Agri­cul­tural & Out­doors Briefs Ge­or­gia urges cau­tion for res­i­dents ahead of wild­fire sea­son

State forestry of­fi­cials cut­ting back on burn­ing

The Covington News - - Agriculture & Outdoors -

Ge­or­gia urges cau­tion for res­i­dents ahead of wild­fire sea­son

With spring and a greener land­scape around the cor­ner, state forestry of­fi­cials are cut­ting back on burn­ing to re­duce the leaves and brush that can fuel wild­fires.

In South Ge­or­gia, pre­scribed burns on tree plan­ta­tions be­gan around Christ­mas, and more than 3,000 acres were burned around the Oke­feno­kee Swamp last month, said state Forestry Com­mis­sion dis­trict ranger Frank Sor­rells.

Ge­or­gia’s wild­fire sea­son typ­i­cally runs from Fe­bru­ary to May. Though the south­east­ern part of the state has got­ten more rain, the pro­longed drought has made the area vul­ner­a­ble for wild­fires, Sor­rells said.

Be­low-nor­mal rain­fall is ex­pected over the next two months.

Sor­rells said the main cause of wild­fires is peo­ple burn­ing de­bris in their yards. The com­mis­sion is work­ing to ed­u­cate peo­ple about the dan­gers of wild­fires, and urg­ing res­i­dents to watch the weather — es­pe­cially the wind — and to never leave a fire unat­tended.

Peo­ple must also get burn per­mits and call the Ge­or­gia Forestry Com­mis­sion be­fore burn­ing de­bris. Sor­rells said that burn per­mits will be is­sued on a day-to-day ba­sis, de­pend­ing on the weather.

Wild­fires burned for two months last year in south Ge­or­gia, char­ring more than 600,000 acres of swamp and tim­ber­land — and putting hun­dreds of res­i­dents in a state of flux as they fled their homes to live with rel­a­tives or in emer­gency shel­ters.

That ex­pe­ri­ence will likely leave peo­ple less com­pla­cent about wild­fires this sea­son, said Jonathan Daniell, di­rec­tor of Ware County’s Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency.

“I think peo­ple look at it more se­ri­ously now when we say evac­u­ate be­cause of the fires last year,” he told the Florida Times-Union.

Real Parme­san

LUX­EM­BOURG — The Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice ruled Tues­day that only the tasty, crumbly cheese that has been made for some 800 years near the Ital­ian city of Parma can legally be called Parme­san.

In a case dat­ing back to 2003, the court crit­i­cized Ger­many for al­low­ing sales of im­i­ta­tion Parme­san in vi­o­la­tion of Euro­pean Union food ori­gin rules that re­serve the name Parme­san for Ital­ian cheese only.

The case was brought by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. There was no pun­ish­ment for Ger­many, but Ger­man pro­duc­ers will now have to change the name of their cheese.

Over the years, the EU has be­come more ac­tive in legally pro­tect­ing dozens of brand names of foods and drink pe­cu­liar to Euro­pean re­gions — from Cham­pagne to feta cheese.

In 2005, in a set­back for Dan­ish pro­duc­ers, the EU high court said feta can only come from Greece, and im­i­ta­tions can­not use that name.

Ger­many ar­gued in court that Parme­san was a generic term for a type of hard, crumbly cheese that is of­ten grated over food and can­not claim an Ital­ian unique­ness.

The court dis­agreed, say­ing Parme­san was “clearly a trans­la­tion of ‘Parmi­giano Reg­giano.’”

It added Ger­many had pro­vided some “quo­ta­tions from dic­tio­nar­ies and spe­cial­ist lit­er­a­ture” about Parme­san but th­ese shed no light on how “the word Parme­san is per­ceived by con­sumers.”

In Parma, the pro­duc­ers’ al­liance Parmi­giano-Reg­giano Cheese Con­sor­tium cel­e­brated the rul­ing as a “vic­tory for all the pro­duc­ers and con­sumers for whom we cre­ated strong qual­ity.”

The Ger­man Dairy In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion said the rul­ing af­fected a small num­ber of Ger­man com­pa­nies and com­plained that Ital­ian pro­duc­ers have for decades ex­ported “cheese of vary­ing ori­gin ... un­der the name of Parme­san.”

