Georgia Farm Bureau News Summer 2020

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Summer 2020


GFB Farm Passport Program


April tornadoes hit farms across Georgia

#StillFarming through COVID-19

Vol. 82 No. 2

Farm Bureau cares during COVID-19


Farm Bureau members receive



Our valued partnership highlights the great movement that we have together, and how farming and trucks have gone together for over 100 years.

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Contents page 5

pages 12 & 13

pages 18 & 19

GFB Farm Passport provides roadmap to fun

COVID-19 slaughters livestock producers’ bottom line

April tornadoes damage Georgia farms statewide page 21

pages 6 & 7

pages 14 & 15

GFB thanks county leaders!

GFB Certified Farm Markets are #StillFarming, serving customers

page 22

Make family memories with GFB Farm Passport

GFB CFM owners quickly implemented new operating procedures to keep customers safe.

pages 10 & 11

pages 16 & 17

Dumped milk no joke for Georgia dairies

Survey says farmers stressed. Now what?

COVID-19 disrupted the U.S. dairy supply chain forcing farmers to dispose of milk.

A UGA survey showed farmers were highly stressed before COVID-19. Learn tips for coping.

pages 30 & 31


GFB News Staff

page 4

Kenny Burgamy

View from the Field

Jennifer Whittaker

pages 8 & 9

Jay Stone

Public Policy COVID-19 aid for farmers

Georgia Foundation for Agriculture awards scholarships, supports ag ed

Director Editor

News Reporter

Payton Butler

West, Toews leading CAES


Graphic Designer

pages 24 & 25

Around Georgia pages 26 & 27

For information concerning advertising, contact Wendy McFarland at 334-6529080 or

Ag in the Classroom

For questions about your membership or member benefits, call 1-800-633-5432.

pages 28 & 29

For questions regarding editorial content call 478-474-0679, ext. 5334 or e-mail

Young Farmers & Ranchers

View from the Field Gerald Long, GFB President Not too long ago, we struggled to remain positive in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. That storm dealt such a blow to so many of us in agriculture that we wondered how we would ever overcome the destruction and rebuild. Here we are 18 months later, and we are dealing with more unexpected challenges because of the coronavirus. Despite these setbacks, we are going to get through this difficult time. Farmers are often called “eternal optimists.” As farmers and as Farm Bureau members, we are going to get through this COVID-19 storm just like we got through all the other storms of the past. I absolutely believe this. Let me tell you why. First, we are stronger together. Each one of us pulls a part of the load in our area of expertise. This is what makes agriculture so strong. I have never seen a more dedicated and committed group of farmers and ag leaders who have come together in times of adversity. I am proud to be associated with you as members of Georgia Farm Bureau.

Second, WE ARE ALL FARM BUREAU, and WE DON’T QUIT. When we are in the middle of a problem, it is hard to see the other side. Many of you have pulled weeds in a field in the summertime. Sometimes you can’t see the end of the row, but you keep pulling one weed at a time. If you do that enough – if you don’t quit - you make it to the end of the row and start on another one. This is the secret of a farmer’s success. We get up every day and give it our best. We go back to the house, love our friends and family, and we do it again tomorrow. If we string together enough of these days, we will see the other end. These are scary times. Our nation is fighting an invisible enemy that spreads among us through social contact. It has disrupted almost every aspect of how we work and live. It even affects our worship. All of us are suffering in some way or another, but we don’t quit. Finally, I believe God will help us. With His help, through Farm Bureau, and through the support of friends and family, we will recover from this COVID-19 storm.


SUBSCRIPTION RATES Farm Bureau Members: Included in dues — $1 per year Non-Members — $15 per year To subscribe call 1-800-898-1911, ext. 5334. OFFICERS President GERALD LONG, Decatur Co. 1st Vice President and South Georgia Vice President DANIEL JOHNSON, Pierce Co. Middle Georgia Vice President ROBERT FOUNTAIN JR., Emanuel Co. North Georgia Vice President BERNARD SIMS, Catoosa Co. General Counsel DUKE GROOVER Chief Financial Officer, Corp. Treasurer & GFBMIC Exec. VP DAVID JOLLEY Chief Administrative Officer & Corp. Secretary JON HUFFMASTER Asst. Corp. Secretary & Senior Counsel JEANNA FENNELL Asst. Corp. Treasurer & Sr. Director of Accounting RACHEL MOSELY DIRECTORS FIRST DISTRICT: Bill Bryan, Chattooga Co.; Wesley Hall, Forsyth Co.; SECOND DISTRICT: Bobby Gunter, Lumpkin Co.; Randy Ruff, Elbert Co.; THIRD DISTRICT: George Chambers, Carroll Co.; Nora Goodman, Paulding Co.; FOURTH DISTRICT: Skeetter McCorkle, McDuffie Co.; Marvin Ruark, Morgan Co.; FIFTH DISTRICT: Matt Bottoms, Pike Co.; Leighton Cooley, Crawford Co.; SIXTH DISTRICT: James Malone, Laurens Co.; James Emory Tate, Jeff Davis Co.; SEVENTH DISTRICT: Gary Bell, Evans Co.; Ben Boyd, Screven Co.; EIGHTH DISTRICT: Scotty Raines, Turner Co.; Don Wood, Wilcox Co.; NINTH DISTRICT: Lucius Adkins, Baker Co.; Paul Shirah, Mitchell Co.; TENTH DISTRICT: David Lee, Bacon Co.; Lamar Vickers, Berrien Co.; YOUNG FARMER CHAIRMAN: Will Godowns, Pike Co.; WOMEN’S COMMITTEE CHAIR: Heather Cabe, Franklin Co. 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 Georgia Farm Bureau News was established in 1937. Copyright 2020 by the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation. Printed by Panaprint, Macon, Georgia.

Photo by Sidney Middlebrooks

4 Summer 2020

Photo by SidneyMiddlebrooks

GFB Farm Passport provides roadmap to fun By Jay Stone We’ve all seen the movie where a stern airport customs agent freezes an international traveler’s heart with fear as the agent examines the traveler’s passport. Even with approval, the traveler feels less than welcome. With the Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) Farm Passport, your 2020 travelogue need not be scary. It doesn’t have to involve bureaucracy, and the only borders you’ll cross are county lines. You can pick up your free passport at any of GFB’s 78 Certified Farm Markets (CFM) or 158 county Farm Bureau offices. The passport guides travelers across Georgia to farms that grow a majority of what they sell at markets on their farms. Many of the farms also offer agritourism activities such as farm tours, corn mazes, farm games, educational opportunities, or they host special events. “The Farm Passport was created to provide people a fun, interactive way to discover farms across Georgia,” GFB CFM Coordinator Kelly Thompson said. “We hope people using the passport will create lasting memories, learn more about agriculture, and will continue to directly support farmers.”

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Hit the road in Georgia, and chances are you’re within an hour of straightfrom-the-farm goodness, whether it’s strawberries in the spring, peaches or fresh vegetables during the summer, apples in the fall or Christmas trees at year’s end. This is the second year of GFB’s Farm Passport program. In 2019, farm passport travelers made more than 2,400 visits to GFB Certified Farm Markets. “People were very excited about this passport,” said Sheila Rice of Calhoun Produce in Turner County. “They’d tell us where they’d been. They’d ask us about other markets. It’s interesting to see where all they’ve been and to hear their stories, and their excitement in it. That’s what tickled me, their excitement.” Travel with the passport to live out your love of exploring Georgia, supporting local farms and eating fresh. Passport holders will discover where their food comes from, meet the people who grow it, and see our state’s agricultural diversity firsthand! Despite COVID-19, the CFMs are still open as they are classified as essential businesses because they’re growing food. Operation practices at CFMs vary. Most are allowing customers to shop in their

stores. Many offer online or phone order options with curbside pick-up. Some are scheduling appointments for customers to shop and pick fruit.

Long-time GFB CFM members, from left: Brad Calhoun, Sheila Rice, Joyce & Gerald Calhoun. | Photo by Logan Thomas If you're looking for an activity to do with the family that gets you outside, find a GFB CFM near you at Be sure to call ahead before you plan your visit. You’ll get a warm welcome!

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Make family memories with Georgia Farm Passport By Jay Stone

Warner Robins couple Skip Mills and Dennie Douglas first heard of the Georgia Farm Passport program while watching the news on a Macon TV station.

