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January 28, 2013   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

College and Career Ready Task Force aims to train students for future

Gov. Robert Bentley visits with students at the Shelby County School of Technology in Columbiana after signing a proclamation establishing a College and Career Ready Task Force. The task force, comprised of representatives of K-12 schools, two-year colleges, four-year colleges and the business community, will target skills necessary to compete in today’s workplace.

Gov. Robert Bentley reinforced his commitment to education and infrastructure by announcing development of the College and Career Ready Task Force Jan. 15.

Comprised of representatives of K-12 schools, two-year colleges, four-year colleges and the business community, the task force will pinpoint necessary skills for today’s workplace and develop new programs to train students effectively. As part of the task force, businesses can also be encouraged to invest in career training initiatives.

“By coordinating our workforce development efforts, we can give more students a seamless transition from the classroom to the workplace,” Bentley said at the Shelby County School of Technology in Columbiana. “Much of this is already being done across the state, and all we’re trying to do is organize and bring everybody together. The result is that more students will be college- or career-ready, and more people will be able to find a good, well-paying job in Alabama. As we continue to strengthen our workforce, that will also help us attract more new companies and more new jobs for the people of Alabama.”

Joining the task force are co-chairs Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey; Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn; Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Oxford; and Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.

Alabama Farmers Federation’s Young Farmers Director Jennifer Himburg will also serve as a member of the task force, which is scheduled to have its first meeting in February.

“In the past few years, the Farmers Federation has worked hard to ensure funding for agriscience programs, which are an essential part of career tech education,” Himburg said. “These programs meet a great need of providing skilled workers to Alabama’s workforce. We’re thankful Gov. Bentley is looking toward the future of our state in bringing this group together.”

Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said the task force will help the state board in reaching its goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.

“One of the greatest challenges in meeting the aggressive (graduation rate) goal — and one that is paramount in this task force that’s being formed today — is developing a shared definition of what (an Alabama) graduate looks like, a definition that is shared not only by K-12 and post-secondary, but equally by higher education, business and industry,” Bice said. “We’re excited the task force can provide a clear target of where we want to move as a state.”

Bice noted he and Bentley are convinced the path to a brighter and more productive Alabama rests in the ability to educate and train the state’s existing and future workforce.

“The formation of the College and Career Ready Task Force is another step in the direction of making sure Alabama students have the knowledge and skills necessary to move seamlessly from high school to college and/or the workforce,” Bice said. “This team has been assembled to make sure we are clearly articulating exactly what is expected... to make sure Alabama students not only graduate from high school, but do so with the ability to successfully transition into college or the workforce without mandatory remediation — a foundational component of the State Board of Education’s PLAN 2020.”

For more information, visit governor.alabama.gov.

2013 Alabama-Florida Peanut Trade Show set for Feb. 7 in Dothan

Alabama peanut growers are invited to hone their farming and business skills by attending the annual Alabama-Florida Peanut Trade Show Feb. 7 in Dothan. In addition to a day filled with educational sessions, attendees may also win thousands of dollars in prizes.

Sponsored by the Alabama Peanut Producers Association (APPA) and the Florida Peanut Producers Association (FPPA), the event at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds gives farmers a chance to view products and services of more than 70 exhibitors. The trade show is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

The APPA and FPPA are also coordinating a peanut grower seminar following a catered lunch.

For more details, contact APPA Information Specialist Teresa Wilson at TWilson@alpeanuts.com or (334) 792-6482.

Parnell Joins AFBF Board Of Directors

Nearly 200 members of the Alabama Farmers Federation attended the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 94th annual meeting in Nashville, Jan. 13-16. During the business session of the meeting, Federation President Jimmy Parnell was elected to the AFBF Board of Directors. As a director, he joins 30 other Farm Bureau state presidents in setting policies and priorities for AFBF, the nation’s largest farm organization. Around 6,000 members from across the country attended the national meeting. From left are Parnell and David Harms of Baldwin County.

Planter Clinic scheduled for Feb. 5

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is hosting a one-day Planter Performance Clinic at E.V. Smith Research Center Conference Facility in Shorter, Feb. 5.

The clinic, sponsored by the Alabama Wheat and Feed Grains Committee, will offer workshops on calibration and setup techniques, new metering technology and the impact of planter performance on crop yields. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view planters and technology from several manufacturers. Agronomists and crop advisors who attend the clinic qualify for continuing education credits.

On-site registration opens at 8:30 a.m., with the clinic starting at 9 a.m. Registration is $40 per person and includes lunch. Early registration is encouraged, as the clinic is limited to 150 participants. To register, visit http://www.aces.edu/anr/precisionag/2013PlanterClinic.php.

For more information, contact John Fulton at (334) 844-3541 or fultojp@auburn.edu.

The E.V. Smith Research Center is located at 4725 County Road 40, Shorter, AL 36075.

