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February 22, 2017

Vol. 35 No. 4

MEMBERS TALK ISSUES DURING GFB DAY AT CAPITOL Hundreds of Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) members from across the state visited the Georgia state capitol on Feb. 15, sharing the organization’s priorities with state legislators during the 2017 GFB Day at the Capitol. Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long addressed both the House and Senate, thanking the members of both chambers for the work they do on behalf of Georgia farmers and asking them to continue their support of Georgia agriculture. “This is a great day for each and every one of you to contact our legislative leaders and let them know what our priority issues are,” said GFB President Gerald Long. “And let’s be sure and thank them for helping us with our priority issues.” The special master’s recommendation in Georgia’s favor in the Supreme The next issue of Court water case with Florida was a key topic of conversation. (see stories GFB News Alert comes out below) March 8. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman John Wilkinson, House Ag Committee Chairman Tom McCall and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black spoke at the lunch GFB held at the Georgia Freight Depot, attended by approximately 800 GFB members and state officials. During morning meetings in the capitol building and later at a lunch meeting at the Georgia Depot, GFB members were encouraged to raise legislators’ awareness of GFB’s stance on animal agriculture, water, state tax and budget matters. Wilkinson said the Senate Ag Committee is working on legislation to reduce paperwork for farmers. “We’re not for more regulation,” Wilkinson said. “We’re for less regulation. We’re going to be working to create an environment where you have less regulation and less paperwork, so you can spend more time doing what you love to do.” McCall reviewed key issues the House Ag Committee is considering, including the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption, the Conservation Use Value Assessment, fee changes for hunting and fishing licenses and others. Black talked about the upcoming Ag Week in Georgia March 20-24. The weeklong celebration features a Pennies for Produce project to raise funds for food banks around the state, the Seasons and Faces of Georgia Agriculture photo exhibit, which will be displayed in the Sloppy Floyd Memorial Building in Atlanta, Ag Literacy Day statewide on March 23 and Make My Plate Georgia Grown Day in schools across the state on March 24. For photos from GFB Day at the Capitol visit

GFB News Alert page 2 of 14 SPECIAL MASTER RECOMMENDS WATER RULING IN GEORGIA’S FAVOR On Feb. 14, Special Master Ralph Lancaster recommended that the Supreme Court deny Florida’s petition for capping Georgia water use in the case Florida filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. Florida filed the suit in 2013, asking that the court limit Georgia’s use of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint River basins to 1992 levels. Florida’s contention is that Georgia’s overuse of water from those two rivers has harmed the oyster industry in the Apalachicola Bay on Florida’s panhandle. Georgia countered with arguments that overharvesting has caused the problems encountered by Florida’s oyster industry. Lancaster found that such a cap on Georgia’s use without a corresponding ruling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ activities on those rivers would not provide sufficient water to benefit Florida. The Corps of Engineers was not a party in the case, which fell under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court because it was a dispute between states. The states now have the opportunity to file written objections to the special master’s report. It is anticipated that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments before deciding whether to accept Lancaster’s recommendation. Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) and other Georgia agricultural leaders viewed the recommendation as a positive step, but cautioned against celebrating it as a final resolution to the decades-long dispute. “We’ve won one skirmish,” said GFB President Gerald Long during remarks at the luncheon during GFB Day at the Capitol on Feb. 15. “There are many, many battles ahead of us. So we’ve got to be vigilant. We’ve got to be responsible as farmers on metering so we can continue to prove not only to Florida but to the rest of the nation and federal agencies that we are trying to conserve water and we’re doing our part.” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black also cautioned farmers against celebrating the special master’s recommendation. While the 137-page report from Lancaster ultimately landed in Georgia’s favor, the Maine attorney criticized Georgia’s water use, particularly agricultural water use in Southwest Georgia, which at one reference he called “largely unrestrained.” In October 2016, GFB filed a friend of the court brief in the case, pointing out dire economic consequences of drastic reduction or elimination of irrigation in Southwest Georgia, as well as highlighting GFB’s activities to promote water access and conservation. In its brief, GFB highlighted the $2.5 billion economic impact agriculture makes to the economy of Southwest Georgia and the negative ramifications a drastic reduction or elimination of irrigation in the Flint River Basin would have on the counties in the area that have been designated by the USDA as “persistently poor” and whose economies depend on farming. The brief also highlighted the irrigation technology farmers use to conserve water such as low-pressure irrigation systems and variable rate systems.

