Page 1

November 30, 2016

Vol. 34 No. 36

GFB TO ELECT OFFICERS, PRESENT AWARDS AT 79TH ANNUAL CONVENTION Georgia Farm Bureau will set its 2017 policy, elect officers and recognize achievements of its members during the 79th Annual GFB Convention, to be held Dec. 4-6 at the Jekyll Island Convention Center. Convention activities kick off with the annual memorial service at 11 a.m. on Dec. 4, and the GFB Trade Show will open at noon, coinciding with a GFB Certified Farm Markets/Georgia Grown drop-in reception hosted by GFB President Gerald Long and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. The GFB Women’s Leadership Committee will host a Celebrating Agricultural Literacy event at 2 p.m., and the GFB Policy Development Committee will consider changes to organizational policy during a session beginning at 3:15 p.m. Sunday’s activities will conclude with the annual awards program, which begins at 4:30 p.m. To view a list of all the GFB district award winners visit The Georgia Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture breakfast opens Dec. 5 convention activities at 6:45 a.m. Tickets are $25 per person and proceeds support the foundation’s agricultural literacy projects. GFB President Gerald Long will address convention attendees providing an update on the organization and attendees will hear from Gov. Nathan Deal during the Dec. 5 general session, which will also feature the popular GFB Young Farmer Raffle Drawing. The annual County Presidents’/Secretaries’ Luncheon begins at noon, and GFB’s 20 commodity committees will hold conferences beginning at 2 p.m. On Dec. 6 the annual membership breakfast begins at 6:45 a.m., followed by the organization’s annual business session at 8:15, during which voting delegates from the state’s 158 county Farm Bureaus will finalize GFB policy for 2017. Following the business session, delegates will break up into district caucuses to elect members of the GFB Board of Directors. Incumbent Randy Ruff is running against challenger Dennis Miles for one of the 2nd District seats. Running unopposed are Wesley Hall (1st District), Nora Goodman (3rd District), Skeetter McCorkle Jr. (4th District), Matt Bottoms (5th District), James Emory Tate (6th District), Ben Boyd (7th District), Don Wood (8th District), Lucius Adkins Jr. (9th District) and Lamar Vickers (10th District). A caucus to elect a South Georgia vice president is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wes Shannon of Tift County, Ricky Tucker of Berrien County and Daniel Johnson of Pierce County are vying for the seat, which became vacant when Long succeeded Zippy Duvall as GFB president in January. Long is running unopposed for re-election as GFB president.

GFB News Alert page 2 of 15 GFB TO FINALIZE STANCE ON AG ISSUES AT CONVENTION The Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) Policy Development Committee will finalize its work on changes to GFB policy for 2017 during a Dec. 4 meeting at the GFB Convention on Jekyll Island. GFB policy outlines the organization’s stance on issues important to agriculture. GFB voting delegates will discuss the proposed policy and vote on the final version during the morning business session at the convention on Dec. 6. The committee met at the GFB headquarters in Macon on Oct. 3 and again on Nov. 7 to review the organization’s current position on ag issues and to consider the 275 resolutions submitted by county Farm Bureaus in September. “This process started in August when our commodity committees met and reviewed our policy,” GFB President Gerald Long said. “Policy Development is how we determine the organization’s legislative direction. It is an example of pure democracy in action, and no other organization allows more open discourse than we do in Farm Bureau.” The GFB Policy Development Committee consists of 30 county presidents (three from each district), the chairmen of each of the 20 GFB Commodity Advisory Committees and the GFB Board of Directors. Also, included in this year’s PD Committee were the eight Georgia members serving on American Farm Bureau Issue Advisory Committees. The resolutions submitted by county Farm Bureaus cover a wide range of topics including issues related to livestock, environmental regulations, tax compliance, wildlife, and national farm programs. There were more policy recommendations about taxes than any other topic. Additional concerns were raised regarding the threat of screwworm flies, which have been detected in deer in the Florida Keys and pose a serious threat to livestock if they spread, and maintaining access to aerial application of chemicals. Also of concern on the federal level, resolutions were received regarding the 2018 farm bill. Lower commodity prices and a struggling farm economy have sparked much discussion about the design of upcoming legislation. The committee urged Congress to revisit various farm bill commodity programs and provide growers with a stronger safety net. On the state level, preservation of the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption (GATE) program is a major concern. GATE gives qualified producers a sales tax exemption on commonly purchased inputs such as seed, feed, fertilizer and chemicals. Numerous submitted resolutions supported the Conversation Use Value Assessment (CUVA) program, which reduces property taxes for farmers who pledge not to develop their qualifying lands. HIGHTOWER NAMED GFB SENIOR DIRECTOR OF SALES Johnny Hightower, who has worked for more than 30 years in sales for the Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, has been promoted to Senior Director of Sales, effective immediately. Hightower, a graduate of Pickens County High School, started with Pickens County Farm Bureau in 1984 and then served as agency manager for Bartow County Farm Bureau. From 1990 to 2011, Hightower worked as the district sales manager in GFB Districts 2, 3 and 1 before becoming GFB associate director of sales in 2011. Hightower and his wife, Jane, have been married 33 years and have one daughter, Christie. Johnny and Jane live in Jasper and are members of Bethesda Baptist Church.

