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November 19, 2010   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Tuscaloosa Farm-City

Members of the Tuscaloosa County Farmers Federation and other volunteers spent Veterans Day decorating the Tuscaloosa County Federation office for National Farm-City Week. National Farm-City Week is celebrated Nov. 19-25. This year's theme is "Agriculture: A Growing Story."

AFBF pushes for tax relief this year

Now is the time for congressional action on estate tax relief, preserving capital gains tax breaks and extending other important tax provisions, according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.

In a letter sent this week to President Barack Obama, Stallman said, "No matter is more pressing for our nation's farmers and ranchers than prompt passage of legislation" that extends tax provisions that expired in 2009 or are set to expire at the end of this year.

"Farm Bureau calls on you to work with Congress to enact legislation before the end of the year in order to avoid the economic damages that will be caused by tax increases and the uncertainty that surrounds the tax code," Stallman told the president.

On Nov. 18, President Obama was scheduled to meet with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss the legislative agenda for the lame duck session of Congress.

The top issue on Farm Bureau's list for the lame duck session of Congress is estate tax relief. Without congressional action, the estate tax will be reinstated in 2011 with a $1 million exemption and a top rate of 55 percent, a reversion back to the level 10 years ago.

"For farmers and ranchers, passage of estate tax relief is the single-most important tax issue left unresolved by Congress," Stallman told the president.

In his letter to President Obama and in previous letters to Congress, Stallman said Farm Bureau supports a $5 million estate tax exemption and top estate tax rate of 35 percent. "The return of estate tax unaltered will strike a blow to farm and ranch operations trying to transition from one generation to the next," Stallman wrote. "In the late 1990s, twice the number of farm estates paid estate taxes compared to other estates, and it took two-and-a-half years of farm returns for a moderate-sized farm operation to pay estate taxes owed. A $1 million exemption is not high enough to protect a typical farm or ranch able to support a family. When coupled with a top rate of 55 percent, it can be especially difficult for farm and ranch businesses."

Governor-elect visits Alfa

Gov.-elect Robert Bentley, left, recently visited Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation home office in Montgomery where he met with President Jerry Newby. Bentley has been invited to attend the Federation's 89th Annual Meeting Dec. 5-6 in Mobile as have several other elected officials from throughout the state.

Governor proclaims Nov. 19-25 as state Farm-City Week

As Alabama families prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, Gov. Bob Riley honored the partnerships that make the bounty of the season possible by proclaiming Nov. 19-25 National Farm-City Week in Alabama.

"Farm-City collaborations help maintain and improve our food and fiber supply and contribute to a better quality of life for countless citizens," the proclamation states. "We commend the many Americans whose hard work and ingenuity reflect the true spirit of America and help to ensure a prosperous future for all."

First observed in 1955, Farm-City Week is celebrated the week before Thanksgiving as a way to foster greater understanding between farmers and their urban neighbors. In Alabama, thousands of volunteers are involved with tours, banquets, business luncheons and children's activities aimed at educating the public about the importance of agriculture.

"With fewer people living on farms than ever before, it's important for farmers to share their stories with those who are often several generations removed from the land," said Alabama Farm-City Chairman Jeff Helms. "The renewed interest in fresh, local food provides farmers an excellent opportunity to talk about America's remarkable food system and to correct some of the misconceptions about modern production agriculture."

Helms noted that U.S. farmers have more than tripled production in the last 60 years and have cut erosion by half in the last 30 years. Today, the average farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people worldwide. In Alabama, farm-related businesses account for one in every five jobs, making agriculture the state's number-one industry.

The theme for Farm-City Week 2010 is "Agriculture: A Growing Story." At the national level, farmers and news reporters participated in a symposium to kickoff National Farm-City Week. The discussion focused on how production practices are portrayed in the media and what can be done to ensure the public gets a true picture of farm life.

In Alabama, Farm-City Week is the culmination of year-long activities aimed at bridging the gap between farmers and city folk. Some of the most popular programs are the Farm-City poster and essay contests for school children. Throughout the fall, young artists and writers from around the state put pen (or crayon) to paper to tell "Agriculture's Growing Story."

Winning entries from each county will be sent to the state level for judging, and winners will be announced in April. The state poster and essay contests are sponsored by Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Alabama Farmers Federation, Alfa Insurance and Alabama Ag in the Classroom.

Montgomery Farm-City

The Montgomery County Farm-City Committee recently held its annual festival at Bartlett Ranch in Pike Road where volunteers like 4-H'er Janey Smitherman, center, shared her farm experience with hundreds of children and other guests.

Givhan honored

The Dallas County Farmers Federation held a steak dinner Nov. 9 where Sam Givhan, right, was honored for 26 years of service as county president. He and his wife, Lynn, left, were presented a Jack DeLoney painting, "Haytime," at the event.

