Alabama agriculture shines during annual ‘Taste of Alabama’ legislative reception
The Alabama Farmers Federation hosted its annual “Taste of Alabama” legislative reception Feb. 15, giving state legislators, constitutional officers and justices a sampling of what the state’s farmers have to offer.
|From left, Montgomery County farmers Denise and Mike Henry serve delicious Alabama-raised beef tenderloin to Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan; State Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Semmes, who is chairman of the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee; and Federation President Jerry Newby.|
The reception also gave Federation leaders from across the state a chance to visit with legislators and other elected officials and discuss agricultural issues that affect rural Alabama. About 100 farmers, representing every commodity produced in the state, attended the event.
“The legislative reception is one of the most popular events of the year” said Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan. “This event not only gives our governmental leaders a chance to see the role that agriculture plays in our state, but it also gives our farmers a chance to meet with their elected officials.”
Pinyan added that it’s good for farmers to build personal relationships with lawmakers and decision-makers.
“During an election year, especially one in which there are so many critical issues facing agriculture, it’s essential that lawmakers remain mindful of the agricultural community,” said Pinyan.
This year’s gathering drew 16 state senators, 71 state representatives and a host of other elected officials, who mingled with Federation leaders and state board members.
Others in attendance included Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan, Attorney General Luther Strange, State Auditor Sam Shaw and Public Service Commissioner Twinkle Cavanaugh, who commented on the reception’s benefits.
“I’ve been coming to this event for years,” said Cavanaugh. “I love the food, but better than that, I love the company. It’s important for us to get to know the farmers and learn what they do for Alabama.”
Judges in attendance included Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Malone; Justices Mike Bolin, Jim Main, Greg Shaw and Kelli Wise; Civil Appeals Court Judge Tommy Bryan; and Criminal Appeals Court Judges Mike Joiner, Beth Kellum, and Mary Windom and husband, Steve.
During the evening, guests moved about the room, sampling beef tenderloin provided by Mike Henry of Montgomery County, barbecue from L.O. Bishop of Colbert County, grits from Joe and Patty Lambrecht’s Oakview Farms Granary in Wetumpka and shrimp from Dickie Odom of Greene County. Honey was also provided by the Alabama Beekeepers Association, along with grilled peanut butter sandwiches from the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. In addition to catfish, fried chicken, turnip greens, fried green tomatoes, sweet potato fries, ice cream and fruit cobblers, attendees sampled pecans, goat and wildlife dishes.
A video of the event is available online through the Federation’s Facebook and YouTube pages. To view the footage, visit Facebook.com/AlabamaFarmers or YouTube.com/AlabamaFarmersFed.
April 2 deadline set for fuel tax refund claims
The Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) reminds Alabama farmers that April 2 is the deadline for filing their 2011 state fuel tax refund claims with the ADOR.
The refund claims are based on portions of the state excise tax paid by farmers on gasoline and “clear” motor fuel used in tractors or auxiliary engines attached to tractors during 2011 for agricultural purposes. The refund rate is 11 cents per gallon for gasoline and “clear” motor fuel.
The refund provision also allows Alabama farmers transporting biomass to electricity-generating facilities to receive a fuel tax refund up to $1,000.
Claim forms are available by writing to the Alabama Department of Revenue, Business and License Tax Division, Motor Fuels Section, P.O. Box 327540, Montgomery, AL 36132-7540. Forms can also be accessed online at Revenue.Alabama.Gov/motorfuels/mfforms.htm.
For more information, contact Steve DuBose at (334) 242-9608 or Steve.Dubose@revenue.alabama.gov.
Tuskegee president visits Macon County Farmers Federation
Tuskegee University President Dr. Gilbert Rochon shared how research being conducted at the institution could help predict drought and other crop disasters during a meeting of the Macon County Farmers Federation Feb. 6 at Beck’s Turf Farm near Tuskegee.
A native of New Orleans, Rochon became the sixth president of Tuskegee in November 2010. His background, which includes degrees from Xavier University of Louisiana, Yale University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has focused on using satellite technology and remote sensing to address agriculture and public health concerns.
Rochon said he became more aware of how remote sensing could be used to benefit farmers while doing research in the Sudan.
“It gave me the opportunity to see the degree to which technology could be used to serve people in a wide variety of contexts,” Rochon said.
Now, Rochon and Tuskegee are working with public and private partners to install remote sensing stations at the university and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab that could be useful to agricultural research and environmental impact studies.
Tuskegee is also partnering with universities in Italy to launch satellites that will provide additional data about weather patterns around the world.
