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Ag Briefs

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By The Staff

Deadline For FAITC Teacher

Grants Is Oct. 1

General education teachers who teach pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in Florida are encouraged to apply for Florida Agriculture in the Classroom Inc.’s 2010-11 Teacher Grant program.

The deadline for applications is October 1. The application and guidelines are on the organization’s web site at www.agtag.org.

Projects that educate students about Florida agriculture are required, and can include school gardens, alternative growing system projects and other agriculture-related programs. Descriptions of teacher grant projects funded in the past can also be found on Florida Agriculture in the Classroom’s web site.

Florida Agriculture in the Classroom is a Gainesville-based, non-profit organization charged with educating students about where their food, fiber and fuel comes from and is funded by sales of the agriculture specialty license plate called the “Ag Tag.”

Woman Of The Year In Agriculture Award nomination

deadline Is Nov. 1

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson  announced  in August that nominations are being accepted for the 2010 “Woman of the Year in Agriculture” award. The award, now in its 26th year, recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to Florida agriculture.

“This award spotlights the vital role of women in Florida agriculture and serves to encourage other women to get involved in the business,” Bronson said. “Many women have made significant contributions over the years in developing and sustaining this important industry, which has an overall economic impact estimated at more than $100 billion annually.”

Those nominated for the award will be judged by a panel familiar with Florida agriculture. The award will be presented on Feb. 10, 2011, during the opening-day luncheon of the Florida State Fair in Tampa.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which sponsors the event, has sent nomination forms to agricultural organizations around the state. The deadline for submitting nominations to the Department is Nov. 1. Nominations remain active for two years; after that time they must be resubmitted in order to be considered.

For more information about the “Woman of the Year in Agriculture” award including screening criteria and biographies of previous winners, or to obtain nomination forms, call Richard Gunnels at (850) 488-3022 or visit www.florida-agriculture.com/agwoman/index.htm.

Florida’s Commercial Spiny Lobster Season Is Off To A Great Start

Early indicators are pointing to a good spiny lobster season, say Florida’s commercial fishermen who began harvesting the prized seafood delicacy in August.

Florida’s commercial spiny lobster season opened August 6 and runs through March 31.  Spiny lobster is one of Florida’s top commercial seafood products in dockside value.  Ranking third behind shrimp and stone crab claws, Florida’s spiny lobster harvest was $13.2 million last season.  The bulk of the harvest comes from Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Spiny lobsters are abundant in supply and demand is strong, according to several of the state’s largest lobster producers who provided data to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said the optimistic outlook for the spiny lobster season was welcome news for the state’s seafood industry, which experienced sales declines due to extensive news coverage of the Gulf oil spill during the spring and summer.

“The opening of Florida’s commercial spiny lobster harvest is always a much anticipated event, and this year’s is especially meaningful,” Bronson said.  “I hope that consumers will pay a visit to their local seafood market or restaurant and enjoy this Florida favorite that is now being harvested from the pristine waters off Florida’s southern peninsula.”

The spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is a crustacean related to crabs, shrimp, crayfish and the Spanish lobster.  In Florida, the spiny lobster is caught off the Keys and around the southern tip of the state from waters of the Atlantic Ocean near the Florida Reef Tract.

The spiny lobster is characterized by numerous spines on the body, two large, hooked horns over the eyes, a pair of long jointed antennae and five pairs of walking legs.  It has mottled coloring of yellow, brown, orange and blue markings over the body and tail.  The tail is segmented and can be rapidly curled under the body to propel the lobster backward.

Spiny lobsters are harvested using special traps at depths of 6 to 300 feet and are usually landed live.  They are marketed as whole lobster, lobster tails, split tails and lobster meat.  These products are available fresh or frozen, raw or cooked.  The term “green” is used to refer to raw lobster.