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August 2017

Ag Insight

by Jim Erickson

Brazilian Beef Imports Suspended

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced the suspension of all imports of fresh beef from Brazil due to recurring concerns about the safety of products intended for the American market.

The suspension will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action that U.S. Department of Agriculture finds satisfactory.

Since March, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has been inspecting 100 percent of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil. FSIS has refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products. That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of 1 percent of shipments from the rest of the world.

Since implementation of the increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots (approximately 1.9 million pounds) of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions and animal health issues. None of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market, USDA officials emphasized.

The Brazilian government had pledged to address those concerns, including self-suspending five facilities from shipping beef to the United States. The USDA action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension.

Bee Colony Numbers Up Despite High Mortality Rates

Public attention in recent years has focused largely on mortality rates for bee colonies, but overall colony numbers have increased since 2006, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

The increase doesn’t erase the fact that honeybee mortality has remained high over the past decade. In 2006-07, approximately 30 percent of honeybee colonies were lost during the overwinter period (Oct. 1-April 1).

The overwinter loss rate has since diminished (22 percent in 2014-15), but over-summer losses have grown. The net result is that about 44 percent of colonies perished in 2015-16, compared to 36 percent in 2010-11.

Intensified beekeeper management practices, including splitting colonies, adding new queens and offering supplemental feeding, have contributed to the overall increase, the ERS said.

About one-third of the world’s food crop production depends on pollinators such as managed honeybees and over 3,500 species of native bees. These pollinators face a variety of stressors such as insect pests, pesticide exposure and habitat changes that can impact their health.

U.S. Beef Sales to China Resume

For the first time since 2003, the United States is shipping beef and beef products to China.

Resumption of the exports stems from talks between U.S. and Chinese officials and the resulting 100-day action plan announced earlier this year.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has posted the requirements for its export verification program for U.S. firms shipping to China, enabling packers to apply for approval to send products there. USDA’s FSIS also has updated its online export library specifying China’s requirements for certifying U.S. beef shipments.

China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016. However, the United States has been banned from China’s market since 2003.

The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of over $5.4 billion in 2016. Until the ban took effect, the United States was China’s largest supplier of imported beef, providing 70 percent of that nation’s total intake.

Commodity-Price Declines Dominate After Years of Increases

Although prices for agricultural commodities have generally moved higher in the past decade, declines in both crops and livestock prices have dominated the farm scene in recent years.

In these aggregate measures, 2014 price indices for crops were over 35 percent above their 2006 levels, while those for livestock rose over 75 percent from 2006 to 2014.

Prices for both crops and livestock have fallen since 2015 (crop prices began falling earlier in 2013), as U.S. and global markets responded to higher prices by increasing production. While the aggregate prices received for all agricultural production dropped 17 percent, livestock and its related products fell by 26 percent since 2014.

The fall in prices for livestock coincides with declining input costs for feed commodities such as corn and soybeans. Additionally, this reflects the beginning of the recovery in the cattle and beef industry that had seen production declines since 2010.

Urban Workers’ Earnings Outpace Those in Rural Areas

An analysis by USDA’s Economic Research Service confirms that workers in urban areas have higher overall annual earnings than those in rural communities.

The gap between rural and urban earnings was largest in the producer service sector – including industries such as finance, insurance and real estate; information; and professional, administrative and related services.

For example, rural information workers earned about $20,000 less than their urban counterparts in 2015.

Contributing to the difference is the fact producer-service firms in urban areas employ more professional and managerial workers.

The rural-urban earnings gap was also relatively large in manufacturing, where rural areas have long been associated with lower skill and less technically advanced operations. Still, median earnings in rural manufacturing are above those for any other rural sector except mining.

The relatively high earnings in manufacturing jobs explain the continued emphasis many rural stakeholders place on attracting or retaining these jobs.

Hazlett to Lead USDA’s Rural Development Agencies

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has named Anne Hazlett as head of USDA’s rural development agencies.

Formerly chief counsel to the majority on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Hazlett, whose title will be assistant to the secretary for rural development, will oversee the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business Service and the Rural Housing Service within USDA and report directly to the secretary.

The appointment is in keeping with a realignment of USDA Perdue announced earlier this year and represents an elevation of rural development, previously in the portfolio of an undersecretary, who in turn reported to the deputy secretary of agriculture.

