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Agri Leader

Ag news briefs

Highlands Today Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 11, 2013 at 06:40 PM
GOSHEN, Ind. -

Paper Clover campaign benefits local youth

The National 4-H Council recently announced the launch of the spring 2012 4-H Paper Clover Campaign in partnership with Tractor Supply Company.

This event marks two years of collaboration between the organizations on the national in-store fundraiser, benefiting state and local 4-H programs in the communities where a Tractor Supply Co. or Del's Farm and Feed Supply store is located.

"Our 4-H clubs are very thankful for the opportunity to raise funds with Tractor Supply and our community members who shop there," said Lauren Hrncirik, Highlands County 4-H extension agent.

The 4-H Paper Clover Campaign runs through May 13.

Shoppers at the Tractor Supply Co. store in Sebring can buy paper clovers for a $1 or more at checkout. All funds raised will be donated to 4-H and will support youth development program activities in Highlands County.

"Through this highly impactful community event, we have been able to raise funds nationally over the past few years for thousands of 4-H youth across the country," said Donald T. Floyd Jr., president and CEO of National 4-H Council.

In two years, the project has raised more than $1 million for 4-H across the country, with 70 percent of the funds returning to state and local 4-H programs. The effort has provided direct support for local camps, after-school programs and other activities, and has granted scholarships to these events so that youth can explore their interests in everything from animal science to robotics, the news release added.

This year, funds donated during the national campaign will be tracked online and recorded by state and store. Visit for more information and to view the donation tracker.

Garden teaches students about growing seasons

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam recently opened the Fresh for Florida Kids Garden by planting soybeans in the garden's final plot.

"School gardening increases student's consumption of and enthusiasm toward fresh fruits and vegetables," Putnam said.

"Through the Fresh for Florida Kids Garden, we hope to engage students in the growing process – from seed to harvest – so they become more aware of the nearly 300 commodities we grow in our state and how they can be incorporated into fun, tasty meals."

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will grow a variety of in-season Florida commodities in the garden that was designed in the shape of a plate — a nod to "My Plate," the USDA's new image for the five food groups.

Research shows that children who participate in gardening are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, an important component of a healthy diet. The department will invite students to the garden to learn about Florida's growing seasons and the importance of incorporating Fresh From Florida fruits and vegetables into their meals.

More than 20 students from area schools joined Commissioner Putnam in opening the Fresh for Florida Kids Garden. Senator Montford also attended.

The Fresh for Florida Kids Garden is on the Calhoun Street side of the Holland Building, where the department's new Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness, which oversees the state's school food and nutrition programs, is housed.

For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit

S. Korea retailers halt U.S. beef sales over mad cow

Two major South Korean retailers suspended sales of U.S. beef last week after the discovery of mad cow disease in a U.S. dairy cow. Reaction elsewhere in Asia was muted, with Japan saying there's no reason to restrict imports.

South Korea's No. 2 and No. 3 supermarket chains, Home Plus and Lotte Mart, said they have temporarily halted sales of U.S. beef to calm worries among South Koreans.

South Korea is the world's fourth-largest importer of U.S. beef, buying 107,000 tons of the meat worth $563 million in 2011.

The new case of mad cow disease is the first in the U.S. since 2006. It was discovered in a dairy cow in California, but health authorities said Tuesday the animal was never a threat to the nation's food supply.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is fatal to cows and can cause a deadly human brain disease in people who eat tainted beef. U.S. authorities said the dead California cow had what scientists call an atypical case of BSE, meaning a random mutation in the animal rather than infected cattle feed was the cause.

The infected cow, the fourth ever discovered in the U.S., was found as part of an Agriculture Department surveillance program that tests about 40,000 cows a year for the disease.

Aquaculture entrepreneurs relish roles as pioneers

At first, John Metz and Kevin Boyer were just Elkhart neighbors shooting the breeze in the backyard. Then they were neighbors brewing beer together.

But in between all of the conversation, they came upon another idea — to go into business together. So after several months studying various possibilities, the two opted in 2009 to start their own aqua products business.

Don't think swimming pools and swimming gear. Instead, think fish, food and fertilizer.

Northern Indiana Aquaproducts was recently honored with the Economic Development Through Growth and Entrepreneurship Award from the Indiana Small Business Development Center Network.

Their progress has been steady and soon could be large. But it was not easy when they first cast their nets on the fish idea. Even after working on their business plan for more than four months and with Boyer having raised fish as a hobby before, there were roadblocks. Banks had their doubts. It was not the ideal time to get a loan with a recession going on.

But the two were further inspired by an article by Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder that said empty manufacturing buildings locally could be used as space to raise fish.

Operating with the motto "To use everything and waste nothing," the business not only raises tilapia — and soon shrimp — but uses fish tails, fins and other parts to make a fertilizer called Worms 'n Fish. Eventually, they plan to use the wastewater to raise herbs in a greenhouse.