Dennie Douglas, left, & Skip Mills with their prizes for visiting the most Certified Farm Markets in the 2019 Georgia Farm Passport program. | Photo by Jay Stone

Mills and Douglas visited 63 of the 67 markets across the state in 2019. They were among 51 travelers who collected 20 or more CFM stamps in their passports to qualifying them for a farm tour and farmto-table meal at Southern Belle Farms in Henry County this year. “I like a free t-shirt,” Mills said. “We were looking for a diversion, something to do on the weekends because we typically spend most of our time at the beach, and the hurricane [Michael] kind of took our favorite spot out of the picture.” Mills picked up the Farm Passport at the Houston County Farm Bureau office, then he and Douglas rode to Pearson Farms in Fort Valley, scoring some peach ice cream and nuts. Noticing several CFMs in Middle Georgia, they figured getting 10 stamps and qualifying for the t-shirt would be easy.

“It was a no-brainer,” Mills said. “We ended up having so much fun, I started planning weekend trips.” As the participants who visited the most markets, Mills and Douglas also received an RTIC cooler and were featured in an episode of GFB’s TV show, the “Farm Monitor.” “For me, it was a chance to get to see a part of Georgia that I had never really seen, to go to these small farms, these family-run farms,” Douglas said. “Even though I was born and raised in Georgia, there are lots of these areas that I’ve never actually been to. It was neat to see the seasons change. It really made me appreciate Georgia and everything we have here. It was nice to interact with all these different folks. They were so nice and welcoming and appreciative.”

“For me, it was a chance to get to see a part of Georgia that I had never really seen, to go to these small farms, these family-run farms.” Dennie Douglas Photo by Logan Thomas

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Photo by SidneyMiddlebrooks

Four generations in search of family fun By Jay Stone One Bibb County family showed that Georgia Farm Bureau’s Farm Passport program transcends generational lines.

Robin & Lindsey Crosby visit Elliott Farms with their grandchildren. | Photo by Sidney Middlebrooks During summer 2019, Macon resident Robin Crosby had Fridays with her two oldest grandchildren, Jack and Carrington Lennon, then four and two years old. The question was, how to spend their time? When Robin found out about the Farm Passport, she had her answer. “I thought, ‘That’s perfect! That’s what we can do,’” Robin said. So off they went, visiting more than

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20 Certified Farm Markets (CFMs) in all. Robin, her husband, Lindsey, and their grandchildren were occasionally accompanied by her parents, B.L and Betty Addleton, or their daughter, Amanda Lennon, and son-in-law Kevin - four generations of Crosbys/Addletons/ Lennons hitting farms across the state, eating fresh and making memories. Those memories included a corn pit; picking peaches and apples; eating ice cream, playing on farm-related playgrounds and taking lots of pictures. Robin said one thing she’ll treasure is the journey, specifically the conversations with the children. “My strategy was, we have this many hours, so we would cluster it [farm visits],” Robin said, noting they often visited multiple CFMs in a day. “The memories were a large part of the mystery, like ‘What are we going to find here? Do you think they’ll have animals? Do you think they’ll have a playground?’ You know, anticipating was a fun part of it. Of course, if you asked us all which was our favorite, a lot of it’s by age. If you had animals and a playground and ice cream, you were going to be scored a little bit higher.” Let’s hit the road Start your 2020 passport journey by picking up a Farm Passport at your county

Farm Bureau office or at any of the 78 farms participating in GFB’s passport program. To find participating farms, visit This year there are 11 new farms for passport participants to visit that weren’t part of the program last year. Passport travelers can earn some fun prizes. Turn in your 2020 passport with stamps from five or more CFMs and you get a 2020 Farm Passport t-shirt. Stamps from 10 or more farms nets the t-shirt and additional items like sunglasses, bumper stickers, hand sanitizer and more. Travelers who get stamps from 15 or more CFMs get all that plus their choice of selected CFM products. Get 20 or more stamps and receive a farm-to-table dinner and farm tour along with all the other prizes. Rules of the road One passport allowed per person. One stamp allowed per farm per person. As you travel, please share your journey via social media with #farmpassport #gafarmbureau. While no purchase is required to participate, please be kind and make one since these farms are their owners’ livelihoods. Deadline to submit your passport for prizes is Jan. 8, 2021. Please email any questions to .

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Public Policy Update

Washington steps up to help farmers weather COVID-19 pandemic By Jeffrey Harvey Optimism on the farm is low and stress is high. There’s no doubt farming requires a tremendous amount of optimism, faith and determination to pick up the pieces and try again. As Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long often reminds staff, “With every challenge, there is an opportunity.” As difficult as it may seem, this pandemic is no exception. With the help of our elected officials and consumers, who buy our products, farmers will weather this storm. Agriculture is blessed to have strong supporters in Atlanta and Washington representing us. Farmers prefer good weather and fair prices, but in their absence, assistance is sometimes needed – especially in situations like this. Bipartisan efforts in Washington will soften the blow COVID-19 has dealt farmers and the entire American economy. Below is a summary of programs Congress and President Trump implemented.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) PPP is a newly established guaranteed loan program for small businesses with the goal of keeping their employees on the payroll. After much discussion with the Small Business Administration (SBA), farmers were deemed eligible to participate in the program. Other eligible businesses include nonprofits, veterans’ organizations, Tribal business concerns, sole proprietorships, selfemployed individuals and independent contractors with 500 or less employees. PPP loans are capped at $10 million but can include up to eight weeks of the business’ average monthly payroll costs from the last year, plus an additional 25 percent for non-payroll costs.

The loan will be forgiven if: • All employees are kept or quickly rehired & compensation levels are maintained for eight weeks. • The funds are used for payroll and benefits, mortgage interest, rent or utilities.

Borrowers will owe money if: • The loan amount is used for anything other than payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent & utilities payments over the 8 weeks after getting the loan. • Not more than 25% of the forgiven loan amount may be for non-payroll costs. • You will also owe money if you do not maintain your staff & payroll.

Photo by Sidney Middlebrooks

CARES Act Congress passed the Phase 3 Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) stimulus bill March 27. The $2.2 trillion emergency relief package expanded unemployment benefits, provided tax rebates and numerous tax-relief provisions to help individuals, families and businesses. The CARES Act also established and funded several important programs for farmers.

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By April 15, the initial $349 billion of PPP funds was depleted. According to the SBA, of the 1,661,367 loans lenders approved from April 3 to April 15, 46,334 loans totaling $4.3 billion were approved for agriculture, forestry and fishing/hunting small businesses, accounting for 1.28% of total PPP loans.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) The EIDL program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Under the CARES Act, business owners in all states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories

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are eligible to apply for an EIDL advance of up to $10,000. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application. This loan will not have to be repaid.

Phase 3.5 On April 23, Congress passed a supplemental funding bill referred to as Phase 3.5 that provided emergency funding of $484 billion. The bill provides an additional $310 billion in PPP funding of which $60 billion was allocated for small lenders and community-based financial institutions serving small businesses. Farmers may apply for the PPP through any existing SBA 7(a) lenders or through any participating federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union or Farm Credit System institution. An additional $50 billion is provided for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and $10 billion for SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Grant program. This bill clarified that agricultural operations are eligible for both EIDL loans and the economic injury grants. $600 million in funding was also earmarked for Community Health Centers and $225 million for rural health clinics.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) On April 17, the USDA announced plans to distribute CARES Act funds to farmers through direct payments and purchases of ag commodities. Direct Payments A total of $16 billion in direct payments has been allocated for producers of commodities for which COVID-19 impacted prices by disrupting market supply chains, causing lost demand or shortterm oversupply. Payments to producers will be based on actual losses.

Allocations to each commodity are as follows: • $9.6 billion for the livestock industry: $5.1 billion for cattle, $2.9 billion for dairy, $1.6 billion for hogs • $3.9 billion for row crop producers • $2.1 billion for specialty crop producers • $500 million for other crops

Photo by Logan Thomas Producers will receive a single payment determined using two calculations: • 5% price losses that occurred January - April 15, 2020. Producers will be compensated for 85% of price loss during this period. • Second part of the payment will be expected losses from April 15 through the next two quarters, covering 30% of expected losses. The payment limit is $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants that are corporations, limited liability companies or limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits where members actively provide personal labor or management. Producers must certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75% or more of their income comes from farming, ranching or forestry. Sign-up for CFAP payments began May 26 and ends Aug. 28. USDA expects to begin sending payments in June. Visit to learn more details.

