March 6, 2013
Vol. 31 No. 10
CHANGES PROPOSED TO FLINT RIVER DROUGHT PROTECTION ACT A bill in the Georgia Senate proposes changes to the Flint River Drought Protection Act (FRDPA), making its mandatory bidding process optional, along with changes to other key provisions. The EPD is required by the Flint River Drought Protection Act to make an announcement regarding drought by March 1 each year. A drought declaration triggers an automatic bidding process which offers cash incentives for farmers in the Flint River basin to avoid use of irrigation, thus reducing irrigated acreage. Georgia Environmental Protection Division Director Jud Turner opted not to issue a severe drought declaration for 2013, the EPD said in a March 1 news release. The EPD release noted that while drought conditions are improving, it is still important that citizens be good stewards and conserve as much water as possible. The EPD drew criticism for declining the severe drought designation in 2012, when stream flows in the Flint River basin were at historic lows. Turner explained that the FRDPA wasn’t working because the state didn’t have the money to offer the required financial incentives and the plan wasn’t going to result in significant improvement of stream flows. Turner has said publicly that the FRDPA needs to be reworked to make it a financially useful tool for the state. The bill in the Senate, SB 213, was passed in the Senate Natural Resources & Environment Committee on Feb. 28. In addition to making the declaration and bidding process optional, the bill requires the EPD to study how revised rules might apply to managing the Flint River basin, including the interactions between surface water and ground water, development of stream flow targets for the Flint and its tributaries, collection of baseline data regarding agricultural water use and irrigation and assessment of the effects of quantifying agricultural withdrawal permits in the future. SB 213 would establish irrigation efficiency requirements for all agricultural water permits in the Flint River basin. Mobile and solid-set irrigation sprinklers would be required to achieve 60 percent efficiency. New agricultural withdrawal permits will require 80 percent efficiency, defined as the percentage of withdrawn water that reaches the root zone of plants. An 80 percent efficiency will be required of all ag water withdrawal permits in the Flint River basin by the year 2020. The bill also includes provisions for state funding of stream flow projects in the Flint River basin during times of drought while giving the EPD director authority to restrict withdrawals from augmented streams upon notification, enabling the targeted flows to be maintained. Withdrawal permit holders would be entitled to a hearing within five business days of receiving a notice from the EPD of withdrawal restrictions.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 6 SENATE REJECTS TWO SEQUESTRATION REPLACEMENT BILLS The Senate on Feb. 28 voted down two separate bills aimed at replacing the sequestration cuts to the federal budget. With no alternative plan approved, President Barack Obama began issuing orders on March 1 to implement the spending cuts mandated in the debt limit deal reached in the Budget Control Act of 2011, commonly referred to as sequestration. The sequestration cuts will trim $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years. Congress pushed sequestration back two months by legislation enacted on Jan. 1 to address the fiscal cliff. In published reports, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the way the sequestration was structured meant that among other things, the USDA would be forced to furlough meat inspectors. The two sequestration-avoidance bills represented both Democratic and Republican approaches. S. 388, the so-called “American Family Economic Protection Act of 2013,” introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), failed by a 51-49 vote. While it received a majority, it fell short of the 60 votes needed to end debate. S. 388 proposed equal parts spending cuts and tax revenue increases. The spending cuts were divided equally between the defense budget and the commodity title of the farm bill, with no other sectors of the government affected. A part of the bill was eliminating direct payments from 2014 to 2023. Direct payments for 2013, scheduled to be issued in October, were not addressed in S.388. American Farm Bureau and 18 other agricultural groups protested Reid’s proposal, which would have imposed 10 years of cuts to gain just 10 months of delay in the execution of sequestration. The other bill, S. 16, was introduced by James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and sought to give the president authority to make targeted cuts. The bill failed by a 38-62 vote. GEFA OFFERING REBATES FOR ELECTRIC PIVOT MOTORS The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority has launched the Agricultural Irrigation Motor (AIM) program, an incentive program designed to help Georgia farmers become more energy efficient, save money on fuel costs and reduce emissions. AIM will provide farmers with a rebate to replace diesel irrigation engines with electric irrigation motors. The rebates will cover 25 percent of eligible project costs, including expenses associated with connecting the electric engine to the power meter, three-phase converters and variable frequency drives. There is a $10,000 maximum rebate available. “We are pleased to have rebates available to help farmers install more efficient irrigation motors, which will lower their fuel costs and contribute to our state’s culture of conservation,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. “Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry and we want to help it grow in any way possible.” The conversion project must take place in the state of Georgia and must replace a diesel engine that is at least 10 years old and in service. The application period for AIM began on March 6 and ends on April 15 at 5 p.m.. Available funding is limited and rebates will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. For complete program rules or to apply online, visit http://www.gefa.org.
