Follow BQA Guidelines When Treating and Selling Cows

Follow BQA Guidelines When Treating and Selling Cows

It is the cattle owner’s responsibility to ensure that the withdrawal time indicated on the label of certain medications must pass between the last treatment and the time the animal will be slaughtered for human consumption. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS

Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist 

Summer time often brings a few infectious ailments to beef cows.  Common problems include eye infections and foot rot.  Treatment of affected cows will often involve the use of antibiotics.

In the past, and on very rare occasions, violative residues of pharmaceutical products have been found in carcass tissues of cull beef cows.  Violations of drug residue regulations can result in expensive fines (or even worse, jail time) for the rancher and a “black-eye” for the entire beef industry.  It is vital that cow calf producers have a close working relationship with a large animal veterinarian in their area.  If a cow has an infection or disease that must be treated, her owner should closely follow the veterinarian’s directions, and also read the label of the product used.  Most of these medications will require that the producer keep the treated animal for the label-directed withdrawal time.  The Oklahoma Beef Quality Assurance Manual contains the following discussion of medication withdrawal times.

A withdrawal time may be indicated on the label of certain medications.  This is the period of time that must pass between the last treatment and the time the animal will be slaughtered or milk used for human consumption.  For example, if a medication with a 14-day withdrawal period was last given on August 1, the withdrawal would be completed on August 15 and that would be the earliest the animal could be harvested for human consumption.  All federally approved drugs will include the required withdrawal time for that drug on the product label or package insert.  These withdrawal times can range from zero to as many as 60 days or more.  It is the producer’s responsibility to be aware of withdrawal times of any drugs used in their operation.  Unacceptable levels of drug residues detected in edible tissues collected at harvest may result in traceback, quarantine, and potential fines or jail time.  Substantial economic losses may result for the individual producer as well as negative publicity for the entire beef industry…”

Producers are responsible for residue problems and should follow these four rules:

  1. If ever in doubt, rely on the veterinarian-client-patient relationship you have established with your veterinarian.

  2. Use only medications approved for cattle and exactly as the label directs or as prescribed by your veterinarian.

  3. Do not market animals for food until the withdrawal time listed on the label or as prescribed by the veterinarian has elapsed.

  4. Keep well organized, detailed records of pharmaceutical products given to individually identified animals.  Include in the record, the date of administration, route of administration, dosage given, lot or serial number of product given, person delivering the product, and label or prescription listing of withdrawal dates.  Examples of Beef Quality Assurance records can be found in the Oklahoma Beef Quality Assurance Manual website at the menu item Record Keeping Forms” .  Records should be kept for 3 years after sale of the animal.


Water Source Recommendations for Food Safety

Water Source Recommendations for Food Safety

Supplemental water is necessary for good crop yields in fruit and vegetable production. Water quality is equally as important as water quantity when it comes to fruit and vegetable production. Unfortunately, water can transport harmful microorganisms from adjacent lands or other areas of the farm. The water source and how the water is applied influence the risk for crop contamination to occur.

Water is used for various purposes during production: harvesting, and handling fresh produce, irrigation, cooling, frost protection, as a carrier for fertilizers and pesticides, and for washing tools and harvest containers, hand washing, and drinking.

Washing lettuce. Photo Credit: Cornell University Extension

The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposed water compliance date is not until 2022, but it will be here before you know it. Water quality is an important component of a Food Safety Plan. A good first step in ensuring compliance with FSMA water quality standards is to evaluate the water sources on the farm.  For more information on compliance dates, please visit the Produce Safety Alliance’s Website.

Water Source

The three common sources of water used on farms are surface water, well water, and municipal water.

Surface water includes ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. It is at the highest risk for contamination because there is limited control on what flows downstream or from adjacent land. Wild and domestic animals, manure piles, and sewage discharges are all potential sources of contamination in surface waters.

The most common water source for North Florida farms is well water. Well water used for farming is at a moderate risk of becoming contaminated, when compared to surface water (highest risk) and municipal water (lowest risk). Wells are at a higher risk of becoming contaminated when located near flood zones, septic tanks, drainage fields, and manure/compost storage areas. The risk of contamination is further heightened if the well was not constructed properly, or if the casing is cracked. Wells should be properly sited, constructed, and maintained to keep contamination risks lower.

a well pump

A recently installed well pump on a North Florida watermelon farm. Photo Credit: Matt Lollar, University of Florida/IFAS Extension

Well Design and Construction

  • Preliminary Investigation – A preliminary investigation helps determine the design of a well. Existing wells in the area should be checked out to help determine depth and potential capacity. If records for the area aren’t available, then test holes should be drilled to determine the best location for water production.
  • Casing – Casing material should be determined based on site characteristics. The casing needs to extend above the surface water level to reduce contamination risks. The casing is sealed in place with grout. A poor grouting job can also promote contamination. Casing diameter is selected based on well capacity.
  • Well Screen – A commercially designed well screen should be installed to minimize hydraulic head loss. Screen diameter and material should be determined based on the preliminary investigation results. Gravel packing is recommended in some areas.

