Winners named at Young Farmers conference
Young farmers representing 12 agricultural commodities were honored Feb. 23 as division winners in the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) competition.
|Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, left, speaks with young farmers Feb. 23 during the organization’s annual Young Farmers Leadership Conference in Columbus, Ga. More than 200 farmers from across the state attended the event, which raised $3,305 for the Agriculture Foundation. From left are Pinyan, Colby Willoughby of Houston County, Garrett Dixon of Auburn University’s Young Farmers Program and Lee County Young Farmers Chairman Iris Peeler.|
The contest was held during the Federation’s Young Farmers Leadership Conference (YFLC) at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. Of the 12 division honorees, six finalists will compete for the title of overall OYFF at the Federation’s 92nd annual meeting in Montgomery, Dec. 5-6.
OYFF finalists were Jim and Jessica Yance of Henry County, Beef; Lance and Stephanie Miller of Blount County, Cotton; John and Jennifer Bitto of Baldwin County, Peanuts; Greg and Michele Edwards of Russell County, Poultry; Stan and Kayla Usery of Limestone County, Soybeans; and Jamie and Wendy Yeager of Dallas County, Wheat and Feed Grains.
Other division winners were Justin Hill of Calhoun County, Bee and Honey; Benjamin Brown of Etowah County, Dairy; James and Rosa Walker of Lauderdale County, Equine; Colin and Kristy Wilson of Jackson County, Hay and Forage; Cody and Cassie Young of Barbour County, Horticulture; and Daniel and Jessica White of Randolph County, Meat Goat & Sheep.
Alabama’s OYFF winner will receive prizes valued at more than $60,000, including a new GM truck valued at $35,000 from Alfa Insurance; lease of a John Deere Tractor from SunSouth, TriGreen Equipment and Snead Ag dealers; a John Deere Gator XUV 825i from Alabama Farm Credit and Alabama Ag Credit; and a personal computer package from ValCom Wireless and CCS Technology. The winner will represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2014 annual meeting in San Antonio.
State Farmers Market Authority could merge with Ag Department
A bill proposing the transfer of the Alabama Farmers Market Authority (FMA) to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has made its way to the legislature. Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan and FMA Director Don Wambles discussed the consolidation measure during a press conference at the Statehouse Feb. 27.
Sponsored by Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Semmes, and Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, the legislation would consolidate the two agencies. McMillan said the proposal would save taxpayers money and improve efficiency.
“(The FMA) has done a fantastic job,” McMillan said. “Their responsibilities have increased at the same time their resources have decreased. We know we can do a better job as one entity.”
Since 1999, the number of farmers markets in Alabama has increased from 17 to 140, according to Wambles.
“I could not allow our department and what we have worked for over the last 18 years to (dissolve), not for our farmers or for our communities across the state,” he said.
McMillan also discussed bills that streamline the certification process for measuring devices, including fuel pumps. Rep. Paul Lee, R-Dothan, and Sen. Billy Beasley, D-Clayton, are sponsors of the legislation.
For updates on these bills and others, subscribe to the Capitol Connection at AlfaFarmers.org/subscribe.phtml.
Rainfall wreaks havoc for Geneva County farmer
Just a month ago, Geneva County was in a “severe drought,” according to the USDA Drought Monitor — demonstrating just how quickly conditions can change for Alabama farmers.
|Geneva County farmer Steve Dunn inspects an irrigation pond under construction on his farm near Samson, which received about 20 inches of rain in two weeks. Excessive rain eroded much of the work he had done.|
Federation District 12 Director and Geneva County cattle farmer Steve Dunn had almost two feet of rain the last two weeks of February. The biggest problem the rain caused on Dunn’s farm was damage to an irrigation system he’s building.
“The top of the ground is saturated,” said Dunn. “It’s hard to find high ground to feed cattle on, and if you do, it’s hard to get there.”
Even leaving home has been a problem for the Dunns. Rains washed away the dirt road leading to their home, making off-road vehicles their only source of transportation.
As things began to dry out, Dunn forecasts brighter days ahead.
“Hopefully with the irrigation system, we can capture future rains and have it for our crops next summer,” he said.
With recent rains, less than 2 percent of Alabama is classified as being in a “drought,” down 32 percent from January.
To view the drought monitor, visit http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu.
