July 3, 2012
Vol. 30 No. 27
CONGRESS PASSES HIGHWAY BILL, AG APPROPRIATIONS BILL DELAYED A bill extending funding for a variety of transportation programs passed both the U.S. House by a 373-52 vote and Senate (74-19) on June 29. The bill was supported by both Georgia senators and seven of the stateâ€™s 13 representatives. The transportation bill, H.R. 4348, funds federal highway, transit and highway safety programs at near current levels until Sept. 30, 2014, and includes reauthorization of surface transportation programs, extends reduced student loan interest rates and reauthorizes the flood insurance program. The final version of H.R. 4348 provides exemptions for farmers and ranchers and certain farm vehicles from several federal regulations. The language in the bill clarifies current transportation laws and removes inconsistencies that make it more difficult for farmers to transport their crops. Certain farm vehicles, as well as their drivers, are exempted from requirements to obtain commercial driverâ€™s licenses and medical certificates, hours of service restrictions and any requirement relating to vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance. These exemptions apply to properly marked farm vehicles weighing less than 26,001 pounds. Farm vehicles weighing more than 26,001 pounds are also exempt if they are traveling within the state or within 150 air miles of their farm if they cross a state line. Farm Bureau supported the exemption measures, pointing out that the regulations could be particularly burdensome for farmers living in border counties where their best markets might be just across the state line. The bill also included language to extend the Secure Rural Schools program, which funds county outlays for public schools, road improvement and maintenance projects and forest restoration and improvement projects in and around national forests. Meanwhile, the House delayed consideration of the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill (H.R. 5973) according to published reports. Instead, House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) has indicated the committee will begin markup on its farm bill on July 11.The Senate passed its version of the 2012 farm bill on June 21. Both pieces of legislation face potential delays. Lucas has indicated in published reports that he does not want to have the House debate the ag appropriations bill, introduced by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), at the same time the farm bill is being marked up in committee. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has indicated the House will vote on a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on July 11.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 6 LAND-GRANT UNIVERSITIES CELEBRATE MORRILL ACT ANNIVERSARY During a celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Morrill Act on June 26, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) was awarded the Norman E. Borlaug Medallion by the World Food Prize organization. The Borlaug Medallion is given to organizations and heads of state who would not ordinarily be eligible for the World Food Prize, which honors individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world. Dr. Scott Angle, dean of UGA’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences and chairman of the APLU Board on Agriculture Assembly, accepted the Borlaug Medallion for APLU. “Winning agriculture’s highest honor is welcomed validation for a century and a half of progress to educate working-class Americans and build the world’s most successful food production The Borlaug Medallion system,” Angle said. The Morrill Act, signed into law by Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862, provided grants of federal lands to the states for the establishment of public universities and agricultural education programs nationwide. GROUPS URGE USE OF ANTIBIOTIC REGULATION BASED ON SCIENCE A coalition of agricultural organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, sent a letter on June 12 to Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who is seeking to restrict antibiotic use in livestock and poultry production, pointing out the stringent federal approval process and regulation of antibiotics, the lack of human health risks from their judicious use in livestock production and the benefits they offer in food animal production. Slaughter in February asked food companies to submit to her by June 15 their purchasing policies related to antibiotic use in food animals. She is the primary author of the “Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act” (H.R. 965), which seeks to ban the use in livestock and poultry production of several classes of antibiotics employed for preventing and controlling diseases and for promoting nutritional efficiency. In the letter, the coalition pointed out that antibiotics used in veterinary medicine are reviewed and approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), noting that for animal antibiotics the safety assessment is more stringent than the assessment for human antibiotics in three ways: 1) If there are risks to humans, FDA will not approve the antibiotic for animals; 2) FDA requires a food safety assessment to ensure meat is safe; and 3) FDA studies the pharmaceutical thoroughly to guarantee it does not increase the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food. The coalition further explained that FDA recently issued new regulations that effectively prohibit the use in food animals of “medically important” antibiotics for improving nutritional efficiency. The rules also ensure veterinarians will be involved in overseeing all uses of these products. The coalition cited several published, peer-reviewed risk assessments showing any threat to human health from antibiotic use in livestock and poultry production is negligible, and pointed out many of the bacterial illnesses becoming resistant to antibiotics in human medicine have little or no link to antibiotic use in food animals.
