Cold Weather Creates Propane Problem
Record-breaking cold temperatures in 2014 continue to stretch the nation’s limited propane supply, creating concerns for Alabama homeowners and farmers.
|Poultry and propane industry representatives discussed the propane crisis at Jeremy and Lindsey Brown’s Montgomery County farm in January. From left are Alabama Farmers Federation National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker, Jeremy and Lindsey Brown, Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan, Alabama Propane Gas Association Executive Director Lisa Fountain and Alabama Poultry and Egg Association Membership Director Ray Hilburn.|
Poultry farmers are running low on propane needed to keep chickens warm and are paying higher prices for the gas when they can find it.
“I’ve grown chickens all my life,” said DeKalb County poultry farmer Ronnie Dalton. “It’s always had ups and downs, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Dalton had 60,000 chicks on Jan. 29, and his propane tanks were empty for hours before being partially refilled. Dalton said the gas he got cost about $1 more per gallon than his previous order.
Calhoun County poultry farmers Ray and Delle Bean also ran out of propane for a few hours with chickens in their houses.
“The greatest concern is just not knowing if we can get another load when what we have runs out,” Delle said.
The propane situation is also affecting Alabama pork, dairy and greenhouse farmers who use the gas to keep animals and plants warm.
Alabama Farmers Federation staff members have worked to coordinate relief efforts with representatives of the governor’s office, the Alabama Propane Gas Association (APGA), state Emergency Management Agency, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI), and the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association.
Farmers or homeowners with an emergency propane need should call the APGA at (334) 358-9590. A list of APGA members is available online.
To report potential price gouging, contact the Alabama Office of Consumer Protection at (800) 392-5658.
Farmers with questions about emergency procedures can contact the ADAI at (334) 240-7278.
New Farm Bill Signed Into Law
Alabama farmers finally have the much-needed certainty to make planting and financial decisions with the new farm bill signed into law by President Barack Obama Feb. 7.
“The new farm bill cuts spending while revamping farm programs,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “Since 2012, farmers operated under temporary farm policy with no assurance of programs available in the future for conservation, crop insurance or weather and market disasters.”
Nutrition programs like food stamps account for 79.1 percent of farm bill spending, while crop insurance is 9.4 percent; conservation is 6 percent; and traditional farm programs make up just 4.6 percent.
The five-year farm bill cuts spending by $23 billion over 10 years, including $8.6 billion from food stamps. It eliminates direct payments to row crop farmers and places greater emphasis on crop insurance.
The bill contains a number of Federation priorities, including an amendment from U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to make more farmers eligible for irrigation assistance under the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program. The bill also requires USDA inspections on foreign and domestic catfish.
The bill provides two options to protect farmers from volatile commodity prices through a revenue-based program or a price-based option.
Visit AlfaFarmersDC.com to read more about the 2014 farm bill.
FarmPAC Announces More Endorsements
FarmPAC, the political action committee of the Alabama Farmers Federation, announced additional endorsements for the 2014 statewide elections after the group’s Jan. 27 meeting in Montgomery.
FarmPAC endorsed John Merrill for secretary of state and Adam Thompson for state auditor. The group also made endorsements in two Public Service Commission races: Jeremy Oden for Place 1 and Chip Beeker for Place 2.
“The Alabama Farmers Federation encourages our members to be politically engaged and support candidates who understand the importance of agriculture to our state,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “We hope our endorsements will help guide members when they vote in June and November.”
Congressional candidate and current State Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, also received the FarmPAC endorsement in his race for Alabama’s 6th Congressional District.
The group previously announced endorsements for other state and congressional races. That list is available online.
The 2014 primary election is June 3 with primary runoffs July 15. The general election is Nov. 4.
