2021 Mid-Atlantic Convention Tentative Outline of Sessions Announced
The 2021 Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention will be held virtually from February 8 to 11. A tentative outline of the sessions planned for the four day event has been announced. It is expected that pesticide credits will be available to PA, MD, NJ and VA growers through the online sessions. See more here.
Needed: Nominations for PVGA Directors
The terms of seven members of the PVGA Board of Directors expire at the Annual Meeting tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, February 3, 2021. The Directors whose terms expire are:
Robert Amsterdam – Mechanicsburg – first elected 2018
Brian Campbell – Berwick – first elected 2007
Peter Flynn – West Chester – first elected 2018
Arthur King – Valencia – first elected 2018
Amy Metrick – Butler – first elected 2018
Michael Orzolek -State College – first elected 2015
Mark Troyer – Waterford – first elected 2015
All the directors are eligible for re-election although under changes adopted three years ago at the Annual Meeting, the members will elect five members to the Board and the Board will name a sixth Director. Only six of the seven seats will be filled to return the Board to a total of 18 members after the 2021 Annual Meeting. The Board currently has 19 members due to allowing the Board to appoint additional Board members to provide diversity and potentially certain expertise in the Board makeup that the election process does not always provide.
Like last year, the election will be conducted by a mail-in ballot that will be mailed to all members with the dues renewal notices in late November/early December. The Leadership and Recognition Committee will be seeking additional nominees to be included on the ballot. Members who want to nominate someone for Director, or who would like to be considered, should contact the PVGA office at 717-694-3596 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Jon Strite, who as Past President serves as chair of the Committee, at email@example.com
COVID-19 Aid Update
The U.S. Farm Service Agency is accepting direct-aid applications from farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP-2), which expanded aid eligibility to a wider range of farm businesses than the first iteration of this federal program. Learn more by reading this National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition blog post.
Agricultural Research Service Releases Three New Blackberries
The best of Eastern and Western blackberry genetics have been melded to create Eclipse, Galaxy and Twilight, three new blackberry varieties released by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS’ Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon, working in cooperation with the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station, has blended the desirable traits of Eastern erect-cane blackberries and Western trailing blackberries into new varieties with thornless semi-erect canes to fill new niches in the fresh berry market.
Eclipse was the first of the three varieties from these crosses to move from the test fields to final selection. Its name was changed from ORUS 2816-4 to Eclipse to commemorate the total solar eclipse visible in Corvallis in 2017. See more here.
Northeast SARE Invites Farmer Grant Proposals
Proposals are due online by 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
Farmer Grants provide research funds for commercial farms to explore new ideas in almost any aspect of production, marketing and other topics that influence successful farming in the region. The call for proposals, including detailed instructions and supporting documents, are posted on the Northeast SARE website here.
Penn State Extension’s Tree Fruit Production Guide Wins National Award
A publication created by Penn State Extension has been lauded for excellence by the American Society for Horticultural Science, a national organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education and application.
The 2020-21 Penn State Tree Fruit Production Guide earned the society’s Extension Division Educational Materials Award in the book category. The honor recognizes an outstanding and innovative extension activity, project or method that contributes to the horticultural industry in the areas of commercial production, processing and marketing, home grounds, and youth work. See more here.
Affordable Refrigerated Trailer Available
The Polar King family of companies announces the formation of a new business unit, Polar King Mobile (PKM), according to Polar King Mobile president David Schenkel.
“Polar King Mobile is a business focused on providing North America’s first affordable small refrigerated trailer solution that does not compromise quality or performance,” says Schenkel. “After extensive research, we found there was an unmet demand in North America amongst catering companies, restaurants and farmers for commercial-grade economical refrigerated transport.” He adds, “We are pleased to introduce Polar King Mobile solutions to fulfill these needs.” See more here.
USDA to Collect Vegetable Data in the Northeastern U.S.
In the coming months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct the Vegetable Grower Inquiry Survey. The agency plans to visit vegetable growers across the United States, including over four thousand in the Northeastern Region.
