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AG News

Inside Farmers market Page 2 Veggie gardens Page 3 Vidalia onions Page 6 Flavor of Georgia Page 10



MAY 2013

North Georgia’s Agricultural Newspaper

Hall County agriculture leaders honored By Barbara Olejnik Georgia Ag News Staff

GAINESVILLE — Johnny Sutton, retired agriculture teacher and FFA sponsor at North Hall High School, was inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame at the 18th annual Hall County Agribusiness Awards Breakfast. U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia’s 9th District, spoke at the breakfast and praised Sutton for his work with young people. He spoke about his daughter Jordan, a special needs student in a wheelchair who

attended North Hall and how Sutton would make sure Jordan got to ride on the bus with her friends to FFA meetings. The Farmer of the Year award was presented to Tommy Blackstock whose Blackstock Farm in Talmo raises broiler chickens and cattle as well as growing hay. The Outstanding Agribusiness award was given to Wilheit Packaging. Philip Wilheit, CEO and president, noted that the company began in 1953 by supplying boxes to the chicken industry and about 40 percent of its current business comes

from poultry and food industries. Collins presented Sutton, Blackstock and Wilheit with a certificate of special congressional recognition. The awards breakfast also honored Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal with a Friend of Agriculture Award for his long-time support of the state’s agriculture industry. His son, Judge Jason Deal, accepted on the governor’s behalf. The annual awards breakfast was presented by the Hall County Cooperative Extension and the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Barbara Olejnik

Ag Day honors: Hall County agriculture leaders were honored at the 2013 Hall Country Agribusiness Awards Presentation and Breakfast. They were, left to right, Tommy Blackstock of Blackstock Farms, Talmo, Farmer of the Year; Johnny Sutton, retired ag teacher and FFA sponsor, Agriculture Hall of Fame; and Philip Whilheit, CEO and president of Wilheit Packaging, Outstanding Agribusiness.

Dandelions: friend, foe or food? By David B. Strickland Georgia Ag News Staff

Photo by David B. Strickland

Dandelions: Viewed by many gardeners and landscapers as a scourge, dandelions are technically edible with many recipes available for their usage, and have been at one time cultivated specifically for this purpose.

GAINESVILLE — Whether you are an enthusiast of the garden or the landscape, as you begin to fix up your special spot for the spring and summer, there may be a scattering of little, yellow flowers all around. Dandelions are viewed by many as a scourge across the terrain, but they do have a couple of things go-

ing for them. They are reasonably attractive, and you can eat them. These flowers, or that is, perennial weeds, can be found worldwide, but arrived in North America around the time of the European settlers. The Farmers’Almanac notes that their name comes from a French phrase “dent de lion,” that means

See Dandelions, Page 9



A good old-fashioned farmers market on Fridays By Steven Thomas

people would load up and make the trek to the town square. Vehicles, burdened with produce GAINESVILLE — With the and other foodstuffs and handmade coming of warm weather, you can goods, would find a space around just hear the earth being pushed up the square. by the seeds planted by farmers for Vendors set up their tables as the the coming growing season. town folk would mingle Thoughts immediately while looking over the turn to ripe red tomatoes, wares, waiting for the but alas, we still have two bell to ring out, starting months before we see the day’s selling. them. This is the type of Still, fruits and vegetascene that played out bles are growing now, and across the country, in soon it will be time for losmall towns and big citcal farmers to gather and ies, when market day sell the products of their was a time to meet your Thomas labor. neighbors, socialize and Harken back to the trapurchase or trade goods. ditional weekly market day, when In Downtown Gainesville farmers, food purveyors and crafts- (which originally was the village of Special to Georgia Ag News


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Mule Camp Springs), they used to call it the Mule Camp, because the farmers and vendors would drive their mule carts into town. As the automobile made it easy to drive to the supermarket, events like the town market disappeared. With the resurgence of farmers markets, people again began looking for that lost relationship between themselves and the folks who grow food, bake bread, make cheese and handcraft clothing and jewelry locally.

Fresh taste There is a big difference in the taste of a tomato grown by a large industrial agriculture company and one that is grown locally and picked hours before being bought. The same can be found in the difference between a mass produced loaf of bread and that of a small-scale local artisan baker. These are the tastes and feelings that take us back to our childhood, sitting around the kitchen waiting for the first bite of a fresh-from-theoven cookie or a big wedge of pie that had been cooling on the windowsill. In these days of big-box super stores and mega-malls, its nice to know that you can still go to a place where you can talk to the person who grew the vegetables, made the jam, and the jewelry or birdbath in front of you. These are your neighbors; they live in the same town and county as you. They grow food and bake bread and make crafts because they love doing it and want to share that with you at local farmers market. Gainesville Downtown Gainesville is home to just such an old-fashioned market day event each Friday afternoon

during the growing season. The Historic Downtown Gainesville Market On The Square is a traditional market featuring vegetables and fruits, artisan breads and baked goods, eggs, fresh goat cheese, honey, locally roasted coffee beans, jams and jellies and handmade crafts such as jewelry, bird feeders and knitted clothes. The majority of vendors are from right here in Hall County. A few are from counties next to Hall. One vendor, Coles Lake Creamery, offers a product that can’t be found locally — fresh artisan goat milk cheeses — and we are lucky to have them, as they sell at less than five markets. The market’s farmers are handpicked to provide vegetables and fruits with little overlap in varieties, so you can find the traditional red tomato as well as many kinds of heirloom tomatoes. All the farms are small, mostly less than an acre. The largest offers an amazing 100 different varieties of fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs, as well as honey and gourmet mushrooms — all on a small-scale farm of less than 10 acres. Some are new to farming and have been growing produce between two to 10 years. Philip Echols, our Peach Man, has been farming longer than the rest and the market is extremely happy to have him and his family bringing us peaches from a few miles up the road. The market offers a variety of baked goods including organic breads, muffins, specialty cakes and cookies, granola, and Frenchstyle quiches, cookies and fruit and quick breads. Local beekeepers offer many types of award-winning honey, as well as beeswax candles and creamed honey.

Jams and jellies are available as well as freshly roasted coffee beans.

Food demos Each Friday will also feature Food@Four, a cooking demonstration using products available that day at the market. The demo begins at 4 p.m. Recipes from the demo are posted on the website at www.hallfarmers. org. We are also working with the John Jarrard Foundation to bring in local musicians each week. Aptly named, the market is located right on the Historic Square in Downtown Gainesville. Make this social event a part of your weekly routine. Share some time with friends and neighbors walking in the fresh air and sunshine and catching up with what is going on around town and getting to know the local shopkeepers around the square. Shopping with local stores, and local farmers, keeps money flowing within the community. Schedule Market Day is every Friday from May 31 through Oct. 4. Vendors show up around 1:30 p.m. to set up and selling begins at 2:30 p.m. and ends around 6:30 p.m. So come on by the Historic Downtown Gainesville Market On The Square. The website will let you know what is available and introduce you to the vendors — and follow us on Facebook for news, events and updates — Steven Thomas is market manager of the Historic Downtown Gainesville Market on the Square. He can be reached at 678-943-4442; by email at; or the website



