June 9, 2010
Vol. 28 No. 23
PERDUE SIGNS WATER STEWARDSHIP BILL With a full Lake Lanier in the background, Gov. Sonny Perdue last week signed into law the Water Stewardship Act of 2010, a water use bill that he said helps build a statewide “culture of conservation” and shows that the state is serious about using water efficiently. “This legislation helps secure our water supplies by preparing for future growth, protecting water-sensitive industries and equipping us to navigate future droughts that are sure to come,” Perdue said. Georgia Farm Bureau supported the bill and assisted in forming provisions it includes that relate to agriculture. The law protects agricultural use and establishes permit categories for farm use of surface and ground water. “We recognize that efficient use of water resources is a serious issue that affects all Georgians,” GFB President Zippy Duvall said. “Continued access to water is crucial to maintaining agricultural viability in our state, and we believe this legislation helps protect that access.” The law establishes a system of watering permit categories, protecting the permits by statute. Landowners who have unused permits will be given the chance to classify them as active or inactive. Active permits are those being used for agricultural purposes. Inactive permits are those not being used, but which the permit holder wants to hold in reserve for future use or reuse. Permits that go unused for two years without being classified as active or inactive will be revoked under the new law. The law, sponsored in the senate by Sen. Ross Tolleson, was based on recommendations from the Governor’s Water Contingency Task Force, and is part of the state’s effort to forge a water-sharing agreement with Alabama and Florida. The legislation prohibits irrigation for landscaping purposes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Commercial agricultural operations are exempt from the law’s watering restrictions. Builders will be required to install more efficient plumbing fixtures in new developments while encouraging retrofits to install efficient water-use technology in existing buildings, and directs eight state agencies to examine water provider grant and loan programs to develop incentives for retrofits on existing construction. Under the law, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division is required to set standards for water loss and leak detection for all medium and large public water systems.
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WATER CONSERVATION FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR S. GEORGIA FARMERS South Georgia farmers who need supplemental irrigation may be eligible for funds and technical assistance for constructing irrigation reservoirs or improving existing reservoirs on agricultural property. More than $2.4 million is available under the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission’s (GSWCC) 2010 Ponds Program, a cost-sharing agreement. Ponds Program reservoirs retain rainwater for irrigation, reducing the demand for use of groundwater and maximizing the efficiency of irrigation systems. The GSWCC will oversee the program and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service swill give technical assistance. “Our South Georgia farmers are especially vulnerable to droughts and harsh weather,” said GSWCC Chairman Garland Thompson. “The federal assistance provided by the Ponds Program is vital to help farmers make the most of the rain we do get while preserving the health of our aquifers.” Under the program, landowners must provide 25 percent of the pond project, and grant funds provide the remaining 75 percent up to $50,000. Possible funding for irrigation nozzle retrofits is also available at $6 per linear foot of the center pivot irrigation system up to $5,000, as is an additional cost share on an end gun shutoff, which will be based on 75 percent of the original cost up to $3,000. Applications will be accepted from July 1 to July 30. For more information, contact the GSWCC office at 706-542-3065 or visit www.gaswcc.org. EPA REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that it had reached a settlement agreement with three environmental groups in litigation over the EPA’s October 2008 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) rule. Under the CAFO rule, operations with manure discharges that enter waterways are subject to fines of $37,500 per day. Prior to the CAFO rule, land application of manure for crop production was unregulated under the Clean Water Act. The CAFO rule allows livestock producers to operate without a permit as long as as they do not have discharges. In December 2008 the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance filed a petition with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for judicial review of the EPA’s final rule under the Clean Water Act regarding CAFOs. The petition was transferred to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The EPA agreed to issue guidelines detailing conditions under which CAFOs must apply for permits under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Under the terms of the agreement, the EPA will finalize rules requiring all livestock operations to submit detailed farm information which will be made available to the public. That information will include the name and address of the owner/operator, type of facility, size of facility, type and capacity of manure storage, whether the CAFO land applies, nutrient management plan and practices, quantity and destination of manure transfer, and whether the CAFO has applied for an NPDES permit.
