Doctor’s orders: A walk in the park “National ParkRX Day”

Gates Mondovics of Mountain City Tennessee takes a break while walking a trail in nearby park. Tennessee Department of Health is promoting the outdoors to help improve the health of Tennesseans. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

Healthy Parks Healthy Person Tennessee, an initiative of Tennessee State Parks with support from the Tennessee Department of Health, works with healthcare providers to promote the outdoors as a means of improving the health of Tennesseans. All are invited to celebrate National ParkRx Day on Sunday, April 29.

“Our Tennessee State Parks are some of the best in the country and wonderful places to be mindful of ourselves, our loved ones and the creation that surrounds us,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Turning off or ignoring our electronic devices and being outdoors to tune into the conversations of nature all around us can greatly improve our well-being, so get out and have some nature!”

The Parks Prescription program, a component of Healthy Parks Healthy Person Tennessee, is a way for nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to assess physical activity of their patients, counsel patients on the importance of physical activity and prescribe outdoor activity as part of their health or treatment plans. The park prescriptions come as a tear-off pad, just like regular prescriptions, and patients can use the web-based phone application to log outdoor experiences to earn rewards at Tennessee State Parks.

National ParkRx Day is celebrated across the United States to promote the growing movement of prescribing time spent in parks and nature to improve health. National ParkRx Day encourages everyone to start seeing visits to parks and public lands as significant parts of their health. In 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General released a call to action to promote walking. National ParkRx Day builds on this call to action.

Tennesseans are encouraged to:
· Go to a local park, greenway or Tennessee State Park
· Work in the yard
· Take their children to a neighborhood playground
· Go boating or fishing
For more information about Healthy Parks Healthy Person Tennessee, go to healthyparkstn.com.

Ways parents can help their college graduate’s job hunt

It’s college commencement season across the nation as graduates prepare to transition into the working world. Employers plan to hire 4 percent more graduates from the class of 2018 than they did from the class of 2017, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2018 survey. While that continues a positive trend for recent graduates, the competition remains fierce and large numbers of new graduates could face a long wait for that first career-type job.

The job-seeking process can be filled with anxiety, and parents can help relieve the pressure by offering prudent guidance. That can be a delicate balancing act, employers and career advisors say, between not providing enough support and doing far too much.

“Supporting them too much financially for a long interim period is certainly not the answer; it defeats much of the purpose of going to college in the first place,” says Matt Stewart, co-founder of College Works Painting (www.collegeworks.com), which provides business experience for thousands of college students each year.

“You want them to be independent. But this can be a tough time for the new graduate. Their hopes are on hold, and they’re about to learn all about persistence and resilience. It can be a long bridge to that first big job, but the parents’ job is help them across that bridge without holding their hand.”

Stewart offers five tips for parents who want to help, but not hinder, their graduate in the job pursuit:Don’t helicopter in to your kid’s interview or job fair. There really are parents who walk their recent graduate to the lobby at the job interview or hover by the line at the job fair. ”Would you want to hire someone who can’t stand on their own two feet, or hasn’t been allowed to?” Stewart says. “A kid has to learn to face his or her own nerves and be comfortable around people.”

Don’t call the company after your child was rejected. “This is almost like asking the Little League coach to put your kid in the game, but worse,” Stewart says. “It won’t work, it will embarrass your graduate, hurt their confidence, and you burn a bridge with a hiring manager.”

Study your child’s field. Some of the best work a parent can do is share some of the homework on their child’s chosen career. “Here, two heads are better than one,” Stewart says. “Parents should help with in-depth internet searches on the field, its future prospects, employment boards.”
Encourage part-time work and don’t let them be too picky. “It’s a must you have them get a part-time job while they’re pursuing the full-time career job,” Stewart says. “Getting on with learning the fundamental skills of work is huge. By working and job hunting at the same time, they’re getting a leg up on time management. A parent can help a bit financially, but too much is disempowering.”

Set up informational interviews. Parents’ friends and work associates can provide helpful input by sharing information from their jobs and their job interview experiences. “This can be great practice for future job interviews,” Stewart says. “Plus, the graduate needs to hear different voices besides their parents.“

“Finding that first job after college can be a volatile time of transition for the graduate,” Stewart says. “Parents can help in more ways than they may realize.”

Preparing for Fly Season

Provided by the UT Extension Office

Are flies just pests? Every cattle farm has flies and they are considered a nuisance. However, fly infestation reduces performance and certain flies are responsible for spreading diseases such as pink eye and potentially anaplasmosis. To decrease disease risk to your livestock, it is important to understand where flies live and breed and the strategic control methods available.

Adult flies prefer to lay their eggs in wet organic matter, such as fresh manure and spilled feed. Moisture is needed for the fly eggs, larvae and pupae to develop. Therefore, controlling moisture is an important step in the reduction of fly numbers on your farm.

Out with the waste! Manure piles are fly breeding heaven, so waste management is critical in creating a fly management program. An average 1,250 lb. beef cow generates 75 lbs. of manure a day, so manure management is a full time job!

For some species of flies, the life cycle can be as short as 2 weeks. In order to break the fly life cycle, you need to remove or spread fly breeding materials (manure, wet grain, spilled silage, moist hay, etc.) on a regular basis. Start by removing manure from livestock areas as frequently as possible. Take this manure and spread it thinly on fields or other large outdoor areas to facilitate drying. Also, drag your fields to more evenly distribute manure. Flies cannot develop in dry environments, so spreading manure thinly is the first step in trying to break the fly life cycle.

Pay special attention to areas where your herd congregates, such as water troughs, shady areas and gates. These areas should be cleaned weekly at a minimum to diminish fly breeding and control parasites. Remember, it’s easier and more cost effective to prevent fly breeding than to control adult flies. So the quicker we can remove their habitat, the less likely we are to see these pests.
Keep them off! Feed and mineral mixtures with larvicide in it passes through the cow and the product kills the larvae in the manure so that adults cannot emerge. They are very effective at killing developing flies but must be incorporated at least 3 weeks prior to fly season. Blocks with insect growth regulators (IGR) help to reduce the population of flies and can be used early in the fly season to delay use of ear tags. Remember, IGR’s do not keep flies off of the animal. They only work to reduce the population of the flies.

