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August 27, 2012   Email to Friend 

Tax resource guide available to timber owners

The U.S. Forest Service has compiled a quick-reference guide to calm timber owners’ federal income tax concerns. The publication explores timber tax laws important to foresters, woodland owners and loggers, and serves as a valuable resource for tax practitioners.

“This guide is a great resource for landowners,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Forestry Division Director Rick Oates.  “Timber tax laws are constantly changing, and it is important for landowners to stay up-to-date. This guide will help everyone better understand the rules.”

Since the first income tax Form 1040 appeared in 1913, many timber tax provisions have been added to encourage management and stewardship of private woodland that are commonly unknown by tax professionals. Landowners are encouraged to review the tax guidelines. To download the publication, visit AlfaFarmers.org.

Oates noted another great resource for tax and forestry information is Managing Forests, a book published by the Alabama Forestry Association. This guide, though not intended to replace a professional forester, provides landowners with the basic information they need to make management decisions. To purchase the book, visit http://store.alaforestry.org/cart.php?target=category&category_id=10.

For more information, contact the Alabama Forestry Commission’s State Headquarters, (334) 240-9300, or visit http://www.forestry.state.al.us. To contact Oates, call (334) 613-4305.

Bidder’s choice: online cattle auction appraised a success for second year

Cal Green of the Piedmont Cattle Marketing Association, left, reviews the lot details during the Aug. 16 Piedmont Feeder Cattle Board Sale held at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s headquarters in Montgomery. Col. Don Green, center, served as auctioneer for the web-based sale. A total of 882 steers and 372 heifers from central Alabama were sold during the hour-long event, which had a total viewing audience of 85 people from 32 states. Pictured from left are Cal Green; Col. Don Green; and Federation Beef Division Director Nate Jaeger, who organized the event.
More than 1,200 preconditioned steers and heifers were sold Aug. 16 during the Piedmont Feeder Cattle Board Sale at the Federation’s home office in Montgomery. The event marked the second time cattle were sold in a nontraditional format.

“While the Piedmont Cattle Marketing Association’s program is one of the oldest board sales in the state, their members introduced something very new last year with the addition of online bidding,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Beef Division Director Nate Jaeger, who organized the event. “The Alabama Farmers Federation was happy to host the second web-based sale, providing an additional service to members and adding value to their bottom line.”

A total of 882 steers and 372 heifers were sold during the hour-long event. Bidders were able to view video clips of each lot on the sellers’ farms, resulting in less stress on the animals. Steers sold during the board sale averaged $10 higher than market estimates, while heifers brought in $7 more than market prices.

Jaeger said the Federation helped clerk the sale and administer the listings on CattleUSA.com, which had a total viewing audience of 85 people from 32 states.

With the pervasiveness of online shopping, making the decision to shift from a traditional sale format to a more tech-friendly platform wasn’t without hesitation. But, it’s a risk that has paid off for Piedmont Cattle Marketing Association.

“We continue to monitor trends and marketing patterns, and the success rates of the 2011 and 2012 sales prove the popularity of this type of format is not a fluke,“ Jaeger added. “With online usage by farmers and feedlot owners increasing, we’re seeing live broadcasting and bidding of sales becoming more popular for special feeder calf sales in Alabama.”

Hosting the Piedmont Cattle Board Sale is just another way the Federation is working to strengthen relationships with Alabama’s farmers. In 2004, the Federation developed a new website to assist beef producers in getting top dollar for their feeder cattle and replacement females.

AlFeederCattle.com allows producers to advertise their cattle online. Interested producers and prospective buyers may sign up for email alerts that notify them when new lots have been posted to the site.

For more information about AlFeederCattle.com, contact Jaeger at njaeger@alfafarmers.org or (334) 613-4221. For more information on the Piedmont Cattle Marketing Association, visit PCMABeef.com.

Randolph County Annual Meeting

Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers and Public Service Commissioner Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh weren’t afraid to show their love for agriculture during the Randolph County Farmers Federation’s annual meeting in Wedowee, Aug. 18. Rogers and Cavanaugh are among the list of candidates recently endorsed for the Nov. 6 general election by FarmPAC, the political action committee of the Alabama Farmers Federation. Pictured above are, from left, Rogers; Cavanaugh; and Dean Wysner, Federation vice president of the Central Area and treasurer of the Randolph County Farmers Federation.

Alabama Cotton Commission confirms positive checkoff vote

The Alabama Cotton Commission has confirmed Alabama’s cotton checkoff program will continue for another 10 years. Commission officials said the statewide cotton producer referendum held July 10 yielded a 93 percent positive vote for the program.

Cotton producers who grew cotton in 2011 or planted cotton in 2012 were eligible to vote for the voluntary program. Based on the results, the assessment rate — which is set annually by the Commission not to exceed $1 per bale — will remain at 90 cents per bale for 2012.

Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton Division Director Buddy Adamson said the results of the vote prove farmers find value in the state checkoff program.

“The 93 percent positive vote by the state’s cotton producers demonstrates confidence that their checkoff dollars are being invested in research, market development and promotion projects geared toward more profitable production and usage of cotton,” said Adamson.

For more information, contact Adamson at (334) 613-4216 or badamson@alfafarmers.org.

State unanimously passes Animal Disease Traceability Rule

USDA-approved metal “Brite” tags
In response to USDA’s federal Animal Disease Traceability regulations, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries unanimously approved a statewide Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) Rule Aug. 14. The rule, which takes effect Sept. 18, mandates all cattle 18 months of age or older must be tagged with official USDA identification tags before animals change ownership.