Common veggie garden questions & answers By Michael Wheeler

Special to Georgia Ag News

GAINESVILLE — What can I do to prevent insect pests in my vegetable garden? yy Plant as early as suitable temperatures permit. Get plants established before pests arrive. yy R o t a t e crops to prevent buildup of pests in an area of the garden. Plant vegetables from different Wheeler plant families or groups in successive years. For example, do not plant tomatoes year after year in the same spot in the garden. Rotate tomatoes with

corn or beans. yy Plant vegetable varieties that have built-in tolerance or resistance to certain insect pests. And, always buy and plant fresh seed and healthy, insect-free vegetable plants. Till the soil in winter to expose insects and eggs to cold temperatures and drying winds. How should I properly water my vegetable garden? yy Do not stand in the garden and water lightly. This is the worst possible method of watering vegetable plants. When you do water, water thoroughly to encourage plant roots to seek moisture and nutrients deep in the soil. Soak the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. A thorough soaking every five to six days is usually sufficient. Of

course, weather conditions, such as temperature and rainfall, will also affect frequency of watering. yy Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation for best results as overhead watering is usually a very inefficient way to water. Soaker and drip irrigation places the water near the plant’s roots and not in the middle of the rows. Also, soaker and drip systems do not wet the foliage, thus helping to reduce leaf spot and other diseases. yy Vegetables need moisture, but over-watering is harmful. Over-watering not only wastes water but it waterlogs the soil preventing roots from getting air. Overly wet soils are also much more likely to be attacked by root rots and fungus diseases. yy Watering early in the day reduces water loss by evaporation and

allows the foliage to dry quickly. Wet foliage overnight encourages diseases. Avoid watering at mid-day as evaporative losses are highest at this time. I have almost no space for a garden. Can I grow vegetables in containers? yy There are a number of vegetable varieties suitable for growing in containers that have small plants and produce either full-sized or miniature fruits. yy Containers should be large (at least 5 gallons) to prevent rapid loss of moisture and provide adequate room for root growth. One tomato plant will need a 5 gallon bucket, whereas two peppers or two cucumbers can be grown in a 5 gallon container.

yy The biggest challenges will be to properly water and fertilize the plants. They will need more care and attention to do well. For more information on gardening, give us a call at the office. We will be glad to help. Michael Wheeler is the Hall County Extension coordinator and agricultural Extension agent. He can be reached at 770-535-8293; e-mail at; or www. To advertise in Georgia Ag News call 770-536-2476




AG News


Our food supply is safer than ever By Bob Stallman

Special to Georgia Ag News

WASHINGTON — Summertime is almost upon us. For most Americans, the warmer weather brings picnics in the park, BBQs and grilling out with family and friends. It also brings the increased chance for foodborne illness to occur if safe food preparation Stallman and handling is not given full attention. Because food safety is such an important issue to farmers, we’ve

worked hard to ensure that the food that reaches your table is safe. Thanks to voluntary farmer-led initiatives, strict government monitoring and consumer food safety education, foodborne illness has dropped drastically in the last 100 years.

Not just lip service According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, our food is safer than ever. The number of foodborne disease outbreaks in 2009-2010 declined 32 percent compared with the preceding five years. Some of the credit for this can be attributed to the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in 2011. This law aims to cooperatively improve food safety

by building on existing systems already in place in the private sector. Before the FSMA was passed, approximately 72 million Americans fell sick due to a foodborne illness every year. Within a week after the FSMA was signed into law, those numbers were adjusted to 48 million. Significantly, foodborne illnesses now only touch 9.4 million people yearly. Farmers take seriously their responsibility of growing safe food and that’s not just lip service. Farmers have the same desire as other consumers to have a safe, abundant and affordable food supply. And they also have an important economic interest because the demand for their products is determined by consumer confidence.

Rooftop shouting Many people don’t realize that there are five federal agencies that administer at least 30 laws related to food safety. Through this intense federal oversight, the level of food safety testing has also dramatically increased. And, just as important, consumer education on food safety is on the uptick. Even though contamination of food can occur at any stage in food production, a high level of foodborne illness is caused by foods improperly prepared or mishandled at home or in restaurants. To counter this, Farm Bureaus across the country are educating consumers to enhance their food safety knowledge. And it’s working! According to Dr. Richard Raymond, former undersecretary for

A conspiracy to feed the world By Stewart Truelsen

Special to Georgia Ag News

WASHINGTON — The success of American agriculture is so mindboggling that critics and conspiracy theorists alike can’t resist finding something evil, secretive or just plain awful about it. One blogger writes that seed vaults exist so the wealthy ultimately can survive as “their sinister practices of corporate food production and destruction of the Stewart Truelsen is a regular contributor to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Focus on Agriculture series and is the author of a book marking the federation’s 90th anniversary, Forward Farm Bureau.

environment unfold to lessen the population.” In other words, the upper-classes would push the world toward doomsday, saving only themselves to start civilization over with seeds from these vaults. If this storyline sounds like something out of a Clive Cussler novel, you are right. It is quite similar to one of his adventure thrillers. A conspiracy theory is built around a real-world occurrence, and indeed there are seed banks or vaults. One of the best known is the global seed vault located in the permafrost in the far northern mountains of Norway. The vault preserves the biodiversity of the world’s food crops for future generations. Bloggers are easily dismissed.

Anyone with a little knowledge of WordPress can start one or hop on one of the forums already out there in cyberspace. What’s more troubling is when a food writer for the New York Times blames the food industry for half of all deaths in the United States, those caused by heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. “We must figure out of a way to un-invent this food system,” wrote Mark Bittman in an opinion piece. He blames food and agriculture for obesity, poisoning the environment and torturing animals. Bittman wants to see a food movement on the scale of the civil rights movement, but laments “there isn’t even a general acknowledgment of a

See World, Page 5

Corporate Headquarters

food safety at the USDA, the CDC report is cause for celebration. “You should be able to stand on top of the building and say ‘hey look, (the agriculture) industry is doing a great job, consumers are doing a great job of listening to the safe handling and proper cooking messages . . . and restaurants and other people that cook our food are doing a better job,” he said. So, go on and enjoy your burgers and chops, deviled eggs and fresh salad this summer knowing that your food is safer than ever. And, maybe even have a steak for me while you’re at it. Bob Stallman is president of the American Farm Bureau Federation based in Washington, D.C. More information about the organization can be obtained at

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Q&A about antimicrobial use in chicken processing WASHINGTON — The National Chicken Council has provided information on antimicrobial use in chickens in a Question & Answer format. Q. What is an antimicrobial? A. An antimicrobial is an agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Q. How are antimicrobials used in chicken production? A. Food-grade antimicrobials are approved for use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food & Drug Administration as a very safe and effective way to kill or inhibit the growth of any potential bacteria and foodborne pathogens, like salmonella. They are used to make food safer. Q. What are common antimicrobials used in chicken processing? A. Common antimicrobial interventions when processing chickens include the use of paracetic acid (PAA), chlorinated water and trisodium phosphate (TSP). Peracetic acid is also permitted for use in poultry products labeled as “organic.” Q. Is there use regulated? A. Food-grade antimicrobials are approved for use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food & Drug Administration. When these antimicrobials are used in poultry processing plants, such as in immersion chilling systems or carcass rinses, they are used within the allowable concentration levels set forth by USDA and are incorporated into several thousand gallons of water and are diluted sig-