USDA Purchase & Distribution The USDA will purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat to assist farmers significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service entities. USDA will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits/vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy and meat products to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits.

Jeffrey Harvey is the Georgia Farm Bureau Public Policy Department director. He may be reached at 478-474-8411 or

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Summer 2020 9


Dumped milk no joke for Georgia dairies By Jennifer Whittaker It wasn’t an April Fool’s joke when the Johnsons posted a video on their Providence Dairy Facebook page showing milk gushing down the drain. The April 1 post was a jarring image of how COVID-19 impacted Georgia farmers. Over two weeks, the Johnson family dumped five tanks of milk 240,000 lbs.

Decatur County dairy farmers Matt, left, & Paul Johnson, were among farmers across the country asked to dump milk due to COVID-19 knocking the dairy supply chain off-kilter. Photo by Laura Johnson




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Matt and Laura Johnson farm in partnership with his dad, Paul, milking about 1,200 cows three times a day on their Decatur County farm. The Johnsons are among about 50 Georgia dairies that belong to the farmer-owned Dairy Farmers of America Coop (DFA) according to Jon Bebermeyer, DFA Southeast Area chief operating officer. Matt, who serves as a council member for the DFA Southeast Area, wasn’t alone in being asked to dump his milk. From March 28 through April 17, DFA asked its Georgia and Florida producers to dump about 500,000 gallons of milk Bebermeyer said. The majority of the milk was dumped through April 3 with sporadic loads through April 17. “I understand it’s a business decision that unfortunately has to be made,” Matt said April 2. “At the end of the day, I trust the people marketing my milk are making the best decisions they can.”

Knowing it’s what’s best for business didn’t make it easier. “It’s hard to watch. You work so hard 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to produce something that’s healthy. Then, you have to watch it go down the drain,” Matt said. DFA hasn’t asked any Georgia producers to dump milk since April 17 because demand returned, Bebermeyer said. Many of Georgia’s 130 dairy producers belong to DFA, with about 65% of milk produced in Georgia going to DFA plants, said Farrah Newberrry, executive director of the Georgia Milk Producers (GMP). Georgia producers were asked to dump 100 tanker loads of milk with a value of about $1 million, Newberry said. While they weren’t asked to dump milk, the 15 to 20 Georgia farmers producing for Southeast Milk Inc., were asked to cut their production and took an 18% pay cut for their milk during the time DFA producers were dumping milk, a member of Georgia’s dairy community, who requested anonymity, said.

WHY WAS MILK DUMPED? Before COVID-19 knocked the U.S. dairy supply chain off-kilter, Southeast dairies were entering a time when they produce more milk, Matt said. “The first of March to mid-May is a period of time for Southeast dairies called ‘Spring Flush.’ During this time, dairy cows naturally produce more milk. The weather is good. Grass is growing fast,” Matt explained. Bebermeyer said DFA relies on two ‘balancing’ plants to absorb Georgia’s Spring Flush milk. A plant in Union Town, Ala., makes cheese. A plant in Baconton, Ga., makes condensed dairy products used by restaurants and other foodservice customers. These plants were idle for about a month, until late April, Bebermeyer said, due to the sharp decline in foodservice business COVID-19 caused. One-third of milk produced in the U.S. goes into the foodservice sector, such as restaurants and schools, said Rebecca Egsieker, The Dairy Alliance director of communications & farmer relations. Restaurant business was cut by 60% during the initial COVID-19 response.

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COVID-19 also impacted how consumers shopped. “When COVID awareness ramped up the week of March 7, households that might buy one gallon of milk a month bought three to five gallons to stock up initially, but their drinking habits didn’t change a lot,” Matt said. “People overpurchased.” For the next two weeks in March, Southeast milk plants processed more milk than usual as grocery stores scrambled to refill shelves, Matt said. From March 28-April 3, milk processors reduced their order for fluid milk as restaurants had fewer customers and demand for milk products decreased. Bebermeyer said the milk supply has a chance to level out faster in the Southeast because most of the milk produced here is sold as fluid milk. Other regions that rely on cheese sales will need to see restaurants come back, he said.

LOST MILK COST SHARED “This is a problem affecting farmers across the country. The federal milk marketing order is allowing our financial loss to be pooled nationwide so the loss doesn’t fall on one farmer,” Matt said. “This means at the end of the month when the federal order settles up how milk is paid, the cost of dumped milk will be shared by dairy producers nationwide regardless of the co-op a farmer ships to. Co-ops are also sharing the loss across their members.”

HOW WERE FARMS SELECTED TO DUMP MILK? Bebermeyer said DFA asked its farmers to dump their milk based on economic and disposal factors. Only South Georgia DFA producers were asked to dump milk. Farms asked to dump milk are farther from a processing plant and have higher hauling costs. DFA also needed farms with lagoon capacity to hold the milk. “The co-op tried to do this in a way that saved us the most money and is environmentally responsible,” Matt said.

WHAT’S BEING DONE TO HELP? Early in the crisis, dairy co-ops and dairy groups asked stores to stop limiting how many dairy products customers could buy. From April 24 to May 15, the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Milk (ACCM), partnered with DFA and Kroger for the Great Georgia Give campaign. About 24,000 half gallons of Georgia milk donated by DFA and Kroger were delivered to first responders and healthcare workers in Atlanta, Augusta, Macon and Savannah. Visit to read more. Dairy Alliance staff worked to redirect milk and dairy products to people in need. It awarded grants to 32 Georgia school districts for equipment to cool or distribute dairy products to students and helped food banks store fresh milk. The USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) includes $2.9 million for direct payments to dairy farmers. Sign-up began May 26. As part of CFAP, USDA will buy $3 billion of dairy, fresh produce and meat to assist farmers affected by COVID-19. Producers should talk with their creditors, says Jim Howie,

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Dairy groups worked to move milk through the pipeline with donations to healthcare workers, first responders & the needy. | Photo courtesy of The Dairy Alliance member services manager of the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative (MVA), which markets milk for about 25 Georgia dairies in the Eatonton/Greensboro area and Millen. “It’s important dairy producers be proactive with their lenders and suppliers to hopefully work through this [low milk prices & debt payments],” Howie said. “This is a situation that affects every aspect of the dairy industry, and we have to work together.”

WHAT’S AHEAD? “Everybody is on edge about what the price [of milk] is going to do. We felt some impact for April milk, but the big price impact will be felt for May milk,” Howie said. “That’s when we saw the impact of less demand from the food service industry come to the forefront.” In January, the uniform blend price of milk for Federal Order 7, which includes Georgia, was $21.32/100 lbs. (11.63 gallons) Howie said. For April, the Federal Order 7 uniform blend price of milk was $17.75/100lbs. Projections show the uniform price will continue to drop another $3 to $4/100 lbs. in May and June, Howie said. If the blend price drops by $4, that’s a cut of $7.57 from January to $13.75. COVID-19’s upheaval to the dairy market comes after years of poor prices. “After six years of low prices, I’m concerned about the emotional toll this is going to take on our farmers,” Newberry said. “Not only are they worried about trying to keep their families and farm workers healthy, but they’re also having to deal with low prices again.” Matt, who has been dairy farming for 21 years, is trying to focus on the big picture. “I don’t think we’ll lose the farm, but if we do, it won’t be the end of the world,” he said. “As long as my family and my employees are healthy, we’ll be ok.”

Summer 2020 11



COVID-19 slaughtering livestock producers’ bottom line By Jay Stone The truth for Georgia beef, poultry and swine producers in the time of COVID-19 is this: prices are lower and processing is slower. How the pandemic has disrupted the three livestock sectors varies slightly. “The supply is here. The processing is the problem,” said Georgia Farm Bureau Swine Committee Chairman Terry Danforth, an independent hog producer in Berrien County. “There’s plenty of food. The problem is getting it processed.”





