We’re proud to join with Journal Communications in announcing that the second edition of Tennessee Ag Insider – A Guide to the State’s Farms, Food and Forestry is now available.
Earlier this month, we premiered the second edition at the Ag Day on the Hill celebration in Nashville. This year’s edition proudly features our growing poultry industry, the importance of our transportation systems, the critical role that irrigation is playing in crop production and how farmers are tapping into the buy-local movement.
The purpose of the Tennessee Ag Insider is to tell our story – the story of how agriculture, forestry and agribusinesses are an important part of our economy and how they play an important role in our daily lives. I want to thank you for your support and I hope you find it useful for telling our story to your friends, customers or constituents. Be sure to view the online version at www.TNagriculture.com or call us at 615-837-5103 for a printed copy.
If you plan to apply for Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program funding, the time to send in your application has been set for June 1 – 7.
"Governor Haslam recognizes the importance of the Ag Enhancement program to farmers and has once again fully funded the program in his proposed state budget," Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. "Now in its ninth year, we want to reach as many farmers as possible and expect that the new online system will encourage even more participation."
This is the first year farmers have the opportunity to apply online but online participation is not mandatory. Producers can still submit paper applications during the application period, but they must be postmarked between June 1 and June 7.
Instructions for accessing TAEP Online accounts and applying for 2013 funds are listed at www.TN.gov/taep as well as outlined in the printed applications. Producers have the opportunity to submit Application A for Livestock Equipment, Genetics, Hay, Grain and Feed Storage online. Application B for Producer Diversification is not available online and must be submitted by mail or hand delivered. Producers new to TAEP will not have an account prior to June 1, but will be able to apply online during the application period.
Mineral feeders and pasture sprayers have been added to the list of qualified equipment purchases. Items available to dairy producers have been expanded to include manure spreaders and manure lagoon pumps and agitators.
Dairy and cattle producers will need a current BQA number at the date of application. Producers with livestock on their farm will need to register their premises with TDA at http://www.tennessee.gov/agriculture/forms/tpissignup.pdf or by calling 615-837-5120.
Applications are available at most farm agencies including USDA Farm Service Agency, UT Extension and Farm Bureau offices, as well as most farm supply stores. To ensure accuracy, producers are encouraged to work with their local extension agent or local TDA representative when completing the application.
Producers can get important messages and updates on the program by calling 1-800-342-8206. For more information or to download an application, visit www.TN.gov/taep.
In an otherwise wet year for East Tennessee, a massive wildfire consumed 53 rental cabins and damaged six others at the Black Bear Ridge Resort just outside Pigeon Forge in mid-March. The fire is believed to have started near a hot tub at one of the cabins. The local fire department was called, but the fire quickly engulfed the cabin and spread to adjacent cabins by the time they arrived.
Multiple fire departments were called to assist with the fire that some emergency personnel were comparing to an urban conflagration. This was due to so many cabins being packed tight on the slopes of the mountain that they resembled an urban housing complex. About 150 people were evacuated from the mountain and the American Red Cross opened a shelter at the Pigeon Forge Community Center. Hotels also allowed residents to stay for free.
Burning shingles from the big log cabins blew over to adjacent Pine Mountain and the Division of Forestry quickly went to work to protect structures and establish containment lines around the spotting wildfires. The battle for control of the fire lasted a few days and was greatly aided in the end by heavy rains.
Despite significant structural losses, many local fire department and TDF firefighters were commended for their brave efforts and for saving 199 structures that otherwise would have been destroyed. National Guard helicopters were used to protect many of those structures and to douse hot spots created by flying embers and rolling debris. Once aerial operations began, no other structures were lost.
Fortunately, many of the local volunteer fire departments in that area had previously been exposed to Firewise and other fire prevention principles, so they were trained for what to expect when fighting fire in the wildland/urban interface. Since then, there has been a great deal of interest from local communities in establishing or strengthening those principles to curb the likelihood of similar events in the future.
For more on Firewise principles and how to protect homes and communities from wildfire, visit http://burnsafetn.org/firewise.html.
Spring has been a time of celebration at TDA as we’ve recognized the importance of agriculture to our state with two big events.
TDA along with several other ag organizations marked National Ag Day on March 19 by bringing back the popular Omelet Cook-off. Our participating teams, Steve Hayslip and Amy Watson from NewsChannel 5, Holly Thompson and Ian Reitz from WSMV Channel 4, Neil Orne and Quinn Schuler from Nashville’s News 2 and Nick Paranjape and Erin Como from FOX 17 News, all made their best omelet in hopes of winning the iron skillet.
Nashville’s News 2 was the big winner and WSMV Channel 4 took second place.
Many from the ag community came together with legislators on April 2 to highlight the importance of farming and forestry to Tennessee at the annual Ag Day on the Hill event. Vice Chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Andy Holt, coordinated the event which was also supported by Chairman Curtis Halford and other members of the committee.
