Member Benefits That Will Save You Money! AUTO Car seats and booster seats Eligible members can receive a $500 discount
Members save big on select car seats and booster seats
HOME & OUTDOORS
Save big on a home security system
Save up to $2,000 on certain Caterpillar machines
$5 off an oil change at Alabama locations
Discounts off monthly wireless service
TRAVEL & RECREATION
Save 20% at participating Choice Hotel locations
Save up to 20% at participating Wyndham Hotels
Discount tickets online to the Georgia Aquarium
Discount tickets online to Six Flags Over Georgia
Discounted rates with Enterprise and National Car Rental
Save up to 80% off preferred products
Receive up to 30% off, plus free shipping
Ask about Farm Bureau Bankâ€™s Loans & Credit Cards
For a complete list of member benefits, go to alfafarmers.org/benefits.
Member benefits are available to members only and are subject to change. Some restrictions apply.
A Membership Publication of the Alabama Farmers Federation
Debra Davis, Editor Mike Moody, Graphic Designer ALABAMA FARMERS FEDERATION Paul Pinyan, Executive Director Jeff Helms, Director of Communications FEDERATION OFFICERS Jimmy Parnell, President, Stanton Rex Vaughn, Vice President/North, Huntsville Dean Wysner, Vice President/Central, Woodland George Jeffcoat, Vice President/Southeast, Gordon Jake Harper, Vice President/Southwest, Camden Steve Dunn, Secretary-Treasurer, Evergreen DIRECTORS Brian Glenn, Hillsboro Paul Looney, Athens Donald Hodge, New Market Rickey Cornutt, Boaz Joe Anders, Northport Dell Hill, Alpine Joe Lambrecht, Wetumpka Meador Jones, Gallion Garry Henry, Hope Hull Steve Stroud, Goshen Sammy Gibbs, Atmore Fred Helms, Dothan Nell Miller, Snead Jerry Allen Newby, Athens
Photo by Morgan Graham
In This Issue
Neighbors (ISSN 0162-3974) is published monthly by the Alabama Farmers Federation, 2108 East South Boulevard, Montgomery, Alabama 36116 or (334) 288-3900. For information about Alabama Farmers Federation member benefits, visit the website www.AlfaFarmers.org. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and additional mailing offices. Printed in the U.S.A.
95th Annual Meeting
11 Calling Young Farmers 14 Drought Drags On
17 Historic Homestead Revived
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Neighbors, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, Alabama 36191-0001.
22 Alfa 4-H Dorm Rededication
MEMBERSHIP AND SUBSCRIPTION CHANGES: , 800-392-5705, Option 4 or BWatkins@alfafarmers.org
28 Country Kitchen
ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE: Ben Shurett, (256) 997-7922 BenShurett.firstname.lastname@example.org
On The Cover Pastures on Haynes Farms in Fairview have been
DISCLAIMERS: Advertisements in Neighbors do not represent an endorsement by the magazine or Alabama Farmers Federation. Editorial information from sources outside the Alabama Farmers Federation is sometimes presented for our members. Such material may, or may not, coincide with official Alabama Farmers Federation policies. Publication of information does not imply an endorsement by the Alabama Farmers Federation. www.AlfaFarmers.org
devastated by drought. Farmers in many areas of the state are struggling to find forage for cattle.
Photo by Debra Davis
John Smith mber: 071910 Membership Nu rs Federation Alabama Farme /17 Void After: 12/21
A member of American Farm Bureau Federation January 2017
E D E R AT I O FA R M E R S F
Show Your Card and Save! Hundreds of new LOCAL member benefits are now available. Visit AlfaFarmers.org to see how your membership card saves you on services, restaurants and more! w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g
State’s Largest Farm Organization Elects Officers, Directors By Marlee Moore
immy Parnell of Stanton in Chilton County was re-elected to a third two-year term as president of Alabama’s largest farm organization during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 95th annual meeting in Montgomery Dec. 5. Nearly 500 delegates from all 67 counties voted in the business session. Parnell, a fifth-generation farmer in the cattle and timber business, thanked Federation delegates for allowing him to serve the organization’s Voting delegates elected members to the Alabama Farmers Federation Board of Directors at a business session during 360,000 members and promote the interests of the organization’s 95th annual meeting in Montgomery. Front row, from left are Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Nell Miller, Blount County; Southeast Area Vice President George Jeffcoat, Houston County; Alabama the state’s top industry. Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell, Chilton County; North Area Vice President Rex Vaughn, Madison “I get up every County; and State Young Farmers Chairman Jerry Allen Newby, Limestone County. Back row from left are District morning excited to go 2 Director Donald Hodge, Madison County; District 5 Director Joe Anders, Tuscaloosa County; District 8 Director to work,” said Parnell, Meador Jones, Marengo County; and District 11 Director Sammy Gibbs, Escambia County. 52. “I look forward to what the Alabama Farmers FederaLimestone, Madison, Marion, and Tuscaloosa counties. Anders tion is and will become. I promise Marshall, Morgan and Winston succeeds Joe Roberts of Fayette you hard work, honesty and an counties. County. open-door policy.” Jeffcoat is a row crop and catMeador Jones of Marengo Parnell was chairman of the tle farmer. The Southeast Area County was elected District 8 Federation’s State Young Farmincludes Barbour, Bullock, Chamdirector. He is a cattle farmer repers Committee in 1997, served bers, Coffee, Coosa, Covington, resenting Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, on the Federation’s State Board of Crenshaw, Dale, Elmore, Geneva, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Pickens and Directors from 1999-2008 and was Henry, Houston, Lee, Macon, Pike, Sumter counties. Jones succeeds Chilton County Farmers Federation Russell and Tallapoosa counties. Perry County’s Dan Robertson. president from 2006-2012. Additionally, four