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Recipe Spotlight: It’s easy cooking green

  For good health and good rating, snap the beans and boil the collards FARM-GROWN GREEN THINGS are good for you. There’s a generalization you can take to the bank. Other colored foods are equally good, but today’s focus is on green. If you had a short nap, you might have missed the two hours


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Just for wounded veterans

TWO AMERICAN SOLDIERS sustained significant injuries across the street from one another, a year apart, while serving in Fallujah, Iraq. Years later, chance brought these two American heroes together while on a hunting trip with Operation Outdoor Freedom, where they realized their shared Falluja experience sitting around a campfire.


Recipe Spotlight: There’s citrus you can pair with that

ONE OF THE JOYS of living in Central Florida is just-picked citrus. We had citrus in the Great White North but it was an imported treat. Grapefruit was often picked too early and made no friends because it was still sour. Florida also has plenty of other fruits that can pair with citrus to expand


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Judi Whitson is the 2016 Woman of the Year in Agriculture

AGRICULTURE IN FLORIDA is high-tech. It’s not Old McDonald’s Farm anymore, and in order to feed our global population of 10 billion by 2050, we need to invest in our youth. We need to mentor young people and set an example of how innovation and passion can continue to propel the agriculture industry forward. Our


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Farm to School program update

THE BEGINNING OF EACH school year ushers in a whole new set of experiences for Florida’s children, whether it is a new classroom, new teacher, new classmates, or even a whole new school. This year, Florida students will be going back to more than new classes, teachers, and friends — we’re working to make sure


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Strengthening Florida’s livestock industry

State’s Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory modernized FLORIDA’S FARMERS AND RANCHERS face a variety of threats, including pests, diseases, and market changes. In fact, the survival of Florida’s 500-year-old agriculture industry has hinged on its ability to prevent, diagnose, and respond to crises. Now, with an upgrade and modernization of the Florida Department of Agriculture


Ag Time with Abby: What does ag education actually teach?

IN RECENT REPORTS, there has been talk of doing away with agriculture education due to budget cuts. Personally, I don’t see why agriculture is not a mandated class. Back in the day, there were classes like home economics and shop that taught us some life skills, but again, due to budget cuts, those classes are


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: State preserves record 2,500 acres of environmentally sensitive ag land

FOR CENTURIES, Florida’s farmers and ranchers have served as Florida’s original conservationists and great stewards of our natural resources. In recognition of these contributions, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has collaborated with our state’s ranchers and farmers to protect important agricultural lands, and their immeasurable environmental benefits, for generations to come.


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Rolling out a multifaceted plan for continued support of Florida citrus

FLORIDA IS KNOWN for its white sandy beaches, world-class attractions, and (my personal favorite) citrus. Look no further than Florida’s official license plate, with its image of two oranges and an orange blossom, as proof of its place in our history and culture. Florida has been synonymous with citrus for most of our 500-year history


Ag Time with Abby: New FFA chapter takes root

IT IS ALWAYS exciting to have a new chapter established in the FFA, especially when it is one right here in Polk County! Winter Haven Christian School was founded in 1965, and it added a high school in 2013. This year, they introduced Agriculture as one of the academies for their high school students. I


Recipe Spotlight: Color your plate red and green for the holidays

THE REASON for Christmas , the birth of baby Jesus, goes back more than 2,000 years. And we shouldn’t forget that. Modern Christmas just wouldn’t be the same holiday without Santa’s red suit and Rudolph’s red nose. You have to add some green in there, too … holly branches and mistletoe, for instance. DID YOU


Ag Time with Abby: FFA wants to amplify on ag causes and careers

{Amp•li•fy — increase of volume} THE THEME of the 2014-15 National FFA year was to amplify our voice, not just in our FFA career but in our lives, families, and communities. In the opening session of the 88th National FFA Convention, Andy Paul, 2014-15 National FFA president, stated that “in order to chase our dreams,


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Bringing Florida’s harvest to school cafeterias

