FARM BUREAU GEORGIA
Vol. 78 No. 5
The Voice of Georgia Farmers
GFB talks water
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contents september 2016
departments view from the field PAGE 4
legislative update PAGE 5
commodities update PAGE 10
GFB Foundation update PAGE 12
public relations staff Andy Lucas Director Jennifer Whittaker Editor Jay Stone Print/Web Specialist Lillian Davis Publications/Advertising Manager Michael Edmondson Web/Video Manager Ray D’Alessio Senior Producer/TV Host Kenny Burgamy Co-Anchor/Reporter Mark Wildman Senior Radio-TV Specialist Dean Wood Radio-TV Specialist Damon Jones Radio-TV Specialist Vickie Amos Office Coordinator For information concerning advertising, contact Wendy McFarland at 334-652-9080 or email@example.com For questions about your membership or member benefits, call 1-800-633-5432. For questions regarding editorial content call 478-474-0679, ext. 5334 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the GFB Web site today! www.gfb.org Georgia Farm Bureau TV: www.youtube.com/georgiafarmmonitor “Like” us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/GeorgiaFarmBureau Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gafarmbureau Check us out on Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/gafarmbureau
New UGA ag school dean spends day meeting GFB members
Dr. Sam Pardue, who began serving as dean of the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences in March, had a chance to visit with Georgia Farm Bureau members on Aug. 3 during a lunch, farm tour and reception GFB hosted. PAGE 6
GFB Committees begin PD process at commodity conference
Georgia Farm Bureau’s 20 commodity committees kicked off the organization’s annual policy development process during the GFB Commodity Conference. Retired Ga. Sen. Ross Tolleson received the GFB Commodity Award. PAGE 7
GFB Commodity Conference provides updates on numerous ag issues
Get a summary of the updates GFB Commodity Committee members heard from speakers on topics including: Georgia sales tax rules, auxin herbicides, federal food safety rules, UGA beef programs and the federal GMO labeling bill. PAGE 8
American Pecan Council begins nomination process
The process for nominating, selecting and seating the American Pecan Council, the administrative body of the Federal Marketing Order for Pecans, is underway. PAGE 13
Make plans to attend Sunbelt Expo Oct. 18-20
There’s always something new to see at Sunbelt Expo among the 1,200 exhibitors and 600acre research farm. South Carolina will be the spotlight state, and John McCormick of Screven County is representing Georgia in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Contest. PAGE 14
Hubert retires after almost 36 years as GFB 4th Dist. Field Rep.
Some people may remember January 1981 for UGA beating Notre Dame 17-10 to win a national football championship, or that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th U.S. President. It was also the month Rick Hubert joined the staff of Georgia Farm Bureau. PAGE 16
Addressing motor carrier issues for farm vehicles
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented rules in 2013 that affect covered farm vehicles used to transport commodities, livestock, machinery or supplies. If you aren’t aware of the rules be sure to read this article. PAGE 17
GFB hosts water tour for EPD Director Dunn
GFB hosted a tour for new EPD Director Richard Dunn on Aug. 8 to highlight farmers’ need for water to irrigate their crops and the technology and conservation measures farmers use to conserve water. PAGE 18
AgrAbility helps farmers with disabilities
Farm Again/AgrAbility Georgia is enabling farmers with physical limitations to resume their normal work and life activities. PAGE 22
about the cover--------------------------------------
Peach County Farm Bureau member Dwight Wallace shot this photo at the Super Sod farm outside Marshallville in Macon County. He won an honorable mention for the photo in the 2013 GFB Photo Contest. Visit http://tinyurl.com/GFBPhotoContest16 to see the winners of this year’s contest.
Georgia Farm Bureau News September 2016/ 3
view from the field Gerald Long, GFB President
Water remains a GFB priority issue
As a farmer, there’s one thing I know. Adverse weather conditions are proof we’re at the mercy of God. You’ve probably seen photos of the August flooding in Louisiana that has cost lives and damaged numerous commodities and homes. Meanwhile, the drought conditions Georgia has suffered this summer continue to worsen. As of Aug. 22, 84 percent of the state was experiencing some level of drought. That’s up 6 percent from July. North Georgia is feeling the worst of the drought. Row crops grown in this part of the state are mostly dry land and are hurting. Cattle producers have already been feeding their hay reserves and aren’t making the hay they need for the winter. Please keep all of these farmers in your prayers. As a lifelong farmer I know how discouraging it is to suffer through a drought and pray for rain that doesn’t come. I remember the drought of 1977 that prompted state officials to hold a meeting in the winter of 1978 at the Dougherty County Courthouse to discuss limiting farmers’ access to water. Farm Bureau representatives were present at the standing-room-only meeting to explain why farmers need to irrigate. Through the years, Farm Bureau has continued to advocate for farmers’ need to have access to water. GFB was involved in securing funding for the Georgia Water Planning & Policy Center formed in 1999 and numerous GFB leaders have been involved in developing water policy for the Upper and Lower Flint River Basins. GFB supported the plan passed by the Georgia General Assembly (GGA) in 2003 for the Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission to install meters on irrigation systems to improve the
available data on ag water use. GFB formed a Water Advisory Committee in 2004 and was involved every step of the way from 2004-2008 as Georgia developed its water management plan. The water plan Gov. Sonny Perdue signed in 2008 had significant GFB input. Later that year when the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) sought nominations to serve on the regional water councils, GFB submitted 88 names for consideration based on names county Farm Bureaus recommended and 47 of our nominees were appointed. Since then, GFB has continued to weigh in on state water issues and maintained a close working relationship with the EPD and other state officials making decisions about agriculture’s water use. On Aug. 8 GFB held a tour for Georgia’s new EPD Director Richard Dunn that gave him a chance to meet farmers who rely on irrigation and to see the new technology farmers have adopted to use water efficiently. I found Director Dunn to be receptive to what we had to say, and I appreciate everyone who hosted a stop or participated in the tour. Events like this are crucial to Farm Bureau being the Voice of Georgia’s farmers. As harvest season gets underway, I’d like to remind everyone to be careful as you drive farm equipment on the highway. Be sure you have slow moving vehicle decals displayed prominently on the back of your equipment and that your signal lights are working. Motorists, if you’re behind farm equipment, please be patient and don’t try to pass until there is no oncoming traffic and road lines indicate it’s safe to do so. And probably most important, no texting while driving!
FARM BUREAU GEORGIA
The Voice of Georgia Farmers
SUBSCRIPTION RATES Farm Bureau Members: Included in dues — $1 per year Non-Members — $15 per year To subscribe call 1-800-898-1911, ext. 5238. OFFICERS President GERALD LONG, Bainbridge 1st Vice President and Middle Georgia Vice President ROBERT FOUNTAIN JR., Adrian North Georgia Vice President BERNARD SIMS, Ringgold Chief Operating Officer WAYNE DANIEL General Counsel DUKE GROOVER Chief Financial Officer & Corp. Treasurer DAVID JOLLEY Chief Administrative Officer & Corp. Secretary JON HUFFMASTER
DIRECTORS FIRST DISTRICT: Bill Bryan, Summerville; Wesley Hall, Cumming SECOND DISTRICT: Bobby Gunter, Dahlonega; Randy Ruff, Elberton THIRD DISTRICT: George Chambers, Carrollton; Nora Goodman, Temple FOURTH DISTRICT: Skeetter McCorkle, Dearing; Marvin Ruark, Bishop FIFTH DISTRICT: Ralph Adamson Jr., Barnesville; Matt Bottoms, Molena SIXTH DISTRICT: James Malone, Dexter; James Emory Tate, Denton SEVENTH DISTRICT: Gary Bell, Bellville; Ben Boyd, Sylvania EIGHTH DISTRICT: Scotty Raines, Sycamore; Don Wood, Rochelle NINTH DISTRICT: Lucius Adkins, Newton; Paul Shirah, Camilla TENTH DISTRICT: Daniel Johnson, Alma; David Lee, Alma YOUNG FARMER CHAIRMAN: Will Cabe, Carnesville WOMEN’S COMMITTEE CHAIR: Melanie Sanders, Stephens ADVERTISING POLICY All advertising accepted subject to publisher’s approval. Advertisers must assume liability for content of their advertising. Publisher maintains right to cancel advertising for non-payment or reader complaint about advertiser service or products. Publisher does not accept per-order, political or alcoholic beverage ads, nor does publisher prescreen or guarantee advertiser service or products. Publisher assumes no liability for products or services advertised in the Georgia Farm Bureau News. For advertising rates and information, contact Wendy McFarland at 334-652-9080 or email@example.com. Georgia Farm Bureau News was established in 1937. Copyright 2016 by the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation. Printed by Panaprint, Macon, Georgia.
