Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pesticide Furadan on 60 Minutes

The video above is a preview of a fascinating segment that 60 Minutes just had the on their program about lions in Africa and a well-known pesticide. Many farmers remember the restricted use insecticide/nematicide/miticide, Furadan (FMC Corporation). Furadan has a 24(c) registration label.

Apparently, Kenyans are using it to poison and terminate lions that kill their cattle. After a member of their herd is killed, Furadan is sprinkled on the carcass so that every other lion, or any animal, that feeds on that meat becomes poisoned and dies.

Kenyans can purchase a container of Furadan for only $2.

The read/learn more about this story visit Poison Takes Toll on Africa's Lions.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Event Announcement: How Important is Farmland in Your Community?

What?: The Importance of Farmland in Your Community

When?: April 2, 2009, 7 - 8:30 pm

Where?: Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center Auditorium , 455 Research Drive Mills River, NC 28759 (Directions)

Who should attend?: Residents (general public) of Henderson and Transylvania Counties who are concerned with farms and farmland

About the program:

Farmland is important to residents of Henderson and Transylvania Counties. At this meeting we the findings of two three-year studies on the value of farmland and ways to keep farming prosperous in your community will be discussed.

The Farmland Values Project is led by Leah Greden Mathews at UNC Asheville and the Farm Prosperity Project is led by Jeanine Davis at the NC State Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River. At the meeting the team will:

  1. share results from surveys and focus groups about what local residents and visitors value about farmland, including their willingness to contribute to local farm protection efforts. Results confirm the importance of farmland for maintaining residents’ quality of life, access to local food, and the scenic beauty of our region.
  2. explain how the coordinators worked with local farmers to develop tools to help farmers make decisions about their farms, how to preserve them, and what to grow.
  3. discuss the research that has been conducted on organic and heirloom tomatoes.
What to do if you want to attend: Walk-ins are welcome, but the team can plan better if you call ahead. Please call Terri Schell at 684-3562 to let them know you are coming.

Read about the meeting that took place in Haywood County in Disappearing Farms
and Saving Farms.

More information is available about these projects at and

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Action Needed For Those Employing H2-A Workers

Last Monday I blogged about the Suspension of the H2-A Program. Here are a few bullet points relating to this important issue. Following the bullet points there is an opportunity to let your voice be heard. Must be done by March 27!
  • On Tuesday, March 17th the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor (DOL) released a proposal to suspend the Bush Administration’s recent changes to the H-2A program
  • If adopted, the suspension would last for 9 months
  • DOL is proposing the suspension so it may “review and reconsider” the Bush H-2A Rule “while minimizing the disruption to the Department, State Workforce Agencies (SWAs), employers and workers.”
  • DOL established a 10 day comment period for the proposal
  • The short duration of the comment period is unusual, but not unprecedented
  • DOL argues the 10 day comment period is sufficient because a longer time period would stretch too far into the growing season
  • If DOL decides to suspend the Bush H-2A Rule, it will “re-instate verbatim” the H-2A regulations that were in place immediately before the Bush H-2A took effect
  • Assuming DOL decides to suspend the Bush Rule, two possible regulatory outcomes could occur at the end of the 9 month suspension period:
    1. DOL will lift the suspension and allow the Bush Rule to stand
    1. DOL will write new H-2A regulations
  • If the suspension takes effect, H-2A users who have engaged in “pre-filing positive recruitment” before the start of the suspension period will be governed under the Bush H-2A Rule
  • H-2A users who have not begun “pre-filing positive recruitment” before the start of the suspension period will be governed under the previous H-2A regulatory scheme

If you use H-2A workers and want to submit comments, you can do so until Friday, March 27th. Comments must be limited to whether USDOL should suspend the Bush H-2A rule.

You can send by e-mail to: and follow website instructions for submitting comments.

You can also mail them to:

Thomas Dowd

Administrator, Office of Policy Development and Research

Employment and Training Administration

U.S. Department of Labor

200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room N-5641

Washington, DC 20210

Below is a sample comment letter text from the NC Farm Bureau:

Sample Comment Letter Text

I am writing to express my opposition to the Department’s proposal to suspend the H-2A Final Rule for nine months. As a farmer, I urge the Department to withdraw this proposal.

Suspending the H-2A Final Rule will increase confusion regarding the program and frustrate farm budgets and business plans. It could also result in some farmers who use the H-2A program becoming vulnerable to wage discrimination lawsuits. The Final Rule was adopted using proper rulemaking procedures and H-2A users relied on this regulatory framework as they made plans for the 2009 growing season. The Department’s proposal will disrupt many farming operations in North Carolina, which has the largest number of H-2A users in the nation, at precisely the wrong time.

Again, I urge the Department to withdraw this misguided proposal to suspend the H-2A Final Rule. Thank you for your attention to my comments.

Note: Due to security concerns postal delivery to Washington, DC may be delayed. USDOL encourages the submission of comments via the website.

On Thursday, Commissioner Troxler and representatives from the Agriculture Council and the NC Vegetable Growers Association will travel to Washington to hand deliver over 600 letters.

If this is a topic that will adversely affect you, please make your voice heard!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Organic Vegetable at the White House!

Not since Eleanor Roosevelt has there been a vegetable garden ("Victory Garden") at the White House. Mrs. Obama is breaking ground at the White House today. Mrs. Obama will not be alone, fifth graders from a local school will be helping the first lady get the soil ready for planting.

I love this quote from Mrs. Obama:

“A real delicious heirloom tomato is one of the sweetest things that you’ll ever eat,” she said. “And my children know the difference, and that’s how I’ve been able to get them to try different things.

Read all about the plans in Obamas Prepare to Plant White House Vegetable Garden in the NY Times.

