Farm Monitor - May 14, 2022

Farm Monitor - May 14, 2022

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[Announcer] This is the Farm Monitor. For over 50-years, your source for agribusiness news and features from around the southeast and across the country, focusing on one of the nation’s top industries, Agriculture. The Farm Monitor is produced by one of the largest general farm organizations, the Georgia Farm Bureau. Now, here are your hosts, Ray D'Alessio and Kenny Burgamy. [RAY] ALRIGHT, TIME TO SIT BACK, CHILLAX! AND SOAK IN ALL THE AG KNOWLEDGE YOU CAN HANDLE IN THE NEXT THIRTY-MINUTES. AS YOU CAN SEE, NO KENNY B. THIS WEEK.


AND THEN LATER, IT'S NOT YOUR TYPICAL U-PICK OR AGRI-TOURISM DESTINATION, BUT, THIS RABUN COUNTY GETAWAY IS FULL OF AGRICULTURAL HISTORY DATING BACK TO THE EIGHTEEN-HUNDREDS, AND THE STORY BEHIND ITS ORIGIN IS EVEN MORE IMPRESSIVE. ALL THIS AND MORE, STARTS RIGHT NOW ON THE FARM MONITOR. [RAY] Input costs, and the price for fertilizer, they continue to reach record levels. But now, congress and farm organizations are taking action. In a letter sent to President Biden from nearly one-hundred Members of Congress, they highlighted the major concerns and impacts of rising fertilizer prices on U.S. growers.

Reece Langley, Vice President of Washington Operations for the National Cotton Council reveals what else was included in that letter. [Voice of Reece Langley/Vice President of Washington Operations for the National Cotton Council] Depending on which product we're talking about, we're seeing price increases between a hundred and two hundred percent over where they were last year. So clearly an unprecedented level of price increases. And so the letter outlined a few things that the administration could look to do to try to help alleviate the price increases, and also try to provide maybe some direct support to producers that are feeling the effects of these high prices.

For example, there's still the vaccine mandate in place for cross-border trucking. And so when that is impacting the capacity to bring some of these fertilizer products into the US, that could be exacerbating these price increases. So that's one thing that the letter is asking the administration to loosen or remove.

And then also, asking the department of agriculture to look at all the authorities and funding capabilities that they have and how they might could use that, either to directly or indirectly support producers that are feeling the financial strain from these higher input prices. [RAY] With nearly forty percent of the nation's food supply being thrown into landfills, one college in Central Georgia is looking to curb their campus waste by starting up a composting operation. Damon Jones tells you how this small idea has grown into a school wide venture.

[Milledgeville/Damon Jones - Reporting] Like the old saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. And the Office of Sustainability at Georgia College in Milledgeville has really taken that to heart with a composting program that started from humble beginnings. [Lori Hamilton – Chief Sustainability Officer, GCSU] The compost uh, project actually started out very small with one of our faculty here on campus in a class. One of his classes actually started the compost project at his home. Um, so, he allowed his students to come into his home and do a little bit of composting with uh, their own food waste. Um, and that led to let's make this a little bit bigger.

[Damon] And that might be an understatement, as this operation has diverted close to seventy thousand pounds of food waste from local landfills, including more than ten-thousand pounds just last semester. Pretty impressive work from a student operated facility. [Lori] We are working with students, and they are doing soil samples and running analysis on it to make sure that we have the right balance of our chemicals and um, make sure that there aren't, you know, any contamination in it. [Damon] However, these types of results don't come without plenty of hard work and patience, as the multistep process of turning waste into valuable compost can take up to six months.

[Molly Robbins – Compost Operation Coordinator] Our food waste is anything that comes off of a student's tray or anything that makes it to their tray. From there, we take it to our facility here and it first goes into our mixer, which is right behind me, and in there we add sawdust, approximately at a one-to-one volume ratio. And from there it goes up our auger, which is the tube going up to our big drum. Um, and that's a giant screw that brings all the material up. And then once the material is all in the drum, it stays in there for approximately two to four weeks. And from there, it goes to our wind rows, which are on the other side of the site.

Um, where we turn them by hand until they are mature. [Damon] That patience is rewarded with a finished product that not only reduces the amount of food headed to the landfill, but also provides essential nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth. [Molly] It's really a soil conditioner. So, it's going to add nitrogen and phosphorus, which are often times are limiting nutrients for plants.

And so, it's going to give them all that they're missing in the soil around them. And really, it's a great alternative to chemical fertilizers um, because it's natural. It's from our earth and anyone can do it at their own home. And it's wonderful because not only do you get to reduce your waste, but you get to help grow things. [Damon] While this operation might just be serving the campus right now, that might not be the case in the near future as expansion is already in the works.