For more recommendations on well design and construction, please visit the University of Florida/IFAS publication: Design and Construction of Screened Wells for Agricultural Irrigation Systems

Please note that it is important to monitor your well water quality at least twice during each growing season.  A list of FSMA approved water testing methods can be found at Cornell University’s Law School Website.


Permit Required for AgLogic Nematicide Use in Cotton and Peanuts

Permit Required for AgLogic Nematicide Use in Cotton and Peanuts

Ethan Carter, Regional Crop IPM Agent, and Zane Grabau, UF/IFAS Nematologist

Newly registered for Florida, AgLogic 15GG (gypsum formulation) is a granular nematicide available for use in Florida cotton and peanut. The active ingredient in this product is aldicarb, which you may remember was the active ingredient in Temik.

[warning]Producers who plan to utilize this product for the upcoming 2018 crop season are REQUIRED to obtain an aldicarb permit through FDACS PRIOR to any applications being made. A separate permit application is required for each field where aldicarb will be applied.[/warning]

The one page permit application for applying aldicarb in Florida can be downloaded here. Once filled out, the permit application needs to be submitted to Tamara James, FDACS by email or fax (850) 617-7895. The website for submitting applications on the existing Temik page is currently being updated, and will be functioning in the near future.

Aside from the aldicarb permit, producers will also need to be in possession of a restricted use pesticide license, and strictly follow the label instructions for this product. See label for mandatory minimum distances between the nearest well and aldicarb application, as these distances vary based on soil type and well casing.

[important]Grazing restrictions are also associated with this product.  Peanut hay and vines cannot be fed to livestock following AgLogic application. [/important]

This granular product should be applied in-furrow at planting, and may be followed by a post-emergence application before peanut pegging or cotton squaring. The post-emergence application must be side-dressed in an open furrow, and immediately covered with soil. Maximum application rates are 7 lbs./acre at planting for both crops, 5 lbs./acre post-emergence for cotton, and 10 lbs./acre post-emergence for peanut.

Aldicarb Permit Application

Submission contact – Tamara James (email) or fax (850) 617-7895


Update – What to Know About the New Temporary Ag Worker Bill?

Update – What to Know About the New Temporary Ag Worker Bill?

The new Temporary Agricultural Workers Visa Program (H-2C bill) passed the United States House Judiciary Committee review last Wednesday. H-2C is described in the Ag Worker Act (HR-4092). H-2C is a proposed update to the current H-2A program. Hopefully the new program will simplify hiring temporary workers for farm work. Before going into the details of the proposed Ag Worker Act, it is important to know a little bit about the current H-2A program.

Workers picking and loading lettuce onto a conveyor belt. Photo Credit: Tyler Jones, University of Florida/IFAS.

H-2A Breakdown

The H-2A program allows farmers and other employers to hire temporary foreign workers for jobs that U.S. workers are not able, willing, qualified, or available to fill. Employers must show that employing H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. A number of the details associated with the program are listed below.

  • H-2A allows employers to fill jobs that are temporary or seasonal in nature.
  • H-2A allows only contract work.
  • H-2A workers are granted temporary worker status in increments of up to one year, for a potential length of stay of three continuous years. After that, the worker will have to reside outside the United States for at least 3 months before becoming eligible again for H-2A status.
  • H2-A is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor

H-2C Updates

Similar to H-2A, the proposed H-2C program allows farmers and other employers to hire temporary foreign workers for jobs that U.S. workers are not able, willing, qualified, or available to fill. And like H-2A, employers must show that employing H-2C workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. However, H-2C differentiates from H-2A in a number of key factors.

  • H-2C aims to consolidate all food-related temporary ag workers under one system. So all workers who would qualify for H-2A are included, as are those produce-related workers in H-2B (Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers Visa Program), and other workers previously not included, such as dairy and fishery workers.
  • H-2C would include both contract and at-will terms.
  • H-2C workers will be able to move from farm to farm, following the need for workers.
  • H-2C workers will be granted temporary worker status in increments of up to 18 months before needing to return to their home country. The amount of time required to remain in their home country will equal 1/12 times the duration of the previous authorized time in the U.S., such as 45 days for an 18 month employment.
  • H-2C does not lead to citizenship, but does give workers a legal status in the U.S.
  • Growers would still be required to recruit American employees before filling the vacancies with H-2C workers. But, they will not be forced to hire workers once temporary workers have arrived.
  • H2-C will be overseen by the USDA.

