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Neighbors A Publication of the Alabama Farmers Federation


APRIL 2011

Second Chance

Just days after raising the insurance coverage on his farm policy, DeKalb County poultry farmer Chuck Ott saw his poultry houses destroyed by a tornado. • 5

Farm-City Winners Winners of the Alabama Farm-City Committee’s statewide poster and essay contests will be recognized along the Farm of Distinction winner April 11 in Birmingham. • 11

Beyond The Pond Bank ON THE COVER WINDS OF CHANGE — Chuck Ott of Ider walks between the remains of two of his poultry houses that were hit by a tornado last October. Just a few days earlier, Ott had raised the insurance coverage on his DeKalb County farm. Photo by Darryal Ray


Travis Wilson of Dallas County has been named Alabama’s Catfish Farmer of the Year by The Catfish Farmers of America. • 16

OYFF Finalists Six finalists were selected for the annual Outstanding Young Farm Family contest during the 2011 Young Farmers Leadership Conference


President’s Message


Federation Digest


Ag Briefs


Alabama Gardener


Country Kitchen



in Huntsville. • 22


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President’s Message A

s planting season gets into full swing, many Alabama farmers are balancing their optimism about high commodity prices with concerns about rising production costs. Unrest in the Middle East has pushed crude oil to more than $100 a barrel, and some are predicting it could go as high as $200. That means farmers who already are paying twice as much for diesel fuel as they did two years Jerry Newby ago, could see their potential profits go in the tank. The price of fertilizer, which is tied to crude oil, also is expected to increase, and farmers will pay more in freight costs to have supplies delivered and to transport their crops and livestock to market. Fortunately, most commodity prices are at their highest levels in years, and cotton recently posted a new record. These prices are being driven by short supplies and strong demand, particularly in developing countries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects agricultural exports this year to top $135 billion, up $27 billion from 2010, and China is forecast to be the biggest importer of U.S. farm goods at $20 billion. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says these figures are good news for the U.S. economy because for every billion dollars in agricultural exports, 8,000 jobs are created. That means American ag exports will account for one million jobs this year. Farmers are counting on strong demand both internationally and here at home to offset higher production costs. According to USDA, production expenses are expected to be a record $274 billion this year, up $20 billion from last year, and net farm income is forecast at $94.7 billion, up $15.7 billion from 2010. Adding to farmers’ uncertainty this year are increasingly restrictive rules on production agriculture w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

by the Environmental Protection Agency and projected steep spending cuts in the 2012 farm bill. Federal agricultural programs will cost less this year because many aren’t triggered except when prices are low. Still, it’s hard for farmers to plan for the future not knowing if there’ll be a safety net when prices fall or disaster strikes. The Alabama Farmers Federation and American Farm Bureau Federation are working to ensure farmers can continue to produce the food, fiber and fuel our country needs. These efforts include securing funding for agricultural research, working to maintain the safety net in the current farm bill and staving off unnecessary and burdensome regulations. This work benefits not only our farmer members, but all citizens. American agriculture produces 86 percent of the food we consume and provides food for millions of people around the world. But according to the United Nations, farmers will need to increase food production 70 percent by 2050 in order to feed an estimated world population of more than 9 billion people. To do that, we must not only support those who are already farming, but also equip the next generation of farmers for success. In this month’s issue of Neighbors, we recognize the Outstanding Young Farm Families who were honored at this year’s Young Farmers Leadership Conference in Huntsville. These young families represent the best and brightest in production agriculture, and we are committed to helping them succeed. We are also encouraged by their enthusiasm for farming. In a recent survey, the Farm Bureau found that 87 percent of young farmers are more optimistic about farming than they were five years ago. As we head into spring, we share their optimism that strong commodity prices and recent rains that have eased the effects of drought will set the stage for a good year on Alabama farms. n 4


________________________________________ Darryal Ray, Editor Debra Davis, Associate Editor Mike Moody, Graphic Designer 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. 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: Paul Hurst, Hurst & Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 6011, Vernon Hills, IL 60061. Phone: 800397-8908; Fax: (847) 438-8105. 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 NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011

By Darryal Ray


he phone’s ring had one of those oddly urgent sounds to it: Brrrrinngg! Then, just as abruptly, it quit mid-ring. Seconds later, it did it again. Chuck Ott of Ider hadn’t counted on getting out of bed at 4 a.m. that October morning, but those curious rings Just days after had aroused the DeKalb County raising the coverage on his farm policy, poultry grower Chuck Ott of Ider from his sleep. saw his poultry “I got awake houses destroyed by just enough to a tornado. look outside, and the sky was all lit up by lightning,” Ott recalled. “It was like daylight, and the phone would ring with the lightning strikes.” But it wasn’t the lightning that turned Ott’s life upside down that morning — it was the tornado that destroyed two of his poultry houses, damaged two others and a dry stack shed. “I’ve got 100 foot of one


house that’s down, and 100 foot of another house that’s standing,” Ott said in December as workers were


still crawling around the fallen houses, ripping up sheets of tin. “It looks like it picked up the middle of this one and the front of that one up, scooted it over about 10 to 20 feet and set it back down. … We’re going to have to tear those two down and start all over again. It shook the fire out of the

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other two houses. The nail plates in the trusses were torn out, and they’ve got several pieces of tin gone. I haven’t got the bids on them yet — ballpark guess: $10,000 to $20,000 worth of damage to them. We got so worried about getting the others rebuilt that those sort of went on the back burner because I can still get chickens in those.” Of course, it could have been worse. Much worse. Only a month earlier, Alfa Agent Walter Watts had reviewed Ott’s farm policy and found the coverage no longer met minimum coverage requirements due to rising construction costs. “The paperwork had been sent in and he was to be billed the new premium for the total amount, including the added coverage,” said Watts. “I had spoken to him a couple of times back in September, and we just had a difficult time getting together. So, I went to his wife’s office and got the paperwork completed.” On Oct. 15, Ott paid the new premium. On Oct. 25, the tornado hit. “It was my understanding that the paperwork was still on the desk

w ww ww w .. A A ll ff a aF Fa a rr m me e rr ss .. o o rr g g

and hadn’t been sent into the home office yet, but they went ahead and paid the extra money,” said Ott. “I think it was $10,000 extra for the house, and $10,000 for the equipment that was added to it.” Rex Seabrook, manager of farm underwriting for Alfa, said Ott’s case underscores the importance of keeping farm policies current. “It is critical that our poultry growers are insured to value,” said Seabrook, adding that Alfa insures thousands of poultry houses throughout the state. “Often times when we inspect a poultry farm, or when an agent completes a rewrite of the policy, he or she needs to raise the coverage amount on the poultry houses to more accurately reflect today’s costs. Costs of modern construction can be as high a $5 per square foot for a broiler house, and even higher for breeder houses.” Seabrook added that while there is no specific “minimum” requirement in terms of the total value of poultry houses, each poultry house

6 6

is individually valued based on its age, coverage (in terms of whether it’s replacement cost coverage or actual cash value), current construction costs, and the condition of the building at the time it is inspected. “(Alfa Adjuster) Marc Peters was up here the morning that it happened and was taking pictures,” said Ott. “He told me right off the bat what would happen, and everything was just like he said it would be. When I finally got the bids in, I turned my paperwork in and then in three days, I had a check.” As of late February, Ott was still hoping to get his poultry houses rebuilt, but a harsh winter with more snow than usual and lots of rain wreaked havoc with construction. Delays aside, Ott said, he was “tickled plumb to death” with Alfa’s quick claims service, calling it “wonderful … all of it was amazing.” n