Johnny Hightower

GFB News Alert page 3 of 15 ODESSA DOLLAR PASSES AWAY Odessa Dollar died on Nov. 18. She was 90. Mrs. Dollar was born Sept. 19, 1926, in Ochlocknee, Ga., the daughter of the late John W. and Nettie Palmer Griffin. Her husband, former Georgia Farm Bureau President Wayne Dollar, survives her. Other survivors include daughter, Patsy Booth Wester of Tallahassee, Florida; daughter and son-in-law, Mary Booth Smith and Ed Smith of Bainbridge; son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Jan Dollar of Claxton; grandchildren, Jason Wester, Rusty Smith, Michala Dollar, Shelby Dollar and Alyssa Dollar, two great grandchildren and sister, Margaret Anderson of Meigs. Mrs. Dollar was preceded in death by a sister, Estelle Baker. Mrs. Dollar was a secretary for Thomas County Farm Bureau and retired at the age of 80 from the Georgia Department of Labor in Thomasville. Odessa Dollar She was a member of Big Ochlocknee Baptist Church. Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association, c/o Vickie Lutes, P. O. Box 1999, Thomasville, Georgia 31799. Condolences may be sent to the family at 2245 Griffin Rd., Ochlocknee, GA 31773. REGISTRATION OPEN FOR 2017 FLAVOR OF GEORGIA CONTEST Whether it's a specialty sweet treat, small-batch pork sausage or pimento cheese made from Grandma's secret recipe, the University of Georgia's Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest shines the spotlight on the state's craft food scene. The contest, in its second decade, serves as a springboard for food entrepreneurs, assisting them in testing new products and reaching a larger audience, and helps new craft brands break into new markets and expand sales. Registration for the 2017 Flavor of Georgia contest, which is conducted each year by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, is now open at Over the years, more than 1,100 food products have been entered in the contest. Today, many of those products are sold in national and regional supermarkets. Nearly a dozen of the 2016 finalists had new business contracts within two weeks of the 2016 competition, and 85 percent of the finalists reported increased sales. Additionally, 92 percent of the finalists reported that they made new business connections because of the contest. Finalists and winners participate in a number of high-profile industry showcases throughout the year following each annual contest.. Product categories for the 2017 contest include barbecue sauces, beverages, condiments and salsas, confections, dairy products, dairy-alternative products, honey, jams and jellies, meats and seafood, meat-alternative products, sauces and seasonings, snack foods, and miscellaneous products. There is no limit to the number of products an individual business can submit. Judges evaluate each product based on flavor, texture and market innovation. Consumer appeal and product representation of Georgia are also considered. Registration closes Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, but contestants can enter at an early discounted rate before Thursday, Jan. 15, 2017. Contest finalists will participate in the final round of judging and a public tasting Tuesday, March 21, 2017, as part of the governor's statewide Agricultural Awareness Week. For more information or to register, visit or call 706-583-0347. Follow the contest @FlavorofGA on Twitter and on Facebook at