nificantly. The allowable concentration levels are measured in parts per million. To put one part per million into perspective, it is equivalent to one drop in two full bathtubs of water, or one minute in almost two years. These levels are frequently tested by both USDA and plant personnel to ensure they are at safe levels for the product and for workers in the plant. Q. What steps does the industry take to keep employees and inspectors safe? A. Though these antimicrobials are approved for use and are used in very low, allowable concentrations, the poultry industry takes very seriously the health and safety of our workforce and there are a number of steps and precautions in place in order to minimize any exposure to them: When diluted antimicrobials are applied to carcasses, they are done so in controlled areas (inside of closed equipment or inside the c hiller) to minimize any potential exposure to employees; In order to ensure proper ventilation, poultry processing plants follows strict guidelines for air flow set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and AirConditioning Engineers. Engineering controls such as ventilation are acceptable means to control employee exposure to hazards; Workers and companies must comply with OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) standards, wear personal protective equipment and complete required

training programs. The mixing of water and antimicrobials is a highly automated process in poultry plants so that workers rarely come into contact with any undiluted agents. Most of these antimicrobials have a pungent odor that if an excessive concentration were to occur, it would be taken care of immediately. Therefore, continued exposure to any potential harmful level is very rare. Q. Will the USDA’s proposed poultry inspection system increase the use of antimicrobials in plants? A. There is no evidence that USDA’s proposed poultry inspection system will increase the use of antimicrobials in plants. If more birds are produced, the volume of antimicrobials used will increase to ensure that each bird is treated with the proper food safety interventions; the concentration levels of the antimicrobials do not increase. Most importantly, the volume of chicken produced is dictated by demand and the market, not line speeds or inspection systems. Increasing output simply because you can puts companies out of business. Increasing line speeds does not equate to increased production. More than likely it means less production time, not more chickens produced, and not more antimicrobial use. Q. Are plants operating under the HIMP pilot less safe than other plants? (HIMP = Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point-

•World (Continued from page 4)

problem in need of fixing.” The fact is, America’s food supply is the best in the world. Our food production marries the best of conventional farming with the best of historical and organic practices to give us an infinite variety of safe, high-quality food. At the American Farm Bureau

Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting in Nashville, Dr. Kenneth Quinn was a recipient of the Distinguished Service to Agriculture award. Quinn was U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia and is now president of the World Food Prize pioneered by Dr. Norman Borlaug. Quinn believes that the last 50 or 60 years have been “the single greatest period of food production and hunger reduction in all human history.”

This is not a food system in need of major fixing. It is a food system that should be honored and celebrated. But, yes, there is a conspiracy; make no mistake about that. Farmers, ranchers, agribusiness, land grant universities, departments of agriculture, Farm Bureau and commodity organizations have all conspired to produce this marvel.

based Inspection Models Project.) A. The incidence of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in the poultry sector, which includes slaughter and processing, continues to decline, according to the 2011 Injury and Illness Report recently released by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total recordable poultry processing illness and injury rate for 2011 was 5.8 cases per 100 fulltime workers (per year), down from 5.9 in 2010. In terms of injuries per 100 full time workers, the poultry industry’s rate of 5.8 was below the rate of 6.4 for all animal slaughter and processing and only slightly above the rate of 5.6 for the entire food manufacturing sector. Poultry processing’s 2011 rate of 5.8 represents a 74 percent decrease from 1994 (the oldest data available on the BLS website), when the recorded rate was 22.7, demonstrating

Great Gifts

the enormous progress the industry has made in improving safety for its workforce. It is also noteworthy to compare poultry processing’s 5.8 percent rate to other industries and professions. For 2011 the BLS reported injury/illness rate for automobile manufacturing workers was 7.5 percent; for office furniture manufacturing, 5.2 percent; for passenger airline workers, 7.9 percent; and for state and local government workers, 5.7 percent. A recent survey of poultry plants participating in the pilot project show, for both Total Recordable Injury Rates and Days Away/Restricted or Transfer Rates, that these plants are as safe for workers as plants that operate under traditional inspection. In fact, the data indicate that there is no statistical difference between plants involved in the pilot project and traditional inspected facilities with regards to these injury and illness rates.

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Vidalia onions have begun shipping for this year ATLANTA — Georgia Agriculture Commissioner, Gary W. Black announced April 15 as this year’s official “Shipping Date” for the 2013 Vidalia® Onion marketing season. The shipping date is based on the recommendation of the Vidalia Onion Advisory Panel under the authority of the law, rules and regulations applicable to Vidalia onions. Vidalia onions were only shipped prior to April 15 if each and every load being shipped had a FederalState Inspection Certificate stating the onions had met the established grade requirements and are under “Positive Lot Identification” as approved by the Federal-State Inspection Service. “Baby” Vidalia onions with greens attached were also shipped earlier in the season. “The Federal-State Inspection

ial c r e m Com tural ul Agric tial en Resid ial tr Indus

assures the quality of the onions and that they have matured to meet the marketing standards,” Black said. “Onions that are harvested and shipped too early and do not meet the grade requirements can damage the reputation of this important crop.”

Last year Most in the industry are still reeling from the 2012 crop, where growers say historically higherthan-normal temperatures during the growing season spurred smaller sizes and the onset of a particularly virulent strain of downy mildew; the combination of which resulted in roughly one-third reductions in marketable yields. Storage facilities last season remained largely un-filled, which resulted in a shortened season.

Optimistic Vidalia growers feel generally upbeat and optimistic regarding this upcoming crop, the Georgia Department of Agriculture noted. Most are reporting great stands, uniform growth and a general low-incidence of plant disease — all pointing to a great crop. Conversely, many are concerned about the recent (and forecasted) coolerthan-normal temperatures. The expectation now is this may slow maturity Georgia Vidalia onion growers plan to harvest more than 12,000 acres of the onions in 2013. Vidalia onions are unique to Georgia and may only be grown in parts of a 20-county area in the southeastern part of the state. The onions are prized for their sweetness and lack of heat and are used raw or cooked.

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Vidalia onions: The official shipping of this year’s Vidalia®onion crop began on April 15.

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Make it at Home Recipe Miso-Smothered Chicken The Associated Press Servings: 4 This one-pot chicken dinner by Kentucky chef Edward Lee blends a staple of Southern cooking — fried chicken — with two deliciously savory Asian ingredients, salty miso and a half pound of shiitake mushrooms. Together they produce a chicken that is tender and wildly flavorful with a thick sauce that is good enough to eat by the spoonful. Though the recipe calls for bonein, skin-on chicken thighs, test chefs tried the recipe with boneless, skinless thighs and found it just as delicious. yy Ingredients: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil 2 cups chopped yellow onions 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1/3 cup bourbon 2 cups chicken stock 1/2 cup orange juice 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon dark miso 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, thinly sliced Cooked rice, to serve yy Directions: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, cayenne and garlic powder. Add the chicken and toss well to coat evenly. In a medium Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the chicken pieces skin side down and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a paper-towel-lined plate. Set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onions.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bourbon and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, orange juice, soy sauce and miso and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pot, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 30 minutes. Add the mushrooms and simmer, uncovered, until the mushrooms are tender and the sauce is thickened to the consistency of a gravy, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Serve with rice. Nutrition information per serving: 460 calories; 200 calories from fat (43 percent of total calories); 22 g fat (5 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 80 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 22 g protein; 1,200 mg sodium. (Recipe is from Edward Lee’s “Smoke and Pickles, Artisan, 2013).

