June 5, 2013
Vol. 31 No. 23
FARMERS TALK IMMIGRATION REFORM WITH AJC GFB President Zippy Duvall and American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman met with the editorial board of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in Atlanta on May 30 to discuss the need for meaningful immigration reform. Joining the state and national Farm Bureau presidents were McDuffie County horticulture producer Skeetter McCorkle and Sumter County vegetable grower Dick Minor. The meeting was held at Farm Bureau’s request. “The AJC is likely to have an editorial position on an issue like immigration reform, so we asked for the opportunity to explain how important it is to farmers,” said Duvall. The 90-minute recorded meeting included back and forth discussion and debate. The Farm Bureau leaders expressed their support for S. 744, the immigration bill currently before the U.S. Senate. “AFBF supports the Senate bill, and we will continue to work through the amendment process,” said Stallman. “It’s not perfect, but it is something we can agree to.” Duvall noted the importance of keeping the debate moving forward and the additional jobs created in agricultural processing. “The jobs created up the line are important; nothing good comes from turning our heads on this issue,” Duvall said. Minor and McCorkle offered a farmer’s perspective on the issue. Both men noted the difficulties in finding Americans willing to take field jobs. “It has been very difficult for us to keep a labor force,” said McCorkle. “This work is physically demanding, but it is not mindless grunt work; it is a skilled role.” Minor added, “Labor is always our number one issue. We’ve been working on it for 25 years, and we believe we need to move forward with immigration reform.” S. 744 was introduced in the Senate in April by the so-called “Gang of Eight.” The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in May and is scheduled for Senate debate as early as next week. The main provisions of the bill include a “Blue Card” provision which will allow undocumented agricultural workers to legally remain in the country to work in agriculture. Applicants will be required to prove they have worked on farms in the past, pass security and law enforcement background checks, and pay a fine in order to be eligible for the blue card. The bill also creates a new, less cumbersome agriculture guest worker program to allow workers outside the country to obtain visas to work in agriculture. Once the new plan is in place, the current H-2A program would be phased out.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 6 USDA PUBLISHES UPDATED FINAL COUNTRY OF ORIGIN LABELING RULE The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a final rule to modify the labeling provisions for muscle cut commodities covered under the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program, according to a USDA press release. The final rule modifies the labeling provisions for muscle cut commodities to require the origin designations to include information about where each of the production steps occurred and removes the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts. In June 2012, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) affirmed an earlier WTO Panel decision finding that the United States’ COOL requirements for certain meat commodities discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock imports and thus were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. The United States had until May 23 to come into compliance with the WTO ruling in COOL. Notice of the final rule was published in the May 24 Federal Register. and went into effect on May 23. According to the press release, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will conduct an industry education and outreach program concerning the requirements of the rule. According to analysis by American Farm Bureau Federation policy experts, the new rule issued by USDA will not satisfy the Canadian government’s challenge to labeling requirements pertaining to beef and pork COOL. The Canadian government is likely to raise further objections to the WTO ruling. Under COOL, retailers must provide their customers with information about the origin of various food products, including fruits, vegetables, fish and shellfish and meats. Mandatory COOL requirements help consumers make informed purchasing decisions about the food they buy. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is responsible for the implementation, administration and enforcement of the COOL regulations. The final COOL regulations became effective March 16, 2009. To learn more about COOL visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/COOL. CHINESE COMPANY REACHES AGREEMENT TO BUY SMITHFIELD FOODS Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer, reached a merger agreement with Chinese company Shuanghui International Holdings. Shuanghui will acquire all outstanding shares of Smithfield stock, according to a Smithfield press release. The deal, which was announced on May 29, values Smithfield at approximately $7.1 billion, including Smithfield’s debt. The press release indicated the deal is expected to close in the second half of 2013, subject to Smithfield shareholder approval and approval under applicable U.S. and specified foreign antitrust and anti-competition laws. Once the closing is complete, Smithfield common stock will no longer be publicly traded and the company will become a wholly owned independent subsidiary of Shuganhui. Under the agreement, there will be no closures of Smithfield’s facilities and locations, and Smithfield’s existing management team, including president and CEO C. Larry Pope, will remain in place. Smithfield will continue to be run from its headquarters in Virginia.
