Author Archives: Allie Shriver

Turfgrass Producers Hours of Service Glove Box Doc

Hours of Exemption Glove Box Doc

 

In case you’ve missed the positive news – TPI has worked with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to define sod as an agricultural commodity. This ruling makes the claim for exemptions relative to Hours of Service and Electric Logging Devices much easier. This ruling was announced in November and you can read more about the outcome here. TPI will always do our best in putting membership dollars to work on important policies and regulations impacting our industry.

 

Exclusive Turfgrass Producers International Benefit
As a result of this ruling, TPI is proud to introduce our latest member-exclusive benefit – the TPI Hours of Exemption Glove Box Doc. We are happy to set your drivers up for a successful route. If they are pulled over, this document is the information they need to prove sod is included in this latest legislation.

Glove Box Doc

Every TPI member farm received a copy of this new benefit in May along with a letter from Executive Director, Dr. Casey Reynolds. Since the delivery, feedback has been astounding. Our members are thrilled with this latest benefit. While we only sent two copies to each member farm, TPI members can request additional copies from our office.

Sod farmers would be left out of these important programs without TPI advocacy and efforts in regulatory affairs. Please join or renew today to continue to protect important agricultural exemptions!

 

TPI Member Benefits
In addition to the latest membership benefit, TPI offers year-round value to the industry and your business. We provide the latest research and technology findings in our bi-monthly, award-winning, Turf News. We host unparalleled events for the sod production industry for prime networking. We publish the annual Weed, Insect, and Disease Control Guide. These are just a few of the benefits of being a TPI member. Join today or renew today for access to these exclusive benefits.

Turfgrass Producers of Maryland Hosting Dr. Casey Reynolds for Sod Check-off Information Session

The Turfgrass Producers of Maryland (TPM) cordially invites you to join us on June 23, 2021m for a presentation by Dr. Casey Reynolds, TPI Executive Director.

Attend to learn everything you need to know about a National Sod Check-Off program. And to have your biggest questions about a check-off program answered.

New in 2021 – Turfgrass Producers International Committee Restructure

Turfgrass Producers International Committees

Turfgrass Producers International is nothing without its members and the commitment from our members to helping with our mission. As we come off a year that tested each of us in ways we could not imagine, one thing became very clear. Our members are committed more than ever to the growth of our industry, education for professional growth, and networking with other members. For TPI to deliver on these goals, we need the help of our members.

TPI and The Lawn Institute run smoothly under the direction of one committed Board and several committees. Our committees help guide the direction of TPI and TLI initiatives. In 2021, TPI and TLI committees are changing and growing.

New for Turfgrass Producers International Committees

We have a few exciting updates to our participation process and requirements. Committees are now a three-year term commitment. This term includes a minimum of three virtual meetings and one in-person meeting a year at our International Conference and Field Day.

Additionally, we are thrilled to announce Committee Week! Each quarter TPI will dedicate a full week to hosting virtual committee meetings. Committee members will receive this schedule at the beginning of each year. It’s important to note that some committees must meet more frequently to achieve the committee goals.

How to Join a Committee

To join a TPI or TLI committee you will need to complete a Committee Interest Application. Select your top three committee choices and let us know why you’d like to join. While this application will be open year-round, members will be able to join committees in the spring of each year. The 2021 call for committees’ application will be open from February 25 through March 5, 2021 at 5 pm EST.

If you are already on a committee and wish to remain on that committee, please complete an application and our Membership Director will reach out to you to discuss your term dates.

Introducing the Newest Turfgrass Producers International Committee

We are excited to announce the Board has created a new TPI Committee to help steer the direction of TPI! This new committee, Leadership and Innovations, will work to develop strategies for reaching new leaders, developing new TPI programs, and utilizing technology to push TPI initiatives forward.

You can join this committee or any of the six existing committees this year by submitting our new Committee Interest Application.

What are the Turfgrass Producers International and The Lawn Institute Committees?

Conference & Education Committee
The primary responsibility of this committee is the development and coordination of educational programs for TPI events including pre-conference seminars, panel/board discussions, general education and breakout sessions, and tours, along with the identification and recruitment of speakers.

