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June 11, 2012   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Alfa, Alabama Farmers Federation award $11,000 to Monroe County farmer

As a reward for aiding in the arrest and conviction of a man who stole copper wiring from an irrigation system on his family’s farm, retired Monroe County farmer Willie Saucer received $11,000 from Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation. From left are Monroe County farmers Wesley and Scott Saucer, Monroe County Farmers Federation President Ronnie Joe Jordan, Willie Saucer and Monroe County Sheriff Tom Tate.

A retired Monroe County farmer received $11,000 from Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation May 23 as a reward for aiding in the arrest and conviction of a man who stole copper wiring from an irrigation system near Frisco City, Ala., and caused nearly $10,000 in damage.

Monroe County Farmers Federation President Ronnie Joe Jordan presented Willie Saucer of the Goodway community a $10,000 reward check from Alfa Insurance and a $1,000 check on behalf of the Alabama Farmers Federation.

“I can’t think of anyone I’d rather be giving this to,” Jordan said. “Mr. Saucer has always been an honest, hard-working man who does the right thing. I’m glad he saw the crooks and helped the sheriff bring them to justice.”

Alfa Insurance President Jerry Newby, who also serves as president of the Alabama Farmers Federation, said Saucer’s involvement should serve as an encouragement to others to follow suit and report metal thieves.

“We appreciate Mr. Saucer’s efforts to help catch these criminals,” said Newby. “The thieves burglarized not only his farm, but also several others in the area. Metal theft causes thousands of dollars in damage to homes and businesses, and it can impact a farmer’s livelihood by leaving important equipment inoperable. We hope this reward will encourage others to turn in metal thieves.”

Saucer’s farm is now run by his son, Wesley, and his grandson, Scott Saucer. The elder Saucer, 80, spotted the thieves on an early Sunday morning in March of last year.

“There were two of them trying to get their truck out of the ditch in the edge of the field,” Willie Saucer said. “I knew something wasn’t right, so I drove back to the house and told my wife, Nellie, to call the sheriff. I drove back up there, and they broke and ran.”

The field where the irrigation system was located is only a few hundred yards from the elder Saucer’s home. Monroe County Sheriff Tom Tate arrived minutes later and, after setting up a perimeter around the property with several deputies, called for help from the state prison in Atmore.

“The prison officials brought in two tracking dogs, and we had one of the suspects caught in just a few minutes,” Tate said. “The first one we caught told us there was another one still in the cypress swamp area, so we went back with the dogs and soon found him.”

Both suspects were indicted by a Monroe County grand jury. One pleaded guilty, and the other is awaiting trial.

The damage to the irrigation system was covered by an Alfa farm owner’s policy. The thieves stripped nearly a quarter mile of copper wiring from the system.

Tate said metal theft, particularly copper wiring, is a big problem around the state. Irrigation systems and churches seem to be a favorite target, he said.

Willie Saucer said he didn’t have specific plans for the reward money, but said he’ll find a way to put it to good use.

“I figure catching these guys actually helped save Alfa money in the long run because they weren’t going to stop until they got caught,” he said. “They admitted they had done this on other farms. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to catch them in the act – well that, and they got their truck stuck.”

Alfa Insurance is offering the $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.

FFA Wall Of Honor Inductees

Four agricultural leaders were inducted into the prestigious FFA Wall of Honor during a ceremony held June 6 in Montgomery at the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association building. The ceremony was part of the 84th Annual State FFA Convention. The late Jerry Keith Adair of Montevallo, John Meeks of Glencoe, Brandon Moore of Prattville and State Sen. Tom Whatley of Auburn were each nominated for their service to agriculture and FFA. From left are Whatley, Meeks and Moore, who serves as the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Young Farmers Division director.

Soybean farmers urged to comply with treated seed disposal rules

To avoid disruption of soybean exports to China and other markets, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the Alabama Soybean Producers (ASP) urge farmers to fully comply with rules regarding the proper disposal of treated seed.

Guidelines include, but are not limited to: disposal of seed in an approved municipal landfill; use as a fuel source for electrical power plants or cement kilns; high-temperature incineration by a waste management facility; or fermentation in an alcohol-producing process at an ethanol plant. Guidelines vary for large and small quantities of leftover treated seed.

USSEC and ASP encourage farmers to first contact each facility to determine if it can accept pesticide-treated seed.

For a complete list of disposal guidelines, visit http://pesticidestewardship.org/disposal/pages/treatedseeddisposal.aspx.

Farm bill debate heats up as summer approaches

Alabama farmers are keeping one eye on their crops and the other on Congress as the Senate debates a new farm bill that could hinder their ability to withstand low prices and crop disasters.

Alabama Farmers Federation National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker said the Senate began debating its version of the bill June 6. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the proposed legislation would cut $23.5 billion from commodity, conservation and nutrition spending over a 10-year period.

“We are particularly concerned about the attempts to attach new conservation compliance requirements, as well as means testing and payment limits to crop insurance programs,” Walker said. “With the proposed elimination of direct and counter-cyclical payments, farmers would be looking to crop insurance as the primary fabric of the safety net, and the promise of this risk management tool should not come with strings attached.”

The Senate’s Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, or S. 3240, would cut nearly $20 billion from the Commodity Title, more than $6 billion from the Conservation Title, and almost $4 billion from the Nutrition Title. The bill would eliminate both direct and countercyclical payments, but would create a new Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program at an estimated cost of about $28.5 billion over 10 years.