An Indiana native, Hazlett has worked in both the U.S. House and Senate on agriculture and rural issues for over 15 years. In addition to her public service in Washington, she was the director of agriculture for her home state and was an advisor to former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels on agriculture and rural issues.

Outside of public service, Hazlett was in private law practice where she advised clients on agriculture and environmental regulatory matters.

Alabama Receives Farm to School Grant

Alabama’s Department of Agriculture and Industries is one of 65 agencies nationwide that will receive USDA’s annual Farm to School Grants designed to increase the amount of local foods served in schools.

Ranging from $14,500 to $100,000, the grants will support a wide range of activities, from training, planning and developing partnerships to creating new menu items, establishing supply chains for local foods, offering taste tests to children, buying equipment, planting school gardens and organizing field trips to agricultural operations.

Alabama will use its $100,000 grant to assist farmers with certification in good agricultural practices, revise the state’s farm-to-school website, develop a statewide promotional campaign and support school garden curriculum development. The Druid City Garden Project will utilize funds to facilitate building mobile cooking units for schools to engage students in cooking demonstrations with produce grown in school gardens.

According to a recent study, schools with strong farm-to-school programs report higher school meal participation, reduced food waste and increased willingness of students to try new foods such as fruits and vegetables. During the 2013-2014 school year alone, schools purchased over $789 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers.




Alabama’s Public Hunting Evolution

Wildlife species either adapt or perish; we must adapt our management strategies as well.

by Chuck Sykes

Wildlife Management Areas can offer hunters an opportunity to harvest an older-age-class buck.

Alabama’s Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries has a long tradition of providing public hunting land dating back as far as the 1940s. Most hunters younger than 50 may not remember the days when public lands often provided the best opportunities for deer and turkey hunting in many parts of the state. From the late 1960s through the early ‘80s, Alabama’s Wildlife Management Areas provided thousands of man-days of hunting opportunity for a large percentage of the state’s hunters. During this period, many WMAs in Alabama were the only lands where the average hunter could have access to abundant deer and turkey populations.

Over time, deer and turkey began to spread and thrive on private lands across the state, and interest in hunting these species grew almost exponentially from the early ‘80s to the present. Consequently, hunting opportunities flourished on private lands throughout the state, and leasing land for hunting became commonplace throughout Alabama. Today, the hunting-lease system has evolved into a multimillion-dollar business and, aside from outright land ownership, provides most of the hunting opportunities enjoyed by Alabama hunters. This transition from public- to private-land hunting has left many Alabama WMAs relatively unhunted when compared to the past.

Historically, private timber corporations would allow WFF to utilize their large tracts as a WMA, under a contractual lease, with the only consideration being WFF would maintain boundary lines, roads, gates and other infrastructure as in-kind services. Having WFF perform this maintenance allowed the timber companies to focus on timber management while also providing for substantial public hunting opportunities. This model worked well until the increasing hunting-lease values reached a point where these corporations evolved into Real Estate Investment Trusts and Timber Investment Management Organizations. They were required to generate more sound financial returns for their stockholders. This situation continues to erode significant acreage from the WMA system.

In spite of this adversity, the WMA system in Alabama has quietly plugged along and continued to provide abundant hunting opportunities to those who will take advantage of it. Additionally, WFF has worked diligently to acquire thousands of acres of land through a great partnership with the Forever Wild Land Trust Program, utilizing federal-matching funds from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program. PRWRP funds are generated through excise taxes on guns, ammunition, bows, arrows and other hunting equipment, and are provided to each state based on the size of the state and the number of hunting licenses sold there. The Forever Wild Land Trust funding, generated by the interest earned from offshore-natural-gas royalties deposited into the Alabama Trust Fund, has provided the required state-matching funds to access those federal funds.

Today, Alabama’s WMA system comprises 35 areas totaling over 720,000 acres of public hunting land for the whopping cost of approximately $17 for an annual WMA hunting license. It should be noted the WMA hunting license is only required for those hunting deer, turkey and waterfowl; small game WMA hunting privileges are included in a regular annual hunting license.

