TIFTON – Rural communities and agriculture depend on each other, said Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes here at the Symposium on Value-added Agriculture Dec. 14.For either to survive, he said, Georgia’s government and agriculture must pursue new ideas in educating workers, investing and development. And it’s critical that both survive.”If we don’t have vibrant rural communities, it will create a political and economic division (in) the state,” Barnes said. “Out of every 10 children who started school this fall, if the trends remain the same, only six will be there when high school graduation comes,” Barnes said. Unless agriculture makes new changes, it doesn’t have a bright future in Georgia, Gov. Roy Barnes told participants at the Symposium on Value-added Agriculture in Tifton, Ga. Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin (left) and R.K. Sehgal, commissioner of the Georgia Dept. of Industry, Trade and Tourism, listen to new ways farmers can add value to their crops in Georgia. “And if the state ever becomes substantially divided,” he said, “it will not be prosperous.” Georgia’s government is willing to keep funding rural economic development, agricultural research and private-public partnerships to add value to farm products, Barnes said, “if we see that the agricultural community is serious about making some wholesale, broad changes in the way we produce.” “And we need to start using the world ‘value-added,'” he said, referring to going beyond traditional roles of simply growing crops and selling them. The bottom line, he said, is that consumers will go with the lowest prices. And as this relates to agriculture, “We have to change the focus of where we are,” he said. “There’s going to be increasing global competition and increased pressure on consolidations. … The economic forces of consolidation and competition are putting pressure on agriculture and the rural communities it supports. “The questions is: how do we deal with them?” Barnes said. Of those six, only three will go on to some type of postsecondary education. And of those three, only one will complete that postsecondary education. For rural communities to be a vibrant part of the state’s economic fabric, he said, agriculture has to be a part. “We have to look at methods, recognizing the consolidation and competition that are going to be with us, to gain a better margin in the (farm) products,” he said.Higher EducationRural workers will also have to be better educated, he said. Increasingly high-tech rural jobs require a better-trained work force. Photo:Brad Haire R.K. Sehgal, commissioner of the Georgia Dept. of Industry, Trade and Tourism, said Georgia must:* Steer toward product-oriented agriculture.* Establish a large private-public research alliance.* Persuade farmers to become more interdependent and less independent. Less than a generation ago, 65 percent of all jobs in Georgia required only the skills of a high school graduate. This year, 65 percent of the state’s new jobs will require at least two years of postsecondary education. “Vibrant rural communities require margins in agribusiness that support industry,” he said. “But to get those margins, you have to have higher-skilled processing and higher-skilled jobs that require a higher-educated and better-trained worker. If the pool of trained workers is not large enough, the community is going to die.”Sufficient Support? Unless something is done soon, agriculture doesn’t have a bright long-term future in Georgia and probably in the nation, he said. “Agriculture is the base of our rural communities.” Photo:Brad Haire Randy Hudson, director of the University of Georgia emerging crops and technologies program, said developing a value-added approach won’t be easy. “To attack this issue will require mobilizing agricultural leaders, lending institutions and our state and federal governments to a charge,” Hudson said. “It will require a dedication to succeed with the understanding that failure is not an option.”
How do you get five apple varieties on one tree? On the Aug. 24 “Gardening in Georgia,” host Walter Reeves explores the answer: budding and grafting.’Gardening in Georgia’ airs twice on Saturdays, at noon and 7 p.m., on Georgia Public Television. It’s co-produced by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and GPTV.On the Aug. 24 show, UGA horticulturist Mark Reiger teaches how to bud a tree. “It’s not as hard as it sounds,” Reeves says.Later, Reeves shows how he prepares perfect soil in his nurse beds. When plants need extra care or you need a place to hold them, a nurse bed may be the answer. Your plants will prosper there while you decide what to do with them.Finally, Reeves shows how to trap whiteflies on tomatoes, gardenias and other plants. Just drive a stake into the ground near an infested plant and tack a yellow plastic cup upside down on the end of the stake. Then paint the cup with STP motor oil treatment. Adult whiteflies will be attracted to the yellow and trapped in the goo.