NASS conducts this vegetable survey once per year to obtain the final acreage, production, and value of sales for fresh and processed vegetables. “When growers respond to these surveys, they provide essential information that helps us determine the production and supply of these commodities in the United States for the 2020 crop year. Everyone who relies on agriculture for their livelihoods is interested in the results,” explained King Whetstone, director of the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office. See more here.
Managing Temperature, Humidity and Light for Greenhouse Vegetables
We call them controlled environments, but it’s not easy to keep environmental parameters in check for optimum plant growth. This webinar on October 27 will cover common control strategies for heating, cooling, dehumidifying and lighting and the pros and cons of simple thermostat control to integrated control systems. Uniformity within the greenhouse environment is the growers best friend in terms of keeping crop schedules on track and avoiding labor intensive management. Unfortunately, we often encounter variability in the growing environment. We’ll provide tips to reduce environmental variability within the greenhouse to improve crop performance and reduce disease pressure. See more here.
Online PSA Grower Training Course
Sign up today for discount ($125) through October 31, 2020!
• This course satisfies the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement that at least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training
• Complete at your own pace online for 15-30 hour over three weeks
• No webcam or microphone needed
• Discussion groups and self check quizzes
2019 Organic Survey Results Show Sales Up 31% from 2016
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released on Oct. 22 the results of the 2019 Organic Survey, which show total sales of $9.93 billion in organic products, an increase of $2.37 billion, or 31% percent, from 2016. There were 16,585 certified organic farms, a 17% increase from 2016, which accounted for 5.50 million certified acres, an increase of 9% over 2016.
California continued to lead the nation in certified organic sales with $3.60 billion, which is 36% of the U.S. total and four times that of any other state. It also led all states with 3,012 certified farms and 965,257 certified acres. Washington ($886 million), Pennsylvania ($742 million), Oregon ($454 million), and Texas ($424 million), round out the top five states for value of organic sales. See more here.
$1M Grant Eyes Survival of COVID-19 on Surfaces in Food Supply Chain
From the delivery of an Amazon package to ordering takeout food, people touch a multitude of surfaces every day, leaving behind residue, germs, and more. Food supply chain personnel from every level – growing, processing, distribution, and retail – are constantly in contact with a variety of surfaces.
Virginia Tech researchers are studying how long SARS-CoV-2 survives on surfaces, focusing on its survival on food, food contact surfaces, and other points along the food supply chain. With a two-year, $1 million grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the research team will address such topics as how to ensure that someone won’t contract SARS-CoV-2 from handling packaging and how to properly sanitize at all levels of food distribution and production. See more here.
Friend of Farm Bureau Award Recipients Announced
Twelve members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation have been recognized with the Friend of Farm Bureau Award for supporting agriculture-related policies in the 116th Congress.
The award is presented to members of Congress every two years near the conclusion of each legislative session. Pennsylvania senators and representatives were nominated for the award by Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) and approved by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Board of Directors. See more here.
Monson Family Farm in Massachusetts - Tradition Meets Solar Technology
SunBug Solar, a Massachusetts-based solar solutions provider, has completed the construction of a dual-use solar-terra photovoltaic system in Monson, Massachusetts. The design of the system allows the local landowner to harvest both sun from above and crops from below on land which has been in the family for three generations. The system, dubbed “Million Little Sunbeams,” and owned by Monson native Nate Tassinari and his wife Ania, is the first operational dual-use agricultural photovoltaic (PV) system in the state. See more here.
PFB Election Guide Available
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau's election guide is available now online. Farm Bureau surveyed candidates running in upcoming Nov. 3 election about their positions on issues important to agriculture. Included are candidates for U.S. president, state row offices, Congress and Pennsylvania General Assembly. Click here to view the guide.
Farm Bureau encourages members to vote in all elections to have a say in the elected leaders who will make important decisions that affect agriculture and rural life.
From the Farm Bureau Express, Penna. Farm Bureau, October 16, 2020.
