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August 13, 2010   Email to Friend 

Tomato sandwiches draw crowd at market

Federation Area 2 Organization Director Matthew Durdin, left, and Walker County Farmers Federation member Peggy Pugh were among volunteers who made more than 350 tomato sandwiches during Tomato Sandwich Day.
The Walker County Farmers Market turned into heaven on earth for tomato lovers when it held Tomato Sandwich Day at the Jasper market July 31.

The promotion, sponsored by the Walker County Farmers Federation and the Alabama Farmers Federation, was a way to show appreciation to new and regular customers who visited the market.

"I just thought it was a good idea," Jeremy Calvert of Cullman County, a member of the State Horticulture Committee who sells at the market, told the Daily Mountain Eagle. Farmers selling at the Jasper market reported the largest crowd ever.

According to Area 2 Organization Director Matthew Durdin, 350 tomato sandwiches -- almost 117 every hour -- were prepared from locally grown tomatoes during the promotion from 8 until 11 a.m.


James Hugh Bagents, who served on the Crenshaw County Farmers Federation Board for more than 40 years, died July 29. He was 83.

Bagents also served the Crenshaw County Farmers Federation as president for six years and was on the board of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association for a number of years. He is survived by brothers William E. "Ed"(Sue) Bagents and Joe C. (Cheryl) Bagents; three nieces and seven nephews; and a host of great nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Rutledge United Methodist Church, 1747 Lee St., Rutledge, AL 36071 or to one's favorite charity.

Mount takes fourth title in Federation quilting contest

First-place winners in the 2010 Women's Leadership Division contests were, from left, Deloris Mount of Crenshaw County, hand-stitched quilts; Gayle Smith of Limestone County, machine-stitched quilts; Lydia Haynes of Cullman County, handbags; and June Flowers of Pike County, tablescapes. The contests were held at the Alabama Farmers Federation's 38th Annual Commodity Producers Conference Aug. 5-7 in Columbus, Ga.
Thousands of tiny stitches adorned the beautiful hand-made quilt that won Deloris Mount her fourth statewide award at the Alabama Farmers Federation's 38th Annual Commodity Producers Conference Aug. 5-7 in Columbus, Ga.

Mount, a member of the Crenshaw County Farmers Federation's Women's Leadership Committee, won the State Hand-Stitched Quilting Contest in 2004, 2006, 2008 and again this year.

Contest rules prohibit winners from the previous year from entering the contest, so after each victory, Mount sits out a year, which gives her more time to plan her next creation. This year's winning entry featured baskets adorned with flowers and birds, each stitched by hand.

Gayle Smith of Limestone County won second place with a hand-stitched quilt she called "Garden Sampler," and Margaret Caldwell of Talladega County won third with a log cabin design.

"This year's tablescapes, quilting and handbag contests provided a spectacular display of Alabama commodities," said Federation Women's Leadership Division Director Kim Earwood. "We were thrilled with the amount of interest from spectators as well as our contestants and are looking forward to next year's events." Gayle Smith also won first place in the machine-stitched quilt contest with the entry she called "Garden Gatherings." Second place went to Annie Lois Bridges of Houston County with her "Garden Window" entry, and Jennifer Oden of Etowah County won third with her "Batiks Squared" quilt.

Lydia Haynes of Cullman County won first place in the handbag competition with a red bag covered with leather silhouettes of farm scenes. Second place in that contest went to Catherine Wood of Autauga County, and Jackie Long of Lee County took third.

The conference contest included the second-ever tablescapes contest, which featured commodities produced in Alabama. This year's winner was June Flowers of Pike County, whose entry focused on forestry with its woodsy design. Catherine White of Talladega County won second place with her entry that featured the state's greenhouse industry, and third went to Harriet Jones of Chambers County, whose table was adorned with ceramic chicken and eggs in honor of the state's largest agricultural industry -- poultry.

Winners in each division received cash awards of $150 for first place, $100 for second place and $75 for third place.

Photos of the winning contest entries can be viewed at www.alfafarmers.org/gallery.

New tax requirements hidden in health care reform bill

Hidden within thousands of pages that make up the nation's new health care laws are requirements that mean more paperwork and tax filing requirements for farmers and other small businesses.

The new requirement would demand that businesses file tax forms for every vendor that sells them more than $600 in goods. The Alabama Farmers Federation, along with other groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses, has joined the American Farm Bureau Federation in opposing the new regulations and are calling on Congress to repeal the act. Businesses already must file Form 1099s with the IRS when they purchase more than $600 in services from a vendor in a year. The new provision would extend the requirement to the purchase of goods, starting in 2012.

The requirement would hit about 38 million businesses, charities and tax-exempt organizations, many of them which are small businesses already swamped by government paperwork, according to a recent report by the National Taxpayer Advocate. It would also create an avalanche of paperwork that could strain the IRS itself, wrote the Advocate, an independent watchog within the IRS.

Congress is in recess through the week of Labor Day. Proponents of the health care bill say the new tax requirements would generate an additional $19 billion in revenue.

Federation members are encouraged to contact their senators and congressmen and ask them to support repealing the act. Go to the Alfa Farmers' home page at www.AlfaFarmers.org and click on the Legislative Action Center for help in contacting your congressman.