Membership Committee
The focus of this group is to identify new programs and strategies that expand TPI’s membership participation worldwide and increase the value of a TPI membership.

Public Relations Committee
The primary goal of this group is to maximize TPI’s effectiveness in developing marketing strategies that serve to educate the general public; convey beneficial information to producers, suppliers, and end-users; address specific environmental advantages or concerns; enhance and expand TPI’s relationships with turfgrass extension specialists, researchers and educators; and develop, review, and revise various support materials specifically designed to achieve the intended objectives.

Leadership and Innovations Committee
The primary goal of this committee is to develop connections with leaders within TPI to develop strategies for reaching new leaders, developing new TPI programs, and utilizing technology to push TPI initiatives forward.

The Lawn Institute Fundraising Committee
The Fundraising Committee is responsible for developing fundraising activities for the Foundation and for helping to secure donations.

The Lawn Institute Research Committee
The Research Committee focuses on reviewing research proposals and making funding recommendations to the Board of Trustees. The Research Committee is also responsible for tracking the research being done in the turfgrass field and reporting on that research to the board.

The Lawn Institute Scholarship Committee
The Dr. Henry W. Indyk Scholarship was established to honor a founding father of Turfgrass Producers International while demonstrating TPI’s commitment to education and offering a valuable member benefit. The Scholarship Committee solicits, collects, and reviews Dr. Henry W. Indyk Scholarship applications annually. The committee members use objective criteria to select scholarship winners.

Be More Involved with Turfgrass Producers International in 2021!

If you’ve been looking for a way to get more involved in TPI or TLI now is the time! Complete a Committee Interest Application and join us as we shape the future of TPI and TLI.

 

TPI Introduces New Women in Turfgrass Group for Members

Turfgrass ProducHERS International Logo

Turfgrass Producers International is thrilled to announce our newest initiative – Turfgrass ProducHERS International. This community will be dedicated to the networking, education, and empowerment efforts of all TPI women members.

Sparked from a successful happy hour at the 2020 TPI Conference and Field Day, TPI realized our women need more than once a year to meet and greet. We decided to take the group one step further at the 2021 TPI Growing Forward Virtual Series with a full-hour roundtable discussion*. This discussion covered various topics important to our community. We discussed including how everyone was adjusting to working during a pandemic, areas we would like to grow in professionally, how we stay connected to other women, and so much more.

This discussion further solidified our need for a women’s community within TPI and Turfgrass ProducHERS International was created. We’re happy to bring this group a place to speak openly with other women about the challenges and accomplishments they face in the natural grass industry.

How to Get Involved with Turfgrass ProducHERS International

There are several ways you can get involved within this group starting now!

  • Join our Facebook Group dedicated to the women of TPI – Turfgrass ProducHERS International. Here you can ask questions, share experiences, and collaborate with other women in natural grass.
  • You can also register for emails from TPI on Women in Turfgrass topics – sign me up!
  • Join our quarterly conference calls! The links for these will be emailed to you prior to the meeting.
    Mark your calendar for 2021:
    May 13, 11 am EST   August 12, 11 am EST    November 11, am EST
  • Join us at TPI International Conference and Field Day

Ready to Tackle 2021

TPI is ready to see this community take off and bring you the platform to do so. If you have questions, suggestions, or general comments you can reach out to Allie Shriver with TPI at ashriver@turfgrasssod.org.

 

*If you missed this discussion during the Virtual Series, it can be viewed on the platform until mid-March for all attendees.

The New The Lawn Institute

TPI is pleased to announce the new The Lawn Institute website has launched! www.TheLawnInstitute.org has a new look and the same quality resources for consumers.

The Lawn Institute Donations Put to Good Use

The contributions that our members so kindly make to TLI through the annual campaign, auctions, raffles, and vendor donations go towards our foundation, and the TPI Board of Trustees voted in 2018 to devote some of those funds to consumer and professional messaging research to better understand the value that consumers see in our product.

Two of the key messages that came out of this research were the superior safety and health benefits of natural grass for athletic fields, and the environmental benefits of lawns, parks, and other green spaces worldwide.

As you browse the new TLI website, you will see those messages weaved throughout the entire site. The Lawn Care Basics sections are designed to help homeowners with better managing their lawns, getting tips for grass selection, weed control, mowing heights, etc.

