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September 10, 2012   Email to Friend 

Bentley honors state’s catfish industry with Catfish Month proclamation

State officials, catfish farmers and others were on hand for a catfish appreciation luncheon at the Farmers Market Cafe in Montgomery Aug. 22. During the Alabama Catfish Producers-sponsored luncheon, Gov. Robert Bentley officially declared August as “Catfish Month” in Alabama. From left are Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan, Alabama Catfish Producers Chairman Will Pearce, Bentley, Alabama Catfish Farmer of the Year Kent Houlditch and Hale County catfish farmer Townsend Kyser.

Gov. Robert Bentley officially declared August as “Catfish Month” in Alabama by a proclamation presented during a catfish appreciation luncheon at the Farmers Market Cafe in Montgomery Aug. 22.

Bentley vowed to do what he can to help catfish farmers and said he wants to promote Alabama’s catfish industry through the State Department of Tourism.

“We want the people of Alabama to understand the importance of catfish and what it means to Alabama — all the jobs associated with it, the lives affected by this industry, and the enjoyment people can get out of eating these good farm-raised catfish,” Bentley said.

Alabama Farmers Federation Catfish Division Director Rick Oates said he was pleased by the outpouring of support the state’s catfish industry received during the event.

“This was a great day for Alabama’s catfish farmers,” said Oates. “Alabama catfish production and processing have a combined economic impact of around $500 million annually, and it’s great to see our farmers’ efforts are appreciated.”

During the proclamation ceremony, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan saluted catfish farmers and processors who provide healthy, affordable food. He noted that while the industry is profitable, farmers need continued support to remain successful.

“Catfish growers and processors in Alabama need our support… not only this month, but as we move into the future,” McMillan said.

McMillan said catfish farmers are facing tough times as fuel prices continue to increase and foreign competition threatens the viability of U.S. farm-raised catfish.

Alabama Catfish Producers Chairman Will Pearce said the event was a great way to bring attention to the availability of U.S. farm-raised catfish and said every person can help support farmers like him.

“Be aware of what you’re buying when you go to the grocery stores and restaurants,” Pearce said. “Pay attention to country of origin labeling, and help us spread the word about what a safe product U.S. farm-raised catfish is to feed your family.”

The luncheon was sponsored by the Alabama Catfish Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation; Harvest Select; SouthFresh; and Heartland.

Catfish farms in the state are heavily concentrated in the Black Belt Region of west Alabama. Nationally, Alabama ranks second in catfish sales; however, the amount of U.S.-raised catfish has declined nearly 50 percent since 2003.

For more information on Alabama’s catfish industry, visit http://www.alfafarmers.org/commodities/catfish.phtml.

Houston County Chef Wins Heritage Cooking Contest

Winners in the 2012 Heritage Cooking Contest held at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s headquarters in Montgomery Sept. 4 were, from left, Mary Helms of Houston County, first place; Rhonda Hughes of Jefferson County, second place; and Janell Powell of Butler County, third place. The annual event is sponsored by the Federation’s Women’s Leadership Division. The contest showcases the flavor, versatility and nutritional value of Alabama agricultural products. A selection of recipes will be available in the October issue of Neighbors magazine.

Calhoun County Awards Scholarships

Calhoun County Farmers Federation’s Women’s Leadership Committee member Elizabeth Hays, left, presents Cameron Coley of Oxford a $2,000 scholarship during the county’s annual meeting Aug. 9. Coley, a graduate of Oxford High School, plans to pursue a degree in forestry engineering at Jacksonville State University. White Plains High School graduate Kendall Hightower also received a $2,000 scholarship. Hightower is pursuing a degree in agricultural communications at Auburn University.

Alabama forestry grant program deadline Nov. 1

Organizations interested in receiving grant funding for 2013 forestry projects have until Nov. 1 to submit proposals to the Alabama Forests Forever Foundation board.

Grants will be awarded in January to projects promoting the importance of forests to the environment and economy of Alabama. Projects must also promote healthy and productive rural and urban forests, clean water and abundant wildlife.

The maximum grant amount is $10,000.  To view guidelines or download the application, visit AlaForestry.org.