Dusters or dust bags that contain insecticide work well for pastured cattle if the animals are forced to pass through them to get to feed, water, or mineral. Monitor the dusters for use; cattle should use them every 2-3 days to be effective. To ensure insecticide is applied to their face, they should be placed low enough so cattle have to drop their heads to go through them. There should be 2 dust bags for every 50-60 animals to ensure every animal has access. With the smaller stature of calves, dusters must be hung at a level that is appropriate.

Back rubbers or oilers are similar to dusters; they rely on contact with the insecticide but use an oil solution (diesel fuel #2) instead of dust. There should be 20 feet of contact space for every 50-60 cows to ensure every animal has access. Add insecticide every 2-4 weeks to maintain effectiveness.

Pour-ons or sprays are absorbed by the animal and act to repel flies that feed on blood (as well as lice and grubs). They are directly applied to animals and have to be re-applied every 3 weeks in the case of horn flies. Pour-ons are more labor intensive than some other options listed here.
Impregnated ear tags can provide many weeks of protection against flies. Fly tags generally provide coverage for 12-15 weeks. The most appropriate time to begin using fly tags is when fly numbers reach greater than 50 flies per animal.

Spring will be a good time to initiate fly control in cows and calves. In most years in Tennessee this occurs in May. An integrated approach that includes feed through IGR blocks, back rubs, dust bags, spray and pour-ons and ear tags is often the most effective when used in this order.

Current research suggests using only one class of insecticide (pyrethroid or organophosphate) in all of the products used during a single season. Rotating classes of insecticides every 1-2 years prolongs the effect of each and reduces the risk of developing resistance in the fly population. Also, be sure to remove fly tags at the end of the fly season.

Other classes of active ingredients are now available to help with resistance in flies. Spinosyn, and avermectin impregnated ear tags are available to use if pyrethroid or organophosphate tags are ineffective. Work with your veterinarian to make an informed decision on which should work best in your area.

*Source: Dr. Lew Strickland, UT Extension Veterinarian

Gender wage gap costs Tennessee women nearly $16 Billion annually

A state-by-state analysis released for Equal Pay Day Tomorrow, reveals that a woman employed full time, year-round in Tennessee is typically paid just 82 cents for every dollar paid to a man – a yearly pay difference of $7,745. That means Tennessee women lose a combined total of nearly $16 billion every year to the gender wage gap.

If it were closed, on average, a woman working full time in Tennessee would be able to afford 60 more weeks of food for her family, more than six additional months of mortgage and utilities payments, nearly one additional year of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, nearly the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college, more than 9.5 additional months of rent or nearly 13 more months of child care each year.

This new analysis, conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, finds that Tennessee has the 13th smallest cents-on-the-dollar gap in the nation. It also finds that there is a gender-based wage gap in every single state and the District of Columbia. The cents-on-the-dollar gap is largest in Louisiana and Utah, followed closely by West Virginia and Montana – and smallest in New York, California and Florida. The study also analyzed the wage gap in each of Tennessee’s congressional districts, as well as for Black women in Tennessee and other states.

Working women in Tennessee are not alone in suffering the effects of the gender wage gap. It has detrimental effects on women’s spending power in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The wage gap contributes greatly to our country’s high rates of poverty and income inequality and is especially punishing for women of color. Nationally, white non-Hispanic women are typically paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, Black women 63 cents and Latinas 54 cents. Asian women are paid 87 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, although some ethnic subgroups of Asian women fare much worse. The wage gap for mothers is 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.

“Equal Pay Day is a disturbing reminder that women overall have had to work more than three months into 2018 just to catch up with what men were paid in 2017, and Black women and Latinas must work considerably further into the year,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “The wage gap cannot be explained by women’s choices. It’s clear that discrimination contributes to it – and equally clear that it’s causing grave harm to women, families and the country.

Lawmakers have not done nearly enough to end wage discrimination based on gender and race; to end sexual harassment, which impedes women’s job advancement; to stop discrimination against pregnant women; to advance paid family and medical leave and paid sick days; and to increase access to high-quality, affordable reproductive health care. If our country is to thrive, we must root out bias in wages, reject outdated stereotypes and stop penalizing women for having children and caring for their families.”

To address this pervasive problem, the National Partnership is urging Congress to pass:
The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women;The Fair Pay Act, which would diminish wage disparities that result from gender-based occupational segregation; The Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days; The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program; The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would update and strengthen protections against discrimination against pregnant workers; The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, which would restore abortion coverage to women who receive health care or insurance through the federal government and prohibit political interference with health insurance companies that offer coverage for abortion care; and
Measures that would increase the minimum wage, eliminate the tipped minimum wage and strengthen protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.

“The gender-based wage gap results in staggering losses that make it harder for women, in Tennessee and across the country, to pay for food and shelter, child care, college tuition, birth control and other health care,” added National Partnership Vice President for Workplace Policies and Strategies Vicki Shabo. “We urgently need public policies that improve women’s access to decent-paying jobs, provide the supports women need to stay in the workforce and advance in their jobs, and ensure fair and nondiscriminatory treatment wherever women work and whatever jobs they hold. We need the Trump administration to help solve this problem rather than exacerbating it. We ask the administration to immediately stop blocking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from implementing an equal pay initiative aimed at identifying and helping root out pay discrimination.”

In addition, Ness noted that state lawmakers can help address the wage gap by passing laws that prohibit employers from asking about salary history and protect employees from retaliation if they discuss pay. The private sector plays a role as well, and companies can help level the playing field by increasing pay transparency, limiting the use of salary history and using standardized pay ranges in hiring and promotions.

Findings for each state from the National Partnership’s new wage gap analysis are available at NationalPartnership.org/Gap, as are analyses of the wage gap at the national level, in the 25 states with the largest numbers of Black women and Latinas who work full time, and in all 435 congressional districts. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

Submitted by The National Partnership for Women & Families a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.

TBI marks 25th anniversary of ‘top 10 most wanted’ program

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will mark the 25th anniversary of its successful ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ program.Launched on May 5, 1993, the program harnesses the TBI’s relationship with the media and the public to bring attention to dangerous fugitives believed to be in Tennessee, while offering cash rewards for information leading to successful captures.

