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February 01, 2013   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Federation dedicates wall honoring Service to Agriculture recipients

Former Lt. Gov. George McMillan Jr., left, and Dr. John Jensen, former dean of the Auburn University College of Agriculture, were among the inductees who attended the Jan. 29 ceremony dedicating the Service to Agriculture wall. The wall is in the Alabama Farmers Federation home office in Montgomery.

A permanent display honoring a group of Alabama leaders for their service to agriculture was dedicated Jan. 29 at the Alabama Farmers Federation headquarters in Montgomery.

A wall displaying etched portraits of the Federation’s Service to Agriculture award winners was dedicated during a reception attended by several honorees and family members. Recipients of the award are honored during the organization’s annual meeting each year; however, there was no lasting exhibit until now.

“The Service to Agriculture Award is the highest honor given by the Federation,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “The dedication of this wall recognizes each of the recipients in a permanent manner. The men and women honored here made lasting, significant contributions to Alabama agriculture, and it’s appropriate we remind ourselves now, and for years to come, of their efforts.”

Honorees include Gov. George Wallace, who received the inaugural award in 1965 and was awarded again in 1986. Other state leaders, U.S. Senators and Representatives, educational and civic leaders, as well as former leaders of the Federation, also are members of the prestigious group.

Former Lt. Gov. George McMillan Jr., who received the Service to Agriculture Award in 1980, attended the ceremony. He said he was flattered when he received the award more than two decades ago and was humbled again to be remembered in a permanent way.

“It’s very touching,” McMillan said. “To be honored by being included with this distinguished group of people the Alabama Farmers Federation has chosen to recognize is something that is very special to me.”

In addition to Wallace and McMillan, honorees include L.M. Ware, 1966; Albert Brewer, 1967; E.V. Smith, 1968; Richard Beard, 1969; M.C. Stallworth, 1969; Fred Robertson, 1970; Walter Randolph, 1970; T.L. Faulkner, 1971; W.T. Maynor, 1971; A.W. Jones, 1972;  R.G. Arnold, 1972; James B. Allen, 1973; J. Lewis Harper, 1973; Jack Young, 1973; Booker T. Whatley, 1974; G.B. Phillips, 1975; W.O. Patterson, 1975; Tine Davis, 1975; Jack Edwards, 1976; Walter Givhan, 1976; Charles McCay, 1976; Charles McCay, 1976; Thomas E. Coker, 1977; Joe McCorquodale, 1978; Richard S. Manley, 1979; Howell Heflin, 1981; H. Hanly Funderburk, 1982; Bill Nichols, 1983; Charles Mitchell, 1983; William L. Dickinson, 1984; Hinton Mitchem, 1985; Albert McDonald, 1987; Guy Hunt, 1988; John A. Garrett, 1988; James Martin, 1989; Claude Harris, 1990; Dale Huffman, 1991; James D. Marion, 1992; James S. Clark, 1993; Terry Everett, 1994; Paul Parks, 1995; Fob James, 1996; Dick Fifield, 1996; J.D. Hays, 1996; Bud Cramer, 1997; Jeff Sessions, 1998; Goodwin L. Myrick, 1998; Sonny Callahan, 1999; Charles Bishop, 2000; Doug Rigney, 2000; Seth Hammett, 2001; Terry Everett, 2002; Richard Shelby, 2003; John Dorrill, 2003; John Jensen, 2004; Jim Cravey, 2004; Walter Hill, 2005; Ed Richardson, 2006; Ron Sparks, 2007; Jan Cook, 2008; Richard Guthrie, 2009; Mike Kilgore, 2009; J. Paul Till, 2009; John Wheat, 2010; Mike Rogers, 2011; and Jerry Newby, 2012.

Federation Donates Artwork

The Alabama Farmers Federation donated “Harvest At Home,” a painting by Jack DeLoney, to hang in the new Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee meeting room at the Alabama State House. Federation President Jimmy Parnell, left, presented the painting Jan. 25 to Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, who is chairman of the committee.

