Florida Ag Producers can apply for financial assistance until March 20, 2015
Agricultural producers can apply until March 20th for 2015 financial assistance to make natural resource improvements through several specific initiatives.
The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Florida has designated funding for longleaf pine forests, seasonal high tunnels, pollinators, water quality, organic farming, on-farm energy and gopher tortoise habitat. Farmers and ranchers can apply through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Longleaf pine initiative--helps private landowners improve the sustainability and profitability of longleaf pine forest ecosystems.
Seasonal high tunnel initiative--helps producers install high tunnels designed to extend the growing season, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature and conserve water and energy.
Pollinators-- helps producers develop habitat for pollinators.
National water quality initiative—helps producers in Deep Creek and Clarks Creek watersheds on the Lower St. Johns River and the Little Scurlock Creek on the Lower Choctawhatchee River to improve water quality.
Organic initiative--helps producers install conservation practices on USDA certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.
On-farm energy initiative--helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
Working lands for wildlife initiative—helps producers create gopher tortoise habitat.
Do you want help conserving resources on your farm or ranch? The first step is to develop a conservation plan with a NRCS specialist. Contact your local field office in Florida. Learn more about participating in conservation programs at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA / IFAS LAUNCHES MARKETING TOOLS FOR SMALL AND MID-SIZED GROWERS
Source: University of Florida news release
Small- and mid-sized growers often cite marketing as one of their greatest challenges. Yet, there never seems to be enough time or money to promote your products directly to those who may want to purchase them. Florida MarketMaker and Florida Food Connect are two resources managed by UF/IFAS that aim to help alleviate the burden of marketing for Florida's growers. While Florida MarketMaker unites growers with potential markets throughout the state, Florida Food Connect is a tool that links schools with the local producers who can meet their needs.
Florida MarketMaker provides a free and simple, yet powerful, web-based search tool to connect with others across the food production and distribution chain. It is the largest and most in-depth food-related database of its kind, featuring a diverse community of more than 81,000 Florida businesses: farmers/ranchers, fisheries, seafood dealers, farmers markets, food hubs, food pantries, processors/packers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, wineries, restaurants and other types of buyers. Essentially, MarketMaker gives growers the power to create their own searchable websites, opening the door for a flood of buyers to discover them.
Florida MarketMaker has operated in Florida since 2009. But recent developments have led to improvements and increased capabilities for marketing and market research. This month, Florida MarketMaker released a new version, intended to make the website more user-friendly and increase functionality. UF/IFAS Extension partnered with a nonprofit organization, Riverside Research, to collaborate on further development of this website as a solution that aims to alleviate marketing challenges for growers in the digital age.
Here's how it works: Growers register their businesses in MarketMaker because food buyers of all types access the database to find products and services to meet their specific needs. Through MarketMaker, producers can reach more buyers and more efficiently form profitable business alliances. Growers can differentiate their businesses by categorizing their produce and affiliating with specific labels or industry. Buyers can use MarketMaker to find more suppliers of differentiated, high-quality products leading to more efficient sourcing and higher margins.
Consumers use MarketMaker to find suppliers selling what they need. When conducting a search, the search engine shows the results on a map. Once in the system, growers' profiles are easily discovered by many types of buyers, opening the door for new types of business relationships. Growers who sell direct to consumers can also easily advertise their products on the Buy/Sell forum.
Once growers have registered in MarketMaker, they will also be featured in Florida Food Connect, the portal for Farm to School because the two sites are intricately linked. Growers interested in selling products to use in school cafeterias can easily make connections with distributors, school district food services, and individual schools looking to source regionally. In the coming year, Florida MarketMaker will merge with Florida Food Connect.
Florida Food MarketMaker is at: http://fl.foodmarketmaker.com/. Florida Food Connect is at: http://flfoodconnect.com/. If you would like more information about this topic or need help getting started on Florida MarketMaker, please contact Wendi Bellows at 352-294-7667 or email email@example.com.
