February 5, 2014
Vol. 32 No. 5
CONGRESS PASSES 2014 FARM BILL The U.S. Senate passed the 2014 farm bill on Feb. 4 by a 62-38 vote, ending more than three years of deliberations on legislation that sets the federal government’s farm policy through 2018. Georgia Farm Bureau, maintaining that farmers in all commodities need the certainty of a long-term farm bill to assist them in on-farm decision making, had urged passage of the bill. The House passed the bill on Jan. 29 by a 251-166 margin. According to published reports President Barack Obama planned to sign it on Feb. 7 in Michigan. “Georgia Farm Bureau commends Congress for its strong bipartisan vote of support for a new farm bill,” said Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “This legislation provides flexibility and a measure of security for our farmers, offers disaster and feed assistance for livestock producers, and authorizes conservation programs for landowners. We appreciate the work of the conference committee, and we are grateful for the final votes in Congress.” The bill eliminates direct payments and is projected to save $23 billion over 10 years according to the Congressional Budget Office. Called the Agriculture Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642), the bill gives farmers the choice between two counter-cyclical crop insurance programs: Price Loss Coverage (PLC), which addresses deep multi-year price declines, and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), which addresses revenue losses. The bill’s livestock disaster assistance programs will cover losses incurred in 2012 and 2013, according to a summary from House Agriculture Committee Democrats, and establishes permanent baselines for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). Its dairy provision calls for a margin insurance program that protects base production for the life of the farm bill. The dairy provisions include a product purchase program that is activated when margins fall below $4.00 per hundredweight. The bill consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13 and prohibits producers with more than $900,000 in adjusted gross income from being eligible for the conservation programs. The Conservation Stewardship Program is continued at 10 million acres per year and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is rolled into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is cut by $8 billion over 10 years. The bill takes measures to prevent states from providing token payments under heating assistance programs in order to make participants eligible for greater SNAP benefits.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 6 GACDS ANNUAL MEETING SPOTLIGHTS CONSERVATION EFFORTS Georgia’s conservation leaders were given updates about activities of various conservation organizations in 2013 and heard motivational speeches from Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark during the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Conservation District Supervisors (GACDS)Jan. 24-26 at the Marriott Macon City Center. Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission Executive Director Brent Dykes provided an update on the GSWCC’s 2013 efforts, including progress on maintenance and improvements on some of the state’s 357 watershed dams. “We as a state have needed to do maintenance on these Duvall structures for some time,” Dykes said, noting that the GSWCC is pursuing improvements on 3-5 dams per year. “Things like removal of trees and brush and minor engineering work. So we’re doing that in a limited fashion across the state, and we’ll be doing more in the coming year.” Duvall’s talked about finding people who are passionate about the organization’s mission. The three-day event included meetings for the Georgia Resource Conservation & Development Council, NRCS employees, the boards for the GACDS and GSWCC. Attendees were also offered educational sessions and the release of the GSWCC Green Book - the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia. It can be seen online at http://tinyurl.com/m542sye. During the meeting, Jim L. Gillis Jr. of Treutlen County was recognized for his 75 years of service as a district supervisor on the Ohoopee River Soil and Water Conservation District. Dell Fleming MacGregor of DeKalb County was named District Supervisor of the Year. The late George Hillsman of Oconee County was inducted into the GACDS Hall of Fame. 2013 GEORGIA QUALITY COTTON AWARD WINNERS NAMED The Georgia Quality Cotton Awards were given out on Jan. 23 at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. The awards program was co-sponsored by the Georgia Cotton Commission and Bayer CropScience and administered by the University of Georgia Cotton Team to recognize producers and ginners of high-quality cotton fiber and to identify their management practices for the benefit of other growers. The producers and their gins received a plaque and the winning growers received a $500 cash award. The awards are based on best loan value and premiums. Stephen Nikkel of Jefferson County won the Best Cotton Award as well as the Quality Cotton Award for less than 500 acres in Region 2. Midville Warehouse gins for Nikkel. The other winners and their gins: Region 1 - less than 500 acres, Rusty Irvin, Turner County (South Central Georgia Gin and Sconyers Gin); more than 1,000 acres, SOS Farms, Turner County (Arabi Gin); Region 2 - 500-1,000 acres, Alton Walker, Burke County (Bryant’s Inc.); more than 1,000 acres, Dean Johnson, Burke County (Bryant’s Inc.); Region 3 - less than 500 acres, Ronnie Courson, Lanier County (BCT Gin); 500-1,000 acres, Thomas Southall, Lowndes County (BCT Gin); more than 1,000 acres, Riverbottom Farms, Lanier County (BCT Gin); Region 4 - less than 500 acres, Aldine Hart, Colquitt County (BCT Gin-Berlin); 500-1,000 acres, Creek Bank Farms, Miller County (Clover Leaf Gin); more than 1,000 acres, Brian Rayburn, Thomas County (BCT Gin - Berlin).
Leadership Alert page 3 of 6 BEEF REFERENDUM HEARING SET FOR FEB. 28 A public hearing regarding the proposed marketing order for the Georgia Beef Commission has been set for Feb. 28 at the Macon Farmers Market at 10 a.m. in room 3. Anyone may make comments. Participants at the hearing are required to register on arrival. Individuals may also submit written comments concerning the proposed marketing order by mail or email to: Nathan Wilson, Commodities Promotion Manager, Ga. Dept. of Agriculture, 19 MLK Jr. Dr. S.W., Room 324, Atlanta, Ga. 30334 or via email to Nathan.firstname.lastname@example.org. Written comments must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 28. The proposed marketing order would assess cattle owners $1 per head to be collected when cattle are sold. Cattle that sell for less than $100 per head would be exempt from the assessment. Order buyers would be exempt from paying $1 for cattle owned for 10 days or less. The Georgia assessment would be different from the National Beef Checkoff (NBC) in the way money can be used. The NBC assessment can only be used to promote beef meat. The proposed Georgia assessment would fund promotion, research and education programs for Georgia’s beef industry. All collections would stay in Georgia to fund programs like forage research, animal health research, production research and youth programs for livestock. The commission will be required to be re-affirmed by producers every three years. Cattle producers who registered by Dec. 31, 2013, with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to vote in the mail referendum will receive a ballot. The 30-day voting period is tentatively scheduled to run from March 15 to April 15 but won’t be finalized until after the public hearing. If the referendum passes, the marketing order will go into effect July 1. The Beef Commission recently met and chose John Callaway of Troup County as chairman, Ernie Ford of Calhoun County as vice chairman and Jeff Duncan of Madison County as secretary. Kenneth Murphy of Meriwether County and Allen Wiggins of Turner County also serve on the commission. As authorized by the state law that established the commission, all members were appointed by the ex officio members of the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commissions - Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, GFB President Zippy Duvall, Russ Moon and Buddy Leger. BOLL WEEVIL ERADICATION BOARD SETS 2014 ASSESSMENT The Georgia Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (BWEF) Board of Directors met Jan. 15 to review its operations, approve the program’s operational budget and set the 2014 assessment. The board of directors set the 2014 crop year assessment at $1 per bale. The assessment was based on a projection of 1.4 million acres of cotton. The assessment was increased from 50 cents per bale to cover a shortfall in last year’s income due to lower yields. Also, the Georgia BWEF supports the Boll Weevil Protection Program, which is a cooperative effort with other states where the boll weevil is eradicated to assist the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas with their eradication efforts. It is of paramount importance to the program that the weevil be contained in that area and not be allowed to migrate back into eradicated areas. Gins will collect and remit the assessment to the boll weevil program in the same manner as it was for the 2013 crop year. For information about the boll weevil program or assessment, call Executive Director Jim Wilson at 229-469-4038.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 6 FLAVOR OF GEORGIA FOOD PRODUCT CONTEST The UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development sponsors this annual contest, designed to help Georgia-based food entrepreneurs showcase their products. Contestants may submit as many products as they like. The categories are: barbecue stauces, beverages, confections, dairy products, jams and jellies, meat and seafood products, sauces and condiments, snack foods and miscellaneous. Registration runs through Feb. 7. Fees are $75 per product entry for online registrations and $100 for registrations received by fax or mail. Finalists will be invited to take part in a final judging on March 17 and a public tasting on March 18 at Ag Awareness Day in Georgia event, when the winners will also be announced. For more information about the contest, including registration information, visit http://www.flavorofgeorgia.caes.uga.edu or call 706-583-0347. 2014 SOYBEAN/SMALL GRAIN EXPO Feb. 7 Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter Perry Soybean and small grain producers, users and buyers are invited to this free event, which will provide up-to-date marketing projections and the newest production techniques, as well as remarks from University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences leaders. Presentations include a world outlook for Southern ag commodities from Dr. Nathan Smith, techniques in kudzu bug control from Dr. Phillip Roberts, a farm bill update from AFBF Economist John Anderson and a soybean production update from Dr. David Wright. The program is sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau, Ogletree Farms, Georgia Seed Development, Tillman and Deal AG Services, AGSouth Genetics LLC, Heart of Georgia Peanut and Gin Co., Plantation Seed Conditioners Inc., Quality Gin Inc., Milner Farms and Syngenta. For more contact the Georgia/Florida Soybean Association at 706-542-3793. CSP APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED TO FEB. 7 The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has extended the deadline for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) new enrollments for fiscal year 2014 through Feb. 7. CSP is an important Farm Bill conservation program that helps established conservation stewards with taking their level of natural resource management to the next level to improve both their agricultural production and provide valuable conservation benefits such as cleaner and more abundant water, as well as healthier soils and better wildlife habitat. While local NRCS offices accept CSP applications year round, NRCS evaluates applications during announced ranking periods. To be eligible for this year's enrollment, producers must have their applications submitted to NRCS by the closing date. Learn more about CSP by visiting the Georgia NRCS website or a local NRCS field office. USDA FARM AND RANCH IRRIGATION SURVEY The USDAâ€™s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is conducting the national Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey. Farmers, ranchers and horticulture producers across the United States will begin receiving the survey today in the mail asking them to provide information about their water use and irrigation practices, with responses due by Feb. 10. Only those producers who indicated in the 2012 Census of Agriculture that they irrigate are eligible for sampling. The survey is conducted as part of the Census of Agriculture program, and just as with the 2012 Census, the responses are mandatory under U.S. law. The same law also ensures that NASS will maintain all individual responses completely confidential. For more information about the Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey, call 888-424-7828 or visit http://www.agcensus.usda.gov.
Leadership Alert page 5 of 6 PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED TOBACCO ASSESSMENT REFERENDUM Feb. 10 Coffee County Agricultural Center 2 p.m. Douglas This hearing will be held for the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Tobacco to receive comments on a proposal to increase the assessment paid by tobacco growers to a maximum of 75 cents per hundred pounds. If the referendum passes, growers would be assessed 50 cents per hundred pounds and the assessment would not be further increased without producer input. Written comments may also be submitted by mail to Nathan Wilson, Commodities Promotion Manager, Georgia Department of agriculture, 19 MLK Jr. Dr. SW, Room 324, Atlanta, GA 30334 or by email to Nathan.email@example.com. Written comments must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 10 in order to be considered. PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED PECAN ASSESSMENT REFERENDUM Feb. 11 Tift County Extension Office 10 a.m. Tifton This hearing will be held for the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Pecans to receive comments on a proposal to increase the assessment paid by pecan. Written comments may also be submitted by mail to Nathan Wilson, Commodities Promotion Manager, Georgia Department of agriculture, 19 MLK Jr. Dr. SW, Room 324, Atlanta, GA 30334 or by email to Nathan.firstname.lastname@example.org. Written comments must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 in order to be considered. GEORGIA FARM BUREAU DAY AT THE CAPITOL Feb. 11 Georgia Depot and State Capitol 9:30 a.m. Atlanta Georgia Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol is a chance for Farm Bureau members to meet with legislators and other government officials. Orientation begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Blue Room of the historic Georgia Railroad Freight Depot, located next to Underground Atlanta. Free parking at Turner Field will be available with a shuttle service that runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information contact the GFB Legislative Department at 1-800-342-1911 or your local county Farm Bureau office. NEW AND BEGINNING FARMERS SMALL BUSINESS WORKSHOP Feb. 11 Oconee County Extension Office 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Watkinsville This workshop will help new farmers pinpoint their target markets, identify the best outlets for their produce, learn bookkeeping basics and learn about the importance of crafting a realistic business plan. The workshop is timed to help get new farmers ready for the 2014 growing and farmers market season. Registration is $30 and light refreshments will be served. For more information call 706-542-7436 or visit http://www.georgiasbdc.org/ce/athens. UGA 22ND ANNUAL FOCUS ON EPDâ€™S BULL SALE Feb. 13 UGA Livestock Instructional Arena Athens Sale begins at noon. For more information contact Dr. Ronnie Silcox 706-542-9102 or email@example.com. IFYE ACCPETING APPLICATIONS FOR EXCHANGE PROGRAM Young adults age 19 and over are encouraged to apply for the 2014 International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) Program. For further information, please contact Alan Lambert, National IFYE Program Director, at 605-366-6107 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Completed applications are due by Feb. 15. Visit the IFYE website at www.ifyusa.org/ to learn more about the program and obtain an application.
Leadership Alert page 6 of 6 GEFA OFFERS SECOND ROUND OF IRRIGATION MOTOR REBATES The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) is offering a second round of the Georgia Agricultural Irrigation Motor (AIM) Program, an incentive program designed to help Georgia farmers become more energy-efficient, save money on fuel costs, and reduce emissions. The Georgia AIM Program will provide farmers with a rebate to replace inefficient diesel irrigation engines with energy-efficient electric irrigation motors. The rebates will cover 25 percent of eligible project costs, with a $10,000 maximum rebate available. The application period for the program, opens online at http://www.gefa.org, ends Feb. 15. Available funding is limited and rebates will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The first round of the program awarded 34 farmers throughout the state with rebates totaling $154,309. The new installations are projected to reduce annual diesel fuel consumption by 217,029 gallons. PRECISION AGRICULTURE WORKSHOP Feb. 25 NESPAL, UGA Tifton Campus Tifton Participants in this free workshop will receive briefings from UGA and Auburn crop and soil science experts. Much of the focus will be on precision irrigation, and irrigation specialists from Germany, Greece and Italy will make presentations on irrigation research in Europe and how it has developed to accommodate environmental concerns, as well as the economics of precision agriculture at the farm level. The workshop also includes hands-on precision farming-related exercises. While the workshop is free, registration is required. Participants are asked to RSVP by Feb. 18 by sending an email to email@example.com. GEORGIA PORK CONGRESS Feb. 18 Georgia Farm Bureau 2 p.m. Macon The election of pork producer delegate candidates for the 2015 National Pork Producers (Pork Act) Delegate Body will take place in conjunction with a Board of Directors meeting of Georgia Pork Producers Association. All Georgia pork producers are invited to attend. Any producer age 18 or older who is a resident of the state and has paid all assessments due may be considered as a delegate candidate and/or participate in the election. All eligible producers are encouraged to bring with them a sales receipt proving that hogs were sold in their name and the checkoff was deducted. For more information, contact Georgia Pork Producers Association, P.O. Box 1566, Bainbridge, Ga. 39818 or call 229-246-8297. FEB. 21 IS DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR GFB COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS Georgia Farm Bureau will award a total of $14,250 in scholarships to 10 high school seniors who plan to pursue an undergraduate degree in agricultural and environmental sciences, family and consumer sciences or a related agricultural field. The top three students will each receive a scholarship of $3,000. The remaining seven students will each receive a $750 scholarship. Students submitting an application must currently be a Georgia high school senior and plan to enroll in a unit of the University System of Georgia or Berry College during the 2014-2015 academic year. Contact your county Farm Bureau office for more information or an application. Applications must be approved and signed by the Farm Bureau president of the county in which the applicant resides or attends high school. You may also download a copy of the application by visiting http://www.gfb.org, selecting Programs and then Ag in the Classroom. The Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and the GFB Womenâ€™s Leadership Committee sponsor the scholarship program. Winners will be announced in May.
Leadership Alert page 6 of 6 GFB ACCEPTING ENTRIES IN ART, ESSAY CONTESTS County Farm Bureau offices are accepting entries for the Georgia Farm Bureau Art and Essay contests through Feb. 21. The essay contest is for students in grades 6-8 and entries should address the topic â€œMy Plate is Georgia Grownâ€?. The art contest is for high school students and will be judged on how well the artwork represents modern agriculture found in Georgia and artistic merit. Cash prizes are awarded in both contests. For information on how to enter, contact your local county Farm Bureau office. To locate contact information for your county office, visit http://www.gfb.org/contactus/default.asp. FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR VALUE-ADDED PRODUCER GRANTS The USDA has announced the availability of nearly $10.5 million in Value-Added Producer Grants, intended to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. They may be used for working capital and planning activities. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000. Grant applications are due by Feb. 24. For more information about how to apply visit http://tinyurl.com/mc3ncwc or contact any USDA Rural Development state office.