Above: During a tour GFB held for Georgia EPD Director Richard Dunn, GFB President Gerald Long, left, shows Dunn a meter that records how much water his irrigation pivot uses. 4 / September 2016
Georgia Farm Bureau News
legislative update By Tas Smith, Assistant Legislative Director
Farm Bureau’s grassroots efforts help preempt state GMO labeling laws It’s an old adage in Farm Bureau that the strength of our organization is our grassroots structure. We often use this phrase to describe ourselves, but have you ever thought what this really means? Think about it. What organization can send more than 800 volunteers to Atlanta for Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol? What organization has an active presence in virtually every county in the state that works closely with elected officials and their staff? What organization can have constituents reach every member of the Georgia General Assembly and Congressional delegation? I am not aware of many, and that is the beauty of Farm Bureau. A great example of the strength of this organization happened in July. The U.S. House and Senate were scheduled to vote on S. 764, a bill that would preempt states such as Vermont from implementing mandatory GMO labeling laws. Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) sent a VoterVoice alert to more than 15,000 of our farmer members urging them to contact their Congressman to support the bill. The response was overwhelming. Georgia’s Congressional delegation took note, and thanks to the grassroots efforts of GFB members they responded with a unanimous vote in the face of enormous pressure from anti-GMO and environmental activists who tried to stop the legislation. President Obama signed the bill on July 29. When S. 764 passed, Georgia was one of only three states to have every single member of its Congressional delegation in both the House and Senate vote for the bill. The other two states were Missouri and Minnesota, which have smaller Congressional delegations than Georgia. Your efforts made this possible. If you are not a part of our VoterVoice network, we encourage you to contact your county Farm Bureau office and sign up. Please take time to thank your member of Congress and Sens. Isakson and Perdue for supporting S. 764. Most importantly, thank you for making a difference for farmers across the state and country. As with many pieces of legislation, it was not a perfect bill. GFB had concerns about the labeling mandate contained in the compromise and would have preferred a voluntary, national labeling standard. However, the negative conse-
quences of the Vermont law and the potential for more states to adopt similar laws made passage of this legislation critical. If Congress had failed to act, the mandatory GMO label implemented by Vermont’s state law would have become the de facto standard for the United States. It would have been almost impossible for food companies to create one GMO label for Vermont and a separate label for the remaining 49 U.S. states. Failure by Congress to act would have ceded control of food labeling policy in a country of more than 300 million to a state of only 600,000 (Vermont). Genetic engineering offers important benefits to agriculture, the environment and consumers. Biotechnology has helped cut fuel use, reduce tillage and reduce the release of greenhouse gas emissions from GMO cropping areas. Using genetic engineering, scientists are on the cusp of developing new plants with lifesaving attributes that can eliminate proteins responsible for peanut allergies, gluten (celiac disease), soy and milk. Meeting the needs of a growing world population is central to helping farmers meet the increased demand of food. By 2050, there is expected to be a 70 percent increase in global demand for food, requiring double the current production levels. While organic production is a great way for farmers to get a premium for their product, the only way for farmers to meet global demand is through utilizing the latest and best technologies available. The Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate and ensure the safety of foods derived from new plant varieties. Over the last 20 years, FDA has reviewed and evaluated data and information on more than 150 genetically engineered plants and never found evidence of safety concerns with GMO crops. In fact, nearly 2,000 independent, peer-reviewed studies and virtually every health and safety organization in the world have confirmed the safety of GMOs. Passage of S. 764 will protect this regulatory framework while also ensuring farmers have access to biotech crops. The GMO debate is only the most recent of many examples of how GFB members can impact legislation at both the state and federal level. Almost 10 years ago, during the 2006 session of the Georgia General Assembly, the GFB
legislative staff was having a conversation with Georgia House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McCall (R-Elberton). During the long days of the legislative session, Chairman McCall’s office often becomes one where agriculture interests in Atlanta look for ways to implement priorities as the General Assembly winds to a close. One afternoon, we were discussing how emails and phone calls impact the legislative process. Chairman McCall said he gets calls and emails on numerous issues from across the state. When he gets a call from a constituent he listens and will do all he can to be on their side when the votes are casts on the House floor. Most legislators have the same attitude as Chairman McCall. Farm Bureau members are in all of Georgia’s legislative districts and have a tremendous grassroots impact when we reach out. Tas Smith is assistant director of the GFB Legislative Department.
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Georgia Farm Bureau News September 2016/ 5
Photo by Jay Stone
Berrien County Farm Bureau member Tim McMillan, right, shows Dr. Sam Pardue a cotton boll while discussing the growth cycle and physiology of cotton. Visit http://tinyurl. com/GFBPardueSouthernGraceFarms to see more photos of Pardue’s tour of Southern Grace Farms and the lunch GFB held for Pardue.
New UGA ag school dean spends day meeting GFB members By Jay Stone & Jennifer Whittaker __________________________________________________________________________
6 / September 2016
fields where Tim talked with Pardue about the physiology of the plants. At the farm’s blackberry patch, Steve explained how they grow blackberries “It really benefits me to get out of Athens to understand a lot more about the challenges Georgia farmers have, to talk about the issues they’re facing,” Pardue said. GFB ended the day by holding a late afternoon reception in Tifton that gave Pardue and members of the organization’s
Photo by Jennifer Whittaker
eorgia Farm Bureau (GFB) hosted a lunch, farm tour and reception for University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences (CAES) Dean Sam Pardue on Aug. 3 to give him the chance to see the diversification of South Georgia agriculture up close and meet county Farm Bureau leaders. Dr. Pardue, who started with UGA in mid-March, had lunch with Tift County and GFB leaders in Tifton and gave the GFB group his thoughts about the CAES and the similarities between Georgia and his native North Carolina. “One of the things that remains constant is that the anchor of most rural communities is agriculture. That is the foundation,” Pardue said. Pardue emphasized the need to create ways for students from rural areas of the state to attend UGA. He also noted the importance of maintaining vibrant rural communities for students to return to after they graduate. “I wanted to come somewhere where agriculture was important, that it makes a difference in the lives of the people of the state, and Georgia fit that bill,” Pardue said. Pardue visited Southern Grace Farms, the Berrien County farm of brothers Tim and Steve McMillan, who farm with their children. Pardue toured cotton and peanut
commodity advisory committees a chance to meet. Pardue visited with GFB members attending the event before making remarks. “The thing I’ve always enjoyed about working with people in agriculture is we tend to be optimistic and don’t mind working. We just want an opportunity to produce our crops or grow our livestock,” Pardue said. “I want us to find ways that if young men and women in rural Georgia want to come to UGA, whether it’s in Tifton or Athens, we can find a way to get them there. It’s important to the vitality of Georgia agriculture since agriculture is the number one economic driver in the state.” Pardue acknowledged the challenges Georgia agriculture faces from the Tri-State Water war, immigration and regulatory pressures. “I hope we can find a way to work with government officials to ensure we can make a profit because the first word of sustainability is profitability,” Pardue said. GFB President Gerald Long presented Pardue with a granite plaque etched with chickens in recognition of the poultry research Pardue did while at North Carolina State. “We’re privileged and honored to have our dean of the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences meet with us,” Long said. “He may be from North Carolina, but he’s open to learning about Georgia agriculture and he understands Southern agriculture.”
Dr. Sam Pardue, left, meets Richmond County Farm Bureau members Frank and Sylvia Davis at the reception GFB held in Tifton for members of the GFB Commodity Advisory Committees to meet the new dean of the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences. Visit http://tinyurl.com/GFBParduereception to see more photos. Georgia Farm Bureau News
Georgia Farm Bureau’s 20 commodity committees began their work on the organization’s policy book and heard updates on national and state ag issues during the 2016 GFB Commodity Conference held Aug. 4 at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. “This meeting is special because all of our twenty advisory committees come together at once,” GFB President Gerald Long said when opening the conference. “This meeting is one of the most important that we have all year because it begins our policy development process that will conclude at our annual convention in December. What you do is important because you are the experts on your commodities.” Dr. Joe West, UGA Assistant Dean of the CAES Tifton Campus, gave conference attendees an update on building improvements on the Tifton campus and new hires within CAES. “Our state economy has picked back up and the last couple of legislative sessions have been good for the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences. The Georgia General Assembly funded five new research/Extension specialist positions this year and 12 new county agent positions,” West said. “The college also received bond approval to continue rebuilding cabins at Rock Eagle and funds were approved to renovate buildings on the Tifton campus. We’re appreciative of the General Assembly, and we couldn’t have done it without Georgia Farm Bureau.” West said renovations are currently underway on the buildings that house the CAES Animal & Dairy Science and turfgrass programs on the Tifton campus. Numerous CAES researchers manned displays detailing their studies on various agricultural practices and answered questions from GFB members during a 40-minute session. GFB members had the chance to learn about the development of smart
During the GFB Commodity Conference Aug. 4, the GFB Poultry Committee reviewed the organization’s policy pertaining to poultry and discussed recommendations it will submit to be considered by the GFB Policy Development Committee this fall. Visit http:// tinyurl.com/GFBCommodityMeetings16 to see photos of the other committees.
irrigation sensors, the UGA Tifton Campus Future Farmstead House, ways to manage the peanut burrower bug, a collection of smartphone apps called Bugwood Apps
that help users identify pests in their fields and the correct treatment methods to control them and strategies to control thrips in cotton fields.
