MAY 26, 2010
Vol. 28 No. 21
GFB TELLS USDA, DOJ THAT POULTRY GROWERS NEED LONGER CONTRACTS Citing a number of factors that often leave poultry producers in a difficult economic situation, Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall suggested longer integrator contracts and changes that would foster more bargaining power for growers in written comments submitted for a series of workshops held by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The USDA and DOJ held the second of five public workshops on competition and regulatory issues in agriculture on May 21 at Alabama A&M University, with a focus on the poultry industry. Led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the workshop included roundtable discussions about the issues facing poultry producers. In his comments, Duvall emphasized that the arrangement under which poultry companies own the birds while the growers own the land, chicken houses and equipment has worked well in Georgia, which has been the top poultry-producing state for 25 years. However, he expressed concern over length of growers’ contracts with the poultry companies and the amount of input growers have in negotiating the contracts. Duvall noted that while some integrators offer purchase contracts of a year or more, those instances are not the norm. Further, because of variations in production requirements and geography, the opportunities to negotiate with competing integrators are rare. “Integrators have virtually all the bargaining power and growers have essentially none,” Duvall wrote. “It is a ‘take it or leave it’ proposition.” Duvall suggested requiring longer-term integrator contracts and for the growers to be allowed more leverage to negotiate their contracts and more meaningful input in the process. “Secretary Vilsack and I are committed to improving our understanding of how particular agricultural markets function,” said Holder, who assured growers that the Obama administration is committed to protecting competition in agricultural markets. “One thing that already is clear is that competition is crucial to ensuring opportunity and fairness in our agricultural markets.” The first workshop, held in Ankeny, Iowa, on March 12, covered issues of concern to farmers. A dairy industry workshop is scheduled for June 25 in Madison, Wis. Livestock issues will be addressed on August 27 in Fort Collins, Colo., and margins will be disucussed on Dec. 8 in Washington, D.C.
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MIKE COPELAND NAMED GFB FIELD SERVICES DIRECTOR Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall announced May 25 that Mike Copeland has been promoted to director of GFB’s Field Services Department. Copeland’s promotion follows the retirement of Bob Ragsdale. “Mike has a good undersanding of agriculture and rural Georgia,” Duvall said. “We know that under his leadership our field services department will continue to provide outstanding programs that benefit our membership.” Copeland, who grew up on a diversified row crop farm in Wayne County, served as a field representative in GFB’s 7th District from 1986 to 2000, when he was promoted to associate director of Field Services. In that capacity, Copeland was involved in numerous departmental projects. He represents GFB on Georgia’s 2010 Census Complete Count Committee, which is working to ensure that Georgia’s population, especially that of the state’s rural areas, is accurately counted. E. JACKSON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL RECEIVES AG OBSERVANCE AWARD For the second straight year, East Jackson Elementary School won the Governor’s Agricultural Awareness Week Observance Award. The Commerce school was presented with the award and more than $700 to further its agricultural education efforts during a presentation at the school on May 17. Ag leaders representing numerous agricultural organizations attended the event including Gov. Perdue’s Agricultural Liaison Donnie Smith, Georgia House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Tom McCall and Jackson County Farm Bureau President Greg Pittman. During National Agriculture Week, March 14-20, fifth grade classes across the state were encouraged to participatein events and activities to help students learnabout agriculture.Led by teacher Dawn Brock and paraprofessional Charlotte Gilmore, East Jackson Elementary School 5th-grade students learned about the impact farming has on Georgia’s economy, their lives and the types of commodities produced in the state.The EJES students participated in the Aggie club, tended to their vegetable garden and cared for newly hatched chicks through an Adopt-a-Chick program co-sponsored by the Jackson County Farm Bureau. “The best programs in school are the programs where people have a passion for what they’re doing,” Pittman told the students. “Ya’ll have a passion for this, and it shows.” With the help of FFA students from East Jackson High School, the fifth-grade students in the EJES Aggie club cultivated several beds of vegetables. The FFA students built soil containment boxes inside which the vegetables were planted, and the fifth graders planted the seeds, maintained the plants and harvested the vegetables. Other finalists in the program were: Bacon County Elementary; Buchanan Elementary in Haralson County; Carrolton Middle School in Carroll County; Citizens Christian Academy in Coffee County; David Emaunel Academy in Emanuel County; Ephesus Elementary in Carroll County; Free Home Elementary in Cherokee County; Northside Elementary in Polk County; Washington-Wilkes Elementary in Wilkes County and Wilcox County Elementary.
