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October 07, 2011   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Cordova High School gains ag department

Thanks to a grant from the Walker County Farmers Federation, students in Cordova High School's agriscience program can get hands-on experience in carpentry skills. Recognizing the importance of building interest in trades like sawing, framing and finishing, the county Federation gave the school $50,000 to help develop its agricultural education department.
In an effort to build a solid foundation for agricultural education, the Walker County Farmers Federation contributed $50,000 to develop Cordova High School's agriscience and career tech program. The money will help purchase equipment, textbooks and other supplies.

Instructor Chad Tuggle, a former Spanish teacher, gained momentum for the new program with encouragement from Cordova Principal Kathy Vinston and Walker County Schools Superintendent Jason Adkins. Tuggle, Vinston and Adkins saw the need for an agriscience department and knew it would be a good way to encourage at-risk students to stay in school.

Tuggle, who has a background in construction and is a certified retaining wall installer, instructs his students on trade techniques including sawing, framing and finishing. They've made toolboxes, birdhouses and other small projects, but to fully master construction skills, students are in the planning stages of building a three-tiered pergola for an outdoor lunchroom, complete with picnic tables and benches.

To learn more about agriscience, Cordova students will also build a greenhouse and chicken coop.

"Poultry is an important commodity in our area," said Tuggle. "What better way to get students interested in possibly pursuing farming than by exposing them to it first-hand?"

Walker County Farmers Federation Vice President Dorman Grace is optimistic about how the agriscience program will benefit Cordova students and the Walker County area.

"There are a lot of kids who get left out because they're not athletes," said Grace. "Now, they can go to shop class and learn skills they aren't getting elsewhere that they can carry with them when they become part of the workforce."

Matthew Durdin, area 2 organization director for the Alabama Farmers Federation, said it is important to involve youth in agriscience education.

"When you offer this type of program, it keeps 20 to 30 percent of students in school," said Durdin. "They learn useful skills, but also develop a sense of responsibility."

To date, funding from Walker County Farmers Federation has allowed Tuggle to purchase equipment including a portable saw mill, a miter saw and hand tools.

Oct. 14 webinar to discuss impact of immigration law

Farmers and agribusinesses concerned about the impact of Alabama's new immigration law can view a web seminar series Oct. 14, hosted by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

"Now that there is a ruling from the federal district court, we are moving forward to help farmers and agribusinesses understand their role and responsibilities in complying with the immigration law," said Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan. "This law contains many provisions with stiff fines and penalties. It is critical for farmers and agribusinesses to understand fully how this law applies to them."

Working in conjunction with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries (ADAI) has advised agriculture stakeholder groups to invite their members to the three-part web seminar series, which begins at 10 a.m. and concludes at 1 p.m.

Labor law expert Thomas M. Eden of the Capell & Howard law firm will conduct the seminars, which include an overview of the law, complying with key provisions and record-keeping.

Specific seminar subjects are:
1) "Do's and Don'ts for Employers"
2) "The E-Verify Enrollment Process"
3) "Form I-9 Supervisor Training & Tips"

ACES has offices in all 67 Alabama counties where people can attend the web seminars. Seminars will be available online once live sessions are recorded and archived.

For more information, contact ADAI at (334) 240-7100. For ACES office locations, visit aces.edu/counties.

Coosa and Tallapoosa horse clinic Oct. 29

Horse enthusiasts and newcomers alike are invited to take advantage of available resources at the Coosa and Tallapoosa Horse Clinic in Alexander City Oct. 29, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The clinic, presented by the Coosa County Horse Council, will be at the Alexander City Horse Riding Club Arena at the Charles E. Bailey Sportsplex. For a map to the arena, visit www.achrc.com.

The event is free, and all ages are encouraged to attend.

Farriers; trainers; equine specialists from Auburn University and Tuskeegee University and several other experts will be on site to answer questions and provide demonstrations.

For more information, call (334) 782-3515.

Alfa, Federation support equine education

Judson College President David Potts, front left, accepts a check from Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, Sept. 29. The pledge from Alfa Insurance and the Federation will benefit Judson's Equine Studies Center. Also present were, from back left, Dickie Odom, district director and Greene County Farmers Federation president; Jake Harper, Southwest area vice president and Wilcox County Farmers Federation president; Jamie McConnell, State Equine Committee first vice chairman; and Nate Jaeger, Federation Equine Division director.
Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation pledged $50,000 to benefit Judson College's equine studies program Sept. 29.

The money, to be divided over a two-year period, will purchase a classroom in the Equine Studies Center. Once completed, the Equine Studies Center will be available for regional and state equine events including horse and trade shows, collegiate competitions, industry exhibits and equine educational conferences. It will also promote agritourism in that area.

"We are mindful of the fact that Alfa cares about places in small towns and rural communities all over this state," said Judson College President David Potts. "This contribution is the first funding we've received for the academic space in the equine center. It has been our dream to construct classroom space, and your contribution helps kick that process off for us."

Judson's equine studies program provides students interested in horses an opportunity to learn more about animal agriculture and prepare for a variety of careers that serve rural Alabama.