GFB News Alert page 4 of 15 DEAL APPROVES LEVEL 2 DROUGHT RESPONSE Based on recommendations by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), Gov. Nathan Deal approved a Level 2 Drought Response designation for 52 counties on Nov. 17. In addition to raising the 52 counties counties that were faced with worsening drought conditions in about three-fourths of the state, to Level 2 Drought Response, Deal also designated an additional 58 counties as Level 1. During a Level 2 Drought Response, outdoor landscape watering is only allowed two days a week determined by odd and even-numbered addresses. Even-numbered addresses and properties without numbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. Odd-numbered addresses may water Thursday and Sunday between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. Prohibited outdoor water uses include: Washing hard surfaces such as streets and sidewalks; water for ornamental purposes, such as fountains; the use of fire hydrants, except for firefighting and public safety; non-commercial washing of vehicles; non-commercial pressure washing and fundraising car washes. There are a number of outdoor water uses that can be applied at any time. Those include: Commercial agricultural operations; irrigation of personal food gardens, irrigation of new and replanted plant, seed or turf in landscapes, golf courses or sports turf fields or 30 days following date of installation; drip irrigation using soaker hoses; irrigation of horticultural crops for sale, resale or installation; installation, maintenance or calibration of irrigation and others. Those counties assigned a Level 2 Drought Response are: Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Athens-Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dade, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fannin, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Haralson, Harris, Heard, Henry, Jackson, Lamar, Lumpkin, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Murray, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Rockdale, Spalding, Troup, Union, Upson, Walker, Walton, White and Whitfield. The additional counties assigned a Level 1 Drought Response are: Baker, Baldwin, Bibb, Bleckley, Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Columbia, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Elbert, Franklin, Glascock, Greene, Hancock, Hart, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Jones, Laurens, Lee, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, Marion, McDuffie, Miller, Mitchell, Muscogee, Oglethorpe, Peach, Pulaski, Putnam, Quitman, Rabun, Randolph, Richmond, Schley, Seminole, Stephens, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taliaferro, Taylor, Terrell, Towns, Twiggs, Warren, Washington, Webster, Wilkes and Wilkinson. A drought management fact sheet and a map of Level 1 and Level 2 Drought Response areas are attached. For more information on water conservation and the rules of drought management, visit EPD’s website at TOBACCO STABILIZATION CERTIFICATES CAN NOW BE REDEEMED Tobacco producers who were issued “stabilization” certificates for crop years 1967 to 1973 may now redeem those certificates, according to an announcement from the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative. The certificates of interest were issued by the Flue Cured Tobacco Cooperative Stabilization Corporation. The value of the certificates vary according to amount of tobacco delivered. Producers who received the certificates may voluntarily elect to accept the redemption. For more information call 1-877-277-7422 or visit

GFB News Alert page 5 of 15 VETERINARY LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM TAKING APPLICATIONS The Veterinary Education Loan Repayment Program, authorized by the Georgia General Assembly during its 2016 session, is accepting applications through Jan. 15, 2017. The program is administered by the State Veterinary Education Board with assistance from the Georgia Student Finance Authority. Georgia Farm Bureau worked in support of the program, which is intended to provide financial relief for veterinarians willing to provide food animal veterinary services in shortage areas around the state. For more information about program requirements or to access the application, visit USDA MAKES CHANGES TO PREVENTED PLANTING PROGRAM On Nov. 22 the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced updated factors for prevented planting coverage, according to a USDA press release. The updates were made to address the recommendations of a 2013 USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report, and are supported by the data from a subsequent third-party study commissioned at the urging of the OIG. Prevented planting coverage provides producers protection if they are unable to plant an insured crop by the final planting date. When adverse weather prevents planting, a prevented planting payment is made to compensate for the producer’s pre-planting costs generally incurred in preparation for planting the crop. These costs can include purchase of machinery, land rent, fertilizer, actions taken to ready the field, pesticide, labor, and repairs. The prevented planting factor is a percentage of the individual insurance guarantee and varies by crop, based on an estimate of pre-planting costs. The OIG recommended that RMA review the prevented planting factors and make changes if necessary. RMA reviewed prevented planting factors for barley, corn, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans and wheat for 2017 as part of an effort to ensure that prevented planting factors most accurately reflect the pre-planting input costs of producers. The prevented planting coverage factors for corn and rice were adjusted as a result. The coverage factor for corn was reduced from 60 percent to 55 percent. The coverage factors for soybeans, wheat, barley and grain sorghum all remain at 60 percent. The coverage factor for cotton remains at 50 percent. The coverage factor for rice increased from 45 percent to 55 percent. While the prevented planting factors will be reviewed and updated for all crops with prevented planting coverage, these first seven crops are being updated for the Spring 2017 planting season. Over time, the prevented planting factors may go up or down depending upon changes in input costs. RMA will evaluate the effectiveness of the recent changes and modify them as needed in coming years.

