Category Archives: Agriculture

Extension is ahead of the curve on new food safety rules

Adrianna Vargo, director of grower services at Charlottesville’s Local Food Hub, has collaborated with Virginia Cooperative Extension to get critical information to growers regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s new Food Safety Modernization Act. Its aim is to make the food supply safer by shifting the focus from responding to food contamination problems to preventing them from occurring. The policy is the most sweeping reform of U.S. food safety laws for both human and animal foods in 70 years.

As part of its grower services program, the Local Food Hub’s Adrianna Vargo conducts a mock audit of Singing Earth Farm in Augusta County.

As part of its grower services program, the Local Food Hub’s Adrianna Vargo conducts a mock audit of Singing Earth Farm in Augusta County.

Vargo and Extension have acted as boots-on-the-ground liaisons for more than 60 growers throughout Virginia and in North Carolina by providing critical workshops to ensure producers will be able to comply with FSMA legislation.

“One of the aspects of this legislation that has been a huge concern for growers is water testing. FSMA requires so many more water tests throughout the growing season,” Vargo said. “Extension has been an invaluable resource for training. They have been very inclusive and responsive to growers’ needs.”

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Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Center earns 2017 AICA Outstanding Seedstock Producer Award

Two men with heifer

Dan Eversole (left) teaches students like John-Robert Helsley about Charolais cattle

The Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Center received the 2017 Outstanding Seedstock Producer Award at the annual membership meeting of the American-International Charolais Association in Corpus Christi, Texas, this spring. Dan Eversole, associate professor of animal and poultry sciences and director of beef cattle programs, received the award on behalf of the university.

The Beef Cattle Center’s Charolais herd consists of 40 purebred breeding-age females. Charolais were introduced to the Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Center in 1998 through donations and the support of Charolais breeders across the country, led by the late Mary diZerega of Oakdale Farm in Upperville, Virginia.  Charolais, a breed of taurine beef cattle from the Charolais area in eastern France, are white colored and are often crossbred with Angus and Hereford cattle.

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Bristol Junior Steer and Heifer Show in Abingdon, Virginia on May 10

The 2017 Bristol Junior Steer and Heifer Show will take place May 10, at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Abingdon, Virginia. The 73rd annual show will begin with the steer exhibition at 9 a.m.

The event is a partnership between Virginia Cooperative Extension and University of Tennessee-Tennessee State University Extension, and it includes 4-H and FFA members from both Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.

Youth exhibitors will compete in steer, heifer, and showmanship classes; project record books; and an educational beef skill-a-thon, as well as for college scholarships. Participants have been caring for their project animals for several months in preparation for the show.

The Bristol Junior Steer and Heifer Show is a time-honored event that started in downtown Bristol in 1944. Goals of the event include teaching youths about the beef cattle industry, where their food comes from, and life skills. Participants learn responsibility, decision-making, communication, relationship building, and teamwork.

For more information, contact Walter Malone in the Sullivan County Extension Office at 423-279-2723. The office is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m.

Freshwater shrimp become a big deal

As the freshwater shrimp in his ponds continued to grow and multiply, Charles Carter knew he had a good product to sell.

Dan Kauffman (left) is helping shrimp producers expand their markets through shrimp boils.

Dan Kauffman (left) is helping shrimp producers expand their markets through shrimp boils.

In his second year of production, Carter wanted to create product buzz in order to sell a portion of his production to local consumers. Carter was already selling his product wholesale as a member of the Virginia Aqua-Farmers Network Cooperative, but he also wanted to market retail.

And he knew just where to look for assistance — Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Enter Dan Kauffman, Extension seafood marketing specialist at the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hampton.

Kauffman had been helping freshwater shrimp producers get their products to market, which also involved another part of his résumé — his fondness for shrimp boils.

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Online course for Virginia forest landowners begins May 15

people standing in woods

Course participants may attend an optional field trip. Retired forester Charlie Huppuch (left) explains concepts of active forest management to participants.

Virginia forest landowners looking to gain an understanding of how to keep their woods healthy and productive can do so in the comfort of their own home.

Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment are offering an online course to help private landowners become better stewards of their land.

The 12-week Online Woodland Options for Landowners course, which runs from May 15 to Aug. 4, teaches basic management principles and techniques for both novice and veteran private forest landowners. Materials provided include four reference books and access to an online a tree identification tutorial.

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