"I think the new equine program at Judson will pay big dividends in years to come," said Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan. "Farmers started this organization in 1921 with a mission to serve rural Alabamians with different issues. One of the issues facing us now is having enough qualified young men and women pursue degrees in large animal veterinary medicine and to come back and serve our farmers throughout Alabama. We hope Judson can plant some of those seeds with this gift."

Judson is the only college in Alabama to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in equine studies. It is also one of the few colleges across the Southeast to offer an equine science minor. Established by Baptists in 1838, Judson is the nation's fifth-oldest women's college.

Ariton FFA Builds Learning Barns for Dale County

Ariton FFA students show off four learning barns they built for school libraries in Dale County. The Dale County Farmers Federation bought a set of 11 agriculture Accelerated Reader-approved books for each school. The project took a year to complete. Dale County Women's Leadership Committee member Sharon Byrd said she is proud of the Ariton FFA's hard work. "What better way to promote agriculture than by helping children understand the job of a farmer while they advance their reading skills," said Byrd.

New site provides producers direct access to customers

Alabama farmers will soon have a new way to market and sell agricultural products.

MarketMaker, which kicks off in Alabama Oct. 14, is an online marketplace and interactive mapping system that locates businesses and markets of agricultural products in 17 states. It provides an important link between producers and consumers.

"Farmers can register now, and we encourage them to set up their profiles before Oct. 14 so they can start connecting with customers and others in the industry when the site is officially launched," said Mac Higginbotham, Alabama Farmers Federation's Horticulture Division director.

To register a business on Alabama's MarketMaker site, visit register.marketmaker.uiuc.edu.

Members Save With New GM Benefit

Alabama Farmers Federation members, including Tonya Cork (center), rushed out to Chevrolet dealers after details of the new GM benefit were announced Sept. 16. Cork purchased a 2012 Chevrolet Equinox from Odom Chevrolet in Eutaw, owned by Mark Odom (right). Also pictured is Charles Williams, accounting assistant. Eligible Federation members receive a $500 discount on qualifying 2011 or 2012 model year Chevrolet, GMC or Buick vehicles they lease or purchase. For offer details, visit AlfaFarmers.org.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell to host farm bill listening tour in west Alabama Oct. 28

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, will host a listening tour Oct. 28 to allow Alabamians a chance to voice their concerns on the 2012 farm bill and other issues affecting agriculture.

The "Grown in Alabama" tour starts at 8:30 a.m. and will make stops across the 7th Congressional District. The event is open to the public.

Tour sites include:

  • 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
    Meet and Greet,
    Selma/Dallas County Cooperative Meeting Room,
    2519 U.S. Highway 80 W.,
    Selma, AL 36701

  • 10 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.
    Dean Wilson Farm Tour,
    15176 County Road 21,
    Marion Junction, AL 36759

  • 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.
    Pearce Catfish Farm Tour,
    11700 AL Highway 5,
    Marion Junction, AL 36759

  • 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
    Listening Session,
    Alabama Catfish Feed Mill Conference Room,
    Highway 80 E.,
    Uniontown, AL 36786

  • 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.
    George Hall's Farm Tour,
    1570 County Road 133,
    Boligee, AL 35443

  • 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
    Dee Ranch Tour and Listening Session
    2110 County Road 1,
    Aliceville, AL 35442

    Due to space limitations, participants interested in attending the 11 a.m. listening session should contact Alabama Farmers Federation Catfish Division Director Mitt Walker, (334) 613-4757 or mwalker@alfafarmers.org.

    For more information on Sewell's listening tour, contact Cachavious English, (202) 225-2665 or cachavious.english@mail.house.gov.

    U.S. files case on China poultry duties

    The United States is challenging duties imposed by China on U.S. poultry that have cut American exports to China by 90 percent.

    China began imposing duties on U.S. poultry products September 2010. The U.S. charges that the duties violate the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It takes about a year for a decision to be reached in WTO cases.

    "This issue is important for the poultry industry and for agriculture, but it is part of a bigger trade relationship between the U.S. and China," said David Salmonsen, senior director of congressional relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

    Since China imposed the duties, U.S. poultry exports have declined from $1 billion annually to $100 million annually.

    Eleven Alabama counties designated as natural disaster areas

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 11 counties in Alabama as primary natural disaster areas because of losses caused by drought that began April 1 and continues. Affected areas now qualify for federal assistance.

    Counties included in the list are Baldwin, Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Mobile and Russell.

    Ten contigious counties also qualify for natural disaster benefits. They are: Bullock, Butler, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Lee, Macon, Monroe, Pike and Washington.

    "President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack understand that this drought has caused severe damage to crops in Alabama and want to help," said State Executive Director for USDA's Farm Service Agency Daniel Robinson. "America's farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation's economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow and out-compete the rest of the world. This action will provide assistance to hundreds of farmers in Alabama who suffered significant production losses during this challenging season."

    All qualified farm operators in the designated areas are eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans.

    This designation has also made the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) available to assist farmers and ranchers. Interested farmers should contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures. Additional information is also available online at: http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

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