GFB News Alert page 3 of 14 METERING & COMPLIANCE KEY TO PROTECTING AG WATER USE Four days before Special Master Ralph Lancaster issued his ruling favoring Georgia in the lawsuit Florida filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, Southwest Georgia farmers attending an ag water issues meeting were cautioned that a ruling in Georgia’s favor wouldn’t mean the end of the decades-old water fight. Lancaster’s Feb. 14 ruling included comments critical of ag water use in Georgia, confirming the importance of the overall message approximately 80 farmers heard at the Ag Water Issues Lunch Decatur County Farm Bureau held Feb. 10. The takeaway message of the meeting was having irrigation meters and complying with Georgia’s irrigation permit laws will be essential to protecting farmers’ continued ability to irrigate. “Even if the Florida lawsuit turns out good for us, we can’t spike the football and run around in the end zone,” Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can to conserve water. We’ve got to be diligent about our water use.” Black encouraged farmers to make certain their irrigation equipment is operating correctly and all water used is applied to crops GFB President and none is sprayed where crops aren’t growing by irrigation end Gerald Long guns. Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) President Gerald Long told meeting attendees that he and GFB 9th Dist. Director Lucius Adkins are serving on a 10-member Agriculture Permitting Compliance Task Force appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal in late October charged with looking at the agricultural irrigation permitting process. Long said the task force was instructed to determine if there is any noncompliance in the irrigation metering program, examine issues involved with any noncompliance and make recommendations regarding changes that would ensure better compliance. Administration of the metering program, which was previously handled by the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission (GSWCC), was transferred to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) last year by executive order of Gov. Deal. While speaking at the 2016 GFB Convention, Gov. Deal said he moved the GSWCC to the EPD because the EPD is the only state agency with regulatory enforcement authority that would be recognized by the courts. Deal stressed the move was made to protect farmers’ interest in hopes Special Master Lancaster would take Georgia’s proactive steps to conserve water into consideration. “I think the governor and the legislature are interested in protecting agriculture, but we [farmers] have got to show we’re trying to comply,” Long told meeting attendees. “We know we’re going to have to have a metering program [that records water use].” Long also told meeting attendees that Georgia Farm Bureau filed a friend of the court brief last October in the water lawsuit Florida filed against Georgia that was tried before a special master -continued

GFB News Alert page 4 of 14 Continued from previous page appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court from Oct. 31-Dec. 1, 2016. “Georgia Farm Bureau’s mission is to represent farmers in the legislative arena. We represent all of agriculture whether you’re a member or not, but I strongly encourage you to get involved with your local Farm Bureau, so we have strength in numbers,” Long said. Adkins stressed the importance of farmers agreeing to have their water use measured by meters, if they aren’t already, and complying with the irrigation rules the EPD already has in place for Southwest Georgia. “I resent people telling us how to use our water supply, but the day of regulation is here. If you take irrigation water away, you’ll harm the economies in the majority of the counties in Southwest Georgia. We’ve got to have our water, so we’re [farmers] going to have to work with whoever is in charge of the metering program,” Adkins said. Doug Wilson, director of the Georgia Water Planning Policy Center, stressed the importance of the metering program. “The metering program is important for the state, but it’s most important for the user in case you [a farmer] ever have to defend your use,” Wilson said. “You can point to the metering record and say this is how much water I’ve used and this is what I did with the water.” Depending on how the Florida lawsuit ultimately ends, Wilson said environmentalists could file lawsuits over ag water use and its impact on creeks where endangered mussels live. To see photos from the meeting visit FEB. 23 DEADLINE TO BUY TICKETS FOR GFB FOUNDATION GALA Donations will be matched until March 11 Make plans to join Georgia Farm Bureau down on the farm March 11 at Southern Bridle Farms in Fort Valley as we go back to our roots to celebrate the support of our donors and highlight the achievements the foundation made in the past year to increase ag literacy through Ag In the Classroom, scholarships, educational outreach and leadership development. Entertainment will be provided by country band Post Monroe. GFB will also celebrate the Georgia Junior National livestock grand champions. A pre-event reception begins at 5 p.m., followed by dinner, the Foundation program and the Post Monroe performance. Tickets start at $100 per Post Monroe person and special Post Monroe meetand-greet packages are available. Registration deadline is Feb. 23. To register, visit For more information contact Katie Gazda at 478-474-0679, ext. 5230 or Donations to the GFB Foundation for Agriculture up to $5,000 will be matched by a generous supporter until March 11. Donations may be made on the foundation website or by mailing a check to The GFB Foundation for Agriculture, c/o Katie Gazda, P.O. Box 7068, Macon, GA 31209.

