Survey aims to collect farmer feedback on USDA programs

A new online survey launched by the American Farm Bureau Federation will collect feedback from farmers and ranchers about their experiences with 10 Agriculture Department programs housed in three agencies. Results will be used by AFBF to develop recommendations on how USDA can enhance its programs and make them more useful to farmers and ranchers.

All farmers and ranchers, not just Farm Bureau members, are encouraged to take the survey, which takes about 10 minutes to complete.

The survey focuses on the following USDA programs from the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Development:

•           Environmental Quality Incentives Program;
•           Conservation Stewardship Program;
•           Conservation Reserve Program;
•           Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program;
•           Value-Added Agricultural Producer Grants;
•           Rural Energy for America Program;
•           Farmers’ Marketing and Local Food Promotion Program;
•           Direct Farm Ownership Loans;
•           Direct Farm Operating Loans; and
•           Guaranteed Farm Loans (farm operating and farm ownership).

AFBF will share feedback from the survey about what is working well with the programs and how they can be improved with USDA.

Take the survey online through March 15 at http://usdaprograms.questionpro.com.

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Samuel Pardue named Dean of UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean and Director Sam Pardue - January 2016Samuel Pardue, a noted poultry science researcher and administrator at North Carolina State University, has been named dean and director of the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Pardue is currently associate dean and director of academic programs at NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and his appointment at UGA is effective March 14.

“I am pleased that Dr. Pardue is joining the university as the next dean and director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “His academic background and professional experience are ideal for leading the College at a very exciting time in its history and working with key stakeholders and alumni who are critical to our future success.”

Since 2012, Pardue has overseen the academic programming in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ 16 departments. Prior to being named associate dean, he served for seven years as the head of the department of poultry science, which in 2012 was named the Prestage Department of Poultry Science in honor of a $10 million gift he helped secure.

Pardue helped double the number of poultry science majors, expanded distance education offerings and acquired external funding to modernize teaching laboratories. In addition, he served as the co-principal investigator on a USDA grant to increase the multicultural diversity of agriculture students and was a founding member of the college’s Diversity Council.

He has conducted his research with $2.5 million in external funding, holds three patents and has published nearly 100 journal articles, book chapters and abstracts. Pardue has given invited presentations across the United States and in Australia, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Mexico.

His additional honors include being named to the NC State Academy of Outstanding Teachers, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor and receiving the Purina Mills Award for Teaching.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with UGA’s outstanding administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and Georgia’s dynamic agricultural community,” Pardue said. “The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has played a significant role in growing Georgia’s #1 economic sector. It is a college with a long and honored history. I look forward to an even brighter future for CAES.”

Pardue earned his bachelor’s degree in poultry science and his master’s and doctoral degrees, both in physiology, from NC State. He completed his postdoctoral training in genetics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and began his academic career at Texas A&M University.

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Peanut Production Meetings Scheduled for February

Alabama peanut farmers can learn more about their industry at any of seven peanut production meetings held across the state next month. Topics will include market outlook, peanut varieties, crop management and insect control.

The meetings will be coordinated by the Alabama Peanut Producers Association (APPA), Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University. Dates, times and locations are below. For more information, call APPA at (334) 792-6482 or email cbristow@alpeanuts.com.

  • Feb. 18
    • 11 a.m. at Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, 1445 Federal Dr., Montgomery
  • Feb. 19
    • 11 a.m. at North Alabama Agriplex Center, 1714 Tally Ho St. SW, Cullman
  • Feb. 22
    • 5:30 p.m. at Wiregrass Research & Extension Center, 167 State Highway 134 E, Headland
  • Feb. 23
    • 11 a.m. at 5 County Complex, 1055 East McKinnon St., New Brockton
  • Feb. 25
    • 11 a.m. at Lighthouse Restaurant, 12495 Co. Rd. 23, Irvington
    • 5:30 p.m. at Baldwin County Farmers Federation, 21332 AL-59, Robertsdale
  • Feb. 26
  •  11 a.m. at Grace Fellowship Church, 1412 E. Nashville Ave., Atmore
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January/February 2016 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer

The January/February 2016 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online. Click here!