district Sammy Gibbs, a row crop He was unopposed in his bid for directors were elected to three-year farmer from Escambia County, was re-election. terms. elected to a second term as District North Area Vice President Rex Donald Hodge, a row crop 11 director. He represents Baldwin, Vaughn of Huntsville in Madison farmer from Madison County, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, MonCounty and Southeast Area Vice was elected to represent District roe, Mobile and Washington counPresident George Jeffcoat of Gor2, which covers Limestone, Madties. don in Houston County were also ison and Morgan counties. Hodge Elected to one-year, ex-officio re-elected for two-year terms. succeeds Paul Looney of Limestone terms on the Federation State Board Vaughn is a row crop and beef County. were Women’s Leadership Commitcattle farmer. The North Area Joe Anders of Tuscaloosa tee Chairman Nell Miller of Blount covers Blount, Cherokee, Colbert, County, a row crop farmer, will County and State Young Farmers Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Frankrepresent District 5, which includes Chairman Jerry Allen Newby of lin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Bibb, Fayette, Jefferson, Lamar Limestone County. n w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g
Political And Environmental Topics Take Stage At Annual Meeting By Marlee Moore
ox News correspondent Dana Perino talked elections, service, a love for America and her tenure as President George W. Bush’s White House press secretary at the Alabama Farmers Federation's 95th annual meeting in Montgomery Dec. 5. “What I learned about civility, I learned on the ranch,” said Perino, who was raised on a ranch in Wyoming. “One of the leadership qualities I learned from President Bush is forgiveness; that’s important to be a leader,” she added. Perino’s address wrapped up a jam-packed conference including awards, education, elections and policymaking with over 1,200 Federation members. During an earlier Ag Issues Briefing, international speaker and GMO (genetically modified organism) advocate Mark Lynas kicked off an educational campaign by the Federation to help farmers better explain modern agricultural practices — particularly the use of GMOs — to the general public.
Communications awards for outstanding agricultural coverage were presented to the Cleburne News staff for weekly publications and the Montgomery Advertiser for daily publications. From left are Alabama Farmers Federation Director of Communications Jeff Helms; Misty Pointer and Laura Camper of the Cleburne News; and Marty Roney of the Montgomery Advertiser.
The Alabama Wheat & Feed Grain Producers and Soybean Producers sponsored Lynas’ talk. “You’ve got to get out there and tell the message,” said Lynas, a former anti-GMO activists. “You’ve got to be clear that sustainability is at the heart of what you’re doing.” Opening day of the conference
ended with a Christmas concert by country music star Sara Evans in the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre. Earlier that day, former Alabama Extension System Specialist Dennis Evans received the Service to Agriculture Award — the highest honor given by the state's largest farm organization. n
New County Presidents
Phil Slay Chambers County
John Bert East Cherokee County
Max Bozeman Coffee County
Jeff Peek Limestone County
David Lee Lowndes County
David Ellis Marshall County
David Herring Franklin County
Jerry Peak Geneva County
David Hataway Rod Havens Montgomery County Tallapoosa County
Dana Perino speaks to Federation members. January 2017
w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g
New State Committee Members Elected At Annual Meeting
eaders for Alabama Farmers Federation’s State Young Farmers and State Women’s Leadership committees were elected during the organization’s 95th annual meeting in Montgomery Dec. 4-5. Limestone County’s Jerry Allen Newby will serve as Young Farmers chairman, and Nell Miller of Blount County was elected Women’s Leadership Committee chairman. Both serve one-year terms as ex-officio Federation State Board members. Young Farmers State Committee members elected were Cullman County’s Lee Haynes, Walker County’s Russell Miller, Autauga County’s Taber Ellis, Escambia County’s Spencer Williamson and Limestone County’s Ben Maples. Outstanding Young Farmer county committees were honored during the meeting. They were Pike County for Division 1, Limestone County for Division 2 and Calhoun County for Division 3. Representatives elected to the State Women’s Leadership Committee were Calhoun County’s Delle Bean, Russell County’s Jo Ann Laney and Montgomery County’s Kathy Gordon. The Lawrence County Women's Leadership Committee received an award for the Most Improved Committee. Outstanding county committees also were recognized. They were Clay County for Division 1, Houston County for Division 2 and Tuscaloosa County for Division 3. In the spirit of giving back to others, the Women’s Leadership Division collected 2,419.33 pounds of pop tabs to benefit Ronald McDonald House charities in Alabama. The Elmore County Women's Leadership Committee was recognized for collecting the most pop tabs, hauling in 473.69 pounds. During the meeting, live and silent auctions benefited the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation. The auctions raised $17,415. n w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g
The 2017 Young Farmers Committee members are, front row from left, Chairman Jerry Allen Newby of Limestone County, District 1; Vice Chairman Lee Haynes of Cullman County, District 2; Secretary Adam Wilson of Calhoun County, District 3; Russell Miller of Walker County, District 4; and Cooper Holmes of Perry County, District 5. Back row from left are Taber Ellis of Autauga County, District 6; Spencer Williamson of Escambia County, District 8; Ben Maples of Limestone County, North Alabama At-Large; James Robert Parnell of Chilton County, South Alabama At-Large; and Young Farmers Director Jennifer Himburg. Not pictured is Matthew Gunter of Crenshaw County, District 7.
