March 4, 2010
Vol. 28 No. 9
PROPOSED UGA BUDGET CUTS HIT 4-H, EXTENSION & AG RESEARCH HARD All Georgia 4-H programs would be eliminated and half of the Cooperative Extension county offices would be closed under a Board of Regents proposal to cut an additional $300 million from the University System of Georgia’s FY 2011 budget as requested by state legislators. The proposal also calls for closing the C.M. Stripling Irrigation Research Park in Camilla, closing the Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center in Reidsville, closing the Attapulgus Research Farm, closing the Georgia Mountain Research Center in Blairsville, closing all 4-H facilities across the state and reducing state support for the UGA Veterinary teaching hospital. The cuts would eliminate 116 4-H staff positions and 169 Extension staff positions. “Georgia Farm Bureau’s policy supports full funding of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, the Agricultural Research Stations and the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences,” GFB President Zippy Duvall said. “We’re alarmed by the possibility of these cuts and are talking with UGA officials and state legislators to address preventing these cuts.” During a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Higher Education Feb. 24, legislators asked the Georgia Board of Regents to cut an additional $300 million from the University System of Georgia’s FY 2011 budget beyond the $245 million Gov. Perdue cut in his proposed budget. University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll Davis asked the 35 presidents in the University System to produce a list of budget cuts to meet the request. UGA’s portion of the cuts totals $58.9 million, including $11.66 million in cuts to Extension programs and $816,000 in cuts to the CAES research budget. Proposed cuts to the CAES budget total $14.4 million. Visit www.usg.edu/fiscal_affairs/documents/summary_of_reductions.pdf to see the entire proposed budget cut document. “We’ve got to make some cuts, but the proposal by the chancellor and the president of the University of Georgia on some of the cuts they’ve proposed are just outrageous,” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman John Bulloch said. “ It may be that the University System has to look at increasing tuition costs because of the cuts we may have to impose on them, but all of those things are still on table. We won’t be eliminating 4-H. We won’t be eliminating the Cooperative Extension Service or the research stations.” CAES Dean Scott Angle also voiced concern for the proposed cuts saying, “I hope these proposed reductions can either be restricted or eliminated. Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry and the college has played a vital role in the success of this great industry.”
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U.S. POULTRY INDUSTRY HIT HARD BY CHINESE TARIFFS On the heels of a Russian import ban of U.S. chicken that went into effect Jan. 1, China’s tariffs on American poultry imports is having a profound impact on the U.S. poultry industry. China is the second-largest importer of U.S. chicken behind Russia, which in January banned imports of chlorine-rinsed poultry, which applies to nearly all poultry produced in the United States. China instituted a system of anti-dumping tariffs on U.S. chicken imports effective Feb. 13. Some companies are being charged tariffs as high as 105.4 percent of the product value, and industry analysts say the overall effect is to exclude U.S. chicken from the Chinese market place. The tariffs vary by company. Tyson Foods is being charged a tariff of 43.1 percent, Keystone Foods 44 percent and Pilgrim’s Pride 80.5 percent. These rates are in addition to normal customs duties and value-added tax. Tyson, Keystone and Pilgrim’s Pride each were named in the initial investigation by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and agreed to provide financial records for that investigation. An additional 32 companies registered with MOFCOM and they were all assigned tariff rates of 64.5 percent. Companies that did not register with MOFCOM will be charged 105.4 percent. Trading companies are required to pay the duty rate assigned to their suppliers. Sanderson Farms, which falls into the 64.5 percent tariff category, is appealing the duty, and the USA Poultry and Egg Council (USAPEEC) is protesting on behalf of the industry, arguing that U.S. export practices do not constitute dumping. U.S. poultry producers exported nearly $650 million worth of chicken to China in 2009, more than half in chicken feet, which can sell for between 60 and 80 cents per pound there. In the wake of the tariffs, USAPEEC said some U.S. companies have ceased production of chicken feet, which hold little or no value in U.S. markets. MOFCOM conducted an investigation into trade practices last fall and concluded that the U.S. poultry was being sold at unfairly low prices. MOFCOM further concluded that these practices caused economic harm to Chinese chicken producers. SOUTHERN PINE BEETLE PREVENTION FUNDS AVAILABLE For the ninth straight year, the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) is offering funding to help forest landowners prevent infestations of southern pine beetles, which have caused more than $250 million in Georgia timber losses since 1972. The program funds specific practices that support forest health, including noncommercial thinning (reducing the number of stems per acre to an optimum level), pine release treatments (removing unwanted hardwoods from the stand and lowering the number of stems per acre), prescribed burning, southern pine beetle infestation treatments, replanting stands harvested due to southern pine beetle attacks or planting low-density pine stands within three miles of federally owned property. These forest practices are known to improve habitat for many species of wildlife, including deer, turkey and quail. The deadline to apply for the Southern Pine Beetle Cost-Share Program is March 31. For more information, visit www.gatrees.org/forestmanagement/spb.cfm or contact your local GFC office.