IN THE PHOTO: Since the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services assumed responsibility of the state’s School Nutrition Program three years ago, the number of Florida schools recognized nationally for their efforts to create a healthy environment for their students has grown from 24 to 374. Allamanda Elementary School in Palm Beach County is


Ag Time with Abby: There’s something for everyone in ag

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN. The school buses will in route, the bells will be ringing, and students will be starting their countdown to Thanksgiving break! It has been an awesome summer for our Polk County FFA members. Some attended FOA and FLA camp, many went to the Florida FFA State Convention, and a small group


PCFB President’s Column: Many deserve thanks for giving ag a boost in legislative session

“WHY DO YOU FARM?” This is a question that most farmers and ranchers hear over and over, year after year. One short answer is “Family,” and not just for our own families. In reality, the pursuit of agriculture production can at times present challenges to fulfilling our responsibilities to our own families — and the


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Employing every tool in the toolbox to find a solution for HLB

FLORIDA GROWERS just harvested the smallest orange crop in nearly 50 years, and all because of a tiny insect that spreads an incurable disease. Citrus greening (a.k.a., Huanglongbing or HLB), a bacterial disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, is an existential threat to Florida’s signature crop. Trees infected with citrus greening produce fruit that


Ag Time with Abby: Being part of the revolution

IN THE PHOTOS: Left, FFA youth ham it up during the 87th Annual Florida FFA State Convention & Expo. Right, Abby Crawford signs her letter of intent to teach agriculture after attending the UF Ag Education Institute session. THIS YEAR, THE THEME OF FLORIDA FFA was to become a part of the revolution. At the


Ag Time with Abby: Class of 2015, you did it!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL the graduating seniors — the Class of 2015! You have made it through all of the trials and triumphs, heartaches and good times, the FCAT, EOCs, and AP exams. I am sure that you tried new things, joined new clubs, and found new happiness. I am also sure that the memories and


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Century Pioneer Family Farms

SINCE THE ARRIVAL of European explorers in the 1500s, agriculture has played a critical role in the in the history and growth of our state. Today, Florida agriculture helps to produce the food and fiber that people throughout our state, across the nation, and around the world have come to depend on.


PCFB President’s Column: Legislative Wrap-Up event gets bumped

EACH YEAR, immediately following the end of the Legislative Session, the Polk County Farm Bureau hosts our Legislative Wrap-Up event. This year’s event was scheduled for Tuesday, June 9. Given the Special Session, which must take place in order to present a state budget, the June 9 PCFB Legislative Wrap-Up has been canceled and will


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Growing ‘Fresh From Florida’

MORE THAN 47,000 farms in Florida work day in and day out to produce the food and fiber that Florida — and the world — depend on. Florida agriculture produces a variety of products — nearly 300 different commodities — and generates more than $120 billion in annual economic impact. As Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture,


Ag Time with Abby: Memoirs of an Ag Literacy Day reader

AG LITERACY DAY was held April 21, and our local FFA chapters spent their day educating Polk County elementary students on Florida’s livestock and poultry industries. The story was narrated by an old truck, Ole’ Red, that took the readers on a road trip throughout the state of Florida visiting different farms and learning about


PCFB President’s Column: Polk Agri-Fest features special and big-name guests

AS I WRITE this column, Polk County Agri-Fest is in full swing! Our special guests are the 6,000 fourth-grade students who visit Agri-Fest each year, but we are also pleased that U.S. Congressman Daniel Webster and Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick have been able to join us this year to experience Agri-Fest first hand.


Ag Time with Abby: Spotlighting FFA member Miss Bailey Buchanon

BAILEY BUCHANON, 17, of Lake Gibson FFA, was recently selected to represent the Polk County cattle industry as Polk County Cattlemen’s Sweetheart with hopes of being named the Florida Cattlemen’s Sweetheart in June! Bailey’s father has been a member of the Polk County Cattlemen’s Association for years, and her mother is a member of the


One student’s journey in the 4-H Leadership Program

| Thomas Perry discovers his ability to be a frontrunner for his community | AT AGE 18, Thomas Perry already knows he wants to work as an engineer. But what he wants to be is a leader. He discovered it while he attended Moore Haven High School in Glades County, just as he learned biology,


Ag Time with Abby: Spotlighting the Frostproof FFA chapter

In the photo: Members of the Frostproof Middle FFA get together for a photo on FFA Chapter T-Shirt Day. THE NATIONAL FFA organization recently celebrated National FFA Week from February 21-28. Many local chapters had themed days for their members to participate and get others into the spirit. If a spirit prize was passed out


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Woe to us if we don’t stop the EPA’s proposed regulations on W.O.T.U.S.

The EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has once again made an attempt to expand federal jurisdiction on Florida’s waterways with its proposed changes to the rules guiding the implementation of the Clean Water Act. Earlier this month, I testified before a joint hearing of U.S. House and Senate committees regarding the devastating impact of the

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Ag Time with Abby: Day-by-day highlights from the Polk County Youth Fair

Photo captions: (Top left) The Fat Chance Show Team won the Team Herdsman Award. (Bottom left) Abby Crawford is pictured with Charley Belcher. (Bottom middle) Tori Harrison from Winter Haven High School FFA shows her commercial heifer. (Right) Brianne Pueschell hugs her market steer Barclay. WELL, THE 2015 POLK COUNTY YOUTH FAIR in Bartow was


Ag Time with Abby: Can you smell what’s in the air?

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Can you smell that? It smells like pigs, cows, barbecue, cake, walking tacos, and hay! Where can you catch the scent of all of this in one place? The Polk County Youth Fair! It’s the time of year that every local FFA and 4-H member has been waiting for!


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: With increased trade, comes new threats

OUR ECONOMY is more global than ever. Boundaries, currencies, and cultures are no longer impediments to the exchange of goods, services, and ideas. New technologies and innovations in transportation have helped us break down these barriers to trade, and the expansion of the Panama Canal, which is expected to be completed in 2015, will further


FFA Corner: Ag Time with Abby

| ’Tis the season to serve and think about your future in the ag industry | FFA IS AN ORGANIZATION that revolves around service. One act of service that many FFA chapters in Polk County participated in recently was the Great American Teach-In.


Recipe Spotlight: Making the perfect holiday gift basket with Florida produce

IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS, BUT THAT’S NOT NEWS. The problem is what to get for the person who has everything and you have nothing for. Food is always a good answer, and luckily, we’re in Florida where fresh produce is a year-round treat. You need just enough freshness to say Merry Christmas … just enough to


FFA Corner: Ag Time with Abby – Adding STEM classes to Dundee Elementary’s ag program

As I reflect on things I am thankful for this month, I would like to thank the recent donors to Project Fill ’Em Up: Jarrett Gordon Ford, Center State Bank at Southern Dunes, and Dundee Elementary Academy. Thanks to their generosity, there will be three less hungry Hornets at Haines City High School.


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Our work is not done

It has been a great privilege to represent Florida as Commissioner of Agriculture for the last four years, and I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish together, not only for our $100 billion agriculture industry, but also for all of our state’s 19 million residents. We have worked hard to grow and


Creative prep and presentation for the holidays

If food looks wonderful, chances are that it tastes as good as it looks. Our traditional five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) tell us what to expect from something by looks first, then by smell. Taste comes next. We don’t hear much from food unless it’s Rice Krispies. The list of five senses


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Woman of the Year in Agriculture

For 30 years, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have recognized outstanding women who played a critical role in the history and success of agriculture in Florida. This year’s recipient has not only made significant contributions to agriculture, she has worked faithfully to grow Florida’s next generation of


Grab-and-go citrus smoothies to help you get-up-and-go

I’m late. I’m late for a very important… These hectic days it seems like we are all modeled after the White Rabbit from the novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But being in a hurry is no excuse to start your day with a cup of black coffee and a doughnut at work.


