May 28, 2015
This morning, FDACS-DPI employees are encouraged to attend the Health and Safety Fair at the UF Hilton Conference Center in Gainesville.
The fair, which is open to the public, continues until noon. Albert will be there until 11:30 and you can have your photo taken with the venerable US mascot as you visit with health care professionals from UF Health.
Experts from the FDACS Division of Plant Industry are there, too. They’ll be delighted to discuss and show you a variety of spiders, scorpions, mosquitoes and other creatures that might impact human health.
May 22, 2015
Here is a summary of social media activities this week at FDACS-DPI. There have been so many!
Florida is a model for other states in fostering cooperation between beekeepers and agricultural producers
Florida’s managed bee colonies have increased by more than 145 percent in the last eight years and continue to play a critical role in helping pollinate Florida’s agricultural commodities and stabilizing our state and nation’s food supply. Florida is a model for other states learning how to garner cooperation between beekeepers and agricultural producers for the benefit of both groups, and this news release from FDACS explains why.
Skimmers still a problem
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam continues to warn Floridians of skimmers that the department is continuing to find on gas pumps in the state.Recently, FDACS inspected pumps at more than 7,500 gas stations from Pensacola to Key West and removed 103 credit card skimmers stealing our residents’ and visitors’ hard-earned money. In addition to the statewide sweep, we’re partnering with gas stations to identify ways to prevent this crime. Beware. Here is a article from the Lakeland Ledger that summarizes the problem, which is a statewide issue.
Bug Week at UF-IFAS
Bug Week has turned into quite a big social media deal! The event started Monday and will end Saturday. FDACS-DPI social media helped by retweeting and by posting a link to a blog post about the air potato beetle our labs have been rearing and releasing around the state with the goal of eradicating the invasive air potato.
Captain Citrus speaks with the authentic voice of a Florida Citrus Grower
The Florida Department of Citrus announced a third comic detailing the further adventures of Captain Citrus has been published. We also learned that the captain speaks in the authentic voice of a Florida citrus grower. Like Captain Citrus, Christian Spinosa grew up on a Central Florida citrus grove. The fifth generation citrus grower works as a production manager for his family’s citrus and cattle company, Dudley Putnam Inc. Read the story of how he was selected to be the voice of Captain Citrus here.
Reaching out is Rewarding for FDACS Employees
Throwback Thursday looked back one week as Ivonne Perez-Suarez, consumer advocate in the FDACS regional office in Miami-Dade County, sent us a note recounting a rewarding experience with a classroom of gifted third graders. Employees of FDACS frequently take time to reach out to members of the public of all ages. Public support and involvement is crucial to our success as we work to protect Florida agriculture from invasive pests and diseases.
Enjoy the holiday!
We hope you enjoy your Memorial Day holiday. We highly recommend Florida sweetcorn, fresh vegetables and delicious guacamole made from Florida avocados. And about those avocados: they are in danger from an invasive beetle. You can help Save the Guac. One way: Don’t Move Firewood when you travel and camp.
Please take time to honor our veterans, and in particular those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
May 21, 2015
Today, Throwback Thursday looks back one week. Ivonne Perez-Suarez, consumer advocate in the FDACS regional office in Miami-Dade County, sent us a note recounting a rewarding experience with a classroom of gifted third graders. Employees of FDACS frequently take time to reach out to members of the public of all ages. Public support and involvement is crucial to our success as we work to protect Florida agriculture from invasive pests and diseases. Here is Ivonne’s account:
Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of speaking during Career Dar at Wesley Matthews Elementary about my job as a Consumer Advocate, as well as what we do in FDACS. I had asked that my presentation take place outside by the fruit, vegetable and spice garden the children have and take care of. The last class I spoke to where a group of gifted third graders.
Part of my presentation included the giant African land snail. They were thrilled to see what it look liked and took it upon themselves to put it up on the video that you will see. All of a sudden, they came running up to write the phone number where to call if they find one [Editor’s Note: the Helpline number is 1-888-397-1517. Once that was done, they all rushed back to their seats to show in pictures what the snails look like and to watch out for them. They also wrote sweet notes to me.
The incredible thing is that they dedicated a whole portion of their class to this. Some are looking forward to working in the department.
It was a wonderful day, I had a great time and the students know more about all that we do.
