Ag news briefs
Highlands TodaySEBRING - Speech contest open to secondary students
Published: April 11, 2012
Published: April 11, 2012
The Highlands County Soil and Water Conservation District Speech Contest will be held at 2 p.m. next Wednesday at the Bert J. Harris Jr. Agricultural Center in Conference Room 3, 4509 George Blvd.
The contest is open to any student enrolled in grades six through 12 in Highlands County. This includes students in virtual and home school programs.
The topic is: "Should food crops be used for fuel?"
The contest is designed to develop leadership through participation in public speaking activities and stimulate interest in conserving natural resources, especially as it relates to agriculture.
Speeches are limited to six to eight minutes. Local judges will score contestants on content, composition and delivery. Contestants may use notes while speaking; visual aids may not be used.
First place pays $150; second place, $100; and third place, $50. The first-place winner may advance to the area speaking contest.
To register, call the University of Florida IFAS Extension Office at 402-6540 by Monday.
Workshop set for waterfront residents
The Highlands County Extension Service and the University of Florida Lakewatch Program will sponsor a workshop for Highlands County residents who live along lakes and canals.
The event is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 24 at the Bert J. Harris Jr. Agricultural Center.
The program will provide information on the UF Lakewatch Volunteer Program, lake and water quality issues, and will help residents learn how to identify common aquatic weeds. There will also be a discussion of issues specific to residents living along canals.
Mark Hoyer, assistant director of UF Lakewatch, will be the featured speaker. Other speakers include Dan Willis of UF Lakewatch; Mike Jensen, Highlands County Extension Service director; and Kyle Green, Highlands County Road and Bridge superintendent.
Florida Lakewatch is a volunteer citizen lake-monitoring program that facilitates hands-on participation in the management of Florida lakes through monthly activities.
Highlands County Extension is looking at ways to extend the reach of Lakewatch volunteers to encompass major canals in Highlands County.
For more information, call Jensen at 402-6540.
Closing date nears for crop insurance
USDA's Risk Management Agency is reminding Florida avocado, carambola, citrus and mango fruit producers that Sunday is the sales closing date for citrus fruit and fruit tree crop insurance.
The sales closing date is applicable for avocado, carambola, grapefruit, lemon, lime, mango, orange, tangerine, tangelo and murcott trees.
The sales closing is the last day to purchase a new policy or to change the level of coverage for an existing policy.
Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private agents. A list of agents is available at www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agents/.
Putnam releases annual report for 2011
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam released last week the 2011 annual report for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, providing a snapshot of priorities and accomplishments for the calendar year.
This is the first annual report released by the department under Putnam's leadership.
"As commissioner of agriculture, I pledged to support Florida's $100 billion agriculture industry, expand opportunities for energy production, manage the state's natural resources and safeguard consumers," he said.
"This annual reportdemonstrates how we built on successful department programs and initiatives to champion these issues."
The annual report outlines some ways in which the department supports Florida's agriculture industry, enabling it to grow by $150 million in cash receipts over the last year.
The report also summarizes efforts to safeguard consumers' health and well-being. Through the department's consumer hotline, 1-800-HELP-FLA, and website, www.800helpfla.com, consumer assistance operators responded to 214,284 calls from consumers with questions or comments and recovered nearly $6 million on behalf of consumers.
The report highlights the department's efforts to conserve Florida's rich natural resources, including enrolling 826,840 acres in Best Management Practices to store water and reduce phosphorus loads in the Northern Everglades.
The report also provides an overview of the department's new responsibilities, including the transfer of the state's school nutrition program and Office of Energy as a result of measures passed during the 2011 legislative session.
The full annual report can be found at www.florida-agriculture.com.
Youth Citrus Program entry deadline nears
Young people ages 8 to 18 who wish to exhibit a citrus tree in the 2013 Highlands County Fair need to enroll in the 2013 Highlands Youth Citrus Program.
The project consists of growing a potted citrus tree for exhibit and sale at the county fair, constructing an informational display board for the exhibit and making a project record book.
To obtain a registration form, visit http://tinyurl.com/84o7oym. For an information sheet, go to http://tinyurl.com/7t36dn9. And for more details, call the Highlands County Extension Service at 402-6540 or visit the Highlands County Extension Office at the Bert J. Harris Jr. Agricultural Center on South George Boulevard.
The entry deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday. The first workshop is April 19.