GFB News Alert page 6 of 15 MORE GA COUNTIES RECEIVE DROUGHT DISASTER DECLARATIONS On Nov. 29 the USDA issued disaster declarations for 18 Georgia counties to help farmers mitigate their losses due to ongoing drought conditions. The following counties received primary designations in recent USDA disaster declarations: Baker, Bleckley, Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Dougherty, Early, Laurens, McDuffie, Marion, Pulaski, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Stewart, Turner, Webster and Wilcox. The following counties qualify for USDA disaster assistance programs because they are contiguous to a primary county: Ben Hill, Columbia, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Dooly, Emanuel, Houston, Irwin, Jefferson, Johnson, Lee, Lincoln, Macon, Miller, Mitchell, Muscogee, Richmond, Seminole, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor, Telfair, Terrell, Tift, Treutlen, Twiggs, Warren, Wheeler, Wilkes, Wilkinson and Worth. Clay, Early and Seminole counties also received contiguous designation because they border on counties in Alabama that were named primary disaster counties. Farmers in counties named either primary disaster areas or contiguous counties are eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity. Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include the Emergency Conservation Program, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for more information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at

GFB News Alert page 7 of 15 ARE U.S./CUBA TRADE RELATIONS READY TO MOVE FORWARD? EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a series of stories by GFB News Editor Jennifer Whittaker, who traveled to Cuba in September with the American Agricultural Editors’ Association. This story first appeared in the Oct. 19 issue of GFB News Alert, and we are rerunning it in light of the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and renewed interest in what direction President-elect Trump will take U.S./Cuban relations. President Obama issued a presidential policy directive Oct. 14 that could bring the U.S. and Cuba closer to normalizing trade and diplomatic relations than the two countries have been since 1960 when the U.S. first imposed an embargo against Cuba’s then-new communist government. The date of Obama’s announcement has historical significance; Oct. 14 marked the 54th anniversary of the start of the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis that led to the U.S. implementing a second, stricter naval embargo against Cuba after it was discovered to have Soviet nuclear missiles. What does Obama’s Cuban Policy Directive mean for ag? So what do Obama’s directive and the regulatory changes issued by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce mean for agriculture? In a nutshell, the U.S. is going to let Cuba buy ag inputs on credit but the country still has to pay cash to buy U.S. commodities. American-owned companies may now sell ag inputs like farm equipment, seeds or crop protectants to Cuba and extend the Cuban government credit to pay for it. The regulatory changes that went into effect Oct. 17 also impact agriculture by lifting a previous restriction that prohibited foreign ships from entering a U.S. port to load or unload freight for 180 days after calling on a Cuban port. It’s important to note, however, that the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce did not issue technical corrections regarding payment terms for commodity exports, such as poultry, corn and soybeans, to Cuba. As required by the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) of 2000, Cuba must still buy commodity and food items by paying with cash in advance or using third-country financing. The Obama Administration said Congressional action is necessary to change the TSRA requirements. Cuba’s need for credit was the main message Cuban trade and agriculture representatives stressed repeatedly during a series of meetings with representatives of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) on Sept. 20-22. “The most important priority would be to access the agricultural market and to buy from that market with credit under normal conditions. The U.S. market is, of course, the natural market of choice for us,” Enrique Valdes Cardenas, deputy director of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade & Investment’s North America Trade Policy Division, said through a translator while speaking to the AAEA group. “In addition to being able to buy, we would also like to be able to export our own products such as cigars, rum and pharmaceutical products.” Obama’s directive doesn’t allow for commercial importation of cigars and rum, but regulatory changes the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce issued in conjunction with Obama’s directive lift the $100 combined total U.S. citizens were previously limited to bringing back as souvenirs. Now the same duties used for other countries will apply to Cuban products brought home for personal use. The regulatory changes also make it possible for Cuba to sell pharmaceutical products, such as diabetic medicines, in the U.S. pending approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. -continued