May 15, 2015
A weekly summary of social media posts From FDACS-DPI
Attention: Growers Who Participate in Crop Insurance Programs
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam issued a news release reminding all producers of new USDA requirements to remain eligible for crop insurance. All producers – including fruit, vegetable, specialty crop and nursery producers – that purchase federally-subsidized crop insurance must certify compliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture by June 1, 2015. For more details, check this blog entry.
Southern Pine Beetle Assistance Available
Another department news release this week encouraged Florida landowners in 44 counties in the Panhandle and North and Central Florida to apply for the Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program. Applications are available on the Florida Forest Service website. Southern Pine Beetle outbreaks in the past have cost the forest industry millions of dollars in timber loss. Applications will be accepted through the end of June.
USDA to enable more farmers markets to serve low-income families
The USDA will make up to $3.3 million available to support the ability of farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as a form of payment. Grants to individual farmers markets will range from $15,000 to $250,000. Applications are due June 18, 2015. More details here.
Agriculture is a fertile field for jobs
Attention, career seekers! A report from Purdue University indicates nearly 58,000 jobs will be opening annually across the U.S. in occupations involving food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment. Jobs in agriculture go far beyond tractor driving. These new jobs will require a highly skilled and trained work force.
Florida honey bee population increasing as bee numbers in other parts of the country decline
David Westervelt, FDACS Assistant Chief for Apiary Inspection, was widely quoted in the media this week responding to reports indicating most of the country is facing declining bee populations. Westervelt pointed out that the number of beehives in Florida has increased. We reprised an earlier blog post that explained how the apiary industry in Florida is thriving.
GALS eradication program continues to make progress
Floridians should continue to watch for the invasive giant African land snail, but FDACS is making progress toward eradicating them from areas where they have been found in South Florida. We linked to this story in the Miami New Times that hailed the collection of 157,000 giant African land snails since they were discovered infesting Miami-Dade County in 2011.
Dr. Skelly helps ID beetle in Singapore
Scientists from FDACS are often asked to collaborate in identifying arthropods in other countries. Case in point: This story about Dr. Paul Skelley of DPI recently helping to identify a beetle that was pestering Singapore.
June 1 is the deadline for all producers to certify their compliance status with USDA
See the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture’s news release, here.
Prior to the 2014 Farm Bill, conservation compliance requirements applied to marketing assistance loans, farm storage facility loans, and payments under commodity, disaster, and conservation programs. The new Farm Bill added a provision which expanded this requirement to growers who are eligible and receive Federal Crop Insurance subsidy benefits. For specialty crop growers who participate in crop insurance programs, this will trigger new requirements for those who want to continue to receive their premium subsidy on crop insurance they purchase. The notice of this interim rule can be found here: USDA published the interim rule for Conservation Compliance requirements
Below (and attached) is some basic information from USDA about this new requirement.
We wish to remind you, and any others who may be affected, about this new program and that the deadline to send in the AD-1026 form is June 1. Apparently, USDA has sent out a letter to a large number of growers who have crop insurance but do not have an AD-1026 form on file with FSA. Please share this information with other growers, so that nobody will miss the deadline to participate.
“Conservation Compliance Deadline – June 1st – Forms Must Be Filed To Remain Eligible for Crop Insurance”
Today, USDA has released its interim final rule that implements the “conservation compliance” mandate in the new Farm Bill. That rule formally establishes June 1st as the deadline for all producers to certify their compliance status with USDA. The following are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding this new mandate:
Why is this change occurring?
The Agricultural Act of 2014 (new Farm Bill) mandates that all producers purchasing federally-subsidized crop insurance must certify their compliance status with USDA. Previously this requirement applied only to subsidies received by the program crops primarily under their Title 1 market support programs.
How does this affect specialty crop producers?
All specialty crop producers that purchase crop insurance and want to continue receiving the federal premium subsidy must certify their status by June 1st
How do I certify my status?
Producers must file FSA Form AD-1026 by that date with the Farm Service Agency. Producers must certify their status as well as that of any “affiliated parties” as determined by FSA. Forms can be mailed, faxed or provided in person.
Isn’t this requirement only for “annually-tilled” commodities?
All producers seeking to continue receiving the premium subsidy must file their AD-1026 form. Producers who are growing annually-tilled commodities may have additional responsibilities and interactions with NRCS depending upon the land they produce on.