NEW ISSUE OF SFE FIRE LINES
The Nov-Dec 2014 issue of the Southern Fire Exchange bimonthly newsletter shares research highlights and resources focused on fire and birds in the Southeast. In addition, we are excited to feature the Florida Scrub Working Groups in our Partner Spotlight and to share a recap of two SFE field tours this fall. As always, you’ll find a list of upcoming webinars, conferences, and trainings, along with fire-related news and reminders:
USDA SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT ON NEW EQIP RULE
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is publishing a rule that outlines how it will improve the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), one of USDA’s largest conservation programs. The interim final rule includes program changes authorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill.
USDA has established a 60-day comment period for the rule. The rule available in regulations.gov – search EQIP on the main page. Public comments can be submitted through this site or by mailing them. Comments are due by Feb. 10, 2015. The changes are intended to simplify the EQIP regulation regarding conservation practice scheduling, payment limitations and other administrative actions. Highlights of program changes in this rule include the following:
- Requires at least 5 percent of available EQIP funds be targeted for conservation practices that promote wildlife habitat;
- Establishes EQIP as a contributing program for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program;
- Increases the advanced payment from 30 percent to 50 percent for eligible historically underserved producers, including beginning farmers, to help purchase material or contract services;
- Targets assistance to veteran farmers and ranchers including eligibility for the new 50 percent advance payment and up to 90 percent of the cost to implement EQIP conservation practices;
- Increases the payment limitation for EQIP from $300,000 to a maximum of $450,000 for benefits received during 2014-2018 and removes the option for a waiver to exceed payment limitations;
- Eliminates the requirement for a program contract to remain in place for one year after the last practice has been implemented, allowing practices to be scheduled through the tenth year of a contract;
- Includes an option to waive the irrigation history requirement under certain conditions;
- Incorporates the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program functions into EQIP.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers EQIP, a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to eligible agricultural producers and forest landowners to help them address soil, water, air and related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. Resulting conservation and environmental benefits include improved water and air quality, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved energy conservation, improved grazing and forest lands, and created or improved wildlife habitat on working farms, ranches and non-industrial forestlands.
EQIP has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of agricultural producers and forest landowners since its launch in 1997. From that time through 2014, USDA has invested in 596,481 contracts for a total of nearly $11 billion on nearly 232 million acres nationwide.
For more information about interim final rules for USDA NRCS’s Farm Bill conservation programs, visit EQIP Rule Page.
For more information on technical and financial assistance available through EQIP, visit the EQIP Web page.
TAX TIPS FOR FOREST LANDOWNERS FOR THE 2014 TAX YEAR
Tax laws on timber transactions are very specialized but important to timber owners in terms of the ongoing cost of owning and managing timber, forest stewardship and compliance to the tax law. This bulletin reviews the major federal income tax laws to help forest owners in filing their 2014 income tax returns. The information presented here is current as of September 30, 2014:
2014 TAX TIPS (pdf)
NEW FOREST STEWARDSHIP VIDEOS - VIEW AND SHARE!
All the new videos are on the Florida Forest Stewardship Program home page:
COGONGRASS TREATMENT COST-SHARE PROGRAM NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
Applications accepted through Feb. 27, 2015 to remove invasive plant
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Florida Forest Service is now accepting applications for the Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program. Cogongrass is an invasive, non-native grass, which occurs in Florida and several other southeastern states. Cogongrass infestations negatively affect tree regeneration, growth and survival, as well as wildlife habitat, native plant diversity, forage quality and property values. They also increase the risk of wildfires and alter fire behavior.
The Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program is offered for non-industrial private lands in all Florida counties. It provides reimbursement of 50 percent of the cost to treat Cogongrass infestations for two consecutive years. Applicants who wish to conduct treatments in 2015 may apply from Oct. 6, 2014 through Feb. 27, 2015.
To learn more about this program and obtain an application form, contact a local Florida Forest Service office or visit http://www.FloridaForestService.com. All qualifying applications will be evaluated and ranked for approval. This program is supported through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service.
For more information about cogongrass and management see http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wg202. For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit http://www.FreshFromFlorida.com.