USDA asks communities to help fill children’s summer meal gap WASHINGTON — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is calling on communities across the country to partner with USDA’s summer meals program to ensure that no child goes hungry when school is out. During a recent roundtable with Josh Wachs, chief strategy officer for Share Our Strength; Kathy Underhill, executive director of Hunger Free Colorado; and Harriett Phillips, liaison to the Arkansas No Kid Hungry Campaign for Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe; Vilsack reiterated the vital role of partners in reaching eligible children and their families and challenged them to help USDA serve 5 million more meals this summer. “Children need healthy food all

year long to grow and achieve to their highest ambitions. We know that when school lets out, millions of low-income children no longer get a healthy breakfast or lunch. USDA’s summer meals program helps to fill that gap and is an invaluable investment in the future of America’s children,” Vilsack said. “Today, I challenge our partners and communities across the nation to work with us to ensure that all children have access to healthy food during the summer months.” “Poor nutrition during summer months sets up a cycle of poor performance once school begins again and makes children — especially those who experience poverty or food insecurity — more prone to illness and other health issues,”

Vilsack added. “I am proud to say that our nation’s communities are working hard to make sure every child has the food they need all year long.” USDA’s summer meals programs operate through partnerships between USDA, state agencies and local organizations. Local sponsors, such as schools, local government agencies, faith-based and nonprofit community organizations and residential and non-residential camps provide free meals and activities to eligible low-income children during the summer months. In 2012, USDA’s partners served 144 million summer meals at 38,800 sites. More information can be obtained at 866-348-6479 or

The Associated Press

Miso-Smothered Chicken




Record crop insurance payout stirs subsidy debate The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa — Farmers will be paid a record $16 billion in crop insurance claims for 2012 because of the widespread drought, a staggering amount that has critics calling for changes to what they say is an inefficient taxpayer subsidy the government cannot afford. While farmers buy crop insurance from private companies, the federal government subsidizes their premiums and picks up the tab for losses over a certain amount. One analyst estimates the federal tab for 2012 will come to about $11 billion. It is the second year in a row that U.S. farmers have received record crop insurance payments as flooding and drought in 2011 was followed by an even worse drought last year. The $16 billion in payments also comes as lawmakers working on a new farm bill have been considering a shift from di-

saster relief to crop insurance as a more predicable way of protecting farmers from natural disasters. Farmers say they must have some kind of protection or a year like the past two could put them out of business. Ben Steffen, who has crops and livestock near Humboldt, Neb., said he had insurance to cover three-fourths of his losses last year when drought took about a third of his corn and soybeans and twofifths of his hay. Farmers can buy insurance that covers from 50 percent to 85 percent of the revenue they would have earned and pay premiums based on their coverage. “It’s not a money-making proposition,” Steffen said. “It’s a way to keep you from getting buried by a disaster.” The most recent report from the Federal Crop Insurance Corp., released on March 18, put the total

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Crop insurance: This photo, taken on Aug. 16, 2012, shows a damaged ear of corn near Nickerson, Neb. Farmers will be paid a record $16 billion in crop insurance claims for 2012 because of the widespread drought, an amount that has critics calling for changes to what they say is an inefficient taxpayer subsidy the government cannot afford.

payout so far at $15.91 billion, but some claims for 2012 are still pending. Even so, last year’s loss represents at least a 47 percent increase from the $10.8 billion record loss in 2011. Taxpayers will pick up most of the cost. The program run by the Risk Management Agency in the USDA is a three-way venture in which insurance companies sell farmers policies to cover crop losses. The government subsidizes the program by paying about 62 percent of the cost of insurance premiums and farmers pay about 38 percent. When losses exceed premiums, the government ends up picking up most of that cost too, said Bruce Babcock, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University. He estimated that between premium subsidies, crop loss payments and administrative costs, U.S. taxpayers will end up paying about $11 billion for 2012. That’s too much, he said. “I believe farmers need the opportunities to have all the tools they

could possibly use to manage their risks,” Babcock said. “I just don’t think they need to be bribed to do so with such high degree of subsidies.” Some agriculture economists think the federal government should set up an emergency fund that sets aside a certain amount of money, perhaps $3 billion a year, to cover unusual disasters. But crop insurers still say their program is a better bet because approval of emergency aid isn’t always certain and crop insurance pays faster. That “stabilizes the supply chain quite a bit” because banks and other companies know farmers will be able to make loan payments and pay their bills even in bad years, said Tom Zacharias, president of National Crop Insurance Services, the nonprofit trade group for insurers that sell policies to farmers. A similar debate is being heard in Congress, where Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and John Duncan of Tennessee, introduced bills in early March to reduce the premium subsidy to pre-2000 levels. Flake said the proposals will save

about $40.1 billion over 10 years by cutting the government’s portion of insurance premiums to 37 percent from the current 62 percent. Congress had increased the subsidy to boost participation in the program — a move that was successful in raising the number of insured acres from 215 million acres in 2002 to 282 million acres last year. “The current U.S. fiscal crisis makes a strong argument for a common sense roll back of crop insurance subsidies,” Flake said in a statement. But Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, another Republican, said it’s better for farmers to buy crop insurance than to go to the federal government for disaster aid every time there’s a significant drought or flood. “It’s either going to be disaster assistance or its going to be crop insurance,” he said. “Isn’t it better for the government to promote risk management and have the farmer plan ahead and probably pay out a lot less taxpayer dollars than you have with disaster assistance?”




Jan Cooley inducted into JA business hall of fame GAINESVILLE — Based on his lifetime commitment to the principles of market-based economics and entrepreneurship, Jan Cooley was inducted into the 2013 Business Hall of Fame by the Northeast Georgia chapter of Junior Achievement. Cooley is CEO of Pro View Foods, a complete foodservice Cooley poultry pro-

ducer with three plants in Gainesville and Braselton, Ga. Cooley founded Pro View Foods ( in 2008, having begun his poultry career in the 1960’s. Pro View is a successor company to Kings Delight Ltd. In the Junior Achievement presentation, he was commended for his passion for work and for creating a work environment that is open to new ideas and experimentation. The Burlington, N.C., native was raised in a cotton mill village where his father worked. His poultry industry career began during his high school days and included

a stint with the industry-pioneer, J. D. Jewell. “I got really deep into the poultry business (at Jewell’s); that is where the seed was planted,” he noted. Junior Achievement also acknowledged Cooley mirrored its mission to assist young people reach personal success through education and opportunities. “It’s been a great experience being able to grow the business in the community and help others through the company,” he added. Cooley and his wife, Betty, have been married for 42 years and have two daughters and six grandchildren.

•Dandelions (Continued from page 1)

“lion’s tooth.” This description comes from their “toothy” leaves. The publication continues by noting that the plants were, at one time, even cultivated in North America for remedies to various ailments, as well as for a food source. The Farmers’ Almanac adds that, “every part of the plant is edible. Fresh dandelion leaves have a sharp, bitter flavor that many find pleasing in salads. Just substitute them for lettuce in your favorite recipe, or mix them with other greens for a mellower flavor. Cooking them lessens their bite, and they are also popular sautéed or in soups. The flowers are often used to make a distinctive wine.” For other parts of the plant, the roots have been used for making a tea. And some have boiled and peeled the roots with the result tasting similar to turnips, reports have noted. As for nutrition, it is also reported that the dandelion’s leaves contain vitamins A, C and K, as well as potassium, iron, manganese and calcium. For another benefit, that is non-

culinary related, the flowers are noted to attract ladybugs, and ladybugs control pest insects like aphids. But to get rid of the plants, their long roots, called taproots, can extend several feet into the ground, which makes the control of dandelions sometimes challenging.