GFB News Alert page 8 of 15 Continued from previous page Does Cuba have a need for U.S. ag inputs? All of the Cuban representatives the AAEA group spoke with were clear: While Cuba wants raw ag products produced in the U.S., such as soybeans, corn and poultry meat, they also want the U.S. to teach their farmers how to become better farmers so Cuba is less dependent on food imports. “Our main priority is production, so we can substitute imports in order to increase production,” Cardenas said through a translator. When asked what Cuban farmers need to increase production, Cardenas answered, “We need absolutely everything. Chemicals, equipment, seeds.” One of the things the AAEA delegation learned about Cuban agriculture is that most farming is done organically because the embargo, or blockade as Cubans refer to it, prevents the country from having a steady supply of herbicides and pesticides to fight weeds and insects. “Either we produce organic food or we die,” said Miguel Angel Salcines Lopez, president of an urban organic cooperative in Havana. “The blockade has made Cuban farmers more independent and inventive in ways.” Lopez, who recently visited California to see how American organic farmers are growing crops, said the trip made him realize “Cuban farmers are almost as prepared as Americans,” for growing organic food. Cuba has been receiving some ag inputs such as limited pesticides from China and tractors from Brazil. AAEA reporters got the impression these resources are used at the state-owned farms and at larger cooperatives the group didn’t have a chance to visit. What’s the current status of U.S. ag exports to Cuba? A meeting with officials from Cuba’s Grupo Empresarial del Comercio Exterior (GECOMEX) gave AAEA reporters a better understanding of how the country imports and exports ag commodities. GECOMEX, according to the translator who interpreted the meeting, is comprised of 18 companies that handle more than 36 percent of goods imported to Cuba and 16 percent of its exports. GECOMEX General Manager Aurelio Mollineda Martinez said through a translator that some of the companies under the GECOMEX umbrella are government investment and some are independent. Martinez said GECOMEX imports powdered milk, frozen chicken meat, vegetable oil and the wheat used to make bread along with raw materials for animal feed, such as soybeans and corn. Martinez said GECOMEX exports Cuban sugar, honey and vegetable coal. Two separate companies outside of GECOMEX are responsible for exporting Cuban rum and tobacco. GECOMEX officials said the U.S.’s proximity to Cuba allows American companies to beat the price other countries charge for ag commodities due to lower shipping costs. Cuba wants U.S. ag products because of the high quality, lower shipping costs and faster shipping times. GECOMEX member company Alimport imports raw ag commodities from the U.S., including chicken meat, soybeans and wheat. Alimport Chairman & CEO Alejandro Mustelier Zamora said about 80 percent of the chicken meat Cuba imports comes from the U.S. The rest comes from Brazil or Canada. Most of the chicken Cuba imports is leg quarters due to the lower cost of dark meat compared to breasts. According to figures from the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, Cuba imported 123,013 metric tons of broiler meat from the U.S. in 2015 worth $127.8 million in U.S. dollars. Of this, -continued

GFB News Alert page 9 of 15 Continued from previous page USAPEEC estimates 18,392 metric tons with a value of $19.1 million came from Georgia. In 2014, Cuba imported 143,677 metric tons of broiler meat from the U.S. valued at $147.7 million with 21,624 metric tons coming from Georgia valued at $22.2 million. The USAPEEC figures show that since 2001, the highest level of broiler exports to Cuba came in 2012 when the U.S. exported 150,922 metric tons of broiler meat valued at $157.4 million with 22,331 metric tons valued at $23.3 U.S. million coming from Georgia. When asked to explain why Cuban purchases of U.S. poultry declined in recent years Zamora answered through a translator, “It is true that animal purchases from the U.S. have decreased in the last few years. The main reason is because we have no access to financing sources, and so we’ve turned to other countries. Last year the purchase of chicken from the U.S. decreased significantly because of bird flu.” Ministry of Agriculture Ambassador Juan Jose Leon Vega said through a translator that Cuba is importing about 700,000 tons of soybeans and corn to feed its livestock. Vega and Dr. Miguel Perez Ruano, who teaches veterinary medicine at the Havana Agriculture University, both said Cuba produces table eggs using an intensive production system raising laying hens in enclosed housing, mostly on state-owned farms. Ruano said pork is also raised on state-owned farms in intensive housing. Vega said grain used to feed the country’s 8 million laying hens is imported from the U.S. and Brazil. The U.S. exported $59.37 million worth of soybean meal and $44.08 million worth of soybeans to Cuba from 2012-2014, according to a report prepared by Bryce Cooke with the USDA Economic Research Service. The same report shows Cuba bought $72.87 million of U.S. corn from 2012-2014. Why is the U.S. ag community interested in Cuba? It’s all about the potential market for U.S. ag products. Cuba annually imports about $2 billion worth of food and ag imports, according to a report prepared by Dr. Luis Ribera, Associate Professor & Director of the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M University. Dr. William A. Messina Jr. with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences says his colleagues at the University of Havana estimate Cuba imports about 60 percent of its food supply. In comparison, the U.S. imported 19 percent (123 billion pounds) of its food supply in 2013, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. The USDA says most of these imports are food items that cannot be produced in the U.S. due to climate conditions and crop seasonality. Cuba is importing its basic food supply. Cooke’s report estimates Cuba only bought a total of $365.26 million of ag products from the U.S. from 2012-2014, however, Cooke cites a United States International Trade Commission study from 2007 that suggests if normal trade relations were restored between the two countries, U.S. ag exports to Cuba could potentially increase around $230 million a year in the short-run. Cooke suggests the U.S. would likely export a broader range of ag products to Cuba including rice, wheat, nonfat dried milk and dried beans. He says the U.S. share of Cuba’s ag imports would likely rise above its current level of 20 percent and ponders if it could rise as high as 45 percent, the amount of ag imports the Dominican Republic obtains from the U.S. When asked what ag commodities Cuba would like to import from the U.S. that it currently isn’t, Enrique Valdes Cardenas, deputy director of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade & -continued