Peanut Producer Meetings
Feb. 24, 10 a.m. at Wrangler Steakhouse in Atmore
Feb. 24, 6:30 p.m. at Wiregrass Area Research and Extension Center in Headland
Feb. 25, 11:30 a.m. at Southern Sportsman Hunting Lodge in Tyler
Feb. 25, 5 p.m. at E.V. Smith Conference Center in Shorter
Forever Wild Land Trust Public Sessions for Long-Term Planning
Feb. 20, 6 p.m. at Five River Delta Resource Center in Spanish Fort
Feb. 27, 6 p.m. at Shelby Campus of Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham
Madison County Farmers Federation Honored
|The Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District (MCSWCD) recently recognized the Madison County Farmers Federation with its award for Outstanding Conservation Business. Above, Madison County Farmers Federation President Rex Vaughn, left, accepts a plaque from MCSWCD Chairman Charles Butler during the county Federation’s February meeting. |
The Alabama Peanut Producers Association will host two farm bill meetings: Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center in Headland and Feb. 20 at 1 p.m. at the Baldwin County Farmers Federation office in Robertsdale. Call (334) 792-6482 for details.
-Jim Cravey, interim division director
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is accepting applications for longleaf pine restoration efforts. Call (334) 353-0503 for details.
According to an Auburn University report, U.S. farm-raised catfish processing increased 11 percent in 2013. On average, producers were paid $1.10 per pound for premium-sized fish, a 27-cent increase over 2012. Catfish feed deliveries were down 13 percent at 391,000 tons.
-Rick Oates, divisions director
Energy needs for a horse at maintenance increase 1 percent for every degree below 18 degrees, so extra feed is necessary in cold weather. Blanket horses outdoors when temperatures are below 50 degrees or wind chill is below 15 degrees. Extended feeding may be necessary even after temperatures return to normal.
-Nate Jaeger, division director
In January, the State Soybean Committee voted to provide $270,450 for 33 research projects at Auburn University. The group will also donate to the Farm-City Luncheon, the Wild Pig Conference and spring judging events at Auburn.
-Carla Hornady, division director
Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod; Bee & Honey; Horticulture
The 2014 farm bill increased programs for fruit, nut, vegetable, nursery, floriculture and Christmas tree production to $1.1 billion over five years to include funding for boxwood blight and impatiens downy mildew research. The bill provides $20 million per year in emergency relief for livestock, honeybee and fish farmers and has a tree assistance program for natural disasters.
-Mac Higginbotham, divisions director
Poultry, Dairy, Pork
At the Commodity Organization Conference, producers heard from Lance Brown, the executive director of the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy (PACE). He talked about the importance of using the nation’s energy resources and maintaining a healthy balance between alternative energy and traditional energy sources like coal, natural gas and nuclear.
-Guy Hall, divisions director
Conference Honors Commodity Leaders
More than 750 Alabama farmers attended the Alabama Farmers Federation’s annual Commodity Producers Conference, Feb. 4-6, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Montgomery.
Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs Director Brian Hardin said the conference allows county commodity leaders to set priorities and learn about issues that could affect their farms.
“This conference is one of the Federation’s most important meetings of the year because it brings together leaders in every commodity,” Hardin said. “They share ideas, voice concerns and elect representatives to serve on their state committees.”
Each day, outgoing commodity leaders were recognized for service to their state committee during lunch. Those honored were Richard Edgar of Elmore County, State Cotton Committee; Art Sessions of Mobile County, State Horticulture Committee; Wess Hallman of Blount County and J.C. Holt of Colbert County, State Meat Goat & Sheep Committee; and Diane Payton of DeKalb County, State Dairy Committee.
New Agronomy And Soils Department Head
|Members of the Alabama Farmers Federation State Soybean Committee visited with Dr. John Beasley, left, Auburn University’s new Agronomy and Soils department head. He replaces the retired Dr. Joe Touchton. From left are Beasley, committee Chairman Pat Buck of Sumter County, Touchton and committee Vice Chairman Don Glenn of Lawrence County. |
Hornady Promoted, Auburn Alums Join Staff
Former Alabama Farmers Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs (GAP) Department administrative assistant Carla Hornady is the new Cotton, Soybean and Wheat & Feed Grains Divisions Director. An Autauga County native, Hornady joined the Federation staff in 2008.
