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January 28, 2011   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

McMillan says budget cuts may reshape department

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan was sworn in Jan. 17 on the steps of the state capitol. McMillan and his wife, Kathryn drove a tractor through the inauguration parade just prior to the ceremony.
Just one week into his new job as Alabama commissioner of agriculture and industries, John McMillan says the thing he's learned the most is how much he has to learn.

"This department touches the lives of every Alabamian," McMillan said. "Ironically, even though we are so closely identified and so closely associated with agribusiness in the state, I think if I had to give a brief summary of what this department does, it is food safety and consumer protection."

McMillan said his vast experience as a businessman and government leader coupled with a strong work ethic helped prepare him for the job.

He said voters can count on him to always keep the customers (Alabama's taxpayers) at the forefront of each decision he makes.

However, McMillan said his plans for the department will be hard to shape until he knows what the budget will be. Based on what newly elected Gov. Robert Bentley has said, the cuts may be significant and may even force layoffs in the department, McMillan said.

"We will focus on providing services to the businesses and industries that need us to survive, like those that require inspections in order to sell their products," McMillan said. "There are some tough decisions to be made, but we're going to approach all we do in a professional and business-like manner." McMillan said he has asked department employees to find ways to save money and provide more services.

"Nothing will be off the table," he said. "We are going to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of the people who depend on us."

Sewell appointed to House Ag Committee

U.S. Rep. Terri A. Sewell, a Democrat who represents Alabama's 7th Congressional District, has been selected to serve on the House Committee on Agriculture. Ranking House Agriculture Committee Member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., made the announcement Wednesday.

The House Committee on Agriculture creates farm policy and drafts legislation to protect the interests of rural America. The committee's jurisdiction includes rural development, agricultural colleges, farming, nutrition, renewable energy, conservation, bioterrorism, forestry and many others.

Sewell joins fellow freshman Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, on the Agriculture Committee of the 112th Congress.

"I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to serve on the House Committee on Agriculture," Sewell said. "By serving on this committee, I have the opportunity to advocate for the critical needs of the 7th Congressional District of Alabama. I will promote innovative legislation that will strengthen our small businesses, our land grant institutions, support both urban and rural economic development and work to improve the nutritional challenges facing our children, seniors and families. This committee assignment will help to ensure that America remains a dominant exporter of agricultural goods, which will create and protect good-paying, cutting-edge jobs in the district and across the country."

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby said Sewell's appointment strengthens the voice of Alabama farmers in Washington.

"Alabama's 7th Congressional District and our entire state is fortunate to have Rep. Sewell serving on the House Agriculture Committee and we are delighted with her appointment," he said. "Agriculture is our state's largest industry, and we know she will an advocate for our farmers. As Congress begins writing the new farm bill, it will be more important than ever that we have someone looking out for the farmers of our state."

Area Meeting

Federation leaders from southwest Alabama met in Robertsdale Jan. 13 for one of several area communications meetings being held throughout the state. From left are David Platt of Washington County, Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby, Ronnie Joe Jordan of Monroe County and Jimmie Fidler of Baldwin County.

CANCELED - Sustainable backyard workshops start Feb. 1

"The Sustainable Backyard," a series of grow-your-own workshops has been canceled.

Brothers joins AU staff as poultry specialist

Dennis Brothers of Oneonta has joined the staff of the National Poultry Technology Center (NPTC) at Auburn University. As a poultry housing specialist, he will serve poultry growers and managers across the state of Alabama.

An Auburn graduate with bachelor's and master's degrees, Brothers brings more than 10 years of industry expertise to the job, having been employed by Alfa Insurance as a poultry house claims adjuster, Gold Kist Poultry and the Alabama Farmers Cooperative. He will lead NPTC educational and technical programs on a statewide basis to improve profitability and sustainability of Alabama's poultry growers by adoption of new technologies to improve energy and production efficiencies.

The mission of the NPTC, which was formed in 2008, is to improve bottom-line profitability of the live production sector of the Alabama poultry industry through timely applied research and education that contribute to increased efficiencies in housing, equipment, energy and environmental control.

The poultry industry has more than a $10 billion economic impact on the state of Alabama. In addition, some 80,000 people are employed by the poultry industry statewide. It is estimated that there are more than 11,000 poultry houses in production in Alabama.