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FOOD SAFETY COMMENTS DEADLINE EXTENDED The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has extended to July 23 the public comment period for its food safety rulemaking process for agricultural practice. For more information or to offer a comment, visit www.producesafetyproject.org. DISASTER AID AVAILABLE TO ORCHARDISTS, NURSERY TREE GROWERS Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced earlier this month that orchardists and nursery tree growers who have lost more than 15 percent of their crops due to natural disasters can now apply for cost reimbursement under the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). The 2008 farm bill expanded eligibility to include Christmas tree and nursery tree growers who were ineligible under prior legislation. Trees grown for pulp or timber, or any purpose that is not commercial, are not eligible. To be eligible, producers must have purchased a policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or Noninsured Crop Distaster Assistance Program. For more information on the TAP program, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/tap. SENATE RESOLUTION SEEKS TO KEEP REGULATORY POWER FROM EPA Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 26 in January with hopes of preventing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing regulations on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act. The EPA issued regulations based on a December 2009 Endangerment Finding for GHGs. Murkowski stated that Congress “is the only agency in the United States with the power to tackle the problem in a responsible manner.” The full senate is expected to take a vote on the resolution by June 10. Murkowski’s goal was to remove regulatory authority from the EPA altogether. S.J. Res. 26, called the Murkowski resolution of disapproval, had 41 of the 51 votes required for passage in the Senate. Emphasizing that the adverse impact of EPA regulation of GHGs will have on agriculture and the economy as a whole, Farm Bureau supports the resolution and is requesting that senators vote “yes” on S.J. Res. 26. The endangerment finding, issued despite numerous scholarly public comments opposing it, allows six key GHGs (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride) to be classified as pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The regulation of these gases would require agricultural operations that produce them to obtain permits to do so. The EPA regulations are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 2, 2011, and the costs for agricultural operations are expected to be significant. The United States Department of Agriculture has estimated that 90 percent of U.S. livestock production would be affected. The EPA issued a “tailoring rule” which established a timetable for phased implementation of its GHG regulations, beginning in January 2011 with large stationary sources like power plants and industrial manufacturing facilities.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 4 UPCOMING EVENTS GA DEPT. OF AGRICULTURE HORSE AUCTION & FUNDRAISING EVENT June 5 Foxhall Farms (8000 Capps Ferry Road) Douglasville This day-long fundraising event includes morning trail rides, a noon barbecue, an auction of impounded horses rehabilitated by the Ga. Dept. of Agriculture followed by an auction of donated items. Proceeds from the event will fund medical care for neglected horses impounded by the state. The horse auction begins at 1:30 p.m.Visit http://www.agr.georgia.gov to view photos of the horses to be auctioned. For more details call 404-656-3713. 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. 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. NATURAL RESOURCES CAMP AT ABAC June 13-17 Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Tifton This weeklong camp provides a rare, one-of-a-kind chance to learn about Georgia’s natural resources. Tuition is $150 and 20 tuition grants are available. THE DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR THE GRANTS IS JUNE 4. Contact Vonda Fenn at 229-391-5070 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com 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. GFB YOUNG FARMER FAMILY CONFERENCE & DISCUSSION MEET July 24-25 Lake Blackshear Cordele Conference will include the preliminary rounds of the Discussion Meet, YF workshops and child-oriented activities. The Discussion Meet is open to Young Farmers ages 18-35. The four finalists will compete during the GFB Annual Convention on Dec. 5. Registration is $75 for adults and $40 for children ages 412. To register, contact the GFB Field Services Department at 478-474-0679, ext. 5224 or firstname.lastname@example.org. DEADLINE TO ENTER THE DISCUSSION MEET OR REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE IS JUNE 4.