Federal Programs Available to Help Farmers and Ranchers Recover from Hurricane Michael

Federal Programs Available to Help Farmers and Ranchers Recover from Hurricane Michael

There are a variety of programs from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will be available to help farmers, ranchers, and timberland owners in the counties effected by Hurricane Michael. The majority of the programs are administered through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) also has programs in place that can benefit landowners recovering from the hurricane. Below are brief descriptions of several of the most pertinent programs. More details on the specific programs are available by viewing the linked fact sheets. These programs will also be explained in detail at a series of producer meetings.

  • FSA Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) – LIP provides benefits to livestock producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather or by attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the Federal Government. LIP payments are equal to 75 percent of the average fair market value of the livestock. LIP Fact Sheet
  • FSA Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm Raised Fish Program (ELAP) – ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions, including blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary. ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by other disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, such as losses not covered by the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). ELAP Fact Sheet 
Jackson County Feed Barn Damaged by Hurricaned Michael

ELAP covers losses of purchased feedsuffs from a hurricane. Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS

  • FSA Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) – EFRP provides payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) land in order to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster. Available funding for EFRP is determined annually by Congress. EFRP Fact Sheet
  • FSA Tree Assistance Program (TAP) – TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters. TAP Fact Sheet
  • FSA Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) – ECP helps farmers and ranchers to repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters and to help put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought. The ECP does this by giving ranchers and farmers funding and assistance to repair the damaged farmland or to install methods for water conservation. ECP Fact Sheet
Farm Fence Debris Removal in Jackson County

The Emergency Conservation program provides cost-share funding to remove debris and repair fences. Credit:  Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS

  • FSA Emergency Farm Loans – Emergency loans are available to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding, other natural disasters or quarantine. Emergency Farm Loans Fact Sheet
  • NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – Farmers, ranchers, and non-industrial private forestland owners can apply for resource assistance through EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, and non-industrial private forestland. Recovery assistance includes, but is not limited to: immediate soil erosion protection, minimizing noxious and invasive plant proliferation, protecting water quality, restoring livestock infrastructure necessary for grazing management, emergency animal mortality management. EQIP Fact Sheet 

If you are interested in participating in any of these programs, the first step is contacting your county’s USDA Service Center and setting up an appointment. Use the Service Center Locator to find the contact information for your Service Center. NOTE: At the time this document was compiled, due to damage to the Blountstown Service Center people from Calhoun, Liberty, Franklin, and Gulf Counties were being directed to the Quincy (Gadsden County) Service Center.

Additional information about federal disaster recovery programs is available at www.farmers.gov.

Peanut Fungicide Spray Strategies: The Values of Alternating or Mixing Modes of Action

Peanut Fungicide Spray Strategies: The Values of Alternating or Mixing Modes of Action


By Nicholas Dufault and Wael Elwakil

Fungicide resistance or reduced efficacy is a concern when managing peanut diseases, especially the foliar diseases early and late leaf spot. Managing these concerns requires an integrated approach with constant monitoring of the product’s efficacy and application programs to avoid resistance selection. Two common resistance management strategies are alternating (or rotating) and mixing fungicide product modes of action (MOA). It has been indicated that MOA mixtures are a more sustainable strategy for resistance management than alternating, but they may be costlier as they tend to increase the spray program’s number of fungicides. So, it is important to understand the value of these two strategies especially when using products that have a moderate to high risk for resistance selection.

A recent study explored the value of these strategies using the fungicide products azoxystrobin (Abound 2.08), pyraclostrobin (Headline 250 SC) and tebuconazole (TebuStar 3.6L). All these products are off patent and considered medium to high risk for leaf spot resistance or reduced sensitivity. The study consisted of various spray programs that had five applications of chlorothalonil (Chloronil 720) at 30, 44, 72, 100 and 114 days after planting (DAP). The at-risk products were then applied at approximately 58 and 86 DAP either alone (alternation program) or in combination with chlorothalonil (mixture program). The study was conducted at two locations in Marianna and Citra, FL during the 2017 season. The mixture programs generally had higher yields than the alternation programs (4 times out of 6), however, only one of these yields was significantly different (Fig 1). Both strategies provide significant yield savings compared to the untreated control plots (data not shown).

