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April 16, 2012   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Diversified Dallas County farm named Alabama’s 2012 Farm of Distinction

Sam and Lynne Givhan, seated in the John Deere Gator, are this year’s Alabama Farm of Distinction winner. The Givhans operate a diversified farm in Dallas County where they grow cotton, catfish, soybeans and beef cattle. From left are Tom Tribble of John Deere; Jerry Newby, president of Alabama Farmers Federation; Jim Allen of Alabama Farmers Cooperative; the Givhans and John Deere Dealers Chris Cline of Snead Ag Supply, Lester Killebrew of SunSouth, Kenneth Williams of Snead Ag Supply and Lynne Morton of TriGreen Equipment.

A diversified Dallas County farm was named the state’s 2012 Farm of Distinction during the Alabama Farm-City Awards Luncheon in Birmingham April 2.

At 68, the farm’s owner, Sam Givhan, has seen a lot of changes in agriculture at Givhan Land and Cattle Co., but it’s his ability to change and adapt that’s made his farm successful. His farm expanded from traditional Black Belt crops like cotton and soybeans to catfish and cattle.

“When I was a kid, most of the farming was done with mules,” Givhan recalled. “We had a few old tractors that did some ground work, but the plowing and planting and all that -- and the harvesting of cotton -- was done by manual labor and animal power. Over the years, we’ve finally evolved into trying to do as much no-till farming as we can here. We still do some things the old way, but agriculture in this area has really changed.”

As this year’s winner, Givhan will represent Alabama in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest Oct. 16-18 in Moultrie, Ga. During the state awards program, he received a John Deere Gator donated by SunSouth, Snead Ag and TriGreen Equipment dealers in Alabama, plus a $1,250 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative, redeemable at any of its member Quality Co-Op stores. The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Health presented the Givhans with an engraved farm sign. They also will receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo. The Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year will receive $14,000, plus several other prizes.

A Vietnam veteran, Givhan returned to his family farm near Safford in 1969, and by 1972, he was running the operation as president and manager. Today, the farm spans more than 4,500 acres and includes about 2,000 acres of row crops, a 400-cow commercial beef cattle herd and 250 acres of catfish ponds. While Givhan’s biggest crop remains soybeans, he said catfish have played an increasingly important role in recent years.

“We’ve been growing some catfish for about 20-25 years now, but I got serious about it about 15 years ago,” Givhan said. “I saw the handwriting that you’re either going to have to get to a viable size operation or get out, so we invested and went into it, and it’s been one of the better ends of the operation for the last few years. “

Givhan and his wife, Lynne, have two sons involved in the farm. The oldest, Sam, is an attorney, while David manages the beef and hay operations.

Givhan served 26 years as president of the Dallas County Farmers Federation and is a former board member of the Alabama Farmers Federation. He is president of the Central Alabama Farmers Co-op and incoming chairman of the Alabama Farmers Co-op board of directors.

Other Farm of Distinction finalists from around the state also were recognized during the Farm-City awards luncheon, which was held in conjunction with the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Women’s Leadership Conference. The finalists were Donald and Janice Hodge of New Market in Madison County; Paul and Carolyn Beavers of Trafford in Jefferson County and Joe and Faye Williams of Newton in Dale County. Each received a $250 gift certificate from the Alabama Farmers Co-Op and  an engraved plaque.

Building Dedicated At Belle Mina Experiment Farm

Federation and Auburn University leaders cut the ribbon on the new Alabama Farmers Federation Administrative Building at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center in Belle Mina April 6. Pictured from left are: Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, Federation Board Member Ted Grantland, Federation and Alfa President Jerry Newby, Research and Extension Director Chet Norris, Auburn University College of Agriculture Dean William Batchelor, Director of Outlying Units Jim Bannon and Alabama Cooperative Extension System Director Gary Lemme.

Free foreign trade seminar offered May 15

Farmers and agribusiness owners interested in global trade have the opportunity to learn techniques during a free seminar May 15 at the Birmingham Marriott.

Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said he thinks the “Trading with the World” seminar will be beneficial to farmers who want to expand their customer base.

“Our goal is to help Alabama farmers and agribusinesses learn the process of international trade and expand their opportunities in export sales,” McMillan said.

The Southern United States Trade Association is a co-sponsor of the conference and will provide expert advice on how to lessen the risks of international marketing.

Early registration is encouraged, and all applications must be received by April 30. To register, visit ALExportConference.com.

For more information, contact Deputy Commissioner Brett Hall at (334) 240-7101.

Alfa offers $10,000 reward to deter metal theft

Alfa Insurance is offering an additional $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for the theft of copper and other metal from poultry houses, farm irrigation systems and other property in Alabama covered by an Alfa Insurance policy. Alabama Farmers Federation members already benefit from a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction for theft from their property.

“The theft of copper wiring and other valuable metal is growing, especially in our rural communities,” said Alfa Insurance and Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby. “Criminals who commit these acts cost our policyholders money, and they often do thousands of dollars in damage to property and cripple the equipment and buildings farmers depend on for their livelihoods.”

The $10,000 reward will be paid to the first person who furnishes information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons involved in copper or metal theft taken from property in Alabama covered by an Alfa Insurance policy.

Alfa Insurance is the leading insurer of farms in the state. In recent years, dozens of farmers and other rural residents have reported property damage related to copper theft. Anyone with information related to the theft of copper is encouraged to contact local law enforcement officials.