In its judg­ment, the EU court said it was up to Italy to mon­i­tor the il­le­gal use of the Parme­san name in Ger­many and alert the Ger­man au­thor­i­ties of any vi­o­la­tions. Ger­man of­fi­cials said that has al­ready hap­pened.

The EU court’s judg­ment is im­por­tant be­cause na­tional food is not just an emo­tional is­sue — it’s big busi­ness.

The Ger­man dairy in­dus­try es­ti­mates Ger­man farm­ers pro­duce some 10,000 tons of “Parme­san” a year.

The Ital­ian agri­cul­tural lobby Coldiretti be­lieves that one out of ev­ery four Ital­ian prod­ucts sold abroad is an im­i­ta­tion — rep­re­sent­ing $24.7 bil­lion in sales.

Parmi­giano Reg­giano and the very sim­i­lar Grana Padano are the two most im­i­tated Ital­ian prod­ucts in the world. It is sold as Parme­sao in Brazil, Re­gian­ito in Ar­gentina, Parme­son in China and Parme­san in North Amer­ica.

EPA’s de­ci­sion re­gard­ing pes­ti­cide chal­lenged

SEAT­TLE — Juan An­gulo ar­rived for work at an east­ern Wash­ing­ton ap­ple or­chard one day in 1995 and be­gan vom­it­ing. He de­vel­oped a ter­ri­ble headache, and his eyes and nose started to run.

The same thing hap­pened to the rest of his work crew, all from ex­po­sure to the pes­ti­cide az­in­phos­methyl, An­gulo be­lieved.

“To this day, I still ex­pe­ri­ence se­vere headaches, which I at­tribute to this poi­son­ing in­ci­dent,” he said in a court dec­la­ra­tion last fall.

Cit­ing his case and oth­ers, lawyers for the United Farm Work­ers of Amer­ica ar­gued in fed­eral court Fri­day that the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s de­ci­sion to al­low the use of the pes­ti­cide un­til 2012 was un­con­scionable. The EPA did not con­sider harm to farm­work­ers and their fam­i­lies, or to rivers, lakes and salmon, they said, and the agency should be forced to re­con­sider.

“There are work­ers get­ting sick,” Patti Gold­man of the en­vi­ron­men­tal law firm Earthjus­tice told U.S. Dis­trict Judge Ri­cardo S. Martinez. “This isn’t just hy­po­thet­i­cal. There are work­ers be­ing taken out of the field.”

The pes­ti­cide, com­monly called AZM, was de­rived from World War II-era nerve gas agents and has been used since the late 1950s.

In 2001, the EPA barred grow­ers from us­ing AZM on two dozen crops, in­clud­ing cot­ton, cab- bage and grapes. But the agency con­tin­ued to al­low treat­ments on ap­ples, pears, cher­ries, blue­ber­ries, pars­ley and other plants while it waited for cost-ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tives to emerge.

In 2006, the EPA de­cided to phase out all uses of the pes­ti­cide by 2012 — two years later than it had ini­tially pro­posed.

Cyn­thia Mor­ris, a Jus­tice De­part­ment lawyer who ar­gued on the agency’s be­half, told the judge that the short-term ben­e­fits of al­low­ing grow­ers to keep us­ing AZM for the next sev­eral years out­weigh the po­ten­tial harm. It could cost ap­ple grow­ers na­tion­wide tens of mil­lions of dol­lars to switch to al­ter­na­tive pes­ti­cides more quickly, she said, and in some cases other coun­tries do not al­low the im­port of ap­ples with residue from those al­ter­na­tive pes­ti­cides.

Fur­ther­more, Mor­ris added, the later phase-out date led grow­ers to vol­un­tar­ily take mea­sures to ease the im­pact of the pes­ti­cide un­til it is phased out, such as im­pos­ing buf­fer zones and train­ing work­ers to avoid ex­po­sure.

She ar­gued that the agency’s de­ci­sion was rea­son­able, and failed to meet the “ar­bi­trary and capri­cious” stan­dard for the judge to undo it.

Martinez said he would rule as soon as pos­si­ble.

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