Thursday, July 29, 2010

Plant Pumpkins in July for Halloween

Start plowing; it’s time to plant pumpkins. Planting now will ensure a crop by early October just in time to sell directly to retail stores and agritourism operators for their fall happenings.

Farmers in Louisiana should allow 70-99 days from planting to harvest. For more information, contact your local LSU AgCenter online or call a local office to speak to a county agent. The LSU AgCenter has a publication entitled, “Squash and Pumpkins in the Home Garden.”

USDA Certification Contact for Louisiana

I have just recently learned that agritourism operators who use animals as part of their agritourism venture are subject to the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act regulations.

If your agritourism venture charges people to see animals, pet them or feed them you need a license as an exhibitor. If you do not have a license from USDA and are engaging in this practice, you could be subject to a $10,000 fine.

To safeguard your operation, you should immediately call Dr. Lynn Bourgeios, veterinary medical officer with USDA animal care. Dr. Bourgeois can be reached by calling his office at (985) 537-0691 or by calling his cell at (240) 461-9182. He travels the state, so please leave a message.  In the event that none of these numbers work call Mike Long at (970) 494-7471 to learn how to become certified. If no answer, call the main number (970) 494-7478 and ask to speak with someone concerning USDA certification under the Animal Welfare Act.

The process requires completion of an application and an inspection. During the inspection, officials will check on husbandry issues, veterinary care program, where animals live and review how animal food is stored.

Please call USDA immediately if you are not licensed so you can begin pre-certification so that you can continue your operation without concerns over fines.

If you need further assistance, please contact me at (318) 927-9654 Ext. 229 or