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Harvest In Full Swing 90th Annual Meeting Beefing Up Traceability

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Neighbors A Publication of the Alabama Farmers Federation



Harvest Time Unpredictable weather spelled disaster for many Alabama farmers, but they are still hoping to harvest an average crop. • 16

90th Annual Meeting The 90th annual meeting of the Alabama Farmers Federation will feature keynote speaker Mike Huckabee and entertainment by the legendary Charlie Daniels Band. • 5

Outstanding Young Farmers Meet two farm families competing as

ON THE COVER Henry County Farmers Federation President Thomas Adams says a severe drought dashed his hopes for a good crop year. Photo by Debra Davis

finalists in the annual Outstanding Young Farm


Family contest sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation. • 10

Beefing Up Traceability A plan under consideration in Alabama could put the state at the forefront of a proposed rule by


President’s Message


Alabama Gardener


Country Kitchen



USDA to help trace animal disease outbreaks. • 22



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_________________________________________ Debra Davis, Editor Mike Moody, Graphic Designer


ew spiritual precepts are more difficult to follow than the challenge to “give thanks in all circumstances.” Despite our blessings, it’s sometimes hard to be thankful when confronted with death, disease, drought or disaster. Yet, it is during times of trouble that our faith is often strengthened. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the Jerry Newby first unified national observance of Thanksgiving in America occurred in 1863 at the height of the Civil War. And more than 75 years later — less than a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor — President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill making Thanksgiving a national holiday. While the trials of 2011 don’t compare to the dark days of World War II, the challenges we’ve faced this year can help us refocus on our blessings. Although Alabama still bears the physical and emotional scars from deadly spring storms, we are thankful that more were not hurt. We also are encouraged by the resilience of those impacted by the storms and the generosity of their neighbors. Meanwhile, the state’s farmers had to deal with not only storm damage, but also drought and, in some cases, flooding. Even with these challenges, many of our members can be grateful for betterthan-expected harvests and higher prices. As a nation, 2011 has been a year marked by continued fighting in the Middle East and sluggish economic growth. But again, we have reasons to be thankful. We live in a free country, and our courageous soldiers won major victories this w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

year in the war on terror. We are hopeful that the economy will improve and bring lower unemployment. Still, the current financial problems serve as powerful reminders that we should never take our security for granted. On a personal note, Dianne and I are thankful for family and friends who’ve graced our lives — including some we had to say goodbye to this year. We are especially grateful for the blessing of our granddaughter Madalyn Claire and her brother, who is due to arrive in March. Like many of you, our family has experienced the miracle of new life and the struggles that come with age and illness. In both, we are reminded that every day with loved ones is a precious gift. Mostly, however, we are thankful for the hope that springs from our faith in God. It is that hope which bears the fruit of love, joy, peace and thankfulness. Some might wonder how Alabamians could be thankful in a year that has brought so much tragedy and turmoil to our state. It’s because we share the same hope as the pilgrims who survived the first winter in the New World; those who believed that America would emerge from the Civil War a stronger and more united nation; and the greatest generation, which endured the Great Depression and defeated tyranny in Europe and the Pacific. Like these brave men and women, we have many reasons to give thanks not only this holiday season, but in all circumstances. n

ALABAMA FARMERS FEDERATION Paul Pinyan, Executive Director Jeff Helms, Director of Communications FEDERATION OFFICERS Jerry Newby, President, Athens Hal Lee, Vice President/North, Hartselle Dean Wysner, Vice President/Central, Woodland Ricky Wiggins, Vice President/Southeast, Andalusia Jake Harper, Vice President/Southwest, Camden Steve Dunn, Secretary-Treasurer, Evergreen DIRECTORS Joe Dickerson, Lexington Ted Grantland, Somerville Donnie Garrett, Centre Darrel Haynes, Cullman John E. Walker III, Berry Marshall Prickett, Wellington Richard Edgar, Deatsville Dickie Odom, Boligee Garry Henry, Hope Hull Carl Sanders, Brundidge David Bitto, Elberta Sammy Williams, Columbia Debbie Freeland, Grand Bay Ben Haynes, Cullman 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 member benefits of the Alabama Farmers Federation, visit the Web site Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and additional mailing offices. Printed in the U.S.A. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Neighbors, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, Alabama 36191-0001. ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE: Wendy McFarland, McFarland AdVantage, 133 Bridlewood Lane, Hope Hull, AL 36043. Phone: (334) 652-9080. Email: Classified ad and editorial inquiries should be directed to the editor at (334) 613-4410. ADVERTISING DISCLAIMER: Ad­vertise­­­­­­­ ments contained in Neighbors do not represent an endorsement by the magazine or the Alabama Farmers Federation. EDITORIAL MATTER from sources outside of the Alabama Farmers Federation is sometimes presented for the information and interest of our members. Such material may, or may not, coincide with official Alabama Farmers Federation policies. Publication of material does not necessarily imply its endorsement by the Alabama Farmers Federation. ADDRESS editorial, advertising and change of address correspondence to Neighbors, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, Alabama 36191-0001. A member of American Farm Bureau Federation



Huckabee To Help Federation Celebrate 90 Years


By Jeff Helms


ormer Arkansas governor and television host Mike Huckabee will help the Alabama Farmers Federation celebrate its 90th anniversary when he speaks at the annual meeting Dec. 4-5 in Mobile. Huckabee gained national attention in 2008 when he finished second to John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination. Today, he hosts the numberone rated weekend show “Huckabee” on the Fox News Channel and is heard three times daily across


with the people of rural Alabama,” Newby said. “In 2008, he finished first in Alabama’s Republican presidential primary. We look forward to hearing his thoughts on the upcoming presidential election and other issues that impact our members.” Huckabee will deliver the keynote address during the closing general session Monday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. That night’s program also will feature Alabama’s Outstanding Young Farm Family program and recognition of the winners of the Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture and Discussion Meet contests. The opening general session, the nation on Sunday, Dec. 4, at the “Huckabee 4 p.m., will include Report,” which the Federation’s is syndicated on video annual report, almost 600 staremarks by Alabama tions. He also is Gov. Robert Bentley the author of nine and presentation of books including the Service to AgriHuckabee his most recent, culture Award to “A Simple Government.” U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks. Federation President Jerry The Service to Agriculture Newby said he expects Huckabee to Award is the Federation’s highest be a hit with members of the state’s honor. Rogers was first elected to largest farm organization. Congress in 2002. He previously “Gov. Huckabee’s strong faith served on the House Agriculture and conservative values resonate Committee and remains a strong 5

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advocate for farmers. “Since being elected, Congressman Rogers’ top priorities have been supporting the state’s farmers, strengthening east Alabama’s military facilities and creating jobs for Alabama workers,” Newby said. “He formed an agricultural advisory committee made up of farmers to advise him on the issues, and he has been very responsive to the concerns of Federation members. Congressman Rogers is a strong voice for agriculture, and we are pleased to be able to honor him with our Service to Agriculture Award.” A benefit silent auction for the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation will be featured at this year’s annual meeting.