Since the start of the program, the TBI’s Top 10 program has contributed to the capture of more than 400 dangerous fugitives, including several high-profile cases:

· Terry Lee Charlton: The first individual added to the Top 10 Most Wanted, Charlton was wanted to face multiple counts of Aggravated Burglary. He was arrested 18 months later, after a lengthy investigation led by Special Agent Mark Gwyn, who would later become the agency’s Director.

· Margo Freshwater: The first woman added to the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted (in May of 2003), Freshwater escaped the Tennessee Prison for Women in 1970, while serving a life sentence for murdering a store clerk in Memphis in 1969. She was captured in Columbus, Ohio in 2002.

· Adam Mayes: Added to the Top 10 in May 2012, Mayes was involved in the murder of a woman in Whiteville, along with the kidnapping of the woman’s two younger daughters. After a five-day search, a tip from the public led authorities to a heavily-wooded area in Mississippi, where Mayes took his life and the girls were rescued unharmed.

“The Top 10 program has been an invaluable partnership between the TBI and the public. When we share information about dangerous fugitives, the public pays attention, stays vigilant, and offers tips, which can make the difference in getting these individuals in custody,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “We look forward to that continued partnership well into the future.”

Currently, only one of the original individuals added to the Top 10 in May 1993 – Robert Houston – remains on the list, and efforts to locate him remain ongoing.

The public can access the full ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list on the TBI’s website:www.tn.gov/tbi.

Wild food foraging class to be taught at Farmers Market

foraging

Kyle Cifaldo and Anna Timmerman pose behind their booth at the Johnson County Farmers Market. Photo by Jana Jones.

By Jana Jones

The first class in a series of “How to” classes will be held at the Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) this Saturday, May 12 at the tent of Kyle Cifaldo and Anna Timmerman. Cifaldo and Timmerman are new vendors to the market specializing in wild food foraging products. They will highlight the medicinal benefits, traditional uses, and location of certain herbs and mushrooms. Cifaldo is knowledgeable on wild edible mushrooms and will feature the chaga mushroom. Timmerman loves to forage for herbs and edible wild plants in our Appalachian mountains known for being rich in over 100 medicinal plants and herbs. Timmerman will highlight yarrow during the Saturday class beginning at 11:30.Each month from May through October, the JCFM will host a class at various vendors’ tents to educate and empower individuals who have always wanted to know “how to make it your self”. Watch for the announcement of these classes on our Facebook page.

And since we are talking about edible foods found in our very own backyards, I will leave you with a recipe for Greek Horta Vrasta Radikia. Translation: cooked dandelion greens. That’s right! Looking to get rid of those pesky “weeds”? Choose the lushest dandelion greens that are growing in an area away from the road or any herbicides. According to Mother Earth News, fresh dandelion greens have four times the vitamin C, seven times the vitamin A, and two times the potassium of romaine lettuce. The German government has approved the leaves for use as a diuretic and digestive tonic to treat bloating, indigestion, and poor appetite.

Gather about 3 lbs of greens. This seems like a lot but they will cook down to a fraction of the fresh volume.

Simply cut the root off the plant and wash very well. Fill a large pot about halfway full of water and bring to a boil. Place the washed greens into the boiling water and boil for about 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and place in a bowl. Dress with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt or more to taste. Serve warm. Enjoy knowing you are eating Mother Nature’s tonic for liver support and cleansing, eye health, lowering triglycerides, and aiding in weight loss (source: Draxe.com/dandelion-root/).

Selecting healthy plants for your garden

Submitted by Rick Thomason, UT/TSU-Johnson County Extension Director

The best way to get high quality, healthy, and true-to-variety vegetable transplants is to grow your own. If, however, you choose to buy transplants from a nursery or garden center, here are some suggestions for selecting and caring for transplants.
Choose transplants that have a dark green, healthy appearance. Generally, shorter, thicker transplants are much better than taller, skinny plants. Vegetable plants should not have flowers, as this will add to the stress of transplant shock. Carefully remove the plants from the container and examine the roots. Healthy plants will have white roots. If the plant roots are discolored or have a brownish appearance, this is a good indication that they are not healthy. Also, make sure that the plants are free of any insect infestations or obvious disease problems. If you don’t transplant your new seedlings immediately, be sure that the roots are kept moist, but be careful not to over water the plants.

When we are past the danger of frost, you can transplant the plants into your garden. In Johnson County, I estimate our spring frost date to be around May 15th. Of course every year is different, but during most years you are safe to move the transplants outside to your garden around mid-May. Just keep check on the extended weather forecast before transplanting.

At transplanting, be careful not to disturb the roots any more than necessary. The tiny root hairs are very fragile and are very important in supplying water and nutrients to the plant. The exception would be if you could only purchase transplants that are “root bound” with a thick bundle of roots winding around the root ball. In that case, carefully unbundle the root mass, without tearing the roots, if possible.

Most transplants can be planted to a depth equal to the depth of the roots in the container; however, tomato and pepper transplants will almost always perform better if planted deeper. These transplants can be planted up to their first true leaves. The stems will generate additional roots very quickly. Deeper planted tomatoes and peppers will soon surpass shallow planted transplants, and will develop better root systems and be much healthier all season long. This also helps to make them more drought resistant in the hot part of the summer.

Newly transplanted vegetable plants should be watered thoroughly for several days to help the roots develop more quickly and get established in the garden. A diluted starter fertilizer high in phosphorous can also help with root development. Be careful not to over feed the new transplants as tender seedlings can easily be “burnt” by over-fertilizing the plants. In addition, excessive fertilization early in the season will often cause more foliage development and may actually suppress flower and fruit development.If you have hungry wildlife in the area (rabbits, deer, groundhogs, etc.), you may want to shield your new transplants with small wire cages or fencing to deter their feeding activity.

At planting is a good time to identify your plants, especially if you’re growing several varieties and you want to compare results throughout the season. Use a waterproof marker to make plant labels or paint the plant name on a smooth rock that can be placed near the plant for identification. The small plant labels that usually come with transplants will soon be lost, so make big plant identification markers now if you want to know what’s what later in the season. By keeping good notes on the performance of your vegetable transplants this year, you will have some good information to help you have an even better garden next year.

