December 14, 2011
Vol. 29 No. 50
GFB SUBMITS COMMENTS ON PROPOSED CHILD LABOR RULE Emphasizing that the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed child labor rule is inconsistent with Congressional intent, Georgia Farm Bureau submitted comments to the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division on Nov. 30 in a letter from GFB President Zippy Duvall. Duvall took issue with the DOL’s interpretations of the exemption for children working for their parents or persons standing in place of their parents and the student learner exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). “Georgia Farm Bureau has neither an interest nor desire in putting young people at risk on a farm,” Duvall wrote. “They are our future, and while it is true that some jobs are not appropriate for youth, it must not be forgotten that age appropriate employment can be a positive experience.” The proposed rule includes a provision allowing youth to work for relatives during summer vacation or when residing with the relatives, but not in situations where the youth commutes to the relative’s farm on a daily or weekend basis. GFB maintains that there is no reason for this limitation, noting that young people have worked on relatives’ farms for decades. Duvall pointed out that since 2005 numerous pieces of legislation have been introduced in Congress to amend the FLSA to prohibit children under age 18 from working in agriculture. During that time, when Congress has been under the control of both Democrats and Republicans, none of these has been brought to a floor vote or prompted a legislative hearing. Duvall also expressed concern over language in the DOL’s proposal that would prohibit young people from working on family-owned farms that are jointly owned by the same family or farms where the worker’s parent has chosen to incorporate. The proposed rule would also limit opportunities for students to learn safe farm work practices through programs like those offered by the Future Farmers of America. Duvall pointed out that agricultural educators are tasked with supervising students and delivering safety instruction, and they take this responsibility seriously. He suggested that the proposed rules should be revised to allow students to continue learning through programs like FFA, saying, “these leadership opportunities for young people should not be limited based on federal overreach.” Finally, Duvall expressed dismay over sweeping and unfounded allegations by Human Rights Watch that farmers typically violate wage laws and comments from U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis accusing farmers of “robbing children of their childhood,” and suggested that these statements demonstrate a lack of objectivity within the DOL.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 6 GFB DONATES $20,000 TO GEORGIA FOOD BANK ASSOCIATION The 7th Annual Georgia Farm Bureau Harvest For All campaign solicited cash donations, and the state’s 158 county Farm Bureau chapters combined to contribute $20,000, which was presented to Georgia Food Bank Association (GFBA) Executive Director Danah Craft during Georgia Farm Bureau’s 2011 convention on Jekyll Island. The GFBA uses donated dollars to purchase high-protein, low-cost foods like chicken and peanut butter and to offset the costs of various outreach programs like mobile pantries, Manna drops and backpack programs. The Georgia Farm Bureau Young Farmer Committee coordinated the campaign. The Georgia Food Bank Association will distribute the funds to America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia in Savannah, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Feeding the Valley in Columbus, the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia in Athens, Golden Harvest in Augusta, the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank in Macon and Second Harvest of South Georgia in Valdosta. Past campaigns have solicited direct donations of food. The 2010 and 2011 drives focused mainly on cash contributions. Since 2004, GFB has coordinated seven Harvest For All campaigns through which GFB members across the state donated about 49,000 pounds of staple food items and more than $60,000 in cash donations distributed to the food banks located throughout Georgia affiliated with Feeding America. CHATTOOGA COUNTY’S SELMAN WINS GFB HAY CONTEST Chattooga County Farm Bureau member Randall Selman won the 2011 Georgia Farm Bureau Quality Hay Contest. Selman, who runs Selman Farms, submitted Tift 44 Bermuda grass for the contest and earned a relative forage quality (RFQ) score of 168.1. He lives in Armuchee and grows hay on a total of 200 acres of rented land in Chattooga and Floyd counties, 130 in Bermuda grass and the rest in fescue. His primary customers are horse owners. The contest drew 36 entries from 23 counties and consisted of quality analysis of hay grown by entrants using the University of Georgia’s RFQ testing method, which measures nutrient content of the hay. Georgia Farm Bureau sponsors the annual contest to encourage superior hay production in the state. Entered samples had to have nitrate levels below 4,500 parts per million to be eligible for contest prizes. The winners were announced Dec. 5 during the 2011 GFB Annual Meeting on Jekyll Island. Dene Channell of Greene County finished second, achieving an RFQ score of 158.6 with his submission of Tift 85 Bermuda grass. Neil Wingfield of Lee County was third with an RFQ of 154.6 for his coastal Bermuda grass submission. Mandy Elliot of Bibb County submitted Bermuda grass and placed fourth at 152.6. Keith Boozer of Monroe County was fifth, achieving an RFQ score of 146.2 with Tift 44.