The Lawn Institute Truly International

We will continue to update the new TLI website with more environmental facts, and we have plans to develop it further by creating a natural grass locator tool, advertising, and more in an effort to expand the reach of The Lawn Institute and maintain its reputation as a trusted resource for consumers worldwide. I’d like to mention that we also want this website to be truly global. For our international members, we have added downloadable graphics for oxygen production in Canada, Europe, and Australia, and we have had discussions with a few of our international partners about adding Canadian, European, and Australian sections targeting just those audiences

Visit The Lawn Institute Website

Take a moment to check out the new site. Download our graphics for your marketing efforts and to provide your consumers. Be sure to follow us on social media- Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news on TLI. And as always, you can make a donation to TLI in your TPI member portal.

the lawn institute logo

TPI’s Growing Forward Virtual Series Sessions

You asked and we’re answering! Here’s a closer look at our sessions offered during the 2021 Growing Foward Virtual Series. Join us February 16-19 for education and networking right from the comforts of your own office.

Virtual Series Sessions

TPI Government Relations:  TPI works routinely behind the scenes on government affairs impacting sod producers everywhere and has been successful in recent favorable rulings on trucking laws, coronavirus relief, and more. Tune into this session for the latest updates on government policies impacting sod farms.

Shift Happens!  Even before the pandemic, we had entered a new era of constant and continuous change, a time Dr. Withers often refers to as a “permanent whitewater world,” a ‘new normal.’  COVID-19 served as an accelerant to even more disruption, and now many are wondering how to navigate such waters with their operations. The play on words in the title of this session is intentional, so join Bill as he helps us understand more about the human dynamic of adapting to and leading through change like we’re facing in 2021 and beyond.  A portion of our time with Dr. Withers will also include facilitated Q&A, so bring your questions.

Economic Outlook and Marketing Trends in the Green Industry:  A general economic outlook will be provided, with emphasis on relevant indicators to the green industry. The structure and composition of the industry and the major production and marketing trends will be highlighted.

XYZ: Better Understanding the Marketplace of our Youngest Generations:  This is a new era across our workplaces, and many of our operations feature a five-generation workforce or deal with five generation customers. Meanwhile, resumes are arriving from the newest additions to the workforce, Generation Z! Few workshop leaders have worked with all three generations these past two decades like Dr. Bill Withers, who, as BOTH a college professor and student advisor, continues to consult and work with organizations during this critical time in our workforce history. Join Bill as he helps you better understand nuances around the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, generations X, Y, and Z.

Weed Control, CS Grasses:  This presentation will discuss weed control in cool-season turf with a special emphasis on annual weed control during turfgrass establishment. Specifically, annual bluegrass, crabgrass, and yellow nutsedge control will be discussed. For each weed, chemical, cultural, and environmental conditions that influence weed establishment and control will be discussed. The TPI Weed, Insect, and Disease Control for Turfgrass Producers guide will be referenced during the presentation.

U.S Sod Industry Checkoff:  A U.S. Sod Checkoff program is currently under consideration for approval, voting, and implementation. This session will cover all of the details of the program, how it is being developed, what it means for the industry, frequently asked questions, and more. Please join members of the U.S sod production industry as they discuss the need and potential for a U.S. sod checkoff program as well as to learn more about the upcoming referendum.

4 Areas to Focus in Social Media Marketing:  As technologies evolve and become more accessible, turfgrass businesses can use social media to boost sales, build new partnerships, and pursue up- and down-stream integration strategies. In this virtual presentation, Dr. Ariana Torres will interview Kate Gahimer, co-founder of Senler Studio, to tell us the major areas of social media marketing. Speakers will present topics such as how to 1) develop and increase brand awareness, 2) curate content for audience engagement, 3) attract prospective clients through paid media, and 4) discover other helpful tools within digital communication.

Sod-Centric Weed Control for Warm-Season Turfgrass Production:  A “sod-centric” weed control strategy must take into account weed/turf species, harvest time, sod strength, inventory demand, treatment costs, and many other variables. Dr. McCurdy will share research-based solutions and theory to help guide decisions regarding weed control. Attendees will better understand appropriate options for herbicidal and non-herbicidal control of common weeds in warm-season turfgrass production.