Test peaches stayed firmer longer”Peaches normally don’t stay in storage for more than two weeks.But we kept our test peaches in storage longer,” Prussia said.”After 21 days of storage, we saw a definite difference as thetreated peaches remained firmer.”Adding the salt solution wouldn’t be hard for growers. Theynormally have hydrocoolers in their packing houses to cool thepeaches with water, Prussia said.”However, we would need to make sure the salt solution does notharm the hydrocooling equipment over time,” he said.Another glitch the researchers are working out is the slightaftertaste the solution leaves behind. Using a taste panel, thescientists found that it “slightly changes” the taste of thepeaches. Surviving shipping”They have to be sure their product can survive shipping,” hesaid, “because when a shipment reaches its destination, a sampleis pulled and if the peaches are too soft, the whole load can berejected.”Working with visiting scientist Grzegorz Lysiak of theAgricultural University in Poznan, Poland, Prussia and UGAagricultural economist Wojciech Florkowski applied a methodcurrently used on apples.”We dipped half a batch of peaches in a 1-percent calciumchloride solution for half an hour. The other half we leftuntouched,” Prussia said.He says the solution is similar to what is used for addingchlorine to swimming pools. “Table salt is sodium chloride, andthis is calcium chloride,” he said.The test peaches were then put through storage and shippingconditions. Working to remove aftertaste”It was a slight change,” Prussia said. “But it was enough of achange that our taste panel detected it.” The research team isnow working to modify the salt solution.”We have to do more research to see if we can lower theconcentration of the solution so the taste isn’t affected and(growers) still get the benefits,” he said.The scientists are also looking into an alternative to dippingthe peaches in the packing houses.”We’d like to try spraying the peach trees while they’re growing,either once a week or once every two weeks,” Prussia said. “Thisway the calcium would get into the peaches as they grow.”He says this method is used now on other crops with no aftertasteeffects.A postharvest specialist, Prussia says peaches could be allowedto ripen longer on the trees if they weren’t too soft to ship.Staying longer on the trees would make peaches sweeter.Prussia hopes spraying the salt solution onto the peach treeswill be the answer to this dilemma.”It would be great if the peaches could be left on the treeslonger to develop full flavor, still ship well and arrive tastingbetter for consumers,” he said.The researchers are now sharing their findings with the GeorgiaAgricultural Commission for Peaches, which partially funded thefirst stage of the project. By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaUniversity of Georgia researchers have developed a solution thatcould help prolong the shelf life of fresh peaches.Peach growers have to pick peaches earlier than ideal so theydon’t perish en route from the orchards to retail stores.”Growers pick peaches when they reach what’s called the ‘marketmature’ stage,” said Stan Prussia, an engineer in the biologicaland agricultural engineering department with the UGA College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences.
By David Emory StooksburyUniversity of GeorgiaAll of Georgia except the Lanier and Hartwell basins are now out of drought. Several days of heavy rain across the southern two-thirds of the state have alleviated the remaining drought conditions in south Georgia.The Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell basins remain in moderate drought. Lake Lanier is a major source of water for much of metropolitan Atlanta. On the Savannah River, Lakes Russell and Clarks Hill remain abnormally low for early April.Soil moisture statewide is near normal for early April. In scattered areas across south Georgia, soil moisture is currently above normal.Stream flows across the southern two-thirds of Georgia are well above normal. Daily record-high flows are being set on many rivers and creeks in southwest and south central Georgia. The National Weather Service is issuing flood warnings for many rivers in the state. Updated river stage information from the NWS is available at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/alr/index.shtml. Drowning is a major cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. Most of drowning deaths result from people driving vehicles into flooded roadways. When a roadway is covered with water, it is virtually impossible to know the true depth of the water. It only takes a few inches of water