Tolleson receives GFB Commodity Award Georgia farmers and the state’s economy By Jay Stone ___________________________________ will continue to be viable.” Georgia Farm Bureau presented re- Tolleson served as chairman of the tired state senator Ross Tolleson with the Georgia Senate Natural Resources ComGFB Commodity Award on Aug. 4 dur- mittee for 11 years. He was vice chairman ing the organization’s annual commod- of the Senate Rules Committee and served ity conference. The award is presented to on the Senate Appropriations Committee. individuals who have supported and pro- He was a member of the legislative commoted Georgia agriculture. mittee that oversaw the Georgia Agricul Tolleson, tural Exposiwho served in tion Authority, the Georgia which managSenate from es the Georgia 2002 to 2015, National Fairwas a staunch grounds and advocate for Agricenter. maintaining He also served agricultural on the Jekyll access to water Island State while protectPark Authoring it as a nat- Pictured from left, GFB President Gerald Long ity Oversight ural resource. presents the 2016 GFB Commodity Award to Ross Committee. He represent- Tolleson, who was accompanied by his wife, Sally. “I love Farm ed Georgia’s 20th Senate District, which Bureau, I love ag and I love the state of includes Bleckley, Laurens and Pulaski Georgia,” Tolleson said. “It is so imporcounties and a portion of Houston. tant that we have strong agriculture in “Senator Tolleson’s work has helped our country. It is a part of our national ensure that stakeholders from across our defense, really, in a lot of ways. If you state representing all areas of our econo- can’t feed your population, you’ve got real my - particularly agriculture - will have problems.” a seat at the table to discuss water policy Tolleson was instrumental in passissues,” GFB President Gerald Long said. ing legislation that created Georgia’s 10 “We’re deeply appreciative of his efforts to Regional Water Councils comprised of sustain both the state’s water supply and stakeholders who make regional recomits farmers. His efforts have ensured that mendations on water policy issues. Photo by Jennifer Whittaker
By Jay Stone & Jennifer Whittaker ___________________________________
Photo by Jennifer Whittaker
GFB Committees begin PD process at commodity conference
Georgia Farm Bureau News September 2016/ 7
GFB Commodity Conference provides By Jay Stone & Jennifer Whittaker ______________________________________ Members of the Georgia Farm Bureau Commodity Advisory Committees attending the organization’s annual commodity conference on Aug. 4 heard from speakers who covered numerous state and federal issues impacting Georgia agriculture. We’ve provided a summary of each speaker below.
AFBF working on national ag issues
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Executive Director of Public Policy Dale Moore reviewed AFBF’s work on key national issues, including agricultural labor, GMO labeling, trade, regulatory reform and the next farm bill. “We brought a number of congressional staffers down to Georgia and showed them what the impact is when folks don’t get the workers they need Moore to harvest crops,” Moore said. “Fruits and vegetables don’t like to wait too much. When they’re ready to be picked they’ve got to be picked. We had a number of Georgia farmers that have shared what is happening to them when they don’t get enough workers.” Moore pointed out the recent GMO labeling bill signed into law by President Obama on July 29 made labeling of GMO products mandatory and pre-empted state labeling laws. He also emphasized the importance of ratifying the Trans Pacific Partnership. “Trade is one of the critical factors that adds to the farm economy,” said Moore. “Where we have ag trade agreements with countries, our agricultural trade runs about a 65 percent increase over those countries where we do not have agricultural trade agreements.” Moore said the next farm bill is likely to be radically different from the 2014 farm bill currently in effect. He noted that groups on the political right and the political left are gunning for the commodity title of the farm bill and want to remove the nutrition title (food stamps) from the farm bill. Moore urged farmers to vote, even if they can’t stand either presidential candidate, because they can have an impact on other elec8 September 2016
tions on the November ballot. AFBF, which does not endorse candidates, has put together a website containing information about the campaign. It can be viewed at http://election16.fb.org/
Seek professional help to comply with sales tax rules
Randy Nichols, a certified public accountant and partner with the accounting firm McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co. LLC, gave an overview of state and local sales tax rules for owners of farm markets and agritourism venues. Nichols encouraged owners of farm markets and agritourism venues to consult with a tax professional to be sure they are in compliance on collecting sales taxes. He also urged market and agritourism owners to register with the Georgia Department of Revenue to get a tax identification number and a state sales tax exemption certificate. “The question people most often ask is what is subject to tax, what is not and how do I comply,” Nichols said. “The sale of food and food ingredients to an individual for off-premise consumption is exempt (from state sales tax). Sales tax exemptions do not include prepared foods. If it has more than one ingredient Nichols it’s a prepared food, such as jellies. None of the state sales tax exemptions provided apply to local sales tax.” Nichols recommends farm market and agritourism venue owners seek the advice of a tax professional to assist them in paying back taxes they may owe and providing direction in going forward. Visit www.gfb.org/TaxGuide to access the “Resource Guide for Direct-to-Consumer Sales and Agritourism Operations” that Georgia Farm Bureau prepared in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Department of Revenue. For questions or concerns, please contact the GFB Legislative Department at 800-898-1911.
UGA prepares farmers to use auxin herbicides
University of Georgia Extension Agronomist Dr. Stanley Culpepper gave an update on the regulatory approval for new varieties
of row crops that will be resistant to auxin system herbicides. Auxin herbicides include Enlist (2,4-D, glyphosate, glufosinate) for corn, cotton and soybeans and Xtend (dicamba, glyphosate, glufosinate) for cotton and (dicamba, glyphosate) for soybeans. The USDA has approved the use of the herbicide resistant traits in the Culpepper plants but approval to use the herbicides on the crops is still pending with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for most states, including Georgia. “Palmer Amaranth (pigweed) has cost our cotton industry over one billion dollars,” Culpepper said. “We need new tools and strategies to help manage it.” While auxin herbicides may help fight glyphosate resistant pigweed, there is concern about the use of auxin herbicides near crops that don’t have the auxin resistant gene. “Auxins must be managed carefully due to the sensitivity of nearby crops and plants,” Culpepper said. “More broadleaf plants are sensitive to dicamba and 2,4-D than other herbicides.” Culpepper discussed factors farmers should consider before applying an auxin herbicide such as proximity to neighboring crops that may be sensitive to auxins, wind, humidity, land terrain and natural plant buffers that may increase or lessen spray drift of the auxins when applied to the intended crop. “We know that there are areas where we can’t spray 2,4-D or dicamba, so we have to develop alternatives,” Culpepper said. Culpepper said growers will be required to attend a training session provided by UGA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture before they can secure approval to use dicamba or 2,4-D. He said 1,882 people have already attended group training sessions and next winter UGA Extension agents will offer one-on-one training with growers who want to use the herbicides on their crops. “I think science is clear. If we’re going to feed the world we have to have the ability to use herbicides,” Culpepper said. “We just have to use them responsibly and prevent off-target drift.” Georgia Farm Bureau News
updates on wide range of ag issues GFVGA discusses food safety rules
Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Director of Education Beth Oleson presented an outline of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety rules. Oleson focused on the Produce Safety Rule and the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule, two of more than a dozen rules mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed by Congress in late 2010. The Produce Safety Rule covers farms that produce raw agricultural commodities for human consumption or certain Oleson produce items that are rarely consumed raw. It applies to fruits and vegetables produced domestically or imported. “If it is processed in any way – cut, diced, if it’s cooked or pasteurized, it’s considered processed,” Oleson said. “The Produce Safety Rule does not apply to processed produce.” Small farms, those with produce sales of less than $25,000 annually, are exempt from the Produce Safety Rule, but Oleson pointed out that if a food-borne illness or food safety incident is traced back to a small farm, the exemption is revoked, and the FDA will want to see regulatory paperwork and documentation of food safety programs. “Even though you’re small, you still need to know what’s going on, because if there’s a problem, the FDA is coming,” Oleson said. According to Oleson, the Produce Safety Rule defines a primary production farm as one operation under one management, which may or may not be all in one location, devoted to growing crops, harvesting crops, raising animals or a combination of those three activities. Primary production farms, which fall under the Produce Safety Rule, are allowed to pack and hold raw agricultural commodities. The rule also designates a classification it calls a secondary activity farm, which Oleson said is a packing facility not physically located on the primary farm. The secondary activity farm must be owned or jointly owned by the farmer in order to fall under the produce safety rule. If the farmer is using space owned by someone else, that facility likely will be subject to the preventive controls rule.
The preventive controls rule covers packing and processing facilities off the farm and includes numerous additional requirements, including a detailed food safety plan containing hazard analysis, preventive controls, supply chain, a recall plan, procedures for monitoring, corrective action procedures and verification procedures. Both rules increase testing requirements for agricultural water. Agricultural water is any water to be used for irrigation, frost protection, hand washing in the field, washing produce in the field or water on surfaces in contact with food. For fact sheets on all the rules under FSMA visit http://tinyurl.com/fsmaguide.
UGA works to improve beef herds
University of Georgia Animal and Dairy Sciences Program Coordinator Grace Nyhuis discussed the university’s programs intended to help beef producers improve the quality of their herds. Nyhuis explained that the Georgia Bull Evaluation Program, conducted at UGA evaluation centers in Tifton and Calhoun, conducts a 112-day test of bulls consigned by beef producers. The testing done at the centers demonstrates individual bull performance differences in a uniform environment; provides breedNyhuis ers with a sound scientific basis for selecting bulls with the ability to gain weight rapidly and makes the bulls available to other cattle producers through a public sale at the end of the evaluation period. Testing is already underway for the 20162017 evaluation program at the Calhoun and Tifton bull evaluation centers. Nyhuis explained that the Heifer Evaluation & Reproduction Development (HERD) program, also conducted in Calhoun and Tifton, allows producers to consign heifers to the UGA program that evaluates heifers on weight gain performance, reproductive traits and disposition. The bred heifers are sold to the public at the end of the evaluation period. Producers who enter their heifers in the HERD program at the Tifton or Calhoun beef centers must have the heifers weaned, de-
horned, dewormed and vaccinated with a valid health certificate. Producers planning to enter heifers in the HERD program at the Calhoun facility must have the aforementioned health treatments done before Nov. 3 so that the heifers can enter the Calhoun program on Dec. 1 with a valid health certificate. The program deadline for the Tifton center was Sept. 5. The Georgia Beef Challenge, which evaluates how Georgia cattle perform in Midwestern feedlots, gives Georgia cattle producers data on the health and performance of their cattle while they are in the feedlot and the carcass merit of their cattle once they are slaughtered. This information helps producers improve the genetics and health management of their herds so their cattle will perform better in the feedlots and bring more money. More than 29,000 calves from Georgia farms have been evaluated since the Beef Challenge began in 1991. To learn more about the Georgia HERD, Bull Evaluation or Beef Challenge, visit http:// blog.extension.uga.edu/beef/programs.
