Posted by Martha Glenn, Ornamental Horticulture Agent6

Hundreds of our local youth are working hard this year on their entries for the Manatee County Fair in January.  They may be showing dogs, cows, rabbits, pigs, goats, chickens, and/or plants (just to name a few).  Nowhere is their dedication and enthusiasm more evident than at the FFA/4-H annual Plant Show and Auction.

Students between the ages of eight and eighteen choose plants to take care of and display for judging at fair time, hoping to win a ribbon and maybe a grand champion or showmanship award.  The participants will learn the responsibility of taking proper care of their plants, protecting them for the weather, and marketing them appropriately.  The project will end during the Manatee County Fair at the Plant Auction to be held on the evening of Saturday, January 14, 2017 after the swine sale.

Please come support these amazing students by viewing their entries in the Stewart Building (on the fairgrounds) and bidding on your favorites at the plant auction.

Please direct any questions you might have to Martha Glenn at or 941-722-4524.


Posted by Martha Glenn, Ornamental Horticulture Agent

In 1992 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented Agricultural Worker Protection Standards (WPS).  These federal regulations are designed to reduce the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury among agricultural workers (people working in the production of agricultural plants on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses) and pesticide handlers (people who mix, load, or apply pesticides to these crops).  WPS requirements are intended to inform the agriculture workers and handlers about pesticide safety, provide for the protection of exposure of pesticides, and to mitigate cases of exposure to these pesticides if they occur.    Many of these WPS regulations are changing on January 2, 2017.  Some of these changes are:

  • Annual WPS training for all workers
  • No grace period for training workers before they are allowed to work in areas where pesticides have been used or where a restricted-entry interval has been in effect in the past thirty days
  • Minimum age of a handler of pesticides and early entry workers will be eighteen
  • Establishment of no-entry application-exclusion zones (up to 100 feet surrounding pesticide application equipment)
  • Handlers must suspend the application of pesticides if a worker or other person is in the application exclusion zone
  • Mandatory record keeping of WPS training of agricultural workers for two years
  • Post warning signs if the re-entry interval (REI) is four hours or more in an enclosed space application (for example a greenhouse) or the REI is greater that forty-eight hours in an outdoor application.

These new guidelines also make it necessary for all previously certified WPS Train the Trainers to be recertified with the new EPA educational material by January 2, 2017.  Training will be available on November 9th, 9:00 am to 1:30 pm at the Manatee County Extension office in Palmetto (register at: )   and on December 15th, 9:00 am to 1:30 pm at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm (register at: ).

For more information about the changes in the WPS and the WPS Train the Trainer classes, please contact Martha Glenn at or 941-722-4524.


On Saturday, October 1, 2016 the weather was slightly cool from the oppressive weather of September. Over 500 residents of Manatee, Hillsborough, and Sarasota Counties visited the annual Master Gardener Plant Sale. Plant selection varied from an abundant selection of blooming butterfly plants, fresh vegetables, fruit trees, herbs, orchids, and ornamental trees and shrubs. The proceeds (just under $8K) of the annual fundraiser will offset demonstration garden maintenance, educational program materials, the printing of educational materials, as well as, money is set aside for advanced training of the volunteers and Urban Horticulture staff.


Myths & Truths about Agriculture

Do you find yourself in a sea of information overload and not knowing what’s true and what’s a myth?  Unfortunately, it can be difficult to decipher at times.  One of the first questions we should ask ourselves is why do we believe things about agriculture that are not always true?  Some reasons we do this would be that more Americans are removed from the farm than ever before.  Currently less than 2% of our population are farmers.  Information is at everyone’s fingertips, regardless of whether it is true or not.  We are quick to believe anything we read.

One of the biggest myths that I hear on a regular basis is that family farms are a thing of the past.  In reality, 97% of American farms are family owned and operated by individuals.  Another is that organic producers don’t use pesticides.  In reality, organic producers do use pesticides that have been approved for organic production.   However, they are not always as effective as synthetic chemicals so crops are often sprayed more frequently.  They are all registered with the EPA and must pass the same regulatory safety tests as the synthetic chemicals used by non-organic producers.  These are just a couple myths among the millions that are going around.

In contrast, a couple of the truths in agriculture that you rarely hear are that homeowners use the greatest concentration of chemical pesticides per acre.  The EPA has found that homeowners applied chemical pesticides at a rate eight times greater per acre than did farmers.  Another truth amongst the myths is the number of GMO crops approved for commercial sale in the United States.  Currently the only genetically modified crops commercially available in the United States are corn, soybeans, alfalfa, cotton, squash, papaya, sugar beets, and canola.  Any crop that is commercially available today has been modified by humans in some way for taste, yield or disease resistance.

It is important for the consumer and public to understand that much of the information being circulated on social media, news media and on the street are untrue claims of agriculture.  It is important, now more than ever, to verify the truth of what you read or are being told.  Be an informed consumer and make up your own mind rather than believing what someone tells you.  Ask questions and do your own research using reputable sources.  Agriculture producers would much rather answer your questions than have more misinformation spread.

Taken from

FDA modernizes Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods
Refreshed design and relevant information will help consumers make healthy food choices

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took a major step in making sure consumers have updated nutritional information for most packaged foods sold in the United States, that will help people make informed decisions about the foods they eat and feed their families.

“I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices.”

“For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. “The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices – one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”

Key Updates

The new Nutrition Facts label will include the following.

  • An updated design to highlight “calories” and “servings,” two important elements in making informed food choices.
  • Requirements for serving sizes that more closely reflect the amounts of food that people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the last serving size requirements were published in 1993. By law, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, requires that serving sizes be based on what people actually eat.
  • Declaration of grams and a percent daily value (%DV) for “added sugars” to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product. It is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugars, and this is consistent with the scientific evidence supporting the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • “Dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for certain multi-serving food products that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings. Examples include a pint of ice cream and a 3-ounce bag of chips. With dual-column labels available, people will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.
  • For packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.
  • Updated daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D, consistent with Institute of Medicine recommendations and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Daily values are reference amounts of nutrients to consume or not to exceed and are used to calculate the %DV that manufacturers include on the label.
  • Declaration of Vitamin D and potassium that will include the actual gram amount, in addition to the %DV. These are nutrients that some people are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. The %DV for calcium and iron will continue to be required, along with the actual gram amount. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required because deficiencies of these vitamins are rare, but these nutrients can be included on a voluntary basis.
  • “Calories from Fat” will be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount. “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required.
  • An abbreviated footnote to better explain the %DV.

The FDA is also making minor changes to the Supplement Facts label found on dietary supplements to make it consistent with the Nutrition Facts label.

Most food manufacturers will be required to use the new label by July 26, 2018. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply with the new rules. The FDA plans to conduct outreach and education efforts on the new requirements.

The iconic Nutrition Facts label was introduced more than 20 years ago to help consumers make informed food choices and maintain healthy dietary practices. In March 2014, the FDA proposed two rules to update the label, and in July 2015, issued a supplemental proposed rule. The Nutrition Facts label regulations apply to packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency is also responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.