Get Yer DUNS

DandBby Jason McDonald

Instead of Get ‘er Done, we encourage you to Get yer DUNS…

In our blogs to date, we have covered many topics, but one was how to apply for a USDA grant and we have touched on other government (federal and state) programs. If you decide to go at it alone and not involve a university or other organization (which I think is a BAD idea at this point in individual progress of the US Grown Tea Movement), you will need to get a DUNS number assigned to the business or organization that you will be using to apply for the grant.

The DUNS number will also be required if you are planning on applying for a US Small Business Administration loan or grant. It is also used by creditors when determining deposits, interest rates, insurance premiums, and many other things thing required in the course of business. It is similar to a FICO score (personal credit score) for a business. Even if you are NOT applying for government assistance, some banks and insurance companies will require you to have a DUNS number. Even if it is not REQUIRED, it is a wise idea because unlike a FICO score, you can “manage” your DUNS interface by keeping it up to date, possibly saving you a lot of money on insurance premiums, percentage rates, utility deposits, and numerous other ways.

A DUNS number is NOT the same as a federal/state tax identification number.  A DUNS number differs from a tax identification number because, if there is more than one physical location or address for your business/organization, then you will need to apply for a DUNS number for EVERY location. If you operate multiple businesses/organizations out of one address, you will need to apply for a DUNS number for EVERY business/organization at the address. It is not a “catch all” number for a physical location or a business/organization at large, it is an individualized number for every location and every business and never changes and never is reused. It will remain with that business even if it is ever closed (and we hope that never happens).

DUNS stands for Data Universal Numeric System and is copyrighted by Dunn & Bradstreet (NYSE: DNB). According to the Dun & Bradstreet website, “The D-U-N-S® Number is the linchpin of D&B’s DUNSRight™ patented-quality process. Once assigned, a D-U-N-S® Number is neither reused nor assigned to another business. Used by the world’s most influential standards-setting organizations, the D-U-N-S® Number is recognized, recommended, and/or required by more than 200 global, industry, and trade associations, including the U.N., European Commission, and the U.S. Federal Government.”

A DUNS number is REQUIRED for any transactions with contractors and grantees with the federal government in the US. According to the federal government website at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform, “The DUNS number is widely used by both commercial and federal entities and was adopted as the standard business identifier for federal electronic commerce in October 1994. The DUNS Number was also incorporated into the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) in April 1998 as the Federal Government’s contractor identification code for all procurement-related activities.”

You can apply for your DUNS number at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform. It is a simple process to follow and the website walks you step by step through the process.

There is also a very good blog on the process found here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/why-your-business-needs-get-duns-number.

If you need additional assistance, your county agent should be familiar with this process and can help you or you can visit your local USDA office.

Gardeners Networking: Just Do It!

100+ years worth of farming experience in the cab of that tractor!

100+ years worth of farming experience in the cab of that tractor!

By Jason McDonald, Owner of FiLoLi Tea Farm

Universities are a GREAT way to begin your research, but don’t forget there are people around you that are just as interested (and sometimes more interested) as universities about the research of botany, horticulture, and Camellia Sinensis. I have met some backyard gardeners that are as equipped, or better equipped than any university could ever be for their backyard hobby. They can also tell you how to “research” Camellia Sinensis on a budget, which most of us are on.

Mississippi State has a Master Gardener Program, as do most states.  There is also a link on eXtension.org to their Master Gardener Program in the “about” section that links you to all local Master Gardener programs.

MSUCares.com states, “The Master Gardener Volunteer program is a great way to gain horticultural expertise at a low cost, meet other avid gardeners, share gardening experiences, get connected to the community, and belong to a well-respected and educational organization.”

There are also various groups in most states that make for GREAT ways to meet other gardeners and horticulturalists:

My good friend, Buddy Lee, developer of Encore Azaleas, and a lifetime tea enthusiast, actually came into my life at a Mississippi Master Gardener State Conference here in Brookhaven, MS. If I had not taken the steps to be a part of a group of gardeners, I would have never found my very good friend. We were perfect strangers and became friends (as tea usually does join people) at the conference. I was not there to promote or research tea, I was there sharing my story as a gardener and we found each other.

Buddy knows how to grow plants. I, unfortunately, am no expert in plant cuttings nor am I an expert in propagation of any kind. Buddy has taken the time to show me how to ramp up production, how to take cuttings, how to germinate tea seed, and many other valuable lessons in tea growing. I am very blessed to have Nigel Melican as my technical consultant and Buddy Lee as my friend.

