Author Archives: Casey Reynolds, PhD

About Casey Reynolds, PhD

Dr. Casey Reynolds is the Executive Director at Turfgrass Producers International

Federal and State Guidance on Essential Services, Agriculture

Many states are looking to the federal government for clarity on essential services classification and how it impacts farms in their communities.The USDA and other federal partners, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have released guidance to help state and local jurisdictions and the private sector to identify and manage essential services. The CISA’s coronavirus resources page contains many resources on essential services, including food and agriculture. Please consult the CISA website below for further information.

CISA doesn’t dictate how individual states have to classify essential services, but rather they offer guidance only. Additionally, some states have provided more specific guidance on particular segments of agriculture including sod production as well as horticultural industries, landscaping, etc. Given the rapidly evolving status of Coronavirus worldwide these classifications can change daily, so please consult global, national, and local resources when possible for applicable laws in your area.

TPI and Coronavirus: Shared Solutions for Farms

Date: March 23rd, 2020

Subject: Coronavirus Impacts and Resources

Dear fellow sod producers and industry professionals,

The current coronavirus pandemic has impacted our daily lives in ways that just weeks or even days ago may have seemed incomprehensible. I am sure that the health and well-being of your families, employees, and farms are at the top of your mind. As we navigate our way through this uncharted territory the TPI Board of Trustees and Staff are diligently working to provide as much support and resources as we can to turfgrass seed and sod producers worldwide.

Facebook Group for “TPI and Coronavirus: Shared Solutions”

Log onto Facebook to see solutions like those included below and to share your own successes. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2260051950968694/about/

  • Provide customers more options for remote sales and pickups that reduce physical interaction
  • Reduce shared items (trucks, phones, computers, etc.) among employees and/or dedicate specific items to each employee where possible
  • Reduce or eliminate shared items such as time clocks or paper logs that multiple employees may have to touch daily
  • Provide EPA approved disinfectant/sanitizer in as many areas as possible
  • Locks sales offices and post signs to let customers know you are still open and taking orders
  • Post English and Spanish COVID-19 posters in the workplace (see Helpful Resources below)
  • Provide reporting procedures for employees to comfortably report health, known or anonymous
  • Check out the Facebook Group page “TPI and Coronavirus: Shared Solutions” for more tips

Helpful Resources

Covid-19: How to Protect Yourself

Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

EPA List of Approved COVID-19 Disinfectants

Printable Posters and Brochures for the Workplace, English and Spanish

American Farm Bureau: Impacts of COVID-19 on Agriculture

USDA Coronavirus Resources

US Department of Labor Coronavirus Resources

Call to Action

TPI is working hard to make sure that our voice is heard by elected officials and policymakers during these difficult times. Please contact your secretary of agriculture, elected officials, Farm Bureau, and others to let them know that your farms are part of the agricultural community and need to be included in important farm exemptions. Please reach out to TPI’s board of trustees and staff if we can help.

Sincerely,

Hank Kerfoot

TPI 2020 President

Write your US Senator to Fix Ag Commodity Trucking Laws

Congressional representatives recently penned a letter to Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), both of whom serve on the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. This letter was signed by 33 U.S. Congressmen and women who called on them to end the ambiguity in U.S. trucking regulations resulting from the recent mandate on Electronic Logging Devices. This letter specifically lists turfgrass and asks for its continued recognition as an agricultural commodity by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Now, a similar letter is being written to Representative Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) in the U.S. Senate. This letter is currently supported by Rep. David Perdue (R-GA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and now is your chance to provide your support. Please use the link below to notify your Senators to support this common sense legislation and end the current ambiguity around agricultural commodities with regard to federal trucking laws.

Thanks to AmericanHort for providing this online link. Click below to provide your comments.

Turfgrass Industry Updates at Green Industry Shows

TPI Conference 2020

TPI’s Executive Director Dr. Casey Reynolds shares turfgrass updates at industry events

At TPI, our mission is to be the voice of the turfgrass industry. Casey Reynolds, executive director of TPI, spoke at two events in Greensboro, North Carolina on January 29 – the 2020 NC Sod Producers Association Winter Conference and Green & Growin’ Education event.

The events gathered sod producers, landscapers and retailers from around the state to discuss industry best practices, opportunities and challenges, including pest management and disaster preparedness.

In TPI’s sessions, Casey shared important government regulation changes that impact attendees’ businesses – such as rules on hours of service and electronic logging devices (ELD) in the agriculture industry.

“TPI is proud to represent the voice of sod producers everywhere in regulation meetings so their ideas and concerns are heard by decision makers,” says Casey. “We then make sure to share updates and resources with our members, so sod producers have the information they need to thrive.”

Casey also discussed TPI’s action in shaping and responding to regulatory changes. For example, TPI met with officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in November 2018 to discuss exemptions for agricultural commodities in certain policies. The proposed FRESH Trucking Act of 2020 and the Agricultural Commodity Trucking Relief Act of 2019 would protect horticultural and floricultural commodities, including sod that is sensitive to temperature and climate and at risk of perishing in transit. TPI also engages with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Pesticide Programs as well as the USDA agricultural census to advocate for the goals of sod producers.

In addition to legislative priorities, TPI shared environmental and population trends that affect the future of natural grass lawns and landscapes. Casey discussed U.S. population movements and weather pattern changes in precipitation and temperature. These trends suggest an expected increased demand for water – and turfgrass – in urban environments.