GFB News Alert page 5 of 14 RONNIE LEE ELECTED CHAIR OF NATIONAL COTTON COUNCIL Terrell County Farm Bureau member Ronnie Lee, a cotton producer from Bronwood, was elected National Cotton Council (NCC) chairman for 2017 during the NCC’s annual meeting held in Dallas, Texas, on Feb. 10-12. He succeeds Shane Stephens, a Greenwood, Miss., warehouseman. As the managing partner of Lee Farms, Lee raises cotton, corn, peanuts, small grains, hay, pecans, and cattle in Terrell, Lee, and Sumter counties. He also owns and operates McCleskey Cotton Company, a ginning and warehousing operation with locations in Bronwood and Albany. His gin also is one of the owners of Chickasha of Georgia. Lee is involved in multiple agribusinesses. He owns RCL Flying Service; LGT LLC; McCleskey Saw and Machine Co., LLC; and Adela Logistics, all of which are companies that support local growers and their products. Prior to focusing on these closely held businesses, he was a vice president with McCleskey Mills, Inc., a peanut shelling company in Smithville, Georgia. Ronnie Lee An active U.S. cotton industry leader, Lee has been a NCC producer delegate since 2003 and served on the NCC’s Board of Directors in 2015. He also served as the vice chairman of the American Cotton Producers in 2014. He currently is a director of Cotton Incorporated. Lee also has been involved in regional, state and local organizations. He is a past president and chairman of Southern Cotton Growers. From 2005 through 2013, he served on the Farm Services Agency Georgia State Committee as a committee member and later as its chairman, having first been appointed by President George W. Bush and later by President Brack Obama. He also has served on the boards of the National Peanut Buying Points Association and the American Peanut Shellers Association. In 2004, Lee received the Soil Conservationist of the Year for Terrell County. In 2010, he was named the Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Award winner for the Southeast Region. Lee, who attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, has three sons, Ron, Chandler, and Neil, all of whom are actively involved in the family businesses. He is a member of Bronwood Baptist Church. The NCC’s vice chairman for 2017 is Ron Craft, a ginner from Plains, Texas. Re-elected as secretary-treasurer is Barry Evans, a producer from Kress, Texas. Re-elected as NCC vice presidents are: Kent Fountain, ginner, Surrency, Ga.; Robert Lacy, cottonseed processor, Lubbock, Texas; Coalter Paxton, III, warehouseman, Wilson, N.C., Mike Quinn, cooperative official, Garner, N.C.; Joe Nicosia, merchant, Cordova, Tenn.; and David Hastings, textile manufacturer, Mauldin, South Carolina.