N NE E II G GH HB BO OR RS S •• A AP PR R II L L 2 20 01 11 1

Federation Digest Newby Appoints Growth Committee


labama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby has appointed 21 Federation leaders to serve on the newly formed Membership Growth Committee. The objective of the committee is to study methods and services that county federations can use to maintain and increase membership. The committee will report its findings and recommendations to the state board of directors. The committee is chaired by Federation Secretary-Treasurer Steve Dunn of Conecuh County. Members include Rex Vaughn, Madison County; Jennifer Cruise, Morgan County; Will Gilmer, Lamar County; Randy Gilmore, Jefferson County; Delle Bean, Calhoun County; Dennis Maze, Blount County; Lamar Dewberry, Clay County; Terry Wyatt, Shelby County; Richard Edgar, Elmore County; Andy Wendland, Autauga County; Pat Buck, Sumter County; Peggy Walker, Tuscaloosa County; Shep Morris, Macon County; John Dorrill, Pike County; Sammy Williams, Henry County; Gloria Jeffcoat, Houston County; Meador Jones, Marengo County; Richard Holladay, Lowndes County; Sammy Gibbs, Escambia County; and Debbie Freeland, Mobile County. n w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

AWEP Tour Members of the Alabama Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) recently toured Bragg Farms in Madison County to see water projects there. AWEP was established by the 2008 Farm Bill, and funding comes from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). NRCS administers AWEP by entering into EQIP contracts directly with agricultural producers. From left are: Steve Dunn, president of the Geneva County Farmers Federation; State USDA Conservationist Dr. Bill Puckett; Dennis Bragg of Bragg Farms; and Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby. AWEP sign-up closes Apr. 29.

Marion County’s Real To Chair Forestry Commission


arion County Farmers Federation President Kenneth Real of Detroit, Ala., has been elected chairman of the Alabama Forestry Commission. Real, a member of the Federation’s State Forestry Committee, has served on the commission since March 2006. Real, a registered forester in Alabama and Mississippi, has 33 years of forestry experience and is president and owner of Realwood, Inc., which he started in 1993. He was procurement manager for Hankins Wilson Lumber Company in Houston, Ala. from 1983 to 1993. Prior to that, he was procurement forester for Ten8

nessee River Pulp and Paper Co. in Ackerman, Miss. In addition to his service to the Alabama Farmers Federation, he is a member of the Alabama Forestry Association. Johnny McReynolds of Russellville was re-elected vice chairman. He is a registered forester in Alabama and Mississippi and vice president of Homan Industries, where he has worked for the last 23 years. Other members of the AFC Board of Commissioners are immediate past chairman Don Heath of Hoover, Jett Freeman of Spanish Fort, Randy Gilmore of McCalla, Melisa Love of Opelika and Jerry Smith of Vernon. n NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011

Legislators Hear About Agriculture, Insurance Issues By Jeff Helms


eaders in the Alabama Legislature predicted tight budgets and immigration would be among the most pressing issues for the upcoming regular session when they gathered in Birmingham Feb. 8-9 to learn more about agriculture and insurance at the 2011 Alfa Symposium. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said he is more encouraged about the education budget after meeting with the Finance Department, but added that the state’s General Fund budget could face proration as high as 15 percent. Despite this challenge, Marsh said he is interested in learning more about what can be done to strengthen Alabama agriculture. “As you know, we have fewer farmers in the state than ever, and we’ve got to make sure they are protected,” Marsh said. “We have a good agricultural base, and we want to do everything we can to help those individuals.” The symposium was a joint effort of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance. It gave the staff a chance to meet with the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the agriculture and insurance committees in both chambers, to discuss issues that affect members and policyholders. Brian Hardin, assistant director of the Federation’s Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department, said the meeting was especially valuable following the Nov. 2 general election, which brought sweeping changes to the Alabama Legislature. “There are a lot of new legislators who we haven’t had the opportunity to talk to about our issues to the extent that we would like,” Hardin said. “This symposium is a chance to discuss the issues we anticipate we will be facing not only this year, but in the next few years.” Agricultural issues discussed at the symposium included restrictions w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

Federation Assistant Director of Governmental and Agricultural Programs Brian Hardin, center, visits with Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and Rep. K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, during the Alfa Symposium in Birmingham.

on advertising agri-tourism attractions along roadways; a bill that would affirm the state’s authority to regulate fertilizer; reauthorization of Forever Wild; the economic outlook for Alabama’s forest industry; regulation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations; livestock care; and farm labor and immigration. Representatives from Alfa Insurance and the Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) also briefed lawmakers on the coastal insurance situation and other legislation that could impact policyholders. Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Chairman Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, said he hopes to strengthen Alabama’s right-to-farm laws and use his committee as a “bully pulpit” to influence Congress on issues that are important to Alabama farmers. “Growing up on a dairy farm where we milked cows up until ‘91 or ‘92 — milking right at 500 head a day — I have farmers’ interests at heart, and I know what it takes to be a farmer and be involved in agribusiness,” said Whatley, whose father, Charles, chaired the House Agriculture Committee in the late ‘70s. 10

“I know how hard you work, and I want to do whatever I can to help the farmer to help the agribusiness.” More than 25 members of the Alabama Legislature attended the Alfa Symposium, as well as Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan and the deans of Alabama’s three land grant universities. In his opening remarks, Federation and Alfa President Jerry Newby praised the lawmakers for accepting the challenge to govern during tough economic times and for passing historic ethics reform during the special session. “We understand the huge task that awaits you in Montgomery. Tight budgets, high unemployment and increasing federal mandates will make your job hard. But I believe you were chosen for a time such as this,” Newby said. “Throughout our history, America’s victories have been won by courageous men and women who were not intimidated by overwhelming odds. Today, we stand at a crossroads. If the prosperity of America and Alabama are to endure, we must answer the call to be yet another ‘great generation.’” n NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011

Farm-City To Name Poster, Essay, Top Farm Winners By Darryal Ray


he winners of the Alabama Farm-City Committee’s statewide poster and essay contests will be recognized, along with Alabama’s Farm of Distinction winner, at its annual awards luncheon April 11 at Birmingham’s Wynfrey Hotel. Held in connection with the Alabama Farmers Federation Women’s Conference (April 10-12), this year’s theme — “Agriculture: A Growing Story” — supports the National Farm-City Committee’s new strategy of addressing one potentially divisive issue each year. The National Farm-City Council chose this theme to coincide with its focus on media myths about agriculture. “The goal of this year’s focus will be to dispel some of the myths presented in negative stories while telling the real story of American farmers and ranchers,” said Jeff Helms, chairman of the Alabama


Farm-City Committee and director of public relations and communications for the Federation. “It will also give farmers a chance to examine their own behaviors and production practices in light of consumer concerns.” Students qualify for the state awards by winning first place in their county poster and essay contests. As with past poster and essay themes, “Agriculture: A Growing Story” also gives students a chance to explore the interdependence of farms and cities. The Farm-City program also honors the best county committees, best scrapbooks, best tours, best civic activity, etc. The Farm of Distinction winner is selected from five division winners and one at-large winner from throughout the state. The six finalists are: Andy and Dawn Wendland of Autauga County; Andy and Anne Sumblin of Coffee County; Phillip and Nancy


Garrison of Cullman County; Webb and Joy Thornhill of Jackson County; Bud Hopson of Lee County; and Roy and Becky Jordan of Marengo County. SunSouth, TriGreen and Snead Ag Supply will donate a new John Deere Gator to the 2011 winner. In addition, the Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC) will present each division winner with a $250 gift certificate and the state winner with a $1,000 gift certificate redeemable at any of its Quality Co-op stores. The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Health presents the winner with an engraved mahogany farm sign. The state winner also will receive a $2,500 cash award from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla., and go on to represent the state in the Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition at the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo in Moultrie, Ga., Oct. 18-20. n

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Bentley Among 250 Attending ‘Taste of Alabama’