to float a car and lead to disaster. Additionally, when a road is covered with water it is very difficult to tell if the road has been washed away or the bridge has been undermined. The safest rule is if the road is covered with water, all drivers should “turn around, don’t drown,” as directed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s safety campaign.Additional weather and climate information can be found at www.georgiaweather.net and www.georgiadrought.org. Agricultural climatology information can be found at www.agroclimate.org. Coastal climate information can be found at www.coastalclimate.org. Daily rainfall data is at www.cocorahs.org. U.S. Geological Survey data is at ga.water.usgs.gov. Water conservation information is available at www.conservewatergeorgia.net.(David Emory Stooksbury is the state climatologist and a professor in engineering and atmospheric sciences with The University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
September was hot and dry in Georgia, with many locations setting daytime temperature records. Several locations had the hottest April-through-September period on record. Rainfall across the state was very spotty. Severe drought returned to southeast Georgia, which missed the rainfall.Temperatures were warmer than normal everywhere in Georgia. In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 78 degrees F (4.7 degrees above normal), in Athens 75.8 degrees (3.2 degrees above normal), Columbus 80.7 degrees (4.5 degrees above normal), Macon 77.4 degrees (2.9 degrees above normal), Savannah 79.4 degrees (2.5 degree above normal), Brunswick 80.7 degrees (2.6 degrees above normal), Alma 78.9 degrees (1.6 degrees above normal), Valdosta 80 degrees (3.3 degrees above normal) and Augusta 76.7 degrees (2.9 degrees above normal). Sweltering conditions set many new daytime temperature records. Atlanta set new records Sept. 11 with 96 degrees, breaking the old record of 95 degrees set on that date in 2002, and again Sept. 25 with 93 degrees, breaking the old record of 92 degrees set on that date in 1993. Columbus broke daily highs Sept. 11 (99 degrees), Sept. 12 (98 degrees), Sept. 18 (98 degrees), Sept. 19 (97 degrees), Sept. 20 (98 degrees) and Sept. 21 (98 degrees), breaking records from the 1990s and 2002 by 1 to 3 degrees. Brunswick also set daytime high records Sept. 9 (98 degrees), Sept. 10 (97 degrees), Sept. 11 (98 degrees) and Sept. 20 (97 degrees). Daytime high temperature records were tied at many other locations across the state.Several airport locations recorded their warmest April through September ever, including Savannah, Athens and Columbus. Columbus had its warmest and Atlanta had its second warmest September ever due to the very warm daytime temperatures. Atlanta reported the second highest number of days above 90 degrees after the notorious summer of 1980. (The old second-place record was 84 days above 90 degrees set in the summer of 1954.)Many areas experienced extended dry spells punctuated by a few heavy rainfalls. Generally, the central part of the state was the wettest with above-average rainfall. Border regions were well below normal, particularly the southeastern coast.The highest monthly total from National Weather Service reporting stations was 7.32 inches in Valdosta (3.52 inches above normal). The lowest was in Brunswick at 1.47 inches (4.77 inches below normal). Athens received 5.35 inches (1.82 inches above normal), Alma 3.31 inches (.03 inch below normal), Atlanta 1.60 inches (2.49 inches below normal), Columbus 3.17 inches (.10 inches above normal), Macon 5.45 inches (1.82 inches above normal), Savannah 3.01 inches (2.07 inches below normal) and Augusta 1.89 inches (1.70 inches below normal). Columbus got 1.85 inches of rain Sept. 26, breaking the old record of 1.55 inches for that date in 1953.The highest single-day rainfall from Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network stations was 6.33 inches reported in Lexington, Oglethorpe County, Sept. 27. An observer in Taylor County received 6.07 inches on that date. The highest monthly rainfall total from the network was 9.57 inches at the Lexington site, followed by 9.06 inches in Oglethorpe County and 9.04 inches in Lowndes County.Scattered wind damage hit somewhere in Georgia on three days during the month. Moderate-sized hail was reported at several locations in northern Georgia Sept. 27, including golf ball-sized hail in Fulton County. No tornadoes were reported.The dry conditions affected the development of peanuts across Georgia in non-irrigated fields, leading producers to harvest early. Pastures were severely affected by the lack of rain.