7 Childhood dental milestones that parents need to know

Just because most newborns don’t have teeth yet, it’s never too early for new parents to start a dental regimen for their baby.

“Parents shouldn’t wait until teething starts to think about their baby’s dental health,” says Dr. Jamie Reynolds, an orthodontist, national and international lecturer and author of “World Class Smiles Made in Detroit” (www.AskDrReynolds.com).

Reynolds says it is important for parents to give children a proper start if they are to enjoy a lifetime of good dental health. He offers these milestones for parents to keep in mind:

During the pregnancy

A child’s dental care really starts before the child is born, Reynolds says. Baby teeth begin to form before birth, so pregnant women should make sure to eat a balanced, nutritious diet and should get an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals, he says. They should have a complete dental exam and have any cavities or gum disease treated.

After birth, but before teeth arrive

Before the baby’s teeth have even erupted, keep the baby’s mouth clean by wiping down the gums twice a day with gauze or a moist washcloth after the baby’s last feeding.

At about six months, teeth begin to come in

Parents should start brushing their children’s baby’s teeth as soon as they come in, Reynolds says. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice on a child-sized toothbrush twice a day.

At age 3, a full set of baby teeth have probably arrived
By age 3, most children have a full set of baby teeth – 20 of them – at which point the ADA recommends upping the amount of toothpaste from the size of a grain of rice to the size of a pea.

Around age 6, most children should be able to brush on their own.

At this point, children can start using an adult-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when they brush, Reynolds says. Children should have their teeth flossed as soon as two teeth are touching. Children typically can floss on their own starting at about 7 years old.

The first dental visit

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends an initial visit to the dentist when the first tooth erupts, or no later than baby’s first birthday. From then on, parents should make twice yearly visits.

When children should see an orthodontist

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children see an orthodontist by the age of 7. Even though it may sound early, some issues can be addressed more quickly when caught early, such as issues with the growth of the jaw bone, remaining baby teeth, impacted teeth, the number of teeth growing in, and more, Reynolds says. Fortunately, he says, the majority of children this age will not need treatment.

One of the most important things parents can do is model good oral health behavior so children can see how seriously their parents take care of their oral hygiene,” Reynolds says. “It’s important that children see their parents brush and floss, avoid sugary snacks, and make regular visits to the dentist.”

Cellphones in school zones

Cellphones in school zones

A motorist uses a cell phone, before a new state law went into effect, making the operating a mobile device in a school zone illegal, punishable by a $50 fine for those 18 and older. Photo submitted by Jill Penley

 

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

It is now illegal to talk on a cell phone or mobile device while driving through an active school zone. The new state law, which took effect Jan. 1, makes handheld calls in operating school zones illegal, punishable by a $50 fine for those 18 and older. Tennessee law already bars texting while driving for everyone, and drivers with a learner’s permit or intermediate license may not use cellphones at all while driving, even with hands-free technology.

“Staying focused while behind the wheel is important at all times, but especially in school zones,” said Director of Schools Dr. Mischelle Simcox in a recent statement.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the overall number of deaths linked to distracted driving decreased by 2.2 percent last. Last year in Tennessee at least 18,122 crashes have been linked to distracted driving. The state Department of Safety reported that at least 80 facilities resulted from these crashes.
In 2016, more than 24,700 crashes within the state were linked to distracted driving.

“A person may not knowingly operate a motor vehicle and talk on a hand-held mobile telephone while the vehicle is in motion unless it is being used in hands-free mode,” said Everquote, an online insurance marketplace, which published an extensive report last year based on local driving habits.

Information was gathered during 2.7 million car trips over 230 million miles by users of its EverDrive app, for customers who want to gauge and improve their safety habits. The app uses smartphone components to detect speeding, as well as signs of distraction such as phone use and sudden stops, turns and acceleration. According to the EverDrive Safe Driving Report, Tennessee ranked a dismal 32nd place in best drivers in the country. When it came to phone use behind the wheel, that ranking dropped the state to 48th, with only Florida and Louisiana fairing worse. According to the published report, 44 percent of the drives in Tennessee contained at least one distracted driving event. Greg Tramel, public information officer for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, describes an “active school zone” as “any marked school zone in this state when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation.” The active times for school zones vary but can range between the times of 7:15-8: 15 a.m. and 3:15-4:15 p.m.

Tame stress and improve health

Stress can affect people of any age. While small amounts of stress may stimulate adrenaline responses and help people power through difficult projects or solve problems, chronic stress can impact the mind and body in harmful ways.WebMD defines stress as any change in the environment that requires the body to react and adjust in response. The body may react to stress physically, emotionally and/or mentally. Positive stress, called eustress, can take the form of getting a new job with greater responsibilities. However, it’s the bad stress – distress – that can cause tension and other negative consequences.

Money, health and relationships are some of the common contributors to stress in the United States. Seventy-seven percent of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress, and 73 percent experience psychological symptoms from stress. Statistics Canada indicated that, in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, 23 percent of Canadians ages 15 and older (6.7 million people) reported that most days were “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressful.

Stress can have many implications. When the body is stressed, muscles tense up and chronic stress can cause the muscles in the body to stay taut and tense for long periods of time, says the American Psychological Association. This may lead to tension headaches and musculoskeletal disorders.The Mayo Clinic advises that stress can cause fatigue, changes in sex drive, stomach upset, and difficulty sleeping. Stress also affects mood, potentially resulting in lack of motivation or focus, anxiety, sadness, and/or angry outbursts.

Healthline links chronic stress to behaviors such as overeating, not eating enough, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal. Reducing stress is a priority for many people. Although it is not an easy undertaking, slowly removing stressors from one’s life and taking steps toward changing one’s responses to stressful situations can help. There are many stress-management strategies, and not every one is right for all individuals. However, the following techniques may be helpful.

· Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce stress.

· Meditation: Mindful meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and tai chi are ways to focus the brain away from stressful situations.

· Socialization: Talking and spending time with friends or family can relieve stress.

· Hobbies: Crafts, hobbies and other engaging activities can direct attention away from stress.

· Talk therapy: Seeing a therapist may help some people work through stress and discover additional techniques to change how they respond to stress.

· Situation changes: Changing a job, residence or a condition that removes a source of stress may be handy.

Many people suffer from stress, which can be very harmful if not dealt with healthily and readily.