Leadership Alert page 3 of 6 HOUSE PASSES ADUFA REAUTHORIZATION The U.S. House passed S. 622, the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) of 2013 on June 3 by a 390-12 vote. The bill, which passed the Senate on May 8 by unanimous consent, now waits to be signed into law by President Obama. ADUFA amends the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to extend it until 2018. It sets the deadline for payment of the animal drug user fees as the later date between Jan. 31 or the first business day after enactment of an appropriations act providing for the collection and use of the fees. The FDA uses the fees to support and expedite its reviews of new animal drugs while maintaining the scientific integrity of the FDA’s drug approval process. Georgia Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau supported the passage of the bill free of amendments that would restrict access to antibiotics and other critical animal health tools. During the GFB county presidents’ trip to Washington in April, reauthorization of ADUFA was one of the key subjects GFB members discussed with their members of Congress, stressing the fact that effective measures to keep animals healthy are important for consumer confidence and protection of the U.S. food supply. Both GFB and AFBF had concerns that other groups might move to attach antibiotics-related issues to ADUFA. GFB maintains that the FDA already has a rigorous approval process for antibiotics labeled for use in food animals, and that farmers work closely with veterinarians under FDA guidelines in the best interest of animal welfare and public health. The National Cattlemens’ Beef Association (NCBA) welcomed the passage of the bill, noting that ADUFA has allowed cattle producers and veterinarians to prevent, control and treat diseases to maintain healthy herds. “Raising healthy cattle is of utmost importance to cattlemen and women, and it is important for producers and the veternarians they work with to have the ability to best manage herd health and produce safe, nutritious beef,” said NCBA President Scott George. “The reauthorization of ADUFA will provide resources for the FDA to conduct timely and thorough reviews of new animal drugs for safety and effectiveness.” GEORGIA DAIRY FARMERS PASS MILK REFERENDUMS Georgia dairy farmers voted to continue the Georgia Milk Producers (GMP), Inc. for another three years during a mail referendum held April 15-May 14. The referendum passed by 94 percent with 105 producers voting in favor and seven against. State law requires that at least 66 2/3 percent of the producers voting must vote in favor of continuing the organization. One ballot submitted was invalid and 129 ballots mailed to producers were not returned. The GMP is funded by a one-cent per hundredweight assessment on all milk produced in Georgia. GMP activities include educational seminars for producers, promotional exhibits at public events and the Mobile Dairy Classroom. This vote is different from the referendum held Jan. 25-Feb. 25 for the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Milk. That referendum passed by 97 percent with 104 producers voting in favor and three against. The ACC for Milk is responsible for promotion, education and research of Georgia’s dairy industry and is funded by a 10-cent per hundredweight assessment on all milk produced in Georgia.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 6 FSA ACCEPTING SURE APPLICATIONS FOR 2011 CROP LOSSES Farmers who sustained crop losses that occurred in the 2011 crop year before Sept. 30, 2011, may sign up for Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) through June 7, 2013. To be eligible for SURE, a farm or ranch must have had at least a 10-percent production loss on a crop of economic significance, have enrolled in a policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for all economically significant crops, and must have been physically located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county by the Secretary of Agriculture under a Secretarial Disaster Designation. All counties in Georgia qualify, having received either a primary or contiguous disaster designaion in 2011. For more information on the 2011 SURE program, visit any FSA county office or http://www.fsa.usda.gov/sure.’ GEORGIA BLUEBERRY COMMISSION HOLDING RECIPE CONTEST The Georgia Blueberry Commission is holding its first “Sweet Georgia Blues Recipe Contest” throughout the month of June in celebration of Georgia Blueberry Month. Georgia Blueberry fans are invited to create and photograph an original recipe using Georgia Blueberries. Submissions will be posted on the Georgia Blueberry Commission’s website and Facebook page for voting. Contestants are encouraged to share information about the contest with family and friends to gain more votes. Recipe submission and voting began June 1 and continues through June 30. Winners will be announced on July 8th.The recipe creator with the most votes will win $500. Contestants who receive the second and third most votes will receive a Sweet Georgia Blues Basket (includes blueberry jams, autographed cookbook, etc) and an autographed copy of Hugh Acheson’s A New Turn in the South Cookbook, respectively. For more information and contest rules, log onto http://www.GeorgiaBlueberries.org UGA ENTOMOLOGISTS WANT YOUR CICADAS University of Georgia entomologists are hoping to use the public's interest in this year's emergence of Brood II periodical cicadas as a chance to research and better map the range of the cicadas. UGA entomologists are asking Georgians to collect any intact cicada bodies they find on the ground and send them to the museum. The Georgia Museum of Natural History has an international collection of cicadas ranging in size from smaller than a pinkie fingernail to some Southeast Asian species that are the size of the palm of a hand, all in a rainbow of colors. Having specimens from this brood would help document this emergence in Georgia, Members of the public who find cicada bodies should send them to Richard Hoebeke, Georgia Museum of Natural History, Natural History Building, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602-7882. For more information on the museum, see http://naturalhistory.uga.edu/. AGSOUTH FARM CREDIT FINANCIAL WORKSHOPS June 8 East Ga. State College Register by May 25 Statesboro June 22 Clemson University Register by June 8 Clemson, S.C. 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. – 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.
