June 22, 2011
Vol. 29 No. 25
DROUGHT HAVING SEVERE IMPACT ON GROWERS, LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS The continuing drought conditions across central and south Georgia have begun to hit many farmers in the wallet as the weather is driving them to alter their planting plans and use more irrigation to keep existing plants alive, resulting in greater energy and irrigation maintenance costs.. “It’s just every day you’re having to make decisions on planting deep or planting shallow, waiting on rain or waiting on irrigation,” said GFB 10th District Director Daniel Johnson, who grows tobacco, cotton and peanuts. “We just have to take it one day at a time. Trying to keep the tobacco wet keeps my mind off cotton and peanuts. We’ve had a continuous irrigation just to keep everything alive. When you’ve got 100 degree temperatures, the soil temperature might be 110 or 115 on top and a young cotton plant just can’t stand it. It just fries.” County Farm Bureau offices in Dodge and Berrien counties have held prayer services for favorable agricultural weather. Livestock producers were given some guidelines during a workshop on June 20 at the UGA Tifton Campus. The event was also webcast, and Farm Bureau offices in Washington, South Fulton and Haralson counties had meetings to view the webcast. UGA Extension Economist for Livestock Dr. Curt Lacy gave tips on how to minimize financial impact the drought can have on livestock operations. Lacy advised livestock owners to consider the yearly price cycles for various types of cattle and recommended selling open cows, unprofitable cows and first- and second-calf heifers before selling productive cows between 4 and 7 years old. The workshop also covered weather patterns that contributed to the drought, tax implications of culling herds and strategies for forage and feeding management. To view the information from the workshop, visit http://www.caes.uga.edu/commodities/fieldcrops/forages/events/drought/DroughtMtg11.html. Earlier this month Gov. Nathan Deal wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting secretarial disaster designation for 22 counties. A Farm Service Agency (FSA) Loss Assessment Report (LAR) conducted in April indicated agricultural losses only in those counties at that time. A subsequent LAR this summer is expected to reveal losses in many more counties. To qualify for a secretarial disaster designation, a county must have a 30 percent production loss in at least one crop due to a natural disaster. “The April LARs only reflected losses through mid-April and the majority of Georgia counties did not show crop loss until after that date. I expect crop loss assessments which reflect current loss to be requested and completed by mid-July,” said FSA Georgia State Executive Director Hobby Stripling.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 5 GFB SUBMITS COMMENTS ON RECOMMENDED REGIONAL WATER PLANS Noting that an economically viable future in agriculture is dependent on farmers’ access to water, on June 17 Georgia Farm Bureau submitted comments on the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s (EPD) initial draft of recommended regional water plans submitted by the 10 Regional Water Councils (RWCs). In a letter to the EPD, GFB President Zippy Duvall acknowledged the importance of a permitting system for large water users but asked that private property rights be factored into decisions regarding permitting and in establishing stream buffering requirements. GFB expressed concern over suggestions that the RWCs be allowed revenue-raising authority. Duvall wrote that GFB views the inclusion of measures to expand Georgia’s system of reservoirs, as well as the 2012 state budget’s inclusion of $46 million in funding for reservoir development, as positive steps. The GFB comments included a request for monetary incentives and cost-share opportunities for farmers who voluntarily switch from surface water irrigation withdrawal systems to ground water withdrawal systems as recommended by many of the water councils. The Suwanee Satilla RWC recommended that the use of high-pressure spray guns in irrigation systems be minimized or eliminated. GFB contends that this step would prevent some farmers from having the option to irrigate their crops. The Coosa-North Georgia and Upper Oconee RWCs’ suggested requirement for the use of variable-rate irrigation systems would cause problems for some farmers due to costs and maintenance issues involved. Duvall also expressed the organization’s support for recommended consumptive use evaluations to collect data on whether water used for agriculture is totally consumptive. SENATE GETS AG FUNDING BILL, GRASSLEY PROPOSES PAYMENT CUTS The U.S. House passed the 2012 ag appropriations bill (HR 2112) by a 217-203 vote on June 16. The bill, which would provide $125.5 billion in discretionary and mandatory spending in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, was sent to the Senate the same day. The spending level in the bill is $7 billion less than what was proposed by President Barack Obama, and its discretionary spending portion is $2.7 billion less than was appropriated in 2011. Farm Bureau opposed several measures in the bill, including language that would prohibit the USDA from implementing the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule, which remained in the bill, as did measures eliminating salaries for personnel implementing the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). On June 9 Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced the Rural America Preservation Act, a bill that would lower the caps on direct and counter-cyclical payments and establish a cap on loan deficiency payments and market loan gains. Currently, direct payments are capped at $40,000 and counter-cyclical payments are limited to $65,000. Under the bill, S 1161, the limit on direct payments would be lowered to $25,000 and the counter-cyclical limit would be $30,000. The bill’s cap on loan deficiency and market loan gain payments is $75,000. The bill would limit overall farm payments to $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples.
