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May 14, 2012   Email to Friend 

Sessions, Brooks meet with state farmers during Alabama agriculture tours

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville (second from right), visited parts of Madison and Limestone counties April 30 during an agricultural tour, including a stop at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center at Belle Mina. From left are Buddy Adamson, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton, Soybeans and Wheat & Feed Grains divisions; Chet Norris, superintendent of the research center at Belle Mina; Brooks and Mitt Walker, National Legislative Programs director of the Alabama Farmers Federation.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, emphasized their focus on agriculture during recent visits to Alabama.

Sessions, who stopped by Auburn University’s Fish Farming Center in Greensboro April 30, told catfish farmers he wants Alabama’s catfish industry to remain strong because it is so important to rural Alabama.

“The way I see it, when you produce catfish, you sell it, collect money all around the region and bring it back here,” said Sessions. “It goes to the landowner, the farmer, the workers, the manufacturers and the fertilizer and feed suppliers. All those people benefit. When you buy it from abroad, it’s not good for our economy.”

Sessions also promised to protect U.S. industries on the world stage.

“I believe manufacturing products and commodity production is a huge, essential part of a healthy economy,” he said.

During his visit, Sessions listened as farmers described sustainability issues facing the American catfish industry. According to research from Auburn University, the nation’s catfish production has declined almost 50 percent over 10 years. The same research shows a 4-percent decline in Alabama catfish farming since last year.

Farmers said foreign competition is a major factor in decreased domestic catfish production, and imported catfish is not held to the same standards.

Meanwhile in the northern portion of the state, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks visited Madison and Limestone counties April 30 during his agricultural tour. The congressman’s tour included stops at Jeff Gin Co. in Huntsville; Bragg Farms in Toney; Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center at Belle Mina and Usery Farms in Athens.

Brooks said his visits allowed him the opportunity to hear from Alabama’s farmers on issues important to them.

“To be able to see the actual farms... that’s important,” said Brooks. “The cotton gin, the poultry industry, the research and development at Belle Mina – all those things give me a better perspective of agriculture, what it means to the state of Alabama and what we need to do to make sure that it’s successful.”

Brooks said he also has a better understanding of farmers’ needs after meeting with each of them about the work they do.

“It helps me better understand the values that are related to agriculture which, in turn, translates into [hopefully] better votes on legislation that impacts agriculture,” he said.

Chet Norris, superintendent of the research center at Belle Mina, said he appreciated the opportunity to talk with Brooks about funding agriculture research and Extension programs.

“We feel since that’s what we do every day, it’s a very important component of making producers productive and efficient,” Norris said. “We need to continue to acquire funding to do adequate research so we can help area growers.”

Norris also discussed specific ways in which research can help farmers.

“Every year, there are new and improved crop varieties and plant protection materials that are coming, and we evaluate those beforehand so the growers don’t have to do it,” Norris said.

Mitt Walker, National Legislative Programs director for the Alabama Farmers Federation, said he appreciated Brooks taking time to learn more about production agriculture in his district.

“So many decisions made in Washington have either a direct or indirect impact on farmers, and it is vitally important for all of our members of Congress to maintain a direct link to agriculture,” Walker said.

Brooks’ tour also served as a reminder of the important role agriculture plays in the economy.

“Agriculture is a main part of the Alabama economy, not just for the 5th District of the state of Alabama, but across the whole state,” Brooks said. “Every part of the economy is necessary for jobs – for us to have the economic prosperity we want and to have food on the table.”

Alfa, Alabama Farmers Federation Honor Teacher Of The Year

Alabama’s Teacher of the Year Suzanne B. Culbreth sits behind the wheel of a new car she will use this year as she drives throughout the state promoting education. Alfa President and CEO Jerry Newby presented Culbreth the car keys during a ceremony at the Alfa headquarters in Montgomery, May 10. From left are Alfa Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Rutledge, Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, Culbreth, Newby and State School Superintendent Dr. Thomas R. Bice. Insurance for the car is purchased from Alfa by the Alabama Farmers Federation.

OYFF Honored At State House

Jeremy and Lindsey Brown of Montgomery County were formally recognized May 9 at the Alabama State House for being named the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 2011 Outstanding Young Farm Family. Sponsored by Rep. Thad McClammy, D-Montgomery, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Commendation (HJR 449) is an additional honor for the Federation’s OYFF winners. From left are Jeremy Brown; Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery; and Lindsey Brown.