Weed control If you do not view the plant as a resource of some kind, but take the modern traditional approach that the dandelion is a weed that needs to be removed, there are several options. The University of Minnesota Extension notes that, “the least you should do to control dandelions is mow frequently and collect clippings when they begin to go to seed. Reducing your weed seed crop will not guarantee an end to more dandelions, though. Seeds can blow in from elsewhere and remain viable for years in the soil, waiting for a chance to grow. And because they’re perennial weeds, dandelions will keep coming back, larger and stronger each year unless they’re removed or killed.” It is also reported that dandeli-

ons can be controlled with a 2,4-D herbicide, but many are looking for alternatives for weed removal that rely less on chemicals. The website,, notes that adding corn gluten to your lawn fertilizer may help reduce dandelions. It also recommends a technique that involves warming white vinegar in a cooking pot and pouring it, undiluted, over dandelion flowers and leaves. The acidic vinegar should kill the flowers above ground. Then in a couple of days, pull the plant’s long roots from the ground. It’s also added that for effective reduction of dandelions, this white vinegar technique will need to be used throughout the season. For techniques that involve manual removal of the plants by the roots, the University of Minnesota Extension adds that, “dandelions are at their weakest right after they bloom and food reserves in their roots are at their lowest. They bloom in both spring and fall when days are less than 12 hours long. Spring bloom is clearly the heaviest and best time to remove them manually.” Of course that is if you still want to remove them — and not occasionally eat one.

Dennis Hughes named GEC board chairman SUWANEE — Dennis Hughes of Blackshear, Ga., has been elected to serve as chairman of the Georgia Egg Commission’s board of directors for the 2013 calendar year. Jerry Straughan, the outgoing chairman, was named to fill the position of vice chairman. Hughes is general manager of United Egg Marketers in Blackshear, and has served on the commission’s board since 2009. Straughan is director of public relations for the southern division of Cal-Maine Foods. He has been a member of the Georgia Egg Commission’s board since 1997 and had served as chairman since 2005. Both men also serve on the board of the Georgia Egg Association, the state’s egg industry trade organization. Straughan was president

in 1999-2001. Hughes currently serves as second vice president. Other egg producer board members are: Larry Thomason, Thomason’s Fresh Eggs, Calhoun; Gijs Schimmel, Centurion Poultry, Lexington; and KY Hendrix, Rose Acre Farms, Madison. Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and Georgia Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall are ex-officio members. Advisors from the University of Georgia’s Poultry Science Department are Dr. Mike Lacy and Dr. Bruce Webster. The Georgia Egg Commission represents all Georgia egg producers with a program of promotion, education, and research. For industry information and free recipes write the commission at P.O Box 2929, Suwanee, Ga. 30024.

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Atlanta chocolatier wins first place at 2013 Flavor of Georgia By Merritt Melancon

Special to Georgia Ag News

ATLANTA — Atlanta architect Amy Stankus has spent years creating beautiful buildings, but lately she’s turned her sights to some smaller — albeit more delicious — creations. Her Atlanta-based chocolate shop won the grand prize of the 2013 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest. Chocolate South’s Peach Tea Bonbons were one of 24 products sampled and judged by a panel of food brokers, buyers and other food industry experts. In addition to winning the overall grand prize, Chocolate South took home first place in the competition’s confections category. Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and Gov. Nathan Deal were on hand to announce the winners on March 12 as part of Georgia Agriculture Awareness Day at the Georgia Freight Depot in downtown Atlanta. “The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the state of Georgia,” Black said at the awards ceremony. “If you don’t believe that than you should see what these outstanding business people are bringing to the table.” The annual contest, conducted by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, is a chance for food businesses to showcase new products. “We had so many great contestants this year,” said Sharon P.

Kane, Flavor of Georgia contest coordinator. “It really highlighted the high caliber of the food products created by Georgians.”

Peach Tea Bonbons A licensed architect specializing in medical buildings and avid “I Love Lucy” fan, Stankus started making her hand-crafted chocolates in her home kitchen for friends before launching an online shop. She opened the Chocolate South chocolate shop on Marietta Street in Atlanta in June 2012. “I love talking to people about chocolate,” Stankus said. “I love sharing good chocolate with people . . . I hope (being in the Flavor of Georgia Contest) showcases some interesting flavor combinations with chocolate. We have great products here in Georgia to pair with chocolate.” Peach Tea Bonbon features a ganache infused with the flavor of Georgia Peaches Tea, created by Atlanta-based small-batch tea maven Brandi Shelton. The tea was also a finalist in this year’s contest. yy Flavor of Georgia is a boon for food entrepreneurs and grocery merchants alike. Food industry experts — including chefs, grocery buyers, food service personnel and agricultural marketing executives — rated the contest’s products based on qualities like innovation, use of Georgia theme, market potential and flavor, said James Daniels, a UGA CAED food business development specialist.

Showcase events like the Flavor of Georgia competition help entrepreneurs get the word out about their products. Many have landed spots in regional and national grocery chains, like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Harvey’s and Piggly Wiggly, after the contest. Other category winners were: yy People’s Choice — Georgia Buffalo Inc.; Georgia Buffalo N.Y. Strip Steak; Troy Biven, Townsend, Ga. yy Jams & Jellies— MiDi Blueberry Farm: Spiced Blueberry Peach Jam; Mike & Diane Stafford, Byron, Ga. yy Sauces — Chinese Southern Belle; My Sweet Hottie Homestyle Sweet & Sour Sauce; Natalie and Margaret Keng, Smyrna, Ga. yy Barbecue and Hot Sauces — Atlanta Bee Co.; Hotanta Honey: Honey with a Sting; G. Giddens, Atlanta, Ga. yy Dairy — Flat Creek Farm & Dairy; Georgia Red; Ryan and Spice Burger, Swainsboro, Ga. yy Snack foods — Byne Blueberry Farm; Burke Bar; Richard Byne, Waynesboro, Ga. yy Meat — Hunter Cattle Co.; Hunter Cattle Co. Pork Sausage; Del and Debra Ferguson, Brooklet, Ga. yy Miscellaneous products — Gayla’s Grits; Gayla’s Grits; Gayla and Kevin Shaw, Lakeland, Ga. More information about the Flavor of Georgia can be obtained at www.flavorofgeorgia.caes.uga. edu.

USDA proposes simplified process for energy funding WASHINGTON — USDA has proposed a series of changes to make it easier for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to apply for renewable energy and energy efficiency funding. “These changes are intended to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses throughout America,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “They will

streamline and simplify the application process and give businesses more time to do what they do best: innovate, create jobs and serve their rural communities.” The proposed changes would affect applications for loans and grants through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program. They would: Reduce paperwork, especially for projects

under $80,000; Implement a more objective and uniform system to score applications; Authorize funding for refurbished and retrofitted renewable energy systems; Reduce certain reporting requirements; Establish a quarterly application period for applicants seeking only guaranteed loans. More information can be obtained at www.gpo. gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-12/ pdf/2013-07273.pdf.

Merritt Melancon/UGA

Flavor of Georgia: Atlanta architect and chocolatier Amy Stankus serves chocolates to the public during the Flavor of Georgia 2013 legislative reception on March 11 at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta. Her company, Chocolate South, won the first prize in the 2013 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest.

