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July 27, 2009   Email to Friend 

Commodity Conference Seminars Tackle Current Issues

Benjamin Helms hoists a pumpkin at Tate Farms Cotton Pickin' Pumpkins in Madison County.
The Alabama Farmers Federation's 37th annual Commodity Producers Conference will offer insights into a wide range of issues when an estimated 700 farmers from all across the state gather Aug. 6-8 at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Convention Center.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright, who served as Montgomery's mayor for nine years prior to his election to congress last fall, will address Thursday's opening night welcome banquet. Friday will be marked by a day of touring area farms and related businesses, such as a Chilton County horse and cattle farm, a whitetail deer research facility in Lee County and catfish farms in west Alabama.

Saturday will be filled with educational seminars and agricultural issue updates, says Jimmy Carlisle, director of the Federation's Commodity Department. "This year's line up of seminars are extremely relative to what our farmers are facing and what's happening in agriculture today," said Carlisle. "Our staff has worked very hard to address current issues and help our farmers be more successful. We believe these seminars will give all of us something to think about."

The first seminars will begin at 8:30 a.m. as Tom Smith of the Larned, Kansas,-based management company Innovative Livestock Services (ILS) takes a look at the importance of risk management and hedging in the volatile commodity markets. Other concurrent seminars include: State Conservationist Bill Puckett and Assistant State Conservationist Steve Musser of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on NRCS programs available under the new farm bill; wildlife damage control on farmland by Frank Boyd of the USDA's Wildlife Services; and a discussion of Africanized honeybees in Alabama by State Apiarist Dennis Barclift of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

The next seminars begin at 9:45 a.m., and include a discussion of climate change, the Clean Water Act and how animal rights legislation could affect livestock operations. That discussion will be led by Paul Schlegal, director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Other seminars include: Production of triticale (a wheat-rye hybrid), led by Mike Davis, Alabama Cooperative Extension System agronomist; preventing farm theft and rural crime, led by Barry Komisar, president of Vision Security; and a repeat of the NRCS farm bill programs update.

The highlight of the 11 a.m. lineup will be a panel discussion on agritourism. Panelists will include ACES' tourism specialist Tom Chesnutt, along with Jeff Manley, general manager of the 1,250-acre of Rock Ranch, LLC in Barnesville, Ga., and Jackie Tate, whose Tate Farms Cotton Pickin' Pumpkins agritainment operation now covers 60 acres of pumpkins and gourds. Other speakers at 11 a.m. include ACES' Davis on using forages for nutrient management and ILS's second risk management discussion.

At noon, the Federation's Women's Division will host its annual luncheon, along with its Cotton Sewing & Quilting and Tablescapes Contest. Members who won their respective county contests will compete for cash prizes in the categories of hand-stitched and machine-stitched cotton quilts and handbags or purses.

AFBF's Schlegal and Tara Smith, director of AFBF's congressional relations, will open the 2 p.m. general session as they provide an update on the potential impact of new legislation on Alabama farmers. They will be followed by an estate planning session, "Protecting Your Heirs From The IRS," by Montgomery attorney Mitch Henry.

Alfa Dental and Alfa Health will host Saturday night's closing banquet which will feature entertainment by Ian Varella, a ventriloquist who has opened for such notables as the Statler Brothers, Randy Travis and George Strait.

For more information, call Ginger Mullins at (334) 613-4293 or email gmullins@alfafarmers.org.

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