Leadership Alert page 3 of 6 U.S. ASKS FOR WTO DISPUTE PANEL OVER CHINESE CHICKEN TARIFFS The United States has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to establish a dispute settlement panel to address China’s anti-dumping and countervaling duties on imports of U.S. chicken products. China imposed the duties in August and September 2010, claiming that U.S. broiler products were subsidized and sold at less than fair value into the Chinese market. Before the duties were put in place, the U.S. was the largest exporter of broiler products to China. Some of the duties exceeded 100 percent of the products’ value, and since they were imposed U.S. exports to China have fallen by nearly 90 percent. “The United States will not stand idly by while China appears to have misused its trade remedy laws and put American jobs at risk,” United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a release. “We are serious about holding China accountable to its WTO commitments and ensuring that there is a level playing field for American businesses, including our farmers.” According to the release, WTO rules allow China to assess duties on imports of merchandise that are subsidized or dumped if those imports harm the equivalent domestic industry. WTO members are required to follow specific procedures and apply defined legal standards when conducting the investigations that determine whether duties are warranted. The U.S. panel request alleges that Chinese authorities did not follow the procedures or apply the standards. In September, the U.S. requested consultations with China regarding the imposition of tariffs on broiler products. The consultations were held in October but the two countries were unable to resolve the dispute. AGSOUTH CREDIT FORECLOSES ON RANGE FUELS SOPERTON PLANT AgSouth Credit, which provided $80 million in financing for Range Fuels’ cellulosic ethanol plant in Treutlen County, is foreclosing on the plant, according to published reports, and the USDA is moving forward in the process of selling off the plant’s assets to reclaim some of the government funding used in the plant’s construction. A foreclosure sale is scheduled for Jan. 3. The USDA backed $64 million of the AgSouth loan for the plant, which was to be the country’s first to manufacture cellulosic ethanol using woody or fibrous plants rather than using food crops like corn. Range Fuels, a Colorado-based company, was also awarded a $76 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2007, of which it had received $46.3 million. It had received half of the loan backed by the USDA and paid back $2 million of that in 2010. The company also was awarded a state grant in addition to the USDA loan guarantee. The plant was scheduled to open in 2008 but produced just one test batch of fuel. The initial plan was for it to produce 20 million gallons of ethanol in 2008 and expand to more than 100 million annually by 2009. BODDIFORD AND BURCH RENOMINATED FOR GPC SEATS Screven County peanut producer Joe Boddiford and Baker County peanut producer Tim Burch were renominated to continue serving on the Georgia Peanut Commission Board of Directors during nomination meetings held this week. Boddiford, who represents the commission's 3rd District, was renominated during a Dec. 12 meeting in Swainsboro. Burch, who represents the commission's 1st District, was renominated during a Dec. 13 meeting in Colquitt. Since both directors were renominated without opposition no election is required, and each will begin another three-year term in May 2012.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 6 CONGRATULATIONS TO SPALDING COUNTY 4-H! The Spalding County 4-H mounted drill team earned the title of national 4-H mounted team champions at the Kentucky Bluegrass Blast, held Nov. 19 in Lexington, Ky. ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP AWARD APPLICANTS SOUGHT Nominations are being accepted until Dec. 16 for the 7th Annual Governorâ€™s Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Award, which recognizes farmers who are exceptional caretakers of the environment. Applications are available online at http://agribusiness.georgiainnovation.org. For information, contact Steven Meeks at 912-207-0813 or Sarah Cook at 229-391-6882 or firstname.lastname@example.org. NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR GEORGIA YOUNG PEANUT FARMER AWARD The Georgia Peanut Commission is accepting nominations for its Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer Award, given to a peanut farmer age 45 or younger who exhibits excellence in overall farm operations, environmental and stewardship practices and community involvement. The winner will be announced at the Georgia Peanut Farm Show on Jan. 19 in Albany. Applications must be submitted by Jan. 3, 2012 to the GPC office. The application is available online at http://www.gapeanuts.com or by contacting Joy Carter at 229-386-3690 or email@example.com. GEORGIA AGRITOURISM CONFERENCE Jan. 5-6 Westin Hotel Savannah Owners and operators from the stateâ€™s newest, oldest and most successful agritourism destinations will meet for this conference, held in conjunction with the 2012 Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. Participants will get a professional development experience and receive presentations from an array of speakers, business-to-business prospects, networking opportunities, trade show access and interaction with industry leaders. More information can be found on the GAA website: http://georgia-agritourism.org/conference/ SOUTHEAST REGIONAL FRUIT AND VEGETABLE CONFERENCE Jan. 5-8 International Trade and Convention Center Savannah Conference workshops will focus on improving crop production and the latest in produce trends as well as the latest legislative updates From Washington and Atlanta. During the three-day program, more than 85 hours of commodity specific production training, pest management information and marketing updates will be offered to attendees. Commodities include peach, vegetable, Vidalia onion, watermelon, muscadine, blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, olive and pecan. In addition to the commodity production sessions, workshops covering good agricultural (GAP) food safety practices, organic production and roadside markets will be held. Continuing education credits are available. On Sunday, an Industry Roundtable is planned for both growers and suppliers to discuss issues of mutual concern. For information or to register, visit http://www.seregionalconference.com.