[Lori] Right now, we're using it one campus in our west campus garden, as well as, you know, some of the flower beds around campus. We've used that soil in some of the landscaping projects and we'd like to continue to do that but also find other ways that we can use it either on campus or with the community. [Damon] Reporting from Baldwin County, I'm Damon Jones for the Farm Monitor.

[RAY] Well of course, springtime in Georgia means fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables. One of the most popular springtime products – Strawberries. Our John Holcomb reports from Prescott's Strawberries, a Georgia Farm Bureau Certified Farm Market in Jefferson County that attracts visitors from all over.

Why? very simple.... [Wrens/John Holcomb – Reporting] Beautiful skies, rows of ripe strawberries, and family time – things you can find on U-pick operations across the state, just like this one, Prescott's Strawberries. A U-pick strawberry operation started by Richard and Anna Prescott on their farm more than two-decades ago when they decided to get out of the row cropping business and create a place for people to enjoy. [Richard Prescott/Co-Owner, Prescott's Strawberries] I was looking for something that I could set the price on and that didn't have a, a uh, surplus hanging over my head, because ripe strawberries last about three days, four days, and so your surplus is gone pretty quick if you have one.

So, we looked at it and I enjoyed growing stuff and growing strawberries. I had done a small patch for my garden and my family, and knew they'd grow and they'd be a good product. So, we uh, planted about an acre and a tenth in 1999, picked our first crop in 2000. So, this is our twenty-third season of uh, growing strawberries. [John] Over the past twenty-three years, they have certainly grown their operation. They now grow thirty-two thousand plants on two and a half acres, but of course, with more crop in the field, the more challenging it can be to grow them and of course sell them.

[Prescott] We started off cool and wet, and wet's not good for strawberries, but you have to take it as it comes. You're at the mercy of the weather, but uh, that was a challenge early in the season. We didn't have enough berries to meet the supply, and now we've got plenty of berries and the demand has dropped.

So, you have that balancing act between supply and demand, and that's one of the biggest challenges, is matching up the supply with the demand and a lot of it's out of your control. [John] Despite that though, in recent weeks, the weather has improved, and they now have rows and rows of beautiful berries as you can certainly tell, which has brought out customers from all over – which, according to Prescott, makes it all worth it to him in the end. [Prescott] There's people been in this patch and enjoy these strawberries from all around the world, and they come here to the United States visiting family, and they're really interesting to meet. I mean, different cultures and different, I really enjoy that. Uh, I'm sixty-seven years old and it is hard work, and it's tough for me to get out here and uh, do the stoop labor that I have to do from time to time.

But uh, I enjoy meeting the people and putting out a good product that I feel like is wholesome and healthy and people enjoy, and they come from far and wide to get them. [John] Reporting in Wrens for the Farm Monitor, I'm John Holcomb. [RAY] AFTER THE BREAK, SO MANY HISTORICAL TREASURES TO SEE, INCLUDING THIS EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY GRIST MILL. A TRIP TO RABUN COUNTY FOR SOME APPALACHIAN CULTURE - WHEN THE FARM MONITOR CONTINUES. [Music] [Music] [John Jensen] Hi, I'm John Jensen with Georgia DNR wildlife conservation section, and we're here today at the amphibian foundation Atlanta to talk about Argentine black and white tegus. Argentine black and white tegus are a large lizard, not native to the United States.

It has become established as an exotic invasive species in several sites in South Florida, and we now believe in the tombs and Tattnall County area of Georgia. We're trying to remove them from the wild because they can have negative impacts on our native species. They eat just about anything they want, plant and animal matter. And one of their favorite foods are eggs from ground nesting animals such Gopher Tortoises, our protected state reptiles. Birds, including turkeys and quail. They're also a burrowing species.

They'll make their own burrows, but they also use the Burroughs made by other animals, including our native gopher tortoise, and they made displace gopher tortoises in doing so. So we really encourage the general public to report sightings of this animal that allows us to determine where to focus our trapping efforts in an effort to eradicate this species. Additionally, if you're able to safely and humanely dispatch of the animal, we encourage that and we want that information too.

Argentine black and white tag is are in general kind of black and white and banded. They can get up to four and a half feet long. Many of the public that encounter these often report them thinking that they look like a baby alligator well away from the water. These are very common in the pet trade, but we ask folks that keep these as pets to be responsible. And if you've come to a point where you no longer want this animal, there are reptile adoption groups that may take it and try to find a home. Releasing it into the wild is the absolute worst thing to do.