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GFB LEADERS DISCUSS BIOTECH FEES WITH GOVERNOR PERDUE GFB President Zippy Duvall and GFB Cotton Advisory Committee Chairman Michael Williams recently met with Gov. Sonny Perdue to discuss farmers’ concerns about seed biotechnology fees. During the Feb. 23 meeting, Duvall and Williams stressed the positive aspects of genetically modified seeds that have been altered to tolerate herbicides and resist insects. “Our farmers have embraced this technology,” Duvall said, “It’s good for farmers, consumers and the environment.” Duvall and Williams explained that biotechnology allows farmers to use fewer chemicals in growing their crops and allows farmers to use conservation tillage, which prevents soil erosion and preserves soil moisture. They explained that Farm Bureau’s concern is that Georgia cotton farmers pay more for biotech fees than farmers in other states. “We don’t think that’s fair,” Duvall said. Duvall and Williams also talked to the governor about the problems farmers are having with glyphosate resistant pigweed. “The insect side of the technology still works pretty well, but the glyphosate side is not as valuable as it once was,” said Williams. Farm Bureau maintains that seed companies should price biotechnology fees uniformly regardless of where the seed is grown and should reimburse growers when the value of the technology is diminished. SUPREME COURT DENIES REQUEST TO HEAR PESTICIDE CASE The U.S. Supreme Court has declined a Farm Bureau request that it review the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in National Cotton Council v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Sixth Circuit ruled that many pesticide applications to, over or near “waters of the United States” would require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA), a departure from the EPA’s previous handling of pesticides and their coverage under the CWA. Farm Bureau argued that the ruling had serious legal flaws and that it would have farreaching impacts on agricultural operations. Since the EPA takes a broad interpretation of “waters of the United States” very broadly, the decision could affect hundreds of thousands of farmers across the country. Farm Bureau’s concern is that time spent in the process of gaining permits to use pesticides that are already allowed under EPA labeling requirements could negate their effectiveness in controlling pests and in some cases could result in crop loss. The ruling could also have public health implications because mosquito larvae develop in standing water. The nation’s best defense against mosquito-borne diseases is effective mosquito control through pesticide use. The EPA is developing an NPDES general permit for use in several states, while approximately 45 states, including Georgia, will have to develop their own NPDES permits for the use of pesticides.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 4 UPCOMING EVENTS
GA PEACH COMMISSION REFERENDUM Through March 16 Statewide Georgia peach producers are encouraged to vote in the referendum for the Georgia Peach Commission that runs from Feb. 15 to March 16. If you are a peach producer and did not receive a ballot, contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture Commodities Promotion Division at 1-800-282-5852. The commission oversees peach production research and promotion of the Georgia peach crop. GEORGIA TOBACCO COMMISSION REFERENDUM Ballots must be returned by March 25 Statewide Georgia tobacco producers are urged to vote in the referendum for the Georgia Tobacco Commission as required every three years by state law. If you are a tobacco producer and did not receive a ballot, contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture Commodities Promotion Division at 1-800-282-5852. The commission’s main research objective continues to be researching production practices and treatments that will reduce symptoms of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. GEORGIA AGRICULTURE AWARENESS DAY March 16 Georgia Depot (beside Underground Atlanta) Atlanta Gov. Sonny Perdue and his Agricultural Advisory Council will host a celebration of Georgia agriculture. Exhibits, food and entertainment will begin at 11 a.m. At 12:30 p.m., Gov. Perdue will name the state winner of the Environmental Stewardship Award for Agriculture and the grand prize winner of the Flavor of Georgia Food Contest. Call 229-391-6882 for more information. GFB EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE March 20-21 Marriott Hotel and Suites@Riverwalk Augusta Farm Bureau members interested in mastering the skills of leadership should make plans to attend GFB’s annual Educational Leadership Conference. Workshop topics will address leadership skills, agriculture activities for the classroom and being prepared for an emergency on the farm. Registration is $65 per person. Hotel cost is $119 plus state and local tax. Deadline to register is March 10. Contact your county Farm Bureau office for more details and to register. PEANUT PROUD FESTIVAL March 27 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Downtown Square Blakely Join the fun with a 5K Run, peanut parade, food vendors, recipe contest, educational exhibits, antique farm equipment display, arts and crafts and speeches by Georgia’s 2010 gubernatorial candidates. For information, call 229-723-2802 or visit www.peanutproud.com. GFB PREMISE LIABILITY WORKSHOP March 30 GFB Home Office 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Macon This free workshop will provide a general outline of premise law, how to recognize and limit liability problems, different types of insurance coverage and what to do in the event of an accident. Please RSVP by March 26 by calling 800-342-1196 or emailing email@example.com.