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DOT PROPOSES BANNING PEANUTS ON AIRLINE FLIGHTS The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) last week proposed a set of consumer protection rules for passengers that included the possible banning of peanuts on airline flights. The peanut portion of the proposed rule is intended to accommodate passengers with peanut allergies. The DOT is soliciting comments on three different options for accommodating passengers with peanut allergies. First is an outright ban on airlines offering peanuts as part of their food menus on flights covered by the DOT’s disability rule. American Airlines does not serve peanuts, but does serve other nut products and other foods that have peanut products in them. Delta Airlines serves peanuts, but will, with advance notice of a passenger with a peanut allergy, create a peanut-free zone three rows in front of and three rows behind that passenger. The second option under consideration is banning service of peanuts and peanut products on flights for which a peanut-allergic passenger has made an advance request of a peanut-free flight. The third option is requiring airlines to require a buffer zone, similar to the practice employed by Delta, when a passenger with a medically documented severe allergy to peanuts requests a peanut-free flight. To submit a comment on the DOT’s proposed rule, please visit www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480afe2f8, then click the “submit comment” link. Comments should be filed by Aug. 9. CWT ANNOUNCES 10TH HERD RETIREMENT In an effort to accelerate milk price recovery and hoping to capitalize on strong beef prices, Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has announced that it will conduct its 10th herd retirement since 2003. The most recent one was conducted in the fall of 2009. There were three herd retirements in 2009, removing more than 200,000 cows from milk production. CWT, which is managed by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) will accept bids through June 25 and will consider bids no higher than $3.75 per hundredweight. There is no set target for the volume of milk or the number of cows to be removed, and NMPF President Jerry Kozak said CWT will not pay more for cows than what they are currently worth in the marketplace. Bids will be accepted on a hundredweight basis, and CWT will review them beginning with the lowest bid received. Producers whose bids are accepted are paid for their milk production and retain the beef value of the cows they sell for processing. Between June 29 and July 6, an independent audit firm will review the bids. The final bid selections will be made July 7, and farm audits will begin July 12. Bidders will be notified of the results by July 30. Successful bidders will receive 90 percent of their bid after verifying that their dry and milking cows have been sold for processing and the remaining 10 percent at the end of the 12-month waiting period after verifying that they have not resumed in milk production or marketing. For more information, visit www.cwt.coop or call 888-463-6298.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 4 UPCOMING EVENTS GFB YOUNG FARMER PHOTO CONTEST The deadline to enter is June 11 by 4:30 p.m.The contest is open to amateur photographers who are GFB members. The top prize is $150 with five honorable mention prizes of $75 each. The winning photographs will capture the image and spirit of agriculture and Farm Bureau in Georgia. All photos must have been taken in 2009 or 2010. All entries must be submitted via e-mail as an attachment in JPEG format by 4:30 p.m. on June 11 to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and complete contest rules, please visit http://www.gfb.org/programs/yf/photo_contest.html. Employees of the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation, its affiliated companies and county Farm Bureau employees may not participate. ORGANIC PEANUT FIELD DAY June 11 UGA Lang Farm, Ponder Farm & Black Shank Farm Tifton Farmers can learn how to break into the organic peanut market or reduce input costs. Contact Jonathan Tescher at 678-702-0400 or at email@example.com or visit http://georgiaorganics.org/events/event.php?id=1174. 2010 GEORGIA-FLORIDA TOBACCO TOUR June 14-16 Lake City, Fla. to Screven, Ga. Participants will get a first-hand look at research on disease and insect control strategies, chemical application and on-farm demonstrations, including a visit to research plots at UGA-Tifton. For more information and to register, visit www.GeorgiaTobacco.com. UGA COTTON SCOUT SCHOOLS June 14 UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center Tifton June 22 Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center Midville The training programs at each location will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 12:30 p.m. For more information contact Guy Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 229-386-3006. GA PORK PRODUCERS MEETING & PORK ACT DELEGATE ELECTION June 16 Georgia Farm Bureau Home Office Macon Georgia pork producers will elect delegate candidates as outlined in the Pork Act for the 2011 National Pork Forum at 2 p.m. along with a meeting of the Georgia Pork Producers Association. Producers should bring a sales receipt proving that hogs were sold in their name and the checkoff was paid to be eligible as delegates or candidates or participate in the election. This meeting will follow the 2010 Georgia Pork Congress that begins at 8:30 a.m. For information, contact the Georgia Pork Producers Association at 1800-537-5988. FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLE PRODUCTION FIELD DAY June 24 Cane Creek Farm Cumming This event will include a session on high tunnel hoop houses and the USDA EQIP program, which provides financial incentives for installing the hoop houses and a session on the new GA EBT Farmer’s Market Program. To register, call 706-894-1591 or email email@example.com. STRIPLING IRRIGATION RESEARCH PARK FIELD DAY June 29 Stripling Irrigation Research Park Camilla This event will feature field tours and presentations covering irrigation research. A free lunch will be provided beginning at 12 noon. Please preregister by contacting Heather Hunter at Stripling Park at firstname.lastname@example.org or 229-522-3623.