5 ways for parents to empower daughters in an unkind world

Empower

By Sheri Engler

While opportunities for women have advanced significantly in recent decades, studies reflect that the path to personal independence and growth isn’t always smooth – starting in early childhood up through high school. Gender stereotypes persist. According to a survey of 1,900 girls and young women between 7 and 21, conducted by the charity Girlguiding, many feel that pressure from social media, TV, friends, teachers and parents affects how they think and act. Another study in the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that stereotypes of girls were reinforced by schools, parents and the media, thereby limiting their mobility and access to opportunities.

One possible answer, says mentor and author Sheri Engler, is for parents to empower their daughters from a young age.“We parents need to take the necessary time from our busy lives to find out what our daughters are experiencing on a daily basis,” says Engler, author of The Pearls of Wisdom: A Fairy Tale Guide to Life’s Magic Secrets for All Ages (www.ThePearlsOfWisdomBook.com. “We must break down barriers to success early on. Otherwise, girls frequently surrender their ‘surplus’ qualities before they even leave grade school, because they feel they won’t be accepted if they are ‘too much.’ They are not allowed too many gifts for fear of alienating boys and competing with other girls. This has to stop.”

Engler says five ways parents can empower their daughters and help them grow into strong, successful women are:

•Explain the social dynamic.
“Help them understand the reasons why boys may be intimidated by powerful girls, and why girls may become jealous and pull down a girl who has too much,” Engler says.

•Help them avoid social programming.
Engler says that most forms of mass media “bombard girls with destructive messages.” With character development so important, Engler says parents need to offer more positive influences. “Discouraging Facebook is a good place to start,” Engler says, “due to its entrainment of a ‘me-oriented’ society.”

•Provide social alternatives.
Connecting with other parents and families who hold similar values is one option. Engler says, “Parents need to find out what’s really going on with their daughters, both at home and at school. Perhaps consider online or home schooling if your child is being affected by negative conditioning from peers and/or misguided authority figures. Sadly, damaging messages come from every direction.”

•Teach them to help others.
Parents can role-model strengthening values. These values could be exemplified by going together to volunteer in soup kitchens, to foster homeless animals, or to visit lonely, old people in nursing homes. “Learning compassion for others supports strong self-esteem through character building,” Engler says.

•Help them identify their unique desires and abilities.
“Encourage pride in being who they are on an authentic level,” Engler says. “Help them experience life’s many aspects so they may explore their natural abilities and interests, while paying particular attention to what truly brings them joy – because that is usually where their authentic selves reside.”

“We need to prevent damage early on,” Engler says, “instead of trying to fix it after it’s too late.”

Shade gardening beyond Hostas: tips for a successful garden

shade garden

By Melinda Myers

A shady spot provides welcome relief from the summer heat; but it can make growing a beautiful garden a bit more challenging. Take heart, your landscape may receive more sunlight than you suspect and if not, there are quite a few shade-tolerant plants you can grow. Evaluating the sun and shade patterns throughout the day, season, and year is a good place to start. Sun-loving bulbs need lots of sun early in the season before most trees leaf out, while other plants need sunlight throughout the growing season. If you work all day, you may assume those shady spots in the morning and evening never light up, so take some time to evaluate the sun and shade conditions throughout the season.

Make a list of plants that you have had success with and those that failed in the shady location. Use these to help you select or avoid plants with similar light requirements. For example, if peonies bloom and tomatoes produce fruit this area receives quite a bit of sunlight, perhaps more than you thought. If your landscape is too shady to grow the plants you desire, try increasing the sunlight reaching ground level plantings. Hire a certified arborist to thin the overhead tree canopy. They have the training and experience to do the job safely and correctly. You don’t want to damage the health and structure of established trees, so critical to the beauty of your landscape. If there’s too much shade to grow even shade-loving plants, consider mulch to keep the mud in place, permeable pavers and a table or chair for relaxing, or a few steppers and moss to create a moss garden.

Once you’ve made your selections and planted your garden, you need to adjust the care to compensate for the limited light conditions. Plants growing under large trees or overhangs need to be watered more often, especially the first year or two until they become established. The dense canopy of many trees and impervious overhangs prevent rainfall from reaching the ground below. Plus, the extensive root systems of trees and shrubs absorb much of the rainfall that does make it through, so check soil moisture several times a week and water thoroughly as needed.

Tree and shrub roots can also compete with plantings for nutrients. Use a low nitrogen, slow release fertilizer like Milorganite (milorganite.com) that promotes steady above and below ground growth. The 85% organic material further helps improve the soil. Apply slow release fertilizers at planting and once again for annuals mid-season. Fertilize new and established perennials in early spring and again in mid-summer as needed.

Avoid high nitrogen, quick release fertilizers that promote lush succulent growth that is more susceptible to insects and diseases. And with limited light as a potential plant stressor, this can increase the risk of problems.When planting under or near trees be careful not to kill them when creating your shade garden. Adding as little as an inch of soil over the roots can kill some tree species. And deep cultivation can damage the feeder roots critical for water and nutrient absorption since the majority grow within the top 12 inches of soil.

Here is a list of just a few shade-tolerant perennials to consider. As always make sure the plants also tolerate your region’s climate. And once you start reviewing the internet and plant catalogues you may find it difficult to narrow down your choices to fit in your new shade garden.

•Woodland Wildflowers
•Spring Flowering Bulbs
•Grape hyacinths
•Checkered lilies
•Camassia
•Daffodils
•Virginia Bluebells
•Perennial Flowers
•Ajuga
•Astilbe
•Barrenwort (Epimedium)
•Bleeding Heart
•Bugbane/Snakeroot
•Columbine
•Coral Bells
•Deadnettle (Lamium)
•Ferns
•Foam flower (Tiarella)
•Ginger (Asarum)
•Hostas
•Japanese Forest Grass
•Lungwort
•Sedges
•Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera)
•Variegated Solomon Seal
•Toadlily (Tricyrtis)

Bed bugs are accomplished hitch-hikers

Submitted by the University of TN Extension Office

Spring and summer months bring all sorts of favorite activities, like traveling and shopping for deals at yard sales, however, University of Tennessee Extension Entomologist, Dr. Karen Vail says these activities could leave you at a greater risk for a bed bug infestation. According to Vail, “Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. They can enter homes via infested luggage, backpacks, purses, clothing and furniture. Depending on their stage of life, bed bugs can be one twenty-fifth to one third of an inch in size, which makes them extremely difficult to spot.”