Georgia Representative Terry England was presented the Georgia 4-H Green Jacket Award last month for his support of the youth development program. Sponsored by Georgia EMC, the green jacket award is presented annually to an individual who has exhibited outstanding support of the Georgia 4-H program. Georgia 4-H is operated by University of Georgia Extension and delivered to Georgia’s children through local Extension offices across the state. During the annual Georgia 4-H State Congress event held July 22-24 in Atlanta, England was presented a green 4-H blazer and an etched glass award.England chairs the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee and co-chairs the Agricultural Education Advisory Committee. “In order to have a strong 4-H program, you have to have a tremendous program; strong public support from the state, federal and local government; and strong private support,” said Georgia 4-H State Leader Arch Smith, minutes before presenting the jacket to England. “Representative England embodies all three of those things. He is a great friend of 4-H. He has always been a supporter of youth development programs, education and agriculture in Georgia. He has supported 4-H in his role as a public official. He is a 4-H donor, and he has been willing to find time to help with our educational program activities.”Smith thanked England for leading this year’s Georgia 4-H State Council, where he spoke to Georgia 4-H’ers about the importance of citizenship and voting.“He came up through the FFA organization and has become a true believer that 4-H is just as important to the success of developing young people,” Smith said. “My fondest moments have been spent with him in his office/barn/shop where we stand and talk about the old John Deere tractor from the 1950s that he’s working on restoring. Terry England is a down to earth public servant who has supported 4-H, and he is truly a friend to the 4-H’ers of Georgia.”After donning the green 4-H jacket, England accepted it on “behalf of the Georgians who have supported 4-H and Georgia Extension.” “My 10 years serving in the general assembly has been a lifelong dream and to stand here and wear this jacket and know our governor received it last year and our chancellor and my speaker received it recently…I don’t feel deserving of it,” England said. As a student, England was active in the Winder-Barrow County High School chapter of FFA. “My friends in 4-H received the same energy and the same drive that I was receiving wearing my blue corduroy jacket,” he said. For more about the Georgia 4-H program, go to www.Georgia4H.org.
“Women already play critical roles in all aspects of agriculture — from production and policy to research and development,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “By bringing delegates from across the region together to share ideas and inspiration, we can build on this tradition through leadership development programs and help keep our nation at the forefront of agricultural productivity and sustainability.” The University of Georgia will host delegates from 13 states during a summit that will shape national policies and programs related to gender equity and leadership development in agriculture. Presented by the UGA Women’s Leadership Initiative and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the inaugural Southern Region Women’s Agricultural Leadership Summit is scheduled for Feb. 8 at the UGA Hotel and Conference Center. U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will deliver the keynote address. “Promoting diversity and inclusion is a priority for the university, and I am pleased that UGA is hosting this important event to foster women’s leadership in the agricultural industry,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Deputy Secretary Harden is an outstanding alumna, and the university is honored to welcome her back to campus.” Leaders from 13 Southern states working in all sectors of agriculture — from environmental research to production agriculture — will gather in Athens for the daylong series of panel discussions, group work sessions and networking events focused on developing women’s leadership in agriculture and agriculture-related fields. An interactive research dialogue among participants will provide input for policymakers as well as scholars. Harden was sworn in as the deputy secretary for the USDA in 2013 after unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate. A native of Camilla, Georgia, and a UGA alumna, Harden created the Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network in 2015 to help women advance in all sectors of the industry. “As leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure the next generation of farmers and ranchers are educated, encouraged and empowered to take on the challenges of meeting the world’s growing food, fuel and fiber needs,” Harden said. “That is why USDA is creating tools like the recently launched www.usda.gov/newfarmers to help new and beginning farmers and ranchers succeed. I’m excited to return to my alma mater to discuss the importance of diversity in agriculture and promoting women’s leadership.” According to 2012 Census of Agriculture statistics, there are 969,672 women farmers in the U.S. that lead more than 30 percent of U.S. farms. The 13-state Southern region contains 117,650 female-run farms, which are responsible for $4.9 billion in sales and account for 22.4 million acres of farmland. “With 47 percent of agricultural-related degrees today going to women, we are excited to help jump-start a conversation about how women contribute to agriculture and STEM research and businesses,” said Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean for UGA Extension for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “This convocation of female leaders in agriculture will help generate a full picture of how women work in agriculture, the challenges they face and their dedication to providing support to future generations in solving the most pressing issues of the 21st century — strengthening global food security while protecting the environment.” The summit is organized by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences with assistance from the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach. The opening session, which includes a women’s leadership panel discussion at 10 a.m., is free and open to the general public, as is the final closing session at 3:30 p.m. For more information, see www.caes.uga.edu/events/womensagleadershipsummit.