GFB News Alert page 10 of 15 Continued from previous page Investment’s North America Trade Policy Division said, “Mainly rice and grains that are imported from Asia. Currently we buy most of our foodstuffs {rice and grains} from Asia but it’s 90 days away. We could buy them so much easier from the U.S.” With a total land area of 42,803 square miles, according to, Cuba is a little larger than Tennessee, which the website says is 41,217 square miles. Georgia has a land area of 57,906 square miles. Cuba’s population is about 11 million, but its growing tourist industry is increasing its demand for food. As relations thaw between the U.S. and Cuba, more Americans are expected to travel to the Western Caribbean island joining tourists from Canada and Europe. “The increase of tourism has been happening. Last year we had an increase of U.S. citizens by 38 percent,” Cardenas said through a translator. “We have foreseen this {tourism} will increase by up to five to eight million people a year. This is a challenge to meet the need of our own people.” Why should Georgia farmers care? According to Global Trade Information Services (GTIS), an independent supplier of international trade data, poultry is the largest U.S. export to Cuba. It’s also one of the three U.S. ag commodities Cuba is currently importing; soybeans and corn are the other two. The Illinois Soybean Association Checkoff Program and the Iowa Soybean Association funded a trade mission to Cuba Sept. 27-30 to assess the potential for greater U.S. agricultural trade as relations between the U.S. and Cuba develop. The 23-member delegation included representatives of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and American Egg Board along with representatives of U.S. poultry and egg companies, cold storage and logistics providers, transport and export companies. According to a press release the USAPEEC issued announcing the trip, Cuba has become the fourth-leading export destination for U.S. poultry by volume and the U.S. poultry and egg industry consumes more than half of the soybean meal produced in the U.S. The multi-commodity trade mission was the first trip funded entirely by the soybean checkoff program since the USDA announced in March that the 22 industry-funded agricultural research and promotion programs the department oversees could use checkoff funds to conduct authorized research and information-exchange activities in Cuba. “Cuba is buying frozen chicken leg quarters from the U.S. because they feel it’s such a tremendous value they can’t afford to pass up. They’re buying whole chickens and other chicken products from Brazil and Canada,” USAPEEC President Jim Sumner, who participated in the trip, told the GFB News in an interview after he returned. “They were bringing in one break bulk vessel a month last year, and this year they’ve stepped up to two break bulk vessels a month. There was about a three-month period last year when they banned all imports from the U.S. due to avian influenza.” Sumner explained that a break bulk vessel is a ship loaded completely with cartons located in the ship hold as opposed to being loaded on the deck of the ship. Sumner said U.S. chicken exports headed to Cuba are shipped from Jacksonville, Fla. or ports in the Gulf Coast. According to GTIS, Georgia exported the following commodities to Cuba in 2013: $13.7 million worth of meat and edible meat offal, $12.2 of food industry residues and waste for animal feed and $1.5 million of edible preparations of meat, fish and crustaceans. -continued

GFB News Alert page 11 of 15 Continued from previous page The Port of Brunswick is well-positioned to ship U.S. exports to Cuba, according to the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics (GCIL). The report by Ribera at Texas A&M ranks Georgia as the third leading port state for exports to Cuba with $56.1 million behind Louisiana with $81.8 million and Florida with $77.2 million. The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) sent nearly 38,000 short tons of soybeans, flour and meal of oilseed to Cuba, which represents 80 percent of the volume of these products Cuba receives, the GCIL reported. The GPA also sent 35 shipments of other products to Cuba including cordage, twine, logs, lumber and petroleum products. What’s the future for U.S./Cuban trade? This is the million-dollar question everyone wants answered. “U.S. sales will continue to be constrained by cash sale requirements,” Messina said in his report on Cuban agriculture and trade presented to the USDA in March. “The Cuban government is likely to be very slow and deliberate in the speed with which they allow changes to take place, and the degree to which they allow U.S. firms to get involved.” The unified message every trade and agriculture official had for the AAEA delegation during its September visit was end the embargo and sell commodities to Cuba with credit terms. During the meeting with GECOMEX, Aurelio Mollineda Martinez was asked what he would say to the U.S. Congress to persuade them to vote to lift the embargo and that Cuba is creditworthy. Martinez replied through a translator, “I think it will be the same as when President Obama was here when I said we are not blocking anyone. We have almost nothing to change in the way we conduct business. Businessmen in Cuba, we are all open and willing to do our job and the Congress and decisions made in and outside are limiting the population of the United States from being freely linked to our businessmen and our people. As I said, we are open to trade and to do business with U.S. companies. It cannot be with absolution. Business is where two parts agree on a common goal. The last thing I would say is, It’s time or we’ll have to keep thinking. ” Martinez did not address his country’s creditworthiness.