AU names new Forestry School dean

Jim Shepard, professor and associate director of the Forest and Wildlife Research Center at Mississippi State University, has been named dean of Auburn University's School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, effective Jan. 3.

"Dr. Shepard has an outstanding record of accomplishments in forest sustainability, environmental management and academia," Auburn Provost Mary Ellen Mazey said in a news release. "The faculty, staff, students and administration look forward to working with him as we continue to build the academic, research and outreach programs of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences."

Shepard's roles at Mississippi State include working as the associate director of the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute and supporting research within the College of Forest Resources. Prior to being named to his current positions in 2009, he was head of Mississippi State's Department of Forestry from 2005 to 2008.

"I am impressed with the state of Alabama's huge diversity of forest ecosystems, from the mountains of the north to the coastal wetlands," Shepard said. "I am looking forward to leading a school whose faculty, staff and students are ensuring a bright future for the forest and wildlife resources of Alabama and beyond."

Shepard served 18 years with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement in Gainesville, Fla. During that time, he worked for seven years as an associate professor in the University of Florida's School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

Shepard earned his doctoral degree from Mississippi State in 1985 in forest resources with a focus on forest soils. He served as a research scientist for five years at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where his work focused on the biogeochemical effects of atmospheric deposition.


William S. "Shep" Phillips of Equality, a board member of the Coosa County Farmers Federation for more than 30 years, died Oct. 28. He was 78.

Phillips, who was active in the Federation's Catfish Commodity Division for many years, served as president of the Coosa County Farmers Federation from 1988-1994.

He is survived by his wife, Earline S. Phillips; two sons, William S. (Faye) Phillips Jr. and Joseph D. (Deborah) Phillips, both of Speed; two daughters, Marie P. (Willard) Snell and Susan P. Baskett, both of Tennessee; and eight grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the Trinity United Methodist Church of Equality or Alacare Hospice of Montgomery.

National Peanut Festival

Joe and Renee Hall of the Henry County Farmers Federation, left, were among the volunteers who manned the Alabama Farmers Federation booth during the 67th annual National Peanut Festival in Dothan recently. Visitors to the booth entered drawings for prizes, received information about member benefits and were encouraged to join the Farmers Federation.

USDA announces longleaf pine initiative

More than $12 million to help private landowners in nine states restore and manage longleaf pine has been announced by Dave White, chief of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Alabama's share of the Longleaf Pine Initiative is $2.5 million to help landowners improve habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest and tribal land.

Other states included in the initiative are Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

"The longleaf pine is one of our key native species, providing a home to hundreds of plant and animal species as well as being a tremendous economic resource," White said. "Restoring and expanding this species is only made possible through voluntary partnerships with conservation-minded landowners who share our goal of healthy forests."

Longleaf pine habitat can contain as many as 300 different species of groundcover plants per acre, and about 60 percent of the amphibian and reptile species found in the Southeast. The habitat also is home to at least 122 endangered or threatened plant and animal species.

"We've taken great steps toward conserving longleaf pine forests in Alabama," said Dr. William Puckett, NRCS State Conservationist. "Through this initiative and the great works of our landowners we will be able to enhance and protect more of this essential habitat."

Participants will receive financial assistance for implementing conservation practices including planting longleaf pine, installing firebreaks, conducting prescribed burning and controlling invasive plants. Applications are being accepted through Jan. 7, 2011.

For additional information on the Longleaf Pine Initiative, producers can visit their local NRCS field office or online at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.

USDA seeks final 2010 crop info

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is preparing to contact producers in efforts to gather final year-end production numbers. With soybean and corn production forecasted at record and near-record level highs, respectively, it's vital for farmers to respond to the December Agricultural Survey to determine if these expectations were realized.

"The December Agricultural Survey is the largest and most critical year-end survey conducted by NASS," said Bill Weaver, director of the NASS Alabama Field Office. "This survey is the basis for the official USDA estimates of production and harvested acres of all major agricultural commodities in the United States." Although dry weather affected crop production in Alabama, the U.S. is having a potentially record-setting crop year.

Data from the December Agricultural Survey will benefit farmers by providing timely and accurate information to help them make critical year-end business decisions and begin planning for the next growing season.

During the first two weeks of December, NASS will contact selected Alabama producers by mail or telephone and ask them to provide information on 2010 production and on-farm stocks of corn, soybeans and winter wheat. The information will be compiled and analyzed, then published in a series of USDA reports, including the annual Crop Production summary and quarterly Grain Stocks report, both to be released Jan.12.

All NASS survey information is confidential by law.

All reports are available on the NASS Website: www.nass.usda.gov.

For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Alabama Field Office at (334) 279-3555.

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