Tjanfeb2016sepf_cvrwebhis issue features the:

  • Why Peanut Maturity is Important
  • Duvall elected AFBF president
  • 2016 Peanut Variety Guidebook
  • Special Review of the Georgia Peanut Farm Show
  • American Peanut Council celebrates 75th Anniversary
  • Check off reports from the state grower organizations
  • Legislative Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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Enrollment Period for 2016 USDA Safety Net Coverage Begins Dec. 7

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced that producers who chose coverage from the safety net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, can begin visiting FSA county offices starting Dec. 7, 2015, to sign contracts to enroll in coverage for 2016. The enrollment period will continue until Aug. 1, 2016.

Although the choice between ARC and PLC is completed and remains in effect through 2018, producers must still enroll their farm by signing a contract each year to receive coverage.

Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment to enroll. If a farm is not enrolled during the 2016 enrollment period, producers on that farm will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program.

The two programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

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USDA Begins 49th Enrollment Period for the Conservation Reserve Program

Farmers and ranchers are reminded that the next general enrollment period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) begins today, Dec. 1, 2015, and ends on Feb. 26, 2016. December 2015 also marks the 30th anniversary of CRP, a federally funded program that assists agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.

As of September 2015, 24.2 million acres were enrolled in CRP. CRP also is protecting more than 170,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world 7 times. For an interactive tour of CRP success stories from across the U.S., visit www.fsa.usda.gov/CRPis30, or follow on Twitter at #CRPis30.

Participants in CRP establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”) to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. At times when commodity prices are low, enrolling sensitive lands in CRP can be especially attractive to farmers and ranchers, as it softens the economic hardship for landowners at the same time that it provides ecological benefits. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish native plant species on marginal agricultural lands for the primary purpose of preventing soil erosion and improving water quality and related benefits of reducing loss of wildlife habitat.

Contracts on 1.64 million acres of CRP are set to expire on Sept. 30, 2016. Producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.

Since it was established on Dec. 23, 1985, CRP has:

  • Prevented more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;
  • Reduced nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively;
  • Sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road.

Since 1996, CRP has created nearly 2.7 million acres of restored wetlands.

For more information FSA conservation programs, visit a local FSA office or www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation. To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

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Leaders elected to serve ALFA

Voting delegates elected members to the Alabama Farmers Federation Board of Directors at a business session during the organization’s 94th annual meeting in Montgomery. Front row, from left are Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Regina Carnes of Marshall County, State Young Farmers Committee Chairman Lance Miller of Blount County, Southwest Area Vice President Jake Harper of Wilcox County and Central Area Vice President Dean Wysner of Randolph County. Back row, from left are Secretary-Treasurer Steve Dunn of Conecuh County; District 1 Director Brian Glenn of Lawrence County, District 4 Director Rickey Cornutt of Marshall County, District 7 Director Joe Lambrecht of Elmore County and District 10 Director Steve Stroud of Pike County.

Steve Dunn, a Conecuh County row crop and cattle farmer, was re-elected secretary-treasurer of the Alabama Farmers Federation today at the organization’s 94th annual meeting today in Montgomery.

Elections were held during the Federation’s afternoon business session where almost 500 farmer delegates from all 67 counties chose officers and directors for the organization. Officers serve two-year terms.

Dunn, who is Conecuh County Farmers Federation president and former state Young Farmers chairman, was re-elected to his ninth two-year term.

Central Alabama Vice President Dean Wysner of Randolph County and Southwest Area Vice President Jake Harper of Wilcox County also were re-elected to two-year terms.

Wysner is a cattle and hay producer. The Central Area includes Autauga, Bibb, Calhoun, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Fayette, Greene, Jefferson, Lamar, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties. He was first elected vice president in December 1999.