The 2017 State Women's Leadership Committee is, front row from left, Nell Miller of Blount County, chairman; Cheryl Lassiter of Choctaw County, vice chair; Debbie Roberts of Fayette County, secretary; and Women's Leadership Division Director Kim Ramsey. Back row from left are Mary Helen Benford of Chambers County; Jo Ann Laney of Russell County; Debra Bowen of Randolph County; Delle Bean of Calhoun County; and Kathy Gordon of Montgomery County. Not pictured is Regina Carnes of Marshall County. 6
Individual Leader Awards Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, left, presented Individual Leader Awards to Marshall County's John Bevel for the Young Farmers Division; Etowah County's Bill Smith for Local and Community Services; Calhoun County's Doug Trantham for Local and Community Services; Calhoun County's Jon and Amy Hegeman for the Young Farmers Division; and Blount County's Jerry Marsh for the Commodity Division.
LAUDERDALE LIMESTONE COLBERT
Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, left, presented CONECUH Senior Leader Awards to Winston County's Don Allison; COFFEE Morgan County'sCOVINGTON Ted Grantland; and Limestone County's Billy Maples. The awards honor Federation members for longESCAMBIA time service. GENEVA HOUSTON
Senior LeaderCRENSHAW Award
CONECUH COVINGTON ESCAMBIA
AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
Thirty-two county Federations received an Award of Excellence for outstanding work in five program areas. AWARDcounties were recognized for outstanding Womenâ€™s Leadership programs, and 19 counties were honored Thirty-six FOR EXCELLENCE for outstanding Young Farmers programs. 32 COUNTIES
w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g
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Alfa Young Farmers Contest Winners Receive Top Prizes By Marlee Moore
Farmers Federation; a John Deere 825i Gator hrough State Young from Alabama Ag Credit Farmers contests, and Alabama Farm the future of agriCredit; and use of a John culture took the spotDeere tractor by John light at the Alabama Deere and local John Farmers Federation’s Deere dealers. 95th annual meeting in OYFF runners-up Montgomery Dec. 4-5. were Blount County’s At the closing Lance and Stephanie session, Lauren Cline Miller and Marshall of Lee County took top County’s John and prize in the Discussion Hannah Bevel. The Meet, following finals runners-up received $500 centered on food labelfrom Alabama Ag Credit ing earlier that day. and Alabama Farm Cline topped Credit. three other finalists: Excellence in AgriLimestone County’s culture winners Ben and Jerry Allen Newby, Heather Maples of LimeMarshall County’s stone County received Lee County's Lauren Cline won the Young Farmer Discussion Meet and a fourHunter McBrayer and a John Deere zero-turn wheeler sponsored by First South Farm Credit. She's pictured with Federation Tallapoosa County’s Sid President Jimmy Parnell, left, and First South Farm Credit's Mike Pigg. mower sponsored by Phelps. Dow AgroSciences and As Discussion Meet winner, annual meeting. a computer package from CCS/ValCline received a four-wheeler Alabama’s 2016 Outstanding com Wireless. sponsored by First South Farm Young Farmers winners won Young Farm Family is Stewart and Credit. more than $80,000 in prizes and Kasey McGill of Madison County Outstanding Young Farm Family and their children Allie, Reece will represent Alabama at the and Excellence in Agriculture winand Peyton. They received a new American Farm Bureau Federation ners were announced earlier this General Motors Co. pickup truck annual convention in Phoenix, Ariyear and received their prizes at the from Alfa Insurance and Alabama zona, this month. n
From left are Ben and Heather Maples of Limestone County won the Excellence in Agriculture contest and received a zero-turn mower sponsored by Dow AgroSciences. From left are Cullen Wiggins of Dow; the Maples with daughters Jane and Lydia; and Federation President Jimmy Parnell. Right: Alabama's Outstanding Young Farm Family Stewart and Kasey McGill of Madison County won a pickup truck sponsored by Alfa Insurance and Alabama Farmers Federation and a John Deere Gator sponsored by Alabama Ag Credit and Alabama Farm Credit. From left are Alabama Farm Credit's Wendy Tysinger; Alabama Ag Credit's Doug Thiessen; the McGills with daughters Reece, Allie and Peyton; and Federation President Jimmy Parnell. January 2017
w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g
The United States is the top soybean producing country in the world. Soy is one of the few plants that provides a complete protein, containing all eight amino acids essential for good health. Soybeans grown in Alabama are primarily used for animal feed, but can be used in a variety of products including adhesives, ink, cosmetics and foam padding. More than 800 soy-based products have been developed with farmer checkoff dollars since 1990.
