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May 28, 2012   Email to Friend 

International export opportunities for Alabama’s farmers look encouraging

Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton, Soybean and Wheat & Feed Grains Divisions Director Buddy Adamson, left, discusses Alabama’s trade options with Auburn University Agronomy & Soils Department Head Joe Touchton, center, and Federation Bee & Honey, Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod and Horticulture Divisions Director Mac Higginbotham during the May 15 “Trading with the World” seminar in Birmingham.

More than 75 farmers, agribusiness owners and agricultural leaders received information on global trade Tuesday, May 15, at the Birmingham Marriott during a free seminar co-sponsored by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA).

The seminar, “Trading with the World — Exporting Alabama Agriculture,” offered attendees tips and techniques for distributing their products worldwide.

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture John McMillan touted the seminar’s benefits during the welcoming address, including the ability to network with others in the industry.

“The more you can talk about exporting, the more opportunities you’ll have to develop contacts overseas,” said McMillan. “It also opens the doors for more domestic sales opportunities.”

Following McMillan’s opening remarks, the seminar featured speakers from across the state including Maria Mendez, Latin American trade director with the Alabama State Port Authority; Troy Rosamond, SUSTA financial director; Brian Davis, director of the Alabama International Trade Center (AITC); Greg Canfield, director of the Alabama Department of Commerce; and Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, Deputy Pro Tem of the Alabama Senate.

According to Mendez, Mobile is an asset to Alabama’s marketplace, serving as an ‘economic engine’ to boost the state’s export opportunities.

“Because of its inland waterway system, the Mobile port provides an excellent intermodal system for trading with other ports, specifically Panama and Cuba,” said Mendez. “We export a fair amount of products to Cuba already, but the Panama Canal Expansion Program — a $5.25 billion project that should be completed in 2014 — will more than double the amount of goods we trade with Panama.”

Focusing his presentation on international trade techniques, Rosamond emphasized the resources available to business leaders who are looking to expand their customer base.

“SUSTA is a great resource that many businesses don’t utilize,” said Rosamond. “Ultimately, the export success comes down to the company’s efforts, but we want to provide you with as many resources as possible to help you succeed.”

Building on Rosamond’s point of resource availability, Davis encouraged attendees to begin making connections overseas for trade opportunities, noting the availability of AITC resources to manufacturers and other state industry sectors that have export potential.

“Now is a great opportunity to try to expand markets, both foreign and domestical,” said Davis. “International trade is growing in the world, in the United States and in Alabama, and there’s a growing need for Alabama’s products across the globe. When Alabama’s exports increase, we all benefit.”

Though tariffs and regulations are growing concerns for agribusinesses involved with international trade, Sen. Waggoner reminded attendees that domestic competition also impacts Alabama’s export success.

“We have real competition from other states in the Southeast, specifically Mississippi and the Carolinas,” said Waggoner. “Bottom line, we have got to improve our incentives package to compete in this global market. We ought to be exporting everything from Mobile and taking advantage of the state docks.”

After lunch, attendees listened as a panel discussed further benefits and concerns of international exports. Panelists included morning speaker Brian Davis; Kevin Smith, director of Export Services for the U.S. Meat Export Federation; Todd Jones, Trade Development director with the Alabama State Port Authority; and Kirk Atkinson with Bremen Invest.

Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton, Soybean and Wheat & Feed Grains Divisions Director Buddy Adamson said the May 15 seminar provided attendees with answers that should encourage producers to look outside the state line when marketing their products.

“For a lot of the state’s farmers and agribusinesses, exporting products outside the country is marked with uncertainty,” Adamson said. “They’re concerned about what taxes they would have to pay and are unsure what regulations and obstacles they may face. This seminar provided some great answers to those questions, and I hope our state continues to increase its exports.”

To access a list of resources, visit susta.org or aitc.ua.edu.


Kids Day On The Farm

Blount County second graders pose with Cotton Board employee Monty Bain, right, and cotton farmer Lance Miller during the Kids Day on the Farm event May 10. “Kids Day” is sponsored by the Blount County Farmers Federation, the Women’s Leadership Committee, the Young Farmers Committee and the Blount County FFA and FCCLA.






Registration opens June 1 for Irrigation Initiative Summit

Farmers, agribusiness owners and others interested in learning about the new state income tax credit for irrigation are encouraged to attend the Alabama Irrigation Initiative Summit Aug. 15 at the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Richard Beard Building in Montgomery.

Scheduled from 10 a.m.­-3 p.m., the summit is free to attend and includes lunch. To register, visit http://www.aaes.auburn.edu/water/conf/2012/.

For more information, contact the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station office at (334) 844-5063.

The Richard Beard Building is located at 1445 Federal Drive.


Wendland, McKee join Federation staff as summer interns

Left: Katie Wendland is the summer intern for the Communications Department. Right: Willis McKee is the summer intern for the Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department.

The Alabama Farmers Federation has hired an Auburn alumnus and a current Auburn student for summer internships.

Joining the Communications Department is Katie Wendland of Autaugaville, Ala., a sophomore at Auburn University majoring in agricultural communications.

Wendland developed a desire to promote agriculture at an early age by writing and creating meaningful relationships. Her father, Andy Wendland, operates Autauga Farming Co., and she said her experiences on the farm encouraged her to help educate the public about farming and producing practices.