Leadership Alert page 3 of 6 PEANUT PLANTED ACREAGE UP, COTTON DOWN FROM 2011 Georgia farmers planted nearly 50 percent more acres in peanuts in 2012 than in 2011 and the planted acreage in cotton is down 22 percent from last year, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) June crop acreage report. As expected, Georgia farmers planted 710,000 acres in peanuts, up from 475,000 acres planted in 2011. The 2012 plantings are the largest in Georgia since 2005, when 755,000 acres of peanuts were planted in the state. Nationwide, peanut plantings increased by 34 percent, from 1.14 million planted acres in 2011 to 1.52 million planted acres in 2012. With cotton prices declining from record highs in 2011, Georgia growers opted to plant fewer acres of cotton, planting 1.25 million acres in 2012, down from 1.6 million acres in 2011. Nationally, cotton plantings are down from 14.735 million acres in 2011 to 12.635 million acres in 2012. While Georgia’s 2012 off-farm corn stocks are up by 55 percent over 2011, Georgia’s corn growers trimmed acreage slightly in 2012, planting 335,000 acres, a 3 percent decline from the 345,000 they planted in 2011. The decline in Georgia’s corn acres was opposite the national trend; corn growers nationally increased acreage by 5 percent. Georgia’s soybean growers expanded their acreage by 23 percent, planting 190,000 acres in 2012, compared with 155,000 acres in 2011. Growers of wheat and sorghum planted more acres in those commodities in Georgia. Wheat acreage increased from 250,000 in 2011 to 280,000 in 2012, while sorghum acres increased from 50,000 in 2011 to 55,000 in 2012. Georgia’s acreage in hay (590,000 acres) and oats (60,000 acres) remained the same from 2011. Planted acres in rye declined 5 percent, from 200,000 in 2011 to 190,000 in 2012. The NASS projected 10,500 harvested acres in tobacco in 2012, down from 11,900 in 2011, a decline of 12 percent. CRACKER BARREL, SONIC DRIVE-INS TO REQUIRE STALL-FREE PORK Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Sonic Corporation have announced intentions to move toward purchasing pork produced without the use of gestation stalls. In a company press release, Cracker Barrel, based in Lebanon, Tenn., said it has begun “formulating plans that provide for a pork supply system within Cracker Barrel that is free of gestation crates, cages used to confine breeding pigs, which have been criticized in recent years due to animal welfare concerns.” The release indicated that the company’s plans take into consideration a review of studies that have investigated consumer preferences regarding breeding pigs being housed in groups. Cracker Barrel also referenced economic analysis documenting lower production costs for pork suppliers who use group housing. Sonic, the country’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants, will phase in its plans for a “supply chain free of gestation crates.” The Oklahoma-based company is working toward achieving that goal by 2017. Cracker Barrel and Sonic join a growing number of food-related companies transitioning toward the serving or selling of stall-free pork.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 6 GEORGIA FORESTRY ASSOCIATION ANNUAL CONFERENCE July 7-9 Westin Savannah Harbor Resort Hotel Savannah Critical issues for Georgia’s timber growers and forest product manufacturers will be front and center in Savannah in July. Come learn about the federalization of forest management, trends in conversion of forests to ag and timber market trends. Dr. Scott Angle, Dean of UGA’s College of Agriculture of Environmental Sciences, will speak on “Macro Trends in Food, Fiber and Fuel’. Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will give the keynote address. For more information or to register, visit http://www.gfagrow.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=9 or contact Judy Couch at 478-992-8110 or SUNBELT EXPO FIELD DAY July 12 Sunbelt Agricultural Expo, Spence Field Moultrie This complimentary preview for the Sunbelt Expo is an opportunity for farmers to see the latest seed varieties, chemical applications, irrigation technology and precision ag technology, all in an applied research setting. A biscuit breakfast reception with Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall begins at 7:15 a.m. Trams depart starting at 8:30 a.m. and a complimentary lunch will be served at 12:15 p.m. Register before 8:15 a.m. for a chance to win a $100 early bird cash prize. There will also be Grand Prize and Door Prize Giveaways. Every attendee receives an Expo cap. For more information, call 229985-1968 or visit http://www.sunbeltexpo.com. GEORGIA JUNIOR CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION FIELD DAY July 12 Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Perry Join in for a Field Day of Olympic proportions! All ages are welcome. Events include an AGility course, beef-themed classes and other sporting events. To register, visit http://www.gabeef.org/gjca/contest.html. Cost by July 1: GJCA members $10, non-members $15 (includes meal and T-shirt) Cost after July 1 and at the door: GJCA members $10, non-members $15, T-shirts not included but can be purchased for an additional $5. UGA AG LEADERSHIP PROGRAM ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS The UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is now accepting applications for the inaugural class of the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture program. Participants will attend eight sessions held across the state, and travel to Washington, D.C. and abroad to study Georgia’s involvement with international trade. The first class will be chosen through an application and nomination process, which will begin this month. The application deadline is July 13 for the program that begins in the fall. For more information visit http://www.agla.caes.uga.edu or call Rochelle Strickland at 706-542-1204. UPCOMING DEADLINES FOR FSA PROGRAMS Below are upcoming enrollment deadlines for programs administered by the Farm Service Agency: July 15 2011 Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) July 15 Certification of planted acres (all crops except tobacco) Dates vary Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), check with FSA service center for dates) and Crop Insurance (Contact a crop insurance agent or the regional Risk Management Agency (RMA) office.) For more information about FSA programs visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov.
