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April 10, 2014   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Soybeans Top Farmers’ Planting Plans

Colbert County farmer Ron Brumley is following a national trend of planting more soybeans and fewer acres of corn. He said he anticipates planting 200 acres of corn and 300 acres of soybeans, but his plans could change if corn prices falter.
Alabama farmers are predicted to follow a national trend this spring by planting more soybeans and peanuts and fewer acres of corn and cotton.

Colbert County farmer Ron Brumley said his crop rotation calls for planting 200 acres of corn and about 300 acres of soybeans, but those plans could change.

“The corn price has improved, but if it backs down, I don’t know what I’ll do,” he said. “I’d rather plant $12 soybeans than take a chance on (the price of corn) dropping out from under me.”

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Alabama farmers are expected to plant 290,000 acres of corn, down 30,000 acres from 2013. Most of that acreage is expected to shift to soybeans, which are projected to hit 500,000 acres, up 65,000 from 2013.

Alabama farmers planted about 230,000 acres of wheat last fall, down 70,000 acres. In Monroe County, Scott Saucer destroyed his wheat crop after bitterly cold weather reduced its production potential.

“We didn’t get it planted until the second week of December, and we had such a harsh winter it wasn’t worth fertilizing,” said Saucer, who will instead focus on growing 600 acres of cotton and 400 acres of peanuts.

Across the state, farmers are counting on about 165,000 acres of peanuts, up 25,000 acres from last year. However, low prices continue to put downward pressure on cotton. Planned cotton acreage is down 25,000 acres to a projected total of 340,000 acres.

Nationally, farmers plan to plant 91.7 million acres of corn, down 4 percent, and 81.5 million acres of soybeans, up 6 percent over last year.

NASS released its national Projected Planting Report March 31, which is available online at nass.usda.gov.


Legislative Session Concluded April 3

The Alabama Legislature adjourned its 2014 session Thursday, April 3, without a final Senate vote on a bill that could have saved farmers hundreds of dollars annually.

HB 44, sponsored by Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy, would have removed the limit of one F4 farm tag per person. The tags are available for heavy vehicles farmers use to transport equipment and harvest, often for only a few months each year.

“We appreciate the House of Representatives and members of the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Utilities Committee for approving HB 44 in February, but it’s disappointing the Senate waited 17 legislative days to add the bill to its agenda,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell.

Bills amending the state Constitution to make cotton checkoff participation automatic for all growers did pass the Legislature. The people will vote on the measure in the July 15 primary runoff elections.

Funding for agriculture-related items in the General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets was either increased or level compared to 2013. The Career Tech Initiative received $1 million more than last year, and the Rural Medical Scholars Program at the University of Alabama received $100,000 more. Funds for the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) and Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) were unchanged.

For more information on the 2014 state legislative session, visit alfafarmers.org/capitolconnection.


Hunter Trees Named Farm Of Distinction

Hunter Trees LLC in Talladega County was named the 2014 Alabama Farm of Distinction at the Farm-City Luncheon in Birmingham April 3. Seated from left are Leslee and Will Hunter and Phillip and Robin Hunter. Standing from left are program sponsors Lynne Morton of TriGreen, Chris Cline and Kevin Robinson of Snead Ag, Jimmy Parnell of the Alabama Farmers Federation, Jim Allen of Alabama Farmers Cooperative and Lester Killebrew of SunSouth.



Public Safety Enforcing New CDL Requirements

New requirements for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders began Jan. 31. However, some drivers were unable to update information due to a logjam of applications at Alabama’s Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Requirements include documentation about type of transportation performed and, in some cases, medical certificates.

On March 31, DPS sent pending cancellation notifications to drivers who failed to provide information by the deadline. DPS is not sending receipt notifcations, but drivers may check self-certification status online at dps.alabama.gov.

To ensure receipt of medical information, drivers must send an email with their  license number to cdlmedicalmerger@dps.alabama.gov.


Cotton Boll Makin’ At Women’s Conference

More than 230 people attended the Alabama Farmers Federation Women’s Leadership Conference April 2-4 in Birmingham. From left, Etowah County Farmers Federation Women’s Committee members Sue Walters, Linda Burnett and Chairman Gail Oden create cotton boll life cycle mobiles. Each participant received a cotton curriculum unit with activities, lesson plans and “The Story of Calvin Cotton,” written by Paula Carvalho and Christine Johnson.



Writer, Government Interns Join Federation

A.J. Watson, left, joined the Alabama Farmers Federation staff April 7 as an agricultural communications specialist. Reed Phillips, center, and Blake Poole, right, will work with the Federation's Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department this summer as interns. They started March 31.
Wetumpka resident and 2013 Troy University graduate A.J. Watson joined the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Department of Public Relations and Communications April 7 as an agricultural communications specialist.

“I know Alfa has a sterling reputation as a company,” he said. “I can’t wait to get started helping the farmers we represent.”

Watson previously worked with Tallapoosa Publishers Inc. and has experience in writing, photography and advertising.

“These skills, coupled with his knowledge of the organization from family connections, will allow him to hit the ground running,“ said Federation Public Relations and Communications Director Jeff Helms.

Reed Phillips, a 2013 University of Alabama graduate, and Blake Poole, a University of Auburn student, joined the Federation’s Department of Governmental and Agricultural Programs (GAP) March 31 as interns.

“In this election year, Reed and Blake will see a real grassroots organization in action,” said Brian Hardin, Federation GAP Department director.

Phillips majored in political science and previously worked in the U.S. Senate.