Leadership Alert page 3 of 6 EHV-1 WARNING ISSUED BY GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE The Georgia Department of Agriculture has issued a warning after a horse participating in the Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) event in Ocala was referred to the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine after showing clinical neurological signs on Feb. 20. The horse subsequently tested positive for the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), wild-type strain. Five additional horses linked to the HITS show subsequently tested positive. EHV-1 is a contagious virus that affects horses and can result in neurological disease, respiratory disease, abortion and neonatal death. The virus is spread by horse-to-horse contact via the respiratory tract via nasal secretions or contact with physical objects contaminated with he virus. The virus does not affect humans. The Division of Animal Industry has begun a disease investigation, which includes the HITS show grounds in Ocala and the local index farm. Currently, both the index farm and Tent 7 at HITS are under state quarantine. HITS management, trainers and veterinarians are cooperating fully to ensure proper safeguards are taken to prevent further spread of the disease. The series of shows, which take place at sites in multiple states, started in January and runs through midMarch. The GDA recommends that any Georgia horses attending this event that are not under quarantine should be isolated when returned home and observed closely for the next 21 days. If there is evidence of fever or illness, a veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible. Anyone that was in attendance at this event should insure that adequate bio-security is maintained so that this potentially deadly viral disease is not transported back to Georgia. The Georgia State Veterinarian’s office will continue to monitor this event closely and keep the Georgia equine industry informed. The GDA is asking all those in the equine community to report any suspected cases of EHV-1. For reporting, you may call the Georgia Department of Agriculture at 404-656-3671 or 404-656-3667. U.S., MEXICO EXTEND TOMATO PRICING AGREEMENT The United States and Mexico signed an extension of the agreement to suspend an antidumping investigation against Mexican exporters. The extension agreement was reached on Feb. 4 and after a public comment period went into effect on March 4. According to published reports, the agreement increases minimum pricing for Mexican tomatoes in the U.S. and bolsters compliance and enforcement measures. It also makes the rules applicable to multiple types of tomatoes. Last year, U.S. tomato growers had asked the Department of Commerce to terminate the suspension and proceed with the antidumping investigation, accusing Mexican growers of selling tomatoes in the U.S. market at prices below cost of production. The original agreement was reached in 1996 and has been renewed in 2002 and 2008. In another trade matter, the U.S. has launched negotiations with the European Union on the formation of a transatlantic free trade agreement. According to a fact sheet from the office of the United States Trade Representative, one of the goals in the negotiations is to address non-tariff impediments to trade like the sanitary and phytosanitary standards for beef. “Farmers and ranchers have been frustrated over the seemingly endless array of non-tariff barriers Europe applies to many of our agricultural commodities and products,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said in a statement. “We are cautiously hopeful that these negotiations will yield positive results for U.S. agriculture.”