Quality, Choice, and Savings
Georgia Farm Bureau News September 2016 / 9
commodities/marketing update By Brandon Ashley, Commodities Specialist
Georgia pollinator plan aims to protect bees
Photo by Jennifer Whittaker
The first edition of Georgia’s state pollinator protection plan, “Protecting Georgia’s Pollinators,” is finalized and is being distributed by the University of Georgia Honeybee Lab and Cooperative Extension personnel. This is not a regulatory document; rather, this is an educational guide of best management practices recommended for beekeepers and landowners to use when dealing with honeybees and other pollinators. The University of Georgia and Georgia Department of Agriculture developed the plan, and numerous ag organizations and commodity groups supported their efforts. GFB has been actively engaged in this project since the beginning. On Jan. 27, 2015, GFB hosted a meeting at its office in Macon to discuss the initial draft of the plan attended by members of the GFB Honeybee Commodity Advisory Committee and
While speaking at the GFB Commodity Conference, UGA Professor of Entomology Dr. Phillip Roberts displays the Georgia Bee Aware flag, which farmers and beekeepers are being asked to fly near hives located near or in fields so pesticide applicators don’t spray pesticides while hives are in the field. 10 / September 2016
other stakeholders from the ag community. The Commodities/Marketing Update in the 2015 June/July GFB News outlined the necessity of having a state pollinator plan and the steps taken to develop a plan for Georgia. To read this article, visit http:// bit.ly/honeybeeplan. Based on a policy recommendation from the GFB Honeybee Committee, the GFB Board of Directors funded the UGA Honeybee Lab’s purchase of Bee Aware flags and will help fund the second printing of the brochure. For more information about Georgia’s pollinator plan and to read it, visit the UGA Honeybee Lab website at www.ent.uga.edu/ bees or call UGA Honeybee Lab and Apiary Manager Jennifer Berry at (706) 769-1736. Below are key points in Georgia’s pollinator plan with the page of the plan on which you’ll find the quoted information. Beekeepers are ultimately responsible for their hives “Regardless of the number of hives maintained, the responsibility for the health and welfare of those bees rests ultimately with the beekeeper.” (pg. 2) Many factors contribute to bee decline “Many factors have been implicated in bee decline….Parasitic Varroa mites, viruses spread by Varroa mites, pesticide exposure, habitat and forage degradation.” (pg. 2) Controlling the Varroa mite is the top priority for beekeepers “Make Varroa mite control the top priority. Reduce mite pressure on bees by using screen hive floors and genetically mite-resistant queen stock.” (pg. 3) Beekeepers & landowners must communicate Farmers often rent hives to pollinate their crops, and beekeepers sometimes ask to place their hives on land owned by others without being aware that a crop that will be sprayed will be planted near the hives. According to the pollinator plan, “Obtain permission prior to placing hives on land owned by others. Be sure that the landowner and pesticide applicators know
the location of your hives. Post your name and contact information in a highly visible place so the landowner or applicators can contact you. Use the Bee Aware flag to clearly identify hive locations near agricultural fields and rights of way. The flag should be placed near the hives and in a location visible to individuals operating ground or aerial application equipment. (pg. 4) Beekeepers, farmers and landowners should exchange names and contact information, hive locations, crops grown near the hives, potential pesticide applications and expected timing and notification procedures for applications.” (pg. 5) It may be best to relocate hives “The greatest risk of bee kill occurs any time pesticides are applied while a crop is blooming and attracting pollinators. If the crop system requires pesticide applications during bloom, it may be better to simply locate the hives somewhere else.” (pg. 6) There are optimal times of the day to spray pesticides “Bee flower visitation rates are highest in early morning when flowers are full of nectar; therefore, a pesticide application in late afternoon to early night with a rapidly degrading chemical may control the pest while allowing enough time for residue degradation before bees return the next morning.” (pgs. 6-7) A significant amount of the plan deals with urban and homeowner considerations. According to a study from Perdue University reported in the Louisville Courier-Journal on June 1, “the highest concentrations of pesticides in bee pollen came from pyrethroids-insecticides typically used to control mosquitoes and other nuisance pests.” All stakeholders-beekeepers, farmers and homeowners-have a role to play in pollinator health. The Georgia pollinator protection plan addresses all concerns to provide easy-to-read and understand information. Brandon Ashley is a commodity specialist in the GFB Commodities/Marketing Dept. Georgia Farm Bureau News
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GFB Foundation for Ag awards second round of grants By Katie Gazda ___________________________________
In August the Georgia Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture awarded 27 grants totaling $9,450 to county Farm Bureaus to support projects that aim to spread ag
literacy throughout Georgia’s communities. The following county Farm Bureaus received a grant for the summer/fall application cycle: 1st Dist. – Fannin, Floyd, Gordon & Walker; 2nd Dist. – Elbert and Hall; 3rd Dist. – South Fulton, Haralson & Pauld-
Georgia Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Executive Director Katie Gazda, far left, joined Cobb County Farm Bureau (CCFB) President Stan Kirk, far right, and CCFB Office Manager Debbie Payne in presenting a copy of “Hi, I’m Billy Blueberry: This Is My Story” to Cobb County Public Library System Associate Director of Branch Services Jonathan McKeown, second from left, at Switzer Library in Marietta. This is one of the 405 libraries in the Georgia Public Library Service to receive the book.
GFB Foundation for Agriculture donates ag book to public libraries By Jennifer Whittaker _____________________________________________________________________
The Georgia Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is promoting ag literacy across the state by donating copies of the children’s book “Hi, I’m Billy Blueberry: This Is My Story” to the 405 libraries within the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS). The GFB Foundation for Agriculture has given each county Farm Bureau enough books for every public library in the county. County Farm Bureau staff or volunteers have been delivering the books to the libraries in their counties since July. Visit http://tinyurl.com/GFBAgFoundationdonatesbooks to see photos of other county Farm Bureaus presenting the book to their local libraries. The book, published by Bacon County 12 / September 2016
Farm Bureau (BCFB) and written by Bacon County blueberry farmer Brandon Wade, describes how blueberry producers plant blueberry bushes, care for them and harvest the crop. The GFB Foundation’s book donation is a tie-in with the Summer Reading Program (SRP) contest GPLS partnered with the Georgia National Fair (GNFA) on this year. The GNFA is awarding the winner of each local library’s SRP contest with four tickets to the 2016 Georgia National Fair. GFB has provided the GPLS with a list of recommended books for children and young adults to read about agriculture. Ask the librarian at your local library for the list.
ing; 4th Dist. – McDuffie and Putnam; 5th Dist. – Pike, Spalding, Troup & Upson; 6th Dist. – Washington; 7th Dist. – Chatham, Emanuel & Screven; 8th Dist. – Schley, Terrell & Turner; 9th Dist. – Colquitt and Tift; 10th Dist. – Bacon, Coffee & Irwin. Recipient counties are required to submit a follow-up report, including at least two photos within 30 days of finalization of the project supported by the grant. Applications for the winter/spring grant cycle are due Dec. 15. A total of 20 grants in amounts up to $350 will be awarded. Counties that received grants in the summer/fall cycle may not apply. Recipients will be notified by Jan. 15, 2017, and funding will be issued by January 31. Grant applications and guidelines may be accessed on the GFB Foundation for Agriculture website at www.gfbfoundation.org. The GFB Foundation for Agriculture is a non-profit charitable foundation that funds projects and scholarships to increase the public’s understanding of agriculture. For more information on the GFB Foundation for Agriculture or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.gfbfoundation.org.
3rd Annual GFB Foundation for Agriculture Gala Saturday, March 11, 2017 Southern Bridle Farms Fort Valley, Ga. Make plans to join us “down on the farm” as we go back to our roots to celebrate the support of our donors and highlight the achievements the foundation made this year to increase ag literacy through the four pillars of the foundation: Ag in the Classroom, scholarships, educational outreach & leadership development. Stay tuned for details regarding tickets & entertainment! Follow GFB Foundation for Agriculture on Facebook for the foundation’s latest news!