By Darryal Ray


he Alabama Farmers Federation hosted its annual “Taste of Alabama” legislative reception Wednesday, March 2, giving state legislators, constitutional officers and justices a sampling for what the state’s farmers have to offer. About 250 people, including Gov. and Mrs. Robert Bentley, attended the meet-and-greet event that affords farmers from throughout the state an opportunity to meet their elected officials face-to-face. “This was one of the most successful ‘Taste of Alabama’ events we’ve had,” said Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan. “It’s always good to see our farmers and our governmental leaders meeting one-on-one in a casual setting like this. Not only does it give our elected leadership a chance to see the importance agriculture plays in our state, but it also gives our farmers an opportunity to show off some of the good food they’re producing right here in this state.” “Too, coming off an election year, especially in a time of budget cutbacks, it’s important that our farmers build personal relationships with our leaders, lawmakers

Gov. Robert Bentley had an audience with both Federation members and legislators during the ‘Taste of Alabama’ event. From left, Marengo County Farmers Federation President Meador Jones, Rep. Ralph Howard of Sumter County, Gov. Bentley and Hale County Farmers Federation President Joe Wilkerson.

and decision-makers,” he added. “It’s good visit with elected officials to see what’s on their minds and what’s important in their districts.” This year’s gathering drew 19 state senators, 76 state representatives and a host of other elected officials who mingled with Federation leaders and state board members. Others attending included: Lt. Governor Kay Ivey, Agriculture

NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEETINGS OF ALFA MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY ALFA MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY & ALFA MUTUAL GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY The annual meetings of the policyholder members of Alfa Mutual Insurance Company, Alfa Mutual Fire Insurance Company and Alfa Mutual General Insurance Company will be held at the Executive Office of the Company, 2108 East South Boulevard, Montgomery, Alabama, 36116, on April 13, 2011, at 9:00 a.m., to consider and act upon the following: 1. To elect directors in accordance with the bylaws. 2. To transact such other business as may properly come before the meeting or any adjournment thereof. The record date fixed for determining members entitled to vote at said meeting is the close of business on February 25, 2011. If a member has authorized the Company’s Board of Directors to vote as his/her proxy at said meeting and wishes to revoke such proxy, such member may do so by written notice to the Secretary of the Company, by registered mail to the address set forth above, at least 20 days prior to said meeting. ---H. Al Scott, Secretary w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g


Commissioner John McMillan, Commissioner Twinkle Cavanaugh of the Public Service Commission and Dr. William Batchelor, dean of Auburn University’s School of Agriculture. Judges in attendance included Supreme Court Justices Kellie Wise, Jim Main, Tom Parker and Mike Bolin; Civil Appeals Judge Tommy Bryan; Criminal Appeals Judges Beth Kellum, Mike Joiner, Liles Burke and Mary Windom and her husband, Steve. Guests moved about the room, sampling beef tenderloin from Mike Henry of Montgomery County, barbecue from L.O. Bishop of Colbert County, grits from Joe and Patty Lambrecht’s Oakview Farms in Wetumpka and shrimp from Dickie Odom of Greene County. There was also honey and biscuits from the Alabama Beekeepers Association, grilled peanut butter sandwiches from the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, ice cream and even quail dumplings. Then, there was catfish, fried chicken, turnip greens, fried green tomatoes, sweet potato fries and fruit cobblers. n NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011

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State Commodity Committees Elect Leaders For 2011 By Debra Davis


ommodity leaders of the Alabama Farmers Federation met in Birmingham Feb. 1-3 to elect leaders and discuss goals and issues for the year. Nearly 700 farmers representing 16 commodities discussed the direction for their respective state committees, and outgoing state committee members who served their term limits were recognized during lunch each day. Alabama’s new Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan spoke to farmers at lunch on Tuesday, and Auburn University College of Agriculture Dean William Batchelor spoke Wednesday. Tuesday’s luncheon recognized Bill Lipscomb of Autauga County, Tim Tucker of Monroe County and Phil Slay of Chambers County for their service on the Federation’s State Beef Committee. David Pearce of Dallas County, Rafe Taylor of Greene County, Townsend Kyser of Hale County and Sid Nelson of Sumter County were recognized for serving on the State Catfish Committee. Prather Slay of Chambers County was honored during the luncheon for serving on the State Horticulture Committee. Luther Bishop of Colbert County, Tim Donaldson of Cullman County and Greg Buttram of DeKalb County were honored for their years of service on the State Pork Committee. On Wednesday, Darrell Driskell of Mobile County was honored for serving on the Federation’s State Cotton Committee. Jimmy Parnell of Chilton County and Jake Harper of Wilcox County were honored for service on the State Forestry Committee. Roger Brumbeloe of Blount County and Johnny Lee of Henry County were honored for their work on the State’s Hay and Forage Committee. Thursday’s luncheon honored Bob Moore of Macon County for his service to the Federation’s Green-

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house, Nursery & Sod Committee. David Wilson of Talladega County was honored for serving on the State Soybean Committee, and Donnie Garrett of Cherokee County along with John Cook of Conecuh County

were honored for service to the State Wheat and Feed Grains Committee. State committee members elected during the meetings will serve a three-year term (unless otherwise noted). n

New Committee Members And Officers

Bee and Honey – Hobson Hite, Cullman; James Sitz, Etowah; Bob Cole, Marshall; and Barry Banks, Walker. Bill Mullins of Madison was elected chairman. Joe Lambrecht of Elmore was elected first vice chairman, and Lionel Evans of Limestone was elected second vice chairman. Beef – Clay Kennamer, Jackson (elected second vice chairman); Mahlon Richburg, Lee; Anthony Faggard, Mobile; and Mike Henry, Montgomery; Wendell Wilson was elected to serve a oneyear term. Tommy Maples of Limestone was elected chairman, and Tim Whitley of Blount was elected first vice chairman. Catfish – Kent Houlditch, Greene; Wayne McLendon, Lee; Butch Wilson, Dallas; and Bill Kyser, Hale (elected second vice chairman). Will Pearce of Dallas was elected chairman, and Paul Wheeler of Perry was elected first vice chairman. Cotton – Neal Isbell, Colbert; Richard Edgar, Elmore; Sammy Gibbs, Escambia; and Terry Wyatt, Shelby. Jimmy Miller of Blount was elected chairman. Phil Vandiver of Madison was elected first vice chairman, and Tim Mullek of Baldwin was elected second vice chairman. Dairy – David Wright, Calhoun; Diane Payton, DeKalb; Joe Ching, Mobile; and Mike Ryan, Tuscaloosa. Laird Cole of Hale was elected chairman. George Rankin of Marengo was elected first vice chairman, and Mike Ryan of Tuscaloosa was elected second vice chairman. Equine – Jamie McConnell, Chilton (elected first vice chairman); Sammy Hindman, Fayette (elected chairman); Jennifer Cruise, Morgan (elected second vice chairman) and Roland St. John, St. Clair. Forestry – Brian Agnew, Bullock; Chris Langley, Chambers; B.J. Johnson, Cherokee; and Johnny Hollis, Crenshaw; John Dorrill of Pike was elected chairman. Emory Mosley of Washington was elected vice chairman. Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod – Hank Richardson, Cherokee; Ed Dennis, Dallas; Charles Tew, Elmore; and Andy Benton, Tuscaloosa. Tommy Odom of Mobile was elected chairman, and Steve Thomas of Chambers was elected vice chairman. Hay and Forage – Joe Potter, Colbert (elected second vice chairman); I.C. Barrett Sr., Elmore; Doug Wigginton, Morgan; and Mark Landers, Tuscaloosa. Winford Parmer of Autauga was elected chairman. Wade Hill of Lawrence was elected first vice chairman. Horticulture – Jimmy Witt, Blount; Frank Benford, Chambers; Art Sessions, Mobile (elected first vice chairman); and John Neighbors, Tallapoosa (elected chairman). Jimmie Fidler of Baldwin was elected second vice chairman. Meat Goat and Sheep – Wess Hallman, Blount (elected first vice chairman); Drexel Johnson, Coffee; J.C. Holt, Colbert; and Stacey Nestor, Montgomery (elected second vice chairman). Sam Abney of Autauga was elected chairman. Pork – Jon Petree, Franklin (elected second vice chairman); John Gibson, Marshall; L.O. Bishop, Colbert; and Stanley Morris, St. Clair. Mark Pennington of Calhoun was elected chairman, and Frank Morris of St. Clair was elected first vice chairman. Poultry – Dennis Maze, Blount (elected first vice chairman); Ray Bean, Calhoun; David Bailey, DeKalb; and Mark Byrd, Morgan. Joe Roberts of Fayette was elected chairman, and Tom Duncan of Butler was elected second vice chairman. Soybean – David Bitto, Baldwin; Rickey Cornutt, Marshall; John E. Walker III, Tuscaloosa; and Jeremy Wilson, Talladega County. Jeff Webster of Madison was elected chairman, and Pat Buck of Sumter was elected first vice chairman. Wheat and Feed Grains – Andy Wendland, Autauga (elected first vice chairman); Nick McMichen, Cherokee; Ron Brumley, Colbert, and Stanley Walters, Marengo (elected second vice chairman). Shep Morris of Macon was elected chairman. Wildlife Resources – Mike Parmer, Autauga; Jimmy Jimmerson, Cleburne; Trey Montgomery, Greene; and Will Ainsworth, Marshall (elected chairman). Dell Hill of Talladega was elected first vice chairman. 14