A DIVISION OF THE ALABAMA FARMERS FEDERATION
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“Soybeans work well in our farm’s crop rotation. New varieties are improving yields, which can translate into efficiency and profitability. ” — John Bitto, Baldwin County Soybean Farmer
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Public Notice By Alabama Pork Producers And National Pork Board The election of pork producer delegate candidates for the 2018 National Pork Producers (Pork Act) Delegate Body will take place Feb. 7, 2017, at 1 p.m., in conjunction with a Board of Directors meeting of the Alabama Pork Producers Association in the State Board room of the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center at 300 Tallapoosa Street in Montgomery, Alabama during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Commodity Organization Meeting. All Alabama pork producers are invited to attend. Any producer who is a resident of the state, at least 18 years old, is a producer of porcine animals or its representative, and has paid all assessments due, may be considered as a delegate candidate and/or participant in the election. All eligible producers are encouraged to bring with them a sales receipt proving that hogs were sold in their name and the checkoff deducted. For more information contact: Alabama Pork Producers, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191-0001; telephone (334) 612-5181; email email@example.com.
Commodity Organizational Meeting Registration Closes Jan. 11 By Mary Johnson
labama Farmers Federation members may register through Jan. 11 for the 2017 Commodity Organizational Meeting Feb. 7-9 in Montgomery. Over three days, hundreds of farmers will attend educational seminars and vote for leaders on 16 of the Federation’s state commodity committees. “We encourage county leaders to thoughtfully consider who from their county would make a good nominee for the committees and which members should be
appointed as voting delegates,” said Brian Hardin, Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department director. “During lunch at the event, we’ll recognize those who have served
Feb. 7 Bee & Honey; Beef; Catfish; Pork; Soybeans; and Wheat & Feed Grains Feb. 8 Cotton; Equine; Horticulture; Meat Goat & Sheep; Poultry; and Wildlife Feb. 9 Dairy; Forestry; Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod; and Hay & Forage. The Alabama TREASURE Forest Association Board of Directors will meet in the afternoon.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT
w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g
Butler County Farmers Federation President Percy Thompson is more than a retired middle school science teacher. The 69 year old raises beef cattle, owns rental properties, loves to read and is the deacon chairman at Southside Baptist Church in Greenville. He and wife Ada Sue have been married 46 years and have two children and five grandchildren.
1 2 3 4 12
the maximum nine years on a commodity committee.” Members may only serve on one state commodity committee. After serving three consecutive terms, a member must wait a year before running for that same committee. Register at alfafarmers.org. Questions? Contact Jessica Mims at (334) 612-5096. Please note the Alabama Peanut Producers Association will hold its annual meeting in Dothan. Separate registration is required for this event. Look for details on ALPeanuts.com. n
what’s the best time of year on the farm?
It used to be summer when I was a schoolteacher. Now, I like the fall. You have a lot of your work done, and the weather moderates itself.
what do you like about the federation?
I like staying involved with the state and federal governments. We’re active participants in government and make sure things happen as they need to benefit mankind.
What don’t many people know about you?
When I was younger, I read enough to get by in college and school. Now, I probably have at least a couple thousand books at home and read about a book a week. I joke sometimes that I should have been a librarian.
What’s your advice for young farmers?
The biggest thing is to have a love for what you want to do, and be ready to work hard.
o ct N tra e n Fe o N ly th
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Drought Disaster Drags On For Alabama Cattle Farmers By Marlee Moore
arly December rains brought some relief to farmers battling drought across Alabama; however, low prices, lack of winter grazing and longterm effects of drought are creating lingering concerns for cattlemen. Drought turned Haynes Farms near Fairview in Cullman County into a dustbowl until December rain muddied the fields. The farm, owned by Darrel Haynes and his sons, Ben and Bart, resembled a Western desert before the rain. “Nearly all our rain fell slow enough to soak in,” Ben said in early December. “We’ve had little runoff, and our creeks and ponds are still not flowing.” The Haynes began feeding hay mid-October, a month earlier than normal, and bought about 500 bales from as far as Coffee County to fill the deficit. “We’ve never bought hay in my life,” Ben said. “We did carry over a couple hundred bales from last winter, but our hay production stopped the end of May.” South Alabama farmers are struggling as well. To supplement and postpone feeding hay, Monroe County’s Tim Tucker turned cows onto harvested cotton fields. “Experts say an acre of cotton residue is about a month’s feed for a dry cow (a cow without a calf),” Tucker said. “We found it to be true. Our cows got just about all they needed.” Tucker planted 350 acres of ryegrass and 150 acres of oats and rye Sept. 28. Fifty-four days later, green shoots emerged when the rain finally came. “I’m hoping we’ll have some to graze by Feb. 1,” Tucker said. Drought hasn’t forced the Haynes to sell cattle, and Tucker sold only calves. Alabama Farmers Federation’s Nate Jaeger said drought forced some farmers to sell, though prices are depressed. “The extended drought forced cattle farmers to face tough decisions about culling cattle, buying hay, contemplating alternative feeds and marketing calves differently,” said Jaeger, the Federation’s Beef Division director. Jaeger recommends farmers attend the Federation’s Commodity Organizational Meeting Feb. 7, where topics include managing cattle during drought. The state’s winter wheat crop also took a beating from drought. Many farmers didn’t plant wheat because of the drought, which affects spring planting decisions and lowers farm income. Ben said the drought is far from over. Poor milking and breeding abilities in spring could lead to fewer calves born, lower conception rates and reduced farm income. “The insidious part of any drought, but especially this one, is what we’ll wake up to come spring,” Ben said. “It could take us literally years to recover.” n