Changes ahead for Cultivator newsletter

The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Communications Department is excited to announce changes to the Cultivator newsletter.

In March, the Cultivator will become a separate mail piece and will no longer be an insert in FB News. This decision follows the American Farm Bureau Federation’s decision to discontinue its printed issues.

Beginning with the March 7 issue, the Cultivator will be delivered at least monthly, with special issues mailed as needed. All issues of the newsletter are available online at AlfaFarmers.org/Cultivator. A PDF file of each issue is also available for download.

Federation leaders are encouraged to sign up for eNews alerts to remain abreast of timely information pertinent to the organization. To sign up for news releases, Cultivator notifications and Capitol Connection, the legislative newsletter, visit AlfaFarmers.org/subscribe.phtml.

For questions, contact Cultivator Editor Melissa Martin at mmartin@alfafarmers.org or (334) 612-5448.

Immigration reform plan could remedy labor shortage

An immigration reform proposal unveiled by eight U.S. Senators Jan. 28 has reignited debate for a more efficient guest worker program.

The comprehensive immigration reform proposal — drafted by U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; and Michael Bennet, D-Colo. — focuses reform efforts on four pillars. They include: create a strict but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States; improve the legal immigration system to ensure future economic prosperity; create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve the nation’s workforce.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said the nation’s largest farm organization is hopeful the reform principles will provide the needed framework to advance a legislative solution for America’s agricultural labor shortage.

“The time is long overdue for our nation to have a comprehensive agricultural labor plan that works for all sectors of agriculture and across all regions of our nation,” Stallman said in a statement issued Jan. 29. “The best way to ensure a viable and sustained program is through a modern agriculture worker visa program. We also support efforts that would allow experienced laborers the opportunity to earn an enhanced status for the roles they have played in helping us keep our farms running and American agriculture strong. Both elements are critical to an agricultural immigration reform package.”

A revised guest worker program could help farmers access a much-needed labor force, said Mac Higginbotham of the Federation’s Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department. He noted the senators’ efforts could prove beneficial to the future of Alabama agriculture.

“The fact is, crops do not wait; they will rot. Without a reliable and sufficient agricultural labor force, the sustainability of American-produced food is at risk,” said Higginbotham. “It is critical Congress develops a program that provides the legal and reliable labor force farmers must have with minimal constraints. We are pleased to hear of the efforts being made for an agriculture worker visa program. We look forward to seeing these details develop."

Higginbotham said Federation policy favors improvements to the current guest worker program, which is inefficient at best.

To view the senators’ framework, visit mccain.senate.gov. For Federation updates, sign up for eNews alerts at AlfaFarmers.org.

Ag in the Classroom applications due April 15

Applications are being accepted until April 15 for the annual Alabama Ag in the Classroom (AITC) Summer Institute. AITC is a grassroots program that arms teachers with materials and strategies needed to increase student knowledge of agriculture.

Scheduled for June 4-6 at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, the three-day workshop includes activities for kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers and field trips to area farms. Activities incorporate language arts, science, social studies and math skills.

Lodging, meals and workshop materials will be furnished.

The Institute is limited to 95 educators, media specialists, administrators, Extension agents and district conservationists. Applicants will be selected on the basis of an application form available online at AlabamaAITC.org. Preference will be given to first-time attendees.

Sponsors include the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alfa Insurance, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, the Federation’s State Soybean Committee and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. Proceeds from the sale of ag tag license plates also fund the program.

Contact AITC Coordinator Kim Ramsey at (334) 612-5370 or kearwood@alfafarmers.org with questions.

Applications can be mailed to Kim Ramsey, Alabama Ag in the Classroom, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191 or faxed to (334) 284-3957.

New education task force focuses on students’ 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. Alabama 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 is also a member of the task force. The committee is scheduled to have its first meeting later this month.

“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.”

For more information on the task force, visit governor.alabama.gov.

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.

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.

Visit FoodDialogues.com for more information on the program.

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