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By Debra Davis


ravis Wilson of Dallas County said he probably wasn’t chosen Alabama’s Catfish Farmer of the Year because he thinks outside the box. More likely, he said, it’s because he and his family think beyond the pond bank. Travis was recognized during the annual Catfish Farmers of America meeting in Mobile in February, but it’s what he and his family do on their farm each day that earned him the award. The farm is known for utilizing, and even inventing, some of the latest technology for catfish production. The Alabama Catfish Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation, selected Travis earlier this year as the nominee, which was confirmed by the Catfish Farmers of America. Federation Catfish Division Director Mitt Walker said Travis was

chosen for the award for his environmental stewardship, production, innovations and leadership. “We are blessed to have clean fresh water and a good clay-based soil,” said Wilson, who grows catfish with his father, Butch Wilson, and his brother-in-law, Willard Powe. Their ponds cover 450 acres just west of Selma. “Without good water quality, you won’t be successful in the catfish industry. “I think I owe whatever success I have to my father who has always been willing to try new things. We’ve done lots of research with Auburn University to help improve the way we do things. Some of it has worked, and others, well, we know now that they won’t work.” As Alabama’s Catfish

Farmer of the Year, Travis will represent the state this March at the Boston Seafood Show, the nation’s largest seafood show. He also will appear in promotional advertising for the Catfish Farmers of America. Travis, 37, grew up farming with his dad on their 1,750-acre farm where they also raise beef cattle. His dad began raising catfish in 1990 and when Travis finished college, he returned home to the family’s business, as did his brother-in-law. The farm typically produces about 3 million pounds of catfish a year. Married for 10 years, Travis and his wife, Keisha, have two sons, Trevor, 8, and Cole, 6. “One of the best attributes of being a farmer is being with your family most of the time,” he said. “I like the fact that my sons are growing up the same

Keisha and Travis Wilson and their two sons, Trevor, 8, and Cole, 6.

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Alabama has about 200 catfish farmers who grow fish in 19,200 acres of water. The state ranks second in the nation in catfish production, and in 2010 produced 137 million pounds of catfish valued at $106 million. n

way I did. It allows me to instill my principles and values in them every day.” Catfish production brings a certain pioneer spirit to agriculture, according to Travis, who described his dad as “a man of dreams.” Some of those dreams have turned into experiments that are helping revolutionize the industry. In addition to the traditional ponds, their farm includes a raceway system where catfish are grown in a confined area of a pond with special attention paid to feed consumption, water quality and waste management. By focusing on a smaller area of the pond with a larger number of fish, the feed conversion, which equates to higher profits, increases as well. The latest addition to the farm is a 120- by 80-foot insulated barn, built with the help of a soybean checkoff grant from the United Soybean Board. The barn holds 10 large fish tanks. The tanks have the capacity to raise 100,000 pounds of tilapia every six months with a filtered water system. NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011

“Soybeans are a large component of fish food and if we can increase fish production inside barns like this, then we would create more demand for their product (soybeans),” Travis said. “We’re growing tilapia in the tanks right now, but we are interested in fine-tuning the system so that we can raise our catfish fingerlings year round and have them bigger when we are ready to put them in the ponds.” The barn’s wastewater provides nutrient-enriched, liquid fertilizer that flows into a new greenhouse next to the barn where hydroponic lettuce is grown for a budding organic market. “Trying new things is what has kept our farm afloat when a lot of others have left the business,” he said. “But if you’re not constantly taking care of your fish, you won’t be in the fish business long because they won’t survive. “And I want consumers to know that when they eat fish grown on our farm, they are getting a safe, delicious product grown by farmers who care about what we do.” 17

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A.L.F.A. Leaders Participants in the Agricultural Leaders For Alabama (A.L.F.A.) program, sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation, recently attended a three-day program on state government in Montgomery that included attending the state-of-the-state address by Gov. Robert Bentley and a special meeting with State Treasurer Young Boozer. The leaders also met with their state senators and representatives to discuss upcoming legislative issues and the state budget process. Other meetings were held with Alabama Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan and Alabama Department of Environmental Management Director Lance LeFleur. Front row from left are A.L.F.A Director Mitt Walker, Scott Poague, Elmore County; Corey Hill, Marshall; Toby McCormick, DeKalb; Bradley Stewart, Clay; Troy Tindal, Butler; Hassey Brooks, Montgomery; and Kevin Holland, Baldwin; back row, John Hegeman, Calhoun; Trey Flowers, Montgomery; Jeremie Redden of Russell; Kelly Pritchett, Pike; Monica Carroll, Dale; Rachel Holland, Baldwin; and A.L.F.A. Director Brandon Moore.

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Good yields take time. T









he roads and highways in Alabama connect us to where we need to go. They may take us to the beach for a well-earned vacation; or to the local supermarket for tonight’s dinner. But some roads and highways take us to where we work. Most of us drive cars, trucks and SUVs, but some choose a different vehicle. They are farmers. The many farmers of Alabama legally use the roads and highways to get from barn to field with their tractors, harvesters and combines. Typically, these vehicles travel well below the speed limit. This is where the sign comes in. On vehicles that can legally share the road but cannot keep up with the flow of traffic, you will find an orange-and-red triangle called a “Slow-Moving Vehicle” sign. This tells you from a distance that the vehicle ahead of you is traveling at a slow rate of speed. Please beScareful you see this sign on a vehicle. Many accidents and U R Vwhen IVE even deaths have occurred as a result of a fast-moving vehicle meeting a farmer tryingAtoSign get to work. Watch out for farmers. Good yields take time. Of Progress

Farmer At Work

A Sign Of Progress

Farmer At Work

A message from the Alabama Department of Public Safety, the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Catfish Stars at Alagasco Cooking Show Event in Selma By Mike Reynolds


