Animal care in USDA Research Program

by George Looby

One of the most important of the USDA’s many departments, units or sections is the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) where wide ranges of agriculturally related research programs are conducted. If it pertains in any way to agriculture there is very likely some sort of research going on in that particular area. One of the many components within the ARS is the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) located in Clay Center, NE.

The mission statement of this program is to develop scientific information and new technology to solve high priority problems for the U.S. beef, sheep and swine industries. The research is directed toward problems of national concern and to meeting USDA’s Action Agencies research needs. Research approaches involve multidisciplinary teams with emphasis on both short-term and long-term solutions to improving animal production and product quality. [Read more…]

Legal concerns around farm workers and employees

CN-MR-1-LEGAL CONCERNSby Sanne Kure-Jensen

Rachel Armstrong led an informative webinar on the legal considerations regarding unpaid and compensated volunteers. “Ag. law is incredibly complex,” said Rachel Armstrong, lawyer and former grower. Farmers should carefully distinguish between a volunteer and employee. A volunteer must not displace a regularly paid employee doing similar work. The largest volunteer risk is injury. Volunteers often arrive unskilled or untrained in specific farm activities and may not use the same caution as experienced farmers. Armstrong recognizes that consumers everywhere value their connection to the land, wanting to reconnect with the land and with farmers who grow their food. Many farm customers happily volunteer for their favorite farmer. Farmers must manage risks in all aspects of farming. Risk of injury, liability or employment law violations is serious. Accident prevention keeps everyone safe. Armstrong recommended all farmers purchase a Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy for interns, employees, seasonal employees and other farm guests who volunteer for compensation. A commercial policy also ensures coverage for off-farm activities (CSA drop sites) value-added processing, agritoursim, transportation to markets and for distribution, if you sell anyone else’s products. Armstrong also recommends a Farm Liability Insurance (like homeowner’s liability policy). This protects the landowner in case of an accident on the farm property. This is separate from a CGL. Shop around and describe all aspects of your business to potential insurance agents. [Read more…]

Stepping Back

CEWM-MR-2-PA-REDDING_0369by Steve Wagner

The Honorable Russell Redding, PA Secretary of Agriculture was officially welcomed at the PA FFA Association 28th State Legislative Breakfast where he was the keynote speaker. His appearance at this gathering afforded Redding the opportunity to meet and greet lawmakers and farm association leaders, as well as executive vice presidents, many of whom he has worked with before. Five years ago, Redding served for a year as Ag Sec, filling out the term of Secretary Dennis Wolff, who wanted to return to farming and international agricultural genetics. After that year of service, Redding became Dean of Agriculture at Delaware Valley College. “The best thing was stepping back from the department, being tested by students on what it is that this industry can offer, where there are opportunities and bring that back,” he said, adding “It gave me a fresh perspective to look at the job as Secretary and the industry that I am so honored to represent.” [Read more…]

Biological controls for common pests on edible crops

by Katie Navarra

Leanne Pundt, Extension Educator for University of Connecticut at the Litchfield County Extension Center, shared strategies for biologically controlling pests common to herb and vegetable bedding plants during the annual Bedding Plant/Nurseryman’s Education Day and Tradeshow.

A variety of “good” bugs can be used to control “bad” bugs in a greenhouse to limit the need for chemical pesticides and reduce crop loss. There are several types of pests that can be used as part of a biological control program. Learning about each beneficial pest and subspecies is critical to success. [Read more…]