Florida’s roadmap to living healthy

We think we know what the face of hunger looks like when we see starving children featured on television from countries around the globe. But we need to expand our thinking of what hunger is— what the face of hunger looks like— because it is in our backyards, our elementary schools, and our communities right


@griTech: New technology strives to give shoppers even fresher produce

There’s nothing more frustrating than picking out strawberries at the grocery store, just to find that some of the berries from the batch have already gone bad. As shoppers, we want the best, freshest berries for our buck. A team of researchers, led by the University of Florida, is creating a new tracking system to


AgriBiz Profiles

Advantage Hedging & Topping: Citrus Trees Responding to Nutrition and ‘Drastic Cuts’ Like many people in the citrus industry, April Miller is doing business differently these days because of citrus greening disease. Miller, who travels around the state giving citrus trees “haircuts” to encourage new growth, is now being asked to make “drastic cuts.” In


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award recipients

Florida’s farmers and ranchers have not only fueled our people and economy for the last five centuries, they have proven themselves as responsible and innovative stewards of our land. Today, Florida farms and ranches produce nearly 300 different agricultural commodities on 10 million acres of land. And at the same time, agricultural operations are preserving


From Fancy to Jerky— Cooking for Wild Game

Bringing home the bacon is easy if you have money and a store nearby. But even bacon can get boring. Florida hunters have a lot to choose from that can rival bacon in the tasty department. Following the rules, a good shot can bag alligator, Burmese python, deer, dove, duck, quail, and small game including


Florida Roots: Uniting hunters to help feed the hungry

They say that all great ideas come from finding a solution to a problem.  The Wild Game Food Bank (WGFB) scores a direct bullseye in the “great ideas” department, no doubt.  Developed by Central Florida agriculture community member, Caitlin Meadows, the WGFB brings together wild game donated by area hunters, local game processors, and Central


Looking for Florida-Friendly plants? (There’s a NEW app for that!)

Thanks to a new technological development by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the Florida-Friendly Landscaping program, Florida home owners and garden enthusiasts can now obtain expert gardening tips and advice just by reaching in their pockets and grabbing their smartphones.


AgriNews: Farm Credit of Central Florida declares 2014 patronage refunds to members

Farm Credit of Central Florida Chairman of the Board, David J. Stanford, a Winter Garden citrus grower, announced the association’s eligible member/borrowers will benefit from patronage refunds, or profit-sharing, of $3.5 Million, significantly lowering their cost of borrowing. Farm Credit of Central Florida is a member-owned cooperative lending funds to ranchers, growers, farmers, and rural


Recipe Spotlight: Peaches on parade in the kitchen

It’s Florida and life’s a peach . . . at least it will be if the peach-growers have anything to say about it.  Nature abhors a vacuum and, thanks to Florida plant scientists, vacant land is being filled with not only profitable crops, but delicious ones too.  The profit takes longer than the flavor to


Recipe Spotlight: Get Kids Eating with Florida-Inspired Cooking

The way kids fuss over food, it’s a wonder any of them grow up. We did. And so will our children.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”] But the stress is not on the youngsters, it’s the parents who suffer. He likes only chicken nuggets and bananas. She will


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: A ‘Nutrislice’ of Florida’s School Nutrition Program

Florida’s sunshine and temperate climate provide for more than a great vacation destination. Our unique climate allows for the vast majority of Florida’s nearly 300 agricultural products to be in peak production between the months of October and May, which just so happens to correspond with Florida’s school year.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to


@griTech: Drone Applications for Agriculture

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones as they are sometimes called, are emerging as new technology in the agricultural industry. Until now, UAVs were primarily used by the military. Many people, including pilots, were skeptical of the use of drones concerning air safety and potential privacy violations. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has strict rules


Commisioner’s AgriCorner: Trade Development Mission to Panama

This year, the Panama Canal will celebrate its 100th anniversary since the first ship passed through in 1914. The canal has not only transformed international trade, but it has had a powerful impact on the country of Panama itself. A place that was once overcome with mosquitoes carrying malaria and yellow fever is now a


Recipe Spotlight: You cook Tomātoes, we cook Tomătoes!