Leadership Alert page 5 of 6 2nd ANNUAL FREEDOM GIANT MISCANTHUS FIELD DAY Jan. 10-11 Repreve Renewables Farm Soperton Those interested in learning about giant miscanthus will have a chance to interact with industry experts on giant miscanthus research and end uses, take field tours and see demonstrations. The event is open to the public but advance registration is required. To register, visit http://www.repreverenewables.com/fieldday. 36th ANNUAL GEORGIA PEANUT FARM SHOW Jan. 19 Albany Civic Center Albany This event offers farmers the chance to view the products and services of more than 75 exhibitors and attend marketing and production workshops with UGA peanut specialists. The show provides exhibitors with an opportunity to highlight their products or services to nearly 1,500 farmers from across the Southeast. 2012 AG FORECAST MEETINGS Jan. 23 Georgia Farm Bureau Building Macon Jan. 24 UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center Tifton Jan. 25 Nesmith Lane Conference Center, GSU Campus Statesboro Jan. 26 Georgia Mountains Center Gainesville Jan. 27 Carroll County Ag Center Carrollton These meetings are a UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences program made possible through an endowment from Georgia Farm Bureau and support from the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Agribusiness Council. Registration begins at 9 a.m. The seminar will be held from 10 a.m. â€“ 12 p.m. followed by a luncheon. UGA ag economists will give the 2012 economic outlook for agriculture. The keynote speaker will give an update on current farm labor issues. Registration is $30 per person or $200 for a table of eight. Call 706583-0347 or visit http://www.georgiaagforecast.com for more information or to register. 2012 SOYBEAN/SMALL GRAIN EXPO Jan. 26 Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter Perry The Expo will provide soybean and small grain producers with up-to-date marketing projections and the newest production techniques. The event will also feature presentations from UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences professors on climate variability, maximizing yields, world outlook for southern commodities and others. Pesticide credits are available. For more information, contact the Georgia/Florida Soybean Association at 706-5423793. UGA 20TH ANNUAL FOCUS ON EPD'S BULL SALE Feb. 2, UGA Livestock Instructional Arena Athens Begins at noon. For information contact Dr. Ronnie Silcox at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 706542-9102.
Leadership Alert page 6 of 6 OLD SOUTH FARM MUSEUM HOG KILLING DEMONSTRATION Feb. 4 Old South Farm Museum 8:30 a.m. Woodland This event will demonstrate how hogs were once harvested and the products made from them. Program includes a meat-cutting class and demonstrations on making various pork products. The fee to observe and receive free sausage is $12 per person. To participate in the workshop, gain hands-on experience and receive pork products, the fee is $35. Registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Paul Bulloch at 706-975-9136 or visit http://www.oldsouthfarm.com. TIFTON BEEF CATTLE SHORT COURSE March 6, 2012 Tifton Bull Evaluation Center Irwinville Registration starts at 9 a.m. For more information contact Dr. Lawton Stewart at 706-542-1852 or email@example.com or Patsie T. Cannon at 229-386-3683 or firstname.lastname@example.org. TIFTON PERFORMANCE TESTED BULL SALE March 7, 2012 Tifton Bull Evaluation Center Irwinville Begins at 12:30 p.m. For more information contact Dr. Ronnie Silcox by phone at 706-542-9102 or email@example.com or Patsie T. Cannon at 229-386-3683 or firstname.lastname@example.org