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April 22, 2011   Email to Friend 

Wendlands named Farm of Distinction

Andy and Dawn Wendland, seated, accept prizes for the Alabama Farm of Distinction from the sponsors. From left are Kenneth Williams of Snead Ag Supply, Jay Hamlett and Lynne Morton of TriGreen Equipment, Lester Killebrew of SunSouth, the Wendlands, Jerry Newby of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Grace Smith of Alabama Farmers Cooperative.
A diversified row crop and cattle operation in Autaugaville, Ala., was named the state's 2011 Farm of Distinction during the Alabama Farm-City Awards Luncheon April 11 in Birmingham.

As this year's winners, Andy and Dawn Wendland of Autauga Farming Company will represent Alabama in the Swisher Sweets Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest, Oct. 18-20 in Moultrie, Ga. Wendland said he's honored to be recognized, but he was quick to share the credit with employees and family members who have helped tend the farm's crops and livestock over the last 100 years.

"I feel fortunate to be that third generation that's kind of taken hold of the reins. Having really good people is a real big part of it, too," Wendland said.

Autauga Farming Company has about 2,500 acres of cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat, as well as about 750 beef cows. The Wendlands were founding members of Autauga Quality Cotton Association, which has grown to become one of the nation's leading cotton marketing cooperatives.

They also joined forces with neighbors to form the Producers Feeder Cattle Sale, which secures premium prices by marketing uniform truckloads of cattle.

Despite good prices for cotton and cattle this year, Wendland said skyrocketing production costs are forcing farmers to find ways to be more efficient. One way the Wendlands have reduced costs is by transitioning their farm almost entirely to conservation tillage.

As Alabama's Farm of Distinction winner, the Wendlands received a John Deere Gator donated by SunSouth, Snead Ag and TriGreen Equipment dealers in Alabama. They also received a $1,250 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative, redeemable at any of its member Quality Co-Op stores. The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Health presented the Wendlands an engraved farm sign, and they also will receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo. The Swisher Sweets Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year will receive $14,000, plus several other prizes.

The Wendlands have five children, Katie, Drew, Will Howard, Dan and Emma.

Five other finalists also were honored during the program, which was held in conjunction with the Alabama Farmers Federation State Women's Leadership Conference. They were Bud Hopson of Creekstand Catfish Farm in Lee County, Webb and Joy Thornhill of Thornhill Farm in Jackson County, Phillip and Nancy Garrison of GoldVine Farm in Cullman County, Andy and Anne Sumblin of Andy Sumblin Farm in Coffee County and Roy and Becky Jordan of Landrum Creek Farm in Marengo County. Each finalist received a $250 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative.

The Farm-City Committee of Alabama presents the Farm of Distinction Award annually. Farm-City Week is observed nationally each year the week before Thanksgiving as a way to help bridge the gap between rural and urban residents.

Legislature tackles Constitution revision

The Alabama Legislature this week tackled the issue of constitution revision by passing two bills that would rewrite sections of the document on an article-by-article basis.

HB 20 and HB 21, sponsored by Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, would revise the banking and railroad articles. Both bills passed the House on Tuesday. The Farmers Federation favors the article-by-article approach to constitutional revision.

Meanwhile, the Senate and House passed SJR 82, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston. The resolution would establish a Constitutional Revision Commission to draft new versions of the 18 articles and send them to voters a few at a time. The commission would be prohibited from changing the state's taxes.

In other action, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday approved the House-passed version of a bill to reauthorize Forever Wild. The bill was amended on the House floor to discourage the Forever Wild board from purchasing farm land or entering into leases.

SB 84, which reduces the liability of landowners who lease land for hunting and fishing, passed the Senate Tuesday. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale. HB 198, which would affirm the state's authority to regulate fertilizer, passed the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee Wednesday. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Semmes, now heads to the Senate for a final vote.

The Legislature is expected to meet three days next week before recessing until sometime in May. When the legislators return, they will take up congressional redistricting and other priority issues.

Alfa adjusters respond to spring storms

Alfa Adjuster Morgan Hankins writes a claim for a homeowner in Tuscaloosa County following the storm that tore through Alabama Friday evening.
Alfa Insurance mobilized adjusters and deployed a Mobile Response Unit to assist with claims following last weekend's storms that spawned deadly tornadoes across the South.

As of Wednesday, Alfa had received more than 1,200 claims associated with the April 15-17 outbreak of storms, according to Senior Vice President of Claims Jerry Johnson.

"We watch the forecast carefully this time of year, and our adjusters were prepared to begin servicing claims as soon as the storms passed," Johnson said. "We began moving extra adjusters into the areas hardest hit by the storms over the weekend. We also set up Alfa's Mobile Response Unit in Tuscaloosa to provide additional support for our local service centers."

The storms claimed seven victims in Alabama, including three members of an Autauga County family, three other family members in Washington County and one person in Marengo County.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones," Johnson said. "As the state works to recover from these storms, Alfa's Claims Department is committed to delivering on the company's promise to its policyholders so they can repair and rebuild."

Last week's storms were the latest in a series of severe weather events that have pelted Alabama this spring. Johnson said the company has received about 8,000 storm-related claims in the last month with an anticipated cost of about $50 million.