Following the opening session of the annual meeting, attendees will have a chance to enjoy a special concert by the Charlie Daniels Band at the historic Saenger Theatre. The concert is open to the public, and tickets are available at On Monday, Federation members will participate in an Ag Issues Briefing at 9:45 a.m., featuring members of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s public policy team. Later that day, 500 voting delegates representing members throughout the state will meet to consider policy recommendations and to elect district directors and officers to the state board. n



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800-745-3000 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g



GM Private Offer Benefits Alabama Farmers Federation Members


ligible Alabama Farmers Federation members can now receive a $500 discount on each qualifying 2011 or 2012 model year Chevrolet, GMC or Buick vehicle they purchase or lease. This exclusive offer is for vehicles purchased or leased at participating dealerships through Farm Bureau’s—GM PRIVATE OFFER. The Alabama Farmers Federation is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation and includes more than 400,000 member families throughout the state. These members automatically hold membership in the Farm Bureau and qualify for participation in the GM PRIVATE OFFER if they have been a member for 60 days. Twenty-six GM models are

part of the program, including the Chevrolet Silverado HD, honored as the 2011 Motor Trend Truck of the Year. A broad range of other pick-up trucks, SUVs, sedans and crossovers also are included in the program. “We are pleased to announce the roll-out of the Farm Bureau— General Motors PRIVATE OFFER,” said Jerry Newby, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation. “This program is a strong addition to the portfolio of benefits we offer to save members money as they and their families work hard to provide food, fiber and renewable fuels for our nation.” To qualify for the offer, individuals must have been a Farm Bureau member for at least 60 days prior to the date of delivery of the vehicle

selected. Members may receive the incentive for the purchase or lease of multiple vehicles, including fleet vehicles purchased through GM’s National Fleet Purchase Program. Full details and program eligibility guidelines are available by contacting Federation Membership Director Marc Pearson at or visiting www. The Farm Bureau—GM PRIVATE OFFER is the latest national member benefit offered by American Farm Bureau, Inc. AFBI was founded nearly three decades ago by the American Farm Bureau Federation to increase the economic value of membership in Farm Bureau. AFBI and GM will promote the FB PRIVATE OFFER through publications, state events including the Alabama Farmers Federation Annual Meeting and AFBF’s Annual Meeting. n

Membership Director Marc Pearson, left, discusses the new member benefit offered by GM with Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan and Federation President Jerry Newby.



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New Job Assignments Enhance Federation Communications


eff Helms, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation Public Relations and Communications Department, recently announced several changes within the department. Debra Davis has been named publications director and will serve as editor of both Neighbors and Friends & Family magazines. Davis Davis joined the Federation staff in 1998 as county communications director and Cultivator editor. In 2005, her responsibilities grew to include that of editor of Friends & Family and assistant editor of Neighbors. “Debra has extensive experience in journalism and publications management and will do an outstanding job directing the editorial and financial budgets of our publications,” Helms said. “She will continue to play a vital role in the coordination

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and execution of public relations campaigns, special projects and other communications initiatives.” Federation Art Director Mike Moody, who has worked for the Federation since 2005, has been promoted to director of new media. His primary responsibilities had been the design of Neighbors, Friends & Family and the Alfa Journal. In addition to those duties, his role has been expanded to include digital magazine editions and strategies to help the Federation more effectively utilize the Web, e-publications, smartphones, electronic newsletters, social media, syndicated Web content and other technologies. “Mike’s experience and innovative thinking helps add a new dimension to our department,” Helms said. “As technology changes, it’s important we stay on top of the Moody


new and best ways to deliver our message. His creativity will help steer us into a new information age.” Melissa Martin is now the Cultivator editor and Web content manager for the Federation. Melissa joined the Federation two years ago after working for Alfa Insurance since 2004. She Martin earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Auburn University – Montgomery. “Melissa has been a valuable addition to our staff, and we are excited about her expanded role,” Helms said. “She has already used her creative talents to write news releases, feature stories and advertising copy. In her new position, Melissa will be able to dedicate more of her time to telling the stories of our farmer members,” he added. n


Walker County Farmers Federation Gives Back To Community By Melissa Martin


esidents of Walker County have one thing less to worry about thanks to new firefighting equipment purchased by the Walker County Farmers Federation. With the $5,000 given by the county Federation, all fire departments in Walker County now have access to two ChemGuard Foam Maker aspirating nozzle attachments and 24 five-gallon buckets of high expansion foam. The foam allows firefighters to get flames under control quicker than with water alone. Foam can be used to extinguish structure fires, electrical fires, flammable liquid fires and fires involving combustibles. It’s also helpful in controlling wildfires, where water may not be available. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, foam can also be used to humanely euthanize poultry in emergency situations. Walker County Farmers Federation Vice President Dorman Grace, a row crop and poultry farmer, suggested purchasing the foam equipment earlier this year when a snow and ice storm caused the roof on one of his poultry houses to collapse. “After talking to the Department of Agriculture and Industries about the best way to euthanize chickens following the collapse, it turned out that the best way was with foam. Unfortunately, no one in our area had a foaming device,” recalled Grace. “Whether I ever have another chicken house situation again or not, our first responders need this equipment. Since they’re all volunteers, our Federation was able to procure funds for the equipment. Now, all 24 volunteer fire departments in Walker County – and even the larger cities like Jasper – can use the foamer when they need it.” Biodegradable and low in toxicity, the foam is environmentally


Boldo Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Chris Hopper, left, explains to Area 2 Organization Director Matthew Durdin and Walker County Farmers Federation Vice President Dorman Grace how the fire-fighting foam works to quickly expel flames. The Walker County Farmers Federation recently purchased two foam nozzle attachments, below, and 24 fivegallon buckets of high expansion foam for use by all fire departments in the county.

friendly. Chris Hopper, captain of Boldo Volunteer Fire Department, recognizes both farm and non-farm benefits of utilizing foam for extinguishing fires and is grateful for the Federation’s donation. While he’s glad they haven’t had to use the new tools in a real fire, he’s confident in the foam’s ability to smother flames and save lives. “The Walker County Farmers Federation’s purchase of the nozzles, inductors and 24 buckets of foam has taken a big step in helping out the various fire services in the county, including providing a new level of safety for our firefighters’ well-being,” said Hopper. “By using foam, our guys can stand farther away from the flames, which cuts down on their risk of getting hurt.” As a specialty tool recognized by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), the property/casualty insurance industry’s leading supplier of statistical, actuarial, underwriting and claims data, the ChemGuard Foam Maker also provides another benefit to the community. “Currently, we’re rated as a Class 9

5 department on the ISO system’s 1-10 scale,” said Hopper. “Class 1 is the best and Class 10 is the worst, and we’ve worked our way to Class 5. The more tools we acquire that separate us from other departments, and the better our ability to extinguish fires, the better our rating. As ratings improve, so do our residents’ fire insurance premiums.” Class ratings are measured by the fire department’s capabilities, water supply and communications, Hopper said. n

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Sponsored each year by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Awards Program recognizes young farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 who do an outstanding job in farm, home and community activities. Division winners representing 12 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2011. The winner, who will be named at the Federation’s 90th Annual Meeting in December, will receive a John Deere Gator, courtesy of Alabama Ag Credit and Alabama Farm Credit; the use of a John Deere tractor, courtesy of SunSouth, Tri-Green and Snead Ag; a personal computer package courtesy of ValCom/CCS Wireless; the use of a new vehicle and other prizes. The winner will represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau Federation contest. This month, Neighbors profiles finalists in the Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod Division and Cotton Division. By Jillian Clair

The Hegemans

Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod

From The Carribean To Alabama - A Missionary Kid’s Journey To Life On The Farm


f he had followed in his family’s footsteps, Jonathan Hegeman would have been a preacher in another country. Instead, he’s a farmer in Alabama and is this year’s Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Division winner in the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family contest. “For me, it was never a hard decision about what I was going to do,” Hegeman said. “I always loved agriculture, even as a kid. Some people think I’m weird for it, but oh well.” Hegeman raises accent plants to sell to gardening stores, and his wife, Amy, operates Hegeman Farms Performance Horses, specializing in obtaining and selling performance horses, riding lessons,

breeding assistance and rider education. Amy, who has a degree in animal science from Texas A&M University, is also involved with Calhoun County’s 4-H equine program. “We work together a lot,” Amy said. “Our whole business is right here.” Jonathan grew up in the Dominican Republic as the son of missionary parents. He moved to Canada when he was 11 and to Florida when he was 17. While Jonathan lived in Canada, he worked at a dairy farm, and in Florida, he worked at a 3,000-acre vegetable farm. He has also worked in other locations throughout the Southeast doing everything from harvesting squash to growing organic green beans.

