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October 20, 2016

Vol. 34 No. 33

HURRICANE MATTHEW SLAMS SE GEORGIA FARMS Georgia farmers along the coast and in bordering inland counties have been clearing debris, fixing fences and assessing damage to row crops since Hurricane Matthew blasted Georgia’s coast as a Category 3 storm the night of Oct. 7 and in the early morning Look for the hours of Oct. 8. next issue of Assessing the damage GFB News On Oct. 12, Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long and Georgia Alert on Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black toured farms in Tattnall, Evans November 2. and Screven counties that sustained damage typical of that suffered by many farms in the multi-county area impacted by Matthew. “My heart goes out to all of the farmers affected by this storm. This is following behind low commodity prices and will impact the local economy,” Long said. “This will not just be a one-year hit, but a long-term effect that will take years for our growers to overcome. We at Farm Bureau will continue to work with the department to do anything we can to assist these farmers.” Hurricane Matthew’s most visible damage in the multi-county area is apparent in pecan orchards where the storm left pecan trees uprooted, leaning or broken. Many of the felled gentle giants were mature trees that were 30-years-old and older. Fields of early cotton that farmers weren’t able to finish picking before Matthew blew through were ravaged by the heavy winds and rain, which stripped a significant percentage of cotton in these fields from the burrs leaving the ground littered with white fiber or hanging by a thread in sagging strips. Peanut damage is still yet to be determined and will vary depending on whether nuts had already been dug and were above ground where they’ve been able to dry out in the week since the storm. Peanuts that were still in the ground when the storm hit may experience more damage as farmers were delayed in digging them a week or more due to wet soil. Georgia Farm Bureau 7th District Director Ben Boyd asked Long and Black to visit GFB’s 7th District to get a firsthand look at the crop damage farmers in the area are contending with from Hurricane Matthew. Long and Black spoke with about 50 farmers and agribusiness leaders from Screven and Bulloch Counties who turned out to talk about storm damage during a stop at a pecan orchard -Continued on next page

GFB News Alert, page 2 of 16 Continued from previous page owned by Screven County pecan producer Carl Huggins. Long and Black also visited the farm of Tattnall County farmer Robert Dasher. GFB 7th District Director Gary Bell arranged a stop at the farm of Evans County farmer Del Beasley. Black encouraged farmers with storm damage to document their damage by taking photos before beginning the cleanup process and keeping a list of the To view pictures of names and contact information for everyone they speak to with Georgia crop damage state or federal agencies regarding storm damage. from Hurricane “After surveying the damage I think it is safe to say that it is Matthew, visit certainly not as bad as it could have been, but it is quite a bit worse than we expected it to be. It can be hard to quantify damages in situations like these. The losses that occur are not always clear-cut,” Black said. “Anytime you have a major disruption to the production cycle, you are going to have a cost associated with it as well.” Long explained how Farm Bureau helps farmers by telling their story and why it’s important for farmers to support the organization as members so it can be there for them during times like this. “If you’re not a Farm Bureau member, you need to be a member for times like this,” Long said. “Ben got on the phone as one of our district directors and told me about the damage and said y’all needed help. I talked to Commissioner Black and then today we’re here with y’all. Georgia Farm Bureau can help by hearing your concerns and passing those along to our elected officials and to the consumers through our television and print media.” Pecan orchards decimated Huggins estimated he had 350 mature pecan trees suffer some type of damage in his 350-acre orchard. He had planned to start harvesting his pecans on Oct. 10 before Hurricane Matthew blew through. He said some of his damaged trees would have made 400 to 500 pounds of pecans. “It’s just one of those things in life. It could have been worse. We’re just going to say we were blessed and move on,” Huggins said smiling. “We all got up the morning after the storm came through, and we’ve all got our health. You have to keep a good mindset and look at the positives.” Screven County Farm Service Agency Director Julia Sharp said she’d heard there were at least 2,000 pecan trees down in the county. Newman Pryor and Kyle Sommer, who grow about 700 acres of pecans in Screven, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham and Jenkins counties for Pryor Farms, had counted 400 damaged trees as of Oct. 12 but were still counting the felled trees in their orchards. “A good percentage of our crop will be lost. It could be as much as half,” Pryor said. “The trees that had the best crop on them got destroyed because the limbs were the heaviest. The better orchards were really broken up.” While most pecan producers have crop insurance on the nuts the trees produce, crop insurance for the trees isn’t available. The loss of the trees is a huge setback because it can take more than 10 years for a young tree to come into production and young trees don’t produce the volume of pecans that older, mature trees do, several pecan growers said. “It’s not just this year’s crop that’s going to be impacted,” Sommer said. “Our children are going to feel the impact of this disaster years from now.” -Continued on next page