In the late ‘90s, WFF began to take a new approach to public hunting on some of its WMAs. Hunter support for restrictions on buck harvest resulted in the inception of the state’s first public Quality Deer Management area on Barbour WMA beginning in the 1998-99 deer season. Similar measures were adopted on other WMAs throughout the state to provide hunters with an improved hunting experience and an enhanced opportunity to harvest an older-age-class buck. Many WMAs still continue to offer a traditional-deer-hunting experience for those interested in simply bagging some venison. Changes are continuing to be made in an effort to provide a greater level of customer satisfaction and encourage greater participation.

Other new WMA programs include early gun hunts, primitive-weapon-only hunts, youth hunts and, beginning this year, special bonus-buck opportunities on select WMAs. On bonus-buck hunts, hunters may take a buck on specific WMAs and hunt dates without that buck counting against the statewide three-buck limit, but the bucks must be validated by WFF personnel at the check station to qualify.

Also beginning this season, four public Special Opportunity Areas will be made available to hunters through a limited-quota registration at www.outdooralabama.com. Fred T. Stimpson SOA, a 5,361-acre tract located in Clarke County, began this process last hunting season by dividing their area into 15 zones, ranging from 200-400 acres, and hosting hunts for youth gun deer hunting, adult archery deer hunting and squirrel hunting. Two new SOAs, Cedar Creek SOA in Dallas County and Uchee Creek SOA in Russell County, will both offer limited-quota draw hunts to the public as well. Both Cedar Creek and Uchee Creek SOAs are new acquisitions of 6,256 acres and 4,735 acres, respectively. These areas are sectioned into multiple 200- to 300-acre hunt units and will offer deer and turkey hunting for the 2017-18 season.

Waterfowl hunters will be pleased to learn another SOA dedicated to waterfowl will be offering limited-quota draw hunts for the 2017-18 season. The Crow Creek Keith McCutcheon Waterfowl SOA is a 250-acre Alabama Department of Transportation mitigation area in Jackson County. The area contains four hunt units of water-controlled waterfowl habitat. Hunting will be conducted in three-day blocks with eight hunts available during the season.

Lastly, Boggy Hollow WMA is a new, approximately 7,000-acre quail-emphasis area located in the Conecuh National Forest in Covington County. This area will focus primarily on managing habitat for quail and will offer limited hunting opportunities for other species. Given the area’s size and close proximity to Blue Spring WMA, the hunting season format for Boggy Hollow was designed to provide more opportunity for dedicated small-game hunters, particularly quail hunters.

Alabama’s WMA system has undergone many changes since the early days of its inception. Many of these changes have been to meet the desires of today’s hunters. WFF is optimistic some of our new approaches will generate interest in discovering the great hunting opportunities afforded by these areas. Despite all this talk of change, some things about Alabama’s WMAs remain constant. These areas remain safe, affordable and enjoyable hunting destinations to spend a day afield in the great outdoors of Alabama. I encourage you to experience them for yourself.

For more information on all of these programs, visit www.outdooralabama.com.

Chuck Sykes is director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.



August Lawn and Garden Checklist

PLANT

  • Get ready to plant your fall vegetable garden. In order to calculate planting dates, determine the frost date and count back the number of days to maturity plus 18 days for harvest of the crop. For example, if snap beans mature in 55 days and your frost date is Oct. 31, you should plant on or before Aug. 19.
  • As areas of the vegetable garden are harvested, seed a cover crop that can be turned over in spring to boost the strength of the soil.
  • Extend the flower season by planting more summer and fall bloomers such as petunias, zinnias and marigolds.

FERTILIZE

  • Bermudagrass lawns are growing actively and would benefit from an application of fertilizer. Be sure to water the lawn thoroughly after feeding to prevent grass burn.
  • Do not apply nitrogen fertilizer of any kind, including manure, straw or sawdust, to shrubs.
  • To increase the blooms of marigolds, celosia, cosmos, zinnias, petunias and impatiens, apply a fertilizer with more phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen, perhaps a formulation such as 5-10-10.
  • Apply fertilizer around peonies and scratch it into the soil.
  • Your container plants have been roaring through the nutrients in their soil. It’s time to give them a trim and a good feeding to help them continue to flourish.

PRUNE

  • Pinch off onion flower buds from the top of the plants to direct all of the plant’s energy into the developing bulb instead of seed production.
  • Prune blackberries if you haven’t already.
  • For larger chrysanthemum blooms this fall, disbud them now. Stake and tie the plants to prevent drooping and breaking.
  • Prune summer-flowering shrubs as the flowers fade.
  • This is not a good time for general pruning of shrubs. Restrict trimming to removing a few stray shoots.
  • Trim hanging baskets to prolong their beauty.