Leadership Alert page 4 of 6 CHEROKEE COUNTY AG EXPO March 14 Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce 4:30 – 6:30 Canton This event, cosponsored by the Cherokee County Farm Bureau, Cherokee County Extension Office and Chamber of Commerce, is part of the county’s Agriculture Week celebration. The event will feature more than 20 booths highlighting locally grown food, ag products and ag businesses. Samples of grits, honey, jams and locally made bread will be served. The public is invited to attend to learn how agriculture impacts life in Cherokee County daily. For more information or to make a reservation, contact CCFB at 770-479-1481, ext. 0. The Chamber of Commerce office is located at 3605 Marietta Hwy in Canton. MARCH 15 IS DEADLINE FOR GA. AG HALL OF FAME NOMINATIONS Nominations for the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame are being accepted until March 15. The Hall of Fame recognizes individuals of impeccable character who have made unusual or extraordinary contributions to agriculture and agribusiness industries in Georgia. For information about the award and the nomination procedure, visit http://tinyurl.com/a6y9f2g. B. FRANK STRICKLAND SCHOLARSHIP DEADLINE IS MARCH 15 Applications are being accepted for the B. Frank Strickland Scholarship until March 15. The $500 scholarship will be presented to an entering freshman or rising sophomore from a tobaccoproducing county who plans to attend Abraham Baldwin College (ABAC) for the 2013 fall semester. Entering freshmen applicants should have applied for admission at ABAC. Rising sophomores should be in good standing with the college. The major tobacco producing counties are: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Berrien, Brantley Brooks, Bulloch, Coffee, Colquitt, Cook, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lowndes, Pierce, Tift, Tattnall and Wayne. The scholarship will be for one academic year and the recipient may apply for renewal, if the recipient remains in good standing with ABAC and maintains a satisfactory academic average. Preference will be given to a student majoring in some area of agriculture. Lanier County farmer B. Frank Strickland was a lifelong advocate of Georgia’s tobacco industry and an active Georgia Farm Bureau member. Applications may be obtained from high school counselors in tobacco producing counties or by contacting the Georgia Farm Bureau Commodities/Marketing Department at 1800-342-1192, ext. 5218.
PEANUT PROUD FESTIVAL March 23 Courthouse Square Blakely This annual celebration of Georgia's peanut industry features the Peanut Proud Parade, a 5K run, a wide variety of arts and crafts, kids games and free entertainment featuring country artist John Berry and Diamond Rio. For more information, visit http://www.peanutproud.com. FILING FOR WOMEN, HISPANIC FARMERS ENDS MARCH 25 The filing period ends March 25 for women or Hispanic farmers alleging discrimination by the USDA in loan application or loan servicing processes between 1981 and 2000. The voluntary claims process, which is offered as an alternative to litigation, will make available at least $1.33 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments, plus up to $160 million in farm debt relief to eligible claimants. There are no filing fees to participate. For more information call 1-888-508-4429 or visit https://www.farmerclaims.gov.