Ben Haynes kneels in a pasture devastated by drought on his family farm. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g
Photo by Caleb Hicks 14
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Horse Industry Impact Exceeds $2 Billion In Alabama
recent economic analysis by Auburn University (AU) economists indicates horses pump an estimated $2.08 billion annually into Alabama’s economy, directly and indirectly contributing to about 24,000 jobs that represent $706 million in total labor income. The project measured the economic impact of Alabama’s horse business in the wake of a 2005 change in federal horse slaughter laws and 2008’s recession. The slaughter ban cost the U.S. horse industry an estimated $65 million in horsemeat exports in 2006. The project also developed budgets for horse owners based on low, moderate and high levels of care. Darcey Richburg conducted the analysis and said her biggest challenge was determining the state’s horse population, which includes farm horses and those used for recreational and companion purposes. Richburg pegged Alabama’s total
horse population at almost 154,000 with data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 census and a national pet demographics survey from the American Veterinary Medical Association. Richburg’s analysis, which is based on 2015 data, comes 10 years after a similar economic impact
study, which determined horses were a $2.4 billion industry in Alabama. AU agricultural economics professor Patricia Duffy cautioned against comparing the studies’ results because of improved assessment software and a decline in state horse numbers. AU equine science professor Betsy Wager said the study shows the industry’s impact on Alabama’s workforce. “When you consider feed store employees, facility managers, equipment sales representatives, marketing professionals, hay and grain producers and others who supply products or services to horse owners, you see the impact the industry has on people’s economic well-being and on Alabama’s overall economic health,” she said. The study was supported in part by the Alabama Horse Council. Richburg’s thesis is available online at tinyurl.com/grd45zk. n
Checkoff Dollars Fund Research To Keep Catfish Healthy
labama catfish farmers’ checkoff dollars are paying dividends thanks to ongoing research at Auburn University (AU) that’s causing farmers to significantly change their catfish feed to prevent disease. Since 2015, researchers have studied whether a fish-feed additive can break the disease cycle caused by a strain of the bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila. Initial trials on three west Alabama farms indicate the additive improves catfish health and production. “This trial is already helping our farmers save money,” said Rick Oates, the Alabama Farmers Federation Catfish Division director. “The additive is growing better fish and cutting down on loss late in the growing season.” w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g
Aeromonas first appeared in Alabama in 2009 and can kill up to 75 percent of fish in affected ponds in a few days, usually right before harvest. When fish don’t absorb phytate, which is in plant-based feed, phosphorous accumulates in ponds, potentially leading to aeromonas growth. The research explores the relationship between plant-based diets and phytate’s effect on aeromonas. Researchers worked with a major Alabama feed mill to spray a phytate enzyme on the feed to combat phytate in ponds. In 2016, almost all catfish feed in Alabama contained phytate for the first time, said Eric Peatman, the study’s lead scientist. “In our pond studies last year, fish grew faster and about 20 16
to 23 percent larger,” said Eric Peatman, AU School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences associate professor. “And they had a better feed-conversion ratio.” Harvest results appear consistent, too, with performance gains and improved blood work. Peatman calculates the additive costs $4-6 per ton, a small price compared to benefits for farmers. He said the additive may not end aeromonas, but is a step in the right direction. Alabama’s catfish checkoff helped fund the research. The checkoff is $1 per ton of catfish feed sold. It generates more than $120,000 annually. Catfish production has a $158.2 million economic impact each year in Alabama. n January 2017
Historic Homestead Brings History To Life In Small Town Of Hodges By Marlee Moore
n 2019, Alabama will celebrate quite the achievement. After all, it’s not every day the Heart of Dixie turns 200. In light of the upcoming bicentennial, residents of Hodges in Franklin County are getting Overton Farm, their own 200-year-old piece of history, into shape. Armed with a load of tobacco and a dream, merchant Abner Overton journeyed to the Mississippi Territory in 1817, where the pioneer settled 160 acres of fertile farmland near Bear Creek. The Overton family operated the farm until 1946. In 1968, the property was deeded to the Bear Creek Development Authority. It was restored in the 1970s and used as an educational center until 2013. In those 40-something years, area children visited Overton Farm to learn about Alabama heritage, pioneer life and the great outdoors.
Tricia Montgomery’s ancestor, Abner Overton, settled the Overton Farm homestead in 1817. Though Montgomery wasn’t raised in Franklin County, she said she always felt connected to her family land and the people of Hodges.