Brothers can be reached at brothers@auburn.edu or (205) 456-0414. More information on the National Poultry Technology Center at Auburn University can be found at www.PoultryHouse.com.

New Leader Orientation

New leaders of the Alabama Farmers Federation, including county presidents and state board members, attended a leadership orientation session at the Federation headquarters in Montgomery where they learned about various Federation departments, Alfa Insurance Co. and participated in a media training exercise. From left are Lowndes County Federation President Sam Cates, District 2 State Director Ted Grantland of Morgan County, Membership Department Office Manager Brandi Watkins and Randolph County Federation President Jimmy Fetner.

Elmore County to host goat and sheep expo

The Elmore County Farmers Federation Meat Goat and Sheep Committee is sponsoring "Life on the Farm," goat and sheep day March 19 at the Elmore County Extension Arena, 340 Queen Ann Road in Wetumpka. Activities start at 9 a.m., and admission is free. In addition to exhibits, demonstrations and seminars, a goat meat cookoff will be held along with a photo contest.

For information and contest rules, contact Edith Grover at (334) 514-0495 or visit the Web site at ecffsheepandgoats.blogspot.com.

Horticulture Expo

Alabama Farmers Federation Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod State Committee Chairman Tommy Odom of Mobile County, left, discusses Federation membership with new member Jason "J.W." Walters of Baldwin County at the Gulf States Horticultural Expo in Mobile. The event was held Jan. 19-21 at the Mobile Convention Center. It attracted more than 3,000 attendees who visited the 650 booths and exhibits, including an exhibit of the Alabama Farmers Federation's Horticulture and Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod Divisions.

Guy named State Conservation Commissioner

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has appointed N. Gunter Guy Jr. as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Guy, an avid hunter and angler, is a native of Alabama and lives on a family farm near Pintlala. "I am honored to have been selected by Governor Bentley for this position," he said. "I have a lifelong love of the outdoors and am looking forward to overseeing the agency that is responsible for managing much of Alabama's natural resources."

Guy is a graduate of Auburn University and the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. Most recently, he practiced law with the firm of Ball, Ball, Mathews & Novak, P.A. in Montgomery.

One priority Guy will have is helping fulfill Bentley's directive to state agencies to create jobs. Rebuilding the hotel and convention center at Gulf State Park will be a priority.

"We need to get a first class facility built on the Gulf Coast so that in-state and out-of-state groups will have a place to meet in Alabama," Guy said.

Guy is married to the former Patsy Lynn Wright of Montgomery. They have two children: Catherine, who attends Auburn University, and Ashley, a student at Hooper Academy.

Legislative Forestry Study Committee Meets

The Legislative Forestry Study Committee met Jan. 14 at the State House in Montgomery where Alabama State Forester Linda Casey discussed budget shortfalls for the Alabama Forestry Commission. She expressed concern that continued funding cuts could endanger property if the state experiences a severe fire season this year. From left are, Casey, Study Committee Chairman Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Mobile; and committee members Emory Mosley of Washington County and John Rudd of Russell County. Fincher is also chairman of the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee, while Mosley and Rudd both serve on the Alabama Farmers Federation State Forestry Committee.

Roby, Sewell named to House Ag Subcommittees

Members of the House Agriculture Committee met to formally organize and to adopt the Committee's rules for the 112th Congress.

Both U.S. Reps. Martha Roby, R-Ala., and Terri Sewell, D-Ala., were chosen to serve on the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee. That committee oversees programs and markets related to cotton, cottonseed, wheat, feed grains, soybeans, oilseeds, rice, dry beans, peas, lentils; the Commodity Credit Corporation; risk management, including crop insurance; commodity exchanges and specialty crops.

Roby, who represents Alabama's 2nd Congressional District, also was chosen to serve on the Conservation, Energy and Forestry Subcommittee. That committee has jurisdiction over soil, water and resource conservation, small watershed programs, energy and bio-based energy production, rural electrification, general forestry and forest reserves other than those created from the public domain.

Sewell, who represents Alabama's 7th Congressional District, also was chosen to serve on the Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee. That committee oversees rural development, farm security and family farming matters, research, education and extension, biotechnology, foreign agriculture assistance, and trade promotion programs.

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