Yield Results

Figure 1. Yield results from the various fungicide alternation and mixture programs at the two locations. Fungicide products consisted of azoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin, tebuconazole and chlorothalonil. All programs consisted of 5 applications of chlorothalonil with the products indicated on the x-axis applied alone or in combination with chlorothalonil at 58 and 56 days after planting. The yield was significantly greater for the mixture program compared to the alternation in the pyraclostrobin treatments for the Marianna location.

Identifying the pathogen population present is a key component when assessing these two strategies. Location populations varied with late leaf spot being the primary pathogen in Marianna, and early leaf spot in Citra (Fig. 2). It is also important to note that significant pressure was also present from late leaf spot and rust in Citra as well. This variation in pathogen population could be one possible reason for the inconsistencies observed between these strategies at each location. It does seem apparent that in situations where multiple pathogens are present that alternations are not as effective as mixtures.

Figure 2. Disease incidence percentages in the untreated control treatments for Citra and Marianna, FL. Early leaf spot, late leaf spot, and rust were rated separately on leaflet samples (48 leaflets/treatment). Disease incidence shown represents average seasonal incidence recorded in the locations during 2017.

Mixing fungicide MOA appears to be the optimal strategy for disease control, yield savings and managing fungicide resistance. However, alternating MOA is also a successful strategy, but its efficacy appears to be highly dependent on the pathogen populations present. Regardless of the strategy chosen, disease control and yield savings were improved with these strategies compared to the untreated plots. Both strategies will help sustain the efficacy of a fungicide product, and if cost is an issue then alternating modes of action in a program is better than repeated applications of a product alone. It should be noted that when using generic products like these, the average cost only varied by approximately $2.50 per acre. The cost of mixtures will depend largely on the mixing partners used, and with some planning these costs can be minimized.

Fungicide resistance management should be an important component of any peanut disease management program. More information about fungicide resistance and its management can be found in this UF/IFAS publication, Fungicide Resistance Action Committee’s (FRAC) Classification Scheme of Fungicides According to Mode of Action, or by contacting your local extension office.


Evaluate Forage Production While the Grass is Still Growing

Evaluate Forage Production While the Grass is Still Growing

Washington County cow in mid-September with plenty of forage waiting on her just beyond the temporary fence.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

There has been a delightful coolness in the air these first few “post Irma” days. Don’t be fooled, it’s not fall yet. Mid-September, in Florida, is definitely still summer and pasture grass should not be in short supply in the summer. This is a good time of year to evaluate your operation’s forage production ability.

Granted we may be a little past our peak forage production, but we are still quite a way from the “fall forage gap” – that rough period when our summer grasses are done and our cool season annuals have yet to really get started. In other words, there should be plenty of forage available right now. If that is not the case on your operation, your “fall forage gap” is going to be much longer than it should be.

There are many factors that can, collectively or independently, result in less than impressive forage production. The purpose of the following comments are to help you identify the factor(s) that might be holding back your forage production. Sitting here at my desk, I won’t presume to tell you you’ve done something wrong with your pastures. I am keenly aware of the old adage: If it don’t rain, it don’t matter. That said, if drought is not the issue at hand, consider that one or more of the following issues may be causing your less than optimum forage production. Each of the issues mentioned below would warrant their own article for a full explanation; the purpose here is simply to introduce the topics and encourage you to honestly evaluate your current situation.