GFB News Alert page 3 of 16 Continued from previous page Evans County farmer Del Beasley began growing pecans 11 years ago when he got out of tobacco. “These trees at 30 years old were at their absolute prime,” Beasley said. “They stay in their prime for about 25 years. The last, best part of their life is gone, and it will take 12 to 15 years for the new trees to start turning a profit.” Many of Beasley’s trees weren’t completely uprooted but were pushed to the ground with the trunks still in the soil. Beasley said he’s talked to a pecan specialist and a veteran pecan producer who both advised against trying to salvage the trees. They told him attempts to do so by other producers after past storms didn’t yield good results. Beasley had already spent time and money prepping his orchard to begin harvest when Hurricane Matthew struck. He’s hoping the trees that weren’t completely uprooted will mature out their nuts, and he’ll be able to harvest those. Picking up the pieces Sharp said pecan producers can apply for assistance through the Emergency Conservation Program to help clean up their orchards and possibly replant new trees. “The main thing farmers need to do before they do any cleanup is come see us [local FSA office],” Sharp said. “It wouldn’t hurt for the producer to take their own pictures but someone from the FSA office needs to visit the farm and take official pictures. After that we’ll process their paper work and they’ll be able to do their cleanup and then they’ll come back in and submit their cleanup bills and we’ll process the paper work to get them reimbursed.” Sharp said farmers should contact their crop insurance agents to file claims on losses with their row crops. Huggins said he plans to methodically clean up his orchard. “We’ve got a plan to go through the grove line by line,” Huggins said. “We’re cleaning up all the limbs and picking up all the pecans we can. As we pick the limbs up we’re going to shake them to get what nuts we can off. It’s just going to be a slow methodical process.” Low cotton You won’t hear any cotton farmers who were growing the crop in Hurricane Matthew’s path say they’re living in high cotton this year. Cotton damage is more readily apparent in fields that were defoliated just before the storm struck, but there’s also considerable damage to fields that had yet to be defoliated and to fields defoliated earlier this fall that had experienced regrowth due to residual fertilizer in the fields and rain from Tropical Storm Hermine in early September. Four days after the storm on Oct. 12, Bulloch County farmer Lee Cromley estimated one of his fields had suffered damage that will cost him 20 percent of his crop yield for that 300-acare field and additional quality damage that could cost him an additional 20 percent price reduction. “We had about seven inches of rain with constant wind about 50 miles per hour for about 12 hours,” Cromley said. “It really was just too much. It beat a lot of the cotton out [of the burrs]. The storm hit at the most vulnerable time it could hit for this crop because the cotton was fluffed out ready to be picked.” Cromley said he should defoliate his crop again before trying to harvest it but won’t because that would be another production cost he can’t afford. He was hoping to resume harvesting his -Continued on next page