If we get so tied up in our bushes that we don’t find time to network among people outside the tea world, we will forget that tea is best when served for two…or more!  Go out and meet some folks as you never know when you will meet someone who will change your life and share your passion for tea.

Utilizing University Research and Resources

Fruit Dryer (Photo Courtesy of Tealet)

Fruit Dryer (Photo Courtesy of Tealet)

by Jason McDonald, Owner of FiLoLi Tea Farm (Mississippi)

Now that everyone has made an appointment with their county agent, keep the appointment because it is the most important way to begin building relationships with your local university. If your regional office is too far away or you just don’t have time to go over to your local county agent’s house for dinner, like I do every Wednesday night, then maybe a resource that you can utilize is http://www.extension.org/. There are webinars and other land resource information that can be found at this site.

In the welcome section of the webpage, they say, “eXtension is an interactive learning environment delivering the best, most researched knowledge from the smartest land-grant university minds across America.”  They also say the benefits of using the page are:

  • Credible expertise
  • Reliable answers based upon sound research
  • Connections to the best minds in American universities
  • Creative solutions to today’s complex challenges
  • Customized answers to your specific needs
  • Trustworthy, field-tested data
  • Dynamic, relevant and timely answers

Land grant universities are making it easier and easier to find information. I am from Mississippi and Mississippi State University has a page www.msucares.com where all the university publications can be pulled up whenever it is convenient for you to do research.

When Elyse Petersen, of Tealet, visited The MSU Truck Crop Experiment Station in Crystal Springs, MS, this past month, she saw pamphlet MSU IS0725 on “Drying Fruits” that she used when developing a Mango Dryer while in the Peace Corps.  Had she ever been to Mississippi? No. But she did use the resources available to her via internet searches and found the information online. All you have to do is type “food drying” into the search area of www.msucares.com and IS0725 will appear.

This is why getting university research underway is important. The information can be at our fingertips, but without research, there is no information to have. We encourage everyone to contact their local universities to begin collecting information for all of us to use.

So to sum it all up, the universities are working very hard to make information available to the masses, we just need to know where to look. I hope this has given you a new tool to add to your personal toolbox of information.  I would also ask that you email me (coaster_25@hotmail.com) with links and information that you have come across that would be beneficial to the group.  We are establishing a database of resources and there’s a lot of power in the knowledge that our fellow tea growers bring to the table!

How Do I Approach Universities?

by Jason McDonald, Owner of FiLoLi Tea Farm (Mississippi)

It is my great pleasure to welcome everyone to the United States League of Tea Growers.

I was asked to write this to explain to growers how someone begins approaching universities about projects and grant funding. While I am no expert, I can explain what I did and give you some resources so that you can begin formulating a plan for your individual circumstances.

If you are not aware of the (CSREES) Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperative_State_Research,_Education,_and_Extension_Service), then you should familiarize yourself with this group and its various programs. CSREES’ mission is to “advance agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities” by supporting research, education, and extension programs at land-grant universities and other organizations it partners with. CSREES doesn’t conduct its own research; it provides funding and leadership to land-grant universities and competitively granted awards to researchers in partner organizations.

The Smith-Lever Act, which was passed in 1914, established the partnership between agricultural colleges and the USDA to support agricultural extension work. The act also stated that the USDA provide each state with funds based on a population-related formula. Today, CSREES distributes these so-called formula grants annually in cooperation with state and county governments and land-grant universities.

Traditionally, each county of all 50 states had a local extension office. This number has declined as some county offices have consolidated into regional extension centers. Today, there are approximately 2,900 extension offices nationwide. The list of universities with cooperative extension programs is listed at the website mentioned above.

Get to know your county agent because they are paid by the university to help you with anything and everything regarding land management, resource management, and agriculture and many other areas. They also will know professors at the university that can lend a helping hand and make onsite visits if necessary to address issues that may arise on the farm. They can also help coordinate grants with interested professors to further tea research similar to what I have done with Mississippi State University. Since everyone is facing different soils and climates, it will be imperative that every member begin research trials to help establish cultivars that are best suited for their situations. Since money is usually limited, this is an avenue that can cover the costs of research by getting assistance from the USDA in cooperation with the university in your state.

My future installments will cover the USDA and possible programs of benefit to the US League of Tea Growers and will also cover your local departments of agriculture and how they may help. I encourage you all to make an appointment to see your county agent as soon as possible and begin exploring what your university can offer.