  • Weeds – The presence of weeds reduce your pasture’s ability to produce forage. Weeds are undesirable plants that are not readily utilized by livestock, and in some cases are toxic. If these undesirable plants become established in your pasture they can displace desirable forage species, essentially decreasing your acres of grazable forage. We commonly only think of weeds as broadleaf species like Tropical Soda Apple, but some of the most problematic weeds we encounter in Florida are weedy grasses, like smutgrass. Broadleaf or grass, anything that is taking up stealing water and nutrients in your pasture, that your livestock do not utilize is lessening your overall ability to produce forage, and placing added pressure on the remaining desirable forage. Take steps to identify weeds and begin a control program. Weed Management in Pastures and Rangelands will be a valuable tool in this effort. 
  • The Wrong Grass – Unfortunately, I have received more than one call about “bahiagrass” that won’t grow. More often than not, especially in the northern half of the state, what the producer actually has in their pasture is centipede grass. Centipede is a good turf grass for the same reason it is a horrible forage grass; it doesn’t produce very much no matter what you do to it. Centipede is different from many other weedy grasses, in that livestock will graze it. However, its forage yields are far too low for it to be a viable forage. Centipede “creeps” into pastures and often goes unnoticed until the infestation is quite substantial. If you have areas in your pastures that are green but appear not to grow, take the time to check and see if you have an infestation of centipede grass.
  • Soil Fertility – Our improved forage species are bred to be highly productive. However, to reach their potential they must have adequate fertility available all throughout the growing season. Expecting a forge to be highly productive without adequate fertility is akin to expecting an engine to produce maximum horsepower with a clogged fuel line. There may be some level of performance, but the true potential will not be realized. Fertilizing once a year is not sufficient to maximize forage potential. Even if large amounts of nutrients are applied in a single application (which is not advisable) the nutrient demands of the grass will not be met for the entire growing season. Nutrients, like Nitrogen and Potassium, do not remain available to the grass indefinitely. Some nutrients are taken up by plant roots, then grazed and converted into animal tissue or waste; while other nutrients are washed down through sandy soils by frequent rains until they are too deep to be accessed by plant roots. Either way, nutrients need to be replenished to maintain a productive pasture. Utilize a fertility program that is based on a soil test to help maximize forage production. See Fertilizing and Liming Forage Crops for more information on soil fertility management.
  • Grazing Management – A key concept to remember here is that, in general, the growth rate of forages increases as the amount of leaf area increases. In other words, as the plant gets bigger it can grow faster. When pastures remain closely grazed, their growth potential is suppressed due to insufficient leaf area. Implementing grazing strategies that allow your pastures to rest for 14-21 days between grazing periods will enable your grass to take full advantage of its rapid growth potential. Not to mention the improvement you’ll see in forage utilization. If you are not currently utilizing any form of rotational grazing, making the switch can be a little daunting, but the long-term benefits will be well worth the initial effort.

While rotational grazing can help improve forage availability, it cannot make up for an excessive stocking rate. As the number of animal units increases, at some point their nutritional demand will exceed what the forage is capable of producing, regardless of management strategies. If you have addressed all of the previously mentioned issues and your forage supply is low before fall arrives, it is highly likely that you have too many cows.

Overstocking/overgrazing can lead to centipede infestations and other weed problems, which compound the forage suppression that is caused by persistent lack of leaf area. Overgrazing can cause a rapid downward spiral in the overall health and performance of a pasture. Grazing Management Concepts and Practices provides more specific recommendations for improving your grazing management.

Main Image: The edge of a grazing cell (or paddock), used in an intensive rotational grazing system in Washington County. Inset: A closer view at the amount of forage awaiting the herd in the next cell. Both pictures taken 9/14/17.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

The list of issues above is by no means exhaustive. There are other factors that reduce forage productivity but in my experience the ones listed are the most frequent offenders. It is my hope that you read this without concern because your cows are fat as ticks, standing in belly deep grass. If that is not the case, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Agricultural Extension Agent for assistance identifying and fixing whatever the issue is that is limiting your forage production.

A “bonus” hayfield; acreage cut for hay in late July to more efficiently utilize excess mid-summer forage. Regrowth is being stockpiled and will be used to help bridge the fall forage gap. Picture taken 9/14/17.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin


Memorial Day

Memorial Day

They answered the call and gave it their all. When we pause each year to remember, we are grateful!



Season’s Greetings from the Panhandle Ag Team

Season’s Greetings from the Panhandle Ag Team

Happy Holiday CardThe County Agents and State Specialists that make up the Panhandle Agriculture Extension Team wish you and your family Happy Holidays!  Your Panhandle Ag Team will be enjoying a week with family and friends to relax and rest up for the year ahead.  2013 was quite a year, and it is hard to believe that 2014 is almost here.  We look forward to celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Extension all year long with you in 2014.  Enjoy the Holidays and get ready for another exciting year of farming and ranching in the Florida Panhandle.

Warm Wishes CardGator_Ext_Words

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving from all of the UF/IFAS Extension Faculty!

UF IFAS Ext 2013

We all have a lot to be thankful for this year!