Annual Tuskegee University Goat Day scheduled for April 20
Tuskegee University will host its annual Goat Day April 20 at Patterson Hall and the Caprine Research and Education Unit.
Experts in the fields of breeding and genetics, the dairy goat industry and small ruminants will provide attendees with goat industry updates. A USDA-APHIS representative will provide critical updates on scrapie regulations for goats in Alabama. Events are scheduled from 8:30 a.m. — 3 p.m.
Registration received by April 1 is $15 and includes lunch. Registration received after April 1 is $20. Children 12 and under are admitted free.
To register or learn more about the event, contact Dr. Nar Gurung at (334) 727-8457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farmers’ state fuel tax refund deadline is April 1
Alabama farmers have until April 1 to file 2012 state fuel tax refund claims with the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR).
Due to recent changes in Alabama’s motor fuel tax law, the 2012 refund period covers fuel purchases made Jan. 1, 2012—Sept. 30, 2012. Purchases made after this date do not qualify.
Refund claims are based on portions of the state excise tax paid by farmers on gasoline and clear motor fuel used in tractors or any auxiliary engines attached to tractors during 2012. The refund rate is 11 cents per gallon.
Alabama farmers transporting biomass to electricity-generating facilities also qualify to receive a fuel tax refund up to $1,000.
Farmers who previously filed refund claims with ADOR were mailed forms in early February. To request forms, contact the ADOR Motor Fuels Section at (334) 242-9608 or email Bonita.Calhoun@revenue.alabama.gov.
Low-cost irrigation funding available
Farmers who want to install irrigation systems on their land may qualify for special loans rates thanks to an expanded program managed by the Alabama Agricultural Development Authority (AADA).
AADA Executive Director John Gamble said irrigation could enhance row crop, vegetable, fruit and nut tree production in Alabama, ultimately doubling yields with proper management.
AADA has committed an initial $500,000 to this program. Low-cost loans up to $20,000 at a 3.5 percent interest rate with a four-year amortization are now available. Loans can be used separately or in conjunction with other sources to meet individual needs.
“Irrigation is most likely not the answer for every producer, but it can take a lot of climate risk out of the production equation,” said Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries and AADA Chairman John McMillan.
Alabama has 120,000 irrigated acres, whereas Mississippi and Georgia each report about 1.5 million acres of crops under irrigation.
For more information, contact Gamble at (334) 240-7245 or email@example.com.
Roy Sims, a member of the Coffee County Farmers Federation board of directors, died Feb. 4. He was 78.
Survivors include his wife, Virginia Horton Sims; daughters Kathi Hart (Carlos), Susan Johnson (Gary) and Patricia Sims; son Joe Sims; 18 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and a sister, Dixie Johnson (Tommy).
Memorials may be made to Lee Street Baptist Church, 630 East Lee St., Enterprise, AL 36330.
Fay Thorn, a member of the Franklin County Farmers Federation board of directors, died Feb. 3. He was 90.
Survivors include his children, Norman Thorn (Lottie) and Rebecca Holland (Randy); brother Ray Thorn (Hildred); four grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.
Memorials may be made to Pleasant Site Cemetery Fund, 2655 Highway 90, Red Bay, AL 35582.
Ross Herman Walker, a member of the Tuscaloosa County Farmers Federation board of directors, died Feb. 2. He was 85.
Survivors include his wife, Margie Burns Walker; daughter Sharon Fair (Lawrence); daughter-in-law Pat Walker; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to the Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery Fund, 15882 Wesley Chapel Rd., Ralph, AL 35480.
State Farm of Distinction to be named April 11
Alabama’s Farm of Distinction will be named April 11 at the Alabama Farm-City Awards Luncheon in Birmingham. The event is held in conjunction with the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Women’s Leadership Conference.
Finalists for the award are Ray and Delle Bean of Del-Ray Ranch in Calhoun County, Dee River Ranch of Pickens County, Joe and Patty Lambrecht of Oakview Farms Granary in Elmore County and James and Joan Malone of Southern Heritage Land and Livestock Co. in Mobile County.
The winner will receive prizes valued at more than $10,000, including a John Deere Gator from SunSouth, TriGreen and Snead Ag Supply, a $1,000 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative, a $2,500 cash award from Swisher International and an engraved farm sign.
Alabama’s Farm of Distinction will represent the state in the Southeast Farmer of the Year contest at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in October.