Strong state presence at National FFA Convention encouraging for agriculture
Agricultural and political leaders from across Alabama were among 56,000 individuals who displayed their support of agricultural education at the 85th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Oct. 24-27.
|LEFT: FFA supporters from across Alabama had the opportunity to help pack meals for FFA’s “Rally to Fight Hunger” program in Indianapolis, Oct. 24-27. In three days, FFA members from across the nation packed more than 1 million meals. From left are Alabama Farmers Federation Young Farmers Director Jennifer Himburg; Alabama Department of Education Career and Technical Education Director Phillip Cleveland; Legislative Director for Gov. Robert Bentley, Blaine Galliher; Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey; State Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery; Baldwin County Board of Education member Tracy Roberts; Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan; and Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs Assistant Director Brian Hardin.|
RIGHT: Wiley Bailey of Cherokee County was elected to serve as Southern Region Vice President during the 85th National FFA Convention.
During the three-day event, FFA members from all 50 states participated in leadership, personal growth and career success training workshops. Attendees, including members of Alabama’s delegation, also participated in the “Rally to Fight Hunger” program, a new initiative which seeks to ultimately eliminate global hunger. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey; State Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery; and Alabama Department of Education Career and Technical Education Director Phillip Cleveland were among those who helped fill 1 million bags of meals during the rally. Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, Governmental and Agricultural Programs Assistant Director Brian Hardin and Young Farmers Director Jennifer Himburg also aided in the rally.
Himburg said she was encouraged by the enthusiasm Alabama’s leaders displayed during the convention.
“The Alabama Farmers Federation is deeply invested in agricultural education and FFA,” said Himburg. “FFA offers incredible opportunities for students, and the national convention is one of the places where students can see a much broader view of American agriculture. Sharing this message with our public officials is crucial, but allowing them to see for themselves the impact this organization makes across the country is truly eye-opening.”
During the convention’s closing ceremony, Cherokee County native Wiley Bailey was elected National FFA Southern Region vice president. The 14th national officer from Alabama since the organization was founded in 1928, Bailey said he was looking forward to sharing his love of agriculture and education during his term.
“I am overjoyed and excited to have the opportunity to take time to listen to others and genuinely care about their concerns,” said Bailey, an Auburn University student. “It is my goal to advocate for agricultural education and be a voice for members and production agriculturalists throughout the year.”
No stranger to leadership positions with FFA, Bailey has served as state secretary, North District president, North District treasurer and Sand Rock High School FFA chapter president.
Himburg said Bailey’s selection as Southern Region vice president is a testament to the state’s emphasis on agricultural and educational achievements.
“Wiley is a tremendous asset to Alabama agriculture, and we are excited to know he will represent both our state and more than a half-million FFA members next year,” she said. “His genuine love and concern for others will help him connect with students and leave an impact long after his year of service.”
Joining Bailey on the 2012-13 National FFA Officer team are President Clay Sapp of Florida, National Secretary Kalie Hall of Georgia, Eastern Region Vice President Joenelle Futrell of Kentucky, Western Region Vice President Lindsey Anderson of California and Central Region Vice President Brennan Costello of Nebraska.
For more information, or to view photos from the National FFA Convention, visit FFA.org.
Members Enjoy Tailgate Event
|Members of the University of West Alabama (UWA) softball team enjoyed a barbecue meal during the Sumter County Farmers Federation’s Membership Appreciation Tailgate Party Oct. 4. More than 175 students, faculty and area residents attended the event on UWA’s campus, including sophomore student and softball player Scarlett Wright of Decatur (front right). |
Food drives a healthy option for National Farm-City Week
Volunteers across Alabama are tackling concerns about food safety this month by promoting healthy food choices during National Farm-City Week, Nov. 16-22.
Alabama Farm-City Committee Chairman Jeff Helms said this year’s theme, “Grown Safely. Extra Tasty.” will give Farm-City committees a chance to counter misinformation by showcasing the safety of America’s food supply.
“As farmers increase production and improve efficiency to meet the growing demand for food, consumers often are bombarded with questions about the safety of modern farming,” said Helms.
First observed in 1955, National Farm-City Week begins the Friday before Thanksgiving and seeks to foster understanding and cooperation among rural and urban residents.
At the national level, food safety will be the focus of the National Farm-City Symposium Nov. 13. The symposium will be broadcast live on the AgriTalk radio network beginning at 10 a.m. CST and online at AgriTalk.com.
On a local level, county Federations across Alabama are gearing up for banquets and other Farm-City outreach events. Many counties, including the Lee and Mobile County Farmers Federations, are hosting food drives to benefit area food banks. Canned food or monetary donations received during Lee County’s Nov. 13 food drive will benefit the “Feeding America’s Hungry” charity, while Mobile’s Nov. 15 food drive will benefit the Bay Area Food Bank.
To reach the younger demographic, county Farm-City committees have encouraged students to participate in poster, essay and multimedia contests. County winners will go on to compete at the state level for cash prizes, sponsored by Alabama Farmers Cooperative.
Whatever the forum, this year’s National Farm-City Week encourages rural and urban residents alike to appreciate the bountiful food they enjoy — grown and produced on American soil.
“For Alabama farmers, food safety is not about feeding the world,” Helms added. “For them, it is a way of life. They are dedicated to producing healthy, wholesome products for their families and ours — not just today, but for generations to come.”