GFB News Alert page 6 of 14 MORRIS RE-ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF GEORGIA PEANUT COMMISSION Armond Morris of Irwin County was re-elected chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) during the organization’s monthly board meeting in February. This is Morris' 16th term as chairman of the commission. He has served as chairman of the board previously in 1996 and 1997, 2003 and every year since 2005. “I look forward to serving Georgia's peanut growers as chairman in 2017. It is a pleasure to serve peanut producers in the state of Georgia and the commission is continually working to serve all peanut farmers in the state through research, promotion and education,” Morris said. “This is a critical time for Georgia agriculture and peanut producers. As farm income has declined, the next farm bill will be even more important to our peanut producers and family farmers. We are excited to have national agricultural leaders like our future Armond Morris Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau president, who understand the importance of agriculture to the rural economy.” Other officers elected during the board meeting include Vice Chariman Joe Boddiford of Screven County and Treasurer Rodney Dawson of Pulaski County. Board members Tim Burch, Baker County, and Donald Chase, Macon County, represent GPC District 1 and District 5, respectively. The peanut producing counties of Georgia are divided into five districts in which peanut farmers elect a representative to serve on the Georgia Peanut Commission board. USDA TO SURVEY FARMERS’ PLANTING INTENTIONS FOR 2017 In its March Agricultural Survey, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will survey approximately 84,000 of the nation’s farmers to determine their plans for the upcoming growing season. “Each year, the agriculture industry eagerly awaits USDA’s Prospective Plantings report, which provides the first survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers’ planting intentions for the year,” said NASS’ Southern Regional Director, Jim Ewing. “The March Agricultural Survey provides the factual data that underpins these projections, making it one of the most important surveys we conduct each year.” NASS will mail the survey questionnaire in February, asking producers to provide information about the types of crops they intend to plant in 2017, how many acres they intend to plant, and the amounts of grain and oilseed they store on their farms. NASS encourages producers to respond online or by mail. Those producers who do not respond by the deadline may be contacted for a telephone or personal interview. NASS will compile and analyze the survey information and publish the results in the annual Prospective Plantings report and quarterly Grain Stocks report, both to be released on March 31. As with all NASS surveys, the results of this survey will be available in aggregate form only, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. These and all NASS reports are available online at For more information call the NASS Southern Regional Field Office at (800) 253-4419.

GFB News Alert page 7 of 14 GA. EQUINE COMMISSION RECOGNIZES YOUTH CHAMPIONS A photo op with Gov. Nathan Deal, a chance to tour the Georgia Capitol and a lunch featuring The Varsity’s chili dogs, hamburgers, onion rings and fries were highlights of the 8th Annual Equine Youth Champions Day held Feb. 9 in Atlanta. The event, hosted by the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Equine (ACCE), recognized Georgia youth 19 and under who won first place in a state show and/or won first place or placed in the Top 10 at a national or world show in 2016. Attendees gathered at the Georgia Depot where they were welcomed by ACCE Chairman Ron Smith before heading up the street to the state capitol. “We do this because it’s an opportunity for the kids who have won state, national or world titles to be recognized as individuals,” Smith said. “It gives the kids a chance to come see Cowboys and Angels Drill Team how their state government operates and it gives our state legislators the opportunity to meet the horse people in their districts.” After having a group picture taken with Gov. Deal, the group went upstairs to the Senate gallery. As the kids observed Senate proceedings, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman John Wilkinson took the floor to recognize the equine champions for their accomplishments before the entire Senate. Gov. Deal and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black spoke to the almost 69 youth attending the event during the lunch at the Georgia Depot. “Some of you may be successful in the horse world as adults, and for others of you, horses may be a hobby for you as adults, but the thing you will always have with you is the discipline you have learned as you worked with your horses to win your awards. Self-discipline is one of the greatest characteristics you can have,” Deal said. Deal also encouraged the students with an interest in livestock to consider pursuing a career as a large animal veterinarian. “We still have a shortage of large animal veterinarians. Doctoring small animals is more lucrative than large animals, but we have a need for large animal vets. We [state of Georgia] have special incentives for students who become large animal veterinarians. I would encourage you to look at that as you go through school. It takes a lot of hard work to become a veterinarian. I’ve been told it’s harder to get into veterinary school than medical school. It takes the same kind of discipline you need to compete in your horse events.” Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black shared his family’s experience with showing cattle. Black said he and his wife, Lydia, agreed to let their children, Caroline and Ward, show cattle when they were growing up on the condition they took care of the animals, worked with them on a daily basis and started showing cows from their herd rather than buying new ones. “The work ethic that goes with your project will last throughout your life,” Black said. Black encouraged the parents attending the event to cherish the time they spend helping their children prepare for events. “You’re building a bond with your children and the support and time you give them is an -continued