Georgia Farm Bureau News
Georgia Farm Bureau will award a total of $14,250 in scholarships to 10 high schoolWhittaker seniors who plan to pursue By Jennifer an undergraduate degree in in agricultural agricultural ___________________________________ an undergraduate degree and environmental sciences, family and and environmental and The final rule for sciences, the Federalfamily Marketing consumer sciences or a related agriculconsumer sciences or a related agriculOrder (FMO) for Pecans was published in tural field. the Federal tural field. Register on Aug. 4, activating the The topnominating, three students students will each process selectingwill and each seatThe for top three receive scholarshipbody of $3,000. $3,000. The ing the administrative of the FMO, receive aa scholarship of The remaining seven students will eachU.S. rethe American Pecan Councilwill (APC). remaining seven students each receive $750 scholarship. pecanaagrowers in the 15 states where pecans ceive $750 scholarship. submitting anto create applicaare Students commercially grown votedan the Students submitting application must currently be a Georgia high APC during a federal referendum held in tion must currently be a Georgia high March. According to the USDA, a schedule school senior and plan to enroll in school senior and plan to enroll in aa for the process is as follows: unit of the University System of GeorGeorunit ofnomination the University System of gia or Aug. 22: The USDA began mailing gia Berry College during the 2014or Berry College during the 2014nomination forms to growers and shellers on 2015 academic year. 2015 academic year. USDA lists. The forms are available to download from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website https://www.ams. usda.gov/resources/moforms/pecans. Sept. 6: Deadline for returning the nomination forms to USDA. Sept. 16: USDA expects to mail ballots to growers and shellers to vote on the nominees. eanut fans fans have have aa daily daily eanut Oct. 7: Deadlinechance for returning to to winballots a vacaUSDA. Deadline fortion background statement and hundreds of on nominees.other Person nominating a nomiprizes until Nov. 30. nee should gather this document from the Vacation destination choices nominee as soon as someone agrees to be include California, Colorado, nominated. Only those with completed backNew York or Florida. Visit ground statements can be sent forward to the http://www.EnergytoBurn.org USDA Secretary to be selected for the APC. to register for a chance to win. According to the FMO, the APC will After registering, particiconsist of six sheller members, nine growers, pants play a game called “Crack an accumulator (person who collects inshell the Peanut” for a chance to win pecans from others to resale or transfer) and instant prizes peanut a public member. Three like growers and and two peanut butter packs, iPods and gift cards. If you crack three peanuts that match, then you’re an instant winner! “When The UGA Warnell Forestryan& it comes to School gettingofthrough Natural Resources is collecting information early morning or long day, everyone wins aboutpeanuts. wild pigsAt killed in Georgia this year. with seven grams per serv Farmers and landowners are being ing, peanuts have more energy-boosting asked to complete a 12-question survey for protein than any nut,” said Bob Parker, each county in which they harvested wild president and CEO of the National Peapigs since January 2015. Questions pertain nut Board. “Through the Energy to Burn to characteristics of the pigs, method of harsweepstakes we’re able to celebrate the vest and number killed. power of peanuts and help re-energize Responses are anonymous and will Americans with a fun vacation.” provide valuable information to help unThe “Energy to Burn” sweepstakes, is derstand the wild pig problem in Georsponsored by the National Peanut Board gia. The survey can be found at www.georby Hampton Farms, and co-presentedSurvey giawildpigs.com. participants must and Skippy. Planters be 18 years or older.
Peanut sweepstakes offers vacation, assorted prizes
UGA feral hog survey
Contact your county Farm Bureau office for more information or an application. application Febshellers The representing bothdeadline large andis small ruary 21, 2014. 2014. Applications Applications must beeach apruary must be appecan 21, production will be selected from proved and signed by the Farm Bureau proved and signed the Farm Bureau of the council’s threeby growing regions. The president of the the county infollows: which the the apappresident of county in which APC growing regions are as Eastern plicant resides or attends high school. Region resides - Alabama, Florida,high Georgia, North plicant or attends school. You may may also download copy of ofCarolina, Southalso Carolina; Central You download aa Region copy the application byLouisiana, visiting http://www. http://www. Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, the application by visiting gfb.org, selecting Programs andthen thenReAg Missouri,selecting Oklahoma, Texas; and Western gfb.org, Programs Ag in the- Arizona, Classroom. gion California, New Mexico. in the Classroom. The Georgia Farm Bureau Mu The Any grower whoFarm has produced an averGeorgia Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and the GFB age of 50,000 pounds of inshell pecans over tual Insurance Company and the GFB the last fourLeadership years or whoCommittee has 30 pecansponacres Women’s Leadership Committee sponWomen’s in one of the 15 state production areas may sor the scholarship program. sor the scholarship program. nominate another grower in his/her growWinners will be announced in May Winners will be announced in May ing region to represent his growing region 2014. 2014. on the APC.
A large grower is defined as having 176 or more pecan acres and a small grower has less than 176 acres. Any sheller who has shelled at least one million pounds of domestically produced inshell pecans in the prior fiscal year may nominate another sheller within his/her same APC region. A large sheller is defined as having handled 12.5 million pounds or more of domestically produced inshell pecans in the prior fiscal year. A small sheller handled less than 12.5 million pounds of domestically produced inshell pecans in the prior fiscal year. Visit http://pecanboard.com for the latest updates on the APC nomination process.
GFB to award college scholarships Georgia Farm Bureau will award a Contact your county Farm Bureau total of $14,250 in scholarships to 10 Council office for more information or an appliAmerican Pecan begins nomination process high school seniors who plan to pursue cation. The application deadline is Feb-
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21 21 • Fall 2013 Georgia Georgia FNeighbors arm Bureau News September 2016/ 13
Make plans to attend Sunbelt Expo Oct. 18-20
By Jennifer Whittaker ___________________________________ hether you’re a large, full-time farmer or a small, weekend hobby farmer, the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo is an event you don’t want to miss, so make plans now to attend this year’s event Oct. 18-20 in Moultrie, Ga. More than 1,200 exhibitors will showcase the latest in farming technology and rural lifestyle information in the 100-acre exhibit area. Visitors can ride a tram from the exhibit area to the fields where cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans, and hay will be harvested at the show’s 600-acre working research farm. South Carolina is the 2016 Expo Spotlight State. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture, South Carolina Farm Bureau, Clemson College of Agriculture Forestry & Life Sciences and Clemson Public Service & Agriculture will host the state’s exhibit titled “Planting Innovation, Growing Diversity,” located in the Spotlight State Building, the Clemson Building and the outdoor area between the two buildings. There will be numerous demonstrations and interactive displays in the exhibit including food tasting stations, the S.C. 4-H Shooting Sports Trailer, a calving simulator, and a John Deere tractor reassembled by Clemson students to show the inner workings of the machine. The Expo Cattle Exhibit will feature educational sessions each day of the show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. At 12:30 p.m. every day, Dr. Lee Jones, with the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Jason Smith with UGA Extension, will discuss what farmers need to know about upcoming changes in antibiotic availability and use in animal feeds as the federal Veterinary Feed Directive goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017. Other speakers will address growing forages, the effects of cow health and body weight on reproduction and the cattle industry outlook. Be sure to stop by the Georgia Agriculture Building at the main gate to visit with 14 / September 2016
Photo by Jennifer Whittaker
Expo attendees investigate hay equipment used in the hay harvesting demonstrations at the 2015 Sunbelt Expo. Visit www.sunbeltexpo.com for details on this year’s show.
Georgia Farm Bureau leaders and staff to learn about all the benefits your Farm Bureau membership offers and to see what our organization is doing for farmers. The Georgia Farm Monitor will tape its cooking segment “Meals from the Field” with Ray D’Alessio & Marcia Crawley at 11 a.m. on Oct. 19. The Hoss Tools Sustainable Living Center will offer attendees interested in planting a backyard garden the chance to try out Hoss garden tools, such as wheel hoes and garden seeders. There will also be numerous speakers at the living center. Lisa Mason Zeigler, a cut-flower farmer from Virginia who has been growing flowers
for florists since 1998, will discuss organic gardening. Laura Kahles, with Field & Forest Products, a certified organic mushroom spawn company, will discuss growing Oyster mushrooms on ag byproducts. Fredando Jackson, known as Farmer Fredo, from Plains, Ga., will discuss the art of container vegetable gardening. Greg Key, who founded Hoss Toools in 2009, will discuss techniques for preparing your garden, planting seeds and transplants, and maintaining your garden to reduce weeds and disease pressure. For a complete schedule of Expo events, visit www.sunbelt expo.com.
McCormick representing Ga. in Expo farmer contest By John Leidner _________________________________________________ Photo courtesy of Sunbelt Expo
John McCormick of Screven County is vying with finalists from nine other states to be named the 2016 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. McCormick, who was announced as the Georgia winner in March, grows row crops on 1,040 acres near Sylvania, Ga. He grows 390 acres of soybeans, 330 acres of cotton, 250 acres of peanuts and 285 acres of corn, mostly for silage sold to a dairy farm. He previously grew tobacco, cattle and hogs. John McCormick McCormick says his use of guidance systems and variable rate technology have allowed him to reduce his use of fuel, lime, fertilizer and pesticides. Conservation tillage and cover crops are an important part of McCormick’s crop management strategy. He and his wife, Paula, have four sons and six grandchildren. As the state winner, McCormick will receive a $2,500 cash award from Swisher International, a $500 gift certificate from Southern States Cooperative and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor Farm Supply. The winner will be announced at a luncheon on Oct. 18 at the Sunbelt Expo.
Georgia Farm Bureau News
British farmer visits Georgia
Paulding County Farm Bureau President (PCFB) President & Georgia Farm Bureau 3rd Dist. Director Nora Goodman, third from right, welcomed British farmer George Hosford, center, and his wife, Jayne, his daughter, Lucy and her husband, Dickon, to Goodman’s cattle farm in July. Also participating in the visit were GFB Assistant Legislative Director Tas Smith, second from right, and PCFB Secretary Krista Wilkes, far right. The Hosfords, who were in Atlanta for a family wedding, wanted to visit a farm while they were in Georgia and talk about farm production practices and farm policies. Among the topics discussed were trade policies and how Brexit might affect trade between the U.S. and England since England will have to negotiate its own trade agreements once it officially leaves the European Union. “I enjoyed their visit. It was just delight-
ful to sit and talk about our farms and how we do things,” Goodman said. “We talked about the trade implications of Brexit, and he said he doesn’t want England to pull out of the European Union.” The Hosfords raise beef cattle and sheep and grow wheat, barley, canola and poppies on their farm in Dorsett, England, south of London. Mr. Hosford is branch chairman of the British National Farmers Union (NFU), an
organization similar to American Farm Bureau that champions all farmers and growers in England and Wales. NFU has 55,000 members and a network of more than 300 local offices. Its motto is “The Voice of British Farming.” After touring Goodman’s beef cattle farm, the group ate lunch at Goodman’s farm, and she gave them Georgia peach products and peanuts to take home to England.