Is it toe-may-to or toe-maa-to? That depends on where you are from and how you say oregano or ora-gaan-o? No matter how you pronounce it, the tomato, a fruit that is native to the Western hemisphere, is a favorite. And thanks to our soil and climate, Florida supplies most of the country with tomatoes when


Recipe Spotlight: Creating NEW Interest in Old Favorites

Okay, the holidays are over. Now we settle back into the same-ol’, same-ol’ routines. That includes cooking. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”] It’s easy to do just what the family likes— because they like it— and what’s easy to fix— because it’s easy to fix. Let’s take


@griTech: Trending Now in Residential Landscaping

Residential landscaping is a big deal in Central Florida and it’s a labor of love lasting all year long. It’s also an endeavor that raises many issues, but innovative solutions are always forthcoming. Here’s a look at Florida residential landscaping technologies and trends for the upcoming year. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Expansion of the Panama Canal

Florida exports $4 billion in agricultural commodities each year to more than 140 other countries, with many of the products passing through the Panama Canal. Next year, the expansion of the Panama Canal will be complete, representing one of the most revolutionary changes in global logistics since the canal was built a century ago. [emember_protected


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: About the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program

In November, families representing 50 operational farms and ranches from all across the state gathered in Tallahassee for one reason: preserving Florida’s invaluable agricultural lands. These families, many with three and four generations in attendance, presented their family-owned farms and ranches to be considered for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and


Recipe Spotlight: Tropical Fruits Within Reach

Did you ever sit back, cross your legs on a hassock, pull your hat over your closed eyes and think about how lucky we are to live in Central Florida? Our weather is the best. We’re close to beaches. Big cities are just far enough away. And there’s always a special food to discover.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: ‘Florida Ag: By the Numbers’ Report

More than 500 years ago, when European settlers landed in Florida, livestock were raised and produce was grown for subsistence. The settlers produced just enough to feed themselves and their families. Over time, advances in farm machinery, technology and practices, as well as innovations in transportation, helped Florida agriculture become the economic pillar it is


Recipe Spotlight: Four ideas for ‘crabby’ meals

There was a time when “crabby” was an insult. These days it’s delicious. Stone crabs are the stars of Florida’s crustacean show, but they are available only from October through mid-May. Hey, that’s now! [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”] Blue crabs can be harvested all the time,


Recipe Spotlight: Mixing it Up with the Culinary Wealth of Florida

We live in a culinary smoothie. Florida food is a bit of this and a bit of that from many countries, all smooshed together as immigrants settled here and they shared the bounty enjoyed by Native Americans.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”] And as Floridians, we have added


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: ‘My Florida Farm Weather’ App

When deciding whether to irrigate during frost-freeze conditions or when to apply nutrients during wet months, agricultural producers depend on accurate weather information. Producers often have to settle for information from other parts of the region. With the new “ My Florida Farm Weather ” program, however, agricultural producers across Florida can access real-time local


@griTech: Using Smartphone Apps for Better Irrigation Management

A lot of people today use smartphones and mobile app technology to have up-to-date information right at their fingertips, but not every profession, Clyde Fraisse notes, has been quick to embrace these advances.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”] For one thing, even though there are now smartphone apps


Recipe Spotlight: No White after Labor Day (OR in the Kitchen When Cooking with Pomegranates)

We grow a lot of fruits in Florida. Most folks barely know about some of them. They are experimental or they come from tiny groves or large backyards. We think of them as foreign flavors.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”] If you look hard you can find plenty


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Farm to School Program Update

As Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, improving the nutritional value of school meals by adding more locally grown produce to school trays is one of my top priorities. In 2011, I worked with the Legislature to move Florida’s School Nutrition Program from the Department of Education to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Simply


Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Operation Outdoor Freedom Update

Two years ago, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services launched Operation Outdoor Freedom, a program that invites wounded service members and veterans of the U.S. military to enjoy recreational activities on Florida State Forests. The program is the result of a collaboration between the department, legislators, and the Wounded Warrior Project to honor


Recipe Spotlight: Bringing Home the Bacon and the Bunny

Cooking wild pig doesn’t have to be a boar. We can harvest wild hogs all year in Central Florida, and it might be considered a favor by folks who are plagued by the rooting porkers tearing up the garden or farm. Rabbits are also a year-round treat in Florida. Because rabbits are small they are