Conference Participants Eager To Learn
|Mark McGee of McGee Livestock Farms in Petersburg, Tenn., left, discusses how he uses sour mash from the Jack Daniel's Distillery to feed dairy replacement heifers and beef stocker cattle during the yellow tour of the Alabama Farmers Federation's 39th annual Commodity Producers Conference.|
Immigration Seminar Offers Answers, Advice
The sight of unpicked produce rotting in the field was still on farmers' minds when they gathered for a seminar on Alabama's new immigration law at the Federation's Commodity Producers Conference Saturday.
The seminar followed a day of tours that included a stop at a farm where migrant workers have fled in advance of the Sept. 1 effective date of the new law.
Unfortunately, speakers at the seminar gave farmers little hope of reversing the flight of migrant workers or repealing provisions of the law that hurt agriculture.
"Employers should not expect the courts to block the sections most relevant to you," said Ted Hosp, an attorney with Maynard, Cooper and Gale, referring to the multiple lawsuits challenging the new law that were recently consolidated in federal district court. "The lawsuits do not challenge the provisions that would likely be most important to you. (Therefore), it is extremely important that as of April 1, 2012, you enroll in and use E-verify."
Although much of the new immigration law goes into effect Sept. 1, provisions requiring all Alabama employers to use the federal E-verify system do not kick in until April 1. Meanwhile, farmers across the state are reporting that migrant workers are leaving
because they fear harassment under the new law or have family members who are undocumented.
Hosp said one of the challenges of the new law is that it doesn't provide an option for existing workers to obtain legal work visas.
"Once an employee is here illegally, it is next to impossible to make that worker a legal worker," Hosp said, adding that there is a 10-year waiting period before an illegal worker who has been in the United States for a year or more can apply for legal status.
Speaker Dan Bremer of AgWorks told farmers that the federal H-2A program might provide an option for Alabama farmers who have lost their labor force.
Paul Schlegel of the American Farm Bureau Federation's public policy team encouraged farmers to tell legislators how the new law is affecting their businesses in hopes that state lawmakers will pressure Washington to develop an effective guest worker program.
In addition to making sure agriculture's needs are addressed in any federal immigration reform bill, Hosp said talking to legislators could help change the law during the 2012 legislative session.
Top Seamstresses Chosen at Conference
A pair of DeKalb County seamstresses took top honors during the annual Cotton, Sewing and Quilting Contests and Tablescapes Competition sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation Women's Leadership Committee Aug. 6 in Huntsville.
|First-place winners in the Cotton, Sewing and Quilting contests and Tablescapes competition were, from left, Jane Jones of Shelby County, tablescapes; Anne Yancey Barrett of DeKalb County, hand-stitched quilts; Blanche Lee Mitchell of Blount County, machine-stitched quilts; Linda Robertson of DeKalb County, handbags; and Grace Drouet of Cullman County, student handbags.|
The contest was held in conjunction with the Federation's 39th annual Commodity Producers Conference, Aug. 4-6 at the Von Braun Center. The conference attracted more than 700 farmers from throughout the state.
Anne Yancey Barrett of DeKalb County won first place in the hand-stitched quilting contest, while Linda Robertson of DeKalb County was the first-place winner in the handbag contest.
Other winners in the hand-stitched quilting contest were, second place, Blanche Lee Mitchell of Blount County; and third place, Gayle Smith of Limestone County.
Second- and third-place winners in the handbag contest were Jennifer Oden of Etowah County and Catherine Wood of Autauga County, respectively. Grace Drouet of Cullman County won first place in the student handbag contest, which was open to participants in the 7th-12th grades.
In the machine-stitched quilting contest, first place went to Blanche Lee Mitchell of Blount County. The second-place winner was Doris McGuire of Limestone County, and Agnes Pool of Shelby County won third.
The popular Tablescapes contest, which featured Alabama-grown commodities that adorned place settings, attracted a lot of attention again this year. The first-place winner was Jane Jones of Shelby County, who featured catfish. The second-place winner was Marie Slade of Clarke County, who featured forestry, and the third-place winner was Delana Randolph of Lawrence County, who featured poultry.
Winners in each division received cash awards of $150 for first place, $100 for second place and $75 for third place.
Tours Highlight State Commodities
More than 700 Alabama farmers took time away from their summer chores to share ideas and participate in educational programs at the Alabama Farmers Federation's 39th annual Commodity Producers Conference Aug. 4-6 in Huntsville.
Talladega County farmer Bob Luker said it's hard to leave the farm for three days, but he always learns something at the conference he can use back home.
"I get to interact with other people who do the same things I do," Luker said. "I get to network and see what works and what doesn't. It keeps me sharp."
The conference began Thursday night with a banquet and featured entertainment by the East Lawrence High School FFA Quartet and the Arab High School FFA String Band. On Friday, farmers set out for tours across north Alabama and southern Tennessee. Stops included livestock and row crop farms, a commercial apple orchard and a wood pellet manufacturing plant.
Saturday morning, farmers attended workshops on immigration, fertilizer prices, government regulations, farmers markets and forage varieties. That afternoon, nationally recognized speaker Jolene Brown challenged farm families to communicate better and plan for the future.
Other conference highlights included the Young Farmers Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture contests, along with the Cotton, Sewing and Quilting contests and Tablescapes competition sponsored by the Women's Leadership Division.