While traveling, Vail advises keeping luggage and suitcases away from the bed. Consider storing suitcases in the bathroom or place them in a sealable plastic bag. If staying in a hotel, always inspect the room before you unpack, checking for bed bugs behind the headboard, along the mattress seam, and any other cracks and crevices. If you do find bed bugs, ask for a different room immediately. Before leaving the hotel, check your luggage, and then wash and dry your clothes as soon as you arrive home. If you’re in a hurry, leave your suitcase in a sealed bag until you have time to inspect and clean it.

For those who enjoy shopping at yard or garage sales, Vail suggests closely inspecting any item before bringing it into your home. This goes for beds, bedding, furniture, appliances, clothing, purses, backpacks and briefcases. Vail says you may want to consider placing purchased items into a small heat chamber designed to kill bed bugs or using a steamer on them before bringing them into your home. Be sure to read equipment directions to avoid damaging items. “A garage sale bargain can quickly become expensive if it brings bed bugs into your home,” she cautions.

Vail carries a lint roller made to remove pet hair when she travels. These sticky sheets easily catch bed bugs when rolled over them. While this quick check can be reassuring, she recommends running clothing through the dryer after you get home.

For industry professionals, like housing managers, pest control professionals, health department representatives and others, UT Extension has scheduled the 4th Annual Tennessee Bed Bug and Cockroach Management Meeting for August 1. The event will be held in Knoxville at the UT Conference Center, beginning at 7:30 a.m. The meeting features national experts, topics like community-wide bed bug management success, the future of bed bug detection and a question and answer panel with all speakers to conclude the day.

To register and for more information, go to tiny.utk.edu/bedbugs. The registration deadline for the one-day meeting is July 24. Cost is $100 for pest management professionals, while all others may register at a discounted cost of $50 per person. Registration fee includes lunch, parking in the Locust Street garage, meeting materials and six recertification points for pesticide certification card holders in categories 7, 8, 10 and 12. For additional help and resources, visit ag.tennessee.edu/bedbugs or contact your local county Extension office.

Germs are not all bad

Various medical sources claim that washing your handsregularly is enough.

Germs have gotten a somewhat undeserved reputation. For decades, people have done what they can to avoid these unseemly organisms, thinking that exposure to germs is the single-best way to get and remain sick. Certainly there are germs that a person would be wise to avoid. However, not all germs must be avoided.

Germs are tiny organisms that can enter the body through open cuts, the mouth, the nose, and the eyes. Germs are found all over the world. The four main types of germs include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. Bacteria are a type of germ that often get a bad rap but actually may have benefits that outweigh their negatives.

Bacteria are tiny, one-celled creatures that get nutrients from their environments to live. In some instances, that environment is the human body. Bacteria can reproduce inside and outside of the body. While bacteria that cause repeated infections might be considered bad, there actually are a host of good bacteria. Such bacteria help people digest food and protect against gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea. Some bacteria may help people fight off illnesses caused by other bacteria or viruses, says research published in the journal Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology. Beneficial bacteria may help stimulate the immune system so that the body is better able to fight off diseases naturally.

People frequently overlook good bacteria in an effort to eradicate bad bacteria, and that can have serious detriments. Unfortunately, the “antibacterial” products available for cleaning and medicines used for treating bacterial illnesses do not discriminate between good and bad germs. They simply eradicate them all. Heathline says that this can create an imbalance of bacteria in the body that may lead to harmful bacteria taking over. Harmful bacteria also may evolve to resist common treatments because of the overuse of antibacterial and antimicrobial medicines and products.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that antimicrobial agents have been used for the last 70 years to treat patients with infectious diseases. Although they’ve helped treat illnesses, these drugs have enabled the organisms they’re meant to destroy to adapt to them, making the drugs less effective. Some bacteria are even resistant to certain antibacterial drugs. The CDC says each year in the United States at least two million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics – with at least 23,000 people dying as a result of these infections.

Various medical sources urge that regular hand washing with plain soap is enough for cleansing. Consuming foods with naturally occurring helpful organisms, such as yogurt, chocolate, feta cheese, pickles, and dark chocolate, can help increase the levels of good bacteria in the body. Taking a probiotic supplement also may help, although researchers at the Cleveland Clinic report that there is not enough proof to say for sure.People should speak with their doctors before taking probiotics or other steps to increase bacteria to make sure they are a wise decision for each individual.

How High Schoolers can boost American business

By JD Hoye

Finding skilled workers is an ongoing challenge for American businesses.
Media reports tend to focus on the lack of science, tech, and math skills. But more than four in 10 business executives complain that too many job applicants lack “soft skills” like creativity, teamwork, and communication. Indeed, a full half of the nation’s hiring managers say the college graduates they meet are short on “critical thinking and problem solving” skills and the ability to pay adequate “attention to detail.”Closing this soft skills gap is critical. Fortunately, business leaders don’t have to wait on schools or colleges to step in — they can easily take action on their own.

It all starts at the local high school. With well-designed internship programs, businesses can help young people acquire the full range of skills they need to be successful throughout their lives. While many employers have internship programs for college students and recent graduates, smart companies will get a head start on building a workforce by identifying and developing even younger talent.
Employers who have already opened their door to high school interns have witnessed the contributions that young people bring to their businesses from day one. A recent survey found that 45 percent of those who offer internships to high schools were “very likely” or “completely likely” to extend full-time job offers to their former interns.

As David Bilodeau, a senior member of the technical staff of Verizon, explains: “[Students] don’t have any preconceived notions of what you can and can’t do, and that’s invaluable.” He estimates that Verizon makes a “tenfold” return on its investment in interns. One in four business leaders say they get fresh ideas from their high school interns. I know from personal experience what high school interns bring to business. The organization I lead, NAF, helps high school students qualify for and obtain intern slots at top companies like Verizon, Capital One, and Marriott.

Throw away any pre-conceived notions of interns making coffee; our students work in robotics, plan events, and devise cost-cutting strategies. By the time they finish their internships, they have enough confidence to run social media campaigns, develop business plans, and cold-call sales leads. That’s value added for companies — and marketable skills for student resumes.