Coffee County takes top honors at Farm-City Program

Coffee County Farm-City Chairman Daniel Stephens, left, accepts the award for Overall Best Farm-City Committee from Alabama Farm-City Chairman Jeff Helms during the annual awards luncheon April 2.

County volunteers, along with several young artists and writers who excel in fostering understanding and cooperation among rural and urban residents, were honored April 2 during the annual Alabama Farm-City Awards Luncheon in Birmingham.

Coffee County was recognized as the Best Farm-City Committee in the state for outstanding activities. Coffee County also won Best Scrapbook Award, Best Farm-City Dinner and the top award for counties in Division I (population 35,600 or more).

Other winners in Division I were: Etowah County, Best Farm-City Tour; Lawrence County, Innovative Idea Award; Cullman County, Best Media Coverage/Proclamation, Target Award and Runner Up Best Farm-City Committee in Division I; Houston County, Best Civic Club Activities; and Jefferson County, Best Special Activities.

Franklin County took top honors in Division II (population less than 35,600). The Franklin County Farm-City Committee also won the Best Farm-City Dinner, Best Special Activities and the Target Award. Other Division II winners were: Cherokee County, Best Farm-City Tour; Randolph County, Best Scrapbook Award; Cleburne County, Innovative Idea Award; Pickens County, Best Media Coverage/Proclamation Award and Runner-Up Best Farm-City Committee in Division II; and Henry County, Best Civic Club Activities.

Coffee and Franklin counties also received plaques from the National Farm-City Council for winning their respective divisions.

In addition to recognizing outstanding county Farm-City committees, the 2011 Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Caroline Batcheldor of Russell County. A volunteer for more than 50 years, Batcheldor was nominated by more than a half-dozen of her peers and fellow Farm-City Committee members.

“Harvesting Healthy Choices” was the theme for this year’s poster and essay contests, which received a total of 130 entries.

In the poster contest, McKenna Myrick of Jefferson County took first place in the Kindergarten-Third Grade Division, while Stephen Aldridge of Dale County took first place in the Fourth-Sixth Grade Division. Second place in the Kindergarten-Third Grade Division went to Makayla Delvecchio of Houston County, and Jaylen Deveridge of Pike County placed second in the Fourth-Sixth Grade Division. First-place winners in the poster contest each received $200, second-place winners each received $100, and each winner’s school received matching contributions.

Taking top honors in the essay contest were Victoria Booker of St. Clair County in the Seventh-Ninth Grade Division and Libby Harrigan of Clarke County in the 10th-12th Grade Division. Meanwhile, Zach Hurst of Clay County took second place in the Seventh-Ninth Grade Division, and Sarah Swain of Calhoun County took second place in the 10th-12th Grade Division. First-place winners in the essay contest each received $300, with second-place winners each receiving $200. Each winner’s school received matching contributions.

The winning posters will be featured in the 2013 Alabama Farm-City calendar, along with the artwork of 10 other students, who received honorable mentions for their entries. Those students are: Anna Walling, Chilton County; Samuel Corson, Clay County; Cherokee McShane, Clay County; Carter Gay, Cullman County; Kelsey Young, Etowah County; Courtney Breeding, Lawrence County; Dylan Seth Brewer, Limestone County; Keaton Grace Gunter, Marengo County; Jamie Moore, Marengo County; and Teri Kim, Montgomery County.

The Farm-City Committee of Alabama sponsors the awards program in cooperation with Alabama Farmers Cooperative and Alabama Ag in the Classroom. As a way to help bridge the gap between rural and urban residents, Farm-City Week is observed nationally each year the week before Thanksgiving.


Hershel Ray Spruell, a former Lawrence County Farmers Federation board member, died March 31. He was 79.

A farmer and businessman, Spruell was president of the Lawrence County Farmers Federation for 30 years and served on the Alabama Farmers Federation’s board of directors for 11 years. He was also an ordained deacon of Mount Hope Baptist Church.

He is survived by his wife, Sue Heaps Spruell; two sons, Sam Spruell (Lynn) or Mount Hope and Wayne Spruell (Sherry) of Orange Beach; one daughter, Judy Spruell Kerr of Mount Hope; three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Mount Hope Baptist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 38, Mount Hope, AL 35651.

Agriculture Shines During Montevallo High School’s FFA Day

From left, Shelby County Farmers Federation Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Karen Wyatt visits with Montevallo Elementary School teacher Karen Brooks and Shelby County Farmers Federation President Joel Bearden during the Montevallo High School’s FFA Farm Day. Elementary students learned about agriculture, participated in a tractor pull and interacted with farm animals, while Wyatt and Bearden shared Ag in the Classroom information with area teachers.

Global beef demand focus of Cow-Calf Conference

The Alabama Farmers Federation is among the sponsors of the 2012 Alabama Cow-Calf Conference at Auburn University’s Ham Wilson Livestock Arena, June 15 from 7 a.m.—5:30 p.m.

Attendees will learn about management tools needed to meet the global beef demand, opportunities to lower production costs of cow-calf operations, profitable pre-weaning calf management practices
and more. A trade show will also be available. 

Registration received by June 1 is $60 per person and increases to $75 after this date. Registration fees include lunch, a social hour and a steak dinner. Make checks payable to the Auburn University Office of Professional and Continuing Education. Online registration and the agenda are available at http://www.aces.edu/animalforage/2012AlabamaCow-CalfConference.php. 

Other sponsors include the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, the Alabama Beef Checkoff, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University’s College of Agriculture.

For more information, call Lisa Kriese-Anderson at (334) 844-1561 or (334) 539-2129.

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