Alabama Farmers Federation Beef Division Director Nate Jaeger said the unanimous approval was good news for the state’s beef farmers.

“Generally speaking, our farmer members are wary of additional government regulations,” said Jaeger. “However, this opportunity allowed them to have a significant voice in the rule-making process and ensures they have rules everyone can live with. Adopting the Animal Disease Traceability rule protects their herds and, ultimately, their bottom line.”

State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier developed the proposed rule in 2011, receiving input from members of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s State Beef Committee. Frazier said animal disease traceability has been discussed for years, and as USDA officials move forward to implement a federal program, Alabama’s approval illustrates a proactive lead on behalf of the state’s beef farmers.

“As the state veterinarian, I enjoy a unique relationship with industry producers regarding the issue of disease traceability,” said Frazier. “Our industry partners’ support of this rule demonstrates the forward-thinking ability of our producers.”

Guidelines of the state’s program – as they relate to cattle – require all cattle 18 months of age or older to be identified with official USDA identification whenever they change ownership. The rule exempts feeder cattle and cull cows and bulls going directly to slaughter. Additional exceptions accommodate cattle owners farming in or near multiple states, allowing them to maintain business continuity. This rule requires all bison, dairy animals and all exhibition cattle be tagged regardless of age or destination.

“The passage of this rule is such an important step for farmers and industry officials alike,” explains Frazier. “Not only does it establish an animal disease traceability system that will allow us to quickly respond and recover from a potential disease outbreak, but it also allows Alabama farmers to take advantage of export markets.”

Farmers concerned with how the new rule will affect them will be provided with tools to abide by the new regulations. Jaeger added that an extensive educational program estimated to last nine-to-12 months will precede any enforcement of a statewide ADT rule.

“The Alabama Farmers Federation will work with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Department of Agriculture and Industries to educate farmers about what is involved with the rule,” said Jaeger. “Because our state leaders helped develop the regulations, they know it will be in accordance with our policy that supports such a rule ‘without undue or excessive cost to farmers.’  This is a testament to what a proper relationship between industry and government should be.”

Official identification tags will be assigned and allocated by the Alabama Department of Agriculture to farmers, and each tag will have unique numbers to ensure traceability. USDA-approved identification devices include metal “Brite” tags, which are available for free from the state veterinarian’s office; as well as panel tags and radio frequency ear (RFID) tags, which vary in cost. Visit aphis.usda.gov to view a list of official tag companies.

For more information, contact Frazier at (334) 240-7253 or stvet@agi.alabama.gov.

Home rule terms discussed during Aug. 16 meeting

Members of Alabama’s Article IV Local Government Subcommittee met at Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham Aug. 16 to develop framework options regarding potential revisions to the state’s home rule policy. The subcommittee is one of three committees that comprise the Constitutional Revision Commission.

Limitations on home rule are included in Article IV of the Alabama Constitution. Weakening limits on home rule would allow certain governmental powers currently held by the legislature to be given to local governments — a notion favored by groups that support the idea of local governments controlling taxation and zoning issues.

The Alabama Farmers Federation opposes any attempt to allow the state to surrender its responsibilities and powers to county or local units of government. If permitted, home rule could effectively result in 67 counties operating as individual entities with various laws.

After framework options are developed and approved by members of the Local Government Subcommittee, a finalized report will be presented to the full Constitutional Revision Commission. The commission also will review articles on the distribution of powers and representation.

Members of the Article IV Local Government Subcommittee include Birmingham attorney and Subcommittee Chairman Greg Butrus; Gov. Robert Bentley; former Gov. Albert Brewer; State Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne; Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn; Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston; Birmingham attorney Jim Pratt; and State Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham.

The Local Government Subcommittee is scheduled to meet again Sept. 25.

The Federation continues to monitor the status of changes to the state’s constitution.

Rural Medicine Students Visit Montgomery

Alabama Farmers Federation Communications Director Jeff Helms, right, welcomes students in the Rural Medicine Program to the Federation headquarters in Montgomery, Aug. 14-15. The medical students attended two days of lectures at the home office as part of their specialized training. From left are Rural Medicine Program Director Dr. Bill Coleman; students Morgan Chatham-Jackson and John Ryan Colvin; and Helms.

Blount County Farm Safety Day

The Blount County Young Farmers Committee instructed EMT teams from around the area about proper farm accident extrication during the county’s 2012 Farm Safety Day, Aug. 18. Blount County farmers Lance and Stephanie Miller hosted the semi-annual event at their farm in Boaz, where more than 150 attendees participated in hands-on demonstrations, workshops and crop tours. The Blount County Women’s Leadership Committee helped provide refreshments.

Candidate training school scheduled for September

Residents interested in running for political office at the local or state level in Alabama are invited to attend a one-day candidate training workshop. Conducted by the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA), each workshop will provide information about working or volunteering for local or state campaigns.

Classes will also cover qualifications for offices, required report filing for candidates and effective methods for winning elections.

Each class is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Class dates are:

  • Sept. 10 — Joe Wheeler EMC, Trinity
  • Sept. 11 — Bryant Conference Center, Tuscaloosa
  • Sept. 12 — Pea River Electric Cooperative, Ozark
  • Sept. 13 — Alfa Insurance Home Office, Montgomery
Classes cost $30, which includes lunch and supplies. Deadline for sign-ups and payment is Sept. 4. Mail checks to: Alabama Farmers Federation, Attn: Syd Alford, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191.

For more information, contact Federation Research Consultants Director Syd Alford at (334) 613-4576 or salford@alfains.com.

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