This ARC program is designed to supplement traditional crop insurance and offset “shallow” losses that typically do not trigger a payment from crop insurance. It would cover all program crops with the exception of cotton, which would fall under a separate program.

Although the bill was reported out of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in late April, Walker said lawmakers and commodity groups remain divided about provisions of the legislation. As a result, lawmakers expect a flurry of amendments.

These amendments will likely include a move to mandate new requirements on egg producers based on a recent agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States. Other amendments are likely to propose means testing and payment limits for crop insurance premiums. Environmental organizations also are pushing a measure that would require conservation compliance on farms participating in crop insurance programs. However, lawmakers say there is a possibility that a procedural maneuver could be used to force a vote on the bill with no amendments.

Meanwhile, the House Committee on Agriculture is on track to mark up its version of the farm bill later this month. U.S. Rep. Frank Lucus (R-Okla.), who serves as chairman of the committee, has indicated he is committed to designing a commodity title that offers producers a choice between programs that will work best for them.

Some commodity groups have expressed concerns that the ARC program in the Senate bill is a one-size-fits-all approach that does not consider the needs of traditional Southern crops like peanuts and rice.

“It seems, at this point in time, that the House may be moving towards a Commodity Title that will look quite a bit different than the bill that will be considered by the Senate,” Walker said. “I also think we will see the House looking for more savings in the Nutrition Title.”

The Federation’s Farm Bill Committee continues to monitor the farm bill debate and set priorities for discussions with Alabama’s congressional delegation and other key lawmakers. The committee, which includes farmers representing a variety of commodities and regions of the state, met May 30 to review the Senate proposal.

Governor Signs Farm-To-School Procurement Act

With a crowd of agricultural and education supporters behind him, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed into law the Farm-To-School Procurement Act June 6. Sponsored by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatom, the act allow schools to purchase up to $100,000 worth of products from local farms for use in school cafeterias. Pictured with Bentley are, from left, Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) Chief of Staff Craig Pouncey; Nick Zorn with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Alabama Farmers Federation Horticulture Division Director Mac Higginbotham; Beech; State Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn; ALSDE Director of Child Nutrition Programs Perry Fulton; Federation Director of Agricultural Legislation David Cole; Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan; Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan; and Federation Assistant Director of Governmental and Agricultural Programs Brian Hardin.

Redistricting, budgetary issues handled during 2012 special session

During a five-day special session, the Alabama Legislature passed measures focused on budgetary concerns and redistricting.

The budget bills will allow the state to reallocate funds from a previous settlement with tobacco manufacturers and allocates 75 percent of use taxes collected from “remote sellers” to the General Fund. The remainder will go to the Education Trust Fund. A constitutional amendment correcting the double counting of bonds against the state’s debt limit will be voted on state-wide in the general election Nov. 6.

After much debate, legislators also passed new district maps. The House plan, sponsored by Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, and the Senate plan, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, have been signed by the governor.

The new districts will go into effect in 2014, pending U.S. Justice Department approval. Maps are available at legislature.state.al.us/reapportionment/reap.html.

Federation Honored With ‘Friend Of Extension’ Award

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby, center, and Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, right, accept the Friend of Extension Award June 6 on behalf of the farm organization from Kim Wilkins, president of the Alabama Association of County Agricultural Agents and Specialists. During their comments, Pinyan and Wilkins both referenced the common history of Farm Bureau and the Extension System. Although the groups no longer share offices or personnel, the county agents and Federation leaders agreed that they have a mutual goal of helping farmers. The award was presented during the AACAAS Annual Meeting opening banquet at the Federation headquarters in Montgomery.

Hawes retires after 37 years with Federation


After 37 years of service to the Alabama Farmers Federation, Millie Hawes is retiring July 31. While she may be best known for her work with Federation policy development and state and national legislative issues, her career includes more than that.

Hawes’ career with the Federation began in 1974 in word processing. She later transferred to the Alfa Service Co., where she worked for the general manager. She also worked in the Federation’s former Grain Division and Rural Health Division before she took a short break in 1979 to be home with her children.

After returning to work in word processing in early 1980, she transferred back to the Grain Division. Later, she became the administrative assistant to the organization’s National Affairs Department, where her responsibilities expanded to include administrative duties for the Public Affairs Department as well. Those departments later merged with the Commodity Department to become the Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department.

Working for the Federation offered opportunities she otherwise would have never had, Hawes said.

“I’ve met governors, senators, congressmen, legislators, actors, presidential candidates and countless others during my time here,” she said. “But my favorite people of all are our members. I am most thankful for all the people we work for – the farmers. They are definitely some of the finest people I have ever met. Alfa Farmers is definitely a family organization, and the employees here are a wonderful family away from home. For all of this, I have been truly blessed. “

Jimmy Carlisle, director of Governmental and Agricultural Programs, said Hawes is revered for her knowledge of Federation policy and political history.

“Millie has been an integral part of our organization for a long time,” Carlisle said. “Her expertise and wisdom shared with employees and members alike will be sorely missed. We wish her the very best in her retirement.”

Hawes said she has no specific plans after retirement other than spending time with her family.

“I want to spend more time with my family – my husband of 42 years (Lloyd); my daughters, Jennifer (Mike) and Kathryn (Don), and my three granddaughters, Hannah (20), Haiden (16) and Anniston (14),” Hawes said. “I guess I will wake up every day and do just what I feel like doing. I’ve never had that luxury. I have lots of things to do and places to see.”

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