Legislators learn about ag, insurance issues
Leaders in the Alabama Legislature predicted tight budgets and immigration would be among the pressing subjects for the upcoming session when they gathered in Birmingham Feb. 8-9 for the 2011 Alfa Symposium. The meeting offers legislators an opportunity to learn more about agriculture and insurance issues.
|Federation Assistant Director of Governmental and Agricultural Programs Brian Hardin, center, visits with Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and Rep. K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, during the Alfa Symposium Tuesday in Birmingham.|
Despite the financial challenges facing the state, legislators said they were interested in ways to strengthen Alabama agriculture.
"We have fewer farmers in the state than ever, and we've got to make sure they are protected," said Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston. "We have a good agricultural base, and we want to do everything we can to help those individuals."
The symposium was a joint effort of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance. It gave the staff a chance to meet with the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the agriculture and insurance committees in both chambers, to discuss issues that affect members and policyholders.
Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Chairman Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, said he hopes to strengthen Alabama's right-to-farm laws and use his committee as a "bully pulpit" to influence Congress on issues that are important to Alabama farmers.
"Growing up on a dairy farm where we milked cows up until '91 or '92 -- milking right at 500 head a day -- I have farmers' interests at heart, and I know what it takes to be a farmer and be involved in agribusiness," said Whatley. "I want to do whatever I can to help the farmer and help agribusiness."
About 30 members of the Alabama Legislature attended the Alfa Symposium as well as Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan and the deans of Alabama's three land grant universities.
|A large crowd of Federation members from six counties attended the Area Communication Meeting in Headland, Feb. 7. State Women's Leadership Division Director Kim Earwood, second from left, had a booth at the meeting to promote leadership opportunities for women in the organization. From left are Covington County Women's Leadership Committee Chair Dorothy Thompson, Earwood, Joan Williams of Henry County, State Women's Leadership Committee Member Sharon Byrd of Dale County and Bonnie White of Henry County.|
AFBF leaders take aim at EPA
More than 100 Alabama Farmers Federation members attended the American Farm Bureau Federation's National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla. last weekend where they were encouraged to "Engage ... Act ... Win" for challenges facing agriculture today.
Farmers were urged to fight what AFBF calls an over-zealous and predatory Environmental Protection Agency.
"It is time to stop the EPA," said AFBF Vice President Barry Bushue. "We face challenges from regulators who are ready to downsize American agriculture, mothball our productivity and out-source our farms."
AFBF officials urged leaders to build relationships and spread agriculture's message. Furthermore, AFBF urged members at all levels - county, state and federal - to act whenever challenges arise and win those challenges.
Newby appoints Federation Membership Growth Committee
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby has appointed 21 Federation leaders to serve on the newly formed Membership Growth Committee.
The objective of the committee is to study methods and services that county federations can use to maintain and increase membership. The committee will report its findings and recommendations to the state board of directors.
The committee is chaired by Federation Secretary-Treasurer Steve Dunn of Conecuh County. Members include Rex Vaughn, Madison County; Jennifer Cruise, Morgan County; Will Gilmer, Lamar County; Randy Gilmore, Jefferson County; Delle Bean, Calhoun County; Dennis Maze, Blount County; Lamar Dewberry, Clay County; Terry Wyatt, Shelby County; Richard Edgar, Elmore County; Andy Wendland, Autauga County; Pat Buck, Sumter County; Peggy Walker, Tuscaloosa County; Shep Morris, Macon County; John Dorrill, Pike County; Sammy Williams, Henry County; Gloria Jeffcoat, Houston County; Meador Jones, Marengo County; Richard Holladay, Lowndes County; Sammy Gibbs, Escambia County and Debbie Freeland, Mobile County.
Real elected chairman of Forestry Commission
Marion County Farmers Federation President Kenneth Real of Detroit, Ala., has been elected chairman of the Alabama Forestry Commission. Real, who is a member of the Federation's State Forestry Committee, has served on the commission since March 2006.
Johnny McReynolds of Russellville was re-elected as vice chairman. He has served on the commission since November 2008.
Real, a registered forester in Alabama and Mississippi is a 1977 graduate of Mississippi State University with a bachelor's of science degree in forestry.