GFB News Alert page 12 of 15 GEORGIA PEANUT COMMISSION CHRISTMAS OPEN HOUSE Dec. 3 Georgia Peanut Commission 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Tifton The event will take place in conjunction with Tifton's Hometown Holiday Christmas Celebration and is open to the public. The GPC is located at 445 Fulwood Blvd. in Tifton.The Georgia Peanut Gift Shop, located inside the Georgia Peanut Commission, will be open during the event for holiday shopping. Peanut-embossed belts, Georgia Peanut branded tumblers and peanutinspired jewelry are among some of the most popular novelty items sold in the gift shop. During the holiday season, GPC also offers a special holiday gift pack which includes a 12 oz. can of honey roasted peanuts, 12 oz. can of butter toffee peanuts and a 12 oz. can of skinless salted peanuts all packaged in a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays box. GPC will be providing a variety of holiday peanut treats to guests as they stop in and visit. The Georgia Peanut Commission represents approximately 3,400 peanut farmers in the state of Georgia and carries out programs in the areas of research, promotion and education. For additional information on the programs of the Georgia Peanut Commission, visit 2016 GEORGIA FARM BUREAU ANNUAL CONVENTION Dec. 4-6 Jekyll Island Convention Center Jekyll Island Gov. Nathan Deal, Sen. David Perdue, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and UGA CAES Dean Sam Pardue are slated to speak on Dec. 5 and GFB President Gerald Long will give his annual address. Other events at the GFB Convention will include commodity conferences for Georgia’s 20 major commodities on Dec. 5, announcements of the 2016 state award winners on Dec. 4 and the annual trade show Dec. 4-5. Voting delegates will adopt the organization’s policy for 2017 on Dec. 6 and elect the 2017 GFB Board. For more information contact your county Farm Bureau office. Visit for more information. GFB FOUNDATION BREAKFAST Dec. 5 Jekyll Island Convention Center 7 a.m. Jekyll Island The Foundation Breakfast, part of the 2016 GFB Convention, supports the GFB Foundation for Agriculture, which provides postsecondary scholarships, Ag in the Classroom programs, consumer awareness and adult learning opportunities, all aimed at advancing Georgia agriculture. Tickets are $25 per person. To reserve your seats contact Marilyn Akers at 478-4740679, ext. 5231 or at TEAM AG GEORGIA FALL WORKSHOP Dec. 14 Georgia Southern Nessmith-Lane Center 8 a.m. Statesboro This free workshop includes presentations on beekeeping and pollinator establishment, USDA programs, forestry heirs property, forestry and wildlife management, wildlife food plot management, a tour of a Satsuma orange farm and more. Registration and exhibits open at 8 a.m. and sessions begin at 9 a.m. Lunch and sessions are free but advance registration is requested. For more information call 912-367-7679 or send an email to

GFB News Alert page 13 of 15 NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR OUTSTANDING YOUNG PEANUT FARMER Dec. 15 deadline for nominations The Georgia Peanut Commission is accepting nominations for the Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer. The state winner will be announced at the Georgia Peanut Farm Show on Jan. 19, 2017 in Tifton. The award, sponsored by the Georgia Peanut Commission and BASF, is based upon the applicant’s overall farm operation; environmental and stewardship practices; and leadership, civic, church, and community service activities. The award is open for any active Georgia peanut farmer who is not over 45 years of age, as of Jan. 19, 2017. An individual may receive the award only once. There is no limit on the number of applicants from each county in Georgia. Applications are due to the GPC office by Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2016. The award application is available online at or by contacting Joy Crosby at 229-3863690 or GA PECAN GROWERS SEEKING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Dec. 23 deadline to apply The Georgia Pecan Growers Association, Inc. (GPGA) is conducting a search for an executive director. The position becomes available January 1, 2017. Responsibilities of the executive director position include: Providing overall leadership for GPGA in accordance with policy established by the GPGA Board of Directors; overseeing the financial affairs of the association; support and coordinate with the activities of similar associations; employ and supervise staff adequate to accomplish the association’s goals; plan and execute the various association activities to include an annual conference and associated fundraising activities, website, fall field day, and communications with the membership; oversee the bi-monthly publication of the Georgia Grower Magazine to include content, advertising, design, and printing; apply for and maintain state and federal grants. Position requires travel. Salary is commensurate with experience. For a complete job description visit Submit resume by Dec. 23, 2016 to or by mail to GPGA PO Box 1367, Tifton, GA 31793. GPGA is an equal opportunity employer. 2017 SE REGIONAL FRUIT & VEGETABLE CONFERENCE Jan. 5-8, 2017 Savannah International Trade Center Savannah The Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference is the largest educational conference and trade show in the Southeastern United States that brings growers, vendors and suppliers together. Anyone with an interest in specialty crop agriculture is invited to attend this event. The conference offers more than 80 hours of educational sessions and will address food safety concerns, specific commodity issues on production practices and increased yields and marketing strategies. The trade show features more than 85,000 square feet of space filled with key suppliers and growers. Full four-day registration is $155, and single-day registration rates are available. To register visit

