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January 23, 2012   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Delegates re-elect Newby to AFBF board, encourage budget changes at annual meeting

Alabama Farmers Federation voting delegates consider policy changes during the AFBF’s 93rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu. From right are Garry Henry of Montgomery County, Carl Sanders of Coffee County, Eddie Nall of Monroe County and Jake Harper of Wilcox County.

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby was one of 14 grassroots leaders re-elected to represent their regions on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Board of Directors during AFBF’s 93rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Jan. 8-11.  

Newby represents the Southern Region alongside Randy Veach of Arkansas; John Hoblick of Florida; Mark Haney of Kentucky; Randy Knight of Mississippi; David Winkles of South Carolina and Way Pryor of Virginia.

Newby and others who attended the meeting heard from AFBF President Bob Stallman, who said agriculture will be challenged by increasing regulations, a tight federal budget and growing scrutiny of food production methods during 2012.

“We no longer see our success primarily in Congress or the courtroom,” Stallman said during his opening address. “We must engage directly with the consumer as an industry in ways we haven’t before.”

Limestone County young farmer Stan Usery, who represented Alabama in the AFBF Discussion Meet competition, seemed ready to accept Stallman’s challenge to be an advocate for agriculture as he participated in a committee-style debate on the public’s view of animal agriculture.

“It all starts with us,” Usery said.

Usery was one of three Alabama young farmers who earned the right to compete in a national contest in Hawaii. Jena Perry, an agriscience teacher at Southern Choctaw County High School, represented Alabama in the Excellence in Agriculture contest, and Outstanding Young Farm Family Jeremy and Lindsey Brown of Montgomery County competed for the AFBF Achievement Award.

Alabama Farmers Federation Board Member Garry Henry, also of Montgomery County, said the AFBF annual convention is a great opportunity for Alabama farmers to share ideas with their peers across the country.

“I think the most important thing about this convention is that we get to network with other folks from other states and get an idea of what’s going on in their world,” Henry said.

Stallman asked voting delegates at the convention to give AFBF “clear direction” regarding the 2012 farm bill, which could see cuts of $30 to $50 billion as Congress looks to balance the budget.

To answer Stallman’s call, AFBF delegates approved policy to preserve crop insurance, increase commodity loan rates and develop a new catastrophic revenue loss program to protect farmers from extreme weather and market changes. Delegates also approved a resolution calling on Congress to balance the budget and begin reducing the federal debt by 2019.

During the AFBF Annual Meeting, the Alabama Farmers Federation was recognized with five Awards of Excellence in the areas of Leadership Development, Member Services, Policy Implementation, Agricultural Education and Promotion and Public Relations. The Alabama Farmers Federation was also one of six recipients of the Scholar Award, which is given to state Farm Bureaus with the highest total donations within their membership groups. For its efforts in increasing total investment in the AFBF Foundation for Agriculture, the Federation received the Apex Award.

Meanwhile, the St. Clair County Young Farmers received a County Award of Excellence for its work in establishing and caring for a vegetable garden at the Big Oak Boys and Girls Ranch.
The 2013 AFBF Annual Meeting will be in Nashville, Tenn.

Alabama receives funds for disaster assistance

Alabama received more than $16 million of a $308 million USDA disaster assistance funding package, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Vilsack said the funding, which was issued to 33 states and Puerto Rico, will help farmers, land owners, communities and others rebuild and repair land damaged on account of flooding, drought, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

“America’s farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation’s economy,” said Vilsack. “This assistance keeps farmers on the farm, helping to keep American agriculture profitable.”

Alabama received $9,619,651 from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP); $6,160,000 under the Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Conservation Program (ECP); and $776,250 under the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP).

For program requirements, contact your local USDA office.

Cotton Commission celebrates 30th anniversary

From left, Alabama Cotton Commission Chairman Jimmy Sanford of Autauga County; Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton Committee Chairman Jimmy Miller of Blount County and Federation Cotton Division Director Buddy Adamson were among those who attended the 30th anniversary meeting of the Alabama Cotton Commission in Prattville, Jan. 18.

The Alabama Cotton Commission celebrated its 30th anniversary at the annual meeting in Prattville Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Blount County Farmer Jimmy Miller, who serves as chairman of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s State Cotton Committee and vice chairman of the Alabama Cotton Commission, said the Federation has been key to the success of the commission, which supervises the checkoff dollars that farmers voluntarily contribute.

“I don’t think anyone’s 90 cents-a-bale checkoff is not well spent,” Miller said.  “I think it comes back maybe five-fold or ten-fold.”

Farmers who participate in the checkoff determine how the money they contribute is spent. By federal law, the money must be spent for education, promotion or research.

“The Federation’s involvement and support of the commission is invaluable,” Miller said. “The Federation provides us meeting space and staff resources at no cost to the commission. That way, all of our producer checkoff money is used directly to benefit the farmer.”