Leadership Alert page 3 of 5 GEORGIA PEANUT COMMISSION BUDGET APPROVED The Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) board of directors recently approved a $1.25 million budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which begins July 1. This budget provides funding in the areas of promotion, education, communication and research. Georgia peanut growers invest $2 per ton for commission activities. Decreases in acreage and declines in estimated production due to drought prompted the board to decrease the budget by $380,000 from last year. “The board and advisory board members reviewed the budget and approved several cuts throughout all areas of the commission activities,” said GPC Chairman Armond Morris. “It is going to be a slim year but we are focused on doing what we can to obtain the most for every dollar spent on our programs of work and maximizing our exposure through partnerships with other organizations and businesses.” The budget was set based on an estimated 625,000 tons of production for the 2011 crop. This was a decrease from the $1.63 million approved in the fiscal year 2010-2011. One long-time project of the commission, Peanut Circus, was eliminated after nearly 30 years of reaching millions of children across the U.S. Another relatively new promotion targeting other major markets in the midwest was also eliminated. One national promotional effort coordinated by the state check-off organizations in the Southeast, the Southern Peanut Growers, was also cut by $20,000 in its program of work. Throughout the budget, cuts were made in all areas of promotion, education and communication. The research portion of the budget, approved in March, was not cut. Visit http://www.gapeanuts.com for more information on activities of the Georgia Peanut Commission. FEDERAL E-VERIFY BILL INTRODUCED, COUNTRIES FILE BRIEFS IN SUIT On June 14, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced the Legal Workforce Act, a bill he said would improve the E-Verify system and make its use mandatory for all U.S. employers. The bill, HR 2164, has 16 cosponsors, including Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). According to a press release from Smith’s office, it would repeal the current paper-based I-9 system and replace it with a completely electronic work eligibility check. The mandatory EVerify use would be phased in under provisions in HR 2164. Within six months of the bill becoming law, businesses with more than 10,000 employees would be required to use E-Verify. Employers with between 500 and 9,999 employees would be required to use E-Verify within 12 months. Those with between 20 and 499 employees would be required to use E-Verify within 18 months and businesses with less than 20 employees would be required to use E-Verify within 24 months. Meanwhile, a group of 11 countries, including Mexico, has filed a brief in a lawsuit against the state of Georgia over HB 87, the state’s new immigration law that goes into effect on July 1. The suit was originally filed on June 2 by the American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of other civil rights groups. Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru filed friend of the court briefs in the suit, which asks the U.S. District Court to declare HB 87 unconstitutional and prevent it from being enforced.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 5 WOMEN, HISPANIC FARMERS CAN APPLY FOR USDA CLAIMS PACKAGE The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced the establishment of a process to resolve the claims of Hispanic and women farmers who assert that they were discriminated against when seeking USDA farm loans. To register for a claims package or for more information visit http://www.farmerclaims.gov or call 1-888-508-4429. U.S. DOT TAKING COMMENTS ON CDL RULES FOR FARM VEHICLES The U.S. Department of Transportationâ€™s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is requesting comments on the applicability of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to farmers and ranchers. The request for comment was published on May 31 and the deadline to submit comments is June 30. Visit http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FMCSA-2011-0146-0001 