GFB News Alert page 14 of 15 2017 AG FORECAST MEETINGS Jan. 18 Georgia Farm Bureau Macon Jan. 19 Cobb County Civic Center Marietta Jan. 20 Carroll County Ag Center Carrollton Jan. 23 UGA Conference Center Tifton Jan. 24 Decatur County Ag Center Bainbridge Jan. 25 Toombs County Ag Center Lyons Jan. 26 Burke County Office Park Waynesboro Jan. 27 Georgia Center for Continuing Education Athens This annual series is supported by an endowment from Georgia Farm Bureau with support from the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Agribusiness Council. The keynote topic for the Jan. 18, 23, 24, 25 and 26 meetings will be a farm bill update given by Bob Redding. The keynote topic for the Jan. 19, 20 and 27 meetings will be the Veterinary Feed Directive, given by Dr. Brent Credille of the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. Check-in for all of the meetings, except Tifton, begins at 9 a.m. with seminars starting at 10 a.m. followed by lunch at 11:30 a.m. Check-in for the Tifton event starts at 7 a.m., breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m. followed by the seminar from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Cost is $30 per person or $200 for a table of eight. Advance registration is required. For more information or to register, visit, call 706-583-0347 or email Follow the meetings on or on Twitter @UGA_CollegeofAg and join the conversation with #AgForecast. 41ST ANNUAL GEORGIA PEANUT FARM SHOW AND CONFERENCE Jan. 19, 2017 UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Tifton The one-day show is free and open to all farmers and industry representatives to attend. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit with more than 100 agribusinesses and organizations in the peanut and agricultural industry. Farmers will be able to earn private and commercial pesticide applicators' certification, as well as learn about cutting-edge research and developments during the University of Georgia Peanut Production Seminar and industry-wide sponsored Peanut Seed Seminar. The Georgia Peanut Commission, in cooperation with OneBlood, will host a blood drive from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. during the show. At the close of the day, there will be nearly $10,000 in door prizes presented to farmers, as well as a grand door prize, vendor products, certificates and equipment. For more information on the show, contact the Georgia Peanut Commission office at 229-386-3470. Information is also available online at GA COTTON COMMISSION ANNUAL MEETING & UGA COTTON WORKSHOP

Jan. 25, 2017 UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center Tifton This event begins at 8 a.m. and features presentations from key industry stakeholders as well as the Georgia Quality Cotton Awards. For more information call 478-988-4235 or visit

GFB News Alert page 15 of 15 FARMERS ALMANAC FARMER OF THE YEAR CONTEST Jan. 31, 2017 deadline for nominations Farmers' Almanac, in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation, is searching for three farmers or ranchers to be recognized as “Farmers' Almanac Farmer of the Year.� The contest seeks to recognize and share the dedication, hard work and contributions farmers make to our world and society. Nominations must highlight, in 300 words or less, the following criteria: Supporting the Tradition - How long has the nominee been in their field? How did he or she get involved in agriculture and why? - Innovation in Agriculture: How the nominee has embraced technology or new ways of farming and ranching; Community Involvement - How has the nominee engaged his/her community to support agriculture and/or teach more about farming overall; and Inspiration - How the nominee is a true leader in agriculture and deserves to be recognized. All nominations must be received by Jan. 31, 2017, and must be submitted online at

Georgia Farm Bureau News Alert - November 30, 2016  

This week in the GFB News Alert... a look ahead to the upcoming GFB 79th Annual Convention, ongoing drought conditions prompt an elevated...