“Our goal is to have a third satellite that would be focused on the Southeast to help farmers with precision agriculture,” he said.
In addition to its work in precision agriculture, Tuskegee continues to build on its 100-year legacy of helping small and limited-resource farmers.
In December, the university broke ground on the Black Belt Family Farm Fruit and Vegetable Marketing and Innovation Center near Selma. Farmers will use the facility to receive, package, temporarily store and ship produce. Tuskegee also broke ground recently on the Carver Integrative Sustainability Center on campus, which will serve about eight counties and provide information on government programs and other benefits.
During his talk, Rochon said he looked forward to collaborating with local Farmers Federation members and others on projects that will enhance the profitability of agriculture and strengthen rural communities.
“In numbers, there is strength,” Rochon said.
Rochon was the first-ever Tuskegee University president to speak at a Macon County Farmers Federation meeting.
FFA launches annual Chapter Challenge in 12 states
Alabama is one of 12 states eligible to compete in the 2012 FFA Chapter Challenge, available to more than 236,000 FFA members. The challenge helps motivate FFA chapter members to connect with local farmers and find local support for their chapter’s agriculture education endeavors.
Members in participating states began visiting and building relationships with farmers in their communities last month to learn about the farmer’s way of life. After the meeting, FFA members ask the farmer to vote for their chapter to increase their chance to win part of $300,000 in incentives.
Chapters can earn monetary credit for their efforts, which can be used throughout the year to buy FFA jackets and merchandise, obtain banquet supplies and send members to events.
The top 200 FFA chapters that make the most connections and receive the most farmer votes by Feb. 29 will be awarded a line of credit ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 from the National FFA Organization.
The chapter with the most connections and farmer votes will win an all-expense-paid trip for six students and an advisor to attend the 85th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis in October, plus a $2,500 FFA certificate of credit.
The challenge is sponsored by Monsanto.
“As a company whose only business is agriculture, we are committed to educational programs like FFA Chapter Challenge that generate excitement in learning about farming,” said Linda Arnold, customer advocacy lead for Monsanto.
Winners will be announced March 9. All chapters must be registered to qualify for prizes.
For more information on the challenge, or to monitor the number of votes each chapter receives, visit FFAChapterChallenge.com.
State commodity committees elect new leaders during conference
Alabama Farmers Federation commodity leaders met in Birmingham Feb. 7-9 to elect leaders and discuss goals and issues for the year. Nearly 700 farmers representing 16 commodities attended the Annual Commodity Producers Organizational Conference.
|Rodolfo Alvarez, second from right, was among the speakers present at the annual Commodity Producers Organizational Conference in Birmingham. Alvarez, CEO of Guest Worker Specialists of Phoenix, Ariz., spoke to conference attendees about guest worker options for farmers. From left are Blake Nichols and Tommy Odom of Mobile County, Alvarez and Mac Higginbotham, Federation director of the Bee & Honey, Horticulture and Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Divisions.|
The new director of Alabama's Cooperative Extension System, Dr. Gary Lemme, spoke to farmers during the luncheon meeting Feb. 7-8.
The Feb. 7 luncheon recognized Tim Whitley of Blount County for his service on the State Beef Committee. Bill Easterling of Barbour County and John Farrow of Tallapoosa County were honored for their service on the State Catfish Committee; and Charlie Speake of Russell County and Tim Mullek of Baldwin County were honored for their service on the State Cotton Committee.
On Feb. 8, Laird Cole of Hale County and George Rankin of Marengo County were honored for their work on the State Dairy Committee. David Rogers of Cherokee County, Steve Bradley of Jefferson County and Don Allison of Winston County were honored for their service on the State Hay and Forage Committee. Jimmie Fidler of Baldwin County was honored for his work on the State Horticulture Committee, and Sam Abney of Autauga County and Eugene Blair of Chambers County were honored for their service on the State Meat Goat and Sheep Committee. On behalf of the State Meat Goat and Sheep Committee, Sam Abney presented an award at the end of the luncheon to National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker for his service. Walker served as director of the Meat Goat and Sheep Division from 2005-2012.
During the Feb. 9 luncheon, Steve Thomas of Chambers County was honored for his service on the State Greenhouse Nursery and Sod Committee; Mike Dee of Pickens County was recognized for his service on the State Soybean Committee; and Shep Morris of Macon County and Wayne Woodham of Dale County were honored for their work on the State Wheat and Feed Grains Committee.
State committee members elected during the meetings will serve three-year terms (unless otherwise noted). Newly elected members and officers are:
Bee and Honey – Chairman Billy Mullins of Madison County; First Vice Chairman Joe Lambrecht, Elmore; Second Vice Chairman Lionel Evans, Limestone; Andy Webb, Washington, and Gerald Whitaker, Coffee.