Leadership Alert page 5 of 6 GEORGIA GROWN FARMER SHOWCASE June 8 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. GEORGIA SMALL FARM CONFERENCE June 20-21 Unicoi State Park Helen This conference, sponsored by the Broad River Soil and Wter Conservation District, will focus on helping farmers with small-scale operations improve their farms and run them more efficiently. Financial assistance through the Broad River Soil and Water Conservation District and the Oconee River Resource Conservation and Development Council will cover costs for 120 farmers to attend the meeting, which includes one night at the Lodge at Unicoi State Park. For other individuals interested in attending, the registration cost is $220, which includes one night’s lodging. The meeting will include general educational sessions covering major agricultural topics, as well as breakout sessions covering topics unique to small farming operations. Registration must be received by June 10. Farmers interested in attending should contact the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission Region II office at 706-552-4479 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. COTTON INSECT SCOUTING SCHOOLS June 10 UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center 9 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Tifton June 18 Southeast Research and Education Center 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Midville These programs offer basic information on cotton insects and scouting procedures and will serve as a review for experienced scouts and producers and as an introduction to cotton insect monitoring for new scouts. Topics include scouting procedures, laval insect pests, bug pests, natural controls and safety. For more information about the Tifton session call Debbie Rutland at 229-386-3424. For information about the Midville session call Peyton Sapp at 706-554-2119. 2013 GEORGIA-FLORIDA TOBACCO TOUR June 10-12 Waresboro, Ga. – Lake City, Fla. This annual tour provides up-to-date information on variety trials, control of tomato spotted wilt virus, insect controls and much more. The tour will begin with a kick-off supper at Mixon’s Pond House in Waresboro at 7 p.m. on June 10. For more information or to register, visit http://tinyurl.com/lrk8k7p or contact Dr. J. Michael Moore at 229-386-3006 or email@example.com. USDA ACCEPTING CRP APPLICATIONS THROUGH JUNE 14 The USDA is conducting general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), through ending on June 14. CRP is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resourceconserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and enhance wildlife habitat. Contracts on 3.3 million acres of CRP are set to expire on Sept. 30. Producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP. Producers that are accepted in the sign-up can receive cost-share assistance to plant long-term, resource-conserving covers and receive an annual rental payment for the length of the contract (10-15 years). Continuous sign-up dates will be announced at a later date. For more information on CRP and other FSA programs, visit a local FSA service center or http://www.fsa.usda.gov.
Leadership Alert page 6 of 6 23RD ANNUAL IFAMA WORLD FORUM AND SYMPOSIUM June 16-20 Cobb Galleria Center Atlanta The International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) is an international organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of globally bringing together the best minds in agriculture and agribusiness to network and stimulate strategic thinking across the food, fiber, bio-fuel, floral and forestry systems. This year’s event offers a series of presentations focused on current issues impacting the global food system given by top executives and experts. Wells Fargo Chief Agricultural Economist Dr. Michael Swanson will deliver the keynote address. To register, visit https://www.ifama.org/events/conferences/2013/Default.aspx. The Georgia IFAMA chapter meeting will be held June 20 from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. following the conclusion of the World Forum. NORTH-SOUTH INSTITUTE AGRIPRENEURSHIP WORKSHOP June 20 859 Greater Zachariah Church Rd. 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Glennville This workshop will offer farmers, producers, and other agricultural professionals the unique opportunity to learn about working with the various agencies within the USDA. Included is an overview of opportunities available through the Farm Service Agency’s Non-insured Crop Assistance Program and the new Microloan Program announced January 2013 and members of the USDA Georgia StrikeForce Initiative to Boost Rural and Economic Growth will be present at this workshop to give a program message. On-site registration is open to the public and free for the first 25 attendees. Other registrants will be asked to contribute $25.00 to cover the publication costs of the workbook/manual to accompany the workshop. For more information or to RSVP in advance, please call 954-434-8220 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. 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.