WATER

  • Your gardens should be getting an inch of water per week. August can be a month of extremes when it comes to rain. Some years it pours while others struggle for any rain. Use a rain gauge to measure rainfalls and compensate with regular watering. Irrigate early in the morning to keep the water from evaporating.
  • When watering vegetables, the golden rule is to soak not splash. Give plants an occasional thorough soaking rather than watering little and often.
  • If you’re thinking about growing a fall garden, remember that you may have to water every single day, maybe even twice a day, to get the vegetable crops germinated and out of the ground. Straw mulch can be a good help with the water management – just remember not to get the mulch so deep you smother the young seedlings. For all this effort, you will find that, for most of our cool-weather loving crops, fall can provide a better quantity and quality crop.
  • Do you have a problem with shoulder cracks on your tomatoes? This is when the shoulder of the fruit nearest the stem cracks either longitudinally or sometimes circumferentially as the fruit is getting close to being ripe. Shoulder cracks are caused by a sudden growth spurt most frequently caused by heavy rainfall or irrigation following even a short-term dry period. It is very important to maintain fairly constant soil moisture around tomato plants. Use lots of straw or hay mulch and then water, preferably at ground level every other day if not every day during August heat. If the soil surface is dry for more than six hours, under these high-temperature conditions, then you probably need to water again. Tomatoes can handle high temperatures with proper irrigation.
  • Brown spots in your lawn? Check your sprinkler coverage of that area. It may be getting substantially less water than other parts of the lawn.
  • Water any newly planted shrubs and trees, but cut back water on established trees and shrubs by mid-August. They need to start drying out and hardening up for winter. A little drought stress won’t hurt them a bit. If you’re watering thoroughly once a week, cut back to once every 10-14 days.
  • Container-grown plants have a limited area from which to absorb water. Plants in a sunny and/or windy location may require watering several times a week. Check plants often to avoid water stress.

PEST CONTROL

  • Give your garden a daily look for pests and disease. The sooner you catch any problems, the easier they are to knock out. Pests can really thrive and destroy your garden in August while you are hiding from the heat.
  • Clean up as you harvest vegetables. Keeping your garden free of debris and rotting fruit can help reduce the amount of pests and disease. Always remove any diseased or infested plants and debris.
  • With your tomatoes, do you have a problem with little white specks just under the skin of mature fruit? If you dig down to these things, they are often the size of a pinhead and kind of hard. They are caused by feeding damage of the stinkbug. Usually way before the tomato ripened, the stink bug stuck his mouthpart into the tomato and took a drink of sap. Then it left and the plant responded with this callous tissue development to seal the location where the skin was pierced. There’s no way to stop stink bugs from doing this but, don’t fret, it does nothing but slightly alter the appearance not the taste of the tomato and you can still eat them with no problem.
  • Regular applications of Bacillus thuringiensis will prevent caterpillars from devouring everything in the cabbage family.
  • White flies are attracted to yellow, so use yellow sticky boards to reduce their populations.
  • Have you got hostas? Are there slugs chewing them? Try this solution if you haven’t already. Combine nine parts water to one part common household ammonia and spray it on the hosta just before dark. When the slugs hit this, they will dissolve!
  • Silvery Mylar balloons like those sold at flower shops are filled with helium. They will move erratically in the wind and can help scare birds from vegetables or fruit … at least until they get used to them being there. Scarecrows, whirligigs, aluminum pie pans on strings, inflatable snakes and plastic owls work in the same fashion. If you keep switching these deterrents on a weekly basis to where the birds don’t get accustomed to seeing any one object, you can be successful at keeping them out. Persistence will pay off … you ARE smarter than a bird!
  • Electric fences can be used to thwart the efforts of nocturnal critters such as raccoons and deer … at least until the deer figure out they can jump it. Bright motion lights may also help keep four-legged critters away at night and a radio tuned to a talk radio station can also help. Human voices seem to be better at frightening away wildlife than music.
  • Don’t give your hoe a moment’s rest! Every weed producing seed means more trouble next year. Although it is easier to hand weed after a rainy day, when it is hot and dry, hoeing is just the thing. Hot weather will dry up hoed weeds and destroy them before they get a chance to reroot.
  • Do not add weeds with mature seed heads to the compost pile. Many weed seeds can remain viable and germinate next year when the compost is used.