TPI Annual Business Meeting:  The 2021 TPI Annual Business Meeting (ABM) will include the latest updates on TPI’s direction, initiatives, budgets and more. The 2021 ABM also includes important TPI business such as officer elections, budget approval, member news, and scholarship presentations. Please join us as we discuss 2020 and make plans for 2021 and beyond.

The Top Social Media Analytics:  As a business owner or manager, you already know that social media can add value to your business by increasing sales, engaging with current and prospective customers, and providing outstanding customer service. Yet, measuring the success of your time and money spent on social media can tricky. In this virtual presentation, Dr. Ariana Torres will talk about scheduling organic and paid social media campaigns. Through a case study, she will also talk about tracking the return of social media strategies, scheduling platforms, and developing monthly reports of the performance of social media analytics.

It isn’t too late! Check out our schedule and register today in your member portal or visit turfgrasssod.org/events. 

TPI Growing Forward Virtual Series Speakers

TPI’s 2021 Growing Forward Virtual Series is just around the corner. We’re thrilled to bring you quality education in turfgrass from the comforts of your office. This year’s slate of speakers is one of a kind. Here’s a closer look at some of our industry experts you will hear from.

TPI Virtual Series Speakers

Dr. Casey Reynolds
Dr. Casey Reynolds is the Executive Director at Turfgrass Producers International, a non-profit trade association representing the turfgrass production industry. He received his PhD from North Carolina State University in 2013 before moving to College Station Texas to join the turfgrass program faculty at Texas A&M University. He is an avid supporter of the natural grass industry and all of the many benefits it brings to urban and suburban environments worldwide.

You can hear Dr. Reynolds speak Feb 17 at 10am about TPI Government Relations Impacting the Sod Industry.

Dr. Marco A Palma
Dr. Marco A Palma is Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. Dr Palma is a Texas A&M Presidential Impact Fellow. His areas of interest are consumer economics, food choices, experimental and behavioral economics and neuroeconomics. Dr Palma is the Director of the Human Behavior Laboratory (http://hbl.tamu.edu), a transdisciplinary facility that integrates state of the art technology to measure biometric and neurophysiological responses of human decision making. The HBL aims to facilitate the integration of neurophysiological responses to traditional methods of studying human behavior in the social sciences. Specifically, it provides access to state-of-the-art equipment to simultaneously collect psychophysiological data, including eye tracking, facial expression analysis to assess human emotions, neural signals (electroencephalography), galvanic skin response (GSR) heart and respiration rates through integrated stimulus presentation platforms.

You can hear Dr. Palma speak Feb 17 at 1pm about Housing and Economy.

Dr. Jay McCurdy
Dr. Jay McCurdy is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist at Mississippi State University. He received a B.S. from the University of Tennessee-Martin, a M.S. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and a Ph.D. from Auburn University. He has worked as a golf course superintendent, sod farmer, and private consultant. His research interests include turfgrass weed ecology and management, herbicide resistance, pesticide fate, and wildlife habitat inclusion within urban environments. He teaches and advises students studying Weed Science and Turfgrass Management. He has authored 25+ peer-reviewed publications as well as numerous trade and Extension articles. He serves as editor for the Mississippi Turfgrass Magazine and as Associate Editor of several society Journals. In cooperation with state and regional colleagues, he has developed new and novel teaching and outreach programs, including the Deep South Turfgrass Expo and the MSU-Extension Sustainable Home Lawn Management Program.

You can hear Dr. McCurdy speak Feb 18 at 11am about Weed Control for Warm Season Grasses.

Dr. Matt Elmore
Dr. Matt Elmore is as an Assistant Extension Specialist in Weed Science at Rutgers University. His program at Rutgers focuses on novel strategies to control weeds with fewer pesticide inputs. Prior to joining Rutgers, Matt was a Turfgrass Extension Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife in Dallas, TX and earned his MS and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee.

You can hear Dr. Elmore speak Feb 17 at 1pm about Weed Control for Cold Season Grasses.