Amy and Jonathan Hegeman raise accent plants sold to gardening stores on their farm in Calhoun County. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g



“When we lived in Canada, I would ride my bike out to the farm and help milk cows and do everything else, and my parents would pick me up afterward,” Jonathan said. The combination of that work experience and his fascination with sugarcane growers as a child sparked his passion for agriculture, and it never left him. Jonathan said he remembers watching the sugarcane growers in the Dominican Republic with awe. “It was all hand-harvested,” he recalled. “They would harvest it with machetes, throw it on the back of a buggy with six oxen attached to it and drive down to the railroad tracks. There, they’d unload it by hand into carts.” Jonathan said he thought he was going to be a green bean farmer in the Carolinas, but three hurricanes on the Atlantic coast brought him to an opening in the greenhouse business in Anniston, Ala., instead. “After I lost all my green beans


in six feet of water, I had some distant family members here in the greenhouse business who offered me a job,” Jonathan said. “So I moved down here and managed it for them for about four years.” In 2008, Jonathan bought Imperial Growers and merged with nearby Greenway Plants in Calhoun County. The biggest challenge in entering the agriculture industry was obtaining a loan, Jonathan said. “It’s harder for a person who doesn’t have parents in agriculture to get a loan,” Jonathan said. “That’s why we were fortunate to be able to go into business with the owners of Greenway Plants.” He said that although he would have enjoyed growing up on a farm, he wouldn’t change the cultural experience for anything, especially the opportunity it gave him to learn Spanish. “I went to school, and everything was in Spanish,” he said. “I don’t ever have a hard time commu-


nicating with workers who speak Spanish, and that’s really helpful for finding good labor.” Greenway Plants employs 10 full-time workers and hires 30 more temporary workers during the busiest parts of the year. In the future, Jonathan said he plans to add more greenhouses to his farm. He also plans to diversify the farm by adding goats and beef cattle. “The greenhouses won’t be the end of it for us,” Jonathan said. “We have plenty of other ventures to explore. We’re not gonna stop.” Jonathan said he hopes more people from non-agricultural backgrounds will become farmers. “It’s a great business,” Jonathan said. “If you work hard and pinch your pennies, you’ll make it. You’ve gotta get up early in the morning and work hard all day, and you’ll enjoy it in the end. Ag is a very hard industry to get into, but it’s what I love, and it’s worth it.” n

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The Userys


Education, Technology, Passion Define Stan Usery’s Farm


n high school, Stan Usery “In my mind, that’s when I “Producers in this area were skipped baseball practice so he started farming,” Stan said. “I having trouble getting nematode wouldn’t miss FFA soil judging added a few more acres throughsamples back on time,” Stan said. practice. out high school, and I spent a lot “So I bought a bunch of used lab “My baseball coach got so mad of weekends coming home from equipment on eBay and started my and said, ‘I don’t know where you Auburn and taking care of my own little private lab. I was able to think that soil use the money from judging is gonna the nematode lab to take you,’” Usery pay for health insurrecalled. “It’s kind of ance and to have a funny because later little extra cash.” on I did soil judgBuying equiping at Auburn, and ment on eBay I actually won the didn’t stop with the individual national nematode lab. Stan championship.” and his father have Usery didn’t just pieced together used win the soil judgequipment that ing national chamenables them to pionship while at maximize output by Auburn—he also using precision agriearned a Bachelor culture techniques of Science Degree on the farm. in agronomy and “A lot of folks soils and a master’s say, ‘Well I’d have degree in plant to have 4,000 acres pathology. to make precision The kind of work agriculture work ethic that got him on my farm,’” Stan through college also said. “But I bought helped make Usery one piece at a time the Cotton Division on eBay, kind of like winner in the Alamy nematode lab, bama Farmers Federand I’m variableation’s Outstanding rate capable on my Young Farm Family litter. I have section Contest, along with control on my highhis wife, Kayla, and boy, auto-steer and their 4-year-old all that kind of stuff daughter, Jessa. for a fraction of the Stan has worked cost.” on the farm with his Stan said he has father, Stan Usery no problems conStan Usery, his wife, Kayla, and their 4-year-old daughter, Jessa, on their Sr., since he was a vincing his father to farm in Limestone County. young boy, and he try new techniques said he always dreamed of expandcrops.” or think about agriculture differing his father’s poultry farm to Today, Stan grows cotton, ently than he has in the past. The incorporate row crops as well. soybeans, wheat and corn. He also two are an ideal team, he said. At 15, Stan planted 20 acres of raises chicken and a small herd of “My dad and I work well togethcotton for an FFA supervised agribeef cattle. He maintains his own er,” Stan said. “We talk frequently cultural experience project, and he’s nematode lab, a project he started about where we want this farm been growing row crops ever since. after he graduated from Auburn. to go and our succession plan. So

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when someone asks us a question, we can answer it right then.” Stan also works well with Kayla, who grew up on a dairy farm. “It’s nice that she grew up on a dairy farm because she has a little bit more understanding of my weird hours­­— especially during planting and harvesting season when I get up at dark and don’t get home till dark,” he said. For the Userys, farming is more than just an occupation. It’s a way of life, a passion and a calling, according to Stan. “I don’t just clock in somewhere and make a product I don’t know anything about or don’t care anything about,” Stan said. “We deeply care about everything we do. You’ve got these groups who want to paint us as using tons of pesticides or that I insert hormones every day in my chickens to make monster chickens. But we eat, too. I don’t want to feed my family a harmful product.” Stan said he and Kayla strive to represent agriculture in a positive light within their community and beyond. “The way I look at it, farming is kind of fighting a public relations battle right now,” Stan said. “I may have Usery Farms on the side of my truck, but I know I’m representing more than just Usery Farms.” n



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New Auburn University Fisheries Facilities To Bring Competitive Edge To U.S. Catfish Industry By Jillian Clair


uburn University’s new Center for Aquatic Resource Management is expected to sharpen the competitive edge of Alabama catfish producers who have faced increased competition from foreign imports and higher input costs. The $9 million addition to the Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture’s E.W. Shell Fisheries Research Center officially opened Sept. 9 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is going to bring some of the technology to the fish farm here at Auburn that it has been lacking,” said Butch Wilson, president of Catfish Farmers of America and Dallas County catfish producer. “The catfish industry right now is where the poultry industry was in the ’50s and ‘60s. We need to accelerate the improvement process, and I think this will help.” Jesse Chappell, Auburn fisheries and allied aquaculture Extension specialist, said the department plans to do just that. “We’re trying to emulate some of the pathways the poultry industry forged,” Chappell said. “We want to develop breeds of fish that do well in more confined, controlled production systems.” Chappell said the research from the new laboratories will give domestic catfish producers the edge they need to succeed in the global seafood marketplace. “Unlike 30 years ago when the industry began, our growers are faced with very skilled international competitors. Before, we were illequipped to compete internationally,” Chappell said. “Now, with the development of this facility, we will be able to meet that competition head on—and win.” Mitt Walker, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Catfish Division, was present at the w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

