Comments sought for how DOT changes could affect farmers
The U.S. Department of Transportation is asking farmers and ranchers to respond to three proposals that could have a serious impact on their ability to run their farms and ranches. The issues deal with whether agriculture is inter- or intrastate commerce and whether drivers of farm equipment should be required to have a commercial driver's license.
American Farm Bureau Transportation Specialist Elizabeth Jones says as the Department of Transportation tries to learn more about how the new rules would affect U.S. agriculture, farmers and ranchers need to explain how proposed changes would affect farm labor.
The Alabama Farmers Federation is developing comments that will be submitted to DOT officials and the state's congressional delegation. Federation members are encouraged to contact their congressman and ask them to oppose increased regulations. Comments must be submitted by Aug. 1.
To submit comments to DOT, visit www.regulations.gov or mail comments to USDOT, Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.
Immigration discussion added to Commodity Producers Conference
In response to the newly passed state immigration law, portions of which have already gone into effect, another session has been added to the Alabama Farmers Federation's Commodity Producers Conference, Aug. 4-7 in Huntsville.
Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, three speakers will inform attendees about the requirements of the new law, which require all employers to use the E-verify system when hiring immigrant workers.
"We have received numerous calls from producers across the state relative to the newly passed immigration bill, so we feel this is an excellent opportunity to have timely information for those attending the commodity conference this year," said Mac Higginbotham, director of the Federation's Greenhouse, Nursery, & Sod and Horticulture Divisions. "Producers will get the latest updates on both federal and state immigration legislation and have an opportunity to learn about guest worker programs."
Higginbotham said the immigration legislation also was a major topic of discussion during a recent State Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Committee meeting.
Paul Schlegel, director of Environment, Energy, Conservation, Private Forestry and Immigration Reform for the American Farm Bureau will be among the speakers. He will discuss federal immigration legislation and a new congressional bill which would require mandatory E-Verify for all states if passed.
Ted Hosp, an attorney with Maynard Cooper & Gale, P.C., which has offices in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery, will explain the details of the immigration law in understandable terms.
Dan Bremer, owner and operator of AgWorks, Inc., has 24 years of experience serving as the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour district director.
Bremer will share information on the H-2A guest worker programs and discuss how his company helps connect producers with a stable workforce.
Higginbotham said there will be time for attendees to ask questions after the speakers finish their presentations.
"We know there are a lot of producers who are being impacted by this legislation," Higginbotham said.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., District 5, will make an appearance Saturday as well. He will start Saturday's session and will briefly update attendees on current happenings in Washington that could affect Alabama farmers.
Brooks is originally from Huntsville and serves on the House Armed Services, Homeland Security and Science, Space and Technology Committees.
Oliver Wood Till Jr., a member of the Dallas County Farmers Federation Board of Directors, died June 15. He was 78.
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Ann Till; his sons, Bruce (Marge) Till and Woody (Cheryl) Till; a daughter, Terri (Billy) Watts and five grandchildren. Other survivors include his brother, Jerry Till; sisters, Doris Till and Nell Madaris; and several nieces and nephews.
Wood farmed most of his life, starting with his family in Braggs, Ala., in the early 1950s. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he farmed 10 years in Prattville and 45 years in the Kings Landing area near Selma. He was a member of First Baptist Church in Selma and was recently honored as a deacon emeritus.
The family suggests gifts be directed to the Building Renovation Fund, c/o First Baptist Church, Post Office Box 1186, Selma, AL. 36702-1186, or other charities.
Program helps train local officers on animal care
The Alabama Coalition for Farm Animal Care and Well-Being hosted three sessions around the state recently entitled "Animal Agriculture 101."
|Alabama Farmers Federation Broadcast Director Kevin Worthington, right, was among those who spoke at the Animal Agriculture 101 program in Troy, June 23. Worthington discussed working with the media. He is pictured with Nicole McLaughlin of the Montgomery Humane Society, left, and Sgt. Tracy Ward of the Houston County Sheriff's Department.|
The first session was June 23 at the Pike County Cattleman's Park Building in Troy. About 30 people attended including officials with local humane shelters and humane societies, police officers and county commissioners. The idea was to share knowledge about humane handling practices for farm animals.
Attendees heard from six speakers on topics such as animal identification, animal behavior and handling, media relations, evaluating animal health and the role of the Alabama Department of Agriculture.
Nicole McLaughlin of the Montgomery Humane Society said the best aspect of the workshop was learning about available resources for working with farm animals.
"We have people living in urban areas who bring in animals like chickens or lambs who got more than they bargained for," McLaughlin said. "It's nice to know where to get the supplies and advice to take care of these animals until we find them a suitable home."
McLaughlin said she feels more qualified to serve farm animals after the workshop.
Sgt. Tracy Ward of the Houston County Sheriff's Department said the information he learned at the workshop would make certain parts of his job easier.
"I took away a lot of information I wasn't aware of, like handling livestock," Ward said. "We cover a lot of rural areas, so we're constantly dealing with livestock getting out of fences, so I think this information is going to be very helpful."
Other sessions were held June 28 in Fort McClellan and June 30 in Mobile. The coalition includes the Alabama Farmers Federation and other ag organizations.