GFB News Alert page 4 of 16 Continued from previous page crop the week of Oct. 17. “One positive thing is the sun came out the day after the storm and has shone every day since,” Cromley said. “This will hopefully help dry out the cotton and help the quality of the cotton.” Cromley’s cousin, David, who also farms in the Bulloch County community of Brooklet, said he had defoliated some of his cotton fields the last week of September. His crop loss was more visually apparent because there were no leaves to block the view of white cotton lying on the ground and hanging in soggy strips from burrs. While defoliating other fields on Oct. 14, David Cromley told the GFB News he was noticing “a good bit of cotton [fiber] on the ground in fields that still had all the leaves on it [the plants].” In Evans County Del Beasley showed the GFB News a 50-acre field of dryland cotton where Hurricane Matthew left cotton stalks leaning southwest. Like Lee and David Cromley’s cotton fields, this field was littered with cotton blown out of its burrs. Beasley estimated he suffered a 25-30 percent yield loss on the 50-acre field of dryland cotton due to rain and wind damage from Hurricane Matthew. He estimated the field would have yielded 600 pounds of cotton per acre before the storm hit. Beasley, who said he got between 11 and 12 inches of rain from Hurricane Matthew, had already defoliated the field two times before Hurricane Matthew blew through. He defoliated the first time before Tropical Storm Hermine dumped seven to eight inches of rain on the crop. The rain combined with residual fertilizer in the soil caused the cotton to grow new leaves. He will defoliate for a third time, which will add another $25 per acre to his crop production costs. Other crops hurt, too Bulloch County Satsuma grower Joe Franklin said he had to straighten and stake about 200 of his young trees that were pushed over by Hurricane Matthew. Franklin, who was about three weeks away from beginning his harvest when Matthew struck, estimates he lost about two percent of his orange crop due to damage from broken limbs and fallen fruit. The storm also left some of the younger trees leaning to one side. Franklin says he’ll have plenty of satsumas to sell at farmers markets and stores in Statesboro, Savannah and Augusta beginning in late October and early November. He expects the harvest to run to the first of December. Glynn County Farm Bureau President Betty Anne Lewis experienced a variety of storm damage at her family’s Sapelo Farm located just east of I-95 where they grow vegetables and raise goats and beef cows sold directly to the public and local restaurants. Lewis had large garden plots flooded by Hurricane Matthew, destroying vegetable crops the family sells to the public through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription service. She said the farm got more than 9 inches of rain in 72 hours. “We had hoped to start our CSA on Oct. 10. Filet beans were ready to pick, and we also lost our Thanksgiving crop of green beans. No time to replant them,” Lewis wrote via email. “We lost Tuscan kale, cabbages, broccoli, colored cauliflower, carrots, arugula, radish. We’re having to wait for the soil to dry enough to replant things from direct seed. We have been replanting what we had ready in seed trays in the greenhouse like Napa cabbage. We have ordered broccoli plants from a local dealer. We’ve had to postpone our CSA indefinitely.” By 9 p.m. on Oct. 7 the storm had already felled several big pecan trees, ripped plastic on their large hoop greenhouse and plexiglass from another greenhouse. Their sugar cane crop was also blown down.

GFB News Alert page 5 of 16 GFB TO PHASE OUT FARM RECORD MANAGEMENT PROGRAM In an Oct. 5 memo to county Farm Bureau presidents, Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long announced that the organization plans to phase out its Farm Record Management (FRM) program. GFB has offered the program since 1964, providing accounting and tax preparation services to assist farmers with their agriculture-specific business needs. Long noted that with advances in technology, farmers now have many options for recordkeeping and tax preparation. “Our Farm Record Management program has kept up with the times, but farmers now have access to accounting services online and locally,” Long wrote. “Participation in our program has declined over the last decade, making it a wise business decision to stop offering the service.” On Sept. 22 the GFB Board of Directors unanimously decided to begin the orderly phase-out of the FRM program. Long emphasized that the decision was not made in haste and that the board had discussed discussions for years before coming to this conclusion. The phase-out will not impact the work GFB does for county Farm Bureaus relating to payroll, bookkeeping, taxes, etc, all of which will continue to be performed by the home office. This change only pertains to the preparation of individual tax returns, farm business returns, bookkeeping, and related tax advice. Letters are being sent to all FRM customers informing them of the change. “We appreciate the support our members who have trusted us to keep their books for them and ask for their understanding as make this business decision,” Long said. GEORGIA NATIONAL FAIR AGAIN SETS ATTENDANCE RECORD October 6-16 was a record-setting 11 days of elite entertainment, pure enjoyment, and delicious food at the Georgia National Fair in Perry. Attendance totaled 536,840, making the 2016 Georgia National Fair a record setting year. The attendance marked a seven percent increase over 2015, which drew 501,528 visitors. In addition to setting a new overall attendance record, Oct. 15 proved to be the highest single attendance day in the history of the fair with 93,000 visitors on one day. The Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority, organizers, and staff attribute the success to a combination of excellent weather, planning, leadership, and welcoming atmosphere exemplified in all aspects of the Georgia National Fair. “We were blessed with beautiful weather here in Perry, despite the weather that hit our coastal counties and neighbors, we were blessed not to be affected by the storm during this fair season,” said Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter Executive Director Stephen Shimp. “Along with wonderful weather we also shared our event with many school system fall break schedules, which allowed students, teachers, and families time off to come and enjoy the festivities together.” Livestock competitions, the Georgia Living Program, the Georgia Grown exhibit, school groups, rallies, and the traditional components such as the Midway rides and food vendors all offered a unique perspective to those who visited the fairgrounds. The 28th Annual Georgia National Fair is scheduled for Oct. 5-15, 2017, in Perry. For more information visit