Leadership Alert page 5 of 6 DAIRY HEALTH FINANCIAL CHECKUP SERIES March 27 Trinity United Methodist Church Clermont March 28 Pennington Church Annex Madison This series will help dairymen assess their financial health and discover ways to make adjustments, including recognition of a variety of important financial indicators. Meetings are open to dairymen, managers, and employees free of charge and will last from 10 a.m. until noon, ending with lunch. Please preregister for meal by calling 706-310-0020. The series is sponsored by Georgia Milk Producers, Inc., Dr. Curt Lacy, University of Georgia and SARE (Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education) OLD SOUTH FARM CAMP March - May Old South Farm Woodland These three-day camps, which typically will run from Friday through Sunday, include a variety of vintage farm activities, including milking cows, making butter and buttermilk, a session on honeybees, sessions on operating a tractor and much more. Registration is $200 per person and discounts are available for multiple members of the same family. Fees cover meals, housing, transportation and instructional activities. For more information or to register, contact Paul Bulloch at 706-975-9136 or visit http://www.oldsouthfarm.com. CONFERENCE ON UNMANNED SYSTEMS IN AGRICULTURE March 28-29 UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center Tifton This conference, cosponsored by the Atlanta Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the Georgia Center of Innovation, is designed to introduce Georgia farmers to the benefits and practical applications of unmanned systems. Speakers include Young Kim, general manager of BOSH Global, John Deere Manager of Field Robotics Stewart Moorehead, UGA Tifton Dean Dr. Joe West and others. The program features live unmanned systems demonstrations and interaction between potential users and manufacturers. To register, visit http://www.ugatiftonconference.org. For more information, contact Karen McIlroy at firstname.lastname@example.org. GEORGIA FORAGES CONFERENCE April 3-4 Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter Perry For the second straight year, the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention begins with its focus on “Making the Best Better” with the Georgia Forages Conference. On April 3 UGA Extension Forage Specialist Dr. Dennis Hancock will begin the program with a mini-“hay school,” which will cover key steps to making more and better hay. UGA Extension Livestock Economist Dr. Curt Lacy will provide an economic outlook for 2013 and cover some of the new drought insurance products that are on the market. On April 4, specialists from Auburn University and the University of Florida speaking on the opportunity to renovate and improve tall fescue, bermudagrass, and bahiagrass pastures. For more information or to register for the event, visit http://www.gabeef.org/gca or call 478-474-6560. You can also learn more about the Georgia Forages Conference at http://www.georgiaforages.com.
Leadership Alert page 6 of 6 GEORGIA CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION 51ST ANNUAL CONVENTION April 3-6 Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter Perry This jam-packed four-day event covers all things beef, including a forage conference led by UGA’s Dr. Dennis Hancock, Pfizer Cattlemen’s College seminars on the topics of political/regulatory issues, risk management, nutrition and road safety; a livestock marketing seminar conducted by UGA’s Dr. Curt Lacy; the annual awards banquet; a the GCA general membership meeting; angus, hereford, commercial heifer and club calf sales; the annual Cattlemen’s Ball; and a new products and junior awards luncheon. Visit http://www.gabeef.org/gca/conventionregistration.htm for more information or to register. 2013 GEORGIA WATER RESOURCES CONFERENCE April 10-11 The Georgia Center for Continuing Education Athens The two-day conference features technical presentations, panel discussions and a poster session. Students can attend for free if they assist with conference activities. Student prizes of $150, $100 and $50 will be awarded for the best oral or poster presentations. Discount registration is $110 for both days or $65 for one day before April 9. Discount student registration is $70 for both days or $40 for one day before April 9. To register for the conference, wisit. http://tinyurl.com/amk6e2h. Hotel rooms also may be reserved through this website. The conference, held biennially since 1989, was spurred by a 1984 statewide water forum led by Georgia State University with funding provided by the Georgia Water Research Institute. For more information about the conference, visit http://www.gawrc.org/ or contact Jenny Yearwood at 706-542-0947 or Yearwood@uga.edu. BROAD RIVER BEEF CATTLE & FORAGE FIELD DAY April 17 Moore Cattle Company 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Washington This free event, sponsored by 2 Rivers Resource Conservation & Development, the NRCS, FSA, UGA Cooperative Extension, Wilkes County chapter of Georgia Young Farmers and the Central Savannah River RC&D, will begin with registration at 9 a.m. Topics to be covered are utilizing winter animals, soil health benefits of managed grazing, fly control for beef cattle and low stress handling of cattle. Lunch will be provided. To register, contact Wilkes County Cooperative Extension at 706-678-2332. MOUNTAIN BEEF CATTLE FIELD DAY April 18 Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center Blairsville Georgia cattle farmers will gain useful research-based information at this free event, which is sponsored by AgGeorgia Farm Credit, Pasture Management Systems and Resaca Sun Feeds. The field day runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes lunch and refreshments, Topics include pasture ecology, soil and fertilizer management, beef cattle efficiency, weed control in pastures and hay field and fly control. For more information, call 706-745-2655.