Garden for Big Oak Ranch
|Members of the St. Clair County Young Farmers Committee recently combined their love of farming with community spirit when they planted a large garden for Big Oak Ranch. Local farmers donated the materials for the project and the St. Clair County Women's Leadership Division will help house parents with post-harvest storage and cooking techniques. Volunteers plan to routinely return to the ranch to spray, fertilize and help harvest the vegetables. The boys who live at the ranch will be responsible for watering the plants each day.|
Lumber checkoff approved by voters
USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service announced that U.S. manufacturers and importers of softwood lumber voted to establish a research and promotion program. Two-thirds of voters, representing 80 percent of the volume of softwood lumber manufactured by those voting in the May 23-June 10 referendum, backed implementation of a checkoff.
AMS estimates the program will generate $17.5 million annually for softwood lumber research, promotion and industry information.
The lumber is used in products like flooring, siding and framing. Domestic manufacturers and importers will pay an assessment of up to 50 cents per thousand board feet, with the initial assessment rate being 35 cents. Smaller manufacturers and importers handling less than 15 million board feet annually will be exempt from paying assessments.
Grain management workshop set for July 20 at Hillsboro Gin
Auburn University's Cooperative Extension System will host the Tennessee Valley Stored Grain Management Workshop July 20 at Hillsboro Gin Co., Inc. in Hillsboro. The Alabama Wheat and Feed Grain Checkoff committee is sponsoring the program. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.
Mark Hamilton of Hamilton Gin Co., Inc. will give attendees tips on setting up new grain storage systems and explain existing grain storage systems.
Dr. John Fulton, extension specialist in biosystems engineering at Auburn University, will speak on logistics and conveyance at 9 a.m.
Dr. Brenda Ortiz, extension specialist in agronomy and soils at Auburn University will discuss mycotoxin considerations and pre-harvest management practices to maximize grain quality.
Fulton will lecture about grain drying at 10:15 a.m., followed by Clay Watkins of Watkins & Sons MFG, Inc., who will discuss designing grain storage systems. The final session, a lecture about managing insects that attach stored grain, will begin at 11:15.
Lunch will be served following the meeting and Certified Crop Advisor credits will be awarded for qualified participants. For more information, contact Morgan County Extension Agent Eric Schavey at (256) 773-2549.
Teachers become students at annual AITC Summer Institute
Teachers turned into students as they stepped off the bus at the farm of Brian and Don Glenn in Lawrence County during the annual Alabama Agriculture in the Classroom Summer Institute, June 15-17.
|Lawrence County farmer Brian Glenn, left, talks to Ceil Sikes, headmaster of Pike Liberal Arts School in Troy, and Ulanda Washington of South Dale Middle School in Pinckard who were among the 76 educators who toured his farm and other locations in northeast Alabama as part of the Alabama Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute June 15-17.|
The teachers were willing to learn, and the Glenns were eager to share their story.
Don agreed, adding that there are too many groups today who are painting an incorrect picture of production agriculture, especially from an environmental point of view.
"We're trying to do the right things and for the right reasons," Don said. "We have to get our message out to the general public and what better way to do it than through the teachers who are teaching in the classroom?"
The teachers who attended the institute say they can't wait to get back to the classroom and share what they've learned.
"This entire program is superior to any workshop I've ever attended," said second-grade teacher Lydia Davis of Indian Valley Elementary School in Sylacauga. "I've been absolutely wowed. The impact it has had on me is phenomenal.
"Going to the farms was wonderful," Davis added. "When I saw the seed, the tractor and the soil and then saw the pride in the farmer's eye as he showed us what he did, it was so impactful. I can't wait to share it with my students."
Sherene Langham of Hazelwood School in Town Creek said the institute was unlike any workshop she's ever attended.
"I've learned about the food chain and how we can use agriculture to teach all across the curriculum," she said. "We can use agriculture to teach math, science, social studies, reading comprehension - everything! And they gave us the tools to do it with. It couldn't be much easier than that."
Calhoun County Cooking Contest
|The Calhoun County Farmers Federation Women's Leadership Committee recently held its annual county cooking contest. The winner will go on to represent Calhoun County in the Heritage Cooking Contest Sept. 1 in Montgomery. From left are Frankie Ponder; Ginny Costner; first-place winner Phyllis Johnson; second-place winner Delle Bean; Dorris Prickett; third-place winner Linda Loveless; and Linda Findley. This year's featured recipes will showcase homemade cookies.|
NRCS disaster recovery signup begins July 8
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has made available $3.8 million in financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to assist producers recovering from the tornadoes that ravaged Alabama during April and May this year.
Applications are being accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications. The first submission date will be July 8.
Financial assistance will be provided for practices that were destroyed or damaged due to the tornadoes, including comprehensive nutrient management plans, waste storage facility, animal mortality facility, composting facility, critical area planting, fence, grade stabilization structure, grassed waterway, irrigation water management, land smoothing, land clearing, access control, mulching, pasture and hayland planting, pipeline, pumping plant for water control, heavy use area protection, stream crossing, terraces, watering facility, livestock shade structure, temporary waste field storage and seasonal high tunnel house.
Eligible counties include: Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Colbert, Covington, Cullman, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, St. Clair, Sumter, Tallapoosa, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Winston and Washington.
Interested landowners can contact their local NRCS office listed in the telephone book under U.S. Department of Agriculture or online at USDA. General program information is available on the Alabama NRCS website at NRCS.