Completed applications must be postmarked no later than Nov. 1. Mail applications to Alabama Forests Forever Education Grant, 555 Alabama St., Montgomery, AL 36104.

The Alabama Forests Forever Foundation is a cooperative project of the Alabama Forestry Association, the Alabama Forestry Commission and the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.

For more information, contact Lisa Martin at lmartin@alaforestry.org or (334) 481-2120.

New season kicks off for Alfa’s tailgating promotion

One lucky football fan will have a chance to win tailgating gear courtesy of the 2012 Tailgate Photo Contest. Sponsored by Alfa Insurance, the contest runs from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31.

To enter, contestants should take a picture of any Alfa advertising at a college football game and post it to Alfa’s Facebook wall at https://www.facebook.com/AlfaInsurance. Advertising may include scoreboard graphics, LED displays, an Alfa tent or a mobile response unit visiting campus that week.

Contestants must “like” Alfa Insurance in order to upload photos.

Only one entry per contestant is permitted. A winner will be drawn from the photos submitted and announced the first week in November.

To view official contest rules, visit https://www.alfains.com/html/tailgatecontest.html.

Summer Area Communications Meeting

Members of the Alabama Farmers Federation received an update from Alfa Insurance Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Rutledge on challenges the insurance company has faced the past year during the Summer Area Communications Meetings in August. Attending the Area 4 Communications Meeting at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Talladega Aug. 6 are, from left, Clay County Farmers Federation Secretary-Treasurer Larry Upchurch and his wife, Debbie; Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby and Rutledge.

Lester’s reign with ADEM to end after nearly 20 years

Dr. John Lester
After serving as chairman of Alabama’s Environmental Management Commission (EMC) for 18 years, Dr. John Lester has announced he will not seek reappointment. His term officially ends Sept. 30.

Alabama Farmers Federation Director of Agricultural Legislation David Cole said Lester leaves behind a legacy of supporting agriculture.

“Dr. Lester has been a true friend to farmers and the agricultural community,” said Cole. “His wisdom and leadership will be missed. We wish Dr. Lester the best in all of his future endeavors.”

In addition to his role as chairman, Lester served as the EMC’s chemist/veterinarian since October 1994. A graduate of Auburn University, Lester received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1962 and was a prominent veterinarian in Enterprise for 47 years.

The seven-member EMC is a division of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). Members are appointed to six-year terms by the governor and are charged with developing the state’s environmental policy; hearing administrative appeals of permits, administrative orders and variances issued by the Department; adopting environmental regulations and selecting an ADEM director.

For more information, visit http://adem.alabama.gov/inside/overview.cnt.


Scott Langley, a Chambers County Farmers Federation board member, died Aug. 7. He was 78.

Langley, owner and operator of Langley Pulpwood Co., was a member of the Chambers County Farmers Federation for more than 50 years. He also served on the Chambers Academy Board of Directors; was inducted into the Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) Hall of Fame and was a member of the Alabama Forestry Commission. Langley was a deacon at County Line Baptist Church in Camp Hill. 

Survivors include his wife, Doris; children Cathy McCoy (Skip), Thomas Langley (Terri), Curtis Langley (Victoria) and Chris Langley (Elizabeth); sister Jeanette Rollins; brothers Mac Langley and Ben Langley; and 11 grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Advantage of East Alabama Medical Center, 665 Opelika Rd., Auburn, AL 36830.

Margaret Evans, an active member of the St. Clair County Farmers Federation for 36 years, died Aug. 19. She was 84.

Evans served in various capacities of the Federation’s Women’s Leadership Committee, including taking an active role in the Ag in the Classroom program. She also was president of the Henry Neely Lake Association, served on the St. Clair Historical Society and was a charter member of the St. Clair County Cattlewomen’s Association. Evans was a member of Ashville Church of Christ.

Survivors include her husband, David Evans Jr.; daughter Beth Smith (Rick); son Dr. David Evans III (Stephanie); brother George Foster (Martha); sister Jane Boozer; and four grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the following organizations: The American Cancer Society’s Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge, 1104 Ireland Way, Birmingham, AL 35205, or St. Clair County Ag in the Classroom, c/o St. Clair County Farmers Federation, 775 Mount Olive Dr., Pell City, AL 35125.

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