After a three-year hiatus, historic Overton Farm is up and running again, now under the town’s operation. “We’re a little town, but people are going to come,” said Overton family descendant Tricia Montgomery. “This is the history of every family that settled Alabama.” The 211-acre farm is part of a
growing tourism base in Hodges, a 400-resident town home to Rock Bridge Canyon Equestrian Park. Park Director Mike Franklin said Overton Farm once hosted more than 500 students a year. He’s excited to revive living history at Franklin County’s only intact structure on the National Register of Historic Places. “To some children, outdoors meant a city park until they came to Overton Farm,” said Franklin. “I want the farm to bring lasting enjoyment to everyone.” A couple miles off U.S. Highway 172, through curving, rising and falling dirt roads, Overton Farm sits in a small clearing. Visitors see the original cabin, barn, well and smokehouse, and the surrounding forest is flush with wildlife. An old well on the Overton Farm homestead reminds visitors of Alabama’s early history.
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Historic structures dot Overton Farm and are used to bring Alabama history to life.
Overton Farm’s shaded location near Bear Creek cools the entire property. Montgomery said it’s easy to see how her ancestors were attracted to the tranquil place. “I haven’t found the words to describe this place,” she said. “Maybe someday I will.” Before Overton Farm closed in 2013, it was a booming educational center hosting 4-H camps, civic groups and anyone wanting to learn more about pioneer life. Activities included candle dipping, ghost stories, cave exploring, kayaking and sorghum syrup-making. Nature hikes, tree identification and Alabama history rounded out the farm’s curriculum, which Montgomery hopes to restore. Reviving Overton Farm means more than teaching Alabama history. It means economic development, a renewed spirit for Hodges’ citizens and cultivating the reality of small-town survival. “We’re seeing Hodges have economic development because of Overton Farm and Rock Bridge Canyon,” said State Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, who spearheaded the farm’s restoration. “People have fond memories of Overton Farm, and we want to help their children and grandchildren rediscover those times.” Thanks to Overton Farm’s revival, Hodges’ first restaurant, The Farm Table, is now open on the
property. For Montgomery, Overton Farm is the whole package — a scenic property for weddings, reunions, seminars and more. She’s working on permanent farm exhibits and plans to reopen two dormitories for overnight guests. Those outside the community are chipping in, too, with groups like Back Country Horsemen of Alabama investing time and energy in cleaning the property. Montgomery, who was raised
in Michigan but felt most at home visiting family in Franklin County, said she’s dedicated to Overton Farm not because of familial duty, but for the good of the community. “I appreciate this land because I didn’t grow up here and can easily see the unique beauty of the people and the place,” she said. “If we save the farm, we save the town.” For more information, visit hodgesal.com or find Rock Bridge Canyon Equestrian Park on Facebook. n
The Overtons built this log cabin, smokehouse and other structures in the early 1800s. Today, Overton Farm’s buildings are used to revive Alabama history and bring economic development to Hodges. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g
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Applications Sought For Alabama Farm Of Distinction Contest
the overall winner will be announced at the Alabama arm families have until Jan. 27 to apply for a Farm-City Awards Luncheon April 6 in Birmingham. chance to win more than $12,000 in cash and Alabama’s Farm of Distinction winner will receive prizes as the 2017 Alabama Farm of Distinction. a John Deere Gator from SunSouth, TriGreen and The competition recognizes farms of all types and Snead Ag dealers; a $1,000 gift certificate from sizes for excellence in production, management, AFC; $2,500 from Swisher Internastewardship and innovation. Alabama tional and an engraved farm sign Farm-City Committee Chairfrom Alabama Farmers Fedman Jeff Helms said the 2017 eration and Alfa Insurance. recipient will join an elite The overall winner group of past winners. will represent Alabama “More than 30 in the Swisher Sweets / Alabama farms have Sunbelt Ag Expo Southbeen recognized since eastern Farmer of the the program’s incepYear contest at the Suntion,” Helms said. “They belt Ag Expo Oct. 17-19. include family businesses Farm-City Week began raising everything from row in 1955 and is officially crops and beef cattle to catfish and timber. Each of these farms Application deadline is Jan. 27! observed the week before Thanksgiving. Farm-City is distinct because of the ownvolunteers also will help celebrate National Ag Day ers’ commitment to continual improvement and their March 21. positive impact on the community.” Farm of Distinction applications are available under Up to four finalists for the award will be selected documents at AlabamaFarmCity.org. For more inforbased on applications, and each will receive a $250 gift mation about National Ag Day, visit certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC). Judges will travel to the finalists’ farms March 1-2, and AgDay.org. n
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Alfa 4-H Center Dorm Rededicated After Nearly $50K Renovation
The Alfa Dorm at the 4-H Center was rededicated Nov. 10. From left are Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) Extension Director Dr. Gary Lemme, ACES Assistant Director of 4-H Programs Dr. Molly Gregg, 4-H Center Manager Charles Hurst, Alfa Insurance and Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell, Federation Executive Director and Alabama 4-H Club Foundation Chairman Paul Pinyan and Shelby County Farmers Federation President Jimmy Bice.