AU Ag Dean Visits Alfa

Dr. William Batchelor, dean of Auburn University's College of Agriculture, recently visited the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa in Montgomery. From left are Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, President Jerry Newby, Batchelor and Department of Governmental & Agricultural Programs Director Jimmy Carlisle. The new dean also met with Federation members during the 38th annual Commodity Producers Conference in Columbus, Ga., and spoke during the opening banquet Aug. 5.

Federation reveals new website design

The Alabama Farmers Federation's newly redesigned website was launched Aug. 1 with new features that county Federations and members are sure to enjoy.

A weekly "Member Spotlight" that profiles the grassroots movers and shakers in county Federations and a special area each county can call their "home" page are a central part of the redesign. "Our website has become a valuable tool for members and others seeking information about Alabama agriculture, but its appearance and functionality had become outdated," said Jeff Helms, director of the Federation's public relations and communications department. "We believe visitors to our site will appreciate this sleeker, more open design. We also wanted a site that would be easier to navigate, more useful for our visitors and our members and, hopefully, build membership."

The County Federation page which previously featured only a photo of the county president, contact information and agricultural statistics for that county, now can become a showplace for each county. With a simple Web address of its own, (for example, AlfaFarmers.org/Blount), county Federations can now include news and photos of their own events.

"This can become a county Federation's own 'meeting place' for announcing upcoming meetings or promoting their own events," said Web Director Darryal Ray who headed the redesign project. "All they have to do is email me (dray@alfafarmers.org) the information and photo, and we'll take care of the rest. I urge each county Federation to closely monitor their page so that they remain up-to-date."

The site also has a more powerful search engine. The home page includes links to the Federation's Facebook and Twitter pages, along with the Federation's YouTube channel. It also links to online digital editions of Neighbors and Friends & Family magazines.

The redesign moves some of its more popular features to a newly created "Members Only" area. Members who log in to the area using their member number and ZIP code are granted access to various forms and other materials often used by staff and members and the DTN Commodity Markets page. Only members may post ads to the Trade 'N' Post, while all ads remain visible to the public. The public also can learn about the many membership benefits but will be restricted from viewing access codes to those benefits that require them.

For comments on the new AlfaFarmers.org, email Web Director Darryal Ray at dray@AlfaFarmers.org.

More than 600 farmers attend annual conference

Alabama farmers toured Wallace Farms in Lamar County, Ga., where Wes Smith, Upson County Georgia Extension coordinator, presented an overview of agricultural opportunities in the area.
More than 600 farmers from throughout Alabama traveled just across the Georgia state line into Columbus to attend the 38th annual Alabama Farmers Federation Commodity Producers Conference.

During the opening banquet of the conference Aug. 5, Auburn University's new dean of its College of Agriculture stressed the role agriculture will play in the world's future.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 600 at the Columbus Convention Center, Dr. William Batchelor said agriculture's role would continue to grow as the world searches for answers to feed, clothe and power a growing population amid dwindling resources.

The opening night banquet also featured remarks from Chip Blalock, director of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga.; recognition of Ginger Mullins, Federation administrative assistant for agricultural programs, and entertainment by a Barney Fife look-alike and comedian.

The conference included a tour to Callaway Gardens, a 13,000-acre resort in Pine Mountain, Ga., where members toured the Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, the John A. Sibley Horticultural Center and Mr. Cason's Vegetable Garden.

A separate tour visited the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation Preserve, which includes 11,000 acres in a pristine forest setting with old house sites, hardwood creek bottoms and more. The tour also made a stop at the Callaway Steeplechase grounds. Stops by another group of Federation conference attendees included visits to Quercas Cattle Co. in Gay, Ga.; Kensington Cattle Co. in Molena, Ga.; and The Rock Ranch, a large Brangus cattle operation that doubles as an agri-tourism destination. Saturday morning featured several seminars, including a look at Alabama's Farm Land Preservation program, a workshop on farmer advocacy and social media.

In addition, producers earned credit for attending workshops on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and were given advice on combating feral hogs and controlling weeds in pastures and hayfields.

Bob Redding of the Redding Firm updated members on current national legislative issues, and John Pudner, director of the Federation's External Affairs Department, gave members a look at upcoming November general elections.

A Saturday afternoon session on "Rules of the Road" featured speakers from the Alabama Department of Transportation, the Alabama Department of Revenue and the Alabama Department of Public Safety. It gave attendees an overview of regulations regarding license plates, vehicle weights and lengths and roads and bridges. The session was followed by a question-and-answer period.

Prior to Saturday night's closing banquet, a reception for Federation-endorsed candidates drew state legislators Richard Laird of Randolph County, DuWayne Bridges of Chambers County, Billy Beasley of Barbour County and Pebblin Warren of Macon County.

Also attending were State Auditor Sam Shaw and husband Supreme Court Justice Greg Shaw, Treasurer Kay Ivey (a candidate for lieutenant governor), state treasurer candidate Young Boozer, agriculture commissioner candidate John McMillan, Judge Tommy Bryan of the Court of Civil Appeals and state board of education candidate Betty Peters.

Next year's commodity conference will be in Huntsville, Aug. 4-6.

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