November 16, 2011
Vol. 29 No. 46
COUNTY FARM BUREAUS CELEBRATING FARM-CITY WEEK The 56th annual National Farm-City Week, to be celebrated Nov. 18-24, pays tribute to the partnership between farmers and their urban colleagues who help prepare, transport, market and retail the food and fiber farmers grow for American consumers. The celebration, intended to increase the understanding of the partnership between urban and rural residents, is marked by farm days at schools, farm tours, banquets and mayoral proclamations in communities across the country. “We’re blessed in our country to be able to go to our local grocery stores and find a wide variety of food that has been grown following the safest quality standards in the world, but the food at the local grocery doesn’t just magically appear on the shelves,” said Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “Georgia farmers work all year to produce chicken, peanuts, beef, milk, pecans, blueberries, peaches, watermelon and vegetables for us to eat. Employees of agribusinesses work to prepare, market and transport the food to stores for consumers. It takes all of us to feed and clothe America and this partnership is what we’re celebrating with Farm-City Week.” Food and fiber production and related processing directly and indirectly generated a total economic impact of $68.8 billion for Georgia and represented more than 383,000 jobs in 2009, according to UGA economists. In addition to helping our state economy, Georgia agriculture also contributes to our nation having a positive agriculture trade balance. Last year, Georgia ranked first in the nation for exporting $468.7 million of poultry products. The U.S. also exported $5.7 billion worth of cotton, for which Georgia ranked second in cotton exports, exporting cotton and linters worth $572.5 million. Georgia ranked first in peanut exports, shipping $154.6 million worth of peanuts and peanut products. Farm-City Week is a great time to discuss how the economy is impacting farmers and consumers. Although farmers have received higher prices for their crops in the past year, they are also experiencing record-high production costs. According to UGA economists, variable operating costs for Georgia farmers have increased from 2010 by 19 percent for cotton, 20 percent for corn, 23 percent for soybeans, 26 percent for wheat and 29 percent for peanuts. Production costs have increased from last year due to higher fuel, seed, fertilizer and irrigation costs. It’s important to note that farmers receive only 16 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home, USDA statistics show. The rest of the food cost covers the expenses of wages and materials for food preparation, marketing, transportation and distribution, all of which have increased in price, too.
Leadership Alert page 2 of 5 GFB SUBMITS COMMENTS OPPOSING REQUESTED BAN ON ATRAZINE In response to an environmental group’s petition to ban the herbicide atrazine, Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defending its use and asking that it be allowed to continue. “Save the Frogs” petitioned the EPA in May to ban the use of atrazine, which has been used by American farmers for more than 50 years. “We do not believe the ‘Save the Frogs’ petition warrants additional regulatory action regarding the use of atrazine,” Duvall wrote. “The product is important from an agronomic and economic point of view, and there is no credible evidence that it poses any risk to human health or the environment.” In the GFB comments, Duvall pointed out that the EPA conducted a study of atrazine in 2007 and concluded that the chemical does not adversely affect frogs or other amphibians. That study was updated in 2010, at which time the EPA said no additional testing was necessary. With the spread of weeds that are developing resistance to glyphosate, atrazine is becoming increasingly important for agricultural use in sustainable practices like no-till or conservation tillage. Duvall noted that atrazine has been the subject of comprehensive study since it was introduced and in every case has been deemed safe for use. Further, atrazine and related herbicides will have a $20 billion nationwide economic impact over the next five years. Atrazine increases corn production, decreases production costs and allows greater control of soil erosion. USDA PROPOSES RULE TO REVAMP DISASTER DESIGNATION PROCESS The USDA has proposed a rule to streamline the process for its Secretarial Disaster Designation, which it says will allow farmers devastated by natural disasters to obtain assistance faster. Designating disaster counties is a key step to authorizing disaster assistance for some of the programs administered by the USDA, including low-interest emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE). “America’s farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation’s economy producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow,” said USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Bruce Nelson. “Therefore, it’s crucial that we help farmers remain productive through difficult times. When disaster strikes, this proposal will help us provide assistance more quickly, streamlining processes from six steps to two. That’s the kind of improvement we need to make.” Under the proposed rule, county emergency boards (CEBs) would submit requests to the state emergency board (SEB). The SEB would make disaster area recommendations based on production losses, and the Farm Service Agency state executive director, currently Hobby Stripling, would make a disaster designation on behalf of the secretary of agriculture. The USDA is accepting comments on the proposed rule until Jan. 13, 2012. Visit http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FSA_FRDOC_0001-0167 to submit a comment.