GFB News Alert page 6 of 16 SUNBELT EXPO SHOWS OFF WHAT FARMERS DO The 39th Annual Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition kicked off on Oct. 18 in Moultrie and while thousands of visitors were treated to the latest in agricultural research and technology, they also were able to get a firsthand look at farm techniques both present and past. “In sports we’re all trying to beat each other,” Sunbelt Executive Director Chip Blalock said during the ribbon cutting for spotlight state South Carolina. “The rest of the year we’re working together.” Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) carried its message to Sunbelt, sharing the Georgia Agriculture Building with the Georgia Department of Agriculture. GFB representatives handed out souvenirs and shared information on the organization’s member benefits and activities to promote agriculture. As always, Sunbelt offered a vast array of farm machinery. Patrons were able to watch demonstrations in hay tedding and raking, then walk among the windrows to examine them up close. Tillage demonstrations gave visitors a chance to walk the field and see the furrows created by the newest in tilling equipment. There was also a touch of the old. Georgia Museum of Agriculture blacksmith Ben Willis fired up his forge and fashioned various items from iron as visitors watched. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences used its Sunbelt building as the venue for an agriculture facts scavenger hunt, while Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences & Technology presented items derived from its small ruminant research, including goat milk soap and ice cream made using goat milk. The Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program announced it is expanding its partnership with Subway restaurants. The program began earlier this year with restaurants in the Atlanta area, northeast Georgia, Albany and Columbus. It is growing to include Macon and Valdosta, as well as Subway locations in Dothan, Alabama, and Tallahassee, Florida. At the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College building, visitors were treated to a roping demonstration by ABAC student Wayne Manning and music from student Tyler Hogan. ABAC also announced that it has received approval from the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents to add a bachelor’s degree program in agricultural education. “The state of Georgia has had a deficit of vocational agriculture teachers for 30 years,” said ABAC President Dr. David Bridges. “Thanks to the positive vote from the Board of Regents, we are now in a unique position to provide a solution to that problem.” Screven County Farmer John McCormick was recognized as the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition Georgia Farmer of the Year during the annual Willie B. Withers Luncheon. Arkansas diversified farmer David Wildy was named the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. The luncheon also featured speeches from Clemson University President Dr. Jim Clements and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. South Carolina is the 2016 Sunbelt Spotlight State, and officials from the Clemson University Extension and South Carolina Department of Agriculture showcased products from their state.