By Mary Johnson
ampers at the Alabama 4-H Center in Shelby County will snooze more comfortably in the Alfa Dormitory after the building underwent almost $50,000 in renovations. The Alfa Foundation provided the renovation
funding. Members of the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Farmers Federation had a ribboncutting Nov. 10 to commemorate the rededication. The remodel included removing wood paneling, installing drywall, renovating bathrooms and upgrading the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. “Thousands of students visit the 4-H Center annually, where they learn important lessons about leadership and citizenship,” said Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance President Jimmy Parnell. “We’re happy to provide them with better accommodations through this renovation.” The Alabama 4-H Center opened in 1980. The Alfa Dormitory was built four years later through donations from county Farmers Federations and doubled housing capacity at the center. Currently, the two-story dorm includes 64 beds. “The Alfa Dormitory renovation represents a major improvement to the accommodations we are able to offer the youth of Alabama and serves as a visual reminder of the commitment Alfa and so many other organizations and individuals have made to the education of the young people in our state,” said Charles Hurst, Alabama 4-H Center manager. The Alfa Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) established by Alfa Insurance to support charitable causes. n
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Alabama Extension Releases Climate and Crops iBook By Maggie Lawrence Crop prices are low, and farmers need tools to help ensure the 2017 season is profitable, especially if drought persists across the region. Climate and Crops, a first-of-itskind iBook from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, provides Southeastern producers with an understanding of how climate variability could affect crop production from year to year. Dr. Brenda Ortiz, scientific editor of Climate and Crops and an Alabama Extension precision agriculture specialist, says breakthroughs merging the sciences of agronomy and climatology can help producers make improved crop decisions. Recent research shows much of year-to-year climate variability in the Southeast is linked to the El Niño Southern Oscillation that includes periodic warming (El Niño) and cooling (La Niña) phases. In addition, scientists have learned these alternating phases can affect the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of farming operations. “Row crop farmers across the Southeast are very concerned about next season,” said Ortiz. “Growers can use Climate and Crops to anticipate risks and improve their preparedness.” In addition, she notes the iBook, which recently debuted at the American Society of Agronomy’s national meeting, can enhance farmers’ profitability. Twenty-five climate and crop experts specializing in agronomy, entomology, plant pathology,
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climatology and weed science from four of the Southeast’s leading research universities — Auburn University, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida and Florida State University — contributed to the Climate and Crops project. Alabama Extension specialists representing several scientific disciplines also contributed. The free book focuses on the Southeast’s five major row crops: corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans and wheat. In addition to providing producers with improved knowledge on which to make crop management decisions, Climate and Crops outlines how crop diseases, insects and weed problems increase when particular climate scenarios play out during the crop-growing season. Along with the risks, farmers are provided with the most effective management strategies to deal with each of these climate scenarios. It features multiple interactive options, including 17 videos, 33 interactive graphics and hundreds of images related to problematic insects, diseases and weeds. Climate and Crops is a comprehensive resource for farmers, crop consultants and Cooperative Extension professionals. Ortiz says schoolteachers who want to introduce students to how farming practices are being adapted to new climate variabilities, will find the book useful as well. Funding for
the iBook was made possible by a multidisciplinary and multinstitutional grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Learn more about Climate and Crops at http://www.aces.edu/ climateandcrops. n
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Top to bottom, wax myrtle, loropetalum, dwarf yaupon and crape myrtle are drought-tolerant choices for landscapes.
By Lois Chaplin
hen the drought breaks, landscapes throughout Alabama will need refreshing since parching weather severely damaged or killed some trees, shrubs and perennials. When the time arrives, is there a better plant to replace the one that didn’t make it — one more drought resistant? Yes, with some caveats. Sometimes it’s confusing why one plant survived and another of the same species didn’t, but many factors influence survival. Any plant, native or not, already stressed from insects, disease, weak roots, improper location or another reason will succumb first. Also, age and how well and deeply rooted the plant is makes a big difference. For example, decades-old indica azaleas with deep roots often survive, but those only a few years old don’t. Soil also makes a huge difference. A soil rich in organic matter and earthworms holds moisture longer than poor soil. Build better soil in planting beds by mulching with chopped leaves 3-5 inches deep. Collect fallen leaves, mow them into little pieces and store in plastic bags or garbage cans to renew the mulch three or four times as needed throughout the year. The mulch gradually disappears as it breaks down, which improves the soil. In the future, healthier, more moisture-retentive soil helps plants grow. While no plant lives without water indefinitely, some hang on longer during drought if they’re deeply rooted and well established. Which drought-tolerant plants make good replacements? After a few years of good post-planting care, these trees tolerate dry weather: ginkgo, black gum, Chinese pistache, white
oak, red oak, live oak, chestnut oak, bald cypress, Chinese elm, Japanese zelkova, deodar cedar and red cedar. Consider the root system spread for large canopy trees, making sure new trees are located where roots won’t be disturbed by excavation for pavement, irrigation or other digging that would compromise roots years down the road. Trees take up water via healthy roots, which extend underground to at least the tips of the outer branches. A few smaller trees with smaller root systems handle drought well, including weeping yaupon, fig, crepe myrtle, vitex, redbud and smoketree. Interesting drought-tolerant deciduous and evergreen shrubs include beautyberry, althea, possumhaw, forsythia, deutzia, spireas, loropetalum, Knockout rose, leucothoe, winter honeysuckle, abelia, podocarpus, yaupon holly, pittosporum, wax myrtle and others. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System bulletin ANR-1336, Drought Tolerant Landscapes for Alabama, offers a list of plants in addition to other information on making landscapes more drought tolerant. Find this information online by searching “drought tolerant landscapes for Alabama” or contact a local Extension office. Of course, another good way to find replacement plants is to simply look around and see what survived, especially in areas exposed to hot afternoon sun or high and dry areas. Sometimes answers are right in front of us. n Lois Chaplin is an accomplished gardener and author. Her work appears here courtesy of Alabama Farmers Cooperative.