Real has 33 years of forestry experience and is president and owner of Realwood, Inc., which he started in 1993. He was procurement manager for Hankins Wilson Lumber Company in Houston, Ala. from 1983 to 1993. Prior to that, he was procurement forester for Tennessee River Pulp and Paper Co. in Ackerman, Miss. In addition to his service to the Alabama Farmers Federation, he is a member of the Alabama Forestry Association.
McReynolds is a registered forester in Alabama and Mississippi and vice president of Homan Industries where he has worked for the last 23 years.
Other members of the AFC Board of Commissioners are immediate past chairman Don Heath of Hoover, Jett Freeman of Spanish Fort, Randy Gilmore of McCalla, Melisa Love of Opelika and Jerry Smith of Vernon.
The seven-member board, appointed by the governor and approved by the Alabama Senate, is responsible for setting policy for the commission, which is the state agency charged with protecting and sustaining Alabama's forest resources.
To learn more about the AFC, go to www.Forestry.Alabama.gov.
Senate passes repeal of Form 1099 requirement
The U.S. Senate voted last week to repeal the Form 1099 requirement that is part of the health care law. The amendment passed 81-17. Both U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama voted in favor of the amendment.
The amendment was offered by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to repeal the provision that requires small business owners to file an IRS Form 1099 for each vendor from whom they make purchases of $600 or more. The Alabama Farmers Federation and American Farm Bureau strongly backed repeal of the provision.
"We provided a common-sense solution for business owners so they can focus on creating jobs, not filling out paperwork for the IRS," said Stabenow, the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "Since last year, I have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this problem. If left unchecked, 40 million small businesses would see their IRS 1099 paperwork increase 2,000 percent."
A similar amendment has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and is awaiting action.
State commodity committees elect new leaders
Commodity leaders of the Alabama Farmers Federation met in Birmingham Feb. 1-3 to elect leaders and discuss goals and issues for the year. Nearly 700 farmers representing 16 commodities discussed the direction for their respective state committees, and outgoing state committee members who served their term limits were recognized during lunch each day.
Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan, left, talks with Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, center, and Geneva County farmer Charles Jernigan at the Commodity Organizational Conference in Birmingham, Feb. 1.
Alabama's new Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan spoke to farmers at lunch on Tuesday, and Auburn University College of Agriculture Dean William Batchelor spoke Wednesday.
Tuesday's luncheon recognized Bill Lipscomb of Autauga County, Tim Tucker of Monroe County and Phil Slay of Chambers County for their service on the Federation's State Beef Committee. David Pearce of Dallas County, Rafe Taylor of Greene County, Townsend Kyser of Hale County and Sid Nelson of Sumter County were recognized for serving on the State Catfish Committee. Prather Slay of Chambers County was honored during the luncheon for serving on the State Horticulture Committee. Luther Bishop of Colbert County, Tim Donaldson of Cullman County and Greg Buttram of DeKalb County were honored for their years of service on the State Pork Committee.
On Wednesday, Darrell Driskell of Mobile County was honored for serving on the Federation's State Cotton Committee. Jimmy Parnell of Chilton County and Jake Harper of Wilcox County were honored for service on the State Forestry Committee. Roger Brumbeloe of Blount County and Johnny Lee of Henry County were honored for their work on the State's Hay and Forage Committee.
Thursday's luncheon honored Bob Moore of Macon County for his service to the Federation's Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod Committee. David Wilson of Talladega County was honored for serving on the State Soybean Committee, and Donnie Garrett of Cherokee County along with John Cook of Conecuh County were honored for service to the State Wheat and Feed Grains Committee.
State committee members elected during the meetings will serve a three-year term (unless otherwise noted). Newly elected members and officers are:
Bee and Honey - Hobson Hite, Cullman County; James Sitz, Etowah County; Bob Cole, Marshall County, and Barry Banks, Walker County. Bill Mullins of Madison County was elected chairman. Joe Lambrecht of Elmore County was elected first vice chairman, and Lionel Evans of Limestone County was elected second vice chairman.