“I want to work on issues that make a difference,” said the Alexander City native. “At the state level, public policy work has greater potential of impacting people, and this is a chance to see that work in action.”

Poole will graduate this spring with a concentration in agriculture, leadership and political science. He owns and operates a small beef cattle herd in his hometown of Buchanan, Ga. 

“I love politics, and I love farming,” Poole said. “Working with Mr. Hardin and his team will help me understand how government policies affect farming.”


New General Motors Discount Available

A new “Bonus Cash” offer from General Motors provides Alabama Farmers Federation members with a stackable $500 discount on the purchase or lease of a new GM car or truck.

While the amount is the same as the previous discount, the ability to stack with one other private offer, such as Owner Loyalty, is new.

The “Bonus Cash” offer is available for the purchase or lease of all 2013, 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet, Buick and GMC models.

Go to fbverify.com/gm to print a certificate for the discount. Membership number and zip code are required.

General Motors is the official vehicle sponsor of the American Farm Bureau Federation.


Commodity Corner

The Alabama Farmers Federation Equine Division Director Nate Jaeger recently delivered a $5,000 donation from Alfa Insurance to Storybook Farm in Opelika to continue the farm’s mission of serving children who are facing life challenges. From left are Jaeger and Alfa agent James Layson with Storybook Farm’s founder Dena Little and Program Coordinator Lynn Slocum.

Cotton
A bill making the cotton checkoff automatic, SB 255, will be on the July 15 ballot as a constitutional amendment. The Alabama Farmers Federation will work to educate people to vote “yes” on the amendment, and keep cotton growing strong.
-Carla Hornady, division director

Catfish, Forestry
The U.S. Commerce Department will enforce “fair value” pricing to protect Alabama’s catfish industry from unfairly priced Vietnamese imports. The decision, following a letter spearheaded by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, will use Indonesia as a surrogate country for Vietnam to ensure imports are priced fairly.

Jane Russell of Lapine and Jerry Dwyer of Auburn were recently appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley to serve on the Alabama Forestry Commission.
-Rick Oates, divisions director

Peanuts
The Alabama Peanut Producers Association (APPA) is working with state school districts to provide factual information concerning nut allergies. APPA is an important resource for educational materials and clarification on the issue, with experts who can answer questions.
-Jim Cravey, interim division director

Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod; Bee & Honey; Horticulture
The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries sponsored a SNAP Sign-Up Day last month to increase the number of farmers capable of processing debit, credit and SNAP payments. Visit marketlink.org for more information.
-Mac Higginbotham, divisions director

Beef
Beef farmers can learn about calf management at the Auburn University Cow Calf Conference June 13-14. Topics covered will include whether to wean early to help mama cows rebound from winter and whether it’s worth it to wean and background calves. Register online at ag.auburn.edu/ansc.
-Nate Jaeger, division director

Pork
Experts predict the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) outbreak will cause losses of 6-7 million pigs in the U.S in 2014. PEDV has been confirmed in 26 states but is not in Alabama. It has no impact on food safety because it only infects pigs. The National Pork Board is committing $1.7 million in checkoff funds for PEDV research.
-Guy Hall, division director


Ag Day In Choctaw County

The Southern Choctaw High School FFA promoted farming March 7 at Ag Day for fifth- and sixth-grade students, who learned about poultry, forestry, wildlife, soil conservation and water quality. The Choctaw County Farmers Federation provided lunch and volunteered alongside the county’s Women’s Leadership Committee.



Alfa Insurance Lowers Rates For Farmowners

Farmowners insured by Alfa will enjoy a rate discount on automobile and farm insurance for the first time since 1992.

The 1.4 percent rate decrease will take effect April 15 for new business and July 1 for renewals.

“The changes we’re making this month are part of our ongoing efforts to refocus Alfa on its core values while growing business and membership,” said Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance President Jimmy Parnell. “Alfa remains committed to serving the families who produce our food, fiber and forest products.”

In a continued effort to focus on protecting farmowners, Alfa Insurance recently announced personnel changes in the Ag Specialist Program.

Shane Wootten was promoted to the role of supervising ag specialist. Bryan Hornbuckle and Brett Golsan were named senior ag specialists and will be responsible for training and developing educational information and projects.


Endorsed Candidates Visit Federation

Candidates endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation for the June primaries were invited to speak with Federation Political Consultant Beth Chapman about ideas for their campaigns, including mail pieces, photos and phone calls. Above, Federation President Jimmy Parnell, left, and Chapman, right, talk with Nathaniel Ledbetter of Rainsville about his campaign for Alabama House of Representatives District 24.



Obituaries

Samuel Jackson “Buddy” Darwin III, a member and former president of the Madison County Farmers Federation, died March 11. He was 76.

Darwin previously served on the Alabama Farmers Federation’s State Board and the State Wheat & Feed Grains Committee.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Frances Lamb Darwin; a son, Barton Darwin; a daughter, Sammie Walls; five grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Memorials may be made to Hospice Family Care.

Ben Frank Bowden Jr., a member and former president of the Russell County Farmers Federation, died March 19. He was 80.

Bowden previously served on the Alabama Farmers Federation’s State Board and the State Cotton Committee.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Mary Ann Collins Bowden; daughters Franke Speak and Kathryn Gale; sons Ben Bowden III and Nick Bowden; seven grandchildren; two great-granchildren; and a sister, Ann Bowden Corcoran.

Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church of Eufaula or Oasis Counseling for Women and Children in Birmingham.



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