Leadership Alert page 5 of 6 JOINT AGRICULTURE CHAIRMEN AGRICULTURAL ISSUES SUMMIT July 18 Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter 10 a.m. - noon Perry This joint meeting, conducted by Georgia House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McCall and Georgia Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman John Bulloch, will feature discussions on the new sales tax exemptions for Agriculture, the Transportation Investment Act referendum, the importance of having a viable workforce and Georgia water planning. A sponsored lunch will be provided by Georgia Farm Bureau, the Georgia Agribusiness Council, the Georgia Poultry Federation and the Georgia Urban Agriculture Council. Meeting space is limited and RSVPs are required. Participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis. To attend, contact Pat Harris at 404-656-5099 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Donna Yeomans at 404-656-0040 or email@example.com. GREAT VALLEY EXPOSITION AND “I LOVE BEEF” HAMBURGER COOK-OFF July 20-21 Lowrey’s Farm Market, 2416 Turkey Mountain Rd. Rome The Floyd County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee is sponsoring the inaugural Hamburger Cook-Off in conjunction with the Great Valley Exposition at Lowrey’s. The Exposition is a family-friendly antique tractor show featuring tractors, cars, antique farm tools and a variety of demonstrations. Floyd County Farm Bureau will be on site to promote Farm Bureau membership. Registration and ground beef pick-up for the cook-off will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 20. Registration for cook-off contestants is $10; payments must be in cash or check made out to Floyd County Farm Bureau. The cook-off will begin at 10:30 a.m., on July 21 and will be judged by national and state cooking contest winner Mary Louise Lever, retired professional bull rider Joe Rush and Georgia Rep. Barbara Reece. For more information, including complete contest rules, contact FCFB Office Manager Shana Burk at 706-291-0577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. GEORGIA CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION SUMMER CONFERENCE July 26-29 Jekyll Island Kick off your boots and join us for another exciting summer event! Highlights include a golf tournament, keynote speeches by the Port Authority, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and the Georgia Department of Agriculture and plenty of social and business fun for the whole family. Visit http://www.gabeef.org/gca/summerconference.htm to register. Cost is $25 per family. Friday and Saturday meals are $15 each for adults and $10 each for children. GEORGIA PEANUT COMMISSION RIBBON CUTTING & OPEN HOUSE July 31 New GPC headquarters building Tifton Join the Georgia Peanut Commission as it celebrates its 50th anniversary with the opening its new state-of-the art building on Fulwood Blvd., just off exit 63B on I-75. Ceremony begins at 10 a.m. For more information, call 229-386-3470. GARLICFEST 2012 Aug. 25 LoganBerry Heritage Farm 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Cleveland This annual celebration of the Garlic harvest is a free and fun family event. It includes lots of garlic, chefs, creative food, cooking demos, tastings, live music, artisans and animals. For more information, contact LoganBerry Heritage Farm at 706-348-6068 or visit http://www.loganberryheritagefarm.com.
Leadership Alert page 6 of 6 2012 GARDEN ACADEMY Sept. 6-Oct. 23 Houston County Extension Office Perry This multi-week program is designed to help participants get the most from their plants through planning, preparation, and work. The course includes the most recent research-based information available to guide you in tending your landscape. Classes are schedueled for Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Extension Office Multipurpose Room in the Government Building (old renovated courthouse) in downtown Perry. The class fee of $120 includes all sessions, the Georgia Yardstick Workbook, and a collection of valuable Extension publications. This year’s theme is The Central Georgia Landscape. Learn more about landscape planning and plant selection, planting and maintenance. This will be an extended course planned and taught by UGA Specialists, Master Gardeners, Extension Agents, local professionals, and other gardeners. The class size is limited so register early! Contact the Houston County Extension Office at 478-987-2028 or email email@example.com for a registration form. 2012 AGROFORESTRY AND WILDLIFE FIELD DAY Sept. 20 University of Georgia Griffin Campus 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Griffin Registration is now being accepted for this unique educational event, sponsored by UGA, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Fort Valley State University, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the NRCS. The field day will provide information on ways land value can be enhanced. More than 25 topics will be showcased, including wildlife opening management; pond management; management for wild turkeys, doves and quail; selling and marketing timber; prescribed burning, cost-sharing assistance programs, GPS/GIS use in managing land and invasive insects, disease and plants. Registration is $25 before Sept. 3 and $35 after. Fee includes lunch, and those who register in advance will receive an Agroforestry & Wildlife Field Day baseball cap. For more information, visit http://www.caes.uga.edu/events/awfd/index.html. HAWKINSVILLE HARVEST FEST/PIGS & PRODUCE BARBECUE CONTEST Oct. 26-27 Courthouse Square Hawkinsville Better Hometown of Hawkinsville will host the annual Harvest Fest featuring the Pigs and Produce barbecue competition, an official contest sanctioned by the Georgia Barbecue Association. Along with some great professional barbecue teams and some very interesting ancillary categories, Hawkinsville will host two very unique events at this festival: The first ever Georgia State Boiled Peanut Championship sponsored by Hardy Farms Peanuts and the Old vs. New Faceoff. This head-to-head contest will be held on the courthouse square in downtown Hawkinsville between barbecue legend Myron Mixon of Jack’s Old South and his son, Michael Mixon of Jack’s New South. For more information, please visit http://www.hawkinsvilleharvestfest.com.