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September 12, 2013   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Farmers welcome dry weather for harvest

Alabama farmers say they are happy to see drier weather this month after near record-breaking rainfall in July and August. Drier conditions helped lower corn moisture levels, allowing harvest to begin.

According to the Sept. 9 Crop Progress and Condition Report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, 17 percent of Alabama’s corn is harvested. Row crop harvests seem promising, with more than 65 percent of Alabama’s corn, cotton and soybeans currently rated good or excellent.

“Overall, we’re blessed at this point,” said Blount County farmer Jimmy Miller, who serves as chairman of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s State Cotton Committee. “Our worst problem now for cotton could be an early freeze.”

Miller said his cotton crop is behind for this time of year, and he hasn’t seen any open bolls yet. While rain delayed planting 10 days, he said the late maturing cotton crop is due to lack of sunshine earlier this summer.

“There were too many cloudy, overcast days,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll harvest until the end of October.”

Miller said his peanuts will be ready for harvest in a few weeks, and his soybeans look promising.

While the dry weather is a welcome change, farmers are also hopeful for well-timed rain to finish out crops.

“All these plants are shallow-rooted because it was such a wet year, so a little rain would still help,” Miller said. “It only takes about a week of dry weather before it starts hurting the crops.”

As of Sept. 10, the National Weather Service reported parts of Alabama have received 0.04 to 1.75 inches of rain this month.


Federation Hosts Candidate School

The Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Rural Electric Association hosted a bipartisan candidate school at the Federation’s home office Sept. 11. Above, Federation Political Consultant Beth Chapman discusses political campaigns with, from left, Rep. Berry Forte, D-Eufaula; Federation President Jimmy Parnell; and Rep. Howard Sanderford, R-Huntsville.





Alfa Insurance, Blue Cross partner to serve Alabamians

Alfa Insurance is partnering with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama to offer health care coverage to residents through the Health Insurance Marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Since 1964, Alfa and Blue Cross have been trusted state partners in providing health care coverage.

“The ACA requires anyone not covered by employer health care benefits, Medicaid or Medicare to acquire a policy,” said Alfa Health Director Janet Bradford. “Our Alfa agents already have a strong community presence, and this partnership means customers can rely on their agents to provide important health care information for them and their families.”

Open enrollment in the Marketplace starts Oct. 1 with coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Alfa agents are in the process of learning details for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama coverage plans.

“Almost 400,000 Alabama families trust Alfa for their auto, home and life insurance,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “By working with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, Alfa agents can help policyholders navigate the new health care law while continuing to meet all their insurance needs.”

Enrollment for the initial signup ends March 31, 2014. The November issue of Neighbors magazine will include more details.

For additional information, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website at HHS.gov.


State’s largest paper mill announces closure

Alabama’s largest paper mill will close by spring of 2014, negatively impacting the state’s largest industry — forestry.

International Paper (IP) officials announced the company will close its Courtland Mill and layoff 1,100 workers in Lawrence County.
 
“Effects from this closure will be felt across Alabama,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Forestry Division Director Rick Oates. “In addition to lost jobs for mill employees, the ripple effect could displace numerous workers in the logging industry and other businesses that support it. In the long-term, landowners who planted trees expecting to harvest pulpwood in 10 to 20 years will have to find alternative markets for their crop.”

IP executives said the decision to close was based on decreased demand for paper products.

Officials said the layoffs will occur gradually over the next several months leading up to the final shutdown. IP will offer severance packages and assistance to employees.

Production will shift to other IP mills, including one in Riverdale, Ala., and three out of state.

According to the Alabama Economic Impact Study by Auburn University, the forestry industry and related sectors are the state’s largest industry with $11.2 billion in economic impact in Alabama.
The Courtland Mill was built in 1971 and produced 950,000 tons of paper annually for envelopes, forms, labels, copiers, printers and magazines.

IP is based in Memphis, Tenn. In Alabama, the company operates mills in Prattville and Pine Hill, in addition to its Riverdale mill. These mills will not be affected by the Courtland closure.


A.L.F.A. Leaders Tour The Bluegrass State

The Agricultural Leaders for Alabama (A.L.F.A.) members met their counterparts at Kentucky Farm Bureau and toured Kentucky Aug. 20-22. Above, Zach Burns of Attalla, front left, and Allie Corcoran of Eufaula, front right, enjoy a hayride at Mulberry Orchard in Shelbyville, Ky.




Attention, Farmers!

Registration for the Alabama Farmers Federation 92nd annual meeting in Montgomery Dec. 5-6 is now open. To register or view more information, visit http://bit.ly/1fZWoTS.

Registration is due Oct. 31.


York lecturer to address immigration, agriculture

University of California, Davis Professor Philip Martin will kick off the 2013-14 York Distinguished Lecturer Series Sept. 23 in Auburn with a talk about immigration and agriculture.

Martin, professor of agricultural and resource economics, serves as editor of a publication about immigration and integration in various regions, including North America. He will speak at 7 p.m. in the Auburn University Student Center Ballroom on the topic, “Agriculture and Immigration: What’s Next?”

The York Lecturer Series is hosted by the Auburn University College of Agriculture. Talks are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Megan Ross at (334) 833-3201 or mhr0001@auburn.edu.


Tallapoosa County Hosts Alfa Appreciation Day

Tallapoosa County Farmers Federation President Neal Kelly grilled for 200 customers at an Appreciation Day cookout in Alexander City Aug. 30. From left are Alfa Agent Don Vinson, Sales Customer Service Representative (CSR) Donna Henderson, Claims CSR Monica Allen, Agent Stephanie Pemberton, Sales CSR Tammie Self, Sales CSR Cindy Osborn and Agent Seth McCaleb with Kelly, back row.