ODD JOBS

  • Make some notes in your garden journal.
  • Take pictures of your garden at peak. Take pictures of container combinations you’d like to repeat.
  • What a great season to have fresh, home-grown fruits and vegetables! Even if you don’t grow it yourself, you can buy produce grown locally from the farmers market.
  • To ensure you have plenty of homegrown herbs year-round, preserve them. The best time to put them up is at the peak of their flavor, August is a great time. Freeze or dry herbs such as parsley, basil, rosemary, chives, thyme and many more to bring a little summer flavor to the cold months.
  • Don’t let red tomatoes become overripe on the vine. Pick them when they’re fully firm, not squishy.
  • Are you remembering the lawn mower should be set at 2.5-3 inches to help the grass stay hydrated? Cutting the grass lower will be very stressful!
  • Buy fall mums.
  • Cut strawflowers intended for dried flower arrangements when the blooms are only half open. Tie small bundles of the flowers together and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated place to dry.
  • If you see mushrooms growing up around an existing tree, it shows there are dead roots and the tree is probably dying.
  • Colorful plastic golf tees can be stuck in the ground to mark the location of dormant plants such as spring bulbs or perennials.
  • Order spring-blooming bulbs if you haven’t already!
  • Harvest garlic if you have not already. Different types and varieties ripen at different times. When garlic is ready, loosen the soil around the garlic delicately with a spading fork and gently lift the garlic by the bulbs rather than pulling them from the stem. Save the best for replanting in October or November.
  • Make sure the compost heap is getting enough water. It won’t cook if it is dried out.
  • Many herbs self-sow if the flowers are not removed. Dill produce seeds that fall around the parent plant and come up as volunteers the following spring.
  • Re-edge your garden beds to keep them neat looking. If it’s too hot, save this chore for fall.
  • Start saving seeds and taking cuttings.
  • Hummingbirds will be migrating back in full force through August. Get more feeders ready!


Battling Heat Stress

by Jimmy Parker

Global warming has been a hot topic now for several years. Some believe it will increase ambient temperatures and kill us all, while others argue that it is just part of nature’s cycle and nothing to worry about. Let’s look at a related topic that we can all agree on: August. There is probably little argument that August in Alabama will bring hot and humid weather. Hot, humid days followed by hot, humid nights give our livestock little or no time to cool off and heat stress becomes an issue plaguing Southern producers. In fact, research has shown heat stress costs the U.S. livestock industry at least 2.4 billion dollars each year. In most areas, livestock have heat stress on summer days, but are able to cool off at night. In the late summer in Alabama and most of the Southeast, our livestock do not get that cool period at night to really cool off. The temperature may go down some, but with our high humidity, if the nighttime temperatures stay above 85 degrees, they just can’t cool off and heat stress becomes a profit-stealing reality.

How does heat stress reduce livestock profits? In severe cases, the animal dies, but, hopefully, that is the exception rather than the rule. In mild and moderate cases that all producers in Alabama deal with, heat stress lowers feed intake (including grass or hay), lowers nutrients available for absorption and causes absorbed nutrients to be used less efficiently. The animal will normally eat less, because eating and digesting less creates less heat from the digestive process. When they eat less, they take in less energy and other nutrients needed to help them fight the heat and cool themselves. Now they are too hot and deficient in the nutrients needed to combat the problem. The body will take care of itself as best it can. Those needed nutrients will be taken from other areas within the body and production is severely reduced in all species of livestock.

What can we, as producers, do to combat heat stress? Aside from providing plenty of clean water, you can do three main things. First, we look at genetic selection. All producers can look at a selection of adapted animals. Most all livestock will redirect blood flow toward the skin in an effort to cool off and thicker-hided animals with more skin cool more efficiently. It is a slow fix, but one that can pay dividends for generations. Second, we can look at the design of our facilities. They can incorporate features most often used with poultry, pork and dairy cattle. Sprinklers and fans can do wonders for cooling livestock. Finally, we have feeding options. To a degree, there are ways to feed and products that will help alleviate the issue. Changing feeds is the quickest and easiest way to combat the problem and the only feasible way to address this issue.