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Georgia Farm Bureau News September 2016/ 15
Hubert retires after almost 36 years as 4th Dist. Field Rep.
ick Hubert, who served as the Georgia Farm Bureau 4th Dist. Field Representative since Jan. 4, 1981, retired Aug. 31, having worked for five GFB presidents – Bob Nash, Mort Ewing, Wayne Dollar, Zippy Duvall and Gerald Long. Hubert estimates he worked with 70 county Farm Bureau office managers, 87 different county presidents and numerous Women and Young Farmer Committee chairmen. He’s attended more than 3,000 county board meetings and too many farm days to count. “Field representatives are very important because they are the go between the county Farm Bureau and the state organization,” GFB 4th Dist. Director Marvin Ruark said. “Rick has had Farm Bureau in his blood, and I think Rick has done a real good job for our district.” Hubert grew up in Thomson, Ga., with a sister, Marilyne, and brother Gus. His dad sold insurance and his mother was a housewife. As a child, Hubert spent as much time as he could on his grandparents’ Taliaferro County farm during winter and summer school breaks hunting and fishing. “I always loved to dig in the dirt. My grandfather had a few cows, hogs, goats and a couple of mules to plow the garden with,” Hubert said of his childhood. “I was too small to plow with the mules, but every chance I got I would make a bridle with hay twine, throw a croker sack on a mule and ride across the fields down to the creek.” After high school, Hubert served two years active duty and four years reserve in the U.S. Navy and went to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College where he earned associate degrees in agriculture and business administration. He transferred to the UGA College of Agriculture where he earned B.S. degrees in ag education and ag economics. Hubert taught vocational ag for five years in Wilkes County before he was recruited to work for GFB by Sidney Law, who was the 4th Dist. field rep. before him. Computers and cell phones have made a field rep’s job much easier since he came to work at GFB, Hubert said. “If we needed to get in touch with our county presidents it took about three days of sitting in an office making calls to their home phones. You either got them early in the morning, at lunch or late in the evening,” Hubert recalled. “I’ve stood at a pay phone at a Golden Pantry making calls, trying to get the word out about legislation we wanted our members to contact their legislators about.” Jane Young, who worked with Hubert for 331/2 years as the McDuffie County Farm Bureau office manager before retiring last year, described him as meticulous, compassionate and helpful. “Rick knew everything about the working of Farm Bureau from the home office to the county level,” Young said. “He was loyal and 16 / September 2016
Photo by Andy Lucas
By Jennifer Whittaker ______________________________________________________
Rick Hubert recently retired after serving as the GFB 4th Dist. Field Rep. for almost 36 years. He’s pictured with his wife, Jane, on one of GFB’s many farm tours
dedicated to Farm Bureau. He was never too busy to come and help me with anything. He always got back with me.” Young also described Hubert as a problem solver. Hubert said he particularly enjoyed working with the young farmer program. “I enjoyed seeing the young farmers from my district participate in our young farmer competitions,” Hubert said. I loved watching them and their families grow and mature and become leaders in their counties, the state and national organizations.” Hubert says GFB’s greatest strength is its policy development process. He believes the annual process through which county leaders submit recommendations for action they want GFB to take on issues impacting agriculture is what sets Farm Bureau apart. “Once the voting delegates at the annual convention vote on it, that’s our policy that the state president and GFB operates on for the next year,” Hubert said. “It all starts with the grassroots recommendations, and that’s how we’ve been successful.” The Conservation Use Value Assessment Act (CUVA), which assesses land for property taxes on its current use rather than its market value, has been credited for keeping thousands of acres of Georgia land in farms and timber rather than being sold for development. It’s also one of the tax initiatives that resulted from GFB’s policy development process. The Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption (GATE) is another. “I really think the CUVA and GATE programs have allowed many farmers to stay in business,” Hubert said. Hubert met his wife, Jane, after coming to GFB. She was serving as chairman of the Taliaferro County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, a position she still holds. “Jane was raised on a farm, and she’s been involved with Farm Bureau as much as I have,” Hubert said. The Huberts have two children – son Nick and daughter Jamey, and two granddaughters Ali, and Ellie Jane. Retirement will allow Hubert to spend more time with them, play golf, hunt and work on the family farm. “The thing I’d like to tell my district is that I appreciate the respect and confidence they had in me over the past 35 and a half years,” Hubert said. “I’ve loved working with everyone and getting to know their families.” Georgia Farm Bureau News
Addressing motor carrier issues for farm vehicles By Jay Stone ___________________________________
In 2012 Congress passed legislation initiating Moving Ahead For Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), which provided a definition of covered farm vehicles (CFVs) and established CFV identification rules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published the final rule implementing MAP-21 in March 2013. Though it’s been in effect for more than three years, Capt. James Steen of the Georgia Motor Carrier Compliance Division (MCCD) said more awareness is needed of rules for CFVs. “We still deal with farmers who have never heard of a covered farm vehicle,” Steen said. “We’re trying to educate them and let them know what they have to do so they don’t get in trouble down the line.” MAP-21 defines a CFV as a vehicle used to transport agricultural commodities, livestock, machinery or supplies to or from a farm or ranch. A CFV is operated by the farm owner or an employee or family member, and cannot be used “for-hire” except in cases where tenant farmers are carrying landowners’ crops under a crop-share agreement. CFVs cannot haul hazardous materials in quantities that require warning placards. To qualify for the CFV exemption under MAP-21, the vehicle must be registered in a state with a license plate or other designation issued by the state. This registration allows law enforcement officers to identify the vehicle as a CFV. The state of Georgia chose to go with a do-it-yourself CFV certificate (Form TR-0025), which the farm owner must create online. Within the state of Georgia, CFVs carrying the certificate are exempt from needing a DOT number or on-vehicle signage with the company name or logo. The certificates require a vehicle identification number (VIN), making it vehiclespecific. Each vehicle the farmer uses to transport commodities, supplies or equipment must carry a CFV certificate in it to qualify for the exemption. According to Steen, once a driver has indicated the vehicle is a farm vehicle, law enforcement is supposed to check the CFV certificate. “If they don’t have one, we’ll explain to them that in order to get the farming exemptions they have to have one,” Steen
said. “If they have it, we’ll proceed with doing the interview, and if we see any violations that stand out, we’ll probably address those.” MAP-21 requires CFV vehicles to obtain USDOT numbers, but exempts operators from commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements, alcohol or drug-testing requirements, physical exams or medical certificates and hours of service regulations. It’s important to note that CFV operators must have the proper class of driver’s license for the vehicle they’re driving. The MAP-21 CFV exemption applies nationwide for vehicles weighing 26,000 pounds or less. For vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds, the CFV exemptions apply anywhere in the state of Georgia and within a 150-mile radius of the farm if the vehicle crosses a state line. In Georgia, CFVs are allowed some flexibility on allowed weights on state highways. The general weight limits on state highways are 20,340 pound per axle, 40,680 pounds per tandem and 80,000 pounds gross
weight. Farm vehicles hauling commodities to first point of sale or processing or feed transported from mill to farm are allowed tolerances to 23,000/46,000/80,000. Within 100 miles of the farm, there is an additional variance up to 24,150/48,300/84,000. On interstate highways, the weight limits are 20,340 pounds per axle, 34,000 pounds per tandem, 68,000 pounds for two tandems 36 feet long or longer and 80,000 pounds gross. There are no tolerances on interstate highways. All vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds are required to go through weigh stations or MCCD inspection stations. For example, a dually pickup pulling a trailer loaded with produce falls under this requirement if the total weight of truck, trailer and cargo exceeds 10,000 pounds. For more information about MAP21, including a compliance checklist, visit www.gfb.org/legislative/map21.html. To register a vehicle as a CFV visit www. gamccd.net/FarmVehicle/FarmVehicleMain.aspx.
Georgia Farm Bureau News September 2016/ 17
GFB hosts water tour for EPD Director Dunn ing with us today. Water is the economic driving By Jennifer Whittaker _______________________________________
force for us. If we didn’t have access to water we wouldn’t be here,” Long said. “We wanted you to come down and meet with our farmers and see what we’re doing to provide food and fiber for the world.”
GFB President Gerald Long, left, talks with Georgia EPD Director Richard Dunn at his farm. Visit http://tinyurl.com/GFBtourLong for more photos.