Auburn Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture Extension Specialist Jesse Chappell, left, explains the fiberglass tanks in the market section of Auburn’s new Center for Aquatic Resource Management to Alabama Farmers Federation Catfish Division Director Mitt Walker and Catfish Farmers of America President Butch Wilson at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 9. The center is a $9 million addition to the Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture’s E.W. Shell Fisheries Research Center.

ceremony and said catfish producers across the state are anticipating the research and development the facilities will bring to the industry. “The new facility will put researchers at Auburn University in a much better position to tackle industry challenges and transfer this information to the growers,” Walker said. “Alabama catfish farmers will definitely benefit from the advances in research made possible by capabilities of this new building.” The center consists of a 20,000-square-foot administrative building and a 17,000-square-foot laboratory building that offers leading-edge aquatic research facilities, enhanced classroom environments and improved community education opportunities. The new research building houses fish tanks and several stateof-the art labs, including several 14

climate-controlled wet labs that will allow for year-round research. The administrative building includes office space, a teaching lab, a hatchery, a meeting room that will be available to campus and civic groups, classrooms, a 6,354-square-foot fish holding area and a market for sales to the public. More than producers will benefit from Auburn’s research. Chappell said with the new facilities, the department can develop tastier catfish. “What we’re starting to embark on nowadays is an approach we call pond-to-plate,” Chappell said. “We have to produce what consumers want. This building and the scientists here—their efforts will be to produce fish to meet the demands and standards of consumers.” n


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Hope For Prosperous Harvest Dwindles Farmers Look For Average Crop In Face Of Drought By Debra Davis and Melissa Martin


very spring, farmers plant a crop with the hope of a good harvest. For many Alabama farmers, their hopes dwindled as drought and high temperatures blanketed much of the state this summer. Thomas Adams, president of the Henry County Farmers Federation, said he and other farmers in southeast Alabama needed a good crop year to overcome last year’s poor crop, but for many, this year was worst than last. “Now, I’d just be happy if I can come out with an average year,” said Adams, who planted 1,000 acres of cotton and 700 acres of peanuts in Henry and Houston counties. “This entire year has been

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very difficult. We replanted half our cotton crop and still had spotty stands in some areas. We had a decent stand of peanuts, but they’re probably 20 percent thinner than we’d like.” A dry spring in the Wiregrass delayed planting by nearly a month, Adams said. That was followed by weeks of record-high temperatures that scorched the crops that did come up. The hot, dry weather forced cattle farmers in portions of the state to feed hay that normally would be saved for winter. “We were feeding hay as fast as we could cut it or buy it earlier this year,” said Adams, who has 120 cows. However, some areas of Alabama, particularly in northeastern counties, had an abundance of


hay and lush pastures for much of the summer. Those areas received heavy spring rains. Federation commodity division directors said the state’s overall harvest outlook is a mixed bag, but fortunately farmers are receiving good prices for their crops and cattle. “Strong cotton and corn prices caused peanut acreage to be reduced due to prices offered that were not in line with alternative crops,” said Alabama Peanut Producers Executive Director Randy Griggs. “A dry spring caused great variation in planting time, as well as the resulting lack of uniform stands in many places. The lack of general rainfall during the growing period made the possibility of normal yields less likely. As harvest begins, yields are extremely varied. Where adequate rainfall was present, the crop is expected to be close to normal; however, where rain was scarce, yields are expected to be several hundred pounds per acre below normal. “ Griggs said the short crop in the southeastern states, combined with the drought in Texas and a strong demand for peanuts, will put a lot of pressure on the market for the next 12 -18 months. Alabama’s corn harvest is expected to be lower than last year due to extreme heat and drought, said Federation Wheat and Feed Grains and Cotton Divisions Director Buddy Adamson. “Preliminary harvest reports range from 5 bushels to 125 bushels on dryland, and up to 175 bushels on irrigated land,” Adamson said of the cotton harvest statewide. “Both dryland and irrigated yields are less than hoped for, and heat seems to


be the main reason.” Fayette County Farmers Federation Board Member Chris Gary said he hasn’t been discouraged by his corn harvest so far, but had hoped for better. “It’s not nearly as good as I’d like for it to be,” said Gary, who planted 325 acres of corn. “The hot weather we had in May and June was rough on the corn.” Cotton harvest had just begun in some areas of the state at press time, but Adams said the cotton he planted early, which was harvested first, looks the best. “What we replanted late actually looks pretty good, but I’m afraid that time will catch us and it won’t mature in time,” he said. Adamson said projected cotton yields range from 200 to 800 pounds per acre. Wheat yields this summer were very good, with some fields yielding over 90 bushels per acre, he said. Federation Soybean Director Steve Guy said projected high prices for corn and cotton translated into reduced soybean acreage for the state this year. He said dry weather, particularly in south Alabama, hurt the early soybean crop, which can expect lower yields. “The good news is that even though we had a smaller crop and reduced yields, prices are still holding,” he said. Prices for all crops this year are good; however, a good price doesn’t do much good with low yields and high input costs, Adams said. “Most farmers around here would be satisfied to have an average crop with all we’ve been through,” he said. n

Corn prices are good, but drought dropped state yields. Photo by Katie Williams

Peanut yields are good in areas that received adequate rainfall.

Thomas Adams said the drought devastated southeast Alabama.



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Bama Beef Producers Tour New York’s Finger Lakes Region By Debra Davis

tours in the past, and each one was educational. “I was surprised at just how much I could learn on one of these trips,” he said. “I might see something different here that I can use on my farm. It’s also good to know that farmers in New York face a lot of the same issues we do. These tours give us access to people and things that we would never have known otherwise.” Federation Beef Division Director Nate Jaeger said the farmers in New York were hospitable and were anxious to talk to Alabama farmers as well. “Several of the farmers we visited were interested in talking to our members, too,” Jaeger said. “They didn’t just talk about beef cattle, either. They talked about politics, environmental issues, feed costs and genetics. It was a great learning experience for everyone.” Next year’s beef tour will be in Louisiana, with details to be released at a later date. n


labama Farmers Federation members who attended the annual Beef Tour in upstate New York said the most surprising thing about the trip was the amount of agriculture in that state and the amount they had in common with farmers who live so far away. Forty-four members attended the tour Sept. 11-17. “Agriculture is our state’s largest industry,” Richard Brown, owner of Equity Angus of Montezuma, N.Y., told the Alabama group. “A lot of people think of just New York City or Manhattan when they think of our state, but there’s a lot more to us than that.” Federation members toured Brown’s ranch along with 15 other stops that included registered and commercial beef cattle farms, a dairy, wineries, an apple orchard, cattle feedlots and a feed processing Top photo, from left, Federation members business. The Dean Wysner, John Morris, Bill Lipscomb, tours primar- Randy Moody, Rhonda Hughes, Jerry ily were in and Mobley and Delle and Ray Bean talk with Lisa Compton of Compton around New Charolais in Ovid, N.Y. on the Federation York’s Finger Beef Tour. At right, from right, Robert Lakes area. Groom of Fleur-De-Lis Farm in Seneca The group also Falls, N.Y., discusses his Black Angus visited Niagara farm with Federation members June and Falls on the Mike Dunn and Winford Parmer. final day of the trip. The tours were educational, but it was the interaction with other farmers that Autauga County farmer Bill Lipscomb said he enjoyed most. “It’s just always interesting to see how other people run their farms,” Lipscomb said. “I also enjoyed visiting with the other farmers from our state who were on the tour.” Bullock County Farmers Federation President Mike Dunn said he has been on a couple of the beef w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g