“This new role provides an exciting opportunity to work directly with our members,” said Hornady. “I look forward to visiting their farms, helping promote their industries and maintaining relationships with other agricultural organizations.”
Hornady is filling the spot left open by Buddy Adamson, who retired in 2013.
Following the 2013 retirements of former area organization directors Tom Jones and Ralph Golden, the Organization Department realigned. The department increased from eight areas to 10 and recently added four Auburn University alums to its staff.
Wallace Drury is the new Area 6 Organization Director, which covers Bibb, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Pickens and Tuscaloosa counties.
“I am very excited and privileged to be with the Alabama Farmers Federation,” said Drury, a Hale County native. “Growing up on a family farm, I developed a strong passion for agriculture at a young age. I am honored to work with our farmers across the state.”
David Heflin is a Chilton County native and Area 5 Organization Director. His area covers Autauga, Butler, Chilton, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes and Montgomery counties.
“Working with such a great group of people is a dream come true,” said Heflin. “This organization has a proud history of serving its members, and I’m humbled to help carry on this tradition.”
Preston Roberts is originally from Shelby County and will serve as Area 7 Organization Director representing Barbour, Bullock, Chambers, Lee, Macon, Randolph and Russell counties.
“The Alabama Farmers Federation is a great organization that truly feels like a family,” Roberts said. “I am very thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside farmers to promote and advance agriculture in Alabama.”
Administrative assistant Ashton Monk also joined the department to replace Leanne Worthington, who accepted the position as administrative assistant to Executive Director Paul Pinyan.
“It’s a blessing and honor to work with this organization,” Monk said. “The Federation staff is great, and everyone truly has a heart for the betterment of the farm industry and our state’s farmers.”
For detailed information on the area organization realignment, read the March issue of Neighbors.
Future Doctor Will Serve Rural Area
|First-year medical school student Scott B. Thomas IV of Ashford, Ala., left, will receive a full tuition scholarship from Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation as an Alfa Rural Medical Scholar. Thomas met with Alfa Insurance and Federation President Jimmy Parnell Feb. 7 at the home office in Montgomery.|
Attorney General Files Brief Against EPA
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange joined 20 other states in support of an American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) appeal against Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts to dictate state management of nutrient runoff.
The AFBF suit seeks to overturn the U.S. District Court ruling from last fall that upheld the EPA’s authority to enforce nutrient management guidelines on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“I am proud to work with 20 other states on this brief,” Strange said. “(Together, we) have a significant interest in protecting our rights to manage lands and our states’ natural resources. The EPA continues to exceed its authority by trying to micromanage states. This case gives the court an opportunity to tell the EPA ‘Enough is enough.’”
The brief addresses concerns about the level of involvement the EPA is granted by the Clean Water Act in regard to management of runoff from farm fields, construction sites, and other activities normally regulated by states.
Auburn University Ag Students Tour Federation
|Six students enrolled in Auburn University’s College of Agriculture visited the Alabama Farmers Federation home office in Montgomery Feb. 7 to learn about non-production agriculture jobs. From left are Federation Cotton, Soybean and Wheat & Feed Grains Divisions Director Carla Hornady; students Marlee Moore, Brady Peek and Sarah Stephenson; and Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department Director Brian Hardin. |
Charles Kenneth Copeland, a member of the Blount County Farmers Federation, died Dec. 30. He was 90.
Survivors include his wife, Margie Reid Copeland; a son, Creag Copeland (Carol); a daughter, Patti Bowling (Jay); three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Charles Ellis Tavel, a former Blount County Farmers Federation president, died Dec. 29. He was 91.
A World War II veteran, Tavel also served on the State Horticulture Committee.
Survivors include his wife of 72 years, Ada Lee Curts Tavel; daughters Judith Parr (John) and Marrita Sue Sanford (Robert); four grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and a sister, Aleitha Hatton (Sam).