Throughout the year, TPI proactively pursues these opportunity through partnerships (like with GreenScapes Alliance) and presence at local, state and federal regulatory affairs meetings. Internally, TPI conducts market research to understand how people feel and think about natural grass, and then launches public relations campaigns to increase education and awareness by dispelling myths and delivering accurate, comprehensive and compelling information to key stakeholders.

To learn more about TPI’s legislative and advocacy work, check out our Industry Harvest articles tagged “Government Affairs.”

New Trucking Bill introduced into the U.S. Congress

A new bill to tackle U.S. trucking regulations was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on January 10th, 2020. The bill, titled the “Freedom from Regulating Edible Supplies and Horticulture (FRESH) trucking act is sponsored by Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL). This bill is similar to H.R. 1673 and S. 2025, which have already been introduced in the House and Senate. One notable difference in this bill for sod producers though is that it explicitly includes the term “sod” in the its language in regard to perishable agricultural commodities. The full language of the proposed bill can be found below as well as a link too Rep. Steube’s web page. TPI will continue to work on this issue impacting sod haulers to make sure that our members are included in future hours of service regulations and amendments, so be sure to watch our website and Industry Harvest e-newsletters for more information. As always, please reach out to us if you have questions or are able to help with any of these bills in your area.

 

Modification of Hours of Service Regulations

Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall amend part 395 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to establish that, with respect to a motor carrier or driver transporting any agricultural, horticultural, or floricultural commodity (including both fresh and processed products, as well as sod and other agricultural products sensitive to temperature and climate and at the risk of perishing in transit)—

U.S. Congress Funds $3M in Turfgrass Research

With the December 20, 2019 signing of the FY20 Federal Appropriations bill by President Trump, turfgrass research conducted by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) received a significant increase.  The $3,000,000 in new funding boosted federal turfgrass research from $1,000,000 annually.

The new funding is allocated for research in turfgrass genomics, water efficient grasses and systems, and ecosystem services.  Genomics is the study, understanding and mapping of the genomes of major turfgrass species, of which very little research on these grasses has been conducted.  Understanding and mapping of genomes can lead to improved genetics, and subsequently better disease, heat, cold and drought tolerant grasses.

Research on water efficiency is critical to understanding the physiology of plants and how they respond to drought, reduced irrigation and low-quality irrigation water.  Ecosystem services refers to the contributions of turfgrass systems to the environment, society and the economy.  In other words, how does turfgrass provide benefits to the soil, water, air, human health and safety, and the economy, as well as how can those benefits be maximized.

The National Turfgrass Federation, Inc. (NTF) led the effort to obtain the funding, with significant assistance from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) and other allied associations.  The 2019 National Golf Day, organized by We Are Golf (www.wearegolf.org), significantly aided the effort as the funding request was a top priority for the 150+ participants on that day.  The new funding is an excellent first step in addressing priorities of the National Turfgrass Research Initiative (NTRI), as outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill.

The National Turfgrass Federation, Inc. (NTF) is a 501(c)6 non-profit with the mission of promoting the need for turfgrass research and its associated value to society through implementation of the National Turfgrass Research Initiative (NTRI) and its priorities.  NTRI is an industry-sponsored initiative to gain federal funding for turfgrass research, helping to solve the larger issues in the turfgrass industry.

For more information contact: Kevin Morris, National Turfgrass Federation kmorris@turfresearch.org.

CHASE FIELD GETS NATURAL GRASS FOR CHEEZ-IT BOWL

college football

CHASE FIELD GETS NATURAL GRASS OVERLAY FOR CHEEZ-IT BOWL

90,000 sq. ft. of West Coast Turf Bandera Bermuda Sod Put on Top of New Artificial Turf for December 27th Football Game

Phoenix, AZ……The Cheez-It Bowl is ready for the Air Force Falcons vs the Washington State Cougars on December 27th, on a new natural turfgrass field.

Just last week, West Coast Turf installed 90,000 square feet of their 1” thick overseeded Bandera Bermuda sod directly on top of Chase Field’s new artificial turf baseball field. Installation took 2 days, and a layer of polyethylene plastic sheeting was put in between the artificial surface and the natural sod. The sod is thick-cut and weighs approximately 15 lbs. per sq. ft. so that rooting will not be a factor with such a short time frame. The weight will give the sod its stability.

Chase Field’s artificial surface is one that involves concrete curbing so that using artificial turf to cover the baseball skins was not an option for a football field conversion. Sod was the obvious solution. This is not the first time West Coast Turf has been called in to place natural grass over artificial turf.  They have done the same process several times at Quest/CenturyLink Field in Seattle.  West Coast Turf has also regularly put natural grass “overlay” fields on top of other natural fields when time constraints do not allow for removal between important games.

Following the Cheez-It Bowl, the natural grass will be removed and partially donated to Cartwright Elementary School in Phoenix.

A link to photos of the installation can be found here.

West Coast Turf had been the natural grass supplier to Bank One Ballpark, Chase Field, and the Arizona Diamondbacks since the inception of the team in 1998. They have also supplied the NFL with eight Super Bowl fields from California to Florida, including Super Bowls XXVII, XXIX, XXX, XXXII, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX, and 50.

West Coast Turf is a full-service sod, stolonization and hydroseeding company with 5 offices throughout California and Arizona, and headquarters in Palm Desert, CA.  West Coast Turf grows more than 30 varieties of natural grass. For more information please visit www.westcoastturf.com or www.facebook.com/westcoastturf.