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Madison County Farmer Appointed To Tornado Recovery Action Council By Jillian Clair


adison County Farmers Federation President Rex Vaughn was one of 19 community, corporate and non-profit leaders across the state appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley in August to the Tornado Recovery Action Council of Alabama (TRAC). TRAC, an independent non-profit organization funded through donations from Alabama’s corporate community, is gathering insight from residents, business leaders, nonprofit groups and state agencies to strengthen emergency Madison County Farmers Federation President Rex Vaughn, right, talks with Reuben response. The council is also developing a report document- Harris, Jr. of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles and W.C. Jones, pastor of Bailey Tabernacle C.M.E. Church in Tuscaloosa about their experiences with the April 27 ing the state’s April tornado tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa. outbreaks. Vaughn was appointed to Cullman, Elmore County and Birmingham News Multimedia, represent farmers affected by the Springville. co-chairs of TRAC. Ron Gray, a April storms. He said he is also pas“I applaud our leaders for being recently retired aerospace executive sionate about hearing other citiproactive and looking ahead to see from the Huntsville area, has been zens’ stories. if there’s something we can do to be tapped as TRAC executive director. Vaughn attended a meeting at prepared,” said Vertis Giles-Brown, Other appointments include Central High School in Tuscaloosa the principal of West Lawn Middle Suzanne Durham, YWCA of Sept. 19 to hear residents’ concerns School in Tuscaloosa who also Central Alabama, Birmingham; and to participate in discussions. served as the discussion facilitator Dallas Fanning, Urban Develop“TRAC has been extremely at the Tuscaloosa forum. ment, Huntsville; Grayson Hall, effective in that we were able to TRAC members are composing Regions Financial Corp., Birmingget each community’s perspective a report to document the effects of ham; David Hannah, Crossville; on what happened and what is still the storm and make recommendaEvelyn Mauldin, Bank Independent, happening,” Vaughn said. “Every tions for the future. They will give Sheffield; Dr. Max Michael, UAB community has its own perspective the report to Bentley by mid-JanuSchool of Public Health, Birmingon what took place—the preparedary , which will be a reference for ham; Dr. Keith Morrow, Hackleness, the recovery and how they’ve state and regional leaders. burg Medical Clinic, Hackleburg; been treated from municipalities, “I’m extremely interested to Brenda Parker, Alberta Elementary law enforcement and government see what comes out of the torSchool, Tuscaloosa; Dr. Malcolm agencies like FEMA. We want to nado recovery,” said Gina JohnPortera, University of Alabama know how the state and these agen- son, whose Tuscaloosa home was System, Tuscaloosa; Dr. Cathy cies could improve preparedness destroyed April 27. “Our city has Randall, Pettus Randall Holdings, and response if something like this cleaned up and has plans to move Tuscaloosa; Isabel Rubio, Hispanic ever happens again.” forward. We have great plans, but it Interest Coalition of Alabama, BirSeven community forums were takes people working just as hard as mingham; Guice Slawson, Southheld in September, and in each they did in the cleanup process to east Wood Treating, Montgomery; location, discussion facilitators continue to move forward. That’s Zeke Smith, Alabama Power Co., asked community members a series why I’m here.” Birmingham; Finis St. John IV, St. of questions about their experiThe governor named Johnny John and St. John, Cullman; and W. ences before, during and after the Johns, president and CEO of Protec- Michael Warren, Children’s Health tornadoes. Other locations included tive Life Corp., and Pam Siddall, System, Birmingham. n Rainsville, Hackleburg, Pratt City, president and publisher of The w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g



Agriculture T

A Gift That Keeps Giving

little seed they put in the ground me, he told me all it would take is here are thousands of ways to turned into a big huge plant that for someone to turn on the irrigagive to organizations like The had food on it,” McHugh said. “One Big Oak Ranch in Gadsden, but tion and harvest the vegetables of them had never even seen a garthe St. Clair County Young Farmers when they came in,” Vice said. “I den before, and he liked it a lot.” told him we were absolutely interCommittee recently provided the The acre-and-a-half garden was ested.” families living there with a unique planted using plasticulture that Several members of the Young gift that will keep giving for years to prevents weeds, and McHugh and Farmers Committee members and come. others stopped by the ranch often to their families gathered at the Boys’ Volunteers from the St. Clair Ranch June 18 for 13 hours and used perform maintenance tasks. County Young Farmers Committee “In a matter of just a few days, materials donated by local farmers planted a vegetable garden at Big they had it up and running,” Vice to plant the garden. Oak Ranch with enough okra, said. “It seemed like the watermelon, peas, beans, plants started growing days squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, later, and now, a few months cantaloupe and pumpkins to later, we have all the squash, feed 100 children and their watermelon and cantaloupe house parents. we can eat. We’re excited “This is a great example of about harvesting the other a Young Farmers committee crops soon and planting differserving the local community, ent crops next season.” and the work the commSince harvest time began, ittee has done at the Big Oak Vice said the house parents Ranch will pay dividends for and children have been years to come,” said Brandon extremely grateful for the proMoore, Alabama Farmers duce. It’s like a fresh vegetaFederation’s Young Farmble aisle in their backyards, ers Division director. “This he said. garden gives the Young “And the kids love the Farmers Committee a presfresh vegetables,” Vice said. ence in the community and “Whenever anyone does anyteaches a future generation thing like this for the ranch, of young leaders the imporit’s a visible way these kids tance of agriculture. We are know people love them.” so thankful to the ranch for But the ranch isn’t the allowing the St. Clair County only organization that has Young Farmers to take on this benefited from the project. project.” St. Clair County Young Farmers Committee Member “There’s one couple from Noel Vice, director of the Rob McHugh harvests a pumpkin from the garden he the ranch that has even joined Boys’ Ranch at Big Oak, said and other committee members planted this year. the Farmers Federation, and the ranch had never considthey’re going to participate in some “Nobody complained because ered installing a vegetable garden of our Young Farmers activities,” they knew why they were out because of the amount of time it McHugh said. “This project has would require for maintenance. The there,” McHugh said. “A lot of turned out to be so much more those kids at the ranch and their families living at the ranch stay rewarding for everyone involved house parents don’t come from a busy, he said. than we ever could have imagined.” farm, and for them to see that, it But Rob McHugh and the rest of Big Oak Ranch was founded the St. Clair County Young Farmers was just overwhelming.” in 1974 by John Croyle, and it has McHugh said a few of the chilplanned a garden that would require been home to more than 1,800 dren at the ranch took a special minimal maintenance and offered children since then. The ranch is to establish a long-term relationship interest in the garden, and they currently home to more than 100 with the ranch to provide assistance even asked if they could sell some children between the Boys’ Ranch of the produce at the local farmers with the garden when needed, Vice in Gadsden and the Girls’ Ranch in market next season. said. “They just couldn’t believe the “When Rob McHugh approached Springville. n NEIGHBORS • NOVEMBER 2011