GFB News Alert page 8 of 14 Continued from previous page investment in their future,” Black said. The ACCE also presented its Golden Saddle Award to Christina Johnston, owner of the Iron Horse stable in Fulton County. In addition to operating a training facility for owners and riders of Arabian horses who compete at the regional and national level, Johnston also offers accredited therapy riding for children and adults with physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities. Eight of the children attending the Equine Youth Day are members of the Iron Horse Stable program. Some of the riders were recognized for medals they won at Georgia Special Olympics events and some had won titles at Arabian shows. “We started off as an Arabian training facility, and then we started our therapy program as a way to give back,” Johnston said. “Our therapy program has enriched the lives of our trainers, our typical riders and our special needs riders. We’ve got kids who came to us who were told they would never walk or talk but we’ve seen miracles occur. It’s the horses.” The ACCE annually presents the award to someone who has made a positive impact on Georgia’s equine industry. Visit to learn more about the equine commission and its activities. DROUGHT FACILITATES OUTBREAK OF TIMBER-KILLING BEETLES Georgia's ongoing drought has led to an unprecedented outbreak of destructive beetles that are killing pine trees, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC). Aerial surveys by the GFC show active infestations of Ips engraver beetles in timber stands, primarily in north and central Georgia. The pest's spread elsewhere, however, can't be ruled out. “The lack of rain is causing long term damage to trees,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Forest Health Coordinator Chip Bates. “We’re seeing immediate damage in the form of dying tree tops, brown leaves and dropping needles. Without water, tree roots will suffer, and that’s a perfect infestation scenario for the Ips beetle.” According to Bates, colder winter temperatures and more moisture customarily slow Ips engraver beetle populations. In the past few years, very few Ips beetle spots were found and they did not routinely pose the threat that's being seen this year. In January, surveys above Georgia’s fall line confirmed more than 200 Ips infestations, on tracts of five acres to 180 acres in size. More than 3,700 smaller spots on a quarter acre or less were recorded in central Georgia. “These beetles feast on stressed trees, damaged branches and logging debris,” said Bates. “We’re urging landowners to carefully survey their property now, and to contact a professional forester about specific forest management strategies to deal with this problem.” Bates said Ips beetles invade trees from the top down. The beetles release a destructive fungus that impedes the flow of water and nutrients in the tree, which contributes to tree mortality. “Time is required for tree stands to recover to a healthy and vigorous condition capable of withstanding natural and human-caused stress,” said Bates, who urged landowners to contact a GFC forester or a registered forester for guidance. A list of registered foresters can be found at For more information about Ips engraver beetles and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit

GFB News Alert page 9 of 14 HOUSE AG COMMITTEE HOLDS FIRST FARM BILL HEARING The U.S. farm economy is facing difficulty that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Texas) likened to those in the 1980s farm financial crisis. In his opening statement in the committee’s Feb. 15 hearing “Rural Economic Outlook: Setting the Stage for the Next Farm Bill,” Conaway pointed out a three-year drop in net farm income combined with extensive debt have placed the nation’s farmers in a precarious position. “Farmers and ranchers have endured a 45 percent drop in net farm income over the past three years, the largest three-year drop since the start of the Great Depression,” Conaway said. “The most recent Economic Research Service report now tells us that net farm income will be down again in 2017. Overall, ERS is forecasting a 50 percent drop in net farm income since 2013. It’s hard for any of us to imagine our income being sliced in half.” One primary factor in the struggling farm economy has been an extended run of low commodity prices, held down by pressure from carry over supplies of stocks in multiple commodities. “If these crop prices stay where they are and we get an average crop or a below-average crop, we’ve got big problems,” said Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota). “We should write this bill based on what’s needed and not be driven by some outside forces.” The hearing, the first committee hearing in preparation for the next farm bill, was also the first full Ag Committee meeting of the 115th Congress. Ordinarily, Conaway said, the secretary of agriculture would be the lone witness at this meeting, but nominee Sonny Perdue is awaiting confirmation. The 2014 farm bill, under which the nation’s farmers are currently operating, expires in 2018. The committee heard presentations from featured presentations from USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson, Economist Nathan Kauffman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Texas A & M Extension Economist Dr. Joe Outlaw and Drs. Patrick Westhoff and D. Scott Brown of the University of Missouri. Johansson said that while farm income is declining, availability of credit has tightened. The current farm financial problems, he said, are rooted in rapid commodity price increases between 2008 and 2012. Producers responded to the high prices by increasing planting and production, resulting in the current high stock levels. “World consumption has also grown, but increased production has outpaced it,” Johansson said. “Stocks measured by days of use have expanded for wheat in particular and remain high for corn, soybeans, and cotton.” Johansson noted that payments under the 2014 farm bill’s Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program are expected to peak in FY2017 and declined in FYs 2018 and 2019. Conaway said the current struggles of the farm economy underscore the urgency to create a more complete safety net for the nation’s farmers. “Because we were asked during the last Farm Bill, when times were good, to cut twice before measuring once, in the upcoming farm bill debate we will measure our requirements first and then determine what kind of a budget we will need to meet these needs,” Conaway said.

GFB News Alert page 10 of 14 GA CORN, TOBACCO GROWERS TO VOTE ON CONTINUING ASSESSMENTS Georgia corn and tobacco farmers will vote in referendums on renewing their respective grower assessments, which fund the Georgia Corn Commission and the Georgia Tobacco Commission. The current assessment for corn is one cent per bushel. The current assessment for tobacco is set at 50 cents per hundredweight. The commissions are charged by law with providing programs of research, promotion and education on behalf of Georgia corn and tobacco producers. Voting by eligible producers in these two commodities will take place March 1-30. Growers should receive a ballot in the mail and must sign the back of the envelope for the ballot to be valid. Any unsigned ballot envelopes will not be counted. Corn growers who do not receive a ballot should contact the Georgia Corn Commission or the Georgia Department of Agriculture in Atlanta at 404-586-1405. Tobacco growers who do not receive a ballot should contact the Georgia Tobacco Commission in Tifton at 229-386-3468, or the Georgia Department of Agriculture in Atlanta at 404-586-1405. Most of the money received by the Georgia Corn Commission is committed to research projects conducted by the University of Georgia and Agriculture Research/USDA regarding issues related to corn production, providing producers with the latest information and production techniques. In 2016, the Georgia Corn Commission provided $380,000 to the University of Georgia and USDA projects for research, education and promotion of corn for Georgia farmers. These research projects included: diseases such as rust; leaf blights; insect control; aflatoxin; new varieties; water utilization; irrigation management; nematode control programs; fertility studies and variety trials. In addition to research efforts, education and promotion projects included the Corn Short Course and Corn Production Guide for Georgia. In 2016, Georgia corn farmers planted approximately 400,000 acres of corn which was utilized for poultry and livestock feed, dairy farm corn silage and ethanol production for fuel. It is also a significant economic contributor to local corn growing communities. Much of the money received by the Georgia Tobacco Commission is committed to research projects conducted by UGA regarding issues related to tobacco production, providing producers with the latest information and techniques to help keep their operations profitable. These projects included: diseases, such as Tomato Spotted Wilt and Black Shank; insect control; nematode control programs; sucker control product comparisons; fertility studies and variety trials. Georgia tobacco farmers planted and harvested approximately 13,000 acres in 2016, valued at $49,169,000. In addition to its monetary value, it is also a significant contributor to local economies where tobacco is grown. CROP INSURANCE DEADLINE NEARS FOR GEORGIA ROW CROPS Georgia farmers who grow corn, cotton, flue-cured tobacco, grain sorghum, peanut and soybeans have until Feb. 28 to apply for crop insurance coverage or make changes to their existing coverage. Crop insurance provides protection against a loss in production due to natural perils, such as drought or excessive moisture. Growers are encouraged to visit their crop insurance agent soon to learn specific details for the 2017 crop year. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers by visiting the RMA agent locator at Growers can use the RMA cost estimator at to get a premium amount estimate of their insurance needs online. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at