To report a claim, contact a local Alfa service center, call 1-800-964-2532, or visit www.AlfaInsurance.com.

Cullman County takes top honors at Farm-City Program

Cullman County Farm-City Chairman Kirk Mancer, left, accepts the award for Best Farm-City Committee from Alabama Farm-City Chairman Jeff Helms.
County volunteers, along with several young artists and writers who excel in fostering understanding and cooperation among rural and urban residents, were honored April 11 during the Alabama Farm-City Awards Luncheon in Birmingham.

Cullman County was recognized as the best Farm-City committee in the state for outstanding activities including a farm tour, banquet, proclamation breakfast, farm product spotlight, video contest, Farm-City Web site and balloon release. Cullman County also won the top award for counties in Division 1 (population 35,600 or more), as well as a category award for Best Scrapbook and the Target Award for best incorporation of the national Farm-City theme of "Agriculture: A Growing Story."

Other winners in Division 1 were: Montgomery County, Best Farm-City Tour; Russell County, Innovative Idea Award; St. Clair County, Best Civic Club Activities and Best Special Activities; and Coffee County, Best Media Coverage/Proclamation, Best Farm-City Dinner, and Division 1 Runner-Up.

Pike County took top honors in Division 2 (population less than 35,600). The Pike County Farm-City Committee also earned the Best Media Coverage/Proclamation Award. Other Division 2 winners were: Cherokee County, Best Farm-City Tour, Innovative Idea Award and Runner-up in the division; Chambers County, tie for Scrapbook Award; Randolph County, tie for Scrapbook Award, Best Civic Club Activities and Target Award; Geneva County, Best Farm-City Dinner; and Henry County, Best Special Activities.

Cullman and Pike counties also received plaques from the National Farm-City Council for winning their respective divisions.

In addition to recognizing outstanding county Farm-City committees, this year the Alabama Farm-City Committee chose to honor an individual with the first-ever Volunteer of the Year Award. This inaugural award was presented to Betty Wilson of Russell County. Mrs. Wilson has served on her county committee for 28 years and has been instrumental in organizing events, recruiting other volunteers and chronicling the activities of the group.

"Agriculture: A Growing Story," was the theme for this year's poster and essay contests. In the poster contest, Sara Buchanan of Etowah County took first place in the Kindergarten-Third Grade Division, while Ivey Kate Helms of Pike County took first place in the Fourth-Sixth Grade Division. Second place in the Kindergarten-Third Grade Division went to Brodie Lane Johnson of Lawrence County, and Kimberly Medukas of Marshall County placed second in the Fourth-Sixth Grade Division. First-place winners in the poster contest each received $200; second-place winners each received $100; and each winner's school received matching contributions.

Taking top honors in the essay contest were Key'ousha Foster of Pike County in the Seventh-Ninth Grade Division, and McCall Barnett of Marion County in the 10th-12th Grade Division. Meanwhile, Victoria Booker of St. Clair County took second place in the Seventh-Ninth Grade Division, and Sarah Swain of Calhoun County took second place in the 10th-12th Grade Division. First-place winners in the essay contest each received $300, with second-place winners each receiving $200. Each winner's school received matching contributions.

The winning posters will be featured in the 2012 Alabama Farm-City calendar along with the artwork of 10 other students who received honorable mentions. Those students were: Makayla Delvecchio, Houston County; Grant Massey, Washington County; Chandan Makwana, Cullman County; Kole Varner, Covington County; Jacob Daughtrey, Chambers County; Logan Shelton, Randolph County; Breannah Kent, Cherokee County; Tristan Connell, Cullman County; Addison Parrish, Clarke County; and Kristopher Cooper, Pickens County.

The Farm-City Committee of Alabama sponsors the annual awards program in cooperation with Alabama Farmers Cooperative and Alabama Ag in the Classroom.

Roby Tours Farms

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama's 2nd Congressional District toured farms in the Wiregrass Tuesday, including the farm of Ed White of Headland where she learned about the technology farmers use to increase productivity.

President signs bill to repeal 1099 regs

President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into law legislation officially repealing the 1099 reporting requirement included in last year's health care law. Under terms of the repeal, businesses will no longer be required to issue 1099 forms to all vendors from whom they buy more than $600 worth of goods or services in any year, beginning in 2012.

"I was pleased to take another step to relieve unnecessary burdens on small businesses by signing H.R. 4 into law," the president said. "Small business owners are the engine of our economy and because Democrats and Republicans worked together, we can ensure they spend their time and resources creating jobs and growing their business, not filling out more paperwork."

The Alabama Farmers Federation and American Farm Bureau Federation backed the 1099 repeal.

Women's Leadership Conference

More than 200 female farm leaders attended the annual Alabama Farmers Federation Women's Leadership Conference in Birmingham April 10-11. The conference included workshops and discussions on fashion, politics and farming. Brian Hardin, assistant director for the Federation's Department of Governmental and Agricultural Programs, discusses the Legislative Action Center on the Alfa Farmers' Web site with Karen Wyatt of Shelby County, seated, and Lydia Haynes of Cullman County.

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