Reaching out to high schoolers also offers tremendous potential in an area of perennial concern for employers: diversity. Due to structural barriers, too many young people of color never make it to college or leave before they finish. A New York University study found that over “60 percent of the racial gap in college completion rates can be attributed to factors that occur before college.” Put simply, companies that look only to college students and grads put themselves at a diversity disadvantage.

These internships benefit students too, of course. Urban Alliance’s High School Internship Program provides career training, internships, and mentorship to at-risk students in Washington, DC., Baltimore, Northern Virginia, and Chicago. An internal assessment found that completion of an internship correlated with increased rates of college attendance for young men.

And whether college-bound or not, students who have completed a high school internship programs enjoy starting wages 11 percent higher than the average for students who have not been interns. Companies across the country can play an active role in shaping the talent pipeline and can be confident in knowing that the solution is closer than they realize — in local high schools with perfect hires.

JD Hoye, president of NAF.

Preparing for grazing season

By Rick Thomason

Spring is here and pastures will begin to grow quickly over the next few weeks. Many producer meetings, articles and websites suggest practices to make pastures more productive with less effort, but University of Tennessee Extension forage specialist Gary Bates says these sources can over-complicate what should be a simple process of preparing for the grazing season.

“How do you know what is most important? Which source are you supposed to believe? These and many other questions can overwhelm beef producers, but forage recommendations and the steps to follow do not have to be difficult,” says the expert. “Forage production is relatively straightforward, with several simple things you should look at over the next few months to become very productive and efficient,” continues Bates. His steps for spring forage prep are below:

Step 1 – Conduct a soil sample to determine soil fertility status. Sometimes the simplest step is the one overlooked the most. Producers need to determine if soil pH is adequate, and if the soil has the appropriate level of phosphate and potash to support adequate forage growth. Producers don’t have to soil sample every year, but should try to sample at least every third year to follow fertility level. We recommend soil testing in the fall, however, many producers wait until spring to get this done. Fertilize and lime according to the test results.

Step 2 – Evaluate the weed pressure in fields. There is still time to control cool-season weeds such as buttercup, plantains and musk thistle. Bates suggests producers walk across their fields and see if the weed pressure is heavy enough to warrant herbicide application. The Extension office in your county can provide specific herbicide recommendations, which will depend on the weeds species present.

Step 3 – Evaluate tall fescue. The next step is to evaluate whether the tall fescue is thick enough, or if producers need to increase their plant population. There is no shortcut for this. When plants are about six inches tall, walk across the field and estimate what  percentage of the ground is covered with tall fescue leaves. The ultimate goal is to capture 100 percent of the sunlight. If the level is 70 percent or more, there are enough plants. If it is between 40 and 70 percent, producers can graze or clip close in September and drill more seed. If less than 40, it is better to kill the entire stand and totally replant in the fall.

Step 4 – Use other species in addition to tall fescue. Bates warns against depending on tall fescue alone for forage production. Several other species should be added to forage programs to add quality and lengthen the grazing season. Producers should consistently be trying to add red and white clover to every acre of forage. Bates also suggests adding some species of warm-season forage as well, to provide grazing during the hotter summer months when tall fescue growth slows or stops.

Step 5- Improve grazing management. “If producers are going to the trouble of growing the forage, then use it efficiently,” says the UT forage expert. Put up some temporary fences to force cattle to eat all of the forage in an area before moving them. This will also allow producers the flexibility to move cattle before they overgraze the pasture. Just start somewhere. It may be simply dividing one field in half. Even the longest of journeys begins with a single step.

Bates says, “Nothing is very complicated about this process. The goal is to have a long grazing season with minimal inputs. The hard part is prioritizing these recommendations and getting them done.”

FBI Offers $1M For Info on US Reporter Missing in Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities for the first time are offering a reward for information leading to an American journalist who has been missing in Syria for more than five years. The reward is up to $1 million. Austin Tice, of Houston, Texas, disappeared in August 2012 while covering Syria’s civil war. A video released a month later showed him blindfolded and held by armed men saying “Oh, Jesus.” He has not been heard from since. Tice is a former Marine who has reported for The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers, CBS and other outlets. He disappeared shortly after his 31st birthday.

The circumstances surrounding his disappearance are still a mystery. It’s not clear what entity is holding him and no ransom demand has ever been made. But a newly released FBI poster urges people to report any information that could lead to his location, recovery or return. The FBI did not say why it was offering the reward money now, only that it was unrelated to any specific event or new piece of information. An FBI spokeswoman would not say how officials settled on the $1 million sum, only that reward payment amounts are based on a number of factors including “the severity of the danger or injury” to a U.S. citizen and the risk to the source providing the information.

Tice’s parents have said they believe he is still alive and the U.S. and Syrian governments have assured them they are working to secure his safe release. Of the reward offer, Tice’s mother Debra Tice told The Associated Press Thursday, “We’re thrilled. We’re happy for anything that might move the needle and bring our son safely home.” She said she and her husband didn’t prompt the offering, noting it was an internal decision by the FBI. They are “just really, really happy to see that level of involvement and commitment,” she said. “It really warms our hearts because it’s just another indication of their commitment, involvement.”

Opioid use and abuse among the older population

The public is quickly learning that drug abuse goes beyond the illegal substances that are purchased on the street. Abuse of drugs extends to the prescription medications sitting in many medicine cabinets. While teenagers and young adults may be the first to be stereotyped as prescription drug abusers, seniors may have unwittingly become mixed up in one of the most misused prescription classes: opioid pain relievers.

The problem of opioid abuse has been a growing issue for years. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 2.1 million people in the United States suffer from substance abuse of opioid pain relievers. Older patients are increasingly and repeatedly prescribed opioids to address chronic pain from arthritis, cancer and other problems that become more apparent as people age.