Harper, who is Wilcox County Farmers Federation president, is a cattle and timber farmer. The Southwest Area includes Baldwin, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Hale, Lowndes, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Sumter, Washington and Wilcox counties. Harper, who served as a district director from 1988-1996, was first elected Southwest Area vice president in December 2003.

Elections also were held for Federation board of director seats representing Districts 1, 4, 7 and 10. Directors serve three years and are limited to three consecutive terms.

Brian Glenn, a row crop farmer from Lawrence County, was re-elected as District 1 director. The district includes Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Marion and Walker counties. This is his second three-year term.

Rickey Cornutt, a row crop and cattle farmer from Marshall County, was elected to the District 4 seat previously held by Don Allison of Winston County. The District 4 director seat rotates among Blount, Cullman, Marshall and Winston counties.

Meanwhile, Elmore County produce farmer Joe Lambrecht was elected to the District 7 seat representing Chambers, Coosa, Elmore, Lee, Macon, Russell and Tallapoosa counties. He replaces Elmore County’s Richard Edgar, who served three terms.

Pike County poultry farmer and county Federation President Steve Stroud was elected to the District 10 board seat. Stroud replaces Coffee County’s Carl Sanders, who served six years and did not see reelection. That district includes Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw and Pike counties.

Elected to one-year ex-officio terms on the state board were Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Regina Carnes of Marshall County and State Young Farmers Committee Chairman Lance Miller of Blount County. Garrett Henry of Montgomery County served as Young Farmers chairman in 2015, and Cheryl Lassiter of Choctaw County was Women’s Leadership chair.

The Alabama Farmers Federation is the state’s largest farm organization with more than 360,000 members.  It is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest farm organization.

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Nominations open for Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer Award

GPClogo300dpiRGBNominations are now open for the Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer. The state winner will be announced at the Georgia Peanut Farm Show on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Tifton, Ga. The award is sponsored by the Georgia Peanut Commission and BASF.basf

The Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer Award is based upon the applicant’s overall farm operation; environmental and stewardship practices; and leadership, civic, church, and community service activities.

“We have so many young peanut farmers making a difference in their communities and I consider this awards program a great opportunity to recognize one young peanut farmer for their contributions to the agriculture industry,” says Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC).

The award is open for any active Georgia peanut farmer who is not over 45 years of age, as of January 21, 2016. An individual may receive the award only once. There is no limit on the number of applicants from each county in Georgia.

“BASF is honored to be a sponsor of the Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut  Farmer Award,” says Dan Watts, District manager of Crop Protection Products. “We are committed to agriculture and bringing new innovative solutions to producers  that will allow them to continue to be successful.”

Applications are due to the GPC office by Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. The award application is available online at the GPC Web site, www.gapeanuts.com or by contacting Joy Crosby at 229-386-3690 or joycrosby@gapeanuts.com.

Previous Georgia winners include Andrew Grimes of Tifton, Randy Branch of Baxley, James Hitchcock Jr. of Tennille, Brad Thompson of Donalsonville, Greg Mims of Donalsonville, Jim Waters of Blackshear and Jimmy Webb of Leary. The award winner receives registration and hotel accommodations to attend the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in July and a sign to display at his or her farm.

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Ozias-Akins focused on learning from colleagues as part of UGA Women’s Leadership Fellows Program

Peggy Ozias-Akins

UGA peanut geneticist Peggy Ozias-Akins, director of the UGA Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, examines a peanut blossom. Ozias-Akin’s lab on the UGA Tifton Campus focuses on female reproduction and gene transfer in plants. Photo credit: Peter Frey (UGA)

A member of the University of Georgia’s inaugural class of the Women’s Leadership Fellows Program, Peggy Ozias-Akins is more focused on learning from colleagues than imparting words of wisdom.

The world-renowned researcher and recipient the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences 2015 D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor Award was one of nine UGA faculty members selected to be part of the prestigious group. Deans and other senior administrators within the university submitted nominations for the inaugural class of the program.