Dr. Ariana Torres
Dr. Torres’ research focuses on the decision-making processes of specialty crop farmers, along with the use of digital marketing technologies among industry stakeholders. Her expertise includes the economic modeling of adoption of new technologies, the development of decision-making tools for specialty crop growers, and the economic impact of growers decision-making processes. Her research provides relevant research-based information to her extension program, Horticulture Business (www.hort.purdue.edu/hortbusiness) to provide trainings and publications to farmers, business owners, Extension personnel, and policymakers.

You can hear Dr. Torres speak Feb 18 & 19 at 11am about Social Media.

Dr. Bill Withers
Dr. Bill Withers has nearly three decades of management and leadership experience in both business and education, and he is a two-time presenter at the International Conference on Business in Honolulu. [Which is where he fell in love with his “Aloha shirts” he sometimes wears!]

Bill has both studied and served organizations such as Proctor & Gamble, Ritz-Carlton, Disney, Four Seasons, Starbucks, and Southwest Airlines, and he was a contributing writer to three books in the areas of leadership and customer service.

After an early career working in media and marketing, Bill spent 20 years in higher education, training, and development at Wartburg College where he was recently awarded Faculty Emeritus-status by their board upon his recent retirement there.

Today Bill serves on the executive leadership team at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa, the largest mainline protestant church of its type in all of North America.

Dr. Withers continues to specialize in the areas of public relations, customer service, organizational change, and leadership.

You can hear Dr Withers speak Feb 17 at 11am & 1pm.

Register Now

Register for TPI’s Growing Forward Virtual Series today to hear these great speakers. You’ll also have that chance to attend discussion groups and bid on some spectacular items in our online TLI Auction. Don’t forget to stay with us on February 16th and 18th to meet with our sponsors during our virtual field day. You can register here!

MIKHAIL KIDD AWARDED DR. HENRY W. INDYK SCHOLARSHIP

Mikhail Kidd has been awarded the one-year Dr. Henry W. Indyk Scholarship, which is administered by The Lawn Institute (TLI). He is the son of James and Katy Kidd. James Kidd is a partowner of Cloverdale Nursery in Boise, Idaho. Mikhail is a student at Utah State University, Logan, Utah, where he is at the mid-point in his five-year field of study in Residential Landscape Design and Construction. Mikhail, and his wife, Sydney, were married in August of 2019. She is studying journalism at Utah State University.

In the career goals essay in his scholarship application, Mikhail wrote, “A career in turfgrass management has always been my goal ever since I started working as a freshman in high school. I started working at Cloverdale Nursery & Turf Farm, which is the biggest supplier of sod based out of Idaho. I worked as a general laborer at their nursery. I was drawn to the portion of the business that grew and distributed sod, and the next summer I started my own business (K2 Landscape) which focused on commercial and residential sod installation. I worked as a subcontractor for Cloverdale Nursery, and enjoyed laying sod every summer until I graduated.”

During those high school years, Mikhail was a four-time state champion in track, serving as team captain for two years, and was an all-state cornerback his senior year. He was also class president for two years, student body vice president his junior year, and student body president his senior year.

After high school graduation, Mikhail served two years as a missionary in the country of Paraguay. He said, “It was a great service opportunity, teaching about God and Jesus and seeing people find hope in their lives. I also learned Spanish among many other valuable lessons and perspectives.”

When he returned home in 2017, Mikhail resumed working at Cloverdale Nursery but this time at their turf farm. He wrote, “I started learning the various trades of a turf farm, and really enjoyed my work. I learned how to operate the sod harvesters we used, the process of irrigating the sod, loading the sod onto semi-trucks, and mowing the sod with industrial-sized mowers. Every summer I have returned to the sod farm and have continued learning and gaining experience. I hope to one day achieve a management position at a sod farm, so I can continue doing this work that I have grown to enjoy.” He has been able to use the Spanish he learned as a missionary to better communicate with those employees for whom Spanish is their first language.

In her letter of recommendation, Cristin Cook, procurement manager for Cloverdale Nursery, wrote, “I have known of Mikhail Kidd his entire life. He is a very good man with great values.” And, “Although I didn’t work directly with him, I heard of his excellent work ethic from numerous employees that he worked with.”