During the breakfast, Long explained the importance banks place on a farmer’s ability to irrigate his crops when loaning him money to plant a crop. “When we go to the bank to get financing, one of the first things they want to know is how much irrigation we have and about our access to water,” Long said. “Commodity prices are at all-time lows so irrigation is critical to us.” GFB 9th Dist. Director Lucius Adkins reiterated farmers’ need for access to water to irrigate crops during critical growth periods when there isn’t adequate rain. “Water is the cornerstone of agriculture. If we don’t get that last half-inch of water on our crops when we need it, that can be the difference between farming again or shutting down,” Adkins said. “It can be the difference between harvesting another ton of peanuts or bale of cotton that can keep you out of the red.” Mark Masters, director of the Water Planning & Policy Center at Albany State University, gave a history of Georgia’s ag water use and underscored the importance of irrigation to the region’s economy. “Irrigation is the best risk management tool farmers have,” Masters said. “It is responsible, in large part, for the billions of dollars in agricultural production that serves as the economic engine for Southwest Georgia.” Masters also discussed the policies governing ag water use in Georgia and commended GFB for its participation in the state water planning process and its support of water conservation, research and data collection programs, including the ag metering program. The Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission (GSWCC) began installing flow meters on farmers’ irrigation systems after the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation in 2003 to improve the available data on ag water use. “The state’s investment in the metering program has certainly enhanced the information we have available to inform sate and regional planning,” Masters said. “The meters have also provided farmers a tool to monitor and manage their individual water use.”
eorgia Farm Bureau (GFB) hosted a water tour on Aug. 8 for Richard Dunn, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, to give him the opportunity to see how much farmers in Southwest Georgia rely on irrigation to grow their crops. The tour also showcased the technology and conservation measures farmers use to conserve water. Gov. Deal appointed Dunn, who previously served as deputy director for the Governor’s Office of Planning & Budget, to the position effective June 15. Dunn visited with farmers from Brooks, Cook, Decatur and Grady counties during a biscuit breakfast at the farm of GFB President Gerald Long before visiting farms in Miller County and the UGA Stripling Irrigation Park in Mitchell County. Dunn said former EPD Director Jud Turner will continue to work on the lawsuit Florida has brought against Georgia that will be heard by a special master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court beginning Oct. 31 and discussed other tristate water issues. “I’m a problem solver. I don’t like to posture. I like to jump in and find solutions,” Dunn said. “I’m glad to work with you guys, and I want to learn about your issues and your conservation efforts. I’m a native Georgian and grew up in Atlanta. I look forward to learning about agriculture.” “We applaud you for coming down and be-
Photo by Jennifer Whittaker
Why irrigation is needed
18 / September 2016 18 / September 2016
During a tour of his farm, Long showed Dunn a meter installed by the GSWCC on one of his irrigation pivots. Long’s meter is one of about 12,000 on irrigation systems across Georgia that records how much water farmers are using.
Researchers creating a smart center pivot
At a research site in Miller County, Dunn learned about a project the Flint River Soil & Water Conservation District is conducting with UGA to determine how an automated irrigation system affects crop yield compared to a traditional irrigation system. The automated Dynamic Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) system, which is still in the research phase and not commercially available to farmers, applies water based on real-time soil moisture data from the UGA sensor network. The system relies on soil moisture sensors embedded across the field to send data on soil moisture, crop water use, variations in soil types across the field and weather conditions to a computer system. This gives the producer the ability to automatically vary the amount of water applied across the field in response to current soil moisture conditions. “Our goal is to bring the most innovative technologies together to create a smart center pivot,” said Casey Cox, executive director of the Flint River Soil & Water Conservation District. The research is being funded in part by the Georgia EPD and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Cox explained that VRI and soil moisture sensors are standard conservation tools that farmers can apply for financial assistance to implement on their farms. She stressed the importance of having cost-share money available to farmers to help them adopt the new technologies because of its high cost and benefit to the public. Visit http://tinyurl.com/GFBtourCaseyCox to see pics from this stop.
The cost of irrigating
During the third stop of the tour, Miller County Farm Bureau President LaDon Calhoun showed Dunn a computer program he uses to remotely turn his irrigation systems on and off and discussed the cost of irrigating and why farmers have to irrigate. Calhoun uses the WagNet computer program by AgSense on his iPad to remotely control some of his 60 irrigation systems. “I can’t be at sixty pivots at one time to turn them on, so this computer program helps me Georgia Farm Bureau News Georgia Farm Bureau News
Photo by Jennifer Whittaker
Miller County Farm Bureau President LaDon Calhoun, left, showed Georgia EPD Director Richard Dunn a computer program he uses to remotely turn on & off his irrigation systems. Visit http://tinyurl.com/GFBtourCalhoun for more photos.
control some of my pivots,” said Calhoun, who has been using the program about five years. He told Dunn it costs between $1,200-$1,300 to outfit an entire pivot system with the remote technology, and he pays a subscription fee of $300 per pivot annually. Calhoun explained that he still has to manually go to other pivots that aren’t on the computer system and turn them on. He explained that many farmers spend most of the night operating systems. Calhoun told Dunn his average monthly power bill to irrigate 4,500 acres of cropland is about $30,000 each month from April to mid-September. Calhoun explained that he is charged about 11 cents per kilowatt to water his crop if he agrees not to water at all during the peak hours of 3-8 p.m. for his electric co-op. However, if he opts to irrigate during peak hours, then he is charged 18 cents per kilowatt during both peak and off-peak hours. Calhoun said he uses electricity to run his irrigation pumps because it’s cheaper than diesel fuel. He estimates it costs him $5 an acre to apply an inch of water using electricity versus $10-12 an acre using diesel fuel to power his pumps. “We certainly do not irrigate if we do not need it because it’s costing us money,” Long said.
Irrigation research & cost share programs benefit Georgia
During the last stop at the UGA Stripling Irrigation Research Park near Camilla, Dunn visited with farmers from Mitchell County over lunch and received an overview of the facility dedicated to irrigation research. “The whole water issue has gotten big-
Georgia Farm Bureau News
ger than when we first started. Back in the beginning [the 1970s] we were just worried about Georgia and now it has become a federal issue,” said GFB Water Advisory Committee Chairman Bubba Johnson. Johnson stressed the importance of having cost share programs to help farmers pay for the new technology being developed to save water. “It’s important that there are cost share programs to help farmers convert to all of the new technology when all of the state of Georgia benefits from us saving water,” Johnson said. Opened in 2001, the 130-acre Stripling Center studies the impact of irrigation scheduling, remote soil moisture monitoring, subsurface drip irrigation, variable rate irrigation and conservation tillage on water efficiency and crop yield. Calvin Perry, superintendent of the Stripling facility, gave Dunn a walking tour of the facility and discussed various research projects being conducted there. Perry covered the use of soil moisture sensors, variable rate irrigation and the efficiency of drop nozzle sprayers. “We’re here to assist farmers in managing irrigation as efficiently as possible and to help the general public understand the role of water to the economy in the region,” Perry said. The tour ended with a visit to the Flint River located three miles west of the Stripling facility. The Flint River begins under the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Clayton County and winds south to Decatur County before flowing into Lake Seminole and joining the Chattahoochee River that flows across the Georgia-Florida line. Visit http://tinyurl.com/GFBtourStripling to see more photos.
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September 2016/ 19
AROUND GEORGIA News from County Farm Bureaus Compiled by Jennifer Whittaker BACON COUNTY Bacon County Farm Bureau (BCFB) was an active sponsor of the 42nd Annual Georgia Blueberry Festival held in June in Alma. Pictured from left, BCFB Young Farmer Committee member Renee Allen and BCFB Young Farmer Chairman Brandon Wade, presented U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga. Dist. 1) a copy of the book, “Hi, I’m Billy Blueberry: This is My Story,” during the festival grand opening. COLQUITT COUNTY Colquitt County Farm Bureau manned an exhibit to highlight agriculture at the AT&T Junior and Senior National Championships held in August at the Moose Moss Aquatic Center in Moultrie. CCFB volunteers Sandra Matthews & Earnest Saunders talk to a competitor and her mom about peanuts. CCFB had cotton and peanut plants displayed along with products made from the crops to educate visitors from other states and countries about both commodities.
HARALSON COUNTY Haralson County Farm Bureau held its 9th annual legislative dinner June 28 to give its members a chance to meet with their state and federal elected officials and discuss issues impacting agriculture. Providing legislative updates on state and federal legislation were Georgia Sen. Bill Heath, Beatrice Torralba, field representative for U.S. Sen. David Perdue, Ryan Pelfrey, field representative for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Ga. Rep. Trey Kelley. 20 / September 2016
LAURENS COUNTY To celebrate June being Dairy Month, the Laurens County Farm Bureau (LCFB) Women’s Committee Co-Chairman Brenda Butler, center, and LCFB Office Manager Mary Morris, not pictured, visited the South West Laurens Elementary School Summer Program and talked to the students about dairy products. Butler taught the 75 students how to make homemade ice cream in Ziploc bags with ice and ice cream salt. Each student got to make his own ice cream and eat it.
MERIWETHER COUNTY Meriwether County Farm Bureau (MCFB) President Kenneth Murphy, left front, and the MCFB Board of Directors held a meeting with the Meriwether County Administrator Theron Gay to discuss a proposed special fire tax that would affect farmers & property owners. In conjunction with this topic the county invited Colin Martin, second from right, with U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland’s office to discuss federal legislative issues. MONROE COUNTY Monroe County Farm Bureau participated in two Summer Reading Programs at the Monroe County Library this summer. In June, it provided a display about dairy farms, distributed dairy coloring books and served ice cream in conjunction with the librarian reading a book about a cow. In July, MCFB Women’s Committee Chairman Melissa Mathis read the book “Hi, I’m Billy Blueberry: This is My Story,” at the monthly reading proGeorgia Farm Bureau News
gram before presenting the book to the library on behalf of the GFB Foundation for Agriculture. MCFB Office Manager Sandi Williams donated 1.5 gallons of blueberries from her bushes that were served on top of waffles provided by the local Waffle House.
POLK COUNTY More than 180 Polk County elementary students from Pre-K through third grade will get to experience the joy of growing a garden thanks to Polk County Farm Bureau, which teamed up with the Rockmart High School FFA Chapter to install eight raised garden beds at a local elementary school. The Cedartown Home Depot donated more than $1,000 in supplies for the gardens. This coming school year each grade - from Pre-K through fifth grade- will have its own raised bed to grow seasonally appropriate vegetables and flowers. TALIAFERRO COUNTY Taliaferro County Farm Bureau (TCFB) participated in the Back to School Bash held for students and their parents. TCFB donated more than 100 bags for students with school supplies and agriculture information appropriate for each grade Pre-K through 12th. TCFB Promotion & Education Committee Chairman Linda Franklin is pictured at the TCFB table display, which promoted books students can read to learn about agriculture. Bags for the high school students promoted ag careers.