to comment. GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE EXPORT SEMINAR June 27 Doubletree Buckhead Hotel Atlanta This free event is open to all Georgia agricultural companies interested in exporting to foreign markets. The seminar will provide information, contacts and resources to help Georgia companies compete globally. Topics will include a discussion of the USDAâ€™s Export Credit Guarantee Program, government resources to help businesses export their products, financing and banking topics and a presentation on the Market Access Program by the Southern U.S. Trade Association. Registration deadline is June 15. For more information contact Shehzin Jafar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-656-3740. LOCALLY PRODUCED MEAT WORKSHOP June 28 UGA Edgar Rhodes Center for Animal and Dairy Science Athens This workshop, sponsored by Cooperative Extension agents in Elbert, Greene and Jasper counties, runs fro 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Topics include cattle and swine management and nutrition, beef and port quality, grass vs. grain effects on beef quality, beef and pork yield, pork carcass fabrication and marketing and economics of local food production. Registration is $25 per person and the deadline is June 24. To register, contact the Elbert County Extension office at 706-283-2037. BLUEBERRY COUNCIL HOLDING REFERENDUM The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) will hold its second continuation referendum from July 5 to July 26. The continuation referendums are required every five years by the United States Department of Agriculture. All eligible blueberry growers and importers will be mailed a referendum ballot directly from the USDA. Those who have not received a ballot in the mail by July 5 are encouraged to contact the USDA or the USHBC office. Visit http://www.blueberry.org/ushbc/referendum.htm for more information.
Leadership Alert page 5 of 5 2011 SUNBELT EXPO FIELD DAY July 7 Spence Field 8:30 a.m. Moultrie This free event gives farmers and the public a chance to see research projects in progress and talk with the researchers involved in the experiments, as well as providing the opportunity to view the latest in modern agriculture. Topics include GPS navigation, irrigation technology, test plots for switchgrass and miscanthus, and much more. Lunch is included. For information, call 229-9851968 or visit http://www.sunbeltexpo.com. GEORGIA FORESTRY ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING July 16-18 Westin and Savannah Trade Center Savannah This event includes sessions on timber industry financing, bioenergy, emerging timber trade markets and more. There are opportunities for networking and specialized family and children programs for attendees. Registration is $500 for members and $600 for non-members. For more information and to register, visit http://www.gfagrow.org/annualmeeting.asp. FSA TAKING NOMINATIONS FOR COUNTY COMMITTEES The nomination period for Farm Service Agency county committees opened June 15 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. For more information visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. FSA will mail ballots beginning Nov. 4. The ballots are due back to the local county office by Dec. 5. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 2, 2012. NATIONAL ANGUS CONFERENCE & TOUR Sept. 6-8 The Classic Center Athens Sponsored by Land Oâ€™Lakes Purina Feed LLC, this tour includes two days of visits at ranches in central and northeast Georgia as well as presentations from industry representatives, researchers and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. Registration fee is $150 before Aug. 1 and $175 after. For more information, visit http://www.nationalangusconference.com, call 816-3835100 or email email@example.com. GEORGIA PECAN GROWERS ASSOCIATION FALL FIELD DAY Sept. 8 UGA Tifton Campus 8 a.m. Tifton This free event will feature a review of the latest insect, disease, fertilizer, and breeding research by UGA pecan researchers including Jim Dutcher, Tim Brenneman, Lenny Wells, and Patrick Conner. Lunch will be provided. For more information, contact Janice Dees at firstname.lastname@example.org.