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According to the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, Georgia has about 23,000 cattle producers, and 87% of them have herds of 100 head or less. Most of Georgia’s cattle producers sell their cattle at county or regional livestock markets, said Dr. Francis Fluharty, UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences’ Animal & Dairy Science Department head. To help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, many livestock markets canceled sales at some point from mid-March to mid-April, which posed a problem for Georgia beef producers. At one point in early April, nearly half of Georgia’s livestock markets closed at least in part because of the spreading virus. Carroll County Livestock Sales Barn Chairman Alan Banks said many of the people who frequent the sale barn

are senior citizens, a group identified as susceptible to the virus. The barn was among those that temporarily closed. “We’d hate to think that someone came here and ended up sick as a result,” Banks said. Recognizing that sale-barn dynamics pose unique challenges, the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) released guidelines for sale barns to implement effective social distancing measures. The LMA recommendations included asking non-buyers to stay away and sellers to drop off their cattle and leave. “This is kind of a funny business,” said Clay Floyd of Swainsboro Stockyard. “You’ve got to be real particular about telling people not to stay and watch. That’s a touchy thing.” Sale numbers dropped significantly in March and April. Multiple auction operators indicated that low commodity prices were a big factor. Sale prices of livestock tend to follow stock market fluctuations. Some sale barn operators attributed falling prices - which were already low - to the dramatic fall in the major stock exchanges that came in response to the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak. On April 27, the weekly average live cattle price listed by Market Insider was 86 cents per pound, down 20 cents per pound since March 2 and the lowest average price the publication has recorded since 2009. “I don’t ever remember seeing anything like this,” Georgia Beef Commission Chairman John Callaway said. “I do know the feeder calf market has been really hurting here in Georgia over the last month or six weeks.” Low prices, sale barn operators said, contributed to low sale numbers; producers were keeping cattle longer in hopes prices would rebound. Holding onto cattle longer carries additional costs, including feed and workers to tend the animals. While cattle prices stayed low, the pandemic sparked a radical change in demand. The immediate market for beef took a big hit when shelter-in-place orders were implemented – prompting many foodservice operators

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Pork bottomed out at 37 cents per pound in mid-April according to Markets Insider, the lowest the publication has reported since 2002. COVID-19’s impact on hog producers has come mainly from processing slowdowns caused by staffing issues at processing plants, where significant numbers of workers are staying home because they’re sick or tested positive for the virus. In some cases, processing plants have closed temporarily. In early May, Tyson Foods indicated its pork processing capacity was down by 50%, with three plants closed nationwide and others scaling back processing. Danforth pointed out that slaughter of hogs has slowed significantly, which causes backups at livestock farms and drives prices down. The number of slaughtered hogs dropped from 498,000 on March 10 to 271,000 on April 29, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service reports.

With no destination for their hogs, producers were left in a bind. Their facilities are built to grow pigs to a certain size. Disrupt the timeline, as slowdowns at processing plants due to COVID-19 have done, and farms experience backups. “So much of the kill capacity is down,” Danforth said, noting that in other parts of the country, hog producers are euthanizing pigs they cannot sell. “We haven’t euthanized any so far because we’ve been able to get rid of [sell] a couple of semi loads, but we’ve had to postpone some loads.” At least one large-scale hog farm has begun selling its productive sows, according to Georgia Pork Producers Executive Director Charles Griffin, an indication the producer is getting out of the business.

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POULTRY PROCESSORS FEELING THE HEAT At press time, in poultry, Georgia’s largest agricultural commodity, the chicken companies had felt the brunt of COVID-19. Georgia has 19 broiler processing plants. As of May 11, none had closed according to Georgia Poultry Federation Executive Director Mike Giles. The pandemic did result in some processing slowdowns.







“There have been a lot of pregnant sows put on trucks and sold at markets before they got so heavy that the markets wouldn’t take them,” Griffin said. “When you start selling your sows, you’re saying, ‘I’m going to take my losses and move on.’ ”


and restaurants to close. Restaurants that did not close were limited to take-out or delivery orders. “I think that there is a huge breakdown between farm level and what happens at beef distribution,” Fluharty said, noting that some in the meat packing sector don’t expect the supply chain to return to normal until late this year or early next year. On April 29, U.S. processors killed 72,000 head of cattle, down more than 41% from 123,000 on March 10.

Notably, Sanderson Farms’ plant in Moultrie asked more than 400 employees, who were Dougherty County residents, to stay home because the county was a hot spot for COVID-19 cases. Giles said poultry companies have taken steps to try to prevent the spread of the virus among their employees, including staggering break times to keep employees from congregating in break rooms, placing partitions between work stations on the processing lines and increasing frequency of cleaning inside the plants. Health communication with the plants’ employees stressed the importance of social distancing. “The message was and continues to be if you’re not feeling well, don’t come to work and seek medical attention,” Giles said.

INTO THE UNKNOWN The situation in agriculture, as it is for other sectors, is fluid, with more questions than answers. “The big thing we don’t know is whether the CDC is correct on the fall being worse for COVID-19,” Fluharty said. “If these slowdowns continue in processing, this is going to be really bad. This is exposing a lot of what can happen. We are in a worstcase scenario right now.”

Summer 2020 13


GFB Certified Farm Markets are #StillFarming, serving customers By Jennifer Whittaker Georgia Farm Bureau Certified Farm Market (GFB CFM) owners adapted quickly when the call went out in mid-March to shelter in place and social distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 As the pandemic situation remains fluid, three things are certain: CFM owners are #stillfarming; they’re prioritizing the safety of their customers and employees; they remain committed to getting food to their communities. To find a CFM near you visit Contact information for all farms in the program is provided. Get in touch with them to learn a farm’s current operating procedures and hours.

A NEW NORMAL Southern Belle Farms began selling strawberries April 6 – three days after Georgia’s shelter-in-place order went


into effect - owner Jake Carter said. At the time, the farm was about 10-12 days from beginning its peak production. Pick-your-own strawberries usually account for 80% of farm sales from April to early June, Carter said. In early April, Southern Belle only sold strawberries curbside and in its store, where the number of customers allowed in at one time was limited. The Carters frequently deep-cleaned the store and provided visitors hand sanitizer. On April 17, the Carters began letting farm guests pick their own strawberries. Guests are encouraged to stay six feet apart and wash or sanitize their hands. As of May 12, shoppers allowed inside are still limited and curbside pickup is still available. “We are monitoring changes from the Centers for Disease Control and government daily and will continue to do this until we see it is safe for our customers and staff,” said Daniel Welliver, Southern Belle general manager. With field trips for more than 15,000 students canceled due to the COVID-19 lockdown, Southern Belle had a surplus of strawberries. One of the farm’s neighbors, Tony Carder, is a partial owner of Pretoria Fields, a craft brewery based in Albany. Pretoria Fields and Southern Belle are working together to donate strawberries to health care workers in Henry County and surrounding areas. As of May 12, Welliver said the farm had been able to pick all of its strawberries this season.


Southern Belle Farms has offered its customers curbside pickup this spring. | Photo by Jay Stone AGRITOURISM

14 Summer 2020

At Southern Grace Farms in Berrien County, the McMillan Family’s opinion of the virus changed in a matter of days before the weekend of March 21-22 along with how it operated its farm market and you-pick strawberry patches. “There were positive cases of COVID-19 in the surrounding counties. We just didn't want to chance introducing the virus to our community,” said Jennifer McMillan, who handles food safety and agritourism for the farm. “We felt the safest way to protect our

Georgia Farm Bureau News

Online orders & curbside pickup brought Pittman Family Farms & Country Market a steady stream of customers this spring. | Photo by Jay Stone customers and community was to just shut everything down to the public.” The farm only did about half the business it usually does in April, McMillan said. The farm also lost revenue from school field trips it had booked for every weekday from March when schools shut down through the first two weeks in May. “Having no field trips, no big weekends really hurt us,” McMillan said. After closing their you-pick strawberry fields for the season, the McMillans sold picked strawberries and novelty gift items curbside, relying on orders from their website and Facebook page. Local customers were loyal and two posts on the farm’s Facebook page in April announced strawberries were sold out for the day. The farm’s strawberries stopped producing by April 29 – one day before Georgia’s shelter-in-place order expired. On May 2, the farm began selling blueberries curbside. On May 7, the farm opened its you-pick blueberry patches to the public. Southern Grace spent several days cleaning its store before reopening May 8. It allows 10 customers in the store at a time. Customers are encouraged to wear masks. The farm continues to offer curbside ordering and pickup. “The best way the public can support local farms is to demand their grocery stores sell fruits and veggies grown in the U.S., especially Georgia when they’re in season,” McMillan said.