TO CERTIFY OR NOT: FLORIDA TREE FARM PROGRAM NEEDS TO DECIDE
Something that sets the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) apart from all other private land stewardship programs is forest certification. ATFS Tree Farms are currently third party certified as sustainable (or “green”) and products can be sold as such at market. Florida, along with the other states are now being presented with a choice to make: to either stay in or opt out of ATFS Certification status depending on the importance we see in it. The Florida Tree Farm Committee will be required to make a formal declaration by December 31, 2015 of whether or not we want to continue as a state program of “third party certified” Tree Farms. The alternative is to revert to a “recognition” program that no longer has a “certification” status. As Tree Farmers, The Florida Tree Farm Committee would like your opinion of whether Florida should remain in a “certified” Tree Farm program, or drop the requirement for third party certification. Please reply with any comments you may have on this to Phil Gornicki, State Tree Farm Coordinator at 850-222-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ONGOING SERVICES, INITIATIVES, PROGRAMS:
HELP STILL NEEDED - COYOTES VS BOBCATS: WHAT ARE THEY EATING?
The University of Florida is conducting a study of coyote dietary habits in Florida and needs YOU to donate your catch! We are especially interested in how coyotes are affecting white-tailed deer, turkeys, bobwhite quail, livestock, and pets! YOUR help is needed to obtain legally acquired coyote carcasses, with or without pelts. We will also accept coyote stomachs and intestines if you cannot store the whole carcass. Carcasses or stomachs and intestines should be frozen in a suitable bag or container, and include the name of contributor, animal weight/sex, date harvested/obtained, and location harvested/obtained. Arrangements can be made to get carcasses from you at the University or combine your animals with others in your area for a pickup. We have obtained a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for this project, and will keep information provided by you for this project anonymous to the extent possible by law. We greatly appreciate your help with this valuable study!
Lauren N. Watine & Bill Giuliano
SOMETHING BUGGING YOUR TREES?
Do you have pests or a disease in your trees? Leaves or needles wilting, and you don’t know why? Sawdust falling out of your trees, and you don’t know how to save them? There is help: ask your question at the new Forest Health Diagnostic Forum: http://sfrc.ufl.edu/treehealth/forum/.
Run by forest health specialists at the UF School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Department of Entomology and the Florida Forest Service, this is the fastest and the most accurate forest pest and disease diagnostics available in the State of Florida. It’s free, logging in is easy, and replies are prompt. We are also happy to examine your samples, or visit your site for a minimal fee. We are here to help you protect your trees!
"TIME TO THIN" VIDEO ON YOUTUBE
Not your usual instructional video - check it out! In just a little over two minutes, explains why thinning is important and how to get started, with a live link to more information. Check it out:
PUBLIC INVITED TO REVIEW FWC IMPERILED SPECIES ACTION PLANS
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) invites your feedback on the Imperiled Species Management Plan, which will be the blueprint for conserving 60 species on Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species list. Be a part the process. See http://www.myfwc.com/Imperiled to learn more and participate.
FWC REQUESTS REPORTS OF WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS:
- Report chipmunk sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/chipmunk/getlatlong.aspx
- Report panther sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/PantherSightings/getlatlong.aspx
- Report mink sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/mink/getlatlong.aspx
- Report black bear sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/fwri/blackbear/getlatlong.aspx
- Report southern hognose snake (Heterodon simus), short-tailed snake (Lampropeltis extenuata), and Florida pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus) here:
FWC WILDLIFE LEGACY INITIATIVE NEWSLETTER
See the latest news at: http://myfwc.com/conservation/special-initiatives/fwli/news/winter-2014/
UF/IFAS SCHOOL OF FOREST RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION EXTENSION PROGRAMS
FORESTRY AND NATURAL RESOURCES WEBINARS
For a calendar of upcoming webinars in a variety of land management topics see:
UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA CONTINUING FORESTRY EDUCATION CLASSES
See http://conted.warnell.uga.edu/ for the latest offerings.
ALABAMA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION FORESTRY WEBINARS