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State Considers New Animal Disease Traceability System making process, which typically takes at least two years. But producers here want to be ready when it does happen, and it’s advantageous for our cattlemen to be in a position of compliance as soon as possible.” In response to requests from Alabama beef producers, including members of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s State Beef Committee, Frazier developed a proposed state rule. That plan is under review by state attorneys. Upon completion of the review, it will be submitted to the State Board of Agriculture and Industries, followed by a legislative review committee’s consideration. “The state traceability system would start with adult cows being identified and eventually come to include all beef cattle, including calves,” Frazier said. “It might be five or 10 years before all the beef cattle in our state are tagged, but that’s where we’re eventually headed. We also want to make sure our state has a system in place to keep up with the identification because identification without traceability is worthless.” Federation State Beef Committee Chairman Tommy Maples of Elkmont owns a registered Black Angus herd and a herd of crossbred cows with his dad, Billy, in Limestone County. He said he supports the traceability program because he supports a healthy cattle population. “If a disease outbreak did occur, we could quickly identify where it came from and address it,” he said. “It protects me as well as other producers whose animals were not part of a problem.” Federation Beef Division Director Nate Jaeger said the program is important to help safeguard herd health and protect market access for beef both domestically and internationally. More importantly, this rule ensures Alabama farmers are in compliance with

By Debra Davis


labama beef cattle producers may be positioning themselves as pioneers on the national livestock scene by implementing a new animal disease traceability system ahead of federal requirements. The federal requirements are in response to the USDA Animal Disease Traceability program, which puts laws in place that require state departments of agriculture to keep track of livestock that cross state borders. State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier said animal disease traceability has been discussed for years, and as USDA officials fine-tune measures to implement a national program, Alabama is making a proactive move to be ready for the plan. “We know that animal identification is eminent, but we don’t know exactly when it’s coming,” Frazier said. “The federal regulations are still in the rule-

Federation State Beef Committee Chairman Tommy Maples, left, discusses the proposed animal disease traceability rule with Federation Beef Division Director Nate Jaeger. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g



type of tag. Current plans for the Alabama rule allow for farmers to acquire the metal “Brite” tags for free from the state veterinarian’s office. “This system also will help me, as state veterinarian, to make sure I can respond quickly in the case of an outbreak, which could be a natural occurrence or an intentional threat to our food security,” he said. n

proposed federal regulations and could serve as a model for other southeastern states. Details of the proposed state rule are being finalized; however, the main requirements are similar to the former Brucellosis program used in the state from the 1970s and ‘80s. The proposed rule would require all cattle (starting with adult breeding-age cattle) be tagged with official identification before animals change ownership. Official identification is outlined in the USDA Animal Disease Traceability program and includes radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tags, panel tags and metal “Brite” tags. Official identification tags will be assigned and allocated by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries to farmers, and each tag will have unique individual numbers. The proposed federal animal disease traceability program dictates that farmers will not be forced to use a particular


________________________________________________________ For more information about the proposed state rule, contact Frazier at (334) 240-7253 or email him at


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Alfa Event Project Manager Earns Elite Certification


hane Watkins, meeting and event project manager with Destinations, Alfa’s in-house meeting and event management company, has earned the Strategic Meetings Management certification, a distinction that only 49 people worldwide have achieved. With the certification, Watkins is qualified to create and Watkins implement Strategic Meetings Management Plans, which are designed to save on costs, create company value and minimize risk. “Leading the Alfa companies and the Alabama Farmers Federation into the Strategic Meeting Management environment, Des-

tinations will seek to continue to provide cost-effective, high-quality corporate meetings and events while placing a greater emphasis on mitigation of risk and overall expense, and providing greater visibility into meeting analytics,” Watkins said. “We see a real opportunity to increase the current level of meetings management efficiency.” To be accepted into the course, applicants must have at least seven years of meeting and event management experience and submit a two-part essay. To earn the certification, Watkins was required to attend 100 hours of classroom instruction time in Atlanta, Ga. and Denver, Colo. followed by two rigorous examinations.

Some of the other 49 companies with an SMMC graduate to implement their programs include Xerox, American Express, Morgan Stanley, Johnson and Johnson and Met Life. “This earned qualification expands Destinations’ ability to implement Strategic Meeting Management best practices throughout the spectrum of meetings and events produced for Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alfa companies,” said Destinations Director David Smart. “As more companies enable SMM practices, this management process will ensure Alfa benefits from these efficiencies as this plan is implemented.” Watkins, who completed the Certified Meeting Professional certification in 2009, celebrated 10 years with Alfa Aug. 1. n

Williams Named Alfa November Teacher Of The Month By Melissa Martin

lapoosa County Board of Education, will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation. hough many individuals and Williams said textbook lesorganizations emphasize the sons are important, but life lessons importance of giving back to persist beyond the final bell of one’s community, few students’ senior years. lead the charge to do so. “Through our many FCCLA An exception to this can projects, my students apply be found with Horseshoe these skills and learn to give Bend High School educaback to their community, which tor Felicia Williams, is important to their character,” this month’s winner in said Williams. “These activities the Alfa Teacher of the and projects help to give reason Month program. 
 Williams for the factual As state office information in advisor for the Family, textbooks.” Career and Community Leaders Williams’ of America (FCCLA), a nonprofit students have national career and technical stureceived dent organization that promotes recognition personal growth and leadership on state and development, Williams encourages national her students to build and utilize levels for skills they can carry with them FCCLA throughout adulthood in her family projects. Earlier and consumer science classes. Wilthis year, 15 of liams will receive $1,000 from Alfa her students placed Insurance as this month’s winner. first in each of their Her school, a division of the Tal-


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events, a record number of winners from one school. Alabama FCCLA State Adviser Jennifer Adams describes Williams as a leader who is dedicated to enhancing the lives of her students, and has the accolades to prove it. “Felicia is one of the premier advisors in Alabama and has been awarded the Alabama and National FCCLA Spirit of Advising Award, Master Adviser Award and Adviser Mentor Award,” said Adams. “She has the ultimate qualities needed to be a successful teacher.” Williams earned her Bachelor of Science degree in home economics education from Auburn University in 1997. A National Board Certified teacher, she is a member of the National Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Alabama Association of Career and Technical Educators. n NEIGHBORS • NOVEMBER 2011


olunteers across Alabama are tackling the obesity epidemic this month by promoting healthy food choices during National Farm-City Week Nov. 18-24. Alabama Farm-City Chairman Jeff Helms said this year’s theme, “Harvesting Healthy Choices,” is an opportunity to correct the myth that modern agriculture – rather than lifestyle choices — is to blame for America’s expanding waistline. “This theme gives our farmers an opportunity to join forces with their city neighbors and sponsor educational programs and activities aimed at creating a healthier Alabama,” Helms said. “As concern over our country’s weight problem grows, Farm-City Week 2011 can be the event people rally around to make a difference in their communities.” The theme coincides with the recent release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “MyPlate” nutritional guide, which calls for a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy products. “For Alabama farmers, ‘Harvesting Healthy Choices’ gives the agricultural community a chance to talk about the health benefits of locally grown produce and other foods,” Helms added. “The bone-building power of milk; the leaner choices in beef, pork, poultry and catfish; the importance of folic acid-rich peanuts to expectant mothers; the cancer-fighting properties of soybeans, and the antioxidant power of blueberries are just a few of the messages that can be incorporated into this years’s theme.” Farm-City Week was founded in 1955 and strives to foster better understanding between farmers and their urban neighbors. In Alabama, Farm-City activities include a poster and essay contest for students as well as Farm-City banquets, tours, media events, civic club presentations and breakfasts for elected officials and business leaders. Three years ago, the National Farm-City Council revitalized efforts to strengthen consumer trust of production agriculture by adopting a strategic plan that focuses on a single, potentially divisive issue each year. Past topics have included hunger, animal welfare and the coverage of agriculture by the news media. This year, obesity will be spotlighted at the National FarmCity Symposium Nov. 17 in Lexington, Ky. In Alabama, Helms expects “Harvesting Healthy Choices” to prompt local volunteers to feature healthier food choices at their Farm-City Week events and plan more activities that emphasize nutrition education and exercise. “Healthy food doesn’t have to be all about tofu and bean sprouts. A 5-ounce portion of lean beef or pork can be part of a balanced diet, and milk, cheese, bread and even fried catfish still have a place on America’s dinner table,” Helms said. “Eating well and living well are about choices, and this year’s Farm-City Week theme gives us a chance to highlight the bounty of healthy options produced by Alabama’s farm families.” n