New State Board, County Presidents Orientation A Success

New county presidents and state board members were at the Alabama Farmers Federation headquarters Jan. 21-22 for an orientation that introduced them to staff members and organization structure. Orientation attendees participated in time management and leadership skills workshops, as well as an informative session on member benefits. From left are Marc Pearson, director of Member Benefits; Rick Smith, St. Clair County president; Richard Holladay, Lowndes County president; and Brian Glenn of Lawrence County, who serves as District I director for the organization.

Lamar County dairy farmer named national spokesman

Will Gilmer
Will Gilmer, a dairy farmer from Sulligent in Lamar County, was selected as a national spokesperson for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) Jan. 22. Gilmer will serve as one of four “New Faces of Farming and Ranching,” an inaugural program launched by USFRA in June 2012 as a way for farmers and ranchers to share their stories with others.

As a winner, Gilmer will discuss his experiences on a national stage to help answer consumers’ questions about how food is grown and raised. He said he’s looking forward to dispelling myths the public may have about animal welfare and farmers’ practices.

“I want to help consumers see that farmers and ranchers have a genuine passion for what they do and take pride in the quality of the food they produce,” Gilmer said. “By adapting advanced management practices, we are able to raise healthy, comfortable cows that produce quality milk and beef.”

To help offset the time he will spend away from the farm in the coming year serving as a USFRA spokesperson, Gilmer will receive a $10,000 stipend. He will also have the opportunity to direct a $5,000 donation to an agriculture-related charity.

USFRA Chairman Bob Stallman said the winners’ new roles should enhance dialogue between rural and urban populations. In addition to Gilmer, winners included Bo Stone, a row-crop farmer from Rowland, N.C.; Chris Chinn, a hog and cattle farmer from Clarence, Mo.; and Katie Pratt, a row-crop farmer from Dixon, Ill.

“So much of today’s conversation on food in media and popular culture is missing the perspective of the people who actually grow and raise our food,” said Stallman, who also serves as president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “This lack of representation has led to a lot of misconceptions and questions about how food gets from the farm or ranch to our tables. Farmers like Will were named winners of this program because they are eager to share their stories about the innovative ways they continue to improve food production each day. They have the first-hand experience to address complicated issues surrounding food production by giving honest answers about what happens on today’s farms and ranches.”

Gilmer and his father own and operate a dairy farm, which has been in continuous operation since Will’s grandfather established it in the early 1950s. Today, they milk 200 Holstein cows and raise their own replacement heifers, while managing 600 acres of land used for pasture and forage production.

Away from the farm, Gilmer serves as chairman of the Alabama Farmers Federation State Dairy Committee. He also is a social media sensation, utilizing Twitter and YouTube to share self-made videos like “Have a Dairy, Merry Christmas” and “MooTube Minutes.” Gilmer Dairy Farm can be found online at YouTube.com/GilmerDairy; Twitter.com/@gilmerdairy; and Facebook.com/GDFmilk. To read Gilmer’s blog, visit GilmerDairy.blogspot.com.

For more information on the program, visit FoodDialogues.com.

Farmers reminded to utilize 2013 crop program extensions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers to utilize commodity, disaster and conservation programs extended by the reauthorization of the 2008 farm bill.

Extended programs include the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program (DCP); the Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE); and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC).

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said this opportunity affords farmers a sense of security when planning this year’s crops.

“Looking ahead, it is equally important that our farmers and ranchers be able to plan for the long term,” Lucas said. “My goal remains to [complete a five-year comprehensive farm bill] and ensure our investment in American agriculture.”

Regarding 2013 crops, FSA will begin sign-ups for DCP and ACRE Feb. 19. The DCP sign-up period ends Aug. 2, and the ACRE sign-up period ends June 3. Eligible participants may choose to enroll in either program, as selections are not based on the previous year.

All dairy producers’ MILC contracts are automatically extended to Sept. 30. Eligible producers do not need to re-enroll.

For more information, visit a county FSA office or www.fsa.usda.gov.

Grants available for longleaf pine restoration

The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) is now accepting applications through its Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) to continue longleaf pine restoration efforts in Alabama. The deadline for LIP applications is March 1.

LIP funding is made possible through a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is available to qualifying landowners for longleaf pine restoration on private lands.

Landowners are encouraged to submit applications to receive assistance with site preparation, seedlings, planting, native grass restoration and/or exotic control costs. Applications are being accepted for 50/50 cost share on-site preparation, containerized longleaf pine trees, and planting.

For applications and program information, contact Traci Wood at (334) 353-0503.

Marsh Offers Legislative Updates At Calhoun County Breakfast

Members of the Calhoun Co. Farmers Federation listen to Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Oxford, during a legislative breakfast Jan. 22. Marsh, right foreground, discussed the upcoming session, which convenes Feb. 5.

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