Nov. 30 deadline to enter Monsanto charity program
34 Ga. counties qualify for $85,000 in donations
Farmers in the counties below have until 6 p.m. EST Nov. 30 to register a charity of their choice in their county to win $2,500 in the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program. Eligible counties are: Appling, Baker, Berrien, Bleckley, Brooks, Bulloch, Burke, Calhoun, Coffee, Colquitt, Cook, Crisp, Decatur, Dooly, Early, Grady, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Jefferson, Lee, Macon, Miller, Mitchell, Randolph, Screven, Seminole, Sumter, Tattnall, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Turner, Wilcox and Worth. There were at least 30,000 acres of corn, soybeans, cotton and/or vegetables planted in each of these counties in 2015. Suggested charities include local 4-H or FFA programs, fire departments, hospitals, libraries or schools. Charities must have IRS 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status or be a unit of government under Section 170 (c) (1). The program is open to farmers, age 21 and older in eligible counties, actively farming a minimum of 250 acres of corn, soybeans and/or cotton or 40 acres of open field vegetables or at least 10 acres of tomatoes, peppers and/or cucumbers grown in protected culture. No purchase needed to win. Visit http://www.growcommunities.com or call 1-877-2673332 to apply.
AFBF offers county grants
The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA) offers grants to help county Farm Bureaus. The White-Reinhardt Mini-Grant Program is offered to county Farm Bureaus in amounts up to $500 for classroom programs for grades K-12 to initiate new activities or expand existing ones. Applications are due to AFBFA by Oct. 15 and must be made online. Visit http://tinyurl.com/AFBFminigrants for more information. County Farm Bureaus who would like to have their application reviewed should send a draft of their application to Donna Rocker no later than Oct. 1. For help in completing the application, contact Rocker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once she has provided you with feedback, you will then need to submit the application online.
Ag Labor Relations Forum
Nov. 1-2 • UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center
TURNER COUNTY Turner County Farm Bureau (TCFB) partnered with a local daycare center to teach students about soybeans using an Ag in the Classroom lesson. Daycare teachers Meagan Seabolt, right, and Tatiana Walker, left, who are TCFB members, welcomed TCFB Office Manager Karen McCurdy who helped with the lesson. The students planted soybean seeds and monitored the growth of the plants over several weeks. The students also learned about the many products made using soybeans.
Georgia Farm Bureau and other ag organizations are collaborating with the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) to host this forum, which will provide an in-depth overview and training on labor rules and regulations for growers and office personnel who handle the administrative and human resource duties for farms and businesses. This conference will provide attendees with resources to comply with existing labor rules and regulations such as preparing for a wage and hour audit; 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. Registration is $150. For more information visit http://gfvga.org/georgia-ag-labor-relations-forum/ or call the GFVGA at 706-845-8200.
Georgia Farm Bureau News September 2016/ 21
Photo courtesy of AgrAbility Georgia
Photo courtesy of AgrAbility Georgia
Greene County farmer Jack Merritt rides over his CattleGuard gate, which eases his access to his cattle.
Bob Berry, center, with his wife Diane and farm assistant Mike Serman in the chick hatchery Berry started a dozen years ago.
AgrAbility helps farmers with disabilities
FarmAgain/AgrAbility helps farmers find technologically enhanced hand tools designed to increase leverage and reduce the When a farm worker’s mobility is taken away, his or her liveli- force needed to use them, as well as a variety of larger tools to enhance mobility like motorized chairs designed to handle farm hood can go with it. It doesn’t have to be that way, according to officials with Farm terrain – including wet conditions - and chair lifts that facilitate Again/AgrAbility Georgia, part of the national AgrAbility organi- mounting farm equipment or entering elevated tractor cabs. zation, which works to enable farmers with physical limitations to Jeff Vance of Carroll County, who broke his back in a 35-foot fall while working on a billboard, has an Action Track chair, which resume their normal work and life activities. “The whole purpose is to help farmers who have disabilities get has tank-style tracks for wheels and a multiple-position chair to back to farming, however they got it,” said Jimmy Hill, engagement give its user a variety of capabilities. director for Farm Again/AgrAbility Georgia. “It could be a loss of “It helps a lot,” said Vance. “I hunt out of it, work out of it, do limb or it could be a disease … it could be anything. Anything that all kinds of stuff. Just anything I used to be able to do. Standing in it I’m a little taller than I used to be, so I impedes them from being able to farm.” can change light bulbs in the shop, stand Physical imitations could be weakness up and weld. Shoot skeet. You can do anyassociated with arthritis, heart conditions thing.” or other chronic ailments, to complete pa FarmAgain/AgrAbility goes beyond ralysis of a person’s legs. The AgrAbility helping farmers with disabilities access program, which since 2006 has helped 137 gear. farmers in Georgia, helps connect farmers Bob Berry of Berrien County decided with solutions for a wide range of physical to start a chick hatchery after being forced limitations. to retire from his job as a civil engineer For example, people with arthritis, for when he lost most of his eyesight after dewhom exiting or entering a vehicle might be veloping glaucoma. difficult, now have access to a variety of farm “Rather than sit in my rocking chair gates that facilitate passage through fences. I wanted to stay active as much as I can,” Greene County farmer Jack Merritt is Berry said. “I wrote my business plan and 90 years old and struggles with arthritis in they gave me pointers on how to start puthis knees and feet to the point where he has ting it together.” trouble standing. A cattle producer, Merritt Berry said AgrAbility offered guidance gets around his property on an all-terrain about how to interact with certain govvehicle (ATV), but opening and closing ernment agencies, work with the Georgia pasture gates has became increasingly difPoultry Lab and utilize the National Poulficult. Last year he contacted AgrAbility try Improvement Plan. Once he got the Georgia, and the organization helped him hatchery started, AgrAbility also helped get a CattleGuard gate crossing. Merritt him find customers. He opened the hatchcan drive over it in his ATV, but the cattle ery a dozen years ago and now produces won’t cross it. 30,000 broiler and layer chicks a year, with “If I didn’t have that I’d probably have plans to increase to 80,000. to get rid of my cows,” said Merritt, who has been farming since his teens. “There’s no Jeff Vance of Carroll County digs a post For more information visit www.farmhole while utilizing his Action Track chair. again.com or www.agrability.org. way I could get to them.” Photo courtesy of Jeff Vance
By Jay Stone ______________________________________________________
22 / September 2016
Georgia Farm Bureau News
Ag Issues Summit: Auditors looking into GATE usage Nearly 200 agricultural stakeholders and state lawmakers received updates on the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption (GATE), the state’s water resources and federal issues during the Joint Agriculture Committee Chairmen’s Agricultural Issues Summit, held Aug. 9 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry. Georgia House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McCall and Georgia Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman John Wilkinson hosted the summit, which was sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau and other ag organizations. Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and Georgia Department of Revenue Commissioner Lynne Riley presented information about compliance activities the two departments are conducting to ensure GATE cardholders are using the sales tax exemptions properly. Black said the Department of Agriculture has five new part-time auditors in its Inspector General office who began visiting retailers across Georgia Aug. 16 to gauge if they’re granting the exemption appropriately and to offer tips to help the retailers achieve compliance. “Their sole job is going to be investigating and educating,” Black said. Black said the goal is to conduct these reviews with 1,500 businesses statewide by the end of the year. The retailers will be provided with thumb drives containing a copy of the GATE regulations, a copy of the law and examples of point-of-purchase materials to convey to customers the importance of the GATE program and how to lawfully participate in it. The Department of Revenue has two auditors conducting audits with the weight of enforcement power behind them. The auditors have completed about 50 audits. “They’re primarily looking at companies that might benefit from some education about appropriate use,” Riley said. “We’re not finding a lot of money not being collected.” The program included an electronic
on-site survey, led by Seth Millican and Jason O’Rourke of the Georgia Chamber, gauging the crowd’s views on a variety of agricultural, economic and societal issues. O’Rourke briefed the crowd on Georgia’s populations with job-growth trends before Millican conducted the survey. They will combine the results with surveys they’re conducting with other groups to get scientifically representative data they can use for future projections. To take the survey, visit http://tinyurl.com/agissuessurvey. O’Rourke said more than 60 Georgia counties are expected to lose population between now and 2030. Most of those counties are in middle and south Georgia. “If you’re losing populations, is it going to be harder and harder to find workers to fill those jobs that are currently there?” O’Rourke asked. “It also means you’re going to have challenges in tax revenue, transportation challenges and how you fund your schools.” Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA 8th District) gave a briefing on national issues affecting agriculture and those the U.S. House Agriculture Committee will be pondering when it begins work on the next farm bill, includ-
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Photo by Jay Stone
By Jay Stone __________________________________________________________________________
Georgia Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman John Wilkinson, pictured, cohosted the Joint Agriculture Committee Chairmen’s Agricultural Issues Summit with Georgia House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McCall.
ing GMOs, estate tax, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Waters of the U.S. and regulatory pressures. Scott, a member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, said some in Washington want to revisit the federal estate tax and return it to previous levels. He urged the audience to get involved in the political process, particularly on the issue of regulatory compliance. “If you don’t participate, your business is not going to exist,” Scott said. “The rules and regulations I believe are a bigger threat than the tax code is.” ALBANY (HD) WALB - NBC Sunday / 6:00 am WALB - ABC Saturday / 7:30 am ATLANTA (HD) WAGA - CH. 5 FOX Sunday / 5:30 am AUGUSTA (HD) WJBF - CH. 6 ABC Saturday / 6:30 am BRUNSWICK, GA (HD) / JACKSONVILLE, FL WPXC - CH. 21 Tuesday / 6:00 am Thursday / 8:00 am
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