Winners and finalists earn the right to have their products stamped with the 2013 Flavor of Georgia logo. Flavor of Georgia is only a starting point for many of the category winners, Kane said. Kane followed up with the 2011 winners and found that between 70 percent and 80 percent experienced increased interest in their products, sales and business contacts as a result of the contest. This contest is sponsored by the UGA CAES Center for Agribusi-

ness and Economic Development in partnership with the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, Office of Governor Nathan Deal, Walton EMC, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Georgia Agribusiness Council and the UGA Department of Food Science and Technology. Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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Fruit-bearing plants & trees should wait a year to provide fruit By Frank M. Watson

Special to Georgia Ag News

WASHINGTON, Ga. — The temptation is great to let newly set fruit plants bear fruit the first year, but don’t be give in. Whether they are fruit trees or tiny plants like strawberries, these plants need that first year to become established. If you gather your berries or fruits this year, you could deal with less healthy, less productive plants for years to come.

Remove first blooms Gardeners should remove all of a fruit plants blooms the first year after planting to prevent them from bearing fruit. For strawberries, allowing the

newly set plants to produce fruit the first year can reduce the amount of fruit the plant produces the following year and delay the formation of daughter plants. Just a single fruit can sap the limited resources of a young fruit tree and delay its development. Even if new shoots do develop, they can be stunted and produce a misshapened tree.

Fertilizer Fertilization is an important practice in growing all fruit crops. When properly used, fertilizers help achieve better plant growth and increased yields. Improperly used, fertilizer can be wasted or even damage fruit plants. Fertilizer cannot compensate for poor plants or cultural practices.

Wendell Bagwell 2041 Memorial Park Drive Gainesville, GA

Follow soil test results Take a soil sample to your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office to determine fertilizer needs. Soil samples can be taken at any time but late winter is probably the best time. A soil test will provide a lot of information about your soil, but one of the most important things to know for fruit trees is whether you need to adjust the soil pH by applying lime. Lime applications made during the next several weeks will have ample time to react before the spring growing season begins. Generally it takes about three months for lime to react in the soil. Frank M. Watson is the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent in Wilkes County, Ga.

Stephanie Schupska/UGA

Strawberries: Fruit trees and plants should not bear fruit their first year. Allowing newly set strawberry plants, for example, to produce fruit the first year can reduce the amount of fruit the plant produces the following year and delay the formation of daughter plants.

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Agbiosciences driving growth and job creation in the South By Faith Peppers

Special to Georgia Ag News

ATHENS — Amid news of a still sputtering U.S. economic recovery, a recent report shows the nation’s agbioscience industries are growing, especially in the South. According to the Battelle study, “Impact and Innovation: Agbioscience in the Southern United States,” agriculture, forestry and fisheries production generates $240 billion in regional economic activity within the Southern region and supports more than 2.2 million jobs with labor income totaling $62 billion. Agbioscience encompasses a broad continuum of development, production and value-added use of plants and animals for food, health, fuel and industrial applications. The study’s findings show that agbioscience, its value-chain in production and the downstream industrial activity are vital to the country’s sustainable global and domestic economic future. The Southern region helps drive that activity. In addition, the downstream processing of agriculture, forestry and fisheries output into value-added food and industrial products adds an additional $1 trillion in output across the Southern region’s economy and almost 4.6 million jobs with labor income totaling more than $200 billion. “The current and future importance of the agbiosciences is hard to overstate,” said Simon Tripp, a co-

author of the report. “For instance, this science and industry sector is fundamental to the survival of the world’s expanding population, the food security of our nation and the health of our population.” The dean of the University of Georgia’s agricultural college credits land-grant research for pushing the industry ahead. “Agriculture is the foundation of our economy in Georgia,” said J. Scott Angle, dean and director of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “The innovation and education from our college has helped put the industry on a positive trajectory to become one of the leading food and fiber producers in the world.” Georgia’s total food and fiber sector employs 688,586 Georgia workers and has annual sales of nearly $107 billion, more than $12 billion at the farm level. Food and fiber supplies more than 13 percent of the total employment in the economy and more than 11 percent of the value-added business. UGA is most noted across the region and the nation as a leader in crop genetics, variety development, food safety and cutting-edged animal research. “Innovations from our college enhance the state’s ability to attract new, lucrative biotech firms to the state while continuing to support the vital agriculture industry that grows jobs and revenue at all levels of the economy,” Angle said. “Agriculture is one of the most stable

industries in any economic environment.” The industry’s tremendous economic impact across the Southern region is due in large part to the modern science and technology innovations from the Land-grant University Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station System. The system successfully addresses agriculture’s crucial national and global needs through research and development, practice improvement, skills enhancement, and new technology introduction, dissemination and adoption, the Battelle report shows. “The findings from this study underscore agbioscience’s potential in the Southern region, said Saied Mostaghimi, director of Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and associate dean for research and graduate studies at Virginia Tech, and this year’s leader of the region’s research association. “By utilizing the research and development power of our landgrant universities, we can develop the knowledge and appropriate technologies to further increase agriculture and forestry production for food, fiber and fuel, while improving food safety and nutrition, enhancing environmental stewardship and promoting economic development,” he said. The study notes the Land-grant University Extension Service and Experiment Station System is on the frontline of sustaining and securing U.S. competitiveness in

what is, and will continue to be, a sector of core strategic importance for the country. This U.S. system of research and Extension provides science and technology development and transformational education that keep Southern Region agriculture, agribusiness and associated business sectors at the forefront of innovation, productivity and competitiveness. These advancements create and sustain jobs and contribute to a strong regional, national and global economy. “Throughout our hundred-year history, Cooperative Extension has set the pace of change in agriculture, natural resources and rural America. In today’s fast-changing world, we must provide the best decisionmaking tools and Extension education possible to farmers, ranchers, families and communities,” said Beverly Sparks, UGA’s associate dean for Extension and leader of the region’s Extension directors this year. “It is imperative the Southern region be well-prepared to take advantage of the tremendous potential we have before us.” “The Southern Region’s Extension Service and Experiment Station System represents a uniquely powerful resource,” said Deborah Cummings, a co-author of the report. “In recognition of this importance, the system is traditionally supported by federal, state and local governments, and by industry, producers, commodity organiza-

tions and other key stakeholders. This support must not only be sustained, but ideally — given the size and scope of grand domestic and global challenges addressed by the agbiosciences — should be significantly expanded so that the Southern Region can take advantage of the large-scale opportunities presented,” she said. During the past four years, UGA CAES has sustained cuts from the state budget totaling well over 20 percent and the pending federal cuts will take more from the college’s resources. “In our science and technologybased economic development practice at Battelle, we have observed the consistent rise of agbioscience as a core driver of economic growth and business expansion opportunities for the U.S.,” co-author Tripp said. “This is an extremely dynamic sector, leveraging sustainable biobased resources to produce goods that meet large-scale market needs. The Southern Region is a global leader in traditional agricultural economic activity, and can count itself as one of a select few regions in the world that is also leading the charge in emerging areas of the modern bioeconomy.” The full report is available online at: SouthernAgbioscienceImpact. Faith Peppers is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has recently noted USDA’s efforts to improve school meals and outlined the need for a renewed commitment to improve childhood nutrition, which will lead to a healthier generation of Americans. In remarks at Henry A. Wolcott Elementary School, Vilsack said that America’s students now

have healthier and more nutritious school meals due to improved nutrition standards implemented as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The new standards ensure that the 32 million students who participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program have access to meals that contain fruits, vegetables and

whole grains, and are limited in fat, sodium and sugar. “For many kids . . . healthy meals at school are vital to growing up healthy and strong,” Vilsack said. “When children are given the tools they need to make healthy food choices it sets them up to do better in school, while creating generational change that will lead to a healthier nation.”