Miller said he can’t imagine what cotton production in America would look like without the checkoff-funded efforts that have increased yields, decreased input costs and grown domestic and foreign markets.

“From my viewpoint, if you’re not willing to help support the commodity you produce, you can’t expect others to foot the bill,” Miller said.  “With the reductions from federal and state funding, there’s no longer enough (government) money to support research.”

Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton Division Director Buddy Adamson said producers who participate in the voluntary checkoff contribute 90 cents per bale of cotton to the Alabama Cotton Commission. He said producers vote every 10 years on whether to continue the program. This year’s vote is tentatively set for July, with an exact date to be announced later.

Federation mourns loss of two inspirational leaders

Two longtime leaders of the Alabama Farmers Federation passed away in December.

Former Federation Southwest Area Vice President James Albert Tolar Jr. of Marion died Dec. 25. He was 76.

Walker County Farmers Federation President James Larry Jones of Oakman died Dec. 30. He was 73.

Tolar was one of the longest-serving vice presidents of the organization with 28 years to his credit. He was a graduate of Livingston University and a successful farmer. His career encompassed a dairy farm and 5,000 acres of row crops that included soybeans, hay and grain sorghum. He also operated a fertilizer and seed business along with a lime quarry. He founded Tolar Fertilizer and Lime Co., which helped the soybean business in the Black Belt by providing lime to farmers at a reasonable price.

In 1970, Tolar and his family were chosen Alabama’s Outstanding Young Farm Family and in 1975, he was elected vice president of the Alabama Farm Bureau in a statewide election, even though he had never served on the state board.
Tolar also was elected as the first State Soybean Committee chairman and continued to serve as vice president of the Federation.

Survivors include five sons, James Michael Tolar (Debra) of Gainesville, Fla., Gregory Eugene Tolar (Lori) of Autaugaville, Andrew Frank Tolar (Lisa) of Montgomery, Henry Howard Tolar and Dean Robert Tolar, both of Marion; eight grandchildren; one great grandchild; and a sister, Jewell Tolar Cook (Howard) also of Marion.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Diabetes Association, 1701 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311.

Jones served as president of the Walker County Farmers Federation for 25 years. He was a member of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Alabama TREASURE Forest and past president of the Walker County Genealogical Society, Inc.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Sara Ann Adkins Jones, daughters Lisa (James) German and Kathy Jones; a son, Mark Jones; a brother, Steven (Suzanne) Jones; and two grandchildren.

The family requests that donations be made to Indian Creek Youth Camp in memory of James Larry Jones.

Johnson joins Federation’s Communications staff

Mary Johnson has been named director of news services for the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Public Relations and Communications Department. She joined the department Jan. 16.

As director of news services, Johnson will be involved in media monitoring, issues management, public speaking, promotional activities and writing.

Federation Communications Director Jeff Helms said Johnson’s background in agriculture and communications made her an excellent choice for this new position.

“We look forward to working with Mary to enhance communications with Federation leaders, prospective members and the general public,” Helms said. “Her farm background, coupled with experience in broadcast journalism, will help Mary as she works with the Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department and news media on agricultural issues. She also will be developing tools to help the Federation staff and county Farmers Federations with promotional efforts, and she will be contributing to our publications, website and broadcast channels. We are blessed to have an experienced, professional public relations team with a wide variety of talents.”

A native of Kentucky, Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting with a minor in geography from Western Kentucky University. She and her husband, Josh, live in Prattville.

Changes announced for Governmental and Agricultural Programs

Rick Oates has been named director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Forestry, Wildlife and Catfish Divisions within the Department of Governmental and Agricultural Programs. Oates’ announcement included the reassignment of duties for other department employees.

Prior to joining the Federation, Oates was chief of staff for Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan. He also held several positions with the Alabama Forestry Association including forest resource coordinator, regulatory affairs director and executive director of both the Alabama Loggers Council and Alabama Pulp and Paper Council.

A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Oates received a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., and a master’s degree in forestry from Auburn University. He and his wife, Kelly, live in Montgomery and have two children: Andrew (15) and Lauren (12).

Governmental and Agricultural Programs Director Jimmy Carlisle said he is confident of Oates’ ability in his new role, adding that he is a welcome addition to the Federation staff.

“I am confident that with Rick’s leadership and past experience in the forestry industry, coupled with the relationships he has built with members of the state’s agricultural industry, he will serve our members well,” said Carlisle.

Carlisle also announced the realignment of duties for three Federation commodity division directors. Buddy Adamson now serves as director of the Cotton, Soybeans and Wheat and Feed Grains Divisions; while Mac Higginbotham serves as director of the Bee & Honey, Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod and Horticulture Divisions. Nate Jaeger will serve as director of the Beef, Equine, Hay & Forage Crops, and Meat Goat & Sheep Divisions.

Guy Hall will continue to serve as director of the Poultry, Pork and Dairy Divisions, and Randy Griggs will continue to serve as director of the Peanut Division.

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