What can we feed to help? We have to look at reduced intake and combat that issue first. Many of the livestock species we have will reduce intake by 25 percent when temperatures approach 90 and even more above that. Because they are eating less, we need to offer a more concentrated source. Other than water, energy is the most important nutrient at this time. Protein and fiber digestion produces more heat than starch and fat digestion. We would like to offer a palatable feed to entice the animals to consume it and that is high (but not too high) in fat and starches, and lower in proteins and fibers.

When we think about grazing animals and August, we need to realize our forages are generally mature and at a low point as far as quality goes. They tend to be higher in fiber and lower in everything else. They compound the problem of heat stress because fiber digestion increases the heat produced inside the animal. Twenty-five to 40 percent of all the energy in forage can go to heat production as forage quality decreases, and that typically happens when we have our hottest temperatures.

Your local Quality Co-op offers several products to help animals continue to be productive by helping to relieve heat stress. Formax Beef feeds offer several good options, including a Finisher with enough fat to be a good choice. Both the Grower and Developer will also work well. Another really good choice would be STIMU-LYX Hi-Mag Fescue Relief with Tasco. Yes, I know we will not likely be grazing fescue in August but it does have lower protein than some other feeds, and Tasco is an excellent choice, given it will decrease an animal’s body temperature. It also has a good level of potassium that becomes more important as an animal loses electrolytes through their natural cooling processes. The production of saliva that comes from licking those blocks helps with the animal’s pH maintenance, a problem during heat stress.

On a more fun-side note, do you know which farm animals can cool themselves by sweating? Chickens and other poultry do not; they pant. Pigs actually can sweat, but their sweating is not triggered by temperature; they have to pant to cool themselves. Horses sweat profusely. Cattle, especially Brahman-influenced cattle, sweat. Sheep sweat less than cattle, but more than goats. Goats sweat, but mainly on the head and neck, which may help keep their brains a bit cooler.

THEY ALL NEED PLENTY OF FRESH, CLEAN WATER.

Jimmy Parker is AFC’s animal nutritionist.




Bicentennial Farm Program

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries seeks to recognize family farms that have been in the same family for at least 200 years.

Press Release from Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is launching a new program to recognize family farms that have been in the same family for at least 200 years. On Dec. 14, 2019, our state will officially observe its 200th birthday. With the statewide bicentennial celebration in mind, the department felt special recognition should be given to family farms that have remained in the same family for 200 years. Agriculture is an integral part of Alabama’s heritage and the love of the land demonstrated by these families deserves recognition.

The Bicentennial Farm Program will be administered similarly to the Alabama Century and Heritage Farm program. Applicants will complete an Ownership Registration Form tracing the family lineage of property ownership and a description of agricultural activities that took place. The application also requests photos be included of any structures remaining on the property that are 40 years old or older. Structures are not required to qualify for this program. The deadline for the Bicentennial Farm Program is Aug. 25, 2017.

The department is also accepting applications for the annual Century and Heritage Farm Program. A Century Farm is one that has been in the same family continuously for at least 100 years and currently has some agricultural activities on the farm. The farm must include at least 40 acres of land and be owned by the applicant or nominee.

A Heritage Farm is one that has operated continuously as a family farm for at least 100 years. The farm must possess interesting and important historical and agricultural aspects, including one or more structures at least 40 years old. The farm must be at least 40 acres of land owned and operated by the applicant, who must reside in Alabama.

To date, over 600 farms have been recognized across the state. All applicants must complete an Ownership Registration Form supplied by the Department of Agriculture and Industries. If you feel your farm meets these qualifications and you would like an application, please contact Amy Belcher at 334-240-7126 or by email amy.belcher@agi.alabama.gov. Applications are available on the department’s website www.agi.alabama.gov under the "Forms" tab. The application deadline for the 2017 Century and Heritage Farm program is also Aug. 25.




Bonnie Plants’ Good Friday Sale Contest Winner – DeKalb Farmers Co-op in Rainsville


Bonnie Plants recognized DeKalb Farmers Co-op in Rainsville as the store with the best promotion for Bonnie’s 2017 Good Friday Sale in April. The sale was on 4.5- and 5-inch pots of vegetables, herbs and flowers at the special price of 4 for $12. The promotion could include signing, advertising, sales percentage, total sales, and being creative on Facebook and other social networking outlets. The store received a $100 check for the employees and the store manager got $100. Pictured, from left, are Tim Trussell, Bonnie Plants’ Senior Vice President; Bud Murdock, Co-op manager; Andrea Crain, assistant manager; Dylan Lee and Nick Byars. Not pictured is Laurel Browning, a Co-op trainee who had a huge part in helping them win the competition.