Monday, March 16, 2009

U.S. Department of Labor proposes to suspend H-2A rule

WASHINGTON, March 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) today announced the proposed suspension for nine months of a final rule implementing changes to the H-2A program, which allows U.S. agricultural businesses to employ foreign workers in temporary or seasonal agricultural jobs. The department's proposed action is open for public comment for 10 days.

"Because many stakeholders have raised concerns about the H-2A regulations, this proposed suspension is the prudent and responsible action to take," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Suspending the rule would allow the department to review and reconsider the regulation, while minimizing disruption to state workforce agencies, employers and workers."

The proposed suspension of the final rule will appear in the Federal Register on March 17. The final rule appeared in the Federal Register on Dec. 18, 2008, and took effect on Jan. 17, 2009.

The H-2A nonimmigrant program is designed to provide agricultural businesses with short-term foreign agricultural labor when there are not enough domestic workers. Receiving an H-2A labor certification is the first step in the employment-based immigration process to work on a farm.

In 2008, the department granted North Carolina, Georgia and Florida the largest numbers of H-2A labor certifications.

The Labor Department's Office of Foreign Labor Certification will continue to accept and process H-2A applications during the proposed suspension period. Any final action on today's proposed suspension will appear in a future Federal Register notice.

Be a Part of the Family Farm Tour

If you want your farm to be featured on the 2009 Family Farm Tour,
please apply soon. Applications are due Monday, March 23rd.

The Family Farm Tour is the public's invitation to visit farms and gardens
throughout Western North Carolina. The region is home to agriculture of all
kinds, ranging from century farms cultivated by the same family for
generations, to certified organic farms, to urban gardens. Visitors will
tour their choice of around 30 of the area's most outstanding farms and
gardens, and connect with local food sources, learn how food grows,
celebrate agricultural heritage, and enjoy our rural landscape. The Family
Farm Tour will be held on June 27 and 28, 2009, from 1:00p.m. to 6:00p.m.
The tour will focus on the following North Carolina counties: Buncombe,
Haywood, Henderson, Madison, McDowell, Transylvania, and Yancey.

Follow this link to download the application.

Please submit your application by Monday, March 23rd via e-mail to or by mail: 729 Haywood Rd., Suite 3, Asheville,
NC 28806. You may also fax your application to 828-236-1280.

If you have questions or difficulty downloading the application, please
contact Libby at ASAP, 828-236-1282.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cold Damage Strawberries

Dr. Barclay Poling at NCSU has put together two informational videos on how to assess cold damage to strawberries.

In Digital Thermometer, he explains how this device can be used for managing frost protection in strawberries.

In Strawberry Roots, he explains how to detect whether a plant has been injured by a winter freeze.

Both videos can be found on the NCSU Value-added and Alternative Agriculture site.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From Your Farm to...

Last Saturday was the Annual ASAP Marketing for Farmers Conference at the beautiful Warren Wilson College. This was my first time at the conference and I saw many familiar faces, conventional and organic growers from larger farms to market gardeners.

Because the growers I work with are always looking for new markets to diversify or tap into, I decided to attend the Farm to Institution session. This session included representatives from Warren Wilson College, Anderson County, SC K-12 schools and Mission Hospital in Asheville. Each talked about what their institution is doing to bring in local produce and highlighted the great success they have had with these programs. Here are some highlights of success:

  • Warren Wilson College's "Cow Pie" cafe, part of it's sustainability initiative, features herbs and produce grown on campus, as well as a compost program. These initiatives helped the college get the ranking as No. 2 "Greenest College" in the Nation and No. 4 nationwide in the Sierra Club's "Coolest Schools" list. Warren Wilson also gains attention for its recycling and waste reduction programs
  • Mission Hospital was named one of the first "Red Apple" hospitals by NC Prevention Partners. The hospital provides a healthful food environment to its employees and promoting healthful and active lifestyles. Mission Hospital also hosts a tailgate market in their parking once a week during the growing season which features local produce.
    The Citizen-Times in Asheville just printed this article on Farm to Hospital.
  • Anderson County, SC has established the state's first Farm to School program for K-12. The provides local (less than 50 miles away) and healthful food for students, as well as hands-on learning through field trips and even school gardens.
All three institutions expressed that they do not accept produce that a farmer "drives up to the loading dock". Produce is received through a cooperative or buyer/distributor in order to assume the proper liability and insurance requirements of that institution.

If you are a farm that is interested in marketing your products to any of these institutions or types of institutions contact the ASAP office at 828.236.1282.

If you are an interested grower who is less than 50 miles from Anderson County and who would like to get your produce into Anderson County schools contact Sandra Jordan at

Monday, March 2, 2009

In Like a Lion...

Well, this isn't what I was expecting for the beginning of March.

But it is nice to see some major snow this year. I received at least 6 inches in Hendersonville- I wish I took a picture of my car this morning. Actually, I really wish I bought a snow shovel yesterday!

The Farmer's Almanac has some interesting facts on the snow fall in the US. Perhaps the most interesting is that in the western US, mountain snow pack contributes up to 75 percent of all year-round surface water supplies! That is incredible.

This was the first storm I have ever experienced with thunder, lightning and snow. Someone told me that is good luck. I do feel lucky that this snow will contribute to our surface water levels (though not to the extent as in the western US) so our growers can irrigate their crops adequately this season. In Henderson County and southern Haywood and Buncombe counties we are still in a severe drought. Northern Haywood and Buncombe are listed as a moderate drought. You can view the drought monitor map of NC here.

Looking into the forecast, it appears that this snow will be gone by the end of the week with temperatures in the mid- to upper 60's. So, take a few days off from worrying about this year's growing season and enjoy a place by the fire. In a few days, when it is sunny and warm you can start worrying and tilling!