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Dawn Redwood A Gift From The Past

any growing in the Southeast long enough to know the full height potential. Nor is it an evergreen. Dawn redwood has a beautiful shape, like a giant Christmas tree. It is fast growing, often 4 to 5 feet per year, and makes a perfect cone-shaped tree that becomes more open and irregular with age. Research dawn redwood in Google images to see examples of how this tree grows along with some interesting ways to use it in the landscape. The main thing to know is that it needs plenty of room at ground level. It is not a canopy tree. In fact, the widest part of the tree is at the bottom, not the top. With a spread of 40 feet or so at the base, this is not a tree for a small property. The one near me has been limbed up enough to mow underneath, but ideally, you would let the lower limbs stay. The base reveals a beautiful trunk that grows more sculptural with age – what plant folks call a “buttressed” trunk. It is reminiscent of bald cypress, but without the knees. The bark is red and has a shredded looking texture, even while on the tree. Dawn redwood is one of the few conifers that sheds its leaves in autumn, at which time you can really appreciate the symmetrical branching structure and its bark. In that way, it’s like the better-known bald cypress. At first glance, dawn redwood might be mistaken for bald cypress. Both have conical shapes and needle-like leaves that turn bronze before dropping from the tree in the fall. Dawn redwood is adapted to most soil types including soggy ones, but not pure sand. It also needs full sun. Although still somewhat of a plant connoisseur’s tree, dawn redwood would be a great, long-lived, sturdy addition to many large properties. Visit dawnredwood. org for an interesting read about a forestation effort in North Carolina. This tree probably won’t be found at a local nursery, but it is available by mail order. Bald cypress, which is also related, would be an acceptable landscape substitute that is easier to find. Both are excellent trees. n

By Lois Chaplin


live in an old neighborhood where a close look at what grows in the yards around me offers an education on historically fashionable plants. At one time, nurserymen sold bare-root plants from the back of trucks in neighborhoods like mine. That was before plants were grown in containers. Instead, they were grown in a field and dug for sale when it was time for planting. Today, some of those purchases planted in my neighbors’ landscapes have matured into spectacular trees over 60 or more years. While a few of these trees, like China fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata), are scarce in the nursery trade today, one can still be found and is worthy of tracking down, especially if you have a large property. It is dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), a relative of the famous California redwoods that also exists in fossil records. At one time, this tree was thought to be extinct, but it was rediscovered in China in the 1940s. A link back in time, dawn redwood is redwood-like but different in several ways. It grows very tall to 100 feet or more, but maybe not tall as the better-known redwoods. I’m not sure there has been

________________________________________________________ Lois Chaplin is an accomplished gardener and author. Her work appears here courtesy of Alabama Farmers Cooperative.

GET GROWING AT THE CO-OP. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g



Farmers Federation Monitors Constitutional Revision Process By Jillian Clair


he Alabama Farmers Federation is monitoring discussion about revision of the Alabama Constitution that could affect property taxes and zoning for farmers and homeowners. A 16-member Constitutional Revision Commission was created by a joint resolution proposed by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and was approved by the Legislature in April. The commission is charged with reviewing the Constitution and suggesting article-by-article changes over the next three years. Brian Hardin, the Federation’s assistant director of Governmental and Agricultural Programs, and David Cole, director of agricultural legislation, are monitoring the commission’s deliberations regarding Article IV (Legislative Department), which includes addressing the possibility of allowing home rule by From left, David Cole, the Alabama Farmers Federation’s director of counties throughout the state. Agricultural Legislation, State Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, and Brian Hardin, assistant director of the Federation’s Governmental and Agricultural “Ultimately, allowing home rule Programs Department, talk about constitutional revision in front of the state in Alabama increases the likelihood capitol. of property tax increases and zoning current limitations on home rule protect citizens from changes because each county would have unchecked increases in property taxes or unnecessary the authority to make those decisions for itself,” Hardin zoning changes,” Hardin said. “While such a change said. “The concept of home rule sounds good until the would negatively affect farmers, we also believe mainfull consequences are considered. It would basically give taining limited home rule is good for the rest of the all 67 counties in Alabama relatively the same powers citizens of Alabama as well.” as the state, so we would have 67 independent states The state has already adopted limited home rule, operating within one state.” which allows counties to exercise new controls over Currently, Article IV of the Constitution of Alabama common local grievances like noise, unsanitary sewage, requires local governments to request permission by litter, weeds, junk yards and animals outside of cities. resolution from the Legislature to take legal action that However, under existing limited home rule, counties involves any new authority. The legislative delegation cannot address property taxes or zoning. must then pass a bill in the form of a Constitutional Suggestions made by the commission will be Amendment to allow citizens in that county to vote on reported to the Legislature prior to the first meeting of the change. the regular session for the next three years. Proposed “Home rule is an attempt to remove the legislative delegation from the process and allow the state to forfeit changes approved by the Legislature would then have to be approved by Alabama voters to take effect. its responsibility and authority to county or local units The Alabama Law Institute is providing research and of government,” Hardin said. consultation to the commission. If home rule was implemented in Alabama, Hardin The commission selected former Alabama Gov. said, county governments would have the power to raise Albert Brewer as chairman and State Rep. Paul DeMartaxes without a vote of the people, plan for and zone the co, R-Homewood, as vice chairman. use of land, regulate business activity beyond current “We feel the article-by-article approach is the best, law, exercise the power of eminent domain, establish most transparent way we can revise the Constitution,” gambling, regulate schools, raise the debt limit allowed said DeMarco, who was first elected to the Alabama by current law and enter into contracts to form regional House of Representatives in 2005. “We want to recomgovernments. mend changes that will best serve our citizens.” n “The Alabama Farmers Federation believes that



