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August 26, 2011   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Federation Awards 20 Auburn Scholarships

Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan talks with Anna Marie Adcock, an Auburn University senior majoring in agricultural economics, who has received the Alabama Farmers Federation Scholarship since her freshman year. After graduation, Adcock plans to attend law school and practice environmental law.
The Alabama Farmers Federation awarded 20 scholarships to Auburn University agriculture and forestry students from across the state during the College of Agriculture's Scholarship Recognition Program, Aug. 20.

For nearly 30 years, the Federation has awarded scholarships to Auburn University students who are studying agriculture, forestry, fisheries, agricultural engineering, biological sciences or agricultural education.

This year's recipients were Anna Adcock of Woodland, James Bailey of Cedar Bluff, Erika Becker of Wadley, Caleb Bright of Cullman, Kendall Burnett of Lawley, Hunter Duncan of Moundville, Ashley Durrett of Northport, Jessica Farrow of Ashland, Morgan Harper of Camden, Benjamin Johnson of Wedowee, Zachary Jones of Piedmont, Anna Peek of Elkmont, David Reeves of Hartselle, Curry Sanders of Dothan, Jonathan Tharpe of Skipperville, Trey Tidmore of Scottsboro, Carla Weissend of Montgomery, Kevin Wells of Jasper, Solora Wright of Rogersville and Zachary Lee of Prattville.

The scholarships, valued up to $1,750 per student, are renewable each year to students who maintain a 2.5 grade point average and exhibit good moral character and citizenship.

Students planning to pursue agriculture or forestry degrees at Auburn University have until Dec. 1 to apply for Fall 2012 scholarships.

Federal Judge Hears Arguments to Block Immigration Law

Parts of Alabama's new immigration law scheduled to take affect Sept. 1 could be blocked by a federal court judge who held hearings on the law earlier this week.

The U.S. Justice Department, a group of Alabama church leaders and several civil rights groups are asking U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn to block the law's Sept. 1 implementation date, arguing it violates several basic rights and conflicts with federal law.

During the all-day hearing in Birmingham Wednesday, Blackburn acknowledged flaws in two of the law's provisions.

Blackburn questioned the requirement for school districts to check the immigration status of newly enrolled students, as well as a provision that allows law enforcement officers with "reasonable suspicion" that a person is in the country illegally to detain the person while checking their status. The judge also described immigration violations as a civil offense rather than a criminal offense.

Blackburn did not indicate when she would rule, but a decision is likely to come before the Sept. 1 implementation date.

A federal judge in Georgia ruled June 27 against a law requiring police to check the immigration status of suspects who cannot produce identification. A provision that made it a crime to harbor or transport an undocumented immigrant was also blocked in Georgia.

Several other states have also had parts of their immigrations laws blocked, but in all cases, the federal judges have upheld mandating electronic verification (E-Verify), a provision that will affect every business in Alabama.

The Alabama Farmers Federation supports secure borders and immigration reform but maintains the state immigration law does not provide an adequate method of obtaining legal workers.

The Federation is following the law's progress closely. Visit AlfaFarmers.org for updates.

Alabama Community Receives Rural Development Grant

The town of Vina, Ala., a community 47 miles southwest of Florence, was one of 18 recipients selected to receive funding through the Community Connect program, which helps provide broadband services to unserved and underserved rural communities.

Vina is scheduled to receive $570,800 on behalf of its grantee, R&S Communications, LLC.

According to a release issued by the USDA's Department of Communications, funds provided by Community Connect can be used to construct, acquire or lease facilities to deploy broadband to community facilities such as schools and public safety buildings, as well as residents and businesses in the community. The grantee must agree to provide local community centers in the selected towns with at least 10 computers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday that more than $103 million will be provided in rural broadband funding.

"Without broadband, rural communities, agricultural producers and business owners face a substantial challenge," Vilsack said. "These loans and grants will bring the benefits of broadband, including new educational, business and public health and safety opportunities to residents living in some of the most remote parts of our nation."

The Alabama Farmers Federation has been an advocate of expanding broadband to rural areas.

Moo-ve Aside: Organic Dairy Takes Center Stage

Extension Specialist Boyd Brady and Tom McCaskey, microbiology and food safety professor at Auburn University, evaluate the Working Cows Dairy Monday, Aug. 22, for the Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year Award. If accepted by Alabama's Department of Agriculture and Industries, the de Jongs will compete in the annual contest sponsored by the International Dairy Foods Association. From left are: Ike, Mendy, Jonny, Rinske and Jan de Jong; Brady; McCaskey; and Alabama Farmers Federation Dairy Director Guy Hall.

Dairy farms aren't exactly new ventures in Alabama, but one Geneva County farm is certainly making a name for itself.

Working Cows Dairy, owned and operated by Jan and Rinske de Jong alongside sons Jonny, Mendy and Ike, is Alabama's first certified organic dairy.

For their efforts in bringing a new product to the state, the de Jongs are the 2011 nominee for the International Dairy Foods Association's (IDFA) awards program.

"We appreciate the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries nominating the de Jong family's farm as the Alabama candidate for the IDFA Innovative Dairy Farm of the Year," said Guy Hall, director of the Federation's Dairy, Poultry and Pork divisions. "If being an organic milk producer wasn't enough, the de Jongs also package and market their milk directly on the farm."