Data from U.S. Medicare recipients found that, in 2011, roughly 15 percent of seniors were prescribed an opioid after being discharged from the hospital. When followed up on three months later, 42 percent were still taking the medication. Fast forward to 2015, and almost one-third of all Medicare patients were prescribed opioid painkillers by their physicians, says AARP. The Canadian Institute for Health Information says adults between the ages of 45 and 64 and seniors age 65 and older had the highest rates of hospitalizations due to opioid poisoning over the past 10 years.
AARP also indicates nearly three million Americans age 50 or older have started to take painkillers for reasons beyond what their doctors prescribed. Experts from the Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing warn that dependence on opioids can set in after just a few days. Discomfort and side effects can occur when the pills are stopped.

Opioids can decrease pain at first, but many people find they can be less effective over time. As a result, patients need to take greater amounts. Although many people can take opioids in small doses for short periods of time without problems, many find themselves overcome by a troubling addiction. Some doctors prefer not to use opioids as a first line of treatment for chronic pain.

Another possible risk of opioids among seniors is that the medication can cause disorientation that may lead to falls and fractures. The senior care resource A Place for Mom also says that prescription narcotics may increase risk of respiratory arrest. What’s more, an older body may not absorb and filter medicines as effectively as younger bodies can. This means that older adults might become addicted to or have side effects from a prescription drug at a lower dose.

Seniors concerned about opioids can discuss other options with their doctors, such as nonopioid medications and alternative therapies for pain management, like massage or acupuncture. If opioids are prescribed, ask for the lowest dose and don’t exceed the time frame for taking the medicine. Only take the pills when absolutely necessary, and never mix opioids with alcohol or other substances.

The various types of arthritis

Arthritis affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe. The Arthritis Foundation® notes that more than 50 million adults in the United States have some type of arthritis, while the European League Against Rheumatism estimates that rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis affect more than 120 million people in the European Union. In Canada, the Canadian Community Health Survey found that 16 percent of Canadians age 15 and older were affected by arthritis.

The Arthritis Foundation notes that arthritis is not a single disease. In fact, the word “arthritis” is something of an umbrella term and an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. While these conditions may produce some common symptoms, such as swelling, pain and stiffness, learning to distinguish between some common types of arthritis can help men and women manage their conditions more effectively.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, which is sometimes referred to as “degenerative joint disease” or “OA,” is the most common chronic condition of the joints. The symptoms of OA vary depending on the joints that are affected, but pain and stiffness, especially first thing in the morning or after resting, are common. OA can affect the hips, knees, fingers, or feet, and those with OA may feel limited range of motion in their affected areas. Some with OA may hear clicking or cracking sounds when the affected joints bend, and pain associated with OA may be more intense after activity or toward the end of the day.

Inflammatory arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis occurs when the immune system, which can employ inflammation to fight infection and prevent disease, mistakenly attacks the joints with uncontrolled inflammation. Such a mistake can contribute to joint erosion and even organ damage. Psoriatic arthritis, which the Arthritis Foundation notes affects roughly 30 percent of people with psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis are two examples of inflammatory arthritis. Genetics and environmental factors, such as smoking, may trigger instances of inflammatory arthritis.

Infectious arthritis

Bacterium, a virus or a fungus that enters the joint may trigger inflammation and lead to infection arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation notes that the most common bacteria to cause infection arthritis is staphylococcous aureus, or staph. The majority of infectious arthritis cases occur after an infection somewhere else in the body travels through the bloodstream to the joint, though some infections may enter the joint directly through a puncture wound near the joint or during surgery near the joint. Intense swelling and pain, typically in a single joint, are the most common symptoms of infectious arthritis, which is most likely to affect the knee, though it can affect the hips, ankles and wrists. Some people with infection arthritis may also experience fever and chills.

Metabolic arthritis

The body produces uric acid to break down purines, a substance found in many foods and in human cells. But some people produce more uric acid than they need, which they then struggle to get rid of quickly. As a result, uric acid can build up. The Arthritis Foundation notes that this buildup can lead to the formation of needle-like crystals in the joints that cause sudden spikes of extreme pain.

Arthritis can affect people of any age, race or gender. More information about the various types of arthritis is
available at www.arthritis.org.

USDA reopens enrollment for improved dairy safety net tool

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is encouraging dairy producers to consider enrolling in the new and improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), which will provide better protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices. With changes authorized under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set the enrollment period to run from April 9, 2018 to June 1, 2018.

“We recognize the financial hardships many of our nation’s dairy producers are experiencing right now. Folks are losing their contracts and they are getting anxious about getting their bills paid while they watch their milk check come in lower and lower each month. The Bipartisan Budget Act provided some much-needed incentives for dairy producers to make cost-effective decisions to strengthen their farms, mitigate risk, and conserve their natural resources,” said Secretary Perdue. “This includes our support of America’s dairy farms. We encourage dairy producers to review the provisions of the updated program, which Congress shaped with their feedback. Those changes are now in effect, and I’d ask any producers who are interested to contact their local USDA service centers.”

About the Program:
The program protects dairy producers by paying them when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount elected by the producer.

Changes include:
•Calculations of the margin period is monthly rather than bi-monthly.
•Covered production is increased to 5 million pounds on the Tier 1 premium schedule, and premium rates for Tier 1 are substantially lowered.
•An exemption from paying an administrative fee for limited resource, beginning, veteran, and disadvantaged producers. Dairy operators enrolled in the previous 2018 enrollment period that qualify for this exemption under the new provisions may request a refund.

Dairy operations must make a new coverage election for 2018, even if you enrolled during the previous 2018 signup period. Coverage elections made for 2018 will be retroactive to January 1, 2018. All dairy operations desiring coverage must sign up during the enrollment period and submit an appropriate form (CCC-782) and dairy operations may still “opt out” by not submitting a form. All outstanding balances for 2017 and prior years must be paid in full before 2018 coverage is approved.

Dairy producers can participate in FSA’s MPP-Dairy or the Risk Management Agency’s Livestock Gross Margin Insurance Plan for Dairy Cattle (LGM-Dairy), but not both. During the 2018 enrollment period, only producers with an active LGM-Dairy policy who have targeted marketings insured in 2018 months will be allowed to enroll in MPP-Dairy by June 1, 2018; however, their coverage will start only after active target marketings conclude under LGM-Dairy.

USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the MPP-Dairy that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, which will be updated and available by April 9 at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, smartphone, tablet or any other platform. USDA is mailing postcards advising dairy producers of the changes. For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/dairy or contact your local USDA service center.