June 27, 2012
Vol. 30 No. 26
SENATE PASSES FARM BILL, AWAITS HOUSE VERSION The U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2012 farm bill on June 21 by a 64-35 vote. The bill establishes program guidelines for the USDA for the next five years. Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson both voted against the final bill, citing inequities between commodities and regions. “If this bill were to become law without significant changes, producers in the Southeast would be left without an effective safety net,” Chambliss said. Both Georgia senators expressed hope the imbalance of protections for farmers would be resolved when the House and Senate bills are conferenced. The House Ag Committee is expected to resume work on that chamber’s farm bill after the July 4 recess. The Senate bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240), establishes total spending for USDA programs at $969 billion from 2013 to 2022, $23.6 billion less than would be spent if the USDA programs under current law were continued for the same period according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Though the farm bill is reworked by Congress every five years, the CBO does budget estimates in 10-year increments. The bill eliminates direct payments, counter-cyclical payments, Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) payments and Supplemental Revenue Assistance (SURE) payments. The bill’s commodity portion was reworked around private crop insurance, with the federal government assisting farmers with premium payments. The bill placed limits on who could receive premium assistance and how much farmers could receive; farmers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $750,000 or more are ineligible for payments, which are capped at $50,000. An amendment submitted by Chambliss and approved in the final bill makes conservation compliance a prerequisite for participating in the crop insurance program. Overall, S. 3240 cuts spending on commodity programs by more than $13 billion over the next 10 years. An estimated $6 billion was cut from conservation spending by combining 23 programs into 13. An estimated $4 billion was cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; commonly referred to as the food stamp program), which accounts for approximately 80 percent of the USDA budget. This was achieved by enacting rules to close a number of loopholes, including a prohibition against states making marginal heating bill payments to individuals to allow them to qualify for SNAP benefits.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 6 SUPREME COURT SPLITS ON ARIZ. LAW; WON’T HEAR WATER DISPUTE CASE The U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the 2010 Arizona immigration law and declined to hear the tri-state water dispute between Georgia, Alabama and Florida in decisions announced on June 25. The Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, was the first of several state laws around the country including Georgia’s HB 87 - aimed at curbing illegal immigration. The Supreme Court struck down SB 1070’s provisions making it a crime for illegal immigrants to apply for or hold jobs and allowing police to arrest without warrants individuals suspected of committing crimes for which they could be deported. The court upheld the Lake Lanier portion of SB1070 that requires police to check immigration status of people they stop for another reason, such as in a routine traffic stop, if they suspect them of being in the U.S. illegally. “We’ll have to wait and see how the ruling on the Arizona immigration law will affect our state’s enforcement reforms because Georgia’s law is not identical to Arizona’s,” Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement. “That said, it appears the court has upheld the major thrust of our state’s statute: That states have the right to assist in enforcing federal immigration law.” The court declined to hear the case in a suit filed by Alabama and Florida against Georgia over the access to water from Lake Lanier. In June 2011 a three-judge panel from the U.S. 11th District Court of Appeals ruled that the original intent for Lake Lanier when it was built did not exclude metro Atlanta from withdrawing water. The original intent included power generation, flood control and navigation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was directed to work out an allocation plan. Alabama and Florida asked the full 11th District Court to review the finding, but the court declined. The Supreme Court’s refusal to review the case makes the panel’s decision permanent. Deal said the three states now have the opportunity to work toward a long-term agreement on water sharing. THREE GEORGIA COUNTIES WIN AFBF MINI-GRANTS County Farm Bureaus in Bacon, Cherokee and Evans counties have been awarded $500 minigrants through the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The mini-grants are used to fund new projects or extend existing projects to promote agricultural literacy in local communities. The awards were given based on the effectiveness of demonstrating the connection between agriculture and education, how effectively the programs encouraged students to learn more about agriculture and the methods for meeting project goals. Bacon County Farm Bureau distributed the grant funds to Bacon County Primary School, which used the money to purchase 30 books on agriculture to be placed in the school library, along with Accelerated Reader Quizzes about each book. BCFB donated a bookshelf on which the books can be displayed. Cherokee County Farm Bureau distributed its grant funds to Free Home Elementary School for the expansion of the school’s gardens. Evans County Farm Bureau distributed its grant funds to Claxton Elementary School to help build two greenhouses.
Leadership Alert page 3 of 6 KINGSTON INTRODUCES FY 2013 AG APPROPRIATIONS BILL Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) introduced the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill on June 20 to the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill provides funding for USDA programs for FY 2013, which begins Oct. 1. Kingston’s bill, H.R. 5973, includes $9 billion in discretionary funding, $365 million less than the FY 2012 funding level and $1.7 billion less than the budget proposed by President Obama. “American agriculture is the envy of the world, feeding not only our country but much of the globe,” Kingston said. “This legislation supports agriculture and nutrition investments and increases efficiency and effectiveness at the Agriculture Department and other agencies. It will help ensure a safe and abundant food and drug supply and spur rural economic growth while checking the growth of government using common-sense reforms.” The Ag Appropriations Bill provides funding for a wide array of federal agricultural programs, mostly within USDA. In addition to the nutrition and farm programs these programs include: agricultural research; education and extension activities; natural resources conservation programs; food safety; marketing and inspection activities; rural economic and community development activities; telecommunications and electrification assistance; and various export and international activities of the USDA. The bill, which was approved by the Ag Appropriations Subcommittee on June 19, included an amendment from Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that prohibits farm program funding from being provided to individuals with adjusted gross income of more than $250,000. Georgia Farm Bureau opposes this amendment. EPA AIR QUALITY PROPOSAL WOULD KEEP STANDARDS ON FARM DUST On June 14 the U.S. EPA proposed revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. The EPA proposes to retain the current standard for coarse particulate matter (PM10), which includes farm dust. EPA proposes tightening the standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from the current 15 micrograms to a range between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter. EPA is expected to publish a final rule on National Ambient Air Quality Standards in December. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review ambient air quality standards every five years. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, in December 2011. The bill has not been addressed in the Senate. In another move by the EPA, on June 15 the agency granted waivers for a number of companies’ misfueling mitigation plans for the sales of E15 ethanol blends in passenger cars from model years 2001 and newer. The plans are designed to minimize instances where E15 fuel blends are pumped into vehicles manufactured before 2001. The misfueling mitigation plan condition was one of two conditions placed on the E15 waiver. The other addresses fuel and ethanol quality. The waiver is the final federal regulatory hurdle for E15 being introduced to the market, but its widespread use still faces potential lawsuits and regulatory challenges on the state level.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 6 CONGRATULATIONS Georgia 4-Hers’ video about Twiggs County 4-H efforts to restore the local library after it was destroyed by fire won the 2011 Citizen Washington Focus Video Award. 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, and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will speak. Contact Judy Couch at 478-992-8110 for more information or to register, or visit http://www.gfagrow.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=9. 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. For more information, call 229-9851968 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. 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. 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. 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. FSA TAKING NOMINATIONS FOR COUNTY COMMITTEES The Farm Service Agency is accepting nominations for county committees 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. For more information visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. FSA will mail ballots beginning Nov. 5. The ballots are due back to the local FSA office by Dec. 3. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, 2013.
Leadership Alert page 6 of 6 GARLICFEST 2012 Aug. 25 LoganBerry Heritage Farm 10 a.m. â€“ 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. 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.