Since bottling their first batch of "Alabama's Organic Milk" May 15, 2010, the de Jongs have expanded their product line to include whole, 2 percent, 1 percent, skim and chocolate milk. Covering all aspects of product development and distribution, they also deliver milk to specialty food stores and markets in parts of Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

While their process may appear seamless, Jonny noted that it hasn't been without its share of difficulty.

"The way things were going, we knew we couldn't keep operating and make a profit with fuel prices going up, feed prices going up and the cost of milk staying the same," said Jonny. "It's been a tough couple of years, but financially, we know it'll be a good idea in the long-run."

To purchase "Alabama's Organic Milk," visit Working Cows Dairy at 5539 N. State Highway, Slocomb, Ala. 36375. For more on their product, visit WorkingCowsDairy.com.

Calhoun County Awards College-Bound Graduates

The Calhoun County Women's Leadership Committee presented two $2,000 agriculture-related scholarships to deserving students during the county Federation's annual meeting. From left are: Doris Prickett, chairperson; Colt Curvin, recipient from Alexandria High School; Chance Coger, recipient from White Plains High School; and Libby Hays, scholarship committee member.

Farm Bill Listening Session Set for Sept. 1

Peanut growers will have an opportunity next week to voice their opinions on the upcoming farm bill.

The Alabama Peanut Producers Association will be holding a "listening session" for the peanut industry Sept. 1, at The Gathering Place in Headland from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The meeting will gather input on the upcoming farm bill as it relates to peanuts. U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, will be in attendance to hear comments.

The Gathering Place is located at 16070 Highway 431 N., Headland, Ala. 36345. For more information, contact the Alabama Peanut Producers Association at (334) 792-6482.

Deep South Stocker Conference

Clay Kennamer of Jackson County, left, and Jack Gilbert of Limestone County discuss the future of Alabama's stocker business during the Deep South Stocker Conference at the E.V. Smith Research Center in Shorter, Aug. 19. The conference is a joint effort of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Mississippi State University Extension Service and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. For more information, visit DeepSouthStocker.com.

Wheat and Feed Grains Referendum Sept. 8

Alabama wheat and feed grain producers who produced feed grains in 2010 or planted for harvest in 2011 are eligible to vote Sept. 8 on whether to continue the state checkoff program for five more years at the current rate of 1 cent per bushel on corn, wheat, grain sorghum and oats sold in Alabama.

For details and polling locations, visit AlfaFarmers.org or contact Buddy Adamson at (334) 613-4216 or badamson@alfafarmers.org.

Piedmont Cattle Sell Quickly in Web-based Board Sale

Jimmy Collins, far left, looks on as Cal Green reads out the lot details during the Aug. 18 Piedmont Feeder Cattle Board Sale. Col. Don Green, center, served as auctioneer for the event, which was held at the Alabama Farmers Federation's home office in Montgomery. This marked the first time the Piedmont Cattle Marketing Association opened its popular sale online, which had 112 viewers from 26 states.
Nearly 1,100 preconditioned steers and heifers were sold Aug. 18 during the Piedmont Feeder Cattle Board Sale at the Federation's home office in Montgomery.

Organized by Alabama Farmers Federation Beef Division Director Nate Jaeger, this event marked the first time cattle were sold in a nontraditional format.

"The Alabama Farmers Federation was happy to host the most recent sale of the Piedmont Cattle Marketing Association," said Jaeger. "While it is one of the oldest board sales in the state, their members introduced something very new - online bidding."

A total of 727 steers and 367 heifers were sold during the 47-minute long event. Bidders were able to view video clips of each lot on the sellers' farms, resulting in less stress on the animals.

Jaeger said the Federation helped clerk the sale and administer the listings on CattleUSA.com, which had a total viewing audience of 112 people from 26 states.

"With online usage by farmers and feedlot owners increasing, live broadcasting and bidding of sales could become more popular for special feeder calf sales in Alabama," he said.

Hosting the Piedmont Cattle Board Sale is just another way the Federation is working to strengthen relationships with Alabama's farmers. In 2004, the Federation developed a new website to assist beef producers in getting top dollar for their feeder cattle and replacement females.

AlFeederCattle.com allows producers to advertise their cattle online. Interested producers and prospective buyers may sign up for email alerts that notify them when new lots have been posted to the site.

For more information about AlFeederCattle.com, contact Jaeger at (334) 613-4221 or NJaeger@AlfaFarmers.org.

Classes Help Educate, Surface Candidates for Upcoming Elections

The Alabama Farmers Federation has teamed up with the Alabama Rural Electric Association to conduct a series of classes for potential political candidates.

The classes are open to anyone interested in running for political office in local and state races, or for anyone interested in working to help elect others.

Information will include how to qualify to run for office and what reports are necessary for candidates to file, as well as effective methods to win elections.

Classes will be:
• Oct. 17 - 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Cullman AREA building
• Oct. 18 - 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Prattville AREA building
• Oct. 19 - 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Baldwin County Farmers Federation building
• Oct. 20 - 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Hartford AREA building

Classes cost $30, which includes lunch and supplies. Payment is due by Oct. 10. Mail checks to: Alabama Farmers Federation, Attn: Syd Alford, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, Ala. 36191.

For more information, contact Alford at (334) 613-4576 or SAlford@AlfaIns.com.

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