U.S. soybean farmers see growth potential in edamame The Associated Press

MULBERRY, Ark. — A small but growing number of farmers have been experimenting with an edible soybean as they look to capitalize on Americans’ interest in adding non-meat proteins to their diets. The United States is one of the world’s top soybean producers, but most beans grown here are used to make cooking oil and feed farm animals. They aren’t eaten whole. Now, some farmers from Arkansas to Minnesota are planting a type called edamame, which is commonly used in Asian cuisine.

Niche product Food trend experts and farmers say edamame remains a niche product — somewhere between chia seeds and quinoa in popularity — but they see potential for growth if food companies can figure out an efficient processing system for a crop that must be harvested and packaged quickly. Plus, with meat prices rising, Americans are interested in less expensive, alternative proteins. And possible marketing worries, including the notion that soybeans are livestock food, have faded. “Soy has not historically been viewed as being an edible crop in the U.S., but now, with more people becoming aware of Asian foods like tofu and edamame . . . and more people adopting plant-based diets,” things are changing, said Ray Chung, who runs an Arkansas plant billed as the first one in the U.S. dedicated to processing edamame. Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group, a consumer market research firm, said he’s seen a trend in cost-conscious consumers looking for alternatives

to meat. “If you can make my proteins cheaper by providing me with an alternative protein source, I think you have a wider market because now you’re talking about money saved,” Balzer said. It’s not clear how much edamame is being produced in the U.S. because the USDA doesn’t distinguish it from other soybeans.

Starting small But trade groups, such as the American Soybean Association and the Ankeny, Iowa-based Soyfoods Council, agree that the amount is small, and most of what Americans eat now comes from Asia. Farmers who are testing the edamame market have mostly started small. Ray Gaesser has been planting about one-tenth of an acre on his farm near Corning, Iowa. His main business comes from some 6,000 acres of soybeans and corn. “Growing edamame is the same thing as growing a conventional soybean. It’s the harvesting that’s the difference,” said Gaesser, who is also first vice president of the St. Louis-based American Soybean Association. Farmers typically plant soybeans — edamame or otherwise — in the spring. The plants sprout, grow leaves and flowers and, eventually, bean pods. Most commercially produced soy is left to dry in the fields before its seeds are harvested to make oil and animal feed. Edamame, on the other hand, is picked when the bean pods are green and tender. “Once it’s harvested, you’ve got a certain amount of time to get it to the processing plant to get it processed or you start losing quality

and you start losing product,” said Jeremy Ross, an Extension soybean specialist at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Gaesser has been growing edamame for several years now and said he would consider planting more, but there’s not a processing plant close enough to his farm to make it practical. In Arkansas, Chung and his father convinced nearby farmers to grow some 900 acres of edamame last year for his company, American Vegetable Soybean & Edamame Inc. He plans to increase that number this year, although he wouldn’t say by exactly how much. He wouldn’t allow the Associated Press to talk to his farmers, either, citing confidentiality agreements. Chung is protective of his company’s share of what he estimates is a $175 million to $200 million market, with 25,000 to 30,000 tons of edamame being consumed each year in the U.S. All the edamame frozen at his plant about 140 miles northwest of Little Rock is grown in the U.S. Chung and Gaesser said that edamame could be more profitable for farmers than other kinds of soybeans. Chung’s company is selling now to stores including Sam’s Club and Whole Foods. Someday, he hopes to export American-grown edamame to Asia, where people have been eating it for centuries. “There’s a big middle class that’s emerging in China, and they’re becoming more educated about food choices,” Chung said. “And so, to them, when they see a ‘Made in the USA’ label . . . they want it.”

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AP Photo/Jeannie Nuss

Edamame: Ray Chung, who runs a plant in Mulberry, Ark., billed as the first in the U.S. dedicated to processing edamame, shows some of the soybeans in this photo taken in March.

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Group kicks off planting of ancient tree clones The Associated Press

COPEMISH, Mich. — A team led by a nurseryman from northern Michigan and his sons has raced against time for two decades, snipping branches from some of the world’s biggest and most durable trees with plans to produce clones that could restore ancient forests and help fight climate change. Now comes the most ambitious phase of the quest: getting the new trees into the ground. Ceremonial plantings of two dozen clones from California’s mighty coastal redwoods were taking place April 22 in seven nations: Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Germany and the U.S. Although measuring just 18-inches tall, the laboratory-produced trees are genetic duplicates of three giants that were cut down in northern California more than a century ago. Remarkably, shoots still emerge from the stumps, including one known as the Fieldbrook Stump near McKinleyville, which measures 35 feet in diameter. It’s believed to be about 4,000 years old. The tree was about 40 stories high before it was felled.

“This is a first step toward mass production,” said David Milarch, co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, a nonprofit group spearheading the project. “We need to reforest the planet; it’s imperative. To do that, it just makes sense to use the largest, oldest, most iconic trees that ever lived.” Milarch and his sons Jared and Jake, who have a family-owned nursery in the village of Copemish, Mich., became concerned about the condition of the world’s forests in the 1990s. They began crisscrossing the U.S. in search of “champion” trees that have lived hundreds or even thousands of years, convinced that superior genes enabled them to outlast others of their species. Scientific opinion varies on whether that’s true, with skeptics saying the survivors may simply have been lucky. The Archangel leaders say they’re out to prove the doubters wrong. They’ve developed several methods of producing genetic copies from cuttings, including placing branch tips less than an inch long in baby food jars containing nutrients and hormones. The specimens are cultivated in labs until large enough to be planted.

In recent years, they have focused on towering sequoias and redwoods, considering them best suited to absorb massive volumes of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas primarily responsible for climate change. “If we get enough of these trees out there, we’ll make a difference,” said Jared Milarch, the group’s executive director. Archangel has an inventory of several thousand clones in various stages of growth that were taken from more than 70 redwoods and giant sequoias. NASA engineer Steve Craft, who helped arrange for David Milarch to address an agency gathering, said research shows that those species hold much more carbon than other varieties. The challenge is to find places to put the trees, people to nurture them and money to continue the project, Jared Milarch said. The group is funded through donations and doesn’t charge for its clones. “A lot of trees will be planted by a lot of groups on Arbor Day, but 90 percent of them will die,” David Milarch said. “It’s a feel-good thing. You can’t plant trees and walk away and expect them to take care of themselves.”

Associated Press/John Flesher

Tree clones: In this photograph taken April 18, 2013, Jake Milarch holds coastal redwood clones developed in the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive lab in Copemish, Mich. Milarch and other members of the nonprofit group hope to plant millions of redwood clones to reforest the planet and fight climate change.

The recipients of Archangel redwoods have pledged to care for them properly, he said. The first planting of about 250 took place in December on a ranch near Port Orford, Ore. Others were being planted during Earth Day observances at the College of Marin in

Kentwood, Calif., and in parks and private estates in the other six countries. “I know the trees will thrive here,” said Tom Burke, landscape manager at the College of Marin. “We’ve had redwoods in this area since God planted them.”