What if I am not buying my crop insurance policy until much later in the year?
Regardless of when you purchase your insurance, your form must be filed with USDA by the June 1st deadline. If it is not filed by that date, you will be ineligible for the premium subsidy and that may make the cost of an individual crop insurance policy increase substantially.
For more information and access to the AD-1026 form, please visit FSA’s website on compliance located here.
May 8, 2015
Out and about in Tampa, Orlando or Miami?
Selfie Opportunity Alert!
The Don’t Pack a Pest campaign is reaching out to Florida via newly posted signs in the Mall at 163rd Street in Miami, Centro Ybor in Tampa and at Lake Buena Vista and The Loop in the Orlando area. Watch for billboards and posters to appear soon in other locations around the state. In an effort to add interactivity to the signage, we’re inviting you to take a photo (make it a selfie, if you like) and post it with a comment to this post by 5 p.m. EDT Monday, May 11. Do that and we’ll send you – free with no obligation (except to NOT pack a pest, of course) — a DPAP carabiner and luggage tag. Simple and fun, no?
These Farmers CARE
Thursday, 14 farm families in the Suwannee River Basin received a coveted award for adopting Best Management Practices to preserve land and water resources. The event was held at the UF/IFAS Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center in Live Oak. Created by Florida Farm Bureau Federation more than a decade ago, this program involves an alliance of more than 60 state and federal agencies, county commissions, water management districts, businesses and organizations as well as many individuals. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam presented the awards. Profiles of CARES award winners and video features highlighting their operations are posted here.
Arson Awareness Week
During National Arson Awareness Week, we posted quite a few times to remind everyone to report suspicious activity to the Florida Arson Hotline, 1-800-342-5869. You can remain anonymous and your information can result in a reward of as much as $5,000.
Stay alert for invasives. Call us.
Here is another number you might want to keep near your phone: the FDACS Helpline, 1-888-397-4517. This is the number to use if you see a suspected giant African land snail or some other plant or creature that you suspect might be invasive. Last week an alert caller who had seen one of our billboards about the giant African land snail in Miami called the hotline to report a suspect, resulting in the establishment of a new core area where our teams are concentrating eradication efforts. There are now 29 such areas in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
Proud to host the Horticulture Inspection Society meeting
FDACS Hosted a meeting of the Southern Chapter of the Horticulture Inspection Society this week. See our blog post about it here.
It’s Victory in Europe Day
A Facebook post from Commissioner Putnam reminded us that this is Victory in Europe Day. We join him in expressing deep gratitude to everyone who fought to free Europe from tyranny during World War II.
“Save the Guac”still in the headlines
Worldwide media continued to reprint and follow up on the story about the potential use of detector dogs teamed with drones to detect and combat laurel wilt disease, which threatens Florida’s avocado industry. We appreciated the attention, particularly posts like this one by the Palm Beach Post http://pbpo.st/1IgonS7 that drew attention to our “Save the Guac” campaign and our website on the subject, appropriately on Cinco de Mayo.
Family Farm Day at the Florida Agriculture Museum
Here’s an event we’re passing along from the FDACS Blog: May 30 will be Family Farm Day at the Florida Agriculture Museum, located at 7900 Old Kings Road in Palm Coast. They promise a whole lot of fun along with some old-fashioned history lessons about our rural heritage. Family Farm Day will be held May 30 from 10 am to 4 pm. Please visit the Florida Agriculture Museum website for details.
This week the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is hosting the SANC HISSC Interstate Inspection Meeting. The initials SANC stand for Systems Approach to Nursery Certification and HISSC is the Horticulture Inspection Society Southern Chapter. The meeting is taking place May 5 and 6 at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Withlacoochee Training Center and includes a field trip to Cherry Lake Tree Farm led by Cherry Lake Pest Scout Leslie Wilber. University of Florida Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent Karen Stauderman discussed nursery scouting and BMP manuals.
The meeting is attended by plant inspectors, plant inspection supervisors and plant regulatory officials from Texas to Virginia. The meeting is being coordinated by Plant Inspection Area Supervisor Stacey Simmons.
Dr. Susan E. Halbert, Curator of Hemiptera, FDACS DPI, spoke to the group about diseases vectored by insects and regulatory issues.