Changed Minds

by Glenn Crumpler

I always try to tie my devotional articles to something agriculture related. Sometimes it is a story about something that actually happened on the farm, while other times it may just be something that is just a part of living the farm life. After writing these articles for AFC Cooperative Farming News for over 10 years now, I have to confess that sometimes I find it difficult to find an ag-related illustration that fits the spiritual truth I want to convey. Other times, like in this case, I think of an illustration somewhat connected with my story and my way of thinking, but I find it difficult to use in a way that is not offensive or could be seen as a little graphic, for a lack of a better word. Well, here goes!

This past week, we were doing what has to be done every year at one time or another on any progressive cattle farm or ranch – especially those who retain their herd bull prospects along with their own replacement heifers. The fall-born calves are getting old enough and large enough to wean, meaning a few of them are getting sexually mature enough to breed – be it male or female. Some breeds of cattle (especially Angus and Hereford) just become sexually mature a little quicker than others; though this age will vary from farm to farm, at some point it has to be dealt with.

In addition to performance, pedigrees (genotype), calving intervals, temperament, etc., when deciding which bull calves to retain as potential herd sires and which heifer calves to keep as replacements, we also look at phenotype (their outward appearance: structure, depth, thickness, foot soundness, testicle size, etc.). All of these genotypic and phenotypic characteristics are important in making sure we retain the best animals so that our herd continues to improve each and every year. We always try to produce a heifer better than her mama and a bull better than his daddy – but this is a process and it takes time, discipline, effort, planning, research and a lot of nothing short of God’s blessing!

We have certain criteria for replacement heifers because we want to keep a higher percentage of them to not only replace other females that need to be culled for one reason or another but also to continue to grow our herd, while also keeping the herd relatively young and as problem-free and productive as possible. When it comes to choosing potential herd bulls to retain, because we only keep a few of the very best, the criteria are much more stringent. A cow is only going to affect her offspring and direct descendants. The herd bull, however, will breed several cows and have an effect on all of the offspring, a much larger pool of descendants. The bull’s genetics and phenotype will influence the whole herd for years to come.

This brings us back to the point I am trying to make. Using this year’s numbers as an example, of about 40 bull calves in our herd – many of which were good enough to make someone a good bull – we chose only four as potential herd sires we thought met all the criteria for what we want in our herd and what we would want others to associate with the quality we are trying to raise if we sold them to be used in their herds. So what happens to the other 36?

Well, at just a few months of age, a bull calf already has his mind on girls! He is just wired that way and his hormones are kicking in just like they are supposed to – even though his body may or may not be capable of accomplishing what his mind is telling him to do. So when a cow or a heifer comes into estrus (heat: ready to breed), all the bull calves are chasing and trying to mount her for about an 8- to12-hour period, until she goes out of heat. Multiply that number of hours by the number of cows in the herd, say 40, because that is usually the maximum number of cows one mature bull would be expected to service. Now you begin to see the problem.

Not only are the bull calves burning off weight as they chase the cycling cows around, they are also coming off feed and grazing, not gaining what they could be. This is money out of the ministry’s pockets. There is also a chance that one or more of the earliest-maturing bull calves in the group could be impregnating the cows or heifer calves, even though they may not be the bulls we wanted to influence the future of our herd.

The only way to remedy these problems is to change the minds of the other 36 bull calves! The only way to do that is to change or take away what induces their way of thinking – in this case, removing their testicles so the testosterone hormone giving them the desire to be attracted to the females is no longer produced. This castration process removes the testicles, prohibiting the production of testosterone and takes their minds off the girls and back on the grass.

If I am going to make a spiritual application to this rigmarole, I better make it now! Because of the effect of original sin on mankind and all creation, we all, no matter our ethnicity, culture, upbringing or origin, are born with a sinful nature. We are born with a heart defect resulting in wrong thinking and wrong living. There has never been a child born who had to be taught to lie, steal, cheat, covet or throw a fit! We are all beneficiaries of a sinful heart and a sinful mind resulting in a sinful life, which separates us from a Holy God and from one another. It even puts us at odds with ourselves because we can never live up to what we know or believe to be right and/or acceptable behavior.