Georgia DNR notes deer season length not being reduced SOCIAL CIRCLE — Hunters and others recently may have heard one of multiple news sources claim that the deer season length was to be reduced in the 2013-2014 hunting year. Not the case. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division wishes to address this concern and remind citizens to always check Hunting/regulations for correct information. “The proposed regulations under consideration recommend a 25-day reduction only in the number of

either-sex or ‘doe days,’ not in the length of the overall deer season,” said John Bowers, assistant chief of the Game Management Section. “This proposed change is a result of scientific data and deer hunters will still be able to hunt bucks during either-sex days.” Long-term data indicate a statewide decline in the fawn recruitment rate in all physiographic regions of the state. At the same time, does have comprised 60 percent to 65 percent of the annual deer harvest. Additionally, the harvest of does

has increased by 13 percent during the past few years. In other words, there are less deer being recruited to replenish and stabilize the deer population. The broad trend of declining fawn recruitment rates coupled with high levels of doe harvest warrant a statewide regulatory action, the department noted. Additionally, as indicated by a marked increase in public dissatisfaction related to antlerless deer harvest, declines in deer density have become an issue of concern among many deer hunters in Georgia.

“We believe the proposed reduction in either-sex days strikes a reasonable balance between diverse hunter desires while attempting to address statewide biological concerns,” Bowers said. “There is no proposal that will satisfy everyone. The department has done its best to develop a balanced proposal. While the proposed reduction in either-sex days reduces the opportunity to harvest does, it maintains the opportunity to deer hunt and harvest antlered bucks.” The economic impact of deer

hunters and hunting activities is beneficial to the state and to conservation efforts, the department added. Deer hunting in Georgia is responsible for more than $537 million in retail sales and supports more than 11,500 jobs. In fact, deer hunting in Georgia has an economic impact in excess of $890 million. Additionally, since 1939, hunters have directly contributed more than $165 million for wildlife conservation in Georgia. More information can also be obtained at 770-761-3045.




Tiny mite spreads ugly disease by feeding on roses By Paul Pugliese

Special to Georgia Ag News

CARTERSVILLE — Roses are typically viewed as one of the most beautiful flowers, but in rare cases a tiny pest can cause gnarly looking, new growth on rose bushes. Rose leaf-curl mites feed on roses and cause rose rosette virus, also known as RRV. The extremely small eriophyid mite feeds on plant sap from the tender stems and leaf petioles. The pest alone causes little damage while feeding, but if it is a carrier of RRV, symptoms begin to appear in the rose typically within one to three months. There is no cure for RRV and it is not always preventable, since there are no vaccines for plant viruses. yy Causes thick, succulent stems Infected roses exhibit reddened terminal growth on infected branches, and the stems become thicker and more succulent than those on unaffected parts of the plant. These

stems exhibit an abnormally high number of pliable thorns, which may be either green or red. Infected rose bushes produce less flowers and the petals may be distorted and fewer in number. Rose leaves that develop on infected branches are smaller than normal and may be deformed similarly to herbicide injury by 2,4D. Lateral branches may grow excessively from main stems and create a witch’s broom symptom, much like injury from herbicide glyphosate (Roundup and other brands). yy Treat nearby rose bushes To reduce the spread of leaf-curl mites from the site of an infected rose, nearby roses can be treated with an insecticide spray containing bifenthrin or a horticultural summer oil every two weeks between April and September. This may help prevent additional plants from becoming virus infected by any sap-vectoring mites. Symptoms of the virus generally become

evident in the late spring to early summer and progress during the growing season. By late summer or fall, the plant will have a noticeable amount of abnormal, gnarly growth. Once the rose becomes infected, RRV moves throughout the plant and the entire bush becomes infected. By the time symptoms are evident in a rose, the virus may have spread to adjacent roses by the movement of the mites. yy Only affects roses Infected plants typically die within a couple of years. The good news is RRV only affects roses, so other plants in your garden won’t get this disease unless they are closely related to the rose plant. Since there are no treatments for plant viruses, infected roses should be immediately removed, then burned or bagged for disposal. Also remove any roots that might re-sprout later. Do not leave an uprooted, infected plant in the garden, as the mites may leave this bush for other nearby roses.

When planting new roses, space plants far enough apart so that they do not touch in order to minimize potential spread of these types of diseases. Because RRV is systemic within the infected rose plants, grafting infected stems onto other rose plants will transmit the virus. Nursery growers may infect roses this way through poor propagation practices. Pruning shears and other tools used on diseased roses should be disinfected with rubbing alcohol or a 10 percent diluted bleach solution before being used on healthy plants. Sap left on the pruners can contaminate other roses. For more information on growing roses, refer to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension publications at www.caes.uga. edu/publications/. Paul Pugliese is the agriculture and natural resources agent for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office in Bartow County.



Partnership to provide local food for Georgia restaurants ATLANTA — The Georgia Restaurant Association and the Georgia Department of Agriculture have announced a partnership to promote the state’s culinary abundance: the Georgia Grown Restaurant Program for restaurants and foodservice facilities. Georgia Grown is the department’s marketing and branding tool to expand the state’s agricultural industry, and this new affiliation reflects the public’s increasing interest in locally grown food that supports farmers and small businesses as part of a more sustainable lifestyle, the department noted. The Georgia Grown Restaurant Program is an avenue for consumers to support locally grown foods when dining out at participating restaurants in their communities. “Georgia’s restaurants are increasingly planning their menus

around locally grown foods, so it made sense for GRA to support this outstanding program,” said GRA Executive Director Karen Bremer. “We are proud to support Georgia Grown as an economic development program that helps connect restaurants with the state’s top producers. “Participating restaurants can ensure that they are offering their customers top-quality food products, while supporting local growers and reducing their carbon footprint.” With more than 16,000 restaurants in the state of Georgia, the Georgia Restaurant Association serves as the voice of Georgia’s restaurants in advocacy, education and awareness. Food safety, nutrition and sustainability are three areas of focus for the association’s efforts to help their members succeed. “The new Georgia Grown Res-

taurant Program enables us to further promote and foster relationships between Georgia farmers and local chefs. Our state has a great deal of culinary talent — we need to use this talent for showcasing our locally grown produce and goods,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. “The association also has been an advocate for sustainability, and these issues mirror the Department of Agriculture’s work through Georgia Grown and other programs.” Two examples of the Georgia Grown Restaurant Program partnership are the Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program, which promotes the Georgia Grown campaign statewide, and the Golden Onion professional cooking competition at the annual Vidalia Onion Festival: yy The Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program recognizes four

outstanding chefs as ambassadors to promote a better understanding of the availability and quality of Georgia products. Public school culinary education and school food nutrition programs will also be a major part of the Executive Chef program, offering training and recipe development. The four chefs for 2013 are Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Resurgens Hospitality in Atlanta, Chef David

Synder of Halyards, Tramici Restaurant and Halyards Catering in St. Simons, Chef Jennifer Hill Booker of Your Resident Gourmet LLC in Atlanta and Chef Ahmad Nourzad of Affairs to Remember Catering in Atlanta. yy The Golden Onion Competition kicked off at the 36th annual Vidalia Onion Festival on April 14, in Vidalia, Ga. Chefs vied to create the tastiest recipe featuring exclusive-to-Georgia Vidalia onions, one of the state’s most recognizable agricultural products. The “Golden Onion” trophy will be passed along from year-to-year to future winners of the competition, officials noted. More information about the Georgia Grown program can be obtained at More information about the Georgia Restaurant Association can be obtained at

Georgia Ag News April 2013 Edition  
Georgia Ag News April 2013 Edition  

Georgia Ag News April 2013 Edition