EPA Announces Updated Draft Efficacy Protocol for Copper Surface Sanitizer Products

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiated an external peer review of the updated draft protocol for testing the antimicrobial efficacy of copper-containing surface products. The testing described in this draft protocol is designed to support registration of copper-containing surface products (such as door knobs or other items that are not intended for food contact) that bear sanitizer claims. Based on public comments, numerous changes have been made to the draft, including changes to the test microbes, culture preparation, quality control process and product characterization. Continue reading

Permian Basin Cotton Conference slated March 1 in Big Spring

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will conduct the multi-county Permian Basin Cotton Conference from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 1 at the G.C. Broughton Jr. Ag Complex in Big Spring.

The complex is located at 2411 Echols Drive on the Howard College campus. Counties involved with the conference and its accompanying trade show include Howard, Martin, Midland, Glasscock, Upton and Reagan.   Continue reading

2016 Growing New Farmers Program now accepting applications

Lowcountry Local First, in partnership with the College of Charleston’s School of Professional Studies, is now accepting applications to the 2016 Growing New Farmers Program. This 6-month program offers a Certificate of Sustainable Agriculture and an optional apprenticeship, providing introductory agricultural production and business education while also incorporating hands-on training in the field. Applications are being accepted now through March 14, 2016. The class size will be capped at 25 participants.

Application deadline is March 14, 2016.
 Continue reading

Preliminary Imidacloprid Pollinator Risk Assessment Technical Briefing Webinar Slated for February 18

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold an online technical briefing on its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, on February 18, 2016, from 1PM to 2:30PM (Eastern Standard Time). Register for the webinar at https://epawebconferencing.acms.com/imidtechbriefreg/event/event_info.html. Continue reading

Transitioning to organic production – webinar

This webinar will explore the challenges producers face when transitioning part or all of their operation to organic certification. Case studies will be used to profile and discuss different producer groups that are successful in the transition from conventional production to organic. This presentation will introduce participants to Making the Transition to Organic: Ten Farmer Profiles, a publication from the University of Minnesota that features both crop and livestock producers. The basics of organic certification will also be discussed.

This webinar is scheduled for Apr 5, 2016 3:00 pm US/Eastern. Preregistration is not required. Continue reading

Grants for Local Food Producer Outreach, Education, and Training to Enhance Food Safety and FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

(FSMA) Compliance (U01) Application Due Date(s)

April 21, 2016, by 11:59 PM Eastern Time.  https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-FD-16-002.html

 Purposes and Principles

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), is announcing the availability of a limited competition Cooperative Agreement.  The estimated amount of funds available for support of this cooperative agreement is $1,500,000 (direct and indirect costs) for fiscal year 2016.  It is anticipated that at least an additional two (2) years of support may be available, depending on annual appropriations and successful performance.

The intent of this cooperative agreement is to fund entities that have active working relationships with local food producers, processors, or enterprises and/or organizations that have demonstrated experience developing and providing science-based, culturally specific food safety training, education and outreach, for local food producers and processors, with an emphasis on those that are involved in diversified, sustainable, organic and identity-preserved agricultural operations; beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers; value-added farm businesses and small-size processors; and direct and intermediate supply chain participants.  Subcontracts to other organizations that meet the intent noted above are encouraged.  It is expected that applicants will specifically include collaboration between and among national and regional food safety leaders; relevant diversified, sustainable, organic and identity-preserved agricultural businesses or organizations; colleges, universities and related land grant cooperative extension programs; and  regional and local food sector organizations, among others, in order to reach the intended audience.  In addition, applicants are expected to collaborate with the established FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Alliances. Extensive cooperation and coordination with FDA CFSAN and other FDA program offices, the National Coordination and Regional Centers (established under the “National Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach and Technical Assistance Program”), and FDA’s FSMA partners at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other Federal organizations that have a vested interest in food safety among local food producer stakeholders is also expected.

The primary objective of this cooperative agreement is to develop and provide training, education, and outreach, and to facilitate identification of appropriate technical assistance resources for local food producers and processors related to applicable federal preventive controls regulations under FSMA, especially the Produce Safety and Preventive Controls for Human Food rules.  In addition, consideration should be given to local food producers not currently subject to the regulatory requirements but that have conveyed an interest in or have identified economic incentives to comply (i.e., marketplace requirements to comply or business growth outlooks) with such regulations.

Texas A&M AgriLife offers mosquito control seminars

From Insects in the City blog

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the remarkable step of elevating its Zika response to the highest emergency (Level 1) priority outbreak.  For a virus not even established in the U.S., this illustrates the respect and fear health officials have for this previously unheard of virus.

So what’s the story behind the Zika virus?  How do you recognize the mosquitoes that might transmit it? What’s the difference between managing mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus and those that carry Zika? If you don’t know all the answers to these questions, it might be time for an update. Continue reading


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