“After cases of COVID-19 started to increase in the U.S., we knew we would have to adjust and adjust quickly,” said Jonathan Pittman, manager of his family’s farm market, which has relied heavily on online orders made via a new website Pittman was developing prior to COVID-19. Before the Pittmans switched to online/phone orders with curbside pickup on March 21, they limited the number of people in their store to six at a time by having customers reserve 20-minute shopping appointments. “It was easier for our high-risk customers to shop [curbside]. It made everyone more comfortable, and we were able to offer more items that we normally don’t, like sugar, flour, salt, eggs, and popular dairy items,” Pittman said. The Pittmans reopened their store May 6 following recommended guidelines. Masks are optional for shoppers, but the Pittmans ask shoppers to stay six feet apart. The family encourages shoppers to use hand sanitizer provided at the entrance and asks customers to select produce by “shopping with their eyes” rather than handling the produce. They’ve also installed plexiglass at the checkout counters. “It is definitely a different time, but like our customers all tell us, ‘Just keep going and keep faith in the Lord because he will guide us safely through any obstacle,” Pittman said.

CFM OFFERS MEAT WHEN GROCERY STORES CAN’T A lack of meat in grocery stores has sent more customers to Thompson Farms: All Natural Pork in Brooks County at a time when business is usually slow, Abby Thompson, the farm’s marketing manager, said. “We are very thankful for the added business and the ability to work. Fresh, frozen items such as pork chops, link sausage, patty sausage and pork burgers have been moving quickly,” Thompson said. “Our smoked items aren’t far behind.” Thompson said her family’s farm started offering curbside pickup March 19 for orders placed via the farm’s website or by phone after she noticed restaurants and stores in Thomasville and Valdosta offering this option. The farm continues to offer curbside pickup. As of May 12, the Thompsons were allowing one customer at a time to shop in their store while wearing a face mask. The Thompsons are giving back through The Plentiful Pig - a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization they established to provide meat to food-insecure families. To make a secure on-line donation visit or call 229-263-9074

COUNTRY STORE RELIES ON INTERNET Pittman Family Farms & Country Market in Toombs County, which specializes in a variety of farm-fresh produce, novelty craft sodas and gift items, has quickly adapted its operating procedures as COVID-19 recommendations shifted this spring.

Georgia Farm Bureau News

Summer 2020 15

Survey says farmers stressed. Now what? By Jay Stone A survey conducted last December at the 2019 Georgia Farm Bureau Convention by the University of Georgia School of Social Work and UGA Cooperative Extension Service showed Georgia farmers are highly stressed. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

UGA School of Social Work Dean Anna Scheyett, left, surveyed farmers at the 2019 GFB Convention about their stress levels. Photo by Jay Stone In December, School of Social Work Dean Anna Scheyett had been researching rural stress for more than a

16 Summer 2020

year. She started in 2018 after Dr. Sam Pardue, then dean of the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, mentioned the alarming rates of farmer suicides nationwide. Scheyett pored over statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but wanted more tangible information. So, she surveyed GFB members. The results weren’t pretty. “What we found, was on a scale of one to five, people were rating farmer stress as over a four,” Scheyett said. “It was really high, and they indicated that it was higher than the prior year.” The survey also asked farmers how confident they were they’d know what to do to intervene if they knew someone who was struggling with emotional or behavioral issues. Forty percent told Scheyett they were not confident. “It’s not a comfortable subject, but it’s one we’ve got to talk about,” Scheyett said. Fast forward to this spring. Like everyone else, Georgia farmers have found themselves wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought new challenges like market interruptions. The pandemic has

also increased the isolation of an occupation that by its nature was already isolated.

“It’s not a comfortable subject, but it’s one we’ve got to talk about.” Anna Scheyett “One of the great kind of buffers and protectors for stress is having a strong social network,” Scheyett said. “Now, not only do we have stress, but we’re supposed to be isolating, so our network feels weaker.” On March 19, the federal government declared agriculture a critical infrastructure industry essential to the COVID-19 response, which meant farmers and those in agricultural jobs could keep working. But changing consumer habits upended how and where agricultural products are normally sold, creating one more uncontrollable factor for farmers to deal with.

Georgia Farm Bureau News

How can I manage my stress? Scheyett offers these recommendations for managing stress and its effects on you:

Limit consumption of news The COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually every facet of life. Because the pandemic is allencompassing, it has prompted non-stop news coverage. That doesn’t mean you have to watch or hear or read all of it. “I think you really have to limit your consumption of news. Initially I think a lot of people get kind of obsessive about it,” Scheyett said. “I think it’s OK to turn the TV off.”

Talk to someone “You have to think about the place that feels safe for you to go talk. Maybe it’s a spouse. Maybe it’s your doctor, maybe it’s your preacher or a friend. There are counseling centers where you can go and get professional help,” Scheyett said. “If you’re starting to think things like, ‘I can’t get out of this, life is not worth living,’ then please go talk to somebody professionally.”

Focus on positive Convert the time you might have spent consuming news into something that makes you happy or serves others. For example, Scheyett said, “Go somewhere else and think about starting a project writing notes to people in assisted living facilities who are isolated. How can I turn that into something positive, how can I do something positive?”

Give yourself a break Find a few minutes in the day to pause and breathe. Pay attention to your health. “When people are working constantly and very stressed, they don’t stop to drink water, they don’t stop to eat well. They don’t stop to get enough sleep,” Scheyett said. “So, take care of yourself physically. What crop ever failed because of 10 minutes? Taking a 10-minute walk or sitting for 10 minutes and drinking a bottle of water. It’s not going to ruin your farm. But it might ruin you if you don’t do it.”

UGA offers stress resources The UGA School of Social Work has collaborated with UGA Cooperative Extension on the Rural Georgia: Growing Stronger project. The project’s website, serves as a clearing house for a wide variety of resources for individuals who may be struggling and for people and organizations seeking ways to help.

Georgia Farm Bureau News

GNFA dedicates livestock arena to Perdue

The Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter (GNFA) was built to give Georgia families a place to celebrate agriculture and rural life through events such as the annual Georgia National Fair and livestock shows. In February, the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority (GAEA), which oversees the GNFA, dedicated a new building to former Gov. Sonny Perdue. Located just inside the GNFA East Gate, the new 59,824 square-foot climatecontrolled building has a 250-foot by 125foot show ring with 486 stadium seats and an attached covered shed. GAEA Chairman Foster Rhodes said the authority asked Perdue to support expanding GNFA facilities while he was governor. Due to budget concerns caused by a recession at the time, Perdue told authority members the expansion must be done in phases. Perdue Arena is the last of a three-phase expansion to the Agricenter’s livestock and equestrian facilities. Phase 1 included the Sutherland Arena building, a covered practice ring, the east gate, east restroom facility, guard house and public safety building. Phase 2 included a covered practice ring and a 103,000 square-foot horse barn with 480 stalls. Sonny Perdue’s wife, Mary, the couple’s four children and their spouses, and 14 grandchildren attended the ceremony with him. Read the complete story at Perduearena. View more photos at www. .

Summer 2020 17

APRIL TORNADOES DAMAGE GEORGIA FARMS STATEWIDE April 2020 will go down in Georgia history. By Jennifer Whittaker By April 12, Georgia farmers were struggling from the toll the worldwide COVID-19 lockdown was having on market prices and the food distribution system. The cloudy, rainy weather of Easter matched the mood of the times. It foreshadowed something worse - a menacing storm system that would brutalize the state. According to National Weather System (NWS) reports, almost 30 tornadoes touched down in Georgia from 8:15 p.m., April 12 through 8:11 a.m. April 13, striking terror in rural Georgians statewide. Eight Georgians lost their lives. Those fortunate to live outside the path of the tornadoes still felt the fury of severe thunderstorms and in some areas, flatline winds.

As of April 22, the National Weather Service had confirmed tornadoes touched down in the following counties: (listed in chronological order according to the time the tornadoes struck) Chattooga/ Walker; Murray, Dade, Catoosa, Floyd (2), Bartow, Cherokee, Harris, Talbot, Upson/ Lamar, Fulton, Monroe, Hall/Habersham/ Banks/Stephens, Bibb, Putnam, Greene, Washington (3), Washington/Jefferson, Worth/Tift, Screven, Irwin, Coffee, Wayne, Long and Liberty/Bryan counties. As Georgia farmers took stock of their losses and cleaned up debris, multiple farmers graciously spoke with Georgia Farm Bureau reporters John Holcomb, Jay Stone and Jennifer Whittaker following the storm.