GFB News Alert page 7 of 16 GPLN VET OFFERS TIPS TO PREVENT AI IN BACKYARD FLOCKS Small backyard flocks of poultry may be the most susceptible to outbreaks of avian influenza (AI), and Dr. Doug Anderson of the Georgia Poultry Lab Network (GPLN), offered some common-sense tactics owners can use to help prevent AI from decimating their flocks. Anderson, the veterinary director overseeing GPLN’s Tifton and Forsyth laboratories, who gave a presentation on keeping backyard flocks healthy during opening day of the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition, spoke with GFB media about biosecurity measures for backyard flocks. Much of it, Anderson said, begins with looking down – at footwear and at the ground. “We often will focus on their shoes,” Anderson said. “What shoes are you wearing? Are those the shoes that you wore in your chicken pen this morning and you’re now in someone else’s chicken pen or you’re here at the Expo? So where have those shoes been? You’re the biggest carrier. There’s a lot of things out there, you know, rats and mice and hawks and birds and geese flying over. There are a thousand different miniscule possibilities. [But] your two feet are the biggest danger.” So controlling foot traffic in the areas where flocks are kept is paramount. Anderson suggested having designated shoes for one’s own flock and shoes to be worn other places. And, when other people come into the area where a backyard poultry owner keeps his or her birds, the owner should be aware of where that person and their shoes have been. “Don’t share stuff. When you go away for a weekend, make sure the kid you’ve got coming over to do your feeding is not somebody that’s got dirty chickens or walks through dirty chicken areas before they come to your farm,” Anderson said, noting that this is applicable to vehicles as well as footwear. Anderson stressed the importance of keeping the flock area neat and free of feed, which in addition to feeding the flock can attract other animals. “A lot of loose feed around the farm is going to bring in mice and rats and then that will bring in the snakes and they can all spread [disease] because they’re not going through your boot dip. They’re not changing their boots and they now become potential spreaders of disease, and if the starlings start flocking in there with a lot of loose feed laying around, they become the potential carriers,” Anderson said. Maintaining a disease-free environment for your flock requires ongoing vigilance. “Would you like to be the very first farm in Georgia to break with AI and all that that would entail?” Anderson asked. “Or maybe what’s worse, do you want to be the second case of AI and it was your lack of biosecurity that let it move to your farm? They’ve got to watch what they’re doing and their feet. It really boils down to that.” He also recommended that poultry owners familiarize themselves with the warning signs of AI and other diseases affecting birds, and if sick birds are suspected, report them. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Information Service recommends contacting a local ag extension agent, a local veterinarian, an animal health diagnostic laboratory or the state veterinarian. GPLN has three labs – its main lab in Gainesville in addition to the Forsyth and Tifton labs – available for consultation on avian diseases. For more information visit

GFB News Alert page 8 of 16 ROYAL, WOODRUFF TO BE INDUCTED INTO GA AG HALL OF FAME On Nov. 11, the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) will induct former Georgia Rep. Richard Royal and pioneering Georgia soybean specialist John Woodruff into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame, according to a UGA press release. The celebration will be part of the CAES alumni awards ceremony and banquet at the Classic Center in Athens. The public is invited to attend but tickets are required. The Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame was established in 1972 to recognize individuals who made extraordinary contributions to agriculture and agribusiness in Georgia. During his 25 years in the Georgia General Assembly, Royal earned a reputation as an advocate for agriculture. He helped to develop policies that supported Georgia farmers. Royal was first elected to the Georgia House in 1983 from the 171st District, which included Mitchell and Colquitt counties. He served as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means and on the Appropriations and Natural Resources and Environment committees. Royal helped to craft the Conservation Use Valuation Assessment law for Georgia. CUVA allows agricultural or forest lands to be placed in a covenant for a lower ad valorem rate. Even after retirement, Royal played a role in crafting a law to create the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption (GATE.) Royal was also instrumental in securing the funding for UGA's Stripling Irrigation Research Park, a state-of-the-art irrigation research and education center in Camilla. The soybean industry in Georgia and worldwide has seen increasing yields thanks to the work of Woodruff, a pioneering UGA Extension soybean agronomist. He has long been recognized as one of the top soybean specialists in the nation. Woodruff developed computer programs to assist county agents and farmers in selecting the best possible variety for individual fields and farms. Woodruff’s research helped Georgia soybean producers achieve higher yields and higher profits. In 2014, Woodruff adapted the early season soybean production system from Mississippi and Arkansas and worked with a soybean grower to produce 116 bushels per acre. This was the first time a 100+ bushel per acre yield had been achieved in Georgia. Woodruff has also helped developing countries such as Haiti, Kenya and Tanzania produce higher yields to help combat their growing hunger rate. The ceremony and banquet will also honor alumni award winners. The CAES Award of Excellence will be presented to D. Wayne Akins Jr., chief retail Banking officer of Synovus Bank; Charles Hubert Bronson Jr., former Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Dr. Beverly Lynn Sparks, former UGA Associate Dean for Cooperative Extension; and R. Lowry Weyman “Whitey” Hunt Jr., a sixth-generation Morgan County farmer and co-owner of Godfrey’s Feed. Luke Lanier, assistant vice president of Metter Bank; Allison Perkins, UGA Cooperative Extension county agent for Bartow County; and Cliff Riner, coordinator of the Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center, will receive CAES Young Alumni Achievement awards. For more information about the ways that alumni of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences have shaped the world visit