SBA Simplifies Forgiveness for Some Relief Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration has simplified the process of applying for some of its signature COVID-19 relief loans to be forgiven.
The agency recently issued a final interim rule that allows a one-page, simplified application to be used to apply for forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program loans of up to $50,000. The PPP program provided forgivable loans for farms and other small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to pay employees and certain, other expenses.
Farm Bureau is continuing to advocate for legislation that would allow the simplified application to be used for loans of up to $150,000, a move that would alleviate hours of paperwork for borrowers.
Click here to view the simplified application. Farmers and businesses should consult with their accountant, tax preparer and/or financial advisor about the PPP application and loan forgiveness process to ensure all the proper documentation has been completed and reviewed.
From the Farm Bureau Express, Penna. Farm Bureau, October 16, 2020.
Virtual Conservation Learning Circles for Women in Agriculture in South Central PA
Nearly 301 million acres of U.S. land – about a third of the nation’s land in farms – are now farmed or co-farmed by women and at least 87 million additional acres are in the hands of women landowners. Over the next 20 years, the numbers of women farming and or taking on a management role on farmland is likely to increase as 341 million acres of farmland are expected to change hands when farmers retire or leave their land to the next generation. In Pennsylvania, women are a significant demographic in agriculture with 32,000 female producers and nearly half of all acres farmed by operations with female producers. Yet women farmers and landowners are often overlooked, underappreciated and underserved.
In response American Farmland Trust's Women for the Land Program will be hosting virtual Conservation Learning Circles for Pennsylvania women farmers and landowners designed to address the barriers that women farmers face, engage with women in agriculture about conservation, and provide technical assistance to better serve women and their communities.
The virtual learning circles offer the unique opportunity to hear local agriculture and conservation experts talk about conservation and farming practices that promote healthy and productive farms, learn about how to access support for on farm conservation programs and network with fellow landowners to share experiences and make connections. Each learning circle includes a farm tour, presentation and conversation. See more here.
Website Promotes Careers in PA Agriculture
A new website is available for students and educators showcasing careers in Pennsylvania’s agricultural and food industry. AgandFoodCareersinPA.com highlights career types and requirements, emphasizing that “agriculture is more than farming.”
The website includes 50 different career pages, each with an interview-style video, an infographic about the career, a job description, role responsibilities, education requirements, salary information, a job outlook and more. These pages give students the opportunity to learn about the careers and discover their place in agriculture and food. See more here.
CFAP 2: Eligible and Ineligible Commodities
Are you a farmer or rancher whose operation has been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? USDA is implementing Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency will accept CFAP 2 applications from September 21 through December 11, 2020. Learn more at farmers.gov/cfap..
Videos Available Online
Dr. Francesco DiGioia, vegetable researcher at Penn State University, created four videos for the virtual version of Ag Progress Days, They are available online as follows:
Farm Employers Listserv Created
The Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law and Penn State Extension announce the creation of the Pennsylvania Farm Employers’ Listserv (PFEL) discussion group. The PFEL is an email networking and resource-sharing group specifically tailored to agricultural labor issues for those with human resources responsibilities at agricultural operations. In this forum, farm employers can exchange information and resources to better prepare them to do their jobs confidently and efficiently, keep up on the latest news and developments, and learn how to best comply with legal requirements from state and federal laws and agencies
To subscribe, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line, type “subscribe” and type any word in the body (to circumvent spam filtering). Once the subscription is approved by a list moderator, you will receive an email on how to participate in discussions and how to change default settings, such as how to receive a weekly digest or index list of messages sent.
We hope you find this service useful, and look forward to your participation.
Daniel Weber for Brook Duer, Staff Attorney,
Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law
Protecting Essential Agricultural Business Operations and Employee Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Penn State Extension is offering posters and pamphlets in English and Spanish to communicate best practices and health services for agricultural employee protection from COVID-19. Visit these links for more information on the posters and pamphlets. Or contact Tara Baugher
COVID-10 Website Pages
The following websites have links to various sources of information for growers relative to dealing with the coronavirus crisis: