July 10, 2013
Vol. 31 No. 28
CONGRESS MULLS AG APPROPRIATIONS BILLS Bills in both chambers of Congress for fiscal year 2014 agriculture appropriations could soon be put to votes. On June 26 the House Rules Committee passed an open rule for H.R. 2410, the Fiscal Year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The open rule allows amendments to be submitted from the House floor. The House bill contains $19.5 billion in discretionary spending, which is $1.3 billion less than the enacted level for FY13 and roughly equivalent to current spending resulting from sequestration spending cuts. It is $516 million lower than the president’s proposed budget. The bill includes an amendment from Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) that prohibits the USDA from implementing the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule on poultry contracts that was finalized in December 2011. Georgia Farm Bureau supported the implementation of the rule, which balanced the negotiating positions between poultry producers and integrators. Another amendment, submitted by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), would prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse processing facilities, effectively preventing processing from being done. Georgia Farm Bureau opposes the amendment, believing that the absence of U.S. processing facilities makes it very difficult for horse owners to humanely dispose of animals that no longer have practical utility. The bill includes instructions establishing an arbitrary timeline for the FDA to finalize antibiotics guidance documents and additional data collection. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Senate FY14 ag appropriations bill (S. 1244) by a 23-6 vote on June 20. The $20.93 billion bill funds the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration. According to a committee release, the Senate bill provides $1.176 billion for the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the same funding level as in FY13. The FSA funding includes $2.575 billion to support farm ownership loans and $2.724 billion for farm operating loans. The ownership and operating loan programs both represent increases over FY13. The bill also includes $1.02 billion for the Food Safety Inspection Service, which is $7 million below FY13 funding but $12 million more than the president’s budget request. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) offered an amendment that would prevent the USDA from spending federal funds to provide inspection of horse processing for human consumption. Landrieu’s amendment passed by a voice vote. The Senate bill also increases funding for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service to $1.123 billion, an increase of $51 million over the FY13 funding level.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 6 FARM GROUPS PETITION HOUSE TO RECONSIDER FARM BILL Georgia Farm Bureau was among a collection of 532 stakeholder groups who wrote a letter dated July 2 to leadership in the U.S. House asking that the farm bill be brought back to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. The stakeholder groups, which represent interests in agriculture, conservation, nutrition, rural development, finance, forestry energy and crop insurance, also voiced opposition to the notion of splitting the nutrition title from the farm bill. The current farm bill, which expired on Sept. 30, 2012 and was extended by Congress in January, expires again on Sept. 30, 2013. The House voted down its version of the farm bill on June 20, with cuts to nutrition programs being the primary source of disagreement. “This important legislation supports our nation’s farmers, ranchers, forest owners, food security, natural resources and wildlife habitats, rural communities, and the 16 million Americans whose jobs directly depend on the agriculture industry,” the letter stated. “Farm bills represent a delicate balance between America’s farm, nutrition, conservation, and other priorities, and accordingly require strong bipartisan support,” continued the letter. “It is vital for the House to try once again to bring together a broad coalition of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to provide certainty for farmers, rural America, the environment and our economy in general and pass a five-year farm bill upon returning in July.” The groups also stood in united support for keeping the farm bill intact. “We believe that splitting the nutrition title from the rest of the bill could result in neither farm nor nutrition programs passing, and urge you to move a unified farm bill forward,” the letter stated. Meanwhile, the idea of splitting the farm bill and the nutrition title gained traction in Congress during the recess for observance of the July 4 holiday. According to published reports, House leaders have been considering farm bill-only legislation that would also repeal the 1938 and 1949 acts that require the passage or extension of a farm bill every five years. TWO GEORGIANS RECEIVE EXCELLENCE IN AGRISCIENCE AWARDS University of Georgia Professor Dr. Michael Doyle and Sonoraville High School teacher Dr. Sara Clark received awards given jointly by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation and the American Farm Bureau Federation for their work in agriscience. The awards honor scientists, educators and high school students for their contributions to science and research in agriculture. “The American Farm Bureau Federation has a long history of supporting new ideas for delivering efficient solutions to our food and agricultural challenges,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “That is why we are proud to support the work of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation in fostering the advancement of agriscience.” Doyle, who is director at the UGA Center for Food Safety, is the recipient of the $10,000 Distinguished Agriscience Scientist Award. Dr. Doyle’s research focuses on food safety and security. On issues related to the microbiological safety of foods, he works closely with government agencies, the food industry and consumer groups. Clark is the recipient of the $5,000 Agriscience Educator Award. As a secondary school teacher for 20 years, Dr. Clark encourages her students to explore the many fields of agriscience and find something that interests them. She uses methods such as inquiry-based learning, teaching others and self-directed learning to keep students engaged.
Leadership Alert page 3 of 6 AFBF SUES EPA OVER RELEASE OF FARMERS’ INFORMATION The American Farm Bureau Federation filed suit against the EPA on July 5, seeking a court order to stop the agency from publicly releasing personal information about thousands of farmers and ranchers and their families. The EPA is expected to respond to several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests this week, prompting AFBF to file a lawsuit and seek a temporary restraining order before the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. In a press release, AFBF indicated it hopes to stall disclosures of farmers’ and ranchers’ names, home addresses, GPS coordinates and personal contact information until a court can clarify the EPA’s obligation to keep personal information about citizens private. The National Pork Producers Council joined AFBF in the lawsuit. Earlier this year the farming and ranching community was shocked that the EPA released personal information about thousands of livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers in 29 states in response to FOIA requests from three environmental organizations. The massive data release contained tens of thousands of lines in spreadsheets often including home phone numbers, home emails, employee contact information, home addresses and in some cases personal notes about the families. The EPA had required state regulatory agencies to provide the agency with this information, which it then publicly released in its entirety. The EPA has taken the position with AFBF and others that it has no legal obligation under FOIA to keep most of the information private. Now, in response to new FOIA requests, EPA intends to release additional personal information from farmers in Minnesota, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma and Washington. JENKINS COUNTY FARM BUREAU DIRECTOR WYNDELL BELL DIES Wyndell K. Bell, who was secretary-treasurer for Jenkins County Farm Bureau, died on June 26 after a long illness. He was 65. Bell, of Millen, served as chairman of the GFB Dairy Committee from 1996-2000 and was a committee member in 2001. Born in Charleston, S.C., Bell operated Four Bells Farm in Millen with his son Karlson. He also worked as a mail carrier and was a member of Green Fork Baptist Church. Survivors include his wife, Becky Gay Bell; 3 sons, Karlson (Kathy) Bell, Whit Bell, and Kevan Bell; mother, Mildred H. Bell; sister, Cherdale B. Cross and two grandchildren, Katie Lynn Bell and Kara Bell Leigh Bell all of Millen. KEY PROVISION IN AFFORDABLE CARE ACT DELAYED On July 2 the Obama administration announced it was delaying implementation of the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for one year according to a blog by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Businesses with more than 50 employees were subject to reporting requirements that were to verify each employee’s access to and enrollment in health insurance. Originally, this requirement was to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, but the administration has suspended the reporting requirement until 2015. Employers that choose not to offer insurance were subject to a $2,000 per year per full-time employee payment called the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment. Since this payment is tied to the reporting requirements, it has also been suspended.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 6 SUNBELT EXPO FIELD DAY July 11 Sunbelt Agricultural Expo, Spence Field Moultrie This free preview of 36th Annual Sunbelt Expo is an opportunity for farmers to see the latest seed varieties, crop protection, irrigation technology and precision ag technology in an applied research setting. Company representatives and university researchers will make presentations on their equipment and research. Registration begins at 7:15 a.m. followed by a free biscuit breakfast with Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Farm Bureau representatives. Trams will depart for the fields promptly at 8 a.m. Tours will last until noon. No lunch will be served. All breakfast attendees will receive a free Expo cap and may register for door prizes including: a Brown 472 six-foot rotary cutter, farm tires and a shotgun. For more information, call 229-985-1968 or visit http://www.sunbeltexpo.com. 2nd ANNUAL UGA ORGANIC RESEARCH FARM TWILIGHT TOUR Jul. 11 UGA Durham Horticulture Farm Watkinsville From 6 p.m to 8 p.m., UGA organic and sustainable agriculture experts will discuss research being conducted on apple variety trials, squash diseases, summer vegetable production, cool season vegetable production, summer cover crops and the use of high tunnels. The Durham Horticulture Farm is located at 1221 Hog Mountain Road. The event is free and open to the public. For more information contact UGA Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator Julia Gaskin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-542-1401. USDA SEEKS APPLICATIONS TO FUND RURAL BROADBAND PROJECTS The USDA is accepting applications for grants to finance broadband deployment in remote, rural areas. Through this notice, USDA Rural Development may award up to $21 million in grants through the Community Connect Grant program. It serves rural communities where broadband service is least likely to be available, but where it can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for citizens. For more information, see page 34979 of the June 11, 2013 Federal Register, or visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-06-11/pdf/2013-13827.pdf. The deadline for submitting applications is July 11. AGSOUTH FARM CREDIT FINANCIAL WORKSHOPS July 27 Conner Hall, UGA Register by July 13 Athens These free workshops are designed for young, beginning, small and minority farmers. All workshops run from 9 a.m. â€“ 4:30 p.m. and include a provided lunch. Topics will include: applying for financing, preparing a business plan, record keeping, credit scores, risk management and more. Workshops are certified for FSA Direct Borrower Training Credit. To register or for more information visit http://www.agsouthfc.com/AgSouthAgAwareProgram.html or email Christy Smith at email@example.com. GEORGIA GROWN FARMER SHOWCASE July 13 Park Market, Centennial Olympic Park 9 a.m. - noon Atlanta July 27 Park Market, Centennial Olympic Park 9 a.m. - noon Atlanta Aug. 10 Park Market, Centennial Olympic Park 9 a.m. - noon Atlanta This family-friendly series features dozens of vendors from around the state, offering locally grown fresh Georgia produce and plant sales, meet and greets with local farmers and much more. For more information, visit http://www.georgiagrown.com or call 404-656-3689.
Leadership Alert page 5 of 6 UGA TRIAL GARDENS ANNUAL OPEN HOUSE July 13 UGA Campus Athens The public is invited to attend an open house from 8 a.m – 1 p.m. at the UGA Horticulture Department’s trial garden on the UGA Athens Campus located between Snelling Dining Hall and the UGA pharmacy building. Visitors will get an up-close look at a new class of vetted ornamentals including annuals, perennials, roses and hardy bulbs. Dr. Allen Armitage, who is retiring after 31 years at UGA, will give tours during the event and sign copies of his books. A short recognition ceremony will be held to honor Armitage at 11 a.m. Planters designed by the garden staff will be available for sale. A $5 donation will be accepted to help support the trial garden. Visit http://www.ugatrialgardens.com/ for more information or call 706-583-0285. PEANUT STANDARDS BOARD SEEKING NOMINEES The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking nominations for peanut producer and processing organization candidates to serve on the Peanut Standards Board (Board). Nominations are due by July 22. The Board consists of 18 members with representation equally divided between peanut producers and industry representatives. Representation is divided among three regions: the Southeast (Alabama, Georgia, and Florida), the Southwest (Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico), and Virginia/North Carolina. Each region has three producer seats and three industry representative seats with staggered terms. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will appoint one producer and one industry representative from each region to succeed members whose terms expire June 30. The six new members will serve terms ending June 30, 2016. For nominating forms and additional information, visit www.ams.usda.gov/PeanutStandardsBoard. INTERNATIONAL AGRIBUSINESS CONFERENCE AND EXPO Sept. 25-26 Savannah International Trade & Convention Center Savannah This inaugural event, sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau, will help farmers and businesses learn how to capitalize on the growing export market. Participants will be provided with information on what markets are open to their products, how to export their goods and what exporting can do for their bottom lines. Participants will attend educational forums and workshops, learning from experts in agricultural importing and exporting and about the latest practices in processing valueadded agricultural products. They also will have a chance to meet with international trade representatives. The conference’s main sponsor is Georgia Farm Bureau. For more information about the conference’s schedule, see www.iace.us.com. Early registration is $170 and ends July 30. For more information visit http://ceps.georgiasouthern.edu/conted/iace.html. NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR FSA COUNTY COMMITTEES The nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees is now open and runs through Aug. 1. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area in which the person is a candidate. Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others, and organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates. To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign the nomination form, FSA-669A. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available online at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.
Leadership Alert page 6 of 6 GEORGIA EQUINE COMMISSION SEEKS NOMINATIONS The Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Equine (ACCE) is seeking nominations to fill the positions of three members whose terms expire later this year â€“ Jim Gibby, Debbie Lanier Guy and Danny Hogan. The positions are for three-year terms. Nomination forms are available at the ACCE website http://www.gaequine.com or by contacting Nathan Wilson by phone at 404-656-3678 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nomination forms and a one-page resume must be submitted to Wilson by Aug. 1 to be considered. DEEP SOUTH STOCKER CONFERENCE Aug. 8-9 Athens Theis two-day event, a joint effort between the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Mississippi State University Extension Service, and the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, features live animal demonstrations and hands-on opportunities on Aug. 8, and educational seminars on Aug. 9. Additionally, the conference will be held in conjunction with Georgia Grazing School (http://www.GeorgiaForages.com). This will give producers an opportunity for up to three days of hands-on, demonstration, and classroom learning opportunities. Registration for each event is separate. The Deep South Stocker Conference registration will cost $125/person and will cover all seminars, events, meals, and handouts for the two-day event. A trade show will also be held in conjunction with the conference to allow stocker operators the opportunity to network with industry professionals and to become aware of products and services that can improve their profitably and product quality. For more information or to register, visit http://www.deepsouthstocker.com. USDA TAKING APPLICATIONS FOR HEALTH, EDUCATION GRANTS The USDA is accepting applications for grants of up to $500,000 to provide access to education, training and healthcare resources in rural areas. Funding is authorized through the Departmentâ€™s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. Under this notice, USDA may provide up to $17.5 million in grants. Funds can be used to buy equipment and provide technical assistance. To be eligible, applicants must serve a rural area, demonstrate economic need and provide at least 15 percent in matching funds. Completed applications must be received by Aug. 12. For further details about eligibility rules and application procedures, see the notice published on page 38915 of the June 28 Federal Register: http://tinyurl.com/nv62aeq. UGA CONDUCTING SURVEY ON MOBILE POULTRY PROCESSING As a part of its Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education program, UGA is conducting an online survey on the feasibility of establishing a Mobile Processing Unit. (MPU). This survey collects information on production costs and processing costs at a USDA inspected facility and on-farm processing. The information will aid in determining the cost-effectiveness and benefits of using MPUs. The results of the cost-benefit analysis and profitability of using MPUs will be shared with pasture poultry growers and other stakeholders. The 15-question survey should only take about 5 minutes and is anonymous. To participate, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NNXKFN7.