GFB News Alert page 9 of 16 NASS: GEORGIA CORN FORECAST FOR PRODUCTION INCREASE Georgia corn producers are expected to make gains in annual production according to the October Crop Production Report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released Oct. 12. The report, which reflects estimates as of Oct. 1, does not reflect crop damage from Hurricane Matthew. Crop damage from the storm will be reflected in the November Crop Production Report to be released Nov. 9. The state’s corn producers are forecast for a production of 64.9 million bushels in 2016, an increase of 33 percent over 2015, when they turned out 48.7 million bushels. The production growth is the result of increases in harvested acres and average yield. Georgia cotton growers are expected to produce 145,000 more bales in 2016 (2.4 million 480pound bales) than in 2015 (2.244 million bales), an increase of 6.4 percent. The state’s average cotton yield is projected to hold steady at 976 pounds per acre, but growers increased overall planted acreage by about 60,000 acres. The state’s production of hay, peanuts, soybeans and tobacco are all forecast to decline in 2016. Georgia’s average hay yield is projected at 2.2 tons per acre in 2016, down from 2.5 tons per acre in 2015, which is expected to result in a 12 percent decline in production, from 1.425 million tons in 2015 to a predicted 1.254 million tons in 2016. The state’s peanut growers planted 65,000 fewer acres in 2016, and though yields are forecast to increase slightly – from 4,330 pounds per acre in 2015 to 4,600 pounds per acre in 2016 – overall production is predicted to fall by seven percent, from 3.36 billion pounds in 2015 to 3.12 billion pounds in 2016. NASS projects soybeans to have the largest percentage production decline, 23.5 percent, among the state’s major row crops, from 13.33 million bushels in 2015 to 10.2 million bushels in 2016, due to a reduction in acreage and a slight decrease in average yield. The state’s tobacco growers are forecast to produce 29.7 million pounds in 2016, don from 32.4 million pounds in 2015, a decline of 8.3 percent.

GFB News Alert page 10 of 16 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. In this installment Whittaker looks at the presidential policy directive on Cuban trade President Obama issued Oct. 14 and the status of U.S./Cuban trade 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 11 of 16 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 12 of 16 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 13 of 16 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 14 of 16 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 To view photos of Cuban trade officials exports to Cuba with $56.1 million behind and a Cuban fresh air market visit: 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. The next installment in the series will examine the structure of Cuban agriculture and its farm system.