.S. Farm-Raised Catfish took center stage at the Alagasco Cooking Show on Feb. 22, at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center in Selma. Now in its 47th year, the Alagasco-sponsored event is produced annually by BroadSouth Communications and its radio station subsidiaries, WDXX and WHBB. “Celebrating Alabama’s Best” served as the 2011 theme, and the crowd learned about unique and delicious recipes prepared by Chef Leslie Bailey of Extraordinary Events of Montgomery. The Catfish Institute and the Alabama Catfish Producers teamed up with a number of Alabamabased food producers to foster consumer awareness about the multitude of food items grown and produced in Alabama. Virginia Whitfield of the food trade organization, Buy Alabama’s Best, helped support the event that her organization has been a part of for two years. “I am especially appreciative of WDXX and WHBB for spotlighting Alabama’s Best!  Since Whitfield Foods/ALAGA Syrup, Inc. at 105 years old is the oldest food company in Alabama, all things Alabama, are dear to my heart. These Alabama food companies have contributed over $250,000 from their sales to the Children’s Hospital for curing childhood cancer. Every time you buy an Alabama food product, you make a difference you can’t begin to imagine.” A high percentage of U.S. Farm-Raised catfish is produced in Alabama, with much of that production concentrated in the westcentral region of the state. Fran and David Pearce of Pearce Catfish Farms, who pioneered commercial U.S. Farm Raised Catfish production in Dallas County during the early 1970s, were among

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Leslie Bailey, chef of Extraordinary Events in Montgomery, gives Leisa Ratcliff of Alagasco advice during the cooking show.

the sponsor attendees. They were instrumental in involving The Catfish Institute and the Alabama Catfish Producers in this year’s promotion. “This event is a natural for our industry,” said David Pearce. “The Catfish Institute does a great job for us all over the country. We’re glad to be able to involve them in our local community directly with consumers and the other great Alabama products.” “We’re excited to be a part of tradition-rich events like this that put U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish and other Alabama-grown commodities right in front of target consumers,” said Mitt Walker, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Catfish Division. “Buying Alabama products strengthens our local economy and keeps Alabamians working.” All of the attendees were greeted by “Captain Catfish” and served samples of cajun-fried catfish. In addition to U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish, Chef Bailey incorporated other Alabama products into a number of recipes. Those products included Alaga Syrup and Hot Sauce, Bud’s 20

Best Cookies, Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls, Zeigler Hams and Southern Flavor Seasonings. Dozens of door prizes and hundreds of samples and coupons were given to the standing-room-only crowd of over 500. Admission was free, but advance tickets distributed by WDXX and WHBB were required. “Celebrating Alabama’s Best” will continue to serve as the theme for other events produced by BroadSouth Communications in 2011. Plans are underway for the ArtsRevive StreetFest to be held in historic downtown Selma on May 6-7. This joint venture, also sponsored by The Catfish Institute, will incorporate local and regional artists, food producers and talent. Radio celebrity Sammy Lee of Tight Lines with Sammy Lee will serve as the master of ceremonies. The Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will perform on Friday evening. Contact WDXX Promotions Director Carolyn Rowell at (334) 875-3350 or for more information about ArtsRevive StreetFest. n NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011

Newby Among Inductees In AU’s Ag Hall Of Honor


erry Newby, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance, was among three men inducted into the Alabama Agriculture Hall on Honor on Feb. 23 at Dixon Conference Center at Auburn University. The Hall of Honor, a tribute of the Auburn University Agricultural Alumni Association, recognizes those who have made significant contributions to Alabama agriculture throughout their lives and careers. The Ag Alumni Association established the Hall of Honor in 1984 to honor and recognize living Alabamians for the leadership they have shown and the role they have played in strengthening the state’s agricultural industry. Each year, three new members are voted into the Hall of Honor — one from production agriculture, one from the agribusiness sector of the industry and one in the area of education/ government. Newby, a Limestone County row crop and cattle farmer who holds a business administration degree from Athens State University, was recognized in the area of agribusiness. He was joined in the Hall of Honor by Dallas Hartzog of Headland, representing the education and government sector; and Harold Pate of Lowndesboro, representing the production agriculture sector. Newby was recently elected to his seventh straight two-year term as president of the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama’s largest farm organization and a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Prior to his election as president, he served as a vice president of the Federation and as a member of its board of directors. Also a member of the AFBF board of directors and its Foundation for Agriculture, Newby served on the Alabama Board of Agriculture and Industries and is a past board member of Cotton


Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby, center, was among those inducted into the Alabama Agricultural Hall of Honor Tuesday night in Auburn. He is shown with Auburn Ag Alumni Past President Richard Holladay, left, and dean of Auburn University’s College of Agriculture Dr. William Batchelor.

Incorporated. He also has served as a delegate to the National Cotton Council for Alabama and as a member of the NCC Producer Steering Committee. He is a past secretary of Southern Cotton Growers. In accepting the award, Newby thanked his family, as well as the leaders and employees of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance, for helping him achieve his goals. “There are many others who are more deserving, but I am truly honored,” Newby said. “God has blessed me throughout my life by surrounding me with people who have made me better. I never dreamed of receiving an honor like this, but I sincerely appreciate it.” Newby, who is now in his 13th year as president of Alfa and the Federation, worked on the family’s dairy farm as a child. The family operation no longer has dairy cattle, but does raise grass-fed steers along with cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans. Hartzog, who holds masters and bachelor’s degrees from Auburn University, worked to develop sustainable peanut, cotton and live21

stock cropping systems. He earned the Distinguished Career Award from the Extension System and, in 2001, was named Man of the Year in Agriculture by Progressive Farmer magazine. Pate, who is being inducted in the production category, has been one of the state’s top Charolais cattle producers for more than 50 years. Also during the ceremonies, the alumni group presented Pioneer Awards posthumously to B. W. Appleton of Gainesville, Ga., an early leader in Alabama’s poultry industry, and John Cottier of Auburn, a long-time poultry science faculty member at Auburn. Both of the honorees received their bachelor’s degrees in agriculture from Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Cottier in 1929 and Appleton in 1934. Since its inception, 82 individuals have been inducted into the Hall of Honor for their work in production agriculture, education and government and agribusiness. In addition, 32 have been honored posthumously with the Pioneer Award. n w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

Young Farmers Honored At Leadership Conference By Jeff Helms


utstanding Young Farm Families (OYFF) were recognized in 12 commodity divisions as the Alabama Farmers Federation concluded its Young Farmers Leadership Conference Feb. 19 in Huntsville. The awards banquet was held in the shadow of a 426-foot-long Saturn V rocket, which is housed at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s Davidson Center for Space Exploration. Federation Young Farmers Director Brandon Moore said the high-tech setting was perfect for this year’s conference. “With Huntsville’s rich history as a leader in technology, it offered a great backdrop to underscore the important role technology plays in modern agricultural production,” Moore said. “The satellites developed here in Huntsville, first used for defense, are now being used to help our farmers maintain a healthy food supply for our families, while producing fiber and fuel with much

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less impact on the environment. Farmers are now able to use only the specific crop nutrients that a particular area in the field needs rather than broadly applying treatments to a large area, and space technology developed here in Huntsville plays a major role in that every day.” More than 350 young farmers participated in the three-day conference, which included educational seminars and the OYFF contest. The OYFF program, now entering its 54th year, seeks to recognize young farm families and farmers between the ages of 18 and 35 who are doing an outstanding job in their farm, home and community activities, and promoting a better understanding of agriculture with the urban populace. Commodity division winners were: Jamie and Amy Griffin of Shelby County, beef and equine; Isaac Jones of Cherokee County, dairy; Jon and Amy Hegeman of Calhoun County, greenhouse, nursery and sod; John Eberhart Jr. 22

of Dekalb County, hay and forages; Allie Corcoran of Barbour County, horticulture; Mike and Teresa Dole of St. Clair County, meat goats and sheep; Jeremy and Lindsey Brown of Montgomery County, poultry; Benjamin and Miranda Looney of Limestone County, wheat and feed grains; Jason and Leslie Cleckler of Chilton County, wildlife; Stan and Kayla Usery of Limestone County, cotton; and Kevin and Ashlee Stephens of Pike County, peanuts. Each commodity winner receives a plaque and $200 cash award. From the commodity winners, six finalists were chosen to compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2011. The finalists were: the Hegemans, Corcoran, the Browns, the Looneys, the Userys and the Stephenses. The overall winner will be named at the Federation’s 90th Annual Meeting in Mobile, Dec. 4-6 and will receive a John Deere Gator courtesy of Alabama Ag Credit and Alabama Farm Credit; the use of a new vehicle NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011