Legislative Plaza was packed with displays from ag organizations, live animals and farm equipment. Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey once again competed in the milking contest with Speaker Harwell winning by a drop. The event concluded with The Farm and Forest Families of Tennessee organization presenting a check to Second Harvest Food Bank for $750 and TFBF Communications Director Pettus Read being honored with a joint resolution by the general assembly.
Thanks to all of our agriculture friends who were a part of both events.
The first update of Tennessee’s food safety laws in more than 30 years has passed the House and Senate and is expected to be signed by Gov. Bill Haslam. Sponsored by Reps. Gerald McCormick and David Alexander and Sens. Mark Norris, Bo Watson and Bill Ketron, the Tennessee Retail Food Safety Act allows food safety regulations to be brought up to standards recognized by most jurisdictions across the country. It also allows the retail food industry to utilize processes and technologies that are not addressed in current law.
Food safety officials with the departments of Health and Agriculture and industry leaders worked with lawmakers in crafting the legislation. “This has truly been a collaborative effort among legislative leaders, state agencies and industry that will greatly benefit everyone by making our food safer and by allowing for improvement in efficiencies in both government and food establishments. We look forward to working with our partners to build upon this milestone legislation,” said assistant commissioner Jimmy Hopper.
The legislation will allow both departments to implement risk-based assessments of food establishments, focusing on factors that have been shown to cause food borne illness. This will result in more efficient and cost-effective use of staff while improving consumer food safety.
The new law will take effect immediately; however, new rules won’t be effective until July 1, 2015, giving industry and regulators time to work together on developing specific food safety measures.
In addition to the departments of Health and Agriculture, the legislation was supported by the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, the Tennessee Fuel and Convenience Store Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Tennessee Hospitality Association and by the Tennessee Food Safety Task Force, a coalition of food safety experts representing the public and private sectors.
The Southern Women’s Show in Nashville takes place Thursday April 18 – Sunday April 2 and Pick Tennessee Products will be taking the stage.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Market Development Division is sponsoring three different farms on the cooking stage to promote PTP to the thousands of women expected to be in attendance.
Also, be sure and stop by our booth where we will have Armstrong Fried Pies and Willa’s Shortbread giving out samples and selling product. There will be PTP recipe cards, brochures and a drawing for a PTP basket for show-goers. Learn more. Recipes, what’s in season and where Tennessee grown and processed products are available can be found year-round at www.picktnproducts.org. Be sure to follow PTP on Facebook at PickTnProducts and Twitter at @PickTnProducts.
For more information on the Nashville Southern Women's show visit http://www.southernshows.com/wna/.
Foot and Mouth is one of the most feared diseases in agriculture because of how quickly it could damage livelihood and industry. That’s why Tennessee is one of seven states participating in the second year of a project funded by USDA called the Mid –Atlantic Secure Milk Supply Plan (MASMS).
"This very important project could allow interstate movement of raw milk between participating states in the event of a Foot and Mouth disease outbreak," said State Veterinarian, Dr. Charles Hatcher.
The project is based on pre-approved dairy farms, milk haulers, and milk processing facilities in participating states meeting certain biosecurity procedures of the MASMS. The focus this year is to obtain feedback from participants and for them to finalize the biosecurity procedures that are currently in draft form.
Although the dairy farm is the place of highest risk for disease spread and the focus of the plan hinges on a clean and disinfected truck entering and leaving the dairy farm, both the milk hauler and dairy processor play important roles in this plan as well.
Two training sessions were recently held for auditors that will be reviewing the biosecurity procedures and plans for compliance for dairy farms, milk haulers and milk processing facilities wanting to participate in the MASMS.
A diverse group of dairy industry stakeholders attended the auditor training sessions including Tennessee Department of Agriculture field personnel, dairy farmers, University of Tennessee Extension agents, dairy cooperative representatives and others.
The over arching goal of the MASMS is to help protect the dairy industry from a possible Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak and subsequent economic negative impact.
For more information call 615-837-5120.
|Apr 20||Herb Society Annual Plant Sale, Nashville|
|Apr 24||Organic Crops Field Tour, Knoxville|
|Apr 26||World's Biggest Fish Fry, Paris|
|May 1||TAEP Cattle Reimbursement Deadline|
|May 4-11||Strawberry Festival, Portland|
|May 5-11||West Tennessee Strawberry Festival, Humboldt|
|May 9-10||Tennessee Agricultural Museum's Historic Rural Life Festival, Nashville|
|May 31||June Dairy Month Kickoff Luncheon, Nashville|
|Jun 1-7||2013 TAEP Application Period|
|Jun 11-14||Junior High 4-H Academic Conference, Knoxville|
|Jun 13||UT Beef and Forage Field Day, Blount Unit, Louisville|
|Jun 18-22||4-H State Horse Show, Shelbyville|
|Jun 21||TSU Small Farmer of the Year Award Nomination Deadline|
|Jul 18||TSU Small Farm Expo, Nashville|
|Ellington Agricultural Center | 440 Hogan Road |
Nashville, TN 37220