Mikhail noted that many of his achievements are tied to lessons he learned working in the turfgrass industry. He wrote, “Though I have seen athletic success in my life, it has been far from easy. In high school I experienced two different season ending injuries that I had to overcome and push through. During my first year of college, I tried walking-on to the track team and ended up getting cut. I kept training on my own, and the next year, my run times secured my spot on the roster.”

He added, “My work in the turfgrass industry helped me overcome these challenges and achieve success through struggle. The work isn’t always easy, especially stacking sod for hours during hot summer months, or moving sprinkler pipe with soaked boots. Doing this work taught me that enduring hard things for a short time can help you achieve great things in the long run.”

Mikhail said, “Working with turfgrass has also taught me to take pride in doing high quality work, whether as a missionary, a student, an athlete, or in my job. These lessons will continue to help me in future aspects of my life.” Strike while.

Article originally published May/June 2020 Turf News

MIKHAIL KIDD AWARDED DR. HENRY W. INDYK SCHOLARSHIP

Nathan Heuver Awarded Dr. Henry W. Indyk Scholarship

Nathan Heuver has been awarded the four-year Dr. Henry W. Indyk Scholarship, which is administered by The Lawn Institute (TLI). He is the son of Eric Heuver, Eagle Lake Professional Landscape Supply, Strathmore, Alberta, Canada. A student at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Nathan will be starting his senior year in the fall of 2021 to complete his undergraduate studies in Biology. He intends to further his education by pursuing a graduate degree.

In the career goals essay in his scholarship application, Nathan wrote, “Throughout my time in university, the biological topic of ecology has interested me greatly and I plan to further my education in this field. By furthering our understanding of the ecological processes surrounding us, we are able to better control our environment with a variety of practical applications.”

He witnessed practical applications of biology in 2019, as a summer co-op student for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in their ecological entomology lab in Saskatoon. He wrote, “… I was able to see the research that is currently being done to help manage, control and predict insect pest species of agriculture crops.”

Nathan added, “I have also been exposed to a research environment through independent research courses in the Department of Chemistry in Katherine Elvira’s lab and through work-study employment in Julia Baum’s lab in the Department of Biology at the University of Victoria. These opportunities have encouraged independent thought and problem-solving skills, and rewards that I have achieved have encouraged me to pursue science as a career.”

In her letter of recommendation for this scholarship, Dr. Elvira wrote, “Nathan is one of those rare students who is able to learn quickly and adapt to a new environment.” And, “It is highly unusual for a student to be able to perform an independent research project with so little input from me. His work was high quality and very helpful to the group’s research in general.”

Dr. Elvira also interacted with Nathan through his elected role as an undergraduate representative on the university’s Chemistry Equity, Diversity and Inclusions (Chem EDI) committee. Dr. Elvira wrote, “Nathan’s work on the committee is stellar. He is engaged, quick to volunteer to take on tasks, great at communicating in a timely manner, insightful, and obviously committed to the Chem EDI goals …” She called his conduct in both the group and the committee, “… professional, mature and kind.”

Nathan also served two years as a Student Ambassador and Health Educator for the University of Victoria Health Services where he organized healthy living projects for the student community. In addition, for two years, he volunteered as an assistant coach for the fundamentals program of Special Olympics Victoria, teaching sports to 7-to-11-year-old children with disabilities.

In his essay in response to the question, “How has the turfgrass industry shaped your personal character?” Nathan wrote, “For every summer since I was 14 years old up till the summer after my first year at university, I worked to some degree on my family’s farm, Eagle Lake Turf Farms. Though the work was hard, it has had an intangible effect on how I view the world, challenges I face, and my attitude towards demanding work.”

He added, “One of the main takeaways from working on the farm has been my experience working with the ten seasonal workers that our farm employs from Mexico.” Nathan reported that experience allowed him to develop friendships across linguistic and cultural boundaries. It also encouraged him to welcome the intercultural connections of the university environment.

Nathan is adventurous, always seeking experiences that will broaden his outlook and his skills. He loves the outdoors and thrives on exploring new sites for skiing, kayaking, hiking and camping. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, he had planned to spend the summer of 2020 in an international co-op job through the DAAD RISE Germany program in ecology, seeking to widen his world view. Currently, those plans are on hold. Instead, he will work at the turf farm where he hopes to “apply the experience I have gained and take on more responsibility.”