Outstanding Young Farm Family division winners are, from left, Allie Corcoran of Barbour County, horticulture; John Eberhart Jr. of DeKalb County, hay and forages; Jason and Leslie Cleckler of Chilton County, wildlife; Jon and Amy Hegeman of Calhoun County, greenhouse, nursery and sod; Jamie and Amy Griffin of Shelby County, beef and equine; Kevin and Ashlee Stephens of Pike County with their daughter, Mary Holland, peanuts; Benjamin and Miranda Looney of Limestone County with their sons, Colby and Clay, wheat and feed grains; Stan and Kayla Usery of Limestone County with their daughter, Jessa, cotton; Mike and Teresa Dole of St. Clair County with their children, Henry and Katie Sue, meat goats and sheep; Jeremy and Lindsey Brown of Montgomery County with their daughter, Ansley, poultry; and Isaac Jones of Cherokee County, dairy.

and a computer package sponsored by Valcom/CCS Wireless. The state winner also receives an expense-paid trip to the 2012 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Hawaii where he/she will compete for the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award. The keynote speaker for the Young Farmers Leadership Conference was Chad Hymas, a Utah rancher who was paralyzed in a farm accident at the age of 27. A decade later, Hymas is president of his own communications company and travels 150,000 miles a year sharing his motivational message. Alabama Young Farmers Chairman Ben Haynes of Cullman County NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011

said Hymas and other presenters at the conference emphasized the importance of nurturing relationships both professionally and personally. “A common theme among all our speakers and all of our events so far has been our relationships with those around us and how we can be not only better farmers and better producers, but also better managers and better sons, fathers, daughters and wives as we interact with those around us,” Haynes said. “I hope we go back (to our farms) and have better farming skills, but also have better people skills — not only people skills on our own farms as we deal with family members and employees, but also as we deal with the public in sharing our message.” 23

Haynes said the conference gave the participants a chance to network with other young farmers who share the same challenges and opportunities. It also provided motivation for the young farmers to carry on their families’ agricultural legacies. Haynes, whose son Jack is the sixth generation on their family farm, said his parents attended their first Young Farmers Conference in Huntsville many years ago. Today, Haynes is following in their footsteps as he works to preserve the farming heritage for Jack. “If there’s going to be a farm, not just for Jack, but for any of this next generation, it’s imperative that we do what we can do to protect it.” n w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

Ag Briefs Grazing Clinic Set April 28


he Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District will host a grazing clinic at the Carl Elliott Board of Education Building April 28. The event, which begins with an 8 a.m. registration and will continue through 4:30 p.m., costs $30, which must be paid by April 15. Included in the registration fee is lunch, a copy of Southern Forages, a forage measuring stick and educational materials. For more information, contact the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Jasper Field Office or the Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District at (205) 387-1879 for registration or questions. n

Food Check-Out Week The Shelby County Women’s Leadership Committee recently held a food drive as part of National Food Check-Out Week, which was Feb. 20-26. Now in its 13th year, Food Check-Out Week highlights America’s safe, abundant and affordable food supply, made possible largely by America’s productive farmers and ranchers. From left are Shelby County Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Karen Wyatt, committee members Jane Jones and Joyce Bice.

AADA Barn, Facility Loans Offers Help To State’s Cattle Ranchers


labama cattle farmers can now receive some financial help through three different loan programs available from the Alabama Agricultural Development Authority, according to John Gamble, executive director of the AADA. The Commodity Barn Loan Program, Hay Barn Loan Program and Cattle Working Facilities Program are low-interest programs that require credit checks, repayment within three to four years and must be fully collateralized. The Commodity Barn Loan Program enables Alabama farmers to buy bulk commodities and subsequently realize feed cost savings. The

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program offers amounts from $7,500 to $22,500 with 3 percent interest and three-year payback. An application is required, as is a field inspection, prior to the loan being made. The Hay Barn Loan Program provides construction of approved new hay barns. Access to a hay barn enables farmers to store hay under cover and subsequently receives significant economic benefits and improved hay quality. Hay barn plans must meet standard criteria with required field inspection prior to the loan being funded. Depending on need and herd size, loans are available for a 40-by-60-foot barn for $12,500 or a 50-by-100-foot barn 24

for $25,000. Loans are funded at 4 percent interest for four years. Under the Cattle Working Facilities Program, cattlemen can receive loans on construction of improved working facilities to increase efficiency in cattle handling, better monitored herd health and improved production practices. Plans must receive approval prior to the start of construction. Loans are limited to a maximum of $20,000 based on need and complexity of layout. Loans require a three-year payback at 3 percent simple interest. n ____________________________________ For more information, contact the AADA at (334) 240-7245 or NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011

Applications Sought For Ag In The Classroom Summer Institute By Debra Davis


pplications are being accepted until April 15 for the annual Alabama Ag in the Classroom (AITC) Summer Institute, a grassroots program coordinated by the United States Department of Agriculture that arms teachers with materials and strategies to increase student knowledge of agriculture. Set for June 15-17 at the Marriott Shoals in Florence, the workshop will include activities for kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers and field trips to several area farms. The activities incorporate language arts, science, social studies and math skills. “AITC is a program that educates teachers and students about agriculture in our state, and provides opportunities for children to learn about farming and how important it is to our daily lives,” said AITC Chairman Kim Earwood. “The summer institute provides books and hands-on activities that teachers can carry back to their classrooms. The activities teach children about agriculture, while at the same time reinforcing classroom curriculum of history, math, science, reading and writing that complement the Alabama Department of Education’s course of study.”


Educating teachers about agriculture, Alabama’s largest industry, is significant because it instills the importance of agriculture and how it impacts everyone’s lives on a daily basis, Earwood said. “There was a time when most children in Alabama grew up on a farm. But today, fewer children are raised in a rural setting and many really don’t understand how important farms are,” she said. “Agriculture is part of our state and nation’s history, and it’s definitely part of our future as we look for ways to feed a hungry world and find renewable fuels.” The most popular part of the summer institute, however, is the farm tours, Earwood said. “Our tours allow the teachers to actually meet a farmer and ask questions about what happens at their farm,” Earwood said. “It helps make farming seem real, especially to those teachers who have never been on a farm. When you hear a teacher who has been teaching for 28 years tell you it is the best workshop she has ever attended, it shows that the program’s efforts are all worthwhile and headed in the right direction.” Sponsors of the program include the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alfa Insurance, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Alabama Poul-


try Contract Growers Association, Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, Alabama Farmers Federation State Soybean Committee and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. Proceeds from the sale of ag tags also benefit the program. The institute will be limited to 95 educators, and applicants will be selected on the basis of an application form provided by the AITC Planning Committee. It is available online at Lodging, most meals and workshop materials will be furnished. Teachers also can receive continuing education credits. For more information, contact Kim Earwood, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Women’s Division and AITC chairman, at (334) 612-5370 or email Applications should be sent to: Amy Belcher, Alabama Ag in the Classroom, P.O. Box 3336, Montgomery, AL 36109-0336 or faxed to (334) 240-7169. n

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Alabama Gardener By Lois Chaplin


hat is the best tomato to grow? That question is asked by all new gardeners, and it is debated by experienced ones. The answer is always, “It depends.” The best tomato depends on its adaptability to local growing conditions and what you kind you want — Heirloom? Canning? Slicing? Salads? Early? Late? For a pot? Long-bearing or concentrated fruiting? Giant, normal, or bite-sized fruits? Most gardeners will agree that among the best tomatoes are the cherry types because they grow like crazy and fruit all summer, often out-growing leaf spots and other non-lethal diseases. They also keep producing even in hot weather; and you can choose from an assortment of flavors and colors. Of course, little cherry tomatoes don’t make sliced tomato sandwiches very well, but they pack rich tomato taste in a bite-sized package. Cherry tomatoes are easy to grow. Almost all grow fast, quickly spilling over the top of a tomato cage. Cherry tomatoes will take down a typical cage in a midsummer thunderstorm; by the time July arrives, some cherry tomatoes have stems 10 feet or longer! So the lesson is: start with 8-foot stakes on which to tie them, or make your own circular cages from sturdy concrete reinforcement wire and secure the cage with six-foot rebar tamped into the ground in two or three places around the circumference. The plant will drape over the top, but it should stay in place.