Members Enjoy ‘Cajun Country’ On Beef Tour
|Sixty-eight members of the Alabama Farmers Federation participated in the 2012 Beef Tour, Oct. 28 - Nov. 3. The six-day bus tour took members from Montgomery to cattle farms in Mississippi and Louisiana. Above, members listen to Ken Stewart, general manager of 7L Farms & Land Co. in Wiggins, MS, discuss an upcoming bull sale. For photos of the Beef Tour, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/beeftour2012. To read the Beef Tour Blog, visit http://alfafarmersbeeftour2012.blogspot.com. |
Congressional inaction could mean trouble for farmers
The impact of the general election results on the legislative agenda remains to be seen, but farmers and ranchers across the country have more than a new farm bill to consider when planning for the future.
“Farmers looking to the U.S. House of Representatives to take action on the 2012 farm bill should be aware this piece of legislation will compete for time on the floor with several issues related to the general economy,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker. “A combination of tax policy expirations and the sequestration that kicks in as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011 will likely drive the legislative agenda in broad terms once the dust settles from the presidential election. The economy and looming fiscal cliff may trump other issues, but the farm bill is at a point where it could be taken up.”
Regarding their financial futures, Walker said farmers should expect to pay more taxes as a result of the expiration of the 2001-2003 tax policies, unless Congress takes action prior to the end of the year.
“The capital gains tax will increase by a third to 20 percent, the death tax exemption will shrink to $1 million and the top rate will jump to 55 percent,” Walker said. “Looking at the 2007 Census of Agriculture, moving the exemption from $5 million to $1 million means that instead of roughly 250 farm families in Alabama facing the threat of paying the death tax, more than 4,500 farms in the state will potentially be impacted.”
Between 2002 and 2012, the exemption and tax rate have changed nine times. Walker said farmers and ranchers need the certainty of a low rate and high exemption on death taxes to protect family farms from extinction. He encourages Federation members to contact their state congressional delegation through the Federation’s Legislative Action Center, available online at http://capwiz.com/alfafarmers/state/main/?state=AL.
“Ensuring the continuation of family farms needs to be on the minds of state and national legislators,” he added.
As farmers look for certainty in the area of taxes, they also continue to look for certainty in the area of the farm policy. The U.S. Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June, and the House voted to pass a one-year extension of the farm bill prior to the August recess. However, the Senate chose not to take up the House’s extension bill, and the provisions of the 2008 farm bill expired Sept. 30. Farmers continue to monitor the status of a five-year bill with concern, but recent reports indicate a new bill could pass before year-end.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., signaled the farm bill could make it onto the legislative calendar during an Oct. 24 campaign event in Idaho. Cantor told supporters he was “committed to bring this issue to the floor, and then to see a way forward so we can get the votes to pass [a farm bill].”
Whether a stand-alone bill can muster enough House votes for final passage has been the topic of debate for weeks in Washington, but Walker emphasizes the importance of getting a new farm bill completed this year.
“There are certainly a number of big ticket items that will move to the forefront in this post-election session of Congress, but we believe the farm bill must be part of the overall discussion,” he added. “As Congress reconvenes later this month, the Alabama Farmers Federation will continue to send a message to our elected officials that passage of a full five-year bill is critical to the agricultural sector of the economy. There are 21 million jobs in American that are directly tied to agriculture. It’s imperative the House passes a farm bill soon to protect these jobs and protect the American farmer.”
Dust Bowl documentary to air Nov. 18-19 on APT
Farmers interested in learning about the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history should tune in to “The Dust Bowl” documentary Nov. 18-19 on Alabama Public Television (APT).
Directed by Ken Burns, the two-part documentary will air at 7 p.m. both nights and chronicles the environmental catastrophe that destroyed farmlands of the Great Plains throughout the 1930s.
Written and co-produced by Dayton Duncan, “The Dust Bowl” tells the story of heroic perseverance against enormous odds: farm families who found ways to survive and hold on to their land; national and local government programs that kept hungry families afloat; and a partnership between government agencies and farmers to develop new farming and conservation methods. Vivid interviews with 26 survivors, dramatic photographs and rare movie footage fill the four-hour broadcast.
APT’s broadcast of “The Dust Bowl” is supported by the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts comprised of supervisors from the 67 conservation soil and water districts in the state.
For more information, visit http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/dustbowl/.
An Award-Winning Beekeeper
|Alabama Farmers Federation State Bee & Honey Committee Chairman Bill Mullins, above, received the 2012 Beekeeper of the Year Award last month from the Alabama Beekeepers Association. Mullins, a native of Madison County, learned beekeeping from his grandfather and manages more than 300 hives today on his honey farm in Meridianville. He has served as president of the Madison County Beekeepers Association and vice-president of the Alabama Beekeepers Association. |
Members save money on ‘Everyday Extras’
Alabama Farmers Federation members now have access to thousands of discounts, thanks to the launch of ‘Everyday Extras’ — a benefits program that offers savings on local and national brands.
Papa John’s, Advance Auto Parts and Ace Hardware are among national brand discounts now available to members. Existing benefits including General Motors, Sam’s Club and Choice Hotels are also located on the ‘Everyday Extras’ website.
For more information, to register online or to download the smart phone app, visit AlfaFarmers.org/Benefits.
Ed Avery Jr., a member of the Hale County Farmers Federation board of directors, died Oct. 15. He was 80.
A lifelong member of Havana United Methodist Church, Avery served 24 years on the Hale County Board of Education. He was a founder of the Havana Community Club, served on the Dixie Youth Baseball League board of directors and was a member of the Farm Service Agency and Hale County Cattlemen’s Association. Avery was also recognized as a Treasured Forester.
Survivors include his wife, Mary Ann; sons David Avery III (Elizabeth) and Albert Avery (Sheleen); and four grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be made to the following organizations: Havana United Methodist Church Cemetery Fund, 458 County Road 42, Moundville, AL 35474 or Hospice of West Alabama, 3851 Loop Road, Tuscaloosa, AL 35404.