“Because agriculture is such an important part of who I am, I have always wanted to effectively educate others and enable them to make informed decisions about agriculture,” said Wendland.

Federation Public Relations and Communications Director Jeff Helms said Wendland’s farm background and knowledge of the organization would allow her to quickly contribute to the Federation’s communications efforts.

“Katie previously worked with our department as a student advisor on the DRV NOW, TXT L8R public relations campaign,” said Helms. “She has a passion for telling the stories of Alabama farmers, and we look forward to working with her this summer as she continues to develop her writing skills.”

Joining the Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department is Willis McKee, a native of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who graduated from Auburn in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After graduation, McKee moved back to Tennessee, where he worked with the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) for a year before returning to Alabama as a student at Jones School of Law at Faulkner University in Montgomery.

McKee said his time with TWF exposed him to real world problems and gave him the opportunity to create solutions.

“Agriculture has always been a part of my family,” McKee said. “I have always wanted to use my education to promote agriculture and the abundant outdoor lifestyle it allows. I wanted to come to Alfa, bring my ideas and experiences from TWF and put my education to use.”

Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs Director Jimmy Carlisle said McKee’s background in agriculture and law will be a great asset to the department.

“We look forward to working with Willis this summer,” Carlisle said. “He’s already hit the ground running on his first project, which is to help update the Agriculture Law Book with laws from the 2012 legislative session. He will be a great help to our commodity directors working on agriculture programs and general issue responsibilities.”


Alabama 4-H Foundation Meeting

Members of the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation met at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s home office in Montgomery May 17. The mission of the foundation is to secure and manage financial resources for Alabama 4-H programming and the youth served statewide. From left are Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, Foundation Chairman Dorman Grace, Alabama Cooperative Extension System Director Dr. Gary Lemme and Foundation Director Galen Grace. Both Alfa Insurance and the Federation are strong supporters of 4-H and other youth programs in the state. For more information, visit Alabama4HFoundation.org.






OBITUARY

Benjamin Franklin Beers, a Dallas County Farmers Federation board member, died May 14. He was 74.

A cotton and cattle farmer, Beers also served as a board member of the Selma Oil Mill, John Tyler Morgan Academy, Central Alabama Farmer’s Co-op, Inc., Minter Autauga Dallas Hain Gin, Autauga Quality Cotton Association, and First Cahawba Bank.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Margaret Anne Hain Beers; sister Quintilla Beers Wood; sons Val Hain Beers (Deeann), Benjamin Franklin Beers, III (Dawn), Edward Moore Hain Beers (Teresa); and daughter Leah Beers Abele (Chris); 14 grandchildren and two nieces.

Memorial contributions may be made to Church Street United Methodist Church, 214 Church St., Selma, AL 36701 or the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.


William Milner “Bill” Kelly Jr., a Talladega County Farmers Federation board member and cattle farmer, died May 14. He was 84.

A decorated war hero and retired commander from the U.S. Navy, Kelly served 30 years on active duty. During his career, he served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. After his retirement in 1976, he returned to his cattle ranch in Talladega County. He also served as past president of the Talladega County Cattlemen’s Association, in addition to serving in various capacities with numerous organizations.

Survivors include his two children, daughter Mary Kelly and son Charles Kelly (Wendy); and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.

Memorial contributions may be made to First Baptist Church of Talladega, 216 North St. E., Talladega, AL 35160.


Monroe County Students Build Learning Barns

A joint effort between the Monroe County Young Farmers Committee and Excel High School’s agriscience class is spelling good news for young bookworms. Six elementary schools in the county will receive barn-shaped bookcases stocked with books about agriculture as part of the Learning Barn program. From left are Monroe County Young Farmers Chairman Chase Bradley; Excel High School students Trevor Benson, Martin Brooks and Ryan Casey; Excel High School agriscience teacher Mike Powell; student Trent Benson and Monroe County Farmers Federation President Ronnie Joe Jordan.






New ACES website offers farmers climate, weather

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has launched a website to help the state’s farmers gain a stronger understanding of climate- and weather-related factors that can help them better manage their lives and livelihoods.

The site, aces.edu/climate, offers climate forecasts, trends and outlooks; research highlights; tools including drought monitoring, a planting date planner and carbon footprint calculator; information on ENSO and how it affects Southern agriculture; access to educational resources; Extension reports and more.

According to Dr. Brenda Ortiz, an Extension specialist and assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy and Soils at Auburn University, the site complements other Extension-sponsored efforts to help Alabama’s farmers improve the success rates of their operations.

“More people are becoming aware of the impact that variations in weather and climate conditions have on all human activities, which include our daily lifestyles as well as agriculture and even the economy in general,” said Ortiz, who led efforts to develop the site. “This website provides information from the basics all the way to broader scientific findings, especially in terms of how this relates to farming and resource management.”

Ortiz added that as research within the last few decades has revealed, long-term climate trends can exert just as much influence on yields and profits as other factors.

“Climate and weather issues will become an even more paramount concern within the next few decades as we gear up to feed an estimated 9 billion people by the middle of this century,” said Ortiz. “A large and highly detailed picture is critical to ensuring all facets of American agriculture are adequately equipped to compete in a global farming economy.”

For more information, contact Ortiz at bvo0001@auburn.edu or (334) 844-5534.



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