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By Kellie Henderson


harlene Roney of Houston County always said she’d never marry a farmer. “So don’t ever say what you’re not going to do,” she laughs. After 36 years of marriage to her farmer husband, Sammy, Charlene has long eaten those words and now serves on the Houston County Farmers Federation Women’s Leadership Committee herself, embracing the life she once eschewed. “My husband and his family have always grown cotton, and he grows peanuts and raises beef cattle,” says Charlene, who does the farm’s bookkeeping and keeps her three grandchildren. “I came home so my daughters could work, and our son Josh works on the farm with Sammy,” she explains. Sammy also serves on the Houston County Farmers Federation board of directors. Having so much family around w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

the farm means Charlene has plenty of opportunities to cook for those she loves. “Josh lives on another property we farm, but he usually comes by for breakfast before he and Sammy start the day, and I cook lunch every day for both of them and the grandkids,” says Charlene, who is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her fourth grandchild due in December. “To have them all here with me so often is a blessing,” she adds. The recipes Charlene shares this month reflect her love of friends and family, and many are perfect for the upcoming holidays. For family breakfasts, the blender makes quick work of mixing up Buttermilk Flapjacks, a recipe Charlene got from her sister-in-law. And Charlene includes two of her family’s traditional Christmas dishes. “Our neighbors, Pat and Wayne, gave us their recipe for Brunswick stew years ago. We make a big pot of it every year for Christmas Eve with our family, and any that is 28

left over freezes well. And I always make Never Fail Divinity at Christmas, and it is never fail,” she says. Blueberry Stack Cake 1 box butter recipe cake mix 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter 4 eggs 2/3 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat well. Bake in 3 greased and floured 8-inch pans. Bake 20 minutes. Turn cake layers out of pans to cool. Filling 1 ½ cups granulated sugar 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese 1 (16-ounce) frozen whipped topping 1 (21-ounce) can blueberry pie filling

Cream sugar and cream cheese together. Stir in whipped topping until smooth. Spread layer of cream cheese mixture over bottom cake layer. Then top with a thin layer of pie filling. Repeat until all layers are covered. NEIGHBORS • NOVEMBER 2011

Lane Cake 1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix 3 tablespoons Swans Down cake flour 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter 3 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon vanilla 1¼ cups milk 8 egg whites, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift together cake mix and flour; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla and mix, then add dry ingredients with the milk. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into cake batter. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 F until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Turn cake layers out of pans to cool. Filling 8 egg yolks 1 ½ cups sugar ½ cup softened butter 1 (15-ounce) box raisins 2 cups chopped pecans 2 cups coconut 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons vanilla

Beat egg yolks slightly, then add sugar and butter. Transfer mixture to a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Allow cake and filling to cool completely before assembling. Spread filling between layers and over top of the cake. Note: Charlene recommends chopping pecans and raisins in food processor before assembling filling. Good Cookies 1 box butter recipe cake mix ½ cup Wesson oil 2 eggs 1 cup chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients well. Drop in 2-inch rounds onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 325 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. NEIGHBORS • NOVEMBER 2011

Chicken Dressing 1 hen or leg quarters equal to about 1 pound Salt and pepper to taste 4 cups medium-ground cornmeal 1 ½ cups self-rising flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 10 eggs ½ cup oil, plus more for pans About 1 cup whole milk 2 medium onions, chopped 1 (14-ounce) package cornbread stuffing mix ¼ teaspoon garlic powder ¼ teaspoon dried onion 3 to 4 tablespoons freeze-dried chives 1 family-sized (26-ounce) can cream of chicken soup 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of celery soup 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

In a large stock pot, cover chicken with water and season with salt; boil until tender. Remove chicken from the broth; reserve chicken for another use and set broth aside. In a mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, eggs, oil, salt to taste and enough milk to create a batter that is thick, but pours easily. Pour into a greased 12-inch skillet and bake at 475 F until bread is lightly browned on top. Let cool and crumble into an extra-large roasting pan. Note: This pan will be used for mixing only; dressing will be baked in separate pans. To crumbled bread, add chopped onions and the next four ingredients; add salt and pepper to taste. To the chicken broth, add both cans of soup; warm and stir. Pour over crumbled bread and mash with a potato masher. Dressing should be much soupier than the desired consistency as it will dry significantly during baking. Grease sides and bottom of two 9-X12-inch baking pans with oil and pour dressing into prepared pan. Dot dressing with thin pieces of butter. Bake at 350 F until top is browned. Note: Charlene often uses the reserved chicken from this recipe for chicken salad, and she recommends using Pepperidge Farm brand stuffing mix. 29

Pat and Wayne’s Brunswick Stew 3 pounds chicken 3 pounds smoked pork, chopped 1 pound ground chuck, browned 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes 2 (16-ounce) cans cream-style corn 2 (16-ounce) cans whole kernel corn 16 ounces garden peas or small butterbeans 5 pounds diced potatoes 5 pounds chopped onions Salt and pepper to taste ½ cup Worcestershire sauce ½ cup barbeque sauce 2 tablespoons red pepper hot sauce

Boil chicken until tender. Remove from broth to cool, reserving broth for stew. Chop chicken. Combine all ingredients including broth and simmer until tender, adding extra broth, tomato sauce and/ or water if more liquid is needed. Never Fail Divinity 4 cups sugar 1 cup light corn syrup ¾ cup water Dash of salt 3 egg whites 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups chopped pecans

Combine sugar, corn syrup, water and salt in a 2-quart casserole. Microwave on high for 19 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or until mixture reaches 260 F on a candy thermometer. Beat egg whites until very stiff. Pour hot syrup over egg whites, beating at high speed for 12 minutes until thick and candy begins to lose gloss. Fold in vanilla and pecans. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Pecan Clusters 3 cups roasted pecans 1 (24-ounce) package almond bark

Melt coating in microwave. Stir until smooth. Mix in pecans. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper to harden. n ____________________________________ Editor’s Note: Recipes published in the “Country Kitchen” are not kitchentested prior to publication. Look for more “Country Kitchen” recipes online at w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

Classifieds Facts For just $2 per word, your classified ad in Neighbors reaches nearly 95,000 subscribers. Ads must be received by the first day of the month prior to publication. NO changes after closing. PRE-PAYMENT REQUIRED FOR ALL ADS. Minimum 10 words per ad. No fax, phone orders or credit cards accepted. For questions, call Paula Culver at (334) 613-4410. Send your ad with payment, payable to Alabama Farmers Federation, to: Neighbors Classifieds, P.O. Box

VA C AT I O N R E N TA L S ALWAYS $65 – Beautiful, furnished mountain cabin near Dollywood. Free brochure, call (865) 453-7715. GATLINBURG – Elegant 4 bedroom/3 bath, back porch over creek, 10-minute walk to aquarium. (800) 435-3972. cabins in peaceful, convenient setting. Pigeon Forge, TN (251) 649-3344 or (251) 6494049. BEAUTIFUL ONE-BEDROOM CABIN with hot tub. Near Pigeon Forge, $85 per night. Call Kathy at (865) 428-1497. SECLUDED, RUSTIC CHALET with water view, wooded acreage, 3 bedrooms. Between Montgomery and Birmingham, $150 nightly. (205) 669-6670. – 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, HVAC, gas log fireplace, 2 satellite TVs. Deep water, boat house, $75/night. Call (256) 352-5721, email

11000, Montgomery, AL 361910001.

miscellaneo u s FARM FOR SALE – 50 acres – 15 miles east of Cullman. Fenced, 2,000 feet of road frontage. (256) 708-2389. MAKE MONEY turning your trees into lumber with a portable sawmill. Easy and affordable - call (800) 473-4804 or visit for more information. Grower Direct

Grow half-dollar size


and Blackberries. We also offer over 200 varieties of Fruit and Nut Trees plus Vine and Berry Plants.

Ison’s Nursery

Since 1934

Free Catalog

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PO Box 190 Brooks, GA 30205 1-800-733-0324 • 30


November 2011 Neighbors  

The November, 2011 issue of Neighbors magazine; the official publication of Alabama Farmers Federation.

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