The conference finale featured U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville. In discussing the recent battle over raising America's debt ceiling, the congressman challenged Federation members to get involved in the legislative process.
|Alabama Farmers Federation Membership Director Marc Pearson, center, recently met with the Jackson County Farmers Federation Board of Directors to discuss new member benefits. From left are Jackson County President Phillip Thompson, County Treasurer Jerry Barton, Pearson, County Vice President Mack Hughes and County Women's Leadership Committee Member Sandra Bryant.|
Alfa AU scholarship eadline is Dec. 1
Students planning to pursue agriculture or forestry degrees at Auburn University have until Dec. 1 to apply for scholarships from Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation.
The scholarships, valued up to $1,750 per student per year, will be awarded to students who plan to enroll or are currently enrolled in Auburn's College of Agriculture or School of Forestry. Students majoring in agricultural engineering or ag education are also eligible.
Ag and forestry scholarships are renewable yearly to students who maintain a 2.5 grade point average and exhibit good moral character and citizenship.
Scholarship applications are available in all county Farmers Federation offices and local Alfa service centers. Applications also are on the AlfaFarmers.org website under "Programs."
Dee Named to United Soybean Board
Pickens County farmer Annie Dee has been appointed to the United Soybean Board by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Pat Buck of Sumter County was elected as an alternate board member.
Dee is a member of the Pickens County Farmers Federation board of directors and serves as chairman of the county's Equine Committee. She previously served on the Federation's State Wheat and Feed Grains Committee. She operates a 10,000-acre farm and ranch alongside her family where, in addition to soybeans, they raise corn, wheat, rye, sunflowers, cattle and timber.
Appointees were selected from soybean producers nominated by qualified state soybean boards. All appointees will serve 3-year terms beginning December 2011. The board is authorized by the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act.
The soybean research and promotion program is funded at the rate of one-half of 1 percent of the net market price of soybeans purchased. The board's goal is to strengthen the position of soybeans in the marketplace and maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets and uses for soybeans and soybean products.
Ag fees increase for AFO/CAFO program
Producers and others in the agriculture industry will soon be paying more in fees because of shortages in the state's general fund budget.
For the first time since 2000, farmers in the Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) program will be required to pay a registration fee to Alabama Department of Environmental Management when they send their registration notice.
Registration fees were previously paid by $350,000 in appropriations from the state legislature.
During the 2011 legislative session, funding for these CAFO registration permits for farmers was originally eliminated from the 2012 budget. The Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association worked with legislators to restore $150,173 to help farmers pay for ADEM registration permits.
Officials with ADEM announced these fees will increase 19 percent in December. The agency said the increase is neces- sary to offset the $2 million (32 percent) cut from its state general fund budget for fiscal year 2012, which begins Oct. 1.
The Department of Agriculture and Industries also recently approved increases in several fees, including license fees for commercial feed companies, annual inspection certificate fees for nurseries, inspection and license fees for commercial fertilizer distributors, inspection and permit fees for manufacturers and distributors of agricultural liming materials and permit fees for seed dealers and processors.
Visit AlfaFarmers.org for a detailed explanation of additional fee increases.
Alfa's Young Farmers Division had the opportunity to practice advocacy skills in the Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture contests, which were held in conjunction with the 39th annual Commodity Producers Conference in Huntsville, Aug. 4 -6.
|Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby presents Jena Perry of Choctaw County and Grace Smith of Autauga County with their Excellence in Agriculture awards. The contest is part of the Alabama Farmers Federation's Young Farmers Division. Perry will represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention in Hawaii in January.|
Jena Perry, an agriscience teacher at Southern Choctaw County High School, won the Excellence in Agriculture contest. She received $500 and will represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 2012 Annual Meeting in Hawaii. The first alternate was Grace Smith of Autauga County, who received $250.
The Excellence in Agriculture program is designed for young professionals who do not receive their primary source of income from farming. Each contestant presented an illustrated talk about how his or her work and civic activities strengthen agriculture. Other contestants were Joey Haymon of DeKalb County and John and Hannah Bevel of Marshall County.
Five finalists in the Discussion Meet also were selected at the conference. They were Kirk Smith of Blount County, Matt Ledbetter of Cleburne County, Tyler Dunn of Dale County, Colin Wilson of Jackson County and Stan Usery of Limestone County.
The Discussion Meet topic addressed misconceptions of animal agriculture. Contestants provided ideas on how farmers could prove their animals receive proper healthcare, dispelling negative publicity created by the media and ill informed consumers.
Saturday morning's preliminaries of competitions summed up an underlying theme: "We have the truth, facts and science on our side. We should be winning this war, not looking like we have something to hide."
Each contestant in the Discussion Meet received $100 and will compete in the Discussion Meet finals at the Federation's Annual Meeting in December. The state winner will receive $500 and will represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau Annual meeting in Hawaii.
The Discussion Meet competition combines public speaking, problem-solving and consensus-building abilities in a committee-style setting. Contestants were given a discussion topic based on issues affecting agriculture and engaged one another in a panel discussion.
All cash prizes were courtesy of the Alabama Farmers Federation.
Paul Craig Taylor, an Elmore County Farmers Federation board member, died July 31. He was 60.
Taylor was an active member and deacon of East Tallassee Baptist Church. He served as Elmore County commissioner for District 2, was a member of Tallassee Rotary Club and served on the board of directors of The Learning Tree. He also served in the Alabama National Guard and Alabama Air National Guard.
Survivors include his wife, Jane; daughter and son-in-law, Angela and Derrick Craig of Birmingham; sons and daughters- in-law Ben and Hannah Taylor of Tallassee, and Casey and Jennifer Taylor of Pelham; eight siblings and four grandchildren.