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May 20, 2011   Email to Friend 

Recovery from record-breaking storms continues

Alfa President Jerry Newby, right, and Alfa Claims Adjuster Todd Dillashaw, center, deliver a check to Alfa policyholder Diane Pounders of Hackleburg following the storm.
Three weeks after deadly tornadoes ripped through Alabama, Alfa Insurance employees and farmers from throughout the country continue to help in the recovery. Alfa has serviced about 85 percent of the 19,000 claims that have been reported to date, and additional adjusters are being rotated into the hardest hit areas to make sure every claim is handled as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, county Farmers Federations and Farm Bureau members from other states have donated thousands of dollars and truckloads of supplies to the recovery effort. An Ohio Farm Bureau group called "Ohio Farmers Pay it Forward," is among those planning a trip to Alabama to donate labor and supplies. Farmers Federations from south Alabama also joined in the relief effort by volunteering time, money and equipment to help their north Alabama neighbors.

Alfa President Jerry Newby praised company's employees for their response to the storms in a company-wide email Wednesday.

"I want to thank each of you for what you've done and continue to do," Newby said. "Our advanced planning has allowed us to respond to our policyholders quickly and to maintain our financial strength."

Newby noted that the entire insurance industry is evaluating risk exposure in light of the unprecedented storm. During this time, Alfa is taking steps to manage growth in its property lines of business.

"We remain committed to providing policyholders with multi-line coverage and outstanding customer service," Newby said. "I appreciate all of the Alfa employees who have gone the extra mile to help our customers recover from this tragic event. Please continue to pray for those whose lives were impacted by these storms."

Task force to study tornado timber damage

The storms that tore across the state in April have severely damaged or destroyed nearly 200,000 acres of timber causing an economic loss of an estimated $259 million in revenue. Steve Guy, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation's forestry division, has been appointed to a 38-member forest recovery task force organized by Gov. Robert Bentley. The group's first meeting was May 17.

Guy will serve on the Governmental Affairs and Reforestation Subcommittees within the task force.

"The biggest thing the Farmers Federation will be doing is working with federal disaster programs to provide funding for cleanup and reforestation," Guy said.

The Federation will also aid in the task force's efforts to relay information about salvage and reforestation to landowners. The group's immediate objectives are to identify the needs of affected landowners, loggers and members of the forest products industry; to monitor, record and report salvage efforts; and to seek funding for restoration efforts.

Damaged forest land should be reported to the landowner's county Farm Service Agency office. A list of county FSA offices can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov or call (334) 279-3500.

How Things Grow

The Cleburne County Young Farmers and Cleburne County High School FFA recently held Farm Day for more than 350 students in pre-K through fourth grade at Cleburne County Elementary School. Students learned about farm animals, how plants grow and the importance of agriculture in their daily lives. Cleburne County Farmers Federation Board Member Gean Harris demonstrates how potatoes are grown to a group of students.

Jillian Clair joins staff as summer intern

The Alabama Farmers Federation has hired an Auburn University graduate as a public relations intern.

Jillian Clair, originally from Williamson, Ga., received a bachelor's degree in agricultural communications May 9.

Clair concentrated on print journalism during her time at Auburn. She worked for The Auburn Plainsman for two years, serving as news editor. She also contributed to Ag Illustrated, a publication of the College of Agriculture and was a photographer for Auburn's yearbook, The Glomerata.

"We are glad to have Jill on our team," said Jeff Helms, director of the Federation's department of public relations and communications. "Her background in agricultural communications and extensive writing experience with The Plainsman will allow her to hit the ground running. Jill's appreciation for the importance of agriculture and ability to help tell farmers' stories will serve our members well."

Clair said her experience with The Plainsman was integral to her development as a writer and confirmed her desire to work in journalism and public relations. "Not only did I learn how to cover a variety of topics, I also learned how to work with a variety of people," Clair said. "I learned that as a writer, 90 percent of my time is spent with people, and I love that. I love people."

Clair also enjoys traveling and experiencing different cultures. She spent six weeks in France and Tunisia during the summer of 2010 documenting her experiences through blogging and photography.

Clair said she is looking forward to using her background in journalism to promote Alabama agriculture.

"Ag is something I can get behind and really support," Clair said. "Farmers and other professionals in the agriculture industry need to be heard, and I can't wait to share their stories."

Helping Tornado Victims

Farmers Federation Members in Baldwin, Mobile, Escambia, Conecuh, Monroe , Washington and Wilcox counties raised more than $30,000 and donated equipment and supplies to tornado-ravaged areas of north Alabama immediately following the storms. Some county leaders traveled to the areas to deliver the money and supplies. From left are Richard Cox of Baldwin County, Chase Bradley of Monroe County, Donna Stephenson of Bethel Baptist Church in Pleasant Grove, David and Gloria Bitto of Baldwin County, Will Nahrgang of Grace Life Baptist Church in McCalla and Debbie Freeland of Mobile County.

USDA to survey farmers in June

Farmers who take a survey administered by the USDA this June will help provide important information to government agencies and other Alabama producers.

USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will spend the first two weeks of June surveying 2,000 farmers across Alabama to get a clear indication of the production and supply of major commodities for the year.

The information provided will be compiled into one publicly accessible report while maintaining the confidentiality of individual farmers.

The June survey will help determine what crops have been planted and what commodities are in storage. This information will provide a comprehensive picture of how things are shaping up in 2011 for the U.S. agriculture industry.

"For this survey, we contact producers either by mail, phone or personal visit," said William Weaver, director of the NASS Alabama Field Office. "They also have the option of responding via the Internet. We ask them to provide information on their total acreage, acres planted to specific commodities--including biotech varieties and quantities of grains and oilseeds stored on-farm."

The information obtained from the survey is a critical component of several key national reports, including the annual acreage report and the quarterly grain stocks report, both to be released June 30.

Survey data will also contribute to NASS's monthly and annual Crop Production reports and various other crop and livestock-related publications, including USDA's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

The information helps producers, suppliers, traders, buyers, export customers and others make sound and informed business decisions.

Teacher of the Year

Alabama's Teacher of the Year, Dr. Gay Barnes of Horizon Elementary School in Madison, received a new car, courtesy of Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation, May 12 in Montgomery. From left are Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, Dr. Joseph Morton, Barnes, Alfa President Jerry Newby and Alfa Executive Vice President of Marketing Herman Watts.

Peanut Producers to hold referendum for checkoff program

The Alabama Peanut Producers Association (APPA) is required by law to hold a producer referendum every three years to continue the state check-off program for peanuts. This year's referendum has been set for May 26. Polling places are currently being established in each county with over 500 acres of peanuts in the 2010 crop year.

Some counties with less than 500 acres will have a polling site upon request. Polling hours will be from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. unless otherwise stated.

Any producer who has grown peanuts in crop years 2008, 2009, or 2010 is eligible to vote.

For additional criteria for voting eligibility and polling locations check the APPA Web site at www.alpeanuts.com

Farm-City Tour

The Coffee County Farm-City Committee recently hosted a farm tour attended by committee members, business leaders, local politicians and officials from Fort Rucker Army Base. The tour included stops at a row crop operation, a poultry farm and a bull-testing facility. From left are Coffee County Farm-City committee member Pat Presley, chairman Daniel Stephens and secretary Mary McLean.

Tours announced for Federation members

Trips to New York and Hawaii will be available to members of the Alabama Farmers Federation who want to expand their knowledge of the beef industry, attend the American Farm Bureau's annual meeting or tour a tropical paradise.

The Federation's annual Beef Tour will be Sept. 11-17 in New York and will feature stops at Cornell University's research farm, several commercial cow-calf farms, commercial hay farms, steeplechase grounds, Finger Lake Wineries, Niagara Falls and Corning Glass Works.

Members who are interested in attending the Beef Tour should contact Beef Division Director Nate Jaeger for more details at NJaeger@AlfaFarmers.org or call (334) 613-4221.

Hawaii Farm Bureau will host the American Farm Bureau's 92nd annual meeting Jan. 7-11, 2012, in Honolulu.

Destinations, the Alabama Farmers Federation's in-house meeting management company, will offer three options for the AFBF Hawaii meeting.
• Members may select an option to attend only the convention, Jan. 7-11;
• Members may select the convention and a tour package Jan. 7-19; or
• Members may attend only the Hawaii Tour Jan. 10-19.

The guided agricultural tour will include visits to farms unique to Hawaii. Attendees also will have ample free time for independent leisure and recreational activities, on their own, such as whale watching, sport fishing, snorkeling and helicopter tours.

More details about the tours will be available soon and will be in The Cultivator and posted to the Web site AlfaFarmers.org

Sessions wins race for District 105 seat

David Sessions, the Federation's endorsed candidate for the special election to fill the vacant Alabama House seat for District 105 in Mobile County, won the May 10 election by an 8-point margin.

Sessions, a Republican, replaces two-term Rep. Spencer Collier, R-Irvington, who was named director of the state department of Homeland Security by Gov. Robert Bentley in December.

"It was an interesting experience for me being a farmer to run for political office," Sessions said. "It was really gratifying to have the Farmers Federation's support. I've always supported the Federation, and it was an honor to have them support me the way they did."

A Mobile County farmer, Sessions has been an active member of the Farmers Federation since 1979.

Sessions' term begins May 24, and he will serve the communities of Dauphin Island, Irvington, Grand Bay, Coden, Theodore and Bayou La Batre.

Peanut Producers help storm victims

The Alabama Peanut Producers along with Peanut Proud, which organizes humanitarian efforts for the peanut industry, assisted storm victims in areas of Alabama and Georgia following the April 27 tornadoes.

The producers sent backpacks and packages of peanuts to children in Hackleburg whose school was destroyed by the storm. The backpacks also contained Alabama Farm coloring books from the Houston County Women's Leadership Committee.

Items also were sent to Cullman and Jasper as part of storm relief efforts.

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