Then, on April 23, another system of at least three tornadoes, confirmed by the NWS, destroyed homes, damaged farms and businesses in South Georgia’s Decatur, Mitchell, Cook and Clinch counties. Space constraints prevent us from printing full accounts of both storms, so we’re sharing these photos. To read the stories of farmers from Murray, Stephens, Upson, Berrien, Irwin, Wayne, Mitchell, Colquitt and Clinch counties, please visit & www. Then keep these farmers and others like them in your prayers as they work to rebuild their farms.

Farmers Gin and Peanut Farmers Gin & Peanut Company in Moultrie was one of the hardest-hit locations damaged by an EF-1 tornado that swept through Moultrie April 23. Manager Jon Ladson said the building would have to be torn down and rebuilt.

Photo courtesy of Jon Ladson

18 Summer 2020

Georgia Farm Bureau News

Pritchett Chicken Houses An EF-2 tornado touched down in Murray County the evening of April 12 destroying chicken houses at Wyle Pritchett's farm.

Photo by Nathan Dupree

Russ Goodman In Clinch County, an EF-0 tornado accompanied by hail, damaged blueberries grown by Russ Goodman at two different locations. In a Facebook post, Goodman indicated he lost about 70% of his crop to the storm, or about $1.5 million worth of blueberries. Goodman said the hail did more damage than the wind.

To see more photos from the Easter tornadoes visit: To see photos from the April 23 tornadoes visit:

Photo courtesy of Russ Goodman

Danny & Will Bentley The EF-3 tornado that hit Upson County in the early hours of April 13 destroyed hay bales at the farm of Danny & Will Bentley. The storm left only three of 30 bales of ryegrass the Bentleys harvested the week before.

Photo courtesy of Will Bentley

Robert & Kristy Arnold An EF-1 tornado did extensive damage in Wayne County after 7 a.m., April 13. It stripped portions of roofs off multiple barns at Robert & Kristy Arnold’s cattle farm. The Poppell Farm near Odum suffered similar damage.

Photo courtesy of Kristy Arnold

Georgia Farm Bureau News

Summer 2020 19

GFB offers health coverage option for small businesses Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) is excited to partner with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia to provide new health coverage options to small businesses. “In 1959, Georgia Farm Bureau started an insurance company to meet the insurance needs of its members, particularly those living and working in rural Georgia,” GFB President Gerald Long said. “Now, sixty years later, we are partnering with Anthem to continue the tradition of meeting the insurance needs of our members by providing a health insurance program that will reach all areas of Georgia, both rural and urban.” The GA FARM Bureau Health Care Plan offers potential savings for small business employers if they are a sole proprietor or a group with at least two enrolled and no more than 50 eligible employees who fall within a broad range of agricultural Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes.

Employers can choose from a variety of competitive plans and a broad network of health care providers with the GA FARM Bureau Health Care Plan. Employees must be GFB members to participate in the plan. For just $35 annually, you can become a member of GFB and help support a safe and abundant supply of Georgia food and fiber. The GA FARM Bureau Health Care Plan is a selffunded trust established to offer group insurance. It is governed by trustees and by-laws that satisfy Georgia Department of Insurance requirements. For more information about the plan, visit FarmHealthPlan or contact your county Farm Bureau office for details!

“We are partnering with Anthem to continue the tradition of meeting the insurance needs of our members by providing a health insurance program that will reach all areas of Georgia, both rural and urban.” -GFB President Gerald Long

Georgia Farm Bureau thanks all of its county Farm Bureau presidents for leading their local chapters! Georgia Farm Bureau thanks all of its county Farm Bureau presidents for leading their local chapters! GFB President Gerald Long, second row, far left, welcomed this group of county Farm Bureau presidents who have taken office in the past three years, along with a few vice presidents and secretary/ treasurers, to an orientation meeting at GFB’s Macon office this winter. “County Farm Bureau presidents are a crucial link in Georgia Farm Bureau’s mission to serve as the voice of Georgia agriculture,” Long said. “I appreciate the time and dedication each president gives to our local chapters.” The county leaders learned more about Farm Bureau programs and how to handle their responsibilities as an officer.

Photo by Jennifer Whittaker

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West, Toews leading CAES Joe West, who most recently served as assistant dean of the University of Georgia Tifton Campus until retiring in February, has been named interim dean and director of the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences (CAES), effective July 1. West’s career with CAES has spanned nearly 35 years. In his 12 years as assistant Joe West dean of the UGA Tifton Campus, he oversaw enhancements to the learning environment for students, growth in research activity and Cooperative Extension programming on the Tifton Campus. From 2002 to 2004, he served as interim head of the CAES Department of Animal and Dairy Science (ADS). Prior to that West was a professor in the UGA ADS Department. Sam Pardue, who led the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences since 2016, will retire June 30. A national search is underway for the next dean and director of the college. Michael Toews is the new assistant dean of the UGA CAES Tifton Campus. Toews, a UGA entomology professor, succeeds Joe West, who retired Feb. 28. The UGA Tifton Campus has 60 faculty and more than 400 staff who support CAES teaching, research and Extension programs. The campus includes the Coastal Plain Experiment

Station, the National Environmentally Sound Production Agriculture Laboratory and the Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health. The Tifton campus has 150 buildings and 5,000 acres of farmland that support the CAES. Toews also oversees the Tifton Campus Conference Center. A native of Salina, Kansas, Toews received Michael Toews his Bachelor of Science degree from Fort Hays State University. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in entomology from Oklahoma State University. After completing post-doctoral fellowships at Kansas State University and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Toews joined the UGA Tifton faculty in 2006 as a research entomologist focused on insect ecology and cotton pest management. Toews was appointed co-director of the UGA Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health in 2014. He was promoted to professor in the Department of Entomology in 2017. During his tenure at UGA, Toews has conducted extensive research to improve Georgia cotton production. He is well-known for his work on thrips, stink bugs, kudzu bug, and silverleaf whitefly. Toews has secured more than $16 million in competitive grant funding. Photos courtesy of UGA CAES.


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Georgia Farm Bureau News

Summer 2020 23

Around Georgia Farm Bureau cares during COVID-19 Compiled by Jennifer Whittaker

Georgia Farm Bureau and many county chapters have helped others during COVID-19. We’re using this space to highlight acts of kindness we’ve heard about. If your county Farm Bureau made a donation or did a COVID-19 related good deed, please post it on the Friends of Georgia Farm Bureau Facebook group page at

Hall County Farm Bureau supports local health care workers

GFB donates $50,000 to Georgia Food Bank Association On April 21, GFB announced a $50,000 gift to the Georgia Food Bank Association (GFBA), which has seven regional food banks across the state.

GFBA Executive Director Danah Craft welcomes the $50,000 donation Georgia Farm Bureau made to help the GFBA’s seven food banks.| Photo by Damon Jones “Georgia Farm Bureau has a long-standing partnership with the Georgia Food Bank Association. We believe it is appropriate to

24 Summer 2020

help all Georgia communities during these difficult economic times,” GFB President Gerald Long said. “It is our hope this gift provides much needed relief to the people in need.” GFB’s donation will be distributed equally among GFBA’s seven food banks. “We have seen a sustained 30% to 40% increase in need, and we know that the food we distribute every day would not be possible without hard-working farming families,” said GFBA Executive Director Danah Craft. “We are grateful for Georgia Farm Bureau's compassion and our long-standing partnership to end hunger in Georgia.” Long asked the GFBA to use the donation, when possible, to purchase food products grown or produced in Georgia or the U.S. to help Georgia and American farmers as they face economic hardships stemming from the disruption of ag markets the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.

Hall County Farm Bureau (HCFB) President Jerry Truelove, right, presents $5,000 to NGHS Foundation President/Chief Development Officer Chris Bray. | Photo by Elisabeth Grizzel The HCFB Board of Directors made its April 6 donation to the Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) Foundation to aid in the foundation’s COVID-19 efforts and to support the community’s health care workers. “Jim Henderson, who is a former Hall County Farm Bureau president and a current board member, gets the credit for this idea,” HCFB President Jerry Truelove said. “Jim called me one night and said ‘This is serious. We need to do something for our local hospital to help them out,’ ” After talking to hospital officials, Truelove said HCFB determined a monetary donation was best due to the logistics of delivering meals.