GFB News Alert page 11 of 14 FARM LABOR SEMINAR Feb. 23 Decatur Co. Ag Center 8:30 a.m. - noon Bainbridge This free seminar features presentations from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the Georgia Department of Labor covering requirements under the Migrant and Season Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) and the H-2A program. For more information, contact Rachel Mast at or 678-237-0540. SPECIALTY CROP BLOCK GRANTS Feb. 24 deadline to apply The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) has opened the competitive solicitation process to award the 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as: fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turfgrass/sod, nursery and greenhouse crops, including floriculture. Please see the specific listing of all eligible crops at Please refer to the links available on the GDA grants webpage located at for the Concept Proposal/pre-application form and more information. For additional questions please contact Jen Erdmann at or 404-586-1151. 2017 AGAWARE WORKSHOPS Feb. 24 AgGeorgia Farm Credit Headquarters Perry March 17 Greene County Farm Bureau Greensboro Aug. 25 Burke County Office Park Waynesboro AgSouth Farm Credit and AgGeorgia Farm Credit are hosting a series of informative workshops to give farmers a better understanding of how to approach their finances. Topics covered in the program include: balance sheets; income statements; family finance & family budgeting; risk management; accrual income; applying for financing and preparing a business plan. Bonus videos on recordkeeping, marketing and technology will be available for continued education. To register visit GEORGIA AGRITOURISM ASSOCIATION ANNUAL CONFERENCE Feb. 27-28 UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center Tifton The Georgia Agritourism Association will open its annual meeting with a tour of South Georgia farms on Feb. 27. Stops include Georgia Farm Bureau Certified Farm Markets Southern Grace Farms near Tifton and Rutland Farms in Tifton. On Feb. 28, educational session topics include connecting with customers, diversifying through ecommerce, agritourism liability, sales taxes and more. Full-conference registration is $220 for members and $240 for non-members. For more information or to register, visit SMALL VEGETABLE FARM WORKSHOP Feb. 28 Stuckey Center, UGA Griffin Campus 8 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. Griffin This program is for individuals working with small market vegetable farming and will benefit seasoned farmers as well as those interested in getting started. Topics of discussion include interpreting soil samples, soil health, troubleshooting vegetable problems, increasing pollinators for better production, integrated pest management and more. Cost is $20 per person, which covers instructional materials, lunch and refreshments. To register online, visit https://T.UGA.EDU/2UH. For more information please contact Beth Horne at 770-228-7214 or by e-mail

GFB News Alert page 12 of 14 GWPPC OFFERING COST-SHARE HELP WITH FERAL HOG TRAPS Feb. 28 survey deadline/deadline to bid The Georgia Water Planning & Policy Center at Albany State University is leading a USDAfunded program offering cost-share assistance on feral hog traps. Farmers in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina are eligible to participate. After completing a 15-20 minute review of material online, farmers are given the opportunity to “bid” on a state-of-the-art feral hog trap complete with remote monitoring and activation. Farmers completing the material review will receive a $50 Visa gift card, regardless of whether they submit a bid. This cost-share opportunity is available until February 28. For more information, and to obtain a participant code, go to or call 229-430-2900. AUXIN HERBICIDE CLASSROOM TRAINING March 7 Olin Tatum Ag Building 1 p.m. Cartersville RSVP to 770-387-5142 March 14 Elbert County Extension 1:30 p.m. Elberton RSVP to 706-283-2037 Cotton and soybean varieties with tolerance to auxin herbicides (2,4-D or dicamba) are being commercialized. Prior to making applications of dicamba to dicamba-tolerant cotton/soybean or 2,4-D to 2,4-D-tolerant cotton/soybeans in Georgia, growers will be required to attend the training “Using Pesticides Wisely”. The training will focus on helping applicators/growers make wise decisions when applying not only 2,4-D and dicamba but all pesticides. Growers are strongly encouraged to bring their applicators with them. Attendance is suggested for all on-farm applicators to confirm that they provide the best management practices when applying all pesticides. For more information contact your local county extension office. CHEROKEE COUNTY FARM BUREAU AG EXPO March 10 River Church, 2335 Sixes Road 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Canton Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long will deliver the keynote address at this annual event, which features booths and food samples from local farmers as well as arts and crafts. The Expo is free and open to the public. For more information call 770-479-1481. AG WEEK IN GEORGIA March 20-24 Various locations statewide This year’s Ag Week features a new theme each day, as well as a weeklong Pennies for Produce fundraiser for the state’s food banks. The themes: March 20 – Ag Awareness Week kickoff, featuring the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s “Seasons and Faces of Georgia Agriculture” photo exhibit displayed at the Sloppy Floyd Building in Atlanta; March 21 – Flavor of Georgia. Final round of judging will take place at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta; March 22 – Ag Hero Day statewide. Communities are encouraged to recognize local farmers for their contributions by sending them notes or inviting them to come speak to school groups; March 23 – Ag Literacy Day statewide. Local and state agricultural organizations are encouraged to read a designated agriculture literacy book to a local school classroom. March 24 – Make My Plate Georgia Grown Day statewide. The Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program and the Georgia Department of Education’s School Nutrition Program have partnered together to create a Georgia Grown menu to feature local products in school cafeterias across the state. For more information visit