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G R A I N S 0f T R U T H Alabama Wheat and Feed Grain Farmers grow food, fuel and freedom. The state’s livestock, poultry and catfish rely on a healthy diet of corn and other grains for energy and nutrition. Grain farmers are proud partners in helping Alabama’s $4 billion animal agriculture industry provide safe, delicious beef, pork, poultry and fish for America’s dinner tables.
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n Alabama, cold weather usually doesn’t set in until January, and although it happens every year, it always hits hard. For farmers and others who work outside all year long, a warm, hearty meal on a cold January evening is essential. Cindy Henry, who grew up on a farm in north Alabama and now raises a small herd of cattle in Montgomery County with her husband, Mitch, knows all about simple, hearty winter cooking. “In the summer, I like to cook with fresh vegetables, and in the winter, I use a lot of frozen vegetables to cook a lot of soups and other things,” she said. “No matter what, I like to keep it simple. Whether it’s a gourmet meal or not is beside the point. It’s all just about spending time together.” In addition to using frozen vegetables from summer and fall, Cindy always has pork and beef in the freezer. “We always have our own fresh beef we buy from our brother-inlaw,” Cindy said. “His kids have a 4-H steer every year, so we always buy that, and we usually also have a whole pig in the freezer, too. When I say it’s simple, it really is. I am all about the freezer, especially in the winter.” Simplicity and using real food are Cindy’s main priorities when she cooks for her husband and three children, 22-year-old Mitchell, 19-year-old Lauren and 16-year-old Ashby. “I don’t do a lot of fancy recipes,” she said. “I’d rather spend more time around the table with my family than in the kitchen cooking. So many times in my childhood, I arrived at the family dinner table in a bad mood because of whatever had gone on that day, and I left the table happy and feeling better after connecting with my family. I always carried that with me — it’s so important to connect together over good, simple food.”
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By Jill Clair Gentry
CINDY’S CRISPED RICE TREATS Courtesy of Cindy Henry Start-to-finish: 30 minutes 1 stick butter 1 and 1/2 packages of mini marshmallows (10.5 oz package) 8 cups of crisped rice cereal
Melt butter. Add mini marshmallows on low heat. Stir until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in cereal until mixed together well. Pour into greased 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Pat with greased spatula until evenly distributed in dish. Let cool and cut. Behind the recipe: I developed this easy recipe after I was disappointed with other crisped rice treat recipes I found on cereal boxes. I am not a baker, so this is my go-to recipe for an easy sweet treat. The secret is real butter. SUNDAY ROAST Courtesy of Cindy Henry Start-to-finish: 8 hours, 10 minutes (10 minutes active) Baby carrots 1 roast, any cut or size 1 package onion soup mix 10.5-ounce can cream of mushroom soup White rice, cooked
Place carrots in bottom of slow cooker. Place roast on top. Sprinkle with onion soup mix. Place cream of mushroom soup on top. Add a little water. Cook on low 8 hours. Serve with white rice. RAVIOLI SOUP Courtesy of Cindy Henry Start-to-finish: 35 minutes 1 pound ground mild pork sausage or ground beef 1 teaspoon onion salt 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning 1/2 teaspoon sugar Salt and pepper to taste 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, optional 2 cups water 3 15-ounce cans crushed tomatoes 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
CINDY’S CHICKEN STEW Courtesy of Cindy Henry Start-to-finish: 45 minutes 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 onion, chopped 1 small bell pepper, chopped 1 cup macaroni, cooked 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken (you can use a rotisserie chicken) 1 cup okra, cut into bite-sized pieces 2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce 2 15-ounce cans chopped tomatoes 2 15-ounce cans corn 2 chicken bouillon cubes 2 cups water Salt, pepper and red pepper to taste
medium for at least 30 minutes. Stir often. Alternative cooking method: Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
In a Dutch oven or soup pot, saute onion and bell pepper in olive oil until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer on MOM’S MEATLOAF Courtesy of Cindy Henry Start-to-finish: 1 hour (15 minutes active) 1 pound ground beef, thawed 1 teaspoon onion salt 1 small bell pepper, chopped 2 eggs 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs 1 cup ketchup
Mix together all ingredients. Place in rectangular loaf pan. Add more ketchup on top if desired. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes to an hour. 1 small package refrigerated cheese ravioli Grated Parmesan cheese
Brown meat and drain off fat. Add seasonings to meat. Then, add the rest of ingredients except for ravioli and Parmesan cheese. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Cook ravioli separately according to package directions; drain. Add ravioli to soup and heat through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. (Adapted from Taste of Home magazine.)
JUJU’S CORN MUFFINS Courtesy of Cindy Henry Start-to-finish: 30 minutes 1 egg 3/4 cup corn meal 1/4 cup flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sugar 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk 1/4 cup oil
Beat egg. Mix all ingredients together, including egg. Pour into greased mini muffin tins or regular sized muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 F. n
Find these recipes in the “Local Flavor” section of AlfaFarmers.org and save them to a virtual recipe box called “My Recipe Box.” January 2017
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