Tag Archives: farming

Improving milk quality proves profitable for Virginia farmers

Virginia generates 1.7 billion pounds of milk per year.

Though the dairy industry in Virginia is small compared to other states, the commonwealth produces 207 million gallons of milk annually, worth about $481 million according to the Virginia State Dairymen’s Association.

However, hot, humid summers add challenges to milk production in the region. Reduced milk quality results in increased production costs for farmers while decreasing revenues and sustainability.

Christina Petersson-Wolfe, associate professor of dairy science and Extension specialist, wants to help improve the quality of the state’s milk.

Petersson-Wolfe, working with the Southeast Quality Milk Initiative, is helping dairy producers in the commonwealth and the region compete more effectively by lowering bacterial counts in milk, thus commanding better prices in the marketplace. Virginia Tech has partnered with the University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky, University of Georgia, and University of Florida to implement the $3 million multistate project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.



Workshops teach families the necessary skills to transition land

Fourth-generation farmers Mary and A.C. “Corky” Shackelford Jr. have more than 360 acres of land, and they aren’t getting any younger. With three children as well as farm employees, they needed to figure out how to distribute their assets — a common problem as farm families age.

Agriculture and natural resources Extension agents like Amy Gail Fannon, Adam Downing, and Peter Callan teach land-transitioning workshops to help families pass on their land, whether it’s farmland or forestland.



Agritourism study finds on-farm activities are good business for farmers

Tourism is the second-highest revenue-generating industry in the commonwealth, contributing $21.2 billion to the state’s economy.

From pick-your-own strawberry operations and winery tasting rooms to pumpkin patch fields and cut-your-own Christmas tree farms, agritourism is growing in the commonwealth and across the country. A recent statewide study by Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension found that visiting farms is not just a pleasant way for consumers to leisurely spend a Sunday — it’s also a viable way for farmers to supplement their income.

The study defines agritourism as a value-added activity that generates additional net farm income and creates a loyal consumer base for branded farm products.



Virginia Cooperative Extension and partners to host 4th Farm to Table Conference in Weyers Cave

BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 12, 2015 – Virginia Cooperative Extension and its partners will host the fourth annual Farm to Table Conference Dec. 2-4 at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Virginia. The theme for this year’s conference is “Strengthening Your Foodshed, Protecting Our Watersheds.”

The conference will feature opportunities for participants to learn about foodsheds and watersheds in the Shenandoah Valley and to hear from key players in the fields of food security, farming, and environmental policy. Early bird registration pricing is available until Nov. 20, and rates will increase after this date. More details regarding the conference and registration are available at the conference website.



Ginger and Turmeric Workshop Targets Producers, Chefs and General Public Interested in the Health Benefits of These Two Ancient Spices


Freshly harvested ginger from VSU’s Randolph Farm.

Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is hosting its annual Ginger and Turmeric Field Day on November 5 from  8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at VSU’s Randolph Farm, located at 4415 River Road, Petersburg, VA 23803.

The workshop will include VSU’s Cooperative Extension Specialists explaining about the health benefits of ginger and turmeric, as well as how to grow, harvest, and clean these spice crops. Ginger and turmeric have been used widely throughout history in many different types of cuisines for their spice and flavor.  Not only are these spices culinary, but they are also medicinal and cater to a number of health conditions, including gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

These tropical plants are a high-value crop that until recently had been exported from outside the United States. “It’s considered a high-profit niche market opportunity,” said Dr. Reza Rafie, VSU’s Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist. “The going rate for fresh ginger in Virginia right now is $10 a pound, and turmeric is selling for about $12-$15 a pound.”

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