Georgia Farm Bureau News

Morgan County feeds the hungry

From left, Morgan County Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee members Jessica Lance, Rachel Kinsaul & Jay Moon stock a local food pantry with milk. | Photo courtesy of Jessica Lance

Since mid-March, when the COVID-19 lockdown began in Georgia, Morgan County Farm Bureau (MCFB) has worked to feed its community. Members of the MCFB Women’s and Young Farmers & Ranchers Committees teamed up March 14 to pack 180 lunches for students who were out of school the next week due to COVID-19. After the pandemic caused some Georgia farmers to dump their milk due to reduced demand, YF&R member Jay Moon encouraged the committee to partner with The Dairy Alliance and Kroger to provide 216 gallons of whole milk for a local food bank. Kroger donated the milk through its Zero Hunger Zero Waste program. “As a Morgan County dairy farmer, it’s exciting to see some of the milk produced on

farms in our county help nourish families in our community,” Moon said. The MCFB YF&R Committee bought shelves for The Madison-Morgan Caring Place (MMCP) food bank’s cooler to store the milk, said YF&R Committee Treasurer Jessica Lance. “Milk is the most requested item at food banks,” said MMCP Volunteer Director Nancy Pluckhahn. “We are beyond thankful for the Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers helping to secure milk for our community.” On May 1, the YF&R Committee bought a hog from Danina Farms and paid to have it processed for MMCP clients, Lance said. With these three projects, MCFB has donated about $950 to help feed those in need in Morgan County.

McDuffie County helps its neighbors In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus teaches us to help anyone in need as if we’re neighbors. McDuffie County Farm Bureau has practiced this lesson during COVID-19 by partnering with the Thomson YMCA and Warren County (WC) Sheriff's department to feed hungry families in the adjoining county. The McDuffie County School System has been able to continue feeding its food insecure students during the pandemic. Due to safety concerns, the WC school system had to cease initial efforts to distribute food to its students. MCFB Office Manager Kim-Cora Kay, who lives in Warren County, heard how hard the lack of school meals was hitting some families. “About 77 percent of Warren County students rely on school food programs,” Kay said. Kay asked MCFB President Jay Spear if the county could help. He gave his blessing. “McDuffie County Farm Bureau is blessed to be able to help those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. We’re fortunate our school system has continued serving our

Georgia Farm Bureau News

community, so we were glad to help when we realized the need next door,” said Spear. “Kim-Cora found a great way to get us involved not only providing food but also providing materials about how farmers grow the food.” MCFB has a good relationship with the Thomson YMCA (Y) that stems from partnering with the Y last summer to do Ag in the Classroom programs for summer campers. The Thomson Y, which was already distributing food to needy McDuffie County residents, agreed to help MCFB get food to WC students if MCFB could find a safe way to deliver the food. The WC sheriff’s department agreed to deliver the meals and provided a list of 50 needy families. As of May 7, the three-prong partnership had distributed 1,560 breakfast and lunch meals. Breakfast usually consists of milk, cereal and fresh fruit. Lunch is usually a sandwich, a vegetable, fruit, milk and juice. Kay helps assemble the meals at the Y, or solicits meal donations from restaurants, such as McDonalds. She delivers the meals to the sheriff’s department for delivery. MCFB sends the kids materials with each meal to

McDuffie County Farm Bureau Office Manager Kim-Cora Kay & Thomson YMCA Employee Taylor Gallup pack meals for needy families. Photo courtesy of Kim-Cora Kay teach how farmers grow their food and its nutritional value. “For some of these kids these are the only meals they’re getting,” Kay said. “The police officers say they wish we could see the kids’ faces when they come running out of their houses to get food because it’s obviously the highlight of the kids’ day.” As the need continues, MCFB welcomes any help other county Farm Bureaus would like to offer.

Summer 2020 25

Ag in the Classroom Update

Sokolowski pens winning essay St. Teresa’s Catholic School in Albany when she wrote her winning essay. Other district essay winners were Sara Grace Abernathy, Floyd County, GFB 1st Dist.; Ansley Segars, Habersham County, GFB 2nd Dist.; Annabella Tai, Fayette County, GFB 3rd Dist.; Hannah Lang, Walton County, GFB 4th Dist.; Jake Pope, Jasper County, GFB 5th Dist.; Addy Collins, Treutlen County, GFB 6th Dist.; Ben Bennett, Emanuel County, GFB 7th Dist.; Cutter Tharpe, Dooly County, GFB 8th Dist.; Patrick De Member, Pierce County, GFB 10th Dist. Each of these students won a $100 prize. In writing their essays, students were encouraged to research and discuss how farmers utilize, protect and conserve natural resources such as soil, air and water while raising livestock and growing crops on their farms. Essays were judged on clarity of thought and writing skill. Sokolowski’s essay is featured on the next page. Visit to read the essays of the other district winners.


For more than 44 years Georgia Farm Bureau’s Middle School Essay Contest has encouraged sixth through eighth grade students to consider the importance of agriculture. This year, students competing in the annual contest were asked to describe the relationship between farmers and natural resources. “Georgia Farm Bureau’s Middle School Essay Contest is where research and creativity meet to allow students a chance to challenge their writing skills. We provide a topic, the students do the research, and then they help us tell the story of agriculture,” said GFB Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Heather Cabe. “This group of students clearly researched ag-accurate information resulting in essays of which I’m confident farmers across Georgia will be proud.” The 66 county Farm Bureaus that held local contests submitted their top winners to GFB from which 10 district winners and a state winner were chosen. Dougherty County student Kaitlyn Sokolowski won the state prize of $150 and an additional $100 for being the GFB 9th District winner. Sokolowski was a seventh grader at

WWW.SFBLI.COM 26 Summer 2020

Georgia Farm Bureau News

The Relationship Between Farmers & Natural Resources By Kaitlyn Sokolowski Many things we use come from natural resources. Farmers work with the land as well as use natural resources. Farmers also work to conserve natural resources by using different farming practices. Farmers use three specific types of practices conservation, preservation and moderation - to help protect our precious natural resources. Conservation is used by farmers to reduce the amount of resources [used] to create less of an effect on the land. Some conservation practices include crop rotation, planting cover crops, no-till, and collecting water run-off. Crop rotation helps keep the soil rich in nutrients. This is because some crops take nutrients from the soil and some put nutrients back in by planting different crops on the same field at different times of the year. Cover crops are used to help slow the erosion of the soil making it possible to grow more crops and keep the soil rich. Some farmers choose to use no-till fields in order to keep the soil moist. No-till keeps soil clumped to help keep the soil in place when it rains. Collecting runoff water from both fields and buildings is an important way farmers help to stop pollutants from reaching water sources. To help with water cleanliness, farmers are now putting up fences around streams, rivers and ponds on their property to keep livestock out of water. Farmers use preservation to keep the land thriving. Through the Conservation Reserve Program, farmers take land out of agricultural production. This leaves it to grow naturally. While this land is being left unattended, great things are happening to preserve soil and wildlife. Through this type of preservation, the

soil gets a chance to replenish nutrients and rebuild topsoil from erosion. This also allows birds and animals to repopulate and increase diversity. Some people say that is a waste of land and money that could be used for other things. However, what we don’t see is that animals are thriving and the soil is replenishing itself making it more useful. Moderation is another technique farmers use. This involves using less resources and developing new ideas to manage farm resources. Farmers know using too many fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides harms the environment and crops as well as it takes nutrients from the soil. Farmers use different programs to decrease the use of chemicals. Some programs that help reduce the use of chemicals involve using crop rotation as well as using genetically engineered seeds. They also introduce predator species to eat pests. Farmers have to understand the life cycle of pests in order to use most of these techniques so they can keep their chemical use as low as possible. When farmers use the chemicals in moderation then that keeps the environment, crops and soil healthier as well as protects streams and rivers clean from runoff. While we know farmers work hard producing crops and raising livestock to feed us, they are using multiple natural resources through this process. Farmers don’t just take away from those natural resources, they help maintain and improve the natural resources during the process of farming. The relationship farmers have with the natural resources benefits the land, the people, the animals, and all living things on this planet.

Dougherty County student Kaitlyn Sokolowski won the state prize of $150 and an additional $100 for being the GFB 9th District winner. Sokolowski was a seventh grader at St. Teresa’s Catholic School in Albany when she wrote her winning essay earlier this year. Essay has been slightly edited to fit space.