Jefferson County cook wins best cornbread

Polly McClure’s Cajun Party Cornbread earned the Jefferson County resident top honors at the Alabama Farmers Federation Women’s Leadership Division Heritage Cooking Contest in Montgomery Sept. 5. The winning recipe showcased popular Alabama products.

“I used Conecuh sausage, Alabama wild-grown shrimp and Cajun seasoning with cornbread on the bottom,” said McClure, who received $150 for first place.

Barbara Lawson of Baldwin County won second place and $100 with her Tomato Tart Cornbread, and Mitzi Moran of Tallapoosa County claimed third place and $50 for her Sweet Potato Cornbread.


Members save more with new GM benefit

Alabama Farmers Federation members can now save an additional $1,000 on a new Chevrolet or GMC truck.

Through April 1, 2014, Chevrolet and GMC are offering the exclusive deal to Farm Bureau members in participating states to be used towards the purchase of any new 2013 or 2014 Regular Cab, Heavy Duty (2500/3500) series truck.

The savings are in addition to the standard $500 Farm Bureau incentive, for a total savings of $1,500 on these models.

Farm Bureau’s Private Offer is stackable with all retail promotions, such as Consumer Cash.  The offer does not stack with other Private Offers such as Owner Loyalty. For more information, visit FBVerify.com/gm.


Commodity Corner

Dairy
Due to budget cuts, the E.V. Smith Research Center sold 105 Holsteins and crossbred cattle Aug. 27. Recent sales have downsized the dairy unit in Shorter to 48 milking cows. It will maintain its Jersey herd on a grazing system for research and educational programs.
-Guy Hall, Division Director

Cotton, Soybean, Wheat & Feed Grains
Alabama cotton, soybean and grain producers, along with Auburn University, are sponsoring irrigation installation for the Prattville Agricultural Research Unit. Irrigation will protect research plots from drought and ensure data collection in dry years. Row crop producers have invested thousands of checkoff dollars in research projects at Auburn experiment stations.
-Buddy Adamson, Divisions Director

Hay & Forage
As the end of hay season approaches, some producers are hoping for  another cutting. Record rainfall significantly lowered crop quality, leaving most farmers with stemmy, washed-out, rank hay. Hay testing is important to ensure farmers don’t overspend for hay or supplemental feed. Contact your county Hay & Forage chairman for testing details.
-Nate Jaeger, Division Director

Forestry, Catfish
Foresters are encouraged to participate in the Alabama Forestry Commission’s (AFC) Customer Satisfaction Survey. Information collected will help AFC serve landowners in the face of possible budget and staff cuts. The survey is available online at http://svy.mk/1dZkNNE.
Catfish industry leaders have focused on perceived problems facing farmers and processors. Results of recent meetings in Alabama and Mississippi will soon be implemented and target raising quality standards for producers and processors and increasing production efficiency. Consumers are encouraged to always ask for “U.S. farm-raised catfish.”
-Rick Oates, Divisions Director

Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod
The State Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod Committee recently discussed a resolution proposing proof of professional service certification for landscape professionals. This could diminish loss of business to individuals operating illegally. Certifications are currently issued by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and can be verified on the department’s website. 
-Mac Higginbotham, Division Director


Piedmont Cattle Marketing Association Sale

The Alabama Farmers Federation hosted the 2013 Piedmont Cattle Marketing Association Board Sale Aug. 15 at the home office in Montgomery. More than 1,200 weaned, preconditioned feeder cattle were sold. Above, auctioneer Cal Green, left, and Jim Collins take bids during the sale.





Roby Talks To Farmers

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., a member of the House Agriculture Committee, updated farmers on federal issues at an event hosted by Montgomery County farmers Jeremy and Lindsey Brown Aug. 20. Above, Roby visits with Pike County farmers Steve and Valerie Stroud and their daughter, Abbigail, during the event.





New Federation blog tracks farm policies

A new blog written by Alabama Farmers Federation National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker will help farmers across the state follow the latest developments in federal farm policies.

Readers can subscribe for free to receive an email notification when a post is added at AlfaFarmersDC.com

“This new service will allow us to do an even better job of keeping our members up to date on federal legislative matters,” Walker said. “To the casual observer, it may seem like things move at a snail’s pace in Washington. In reality, issues can be debated pretty quickly and can change at a moment’s notice. This tool provides updates to our members in real time.”

The blog’s inaugural post, “Will Farm Policy Take A Backseat To Foreign Policy?” discusses possible delays of the pending farm bill as Congress contemplates responses to the Syrian military crisis.

Visit AlfaFarmersDC.com and click “Follow” to sign up for the blog.


Canadian Consulate Carries On COOL Conversation

Canadian Consul General Stephen Brereton, second from right, visited the Alabama Farmers Federation Aug. 14 to discuss Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements. Canada is Alabama’s top export market receiving $55 million of agricultural products annually, based on data from the 2012 U.S. Census. From left are Federation Beef, Meat Goat & Sheep, Hay & Forage and Equine Divisions Director Nate Jaeger; Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan; Brereton and Federation Director of Governmental and Agricultural Programs Jimmy Carlisle.





OBITUARY

Gene Wiggins, a member of the Covington County Farmers Federation for 50 years, died Aug. 18. He was 83.

Survivors include his wife, Jane; his son, Ricky (Sharon) Wiggins; daughters Kathy (Alan) Windham, Amy Wiggins Morris and Jill (John) McBride; nine grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and two brothers and sisters-in-law.

Memorials may be made to Carolina Baptist Church Building Fund, 17895 Rockhole Bridge Rd., Andalusia, AL 36420.



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