With agricultural production in full swing all across the country, USDA requests your assistance through outreach and education to remind all users of pesticides of the importance of following the label. This helps to ensure good pest management while protecting wildlife, their habitat and the environment.

Use of any pesticide in any way that is not consistent with label directions and precautions is illegal. It may also be ineffective and dangerous.

Farmers, gardeners and the homeowners community need to know:

* Choose the form of pesticide best suited to your target site and the pest you want to control: First, identify the problem correctly and then choose the least toxic pesticide that will achieve the results you want and be the least toxic to you and the environment.

When the words "broad-spectrum" appear on the label, this means the product is effective against a broad range of pests. If the label says "selective," the product is effective against one or a few pests.

* Read the label before buying the pesticide, read the label before mixing or using the pesticide each time and read the label before storing or disposing of the pesticide.

* Determining the right amount to purchase and use: do not assume that using more pesticide than the label recommends will do a better job. It won't.

* Find the signal word either Danger, Warning or Caution on the pesticide label. The signal word tells you how poisonous the product is to humans.

* Choose the form of pesticide (aerosol, dust, bait or other) best suited to your target site and the pest you want to control. Certain formulations work better for some pests and/or some target areas than others.

Using the product safely and correctly:

* Never apply pesticides outdoors on a windy day (winds higher than 10 mph).

* Wear protective clothing, don't smoke or eat.

* Mix and apply only the amount you need.

* Watch for negative effects on wildlife (birds, butterflies and bees) in and near treated areas. If you see any unusual behavior, stop using that pesticide, and contact EPA's Pesticide Incident Response Officer.

* Store and dispose of pesticides properly.

* Follow all storage instructions on the pesticide label.

* Always store pesticides in their original containers, complete with labels that list ingredients, directions for use and first aid steps in case of accidental poisoning.

State and local laws regarding pesticide disposal may be stricter than the federal requirements on the label. Be sure to check with your state or local solid waste agency before disposing of your pesticide containers.

(Prepared by Sarah Zukoff, assistant professor/Extension entomology)

Food safety tips for holiday and family picnics

The incidence of foodborne illness tends to increase during the summer months because of warm temperatures and more outdoor activities. Picnics, camping, grilling and more are highlights during this active season. Foodborne bacteria can multiply rapidly in summer temperatures. Protect yourself from foodborne illness with these tips.

* When shopping, buy cold food like meat and poultry last, right before checkout. Separate raw meat and poultry from other food in your shopping cart. To guard against cross-contamination which can happen when raw meat or poultry juices drip on other food put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags.

* Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store. You may want to take a cooler with ice for perishables. Always refrigerate perishable food within two hours. Refrigerate within one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees F.

* At home, place meat and poultry in the refrigerator immediately. Freeze poultry and ground meat that won't be used in one or two days; freeze other meat within four to five days.

* Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water. For quicker thawing, you can microwave defrost if the food will be placed immediately on the grill.

* When carrying food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 degrees F or below. Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home.

* Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use. Only take out the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill.

* A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled, so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature. Keep the cooler out of direct sun. Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods. The beverage cooler will be opened frequently while the food cooler stays cold.

* Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters. To prevent foodborne illness, don't use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food.

* If you're eating away from home, find out if there's a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning. Or pack clean cloths and disinfecting wipes for cleaning surfaces and hands.

* Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

* When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.

* Use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature. For temperatures of meat, please refer to the USDA specifications or call the Finney County Extension Office.

* Large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 degrees F for medium rare or to 160 degrees F for medium. Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 degrees F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily.

* When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that held raw food, unless it has been washed with hot water and soap first. And in hot weather (above 90 degrees F), foods should never sit out for more than one hour before going in the refrigerator.

* Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than two hours (one hour if temperatures are above 90 degrees F).

* In summer heat, asking for a "doggie bag" or box to carry home the remainder of a restaurant meal can invite foodborne illness. If immediately going a short distance home, food likely will remain safe enough.

Picnics and barbecues with family and friends are part of summer fun. Make sure they stay fun by remembering that foodborne bacteria can multiply rapidly in summer temperatures.

(Source: Kansas State Research & Extension)

Finney County Fair Book

The Finney County Fair Books are available to the public at the Finney County Extension Office, 501 S. Ninth St., or at For entry deadline and dates of events and activities, please refer to the fair book or online web source.

The fair book lists all the 4-H, FFA and open divisions available, along with a schedule of check-in and judging dates and times. For division guidelines, please refer to the fair book to be better informed. Entry forms for exhibits are available at the Finney County Extension Office.