Georgia Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom Coordinator Lauren Goble may be reached at or 478-474-0679, ext. 5135. Contact your county Farm Bureau if you’d like to volunteer with their Ag in the Classroom program.

Georgia Farm Bureau News

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YF&R Update

GFB Young Farmers & Ranchers experience D.C. For the 35th year, Georgia Farm Bureau took a group of Young Farmers & Ranchers from across the state to Washington, D.C., for the organization’s annual YF&R to D.C. Trip, March 3-6. This year, 30 YF&R members participated in the four-day program that included meetings with American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) lobbyists, AFBF President Zippy Duvall, USDA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), members of the House Ag Committee, 10 representatives and staff from both senate offices.

The following day, all YF&R members participated in congressional visits. The day was packed with meetings, picture ops in front of the U.S. Capitol, and lunch with many elected leaders and congressional staff members. After a day of congressional visits and an informative meeting at the EPA, the group closed the day with a two-hour night tour of the Capitol hosted by Rep. Doug Collins. “I felt like this was one of the most enthusiastic groups of Young Farmers and Ranchers who were genuinely engaged,” said GFB YF&R Chairman Will Godowns. “I really enjoyed hearing Representative Woodall and Representative Collins cheering us on and encouraging us to be heard and to be passionate about our way of life and its importance.” On the last full day of the trip, U.S. Army Captain Harold Earls, current commander of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, spoke to the YF&R group. A West Point graduate and Mount Everest Summit expedition climber, Captain Earls moved the group with his harrowing tale of courage during his Mount Everest expedition. He left the group in awe by detailing the regime and routine soldiers selected to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier must follow.

Photo by Payton Butler YF&R members started their D.C. experience with briefings from the AFBF lobbying team on hot ag topics in preparation for visits to Capitol Hill the following day. AFBF staff provided extensive insight into labor and immigration, trade, regulatory reform, farm policy, and a state-based tax update. President Duvall discussed the impact young farmers can have in agriculture and the influence GFB’s YF&R program had on his life and career.

Photo by Payton Butler

Georgia Farm Bureau YF&R Coordinator Erin Nessmith may be reached at or 478-474-0679,ext. 5232 for more information. Contact your county Farm Bureau if you’d like to get involved with your local YR&R program.

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Georgia Farm Bureau News

Cagle serving on AFBF YF&R Committee Cherokee County Farm Bureau member Ben Cagle began serving a two-year term on the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee in March. Cagle is one of seven new committee members on the 16-member committee. Committee members are responsible for planning the YF&R competitive events held during AFBF’s annual convention each January and the Harvest for All food donation program. An individual or couple may serve a committee appointment. National committee members are nominated by their respective state Farm Bureaus. Cagle and his wife, Vicki, chaired the Georgia Farm Bureau YF&R Committee in 2019. The couple has two sons, Clay and Mica. The Cagle family lives on their 72acre farm where they raise sheep. They also

lease an additional 110 acres for their cattle herd. A large aspect of their operation is education-based, opening their farm to school field trips and events. “Serving on Georgia Farm Bureau’s YF&R Committee gave me the opportunity to grow lifelong friendships. Serving as chair further developed my leadership skills and knowledge of Georgia agriculture,” Cagle said. “Serving on the AFBF YF&R Committee will expand that knowledge on a national scale and connect me with YF&R members across America. I appreciate GFB nominating me to serve.” Ben is the third generation of his family to be an active GFB member. His grandparents, Albert and the late Bernice Cagle, held various leadership roles in their county and on the state level. His parents, Mark Cagle and Kelly Vickery also served

Ben & Vicki Cagle | Photo by Jay Stone on the GFB YF&R Committee in the 1990s and actively served on the county and state level. Learn more about Georgia Farm Bureau’s YF&R program at

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Ga. Foundation for Agriculture awards $65,000 to ag scholars The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture is awarding $65,000 in scholarships to 32 students across Georgia for the 20202021 academic year. The foundation selected students who have excelled academically and/or with their extracurricular activities and intend to pursue or are already pursuing degrees in agriculture, forestry or family/consumer sciences at an accredited college/university in Georgia with an ag program or a Georgia accredited technical college. “Agriculture is Georgia’s leading economic sector. The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture would like to keep it that way, which is why it continues to invest in the bright minds that will power our industry in the future,” said Lily Baucom, executive director of the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture. The scholarships were awarded to graduating high school seniors headed to college or a technical college next fall, rising college juniors and seniors and students enrolled in the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine who plan to care for farm animals.

Recipients are listed below.

Seven students planning to enter college as freshmen at either Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) or the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences (CAES) were awarded scholarships of $3,000 each: Adonis Merritt, Newton County; Chase West, Madison County; Ivey Cook, Tift County; Leana Atkinson, Coffee County; Lorene Parker, Polk County; Sarah Hunter, Bulloch County; Tyler Hunter, Bulloch County. These students plan to pursue degrees in ag education, ag communications, animal science, poultry science, avian biology and biological sciences. Seven students were selected to receive scholarships of $1,500: Aubrey Hughes, Berrien County; Austin Ertzberger, Franklin County; Elijah Alford, Turner County; Lexi Cindrick, Troup County; Macy Taylor, Berrien County; Madison Gunter, Wilkes County; Rachel Hopper, Wilcox County. These students plan to pursue degrees in animal science/animal health, animal production and ag education.

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Eric Whitmire, Hart County; John Gentry, Pulaski County; Taylor Strickland, Decatur County were chosen to receive scholarships of $2,000 each as they study to become farm animal veterinarians at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine.

The foundation awarded 10 scholarships of $2,000 each to these rising college juniors and seniors: Brittany Braddy, Montgomery County; Elizabeth Lokey, Lowndes County; Fallon Cawthon, Franklin County; Josh Brown, Habersham County; Lane Goodroe, Colquitt County; Larabeth Bland, Bulloch County; Lindsey Moore, Wilkes County; Madison Walker, Gwinnett County; Teresa Lindstrom, Houston County; Will Barrett, Habersham County. These students plan to attend UGA CAES, ABAC and Emmanuel College in the fall and are studying agricultural education, Agribusiness, Applied Agricultural economics, Agricultural communications, Animal Science

Hope Smith, Stephens County; Jared Sheriff, Stephens County; Mary Knight, Stephens County; Rebecca Bowen, Banks County; Shelby Benford, Henry County were each selected to receive a $1,500 scholarship. Smith, Sheriff, Knight and Bowen plan to study in Agribusiness at North Georgia Technical College. Benford plans to pursue a degree as a Vet Tech at Gwinnett Technical College.

Visit to learn more about the nonprofit Georgia Foundation for Agriculture or to make a tax-deductible donation. Instructions for applying for the 2021 scholarships will be announced on the foundation website in the fall.

Georgia Farm Bureau News

Ga. Foundation for Agriculture supports elementary ag ed programs By Jennifer Whittaker The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture (GFA) recently presented $1,000 grants to 25 elementary schools across the state with agricultural education programs. The foundation raised the funds for the grants during its “Give to Grow” campaign held last November that culminated on Giving Tuesday - Dec. 3, 2019. “The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture appreciates all of the businesses, organizations and individuals who donated to our campaign to support efforts to teach elementary students about agriculture and its importance to their daily lives,” Georgia Foundation for Agriculture Executive Director Lily Baucom said. “With this being the first year of Georgia’s pilot ag education program, we wanted to financially support these schools to help them get their programs up and running.” Baucom presented the grants to teachers affiliated with the elementary ag programs at the Georgia Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association Mid-Winter Conference. The foundation invited all schools with a pilot elementary ag education program to apply for a grant. Elementary schools


Photo by Logan Thomas receiving grants are located in the following counties: Appling, Banks, Barrow, Bibb, Brooks, Clayton, Colquitt, Decatur, Fulton, Grady, Irwin, Laurens, Lowndes, Montgomery, Morgan, Muscogee, Pickens and Pike. For a list of schools that received grants visit gfb. ag/GFAagedgrants. The schools will use the grants to fund a variety of projects including building greenhouses, planting school gardens, purchasing egg incubators, building/expanding chicken coops, buying hydroponics supplies, planting fruit trees and buying accurate ag books. Visit to learn more about the elementary ag ed pilot program. To learn more about the foundation or make a tax-deductible donation visit or contact Baucom at 478-405-3461 or


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