The author of the H-2C bill, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), promises the new program will cut costs and red tape for farmers. The bill is also expected to provide more flexibility to American farmers with respect to housing and transportation. Let’s hope that these promises hold true! A summary of the bill is in progress, but it can be found at this link when it becomes available.


Utilizing the Information on the Tag of a Seed Bag

Utilizing the Information on the Tag of a Seed Bag

Useful information is provided on every bag of certified seed. Make sure you know what you are buying by reviewing the seed tag before making the investment.   Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Fall is here so it is time to prepare for winter grazing. Once you determine the variety(s) you will be planting (2017 Cool-Season Forage Variety Recommendations for Florida), the next step is to order and purchase the seed. However, not all seed is equal. While most cattlemen are familiar with reading feed tags, you may not be as familiar with the information provided on the tags of seed bags. Just as the feed tag provides vital information about the product in the bag, so too does a seed tag.  Like many other purchasing decisions, it is important to know the details before you make the purchase.

Many legumes seeds are bagged with a coating that contains the correct inoculant for that variety. Based on the information provided on this seed tag, only 25 lbs are actual seeds. Credit Dr. Jose Dubeux

The following are commonly found on all certified seed tags: Name, Lot Number, Purity, Other Crop, Inert, Weed Seed, Noxious Weeds, Germination, Dormant or Hard Seed, Total Viability, Origin, Date Tested, Net Weight, and the Name and Address of the Seller.  Full definitions of these can be found in the NRCS Factsheet: A Guide to Understanding Seed Tags.  Most of these components are easily interpreted, however there a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Purity, inert, other crop and weed seed are reported as a percentage, while noxious weeds are reported as total number of weed seeds per pound of seed.
  • Total Viability is the combination of immediate and dormant or hard seed germination.   Example: if germination = 76% and dormant = 6%, the total viability would be 82%.  This means that the vast majority of the seed will germinate right away, but a small percentage will sprout some time later.  The hard seed provides some insurance of a stand, if conditions immediately after planting become unfavorable.
  • If other crop is over 5%, the crops it contains must be listed on the tag.
  • The Test Date gives you an idea how fresh the seed is.  The Southern Seed Certification Association requires retesting of germination and purity for re-certification of seed carried over from the previous season.

Keep in mind that state law requires each bag of certified seed to be tagged, and include a lot number. It is a great practice to save at least one seed tag for your records until the end of the growing season. This allows for traceability of the seed, if there is a major stand issue, or a question about the crop that was planted.

More information on seed certification standards and procedures, and the noxious weed list can be found in the following fact sheet:

General Seed Certification Standards of the Southern Seed Certification Association



Updates to the Florida Cottage Food Law

Updates to the Florida Cottage Food Law

Sally Waxgiser sells Sally’s Old Fashion Jams and Jellies in Jackson County utilizing the guidelines of the the Florida Cottage Food Law, which was approved by the legislature in 2011. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Under the Cottage Food Law in the state of Florida, individuals can sell certain foods they produce in unlicensed home kitchens, if the food has a low risk of foodborne illness, as outlined in Section 500.80 of the Florida Statutes. These food products must be sold within Florida, they cannot be sold wholesale, and they must be properly packaged and labeled.  Although products can be served as free samples for tasting, the samples must be prepackaged.

The label on Cottage food must include the name and address of the Cottage food operation, the name of the product, the ingredients in order by weight, the net weight or volume of the product, allergen information, nutritional information if a nutritional claim is made, and the following statement, “Made in a cottage food operation that is not subject to Florida’s food safety regulations.”

Recently, the Cottage Food Law was amended to include two important changes. These updates, which took effect July 1, 2017, increase the annual gross sales of cottage food products allowed under the law from $15,000 to $50,000, and make it possible for the producer to sell, offer for sale, and accept payment over the Internet, if the product is delivered in person directly to the consumer, or to a specific event venue.

As listed on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Cottage Food website, the following foods fall under the Cottage Food Law:

  • Loaf breads, rolls, biscuits
  • Cakes, pastries and cookies
  • Candies and confections
  • Honey
  • Jams, jellies and preserves
  • Fruit pies and dried fruits
  • Dry herbs, seasonings and mixtures
  • Homemade pasta
  • Cereals, trail mixes and granola
  • Coated or uncoated nuts
  • Vinegar and flavored vinegars
  • Popcorn and popcorn balls

For more information, please visit the FDACS Division of Food Safety website, and read their latest fact sheet called, Florida Cottage Food Guidance.