

It’s not just academics who see value in surveys. Charles Shinn guards both your privacy and your time as your FFBF director of government and community affairs. He rightfully and respectfully asked Court for a justification of the time and candor she’s asking of you.

They’ve had productive discussions that have helped Court improve the survey. Shinn now believes the information Court gleans will ultimately help farmers adjust to new BMP reporting requirements.

Surveys from Court, Gao and their UF/IFAS Department of Food and Resource Economics colleagues can strengthen your voice in Tallahassee and beyond. The results arm your FFBF lobbyist Courtney Larkin with valuable information on how to improve proposed legislation—or to fix harmful existing legislation.

By yourself, it is hard to have your voice heard. As part of survey, you contribute to a statewide chorus that articulates the widespread impact of existing and proposed policy.

I understand survey fatigue, and I don’t want my faculty double teaming you with the same questions in separate surveys. I will explore ways to better coordinate who’s asking what. In the meantime, my faculty work hard to make sure they can’t find the data other places before asking.

I also know time is money, so I’m glad to see that in this case Court will give you a little money for your time. But I hope the payoff for you is far greater than that as we amplify your voice.

I know you want that voice, or you wouldn’t be reading the e-newsletter of the group that calls itself “The Voice of Florida Agriculture.”

The fact is, in the case of BMPs, for example, we don’t have good information on what you’re doing right now. That’s why Court is asking. And the more quality responses she gets, the better input she can provide to policy makers so they can avoid decisions based on faulty or incomplete information.

So much of what UF/IFAS does is based on farmer feedback. Your input shapes how we serve you. With a higher survey response rate, it could shape how policy makers serve you as well.

J. Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

DeSoto Rancher Shares the Implications from Increased Meat Prices

July 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

The Cattle Price Discovery, and Transparency Act (CPDTA) remains a pressing issue for America’s cattle ranchers, negatively impacting their livelihoods. Fifth-generation cattle rancher, J Ryals of Desoto County, recently shared with FFBF’s Newsline how this ongoing issue has impacted his family ranching business pre-and post pandemic. 

Florida Farm Bureau and state Farm Bureaus from across the nation have signed a letter in support of American Farm Bureau’s policy and position on CPDTA.  The letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, and Ranking Member John Boozman urged them to not take further action on this legislation as specific sections pose negative impacts on cattle producers nationwide. 

Rooted in Resilience: Cady Smith

June 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Cady Smith accepts the Activity Award for Putnam/St. Johns County YF&R during the 2021 Y&FR Leadership Conference.

Being the sixth generation to grow up on her family’s farm in St. Johns County, Cady Smith’s involvement in agriculture has always come as second nature to her. Smith’s Farm Bureau involvement began when she was just an infant. Her parents, Jeb and Wendy Smith, have been active Farm Bureau members for many years and have encouraged their children to be involved in the organization.

In addition to her full-time administrative role at St. Johns River State College, Smith serves as the accountant for her family’s farm. She also helps as needed on the farm, where her family grows perennial peanut hay, sod and timber and raises grass-fed beef and tilapia.

Throughout her involvement with the organization, Smith has enjoyed numerous networking opportunities and recalls some of her longest and dearest friendships are those made through Farm Bureau. She has enjoyed sharing her passion for agriculture and her family’s farming heritage through local and statewide events.

“I can’t tell you enough how excited I get to draw a new member into our realm,” said Smith. “Finding someone who loves agriculture and bringing them into Farm Bureau and showing them how useful their mind is for our cause and watching them blossom even more as a person will always bring me joy.”

One of Smith’s favorite annual events is the Putnam/St. Johns County (PSJC) Farm Bureau Sporting Clay Shoot. This event, hosted each spring by the PSJC Young Farmers & Ranchers Group, draws people of all ages together to network and learn about the benefits of being a Farm Bureau member.

“We have gained a good number of members from this event as well as created new friendships and connections in our area,” said Smith. “It is something that everyone looks forward to each year. Through sponsorships and competitors, we have a collaboration of which I am most definitely proud.”

As Smith continues to grow her network and leadership skills through the Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Group, she reflects on how important it is to educate her community and peers about the importance of agriculture. She believes the farming lifestyle will be quickly forgotten by those who do not understand its importance.

“Farm Bureau runs based on faith, family, and farm. These are our roots,” she said. “When we stand strong in what we believe and who we believe in, we will always come out on top. Rooted in Resilience then blooms in success.”

Soil & Water Conservation Districts Qualifying Period June 13-17

June 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

The Association of Florida Conservation Districts (AFCD) was formed in 1937 in conjunction with Florida’s Soil and Water Conservation Law.  According to AFCD, “Soil and water conservation districts were created to serve as a liaison between federal government and local landowners in order to address local conservation needs.”

The qualifying period for soil and water boards begins on Monday, June 13 and ends on Friday, June 17.  Florida Farm Bureau encourages involvement in these local boards by active members to ensure agriculture has a seat at the table.

In regards to qualifications, the candidate must be a registered voter of the county and live within boundaries of the water management district.  The candidate must be actively engaged in agriculture as outlined by the statute.  The candidate must also be employed by an agricultural producer.  Lastly, the candidate must own, lease, or be actively employed on land classified as agricultural use.

If elected, the candidate serves a four-year term in office with no compensation.

Contact Charles Shinn at 352-316-2685 or Charles.Shinn@ffbf.org for additional information.

 

In The Community: District 3 Women Provide for Mothers in Need

June 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Farm Bureau women from across district 3 gathered in Baker County at South Prong Plantation on May 21 for their annual district women’s conference.

In addition to the plantation tour and guest speakers, attendees participated in a philanthropic event to support the First Coast Women’s Center.  The mission of this non-profit organization is to provide life-saving counseling and medical services for unplanned pregnancies free of charge.  Baby items, including clothing, diapers and infant toys were donated to support a direct need for the Macclenny location.

First Coast Women’s Center houses six locations throughout Baker and Duval Counties, serving hundreds of women and men in need each year.  During the event, Clay County Farm Bureau presented an additional monetary donation to Mrs. Barbara Wright.

View photos from the event.