Cherry tomatoes are fast-growing.

Okay, so which cherry tomatoes? Again, it depends. Let’s just say that all other things being equal, you still have to decide based on color, size and flavor. You can even get nuanced about the thickness of the skin. Just about every cherry tomato I’ve grown worked out well in my garden: Husky Cherry Red, Sweet Million, Sweet 100, Super Sweet 100, Chocolate Cherry, Sun Gold, Sun Sugar and Tami-G. The only one that did not bear well was a white heirloom that did not fruit enough to make it worthwhile. The trick to growing all toma-

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toes is full sun, good nutrition and a steady, consistent water supply. Full sun is a must to bring out the sugars and flavors in the fruit. Plants need six-to-eight hours of good sun for the best flavor. If you start with purchased transplants, set them really deep so that at least two-thirds of the plant is buried. The buried stem will sprout roots. More roots mean a stronger plant that is grows better, bigger, and is better able to resist drought and other problems. Work lots of compost into the soil when you plant. Also add calcium in the form of lime or gypsum to help prevent blossom-end rot later as fruit form, and mulch around the plants. Both help hold moisture in the ground. You can also work organic fertilizers into the ground at planting, and follow up with liquid fertilizers that do not contain lots of salts, such as fish emulsion or soy based liquids. These encourage earthworms and other soil organisms that are good for the plants. If you are growing tomatoes in a container, use at least a five-gallon bucket or 18-inch to 24-inch diameter container that can be prepared with a cage that fits in or over the pot. Cherry-o! n

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



Montgomery English Teacher Named Alfa Teacher of Month By Melissa Martin

Alfa’s Teacher of the Month for April. As April’s honoree, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance. Her school, a division of Montgomery Public Schools, will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation. Described by Georgia Washington Principal Deirdre Gulley as a strong educator with unique talents, Mohajerin is an asset to both her school and the community. “Her collegiality and assistance has made her a valuable faculty member,” said Gulley. “She enthusiastically accepts responsibilities outside the classroom and volunteered to chair several committees and clubs.” Mohajerin earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in secondary education and language arts from Auburn University Montgomery. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in instructional leadership from the University of Alabama. A National Board Certified teacher and member of the Montgomery County Mentoring Program, Mohajerin also serves in Eastmont Baptist Church’s Women’s Ministry, the Guatemala Mission Team and the Eastmont College Ministry Board. During 2011, Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation are honoring one outstanding teacher from each of Alabama’s eight state board districts, two principals and two private school teachers. Application information is available under Alfa Teacher of the Month in the Ag Links section of n


hile it’s not every day that people are rewarded for doing the right thing, one Montgomery teacher knows that a little reward now and again is just the ticket to keeping students engaged and excited about learnMohajerin ing. “In many cases, motivating students to maintain integrity and good behavior can play a large role in their success within the classroom,” said Janie Mohajerin, English teacher and department chair at Georgia Washington Junior High School. “Not only do I motivate within my classroom, but within the grade level and through collaboration with other teachers as well. I implemented the ‘Smile-a-Gram’ program at our school, where teachers mail postcards to five different students each week to encourage them or thank them for being a great student.” Motivation doesn’t end with postcards, however. “For students who have shown exceptional character and behavior in the classroom, we throw ‘bashes’ for them – hosting dances, board game parties, trips to the movie theater and ice cream parties.” It’s for her forward-thinking, often collaborative motivational skills that Mohajerin earned her designation as



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Alabama Ag Credit — Growing With You Thanks to our customers, our business is growing and we’re handing back our profits!

Farm Bureau Members guaranteed Free pre-approval Professional Audiologists & Specialists Statewide Free Hearing Aid Assessment Discounts on Hearing Instruments 60 Day Trial / 100% Guaranteed Custom Fit 1 Year FREE Supply of Batteries (1 case per instrument)

Alabama Ag Credit is returning $5.1 million to our customers through our patronage program. This record patronage payment is based on our solid 2010 earnings, and benefits customers not only by giving them cash, but also by lowering their effective interest rate.

Your Hearing is your most important sense for Communication and Quality of Life. The ClearValue Hearing program is the most comprehensive program available.

If you are looking for a lender who will grow with your business, visit your local Alabama Ag Credit office.

Activate your FREE Membership TODAY!


toll free 1-800-579-5471 Hearing Healthcare Benefits Plan

Part of the Farm Credit System

*Activation mandatory for enrollment, scheduling and listed discounts and services. NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011


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Country Kitchen By Kellie Henderson


ullock County native Jackie Fuqua has farming roots that run deeper than most, and her husband Henry, originally from Barbour County, has had farming in his family for many generations as well. “The Bullock County portion of our farm was settled by my greatgreat grandfather, John Dozier, in the early 1800s,” Jackie said. “Legend goes that he built the home we now live in under a bluff on the property, but after the children in his family kept getting sick, he decided to move the house up the hill to where it stands today.” Likewise she says their Barbour County property was bought in the late 1800s by Henry’s grandfather, John Fuqua. Henry would later inherit a portion of the property, and over the years, the couple has added additional acreage to both parts of their farm. “The farm has 2,000 acres of planted pines, 60 acres of pecan orchards and a small hay operation,” Jackie added. “We maintain the land for wildlife with food plots, water sources, fire lanes and access roads, and we are a Certified Tree Farm and a TREASURE Forest. In 2005, our farm was also designated an Alabama Century and Heritage Farm. It is a joy and a privilege to continue the work started by our family generations ago.” Just as both sides of her family passed along their love for the land, Jackie says much of her cooking has the same source of inspiration. “From my mother, I learned that delicious, nutritious, fun meals could be prepared no matter how

Jackie Fuqua began cooking to help her mother, a single parent working three jobs.

limited your time may be, and from my mother-in-law, I learned that the sky is the limit when preparing meals for your family and friends,” she said. “My mother was a single parent with a full-time job and two part-time jobs. She would call an hour before she got off work and give me instruction for starting our evening meal, which she would finish when she arrived home,” said Jackie. “She prepared delicious, nutritious, well-balanced, attractive meals within the limited time available. On the other hand, Henry’s mother was the ideal farm wife. She churned her own butter, preserved, canned and froze almost all of the food used by her family. The chicken, beef and pork they ate were all raised on the Fuqua farm. She set a bountiful and beautiful table preparing everything from scratch,” Jackie said, describing the varying cooking styles of the two women from whom she learned.