“The purpose of the Women’s Leadership Fellows Program is to give women the opportunity to learn from other women who have been in leadership positions, particularly administrative positions within the university,” Ozias-Akins said. “It’s helping those of us who already have some role that requires leadership.”

Ozias-Akins is a leading researcher on the UGA Tifton Campus. She is the director for the UGA Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics. Ozias-Akins is also a co-chairman of the Peanut Genome Sequencing Consortium, an extension of the International Peanut Genome Initiative. While Ozias-Akins has accomplished much during her time at UGA Tifton, she insists that being a part of this group will be just as much of a learning opportunity for her as it will be for others.

“It will be exciting to be involved in this, to learn from others who are at the level I am in terms of having some administrative responsibility, all the way to other women who have progressed through the ranks at other institutions to very high leadership positions,” Ozias-Akins said. “It really is for me to learn more about leadership roles and how to be a successful leader. How to be a facilitator, I think, is one thing to learn. How to make it easier for people to get their jobs done is another.”

The various faculty members will attend a monthly meeting to learn from UGA senior administrators as well as visiting speakers. The program will also feature a weekend retreat in June.

“The university is pleased to welcome the members of the inaugural class of Women’s Leadership Fellows,” said UGA President Jere Morehead. “This program is an important way to cultivate talent throughout UGA’s colleges and departments located across the state. It will offer valuable professional development and networking opportunities to the participants while strengthening the leadership capacity of the institution.”

By Clint Thompson, University of Georgia

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UGA’s Craig Kvien shares energy efficiency tips with Georgia homeowners

After devoting years to building an energy-efficient house of the future for the University of Georgia, Craig Kvien has a better understanding of conserving and saving energy. These tips, based on his work, could help Georgia residents save money during the upcoming holiday season.

“Some people think that, by ‘energy-efficient home,’ you mean putting on a jacket in the winter and shorts in the summer, but energy-efficient homes are more comfortable to live in than your standard house. They hold the temperature better and don’t leak as much,” said Kvien, a UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences professor who spearheaded the Future Farmstead project on the university’s Tifton Campus.

Kvien said that money could be saved during the upcoming cold winter months by adding proper insulation to the attic.

“If homeowners look upstairs and see that there’s not much insulation up there, (they should consider adding insulation). That’s another good way to save financially. You want to try to get at least an R30 rating up in your attic, and an R13 (rating) in your wall if you can,” Kvien said. “Along with getting insulation in there, make sure you don’t have any gaps in the insulation.”

The “R” rating refers to insulating power. The higher the value, the more effective the insulation will work in keeping heat in or out of the house.

Proper insulation will allow for a more comfortable living space, he said. Though Georgia doesn’t experience the same wintry conditions that blanket states in the Northeast, power usage in December and January reflects Georgians’ willingness to heat their houses.

“Power usage in Georgia is primarily driven by the weather,” said John Kraft, a Georgia Power spokesperson. “For instance, a cold November could easily result in higher energy usage than a mild December, even with holiday lighting.”

Kraft said that heating and cooling represent 25 to 35 percent of a house’s energy use.

Holiday decorations are on display as Georgia residents celebrate the holiday season during November and December. Kvien stresses that simple fixes can be made to adjust for the added cost of holiday lighting.

“Lights are a good place, a simple target. Start with one, start with 20, whatever works,” Kvien said. “Replace your incandescent lights with compact fluorescent or LED lights, which are a little more efficient and last longer. If you shop around, you can find some pretty good prices.”

Other lighting tips from Georgia Power include using timers to turn off displays after several hours and replacing old light strings or displays with mini-lights or fiber optic displays.

Kvien only has one recommendation that is 100-percent guaranteed against incurring additional costs: “Cut your power way down, set your thermostat to maybe 55 degrees (Fahrenheit) and go visit the kids,” Kvien said.

For more information about the Future Farmstead, visit future farmstead.org.

By Clint Thompson, University of Georgia

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