Annual FFA Day Brings Kids, Worms Together

Students in the fourth-grade class at Odenville Intermediate School participate in a vermiculture (worm composting) tutorial with St. Clair County Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Emily Taylor, center, during St. Clair County High School’s annual FFA Day. Assisting the class were St. Clair County Second Vice President Lude Mashburn, back left, and Joan Wright, back right. A budding venture, vermiculture allows harvesters the option of rapidly breaking down food wastes in a self-contained and odorless manner, resulting in an environmentally friendly, high-quality compost and fertilizing liquid that is beneficial to plants.

Alabama A&M Canola Field Day scheduled for May 24

Alabama farmers interested in expanding their crop rotations will have the opportunity to learn about a budding cash crop during Alabama A&M University’s Canola Field Day May 24.

Attendees will begin the day at the university’s Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station in Hazel Green for a research overview from 8:30–10 a.m., followed by a trip to Daly Farms at Elkmont Village in Elkmont from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. to view a commercial production site. A lunch catered by the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association will be served at Elkmont Village.

Speakers include John McMillan, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, and Robert Davis, president of AgStrong LLC.

Pre-registration is encouraged to ensure enough food is available. There is no cost to attend the event.

For more information, contact Dr. Ernst Cebert with Alabama A&M University at (256) 361-8480 or email ernst.cebert@aamu.edu.

Alabama’s Free Fishing Day scheduled for June 9

In recognition of National Fishing and Boating Week, Alabamians can fish for free in most state waters June 9.

Approved by the Alabama Legislature, Free Fishing Day allows residents and non-residents to fish without a license.

Stan Cook, fisheries section chief for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, said the event allows seasoned anglers and newcomers a chance to enjoy spending quality time with friends and family in the outdoors.

To view a list of free fishing locations, visit OutdoorAlabama.com. For more information,  email Assistant Chief of Fisheries Nick Nichols at nick.nichols@dcnr.alabama.gov.

Shelby County Federation Members Help Clean Up Alabama

Residents across Alabama are showing their state pride by sharing time and energy cleaning up Alabama’s highways and roadsides as part of the Alabama PALS Adopt-A-Mile Program. For more information on the program, visit ALPals.org/AdoptAMile.asp. Pictured in front of the Alfa Insurance service center in Columbiana are, from left, Shelby County Farmers Federation Board Member Doug Schofield, Shelby County Farmers Federation Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Karen Wyatt and Shelby County Farmers Federation Board Member Terry Wyatt.

Register today for annual Commodity Producers Conference

Alabama Farmers Federation members interested in attending the 40th annual Commodity Producers Conference in Mobile Aug. 2-4 have until July 2 to register.

This year, conference attendees will tour Mobile and Baldwin counties, along with attending seminars and general sessions at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile.

Jimmy Carlisle, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Department of Governmental and Agricultural Programs, said the conference is a great way to bring Federation members together.

Registration opens Aug. 2 at 2 p.m., and a welcome banquet with entertainment is slated for later that evening. Five bus tour options are available Aug. 3, and the conference will conclude Aug. 4 following morning seminars, a general session and an evening banquet.

For the second year, the conference will include Alabama’s Young Farmers and the Young Farmers’ Summer Conference.

“We are excited to have the young farmers with us,” Carlisle said. “Having young people involved injects energy into the group, giving farmers faith in the future. The conference really provides a great opportunity for our young and more experienced farmers to learn from each other.”

The Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions, part of the Young Farmers program, will take place the morning of Aug. 4.

In the Discussion Meet, contestants provide specific action-plan solutions for certain issues facing agriculture. The Excellence in Agriculture contest requires young agricultural professionals to demonstrate their work and civic activities. Excellence in Ag participants do not receive their primary source of income from an agricultural enterprise. Winners will be announced during the closing banquet Aug. 4.

The Women’s Leadership Committee will host its quilting, apron-sewing and tablescape competitions during the conference. Contest entries must be set up Thursday, as judging will take place that evening. Winners will be announced during the Women’s Luncheon Aug. 4.

Interested parties should contact their county Farmers Federation to register for the conference. For more information, contact Carla Hornady at (334) 613-4735.

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