While Jackie says she still enjoys cooking, especially when her three children and seven grandchildren visit the farm, warmer days also beckon her to her flower garden. She is a member of the Bullock County Federation Women’s Committee and conducts the county’s food price survey. Henry serves on the Bullock County Farmers Federation Board and on its Wildlife Committee. Jackie says the recipes she shares this month are all family favorites, and many feature pecans. “The Pecan Pie recipe is for two pies because that’s our family’s favorite dessert, and one isn’t enough,” she said. “While gathering recipes and talking about our place, Henry and I really enjoyed remembering all the wonderful times we’ve had at family meals and out on the farm.” MINIATURE PIZZAS

1 can refrigerated flaky layer biscuits 1/4 pound shredded cheddar cheese 1 small jar pizza sauce Garlic salt Grated Parmesan cheese Oregano Pepperoni slices

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Separate biscuits until you have 24 rounds and place on greased cookie sheet or pizza pan. Sprinkle each round with cheese and top with a spoonful of pizza sauce (the whole jar may not be needed). Sprinkle with garlic salt, Parmesan cheese and oregano. Finish with a pepperoni slice. Bake 7 to 10 minutes until pizzas are golden brown on bottom. Note: Jackie says this is a good recipe for kids and fun to experiment with different toppings.

Editor’s Note: Recipes published in the “Country Kitchen” are not kitchen-tested 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





1 egg white 2 tablespoons water 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon allspice 1/4 teaspoon cloves 2 cups pecan halves

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, room temperature 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 8 drops hot sauce [Tabasco] 1 cup chopped dried apple 3/4 cup chopped dried apricot 1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Beat egg white with water, sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Stir in pecans until coated. Bake in a shallow baking pan 25 minutes at 275 degrees. Stir pecans and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Beat together cheddar cheese, cream cheese and hot pepper sauce in a small bowl until blended, about l minute. Stir in dried apple, apricot and pineapple with a wooden spoon. Using a tablespoon, form mixture into small bite size balls and roll in chopped pecans. Chill before serving.

CHOCO-MALLO PIZZA 1 pound white almond bark 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 2 cups miniature marshmallows 1 cup puffed rice cereal 1 cup chopped pecans 1 teaspoon oil

Set 2 ounces almond bark aside. Melt chocolate chips and remainder of almond bark. Stir in marshmallows, cereal and pecans. Spread in pizza pan or drop onto waxed paper or greased cookie sheet. Melt remaining bark with oil and drizzle over top. Refrigerate until hard and cut into squares. TOASTED PECANS 1/4 stick butter or margarine 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 4 cups pecan halves

In a large bowl, melt butter; add salt. Stir in pecans and bake in a shallow baking pan at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. HOT CRACKERS 1 envelope ranch dressing mix 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 2/3 cup canola oil 2 tubes saltine crackers with unsalted tops

In a gallon-sized resealable bag, mix together first 3 ingredients. Add oil and mix thoroughly. Add the crackers, seal the bag and turn until crackers are evenly coated. Turn the bag every 30 minutes until the liquid is entirely absorbed by the crackers, about 2 hours. NEIGHBORS • APRIL 2011

PECAN PIE MUFFINS 1 cup chopped pecans 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed 1/2 cup all purpose flour 2 large eggs 1/2 cup butter, melted

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Beat eggs until foamy, stir together eggs and butter and add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Place foil baking cups in muffin pans, and coat with cooking spray. Spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. STRAWBERRY PRETZEL SALAD 1 (10-ounce) bag pretzels, crushed 3/4 cup margarine, melted 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided 1 (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened 2 cups frozen whipped topping 1 (6-ounce) package strawberry gelatin 3 cups boiling water 1 (16-ounce) package frozen strawberries

Combine pretzels, margarine and 3 tablespoons sugar. Press into a 9- by 13-inch pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool. Mix cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar and the whipped topping. Spread over the cooled crust. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water; drop frozen strawberries into gelatin and let thicken slightly in the refrigerator. Pour over topping mixture. Chill until set. Yield: 12 to 20 servings. 29

PECAN PIE 6 eggs 1/2 cup sugar 2 cups corn syrup 4 teaspoons vanilla 2 cups chopped pecans 4 tablespoons butter, melted 2 unbaked pie crusts

Beat eggs lightly until foamy and stir in sugar. Combine all ingredients with the egg mixture, stirring by hand. Divide the mixture between two uncooked pastry shells. Cover edges of pastry with foil to prevent burning. Bake 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees for 30 or 35 minutes. Makes two pies. PORK CHOP BAKE 5 Irish potatoes, peeled and sliced 2 onions, sliced Salt and pepper 6 pork chops, trimmed of fat 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons margarine

Spray 9- by 13-inch pan with cooking spray. Layer peeled and sliced potatoes in the baking pan. Layer sliced onions on top of potatoes, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place trimmed pork chops on top, sprinkle with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Dot with margarine. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. SPAGHETTI SAUCE 2 pounds hamburger meat 2 medium onions, chopped Black pepper 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 envelope dry spaghetti sauce mix 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 3 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce 2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon parsley flakes 1 teaspoon ground thyme 2 bay leaves

Brown meat and onions, add pepper to taste. No additional salt is needed. Add other ingredients and simmer for four hours. Skim off the grease, and add water to desired consistency. Remove bay leaves before serving. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

Neighbors Classifieds Classifieds Facts For just $2 per word, your classified ad in Neighbors reaches more than 95,000 subscribers. Ads must be received by the first day of the month prior to publication. NO changes after closing. PREPAYMENT 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 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191-0001.

FOR SALE ALABAMA-PRODUCED WEIMARANERS Excellent hunting dogs or family pets. Credit cards accepted – (334) 684-1124 BEAUTIFUL SOUTHERN LIVING 2-STORY HOME with 8 acres near Red Bay, Alabama. ID#22890092 VA C AT I O N R E N TA L S CABINS IN THE SMOKIES, PIGEON FORGE, convenient and peaceful setting. Call (251) 649-3344 or (251) 649-4049 AFFORDABLE BEACHSIDE VACATION CONDOS Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL.; Rent direct from Christian family owners; Lowest prices on the beach. Spring Special 4 Nights Efficiency Unit (2 adults & children) $444 includes everything (1, 2, & 3 bedroom units also available.) (205) 556-0368 or (205) 752-1231

MISCELLANEOUS CRENSHAW FARMS DAYLILY GARDEN – Opens May 2, over 20,000 plants and Antique “2” Unique Shop also opens. (251) 577-1235 – exit 31 on I-65 – Stockton BEATRICE PILGRIMAGE ON PARADE – APRIL 9 – Tour early 1800’s homes, churches, cemeteries, fully operating grist mill and Commissary Museum, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Registration $15, box lunch $7.50. Visit or call (251) 789-2351 for Beatrice Garden Club. 20TH ANNUAL ALABAMA CRAWFISH FESTIVAL – APRIL 8 & 9, 10 a.m.midnight. Tons of crawfish (boiled & fried, pies, etouffee, pistollettes) live music, arts and crafts, children’s activities, crawfish eating contest. Intersection U.S. 80 and AL Hwy 25, Faunsdale, AL 36738. For info call John or Barbara Broussard at (334) 628-3240. BUYING SILVER COINS – 1964 and before, paying 7(x) times face value. Call (334) 322-2869. ATTENTION: Eliminate your grocery bill and earn income too. Interested? Call Stanley at (205) 413-7014 WANTED: Top HOGS for slaughter, grainfed; will pay top dollar. (256) 820-3138.

BEAUTIFUL ONE-BEDROOM CABIN with hot tub. Near Pigeon Forge, $85 per night. Call Kathy at (865) 428-1497. ALWAYS $65 – Beautiful, furnished mountain cabin near Dollywood. Free brochure, call (865) 453-7715. GATLINBURG – Elegant 4-bedroom/3bath, back porch over creek, 10-minute walk to aquarium. (800) 435-3972. DESTIN, FLORIDA CONDO – Owner rates for 2-bedroom/2-bath across from beach with gated access. Call (334) 2446581 or email

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In the April 2011 issue of Neighbors magazine, you'll meet Chuck Ott, a DeKalb County poultry farmer whose farm was all but destroyed 10 day...