Article originally published May/June 2020 Turf News

NATHAN HEUVER - 2020 TLI Scholarship Winner

TLI Scholarship Winner 2020

Sod Checkoff Initiative Webinar #1 Recap

rolled sodMembers of the U.S sod production industry have asked Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) to investigate the potential interest among sod producers in a sod checkoff program as well as its impacts. Over the next 12-18 months, TPI will host online webinars to seek input from producers and to share information on what a potential checkoff could look like for the sod industry. Any sod industry checkoff would be designed, implemented and governed by sod producers, for sod producers. All U.S. sod producers will have a chance to provide input on establishing an industry-wide checkoff and ultimately be asked to vote on it in a nationwide referendum in order for it to become law.

 

Over 110 attendees registered for the first webinar on May 19, 2020, with the following agenda:

  • Sod Checkoff Introduction

Hank Kerfoot, President of Modern Turf

  • USDA Research and Promotions Program History and Overview

Dr. Casey Reynolds, TPI

  • Sod Industry Checkoff, Building the Case

Dr. Casey Reynolds, TPI

  • Dairy Industry Checkoff, Background, and Successes.

Marilyn Hershey, AR-JOY Farms LLC

  • Sod Checkoff Development, Process, Referendum, and Compliance.

Wayne Watkinson, Watkinson-Miller LLC

 

Dr. Casey Reynolds and Wayne Watkinson did a wonderful job explaining what a USDA Research and Promotion Program (also known as a checkoff) is and could look like for the sod production industry. We heard first-hand experience from Marilyn Hershey on the success of the Dairy Industry Checkoff. Marilyn is a Pennsylvania dairy farmer and the chairperson of Dairy Management Incorporated (DMI), which is a key dairy industry checkoff program. The webinar ended with several insightful questions from our participants. If you missed it, you can watch the entire un-edited webinar here and ask questions on SodCheckoff.org.

Sod checkoff Webinar #1 

Key Takeaways from Sod Checkoff Webinar #1

 

Background

  • USDA Research and Promotion programs commonly referred to as “checkoffs” began in 1966 when Congress authorized them at the federal level. The term checkoff originated from producers having to check a box if they were interested in participating. Today, all USDA programs are mandatory, but the term remains.
  • Research and Promotion programs establish a legal framework for producers to pool resources and promote the industry as a whole. These programs help to:
    • Strengthen Existing Markets
    • Develop New Markets
    • Conduct Important Market and Scientific Research
    • Drive Demand for the Covered Commodity
    • Engage other industries to leverage promotional funds
  • Checkoffs are Industry programs, NOT federal government or USDA programs. They are created and governed by industry members (producers, farmers, etc.)
  • There has not been a checkoff program established yet for turfgrass sod producers. Everything to this point has been exploratory and this webinar was the first of its kind seeking industry input.

 

Why the Turfgrass Industry Could Benefit from a Checkoff

  • Lack of public understanding of our product and its value
  • Generational opinions on the value of lawns are changing
  • Regulatory threats to our market
  • Competitive threats to our market
  • We have a good story that needs to be told

 

What is a Checkoff Program?

  • Congress authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to implement programs for agricultural products
  • Checkoffs use federal authority to ensure fairness and compliance.
  • Checkoffs are Industry Programs with an active “Board of Producers.” The Board has the following responsibilities:
    • Sets the budget
    • Creates the programs
    • Oversees the programs
  • If approved, compliance is mandatory

 

Process for Developing a Checkoff

  • The industry drafts rules for a Checkoff program
  • The industry works with the U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA) to finalize the proposal
  • The final proposal is published for public comment
  • A referendum is held within the industry to approve the program

 

Next Steps for Creating a Program

  • The industry appoints a program development committee that drafts the rules of the program.
  • The Development Committee will be comprised of large and small producers, a wide geographic representation of producers, TPI, and non-TPI members, etc.
  • The industry then shares the draft program with the USDA and works with them to develop a final rule and publish a referendum for voting.

 

While TPI is leading the beginning stages of this effort, this will be an industry program, not a TPI program. We are here to help facilitate conversations between producers and the USDA. If you have any questions or would like to be included in the next steps, please email us at Info@TurfgrassSod.org