It will affect our native species and we can't have that. [Sound of church bell ringing] [Sound of guitar strumming] [Ray D’Alessio] A church bell rings on a hillside, while a man enjoys some alone time, fiddling away on a cigar box. The Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center in Rabun County.

It's a fascinating glimpse of earlier generations--a time capsule so to speak, that captures the sights, sounds and lifestyle of the North Georgia Mountains from the 1820's to the 1940's. [Barry Stiles/Foxfire Museum Director] We have a mission, you know, and it's to preserve the culture of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. And, and that's what we do at the museum. And we also want to teach people about that history and culture. So we are very specific about what we do and really most of our, the research we do occurs in our own collection. We have well over two-thousand interviews, you know, a hundred thousand images.

I don't know, three-thousand hours of audio. So when we want to confirm something, we look within ourselves for the most part, because we have the best collection dealing with Southern Appalachian culture anywhere. [Todd Faircloth/Foxfire Executive Director] My grandparents were from North Georgia, and every time I walk around this place and smell the, the fire from the blacksmith, or hear him uh banging on a piece of metal or hear the church bell ring, it takes me back to a time in my life that was so important to me, and I think that that's what resonates with so many people when they come to Foxfire. It really takes them back to what they may have either heard from their grandparents, or may have, um, been passed down through the generations to their family.

So, you know, it's kinda like a song. Many times, a song will take you back to a certain time in life, and I think for so many people, when they walk on the grounds of Foxfire and they see the different buildings and read about the different people, it takes them back to a different time in life. [Slow building Music] [Ray] To appreciate the Foxfire experience, it's important to know it's origin.

In 1966, a local group of high school students at Rabun Gap Nacoochee school needed inspiration and were assigned the task of interviewing family, friends and neighbors about early Appalachian culture. Years down the road, those interviews became a series of magazines, which resulted in the now popular Foxfire books. In 1974, royalties from the first book were used to purchase the land which now houses the museum and the surrounding buildings.

[Kami Ahrens/Foxfire Curator & Educational Outreach Coordinator] So we have over a hundred acres of mountainside property. It goes all the way up to Blackrock Mountain State Park. And the students decided to create a space for their learning for future students and for their community as well. So, they converted this place, It was an old orchard, into a learning center and they salvaged historic buildings in their community, dismantled them and rebuilt them here. Um, and now we have over twenty historic structures that we're all constructed by both those students and their community members.

[Suzie Nixon-Flaherty/Foxfire Community Board President] So, Foxfire preserves how people lived in this area many, many years ago. It gives them a glimpse into what it was like being in the mountains, surviving in the mountains, living day to day in the mountains. You learn about what it meant to live in a one room cabin with a family and survive and the uniqueness of the culture, um, how they preserved the, the, um, the way of life that, um, sustained them. [Ray] Sustainability of course often associated with farming and agriculture, another attractive feature about foxfire that officials have gone to great lengths to preserve. [Barry Stiles] Well, we have a lot of outbuildings, you know, that are associated with any farm. We have two barns that are, are really interesting to look at that are made out of logs.

The one right near us here, the Beck barn is really a, a large barn for the time periods, about 1900. And it's roughly thirty by thirty feet. And it's called a cross hall design, which is not very common for this area. And it would store your animals and implements.

And typically in this area, your barn was more important than your house and was bigger than your house. Uh, the grist mail is awesome. It's, it's the first building that was brought up here. The students didn't know what a grist mill was. So they, they learned about it, uh, talking to Aunt Harry.

And so they got permission to, to acquire it and they took it apart, brought it up here and it was actually made in the 1930s, but it was made in the style that would've been consistent with 1830's. And you're mostly raising corn. You know, that was a primary crop here. And people were using animals for a long, long time.

Even in the 1970's, when students were doing interviews, there were still people plowing with mules and, and farming with other animals, uh, even oxen were still being used. So it's still a kind of a transition period here. And although tractors were available, people were reluctant to, to let go of their mules. They were just fond of that type of power and we're loyal to their animals, which is, it's pretty neat.

[Kami Ahrens] We have, you know, this massive collection of oral history records dating back to the early sixties when the students first started that capture historic farming practices. So a lot of the people they interviewed were still practicing self-sustainability. They were still growing gardens with heirloom seeds. They were still raising livestock and using very old tools from earlier, um, centuries, you know, and so all of that got preserved in our archive, but it still continued in practice, both through the people who come here to demonstrate and through the, um, ways that we engage with research and public programming.