Leadership Alert page 3 of 5 APPLICATIONS BEING ACCEPTED FOR GFB SCHOLARSHIPS Georgia Farm Bureau will award a total of $14,250 in scholarships to 10 high school seniors who plan to pursue undergraduate degrees in agricultural and environmental sciences, family and consumer sciences or related agricultural fields. The top three students will each receive a scholarship of $3,000 - $1,500 for the first year of college upon confirmation of major and college enrollment and $1,500 for the second year of college provided the student maintains at least a 3.0 average his or her freshman year and that his or her college enrollment and major continue to meet the scholarship eligibility requirements. The remaining seven students will each receive a one-time $750 scholarship. Students submitting an application must currently be a Georgia high school senior and plan to enroll in a unit of the University System of Georgia or Berry College during the 2012-2013 academic year. Contact your county Farm Bureau office for more information or an application. A copy of the application may also be downloaded from the GFB website by visiting http://www.gfb.org/programs/aic/EducationLinks.htm. The application deadline is February 24, 2012. Applications must be approved and signed by the Farm Bureau president of the county in which the applicant resides or attends high school. The Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and the GFB Women’s Committee sponsor the scholarship program. Winners will be announced in May 2012. RUSSIA’S BID TO JOIN WTO TAKES MAJOR STEP FORWARD The World Trade Organization (WTO) has announced that the Russian Federation will be recommended for membership at the WTO Ministerial Conference in December in a move that among other things would result in Russia lowering its maximum tariffs in imported goods. The ministers, who meet Dec. 15-17 in Geneva, Switzerland, are expected to give formal approval and extend an invitation to Russia to join the WTO. The Russian government would need to approve the agreement to make accession complete. That approval is expected to come in early 2012. Russia has been working to gain accession to the World Trade Organization since 1993, and the WTO Working Party on Accession - the group established to review the applications for membership from nations wishing to join the WTO - approved the terms and conditions for Russia’s accession on Nov. 10. “Farm Bureau looks forward to our continued work with the Russian government in expanding U.S. agricultural exports to this valuable and important trading partner and we appreciate the responsibility Russia has accepted as a WTO member. Russia’s joining of the WTO is critical for improving the terms of trade and dispute resolution between the United States and Russia,” said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. The U.S. government would need to consider whether to eliminate a 1974 law limiting trade with Russia, a move that still faces some hurdles. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have expressed concerns that Russia’s protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights are inadequate.
Leadership Alert page 4 of 5 GFVGA LABOR SEMINARS Nov. 21 Colquitt County Ag Complex 9 a.m. Moultrie Nov. 22 Weir Center 9 a.m. Douglas The Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association will host these labor seminars (approximately 3 hours in length) that will be led by labor consultant and expert Dan Bremer. Seminar topics include: Georgia’s Immigration Act, current labor laws applicable to agriculture and current H2A laws. Registration is not required. NOV. 30 IS DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR MONSANTO CHARITY PROGRAM Farmers in 31 south Georgia counties have until Nov. 30 to register to win $2,500 for a charity of their choice in the 2nd Annual America’s Farmers Grow Communities Program sponsored by Monsanto. Eligible counties are: Appling, Baker, Berrien, Bleckley, Brooks, Bulloch, Burke, Calhoun, Coffee, Cook, Colquitt, Crisp, Decatur, Dooly, Early, Grady, Irwin, Jefferson, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Screven, Seminole, Sumter, Tattnall, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Turner, Wilcox and Worth. The winning farmers and charities will be announced in January 2012. Visit http://www.growcommunities.com or call 1-877-267-3332 for eligibility rules and to apply. GEORGIA FARM BUREAU 73RD ANNUAL MEETING Dec. 4-6 Jekyll’s Historic District Convention Campus Jekyll Island This annual event will include addresses from GFB President Zippy Duvall, Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. GFB will complete its yearly policy development process and the convention will feature commodity conferences, the final round of the Young Farmer Discussion Meet, announcement of 2011 state award winners and a trade show. For information, contact your county Farm Bureau office. FSA ACCEPTING BALLOTS IN COUNTY ELECTIONS UNTIL DEC. 5 The 2011 FSA county committee elections began Nov. 4 and the deadline to return the ballots to local FSA offices is Dec. 5. Eligible voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can obtain ballots from their local USDA Service Center. Ballots returned by mail must also be postmarked no later than Dec. 5. More information on county committees can be found on the FSA website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. CALHOUN PERFORMANCE TESTED BULL SALE Dec. 9 NW GA Research & Education Center Livestock Pavilion Calhoun Sale begins at 12:30 p.m. For more information contact Ted Dyer at 706-624-1403 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Phil Worley at 706-624-1398 or email@example.com. ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP AWARD APPLICANTS SOUGHT Nominations are being accepted until Dec. 16 for the 7th Annual Governor’s Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Award, which recognizes farmers who are exceptional caretakers of the environment. One winner will be selected in each of five regions based on Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Districts. Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black will recognize all district winners and announce the state winner on March 13, 2012 at the 9th Annual Agriculture Week event in Atlanta. Applications are available online at http://agribusiness.georgiainnovation.org. For more information, contact Steven Meeks at 912207-0813 or Sarah Cook at 229-391-6882 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leadership Alert page 5 of 5 UGA CONDUCTING EQUINE ECONOMIC IMPACT SURVEY The University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development is conducting an economic impact study of the equine industry in the state. All Georgia horse owners are strongly encouraged to participate in this survey. All individual survey responses will be kept confidential. To participate in the survey, visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Equine2011.