Beef - Clay Kennamer, Jackson County (elected second vice chairman); Mahlon Richburg, Lee County; Anthony Faggard, Mobile County, and Mike Henry, Montgomery County. Wendell Wilson was elected to serve a one-year term. Tommy Maples of Limestone County was elected chairman, and Tim Whitley of Blount County was elected first vice chairman.
Catfish - Kent Houlditch, Greene County; Wayne McLendon, Lee County; Butch Wilson, Dallas County, and Bill Kyser, Hale County (elected second vice chairman). Will Pearce of Dallas County was elected chairman, and Paul Wheeler of Perry County was elected first vice chairman.
Cotton - Neal Isbell, Colbert County; Richard Edgar, Elmore County; Sammy Gibbs, Escambia County, and Terry Wyatt, Shelby County. Jimmy Miller of Blount County was elected chairman. Phil Vandiver of Madison County was elected first vice chairman and Tim Mullek of Baldwin County was elected second vice chairman.
Dairy - David Wright, Calhoun County; Diane Payton, DeKalb County; Joe Ching, Mobile County, and Mike Ryan, Tuscaloosa County. Laird Cole of Hale County was elected chairman. George Rankin of Marengo County was elected first vice chairman, and Mike Ryan of Tuscaloosa County was elected second vice chairman.
Equine - Jamie McConnell, Chilton County (elected first vice chairman); Sammy Hindman, Fayette County (elected chairman); Jennifer Cruise, Morgan County (elected second vice chairman) and Roland St. John, St. Clair County.
Forestry - Brian Agnew, Bullock County, Chris Langley, Chambers County, B.J. Johnson, Cherokee County and Johnny Hollis, Crenshaw County. John Dorrill of Pike County was elected chairman. Emory Mosley of Washington County was elected vice chairman.
Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod - Hank Richardson, Cherokee County; Ed Dennis, Dallas County; Charles Tew, Elmore County and Andy Benton, Tuscaloosa County. Tommy Odom of Mobile County was elected chairman, and Steve Thomas of Chambers was elected vice chairman.
Hay and Forage - Joe Potter, Colbert County (elected second vice chairman); I.C. Barrett Sr., Elmore County; Doug Wigginton, Morgan County, and Mark Landers, Tuscaloosa County. Winford Parmer of Autauga County was elected chairman. Wade Hill of Lawrence County was elected first vice chairman.
Horticulture - Jimmy Witt, Blount County; Frank Benford, Chambers County; Art Sessions, Mobile County (elected first vice chairman) and John Neighbors, Tallapoosa County (elected chairman). Jimmie Fidler of Baldwin County was elected second vice chairman.
Meat Goat and Sheep - Wess Hallman, Blount County (elected first vice chairman); Drexel Johnson, Coffee County; J.C. Holt, Colbert County, and Stacey Nestor, Montgomery County (elected second vice chairman). Sam Abney of Autauga County was elected chairman.
Pork - Jon Petree, Franklin County (elected second vice chairman); John Gibson, Marshall County; L.O. Bishop, Colbert County and Stanley Morris, St. Clair County. Mark Pennington of Calhoun County was elected chairman, and Frank Morris of St. Clair County was elected first vice chairman.
Poultry - Dennis Maze, Blount County (elected first vice chairman); Ray Bean, Calhoun County; David Bailey, DeKalb County and Mark Byrd, Morgan County. Joe Roberts of Fayette County was elected chairman, and Tom Duncan of Butler County was elected second vice chairman.
Soybean - David Bitto, Baldwin County; Rickey Cornutt, Marshall County; John E. Walker III, Tuscaloosa County, and Jeremy Wilson, Talladega County. Jeff Webster of Madison County was elected chairman, and Pat Buck of Sumter County was elected first vice chairman.
Wheat and Feed Grains - Andy Wendland, Autauga County (elected first vice chairman); Nick McMichen, Cherokee County; Ron Brumley, Colbert County, and Stanley Walters, Marengo County (elected second vice chairman). Shep Morris of Macon County was elected chairman.
Wildlife Resources - Mike Parmer, Autauga County; Ronnie Hare, Clarke County; Trey Montgomery, Greene County, and Will Ainsworth, Marshall County (elected chairman). Dell Hill of Talladega County was elected first vice chairman.