Governor signs reimportation legislationGovernor Jim Douglas has signed a drug reimportation bill that will allow a small number of Vermonters access to pharmaceuticals from Canada and other nations, and urged the Legislature to move on to more pressing issues.The governor said that even those who campaigned heavily on the issue of drug reimportation, and who claimed that it would be a significant step toward lower drug prices and affordable health care, now concede that this bill will help only a handful of Vermonters.The governor added that the Legislature must take action to save Medicaid and pass health insurance reforms that make progress toward our goal of universal coverage this year.Douglas continues to insist that the Congress take action to increase competition among manufacturers, speed the approval of lower cost generic drugs, preserve the ability of states to pool drug purchases, and protect state pharmaceutical programs impacted by the Medicare law.
GE Healthcare,Vermont Business Magazine IDX Systems Corp in South Burlington has agreed to be acquired by GE Healthcare, based in London, England, for $1.2 billion. The price reflects GEs offer to buy IDX stock for $44 per share. IDX has 2,400 employees, 850 of whom work in Vermont. IDX will become part of the GE Healthcare IT division. Officials said there are no immediate plans to change employment levels in Vermont.GE Healthcare IT is based in Chicago and is a division of GE Healthcare, based in London, England. The agreement was reached September 28 and announced the next morning. The deal is expected to close early 2006.IDX Chairman Richard Tarrant and CEO James Crook said that they had sought out an owner after realizing over the last few years that to grow the business further, they needed a partner. They said that they had sought out GE and started talking early in 2005 and made a formal management proposal last June. IDX is a $670 million company, while GE Healthcare IT is slightly bigger at $750 million. Its parent company, GE Healthcare, is a $15 billion business.Tarrant and Crook both talked about the benefits to healthcare and to IDX in particular. They both mentioned that this deal was good for customers, employees and the communities where IDX facilities are located.Pressed about the future of the Vermont facility, GE officials said they expect the facility to grow as the company grows, but would not discuss specific employment growth or retraction in Vermont. They did say that they would look at cost savings relative to redundant duties. Whether GE would retain the IDX brand name would depend on how the marketing might work out and customer expectations.IDX and GE Medical have some competitive products, but officials on both sides described the merger as each company offering different strengths to the goal of making electronic health care records more available from anywhere in the world.Crook said health care providers would have the benefit of a suite of software that would allow a hospital or medical office or doctor to see all the information at one time on a patient, from contact name and billing, to personal and family health history, to medications, to diagnostics, like X-Rays, to treatments.IDX was formed in Burlington in 1969 by Richard Tarrant and Robert Hoehl.
In light of the current threat of swine influenza in Mexico and certain US states, the Vermont Chamber Hospitality Council is urging Vermont s tourism industry to remain alert to the symptoms of the flu, while realizing that health officials are taking all necessary steps to help treat those individuals and contain the disease before it spreads. Of the 64 cases identified nationwide, there have been no deaths reported from this influenza strain in Vermont or the US.Of course, Vermont s businesses should ensure a high level of sanitation at all times, and implement strategies and precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of employees and guests.These precautionary measures include the use of common sense to help cease the spread of swine flu, complying with food and health regulations, and seeking up-to-date facts to help make informed decisions. The Centers for Disease Control has set up a web page with current information and resources at: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/(link is external).As of April 27, there have been no reported cases of swine influenza found in any public lodging facility in the US. The National Restaurant Association has set up a webpage with important swine flu information for restaurateurs at: http://www.restaurant.org/swineflu/(link is external). It is important to note that one can not contract swine flu from eating pork.Travelers will be looking to the tourism industry to help them make these decisions, and all businesses can work together to help people continue to travel. If you do receive cancellations due to the threat of swine flu, please let us know.The Vermont Chamber continues to monitor the impact of tourism to Vermont through our partners on a federal level, including our congressional delegation, and the National Restaurant Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, National Tour Association, and US Travel Association.