GFB News Alert page 13 of 14 2017 PEANUT PROUD FESTIVAL March 25 Downtown area Blakely This annual event features free concerts all day, the Peanut Proud Parade, arts & crafts, a 5K road race, kids’ peanut obstacle course, a street dance and much more. For more information visit Festivities begin at 9 a.m. JOURNEYMAN FARMER CERTIFICATE PROGRAM Small Farm Business Planning March 31-April 1 Gwinnett County Government Annex Lawrenceville UGA Extension is launching this program to provide comprehensive training for beginning farmers. Training is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. both days. This session covers small farm business planning and is the first part of a three-part program to receive the certificate. Deadline to register is March 24. Cost is $50 per person and checks should be made payable to Gwinnett Extension/4H. Note: There will be no onsite registration. For more information, contact Tim Daly at 678-3774011 or Small Fruit and Vegetable Production June 15-17 Gwinnett County Government Annex Lawrenceville The second session, Small Fruit and Vegetable Production, will be June 15-17 beginning at 8 a.m. each day. Lunch will be served on Thursday and Friday only. The cost for this session is $75 per person and the registration deadline is June 7. Georgia Organics and the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association will coordinate hands-on training. For more information, contact Tenisio Seanima at USDA VALUE ADDED GRANT WORKSHOP April 10 Georgia Farm Bureau 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Macon This free workshop is presented by USDA Rural Development, The University of Georgia’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, and The Center of Innovation for Agribusiness with support from Georgia Farm Bureau. The VAPG program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of biobased, value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program. Independent producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and producer-owned business ventures, including non-profit organizations are eligible to apply. The workshop will cover tips from successful grant writers, feasibility studies and services provided by the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness. While there is no cost to attend, pre-registration by April 5 is required to guarantee lunch. To register visit GEORGIA FARM AND EROSION CONTROL EXPO April 21-22 Jim Miller Park Marietta This expo, sponsored in part by Cobb County Farm Bureau, provides a hands-on look at the latest in erosion and sedimentation control products. Ranger Nick will speak on April 21 and Walter Reeves will speak on April 22. Visitors can explore the latest in agricultural equipment technology, learn to garden and how to prepare fresh foods, get tips on raised-bed gardening, take home locally grown plants and foods and have questions answered on-site by master gardeners. For more information visit

GFB News Alert page 14 of 14 RMA PECAN TREE INSURANCE PROGRAM A Pecan Tree Insurance Program has been officially approved and implemented by the USDA Risk Management Agency and will be available to growers starting with the 2018 crop year, which begins on July 1. Growers have been able to insure their pecan crop for several years and now they can also insure their trees to protect them from losses incurred in situation like we have seen with the recent storms. To learn more about the program visit to learn more about the program. Interested growers will need to visit with their crop insurance agents before the May 15 sales closing date if they wish to participate in the program for the upcoming crop year.

Georgia Farm Bureau News Alert - February 22, 2017  

In this week's GFB News Alert... agriculture took center stage during the recent Georgia Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol, a ruling was hande...

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