GFB News Alert page 15 of 16

GFB DISTRICT ANNUAL MEETING Oct. 25 4th District Green County High School 7 p.m. Greensboro Contact your county Farm Bureau office for more information. Note: This meeting is for Farm Bureau members only and are not open to the general public. AGRICULTURE LABOR RELATIONS FORUM & TRAINING Nov. 1-2 UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center Tifton Georgia Farm Bureau and other ag organizations are collaborating with the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) for this forum, which will provide an in-depth overview and training on labor rules and regulations for growers, office managers, and other office personnel who handle the administrative and human resource reporting duties for farm and business operations. The conference will provide attendees with resources to comply with existing labor rules and regulations. This conference is not a discussion about immigration policy reform. Anticipated topics include: Preparing for a wage and hour audit; what’s new with worker protection standards; how to decide whether to use the H-2A program; clarification of the I-9 process; transportation guidelines and employer health care compliance. Forum registration costs are $150. For more information call the GFVGA at 706-845-8200. UGA GRAZING MANAGEMENT FIELD DAY Nov. 16 Chantilly Farm, 451 Collier Church Rd. 8:30 a.m. Comer Discussions will include grazing management in the Georgia piedmont and participants can get a firsthand look at a grazing system that has been in operation for 40 years. Topics include grazing management and soil health, white clover establishment and management, stockpiling tall fescue for fall and winter grazing, planning for drought conditions and pasture weed management. The event is sponsored by the Georgia Forage & Grassland Council, Georgia Grazing Lands Conservation Coalition, Broad River Soil and Water Conservation District and Two Rivers RC&D. Register by Contacting the Oglethorpe County Extension Office at 706-743-8341. The registration deadline is Nov. 11 and there is a $5 registration fee, which includes lunch. NRCS IN GEORGIA ANNOUNCES EQIP SIGN-UP Sign-up for fiscal year 2017 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is underway and all Georgia producers who wish to be considered for financial assistance should apply by Nov. 18, 2016. While producers can apply year round, this application cutoff announcement is for all general EQIP, as well as some special initiatives such as the Longleaf Pine, On-Farm Energy, Organic, Seasonal High Tunnel, StrikeForce, Working Lands for Wildlife and the North Georgia Irrigation Pilot Project. They can do so by visiting to their local USDA Service Center and submitting a Conservation Program Application (NRCS-CPA-1200). 2016 GEORGIA FARM BUREAU ANNUAL CONVENTION Dec. 4-6 Jekyll Island Convention Center Jekyll Island Gov. Nathan Deal is 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.

GFB News Alert page 16 of 16 GFB FOUNDATION BREAKFAST Dec. 5 Jekyll Island Convention Center 7 a.m. Jekyll Island The Foundation Breakfast, which will be held during 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 478-474-0679, ext. 5231 or at ONGOING FARM BUREAU-SPONSORED FARMERS MARKETS DODGE COUNTY FARMERS MARKET Saturdays Dodge County Courthouse 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Eastman This open-air market, sponsored in part by Dodge County Farm Bureau, features locally produced meats, vegetables, eggs and artisanal crafts. For more information contact market manager T.I. Papel at 478-374-5895 or, or visit ROCKDALE/DEKALB FARM BUREAU FARMERS MARKET Tuesdays and Saturdays 8 a.m. – noon Thursdays 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. The Rockdale/DeKalb Farm Bureau Farmers Market will be open at 1400 Parker Rd. SE in Conyers. The public is invited to stop by and shop for fresh locally grown vegetables, dairy products, crafts and more! For more information contact the Rockdale/DeKalb County Farm Bureau office at 770-922-3566. SHIELDS-ETHRIDGE HERITAGE FARM CULTIVATORS’ MARKET Nov. 19 Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm, 2355 Ethridge Rd. 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Jefferson Jackson County Farm Bureau (JCFB) is sponsoring this open-air market that will allow local farmers and entrepreneurs to sell products they make or grow in a festival atmosphere. Market will be held rain or shine. The Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm is an outdoor ag museum that functions as an educational and interpretative facility. Proceeds from the market will be used for restoration projects at the farm. If you are interested in having a booth at the market, contact JCFB Office Manager Denise Temple at or call 706-367-8877 or visit to complete an application online.

Georgia Farm Bureau News Alert - October 20, 2016  

This week in the GFB News Alert... farmers along Georgia's coast are cleaning up damage from Hurricane Matthew, new inductees named for the...

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