Beef – Chairman Clay Kennamer of Jackson County; First Vice Chairman Meador Jones, Marengo; Second Vice Chairman Mike Henry, Montgomery; Bill Lipscomb, Autauga; Keith Glover, Hale; Gerry Holmes, Morgan, and Wendell Wilson, Calhoun.
Catfish – Chairman Will Pearce of Dallas County; First Vice Chairman Butch Wilson, Dallas; Second Vice Chairman Paul Wheeler, Perry; Randy Hollingsworth, Hale; Sid Nelson, Sumter, and Harold Smith, Barbour.
Cotton – Chairman Jimmy Miller of Blount County; First Vice Chairman Phil Vandiver, Madison; Second Vice Chairman Richard Edgar, Elmore; Tom Ingram, Lee; Thomas Kirkland, Dale; Joe Mullek, Baldwin, and Lance Whitehead, Fayette.
Dairy – Chairman Will Gilmer of Lamar County; First Vice Chairman Joe Ching, Mobile; Second Vice Chairman Richie Traylor, Randolph; Wayne Bearden, Macon; Trey Martin, Coffee; James “Buck” Shand, Dallas, and James Waite, Covington.
Equine – Chairman Jamie McConnell of Chilton County; First Vice Chairman Charles Kelly, Talladega; Second Vice Chairman Bonnie Shanholtzer, Autauga; Gean Harris, Cleburne; Cindy Fitts, Tuscaloosa, Jo Ann B. Laney, Russell, and Scotty Noles, Randolph.
Forestry – Chairman John Dorrill of Pike County; First Vice Chairman Emory Mosley, Washington; John Farrow, Tallapoosa; Jake Harper, Wilcox; James Malone, Mobile, and Russ Runyan, Walker.
Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod – Chairman Jason Powell of Chilton County; Bob Moore, Macon; Bethany O’Rear, Blount; Tommy Odom, Mobile, and Dennis Wiley, Lauderdale.
Hay and Forage – Chairman Winford Parmer of Autauga County; First Vice Chairman Wade Hill, Lawrence; Second Vice Chairman Joe Potter, Colbert; Alvin Anderson, Jefferson; Roger Brumbeloe, Blount, and Stanley Newton, Chambers.
Horticulture – Chairman Art Sessions of Mobile County; First Vice Chairman Frank Benford, Chambers; Todd Cassebaum, Baldwin; Joe Adams, Bullock; Jeremy Calvert; Cullman, and Jordan Hamner, Lauderdale.
Meat Goat and Sheep – Chairman Wess Hallman of Blount County; First Vice Chairman Drexel Johnson, Coffee; Second Vice Chairman Clay Mims, Chilton; Tammy Doughty, Pickens; Michael Letlow, Shelby, and Melvin Price, Henry.
Pork – Chairman Mark Pennington of Calhoun County; First Vice Chairman Frank Morris, St. Clair; Second Vice Chairman Jon Petree, Franklin; Luther Bishop, Colbert; Greg Buttram, DeKalb, and Tim Donaldson, Cullman.
Poultry – Chairman Joe Roberts of Fayette County; First Vice Chairman Dennis Maze, Blount; Second Vice Chairman Tom Duncan, Butler; Tommy Thompson, Covington; Jan Woodham, Dale, and Joe Murphy, Pike.
Soybean – Chairman Jeff Webster of Madison County; First Vice Chairman Pat Buck, Sumter; Secretary/Treasurer Don Glenn, Lawrence; Robert Acker, Cherokee; Johnny Bryant, Calhoun, and Annie Dee, Pickens.
Wheat and Feed Grains – Chairman Stanley Walters of Marengo County; First Vice Chairman Andy Wendland, Autauga; Second Vice Chairman Dan Rhyne, Lowndes; Mack Hughes, Jackson, and Paul Looney, Limestone.
Wildlife – Chairman Will Ainsworth of Marshall County; First Vice Chairman Dell Hill, Talladega; Grady Bobo Jr., Tuscaloosa; Jimmy Fetner, Randolph; Henry Fuqua, Bullock, and Randy Gilmore, Jefferson.
Members of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association met and elected members Feb. 9 in Dothan. Those elected were Carl Sanders of Coffee County; Ed White, Henry; Thomas Murphy, Henry; Mark Kaiser, Baldwin, and Joel Sirmon, Baldwin.
For more information on Alabama’s 17 commodities, visit AlfaFarmers.org.