So, you know, there are so many components of both history and agriculture and, and culture in general that are just intertwined, and all come together in this one place. [Music] [RAY] YEAH, IT REALLY IS A UNIQUE PLACE, AND TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FOXFIRE MUSEUM AND HERITAGE CENTER, JUST LOG ON TO THE ADDRESS YOU SEE THERE ON THE SCREEN. FOXFIRE.ORG. WHEN WE COME BACK. FARM ANIMALS AND COVID.

ARE THEY AT RISK, AND IF SO, WHAT'S BEING DONE TO STUDY THE POSSIBILITIES OF THEM PASSING ON THE VIRUS TO HUMANS? BUT FIRST BEFORE WE PAY SOME BILLS, A MESSAGE FROM THE GEORGIA FARM BUREAU MEMBERSHIP DEPARTMENT. [Slayten Carter/Georgia Farm Bureau Membership Acquisition Manager] Hi there, it's Slayten Carter with Georgia Farm Bureau. We thank you for watching this episode of Farm Monitor, which is one of many programs brought to you by our very own members. When we say members, we mean that there are thousands of Georgians just like you who understand the role agriculture plays in our daily lives and in our state's economy. We thank our members for their support by offering them access to all sorts of benefits, such as discounts at hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, and much more. Our members can use their membership every day by downloading our Savings Plus App--which can also alert them of local discounts from their favorite stores in their own communities.

At Georgia Farm Bureau, we are committed to researching, selecting, and offering the very best quality and services to our members. It's our way of thanking you for your support of our mission to promote and protect Georgia agriculture. If you're not a member, we invite you to join us. For only thirty-five dollars a year, you could reap the thousands of benefits that our membership can offer. For those of you who are already members--Thank you! Thank you for allowing us to serve on your behalf, and we hope you'll continue to renew your membership for many years to come. Anyone who either joins or renews their membership online during the month of May will receive an exclusive Membership May thank you gift.

Visit our website soon because this offer is only valid while supplies last. [Music] [Music] [Narrator] COVID 19 is a highly contagious and often deadly respiratory disease caused by SARS COV two. The now infamous coronavirus that emerged in December of 2019. Not surprisingly members of the agricultural community are concerned the virus may pose a threat to our livestock, food supply and agricultural economy. USDA turned to scientists at the agricultural research service ARS to determine if our livestock and wildlife are susceptible to SARS Cov two, and whether these animals could serve as reservoirs of disease that could potentially transmit the virus back to people. [Shollie Falkenberg] Part of our goal within ARS and within USDA is to produce a sustainable and safe product.

And so we wanted to ensure that, uh, the, the consumer and the, the public, um, felt safe about their food supply. There's been other beta coronaviruses that have initially started in rodents, have moved into cattle and then have been transmitted to humans. And so knowing the susceptibility of all of these animals is extremely important to know where we need to be monitoring and serving.

[Alexandra Buckley] We started this research in March of 2020, which involved a lot of planning and study design. And we looked at the susceptibility of swine cattle and Whitetail deer. We needed to show and make sure that there weren't reservoirs of the virus that could go undetected and cause further spread of SARS COV Two in the human population.

[Narrator] ARS research provided science-based evidence that eggs, live poultry, cattle, swine, and arthropods could not replicate the virus. [Shollie Falkenberg] Uh, we feel confident that livestock are not susceptible to SARS COV two. And, uh, but this is something that we will continue to monitor as other variants emerged [Narrator] Of the animal studied only white-tailed deer were found susceptible to SARS cov two [Mitchell Palmer] Whitetail deer are susceptible to infection. The virus replicates inside them. They shed large amounts of virus and they shed it in sufficient quantities to infect, uh, other pen mates and other deer. Uh, we do know that once they get infected, they do not become sick.

So there doesn't seem to be any immediate threat to the wild Whitetail deer population. [Narrator] What scientists found in Whitetail deer appears very similar to what CDC reported for some people that are infected and remain asymptomatic but can shed the virus and infect others. [Mitchell Palmer] When it comes to research many times, when you think you solve one problem, you create another set of questions to be answered. [Alexandra Buckley] What I hope to learn about coronaviruses is what makes them more likely to jump between species.

We can help look at the immune response to coronaviruses. In general, it's been difficult to develop vaccines that generate a robust immune response that's long-lasting. [Narrator] Real time rapid response is paramount when providing the needed scientific information and countermeasures to control new disease outbreaks. [Shollie Falkenberg] We need to be ready to, to respond very quickly. This research has been a great learning experience to try and better understand how to respond in a pandemic situation. [RAY] ALRIGHT, BIG THANKS TO USDA FOR ALL THE GREAT THINGS THEY DO AND THANK YOU FOR MAKING THIS SHOW POSSIBLE.


2022-05-17 12:44

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