What we need is a drastic change of heart and mind to become the people God created us to be. We cannot change ourselves nor can anyone else do it for us. Only He can change us and make us into the new person He desires us to be. It is such a radical transformation that Jesus described it as being "born again." It takes place not against our will (as in the case of the bulls) but only when we consent and are willing to repent, believe and follow Jesus Christ by faith. We must be willing to die to the old life and to live for Christ. We must be willing to die to sin, self and the world, and to live for Jesus.

God calls us to be holy people and to live holy lives. "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14, New International Version)

Holiness, however, should not be confused with morality that changes from person to person and culture to culture. Morality is outward conformance to a set of standards – the cleanliness of one’s conduct alone as they see cleanliness. Holiness, however, is an inward transformation – the cleanliness of our heart, mind and soul that manifests itself in obedient living to God’s will revealed to us through His Word. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

The change and transformation that God makes in us is His very best for us. What we gain is so much more and so much better than anything we give up. It is like giving up sickness to enjoy good health or giving up death in exchange for everlasting life.

All of this can be ours, but we can only find it when we are in the right relationship with Christ. We can only be in the right relationship with Jesus Christ when our sins are forgiven and when our hearts and minds are transformed into His likeness.

What He will make us to be is so much better than what we are, so much better than what we can ever become on our own and the only way we will be able to stand in His presence justified and forgiven. Ask God to make you who He wants you to be and allow Him to do in your life what He needs and knows to do. This transformation is a process, but one that you will never regret!

Glenn Crumpler is is president of Cattle for Christ International, Inc. He can be contacted at 334-393-4700 (home), 333-4400 (mobile) or www.CattleforChrist.com.




Chef's Corner

My Road to SouthFresh and the World’s Best Catfish

by Brian Taylor

My first memory of food is my grandmother’s chicken and dumplings. It was a cross between traditional dumplings and a chicken potpie due to the flaky crust she would make and roll out to cover the surface in her cast-iron Dutch oven. As a child growing up in Tallassee, I really didn’t think anything could be much better, unless it was her biscuits and fig preserves she made each year from the tree I used to climb in the backyard. My dad, Coach Paul Taylor, was a foodie before the term was coined. Even though he passed when I was 7, I will always remember him wanting, and sometimes forcing, me to try new things. Sometimes the results were not as he expected; 7-year-olds tend to have an aversion to pickled beets.

When I moved to Auburn at 18, my first job was washing dishes in a bar/restaurant, making ends meet and hopefully having a little left over; though that was rare on $5 per hour. I never really considered working with food. Honestly, at that point, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. As is the norm when working in a restaurant, one day a cook didn’t show and I got an undeserved and unwanted promotion to fry cook. I was terrible. They should really offer refunds to anyone who ordered anything I cooked those first few months.

In college towns, graduation is an occasion akin to Mother’s Day and Valentine’s. Everyone goes out and all at the same time. I got a call asking me to help at another restaurant for the weekend, maybe the best restaurant in the area at the time, and certainly nicer than anything I had been exposed to thus far in my young career. Looking back, I guess that’s where I got the bug. The atmosphere was different. It wasn’t simply putting food on a plate for someone to scarf down; there was love involved. I know it’s hard to imagine, if you’ve never worked in a professional kitchen, but the people in the back actually cared. They cared about you. They wanted you to enjoy yourself and the food they served.

Seeing that type of care brought me back to my grandmother’s kitchen and I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to make people happy. Later, I would tell my employees to pretend like every plate is being served to your mother.

After working in the industry for a while, going to culinary school and finally getting my bachelor’s, I realized I was missing out on being a dad. At that time, I had a 2-year-old son. One day he was in the grocery store and saw a guy in a chef coat. He called him "Dad." My own son didn’t know who I was due to the long hours and very limited time I was able to see him. So, I quit.

At that point I had started a small gourmet foods company and wanted to give entrepreneurship a try. That lasted all of six months.

While looking for a job, I came across a teaching position at a local culinary school. Now, my mom taught for 28 years and my dad was a coach and a teacher. It’s in my blood, right? Nope. Refunds should again be offered.

That being said, things improved. Hours were better, I actually had retirement and benefits and most importantly, my boys (now three of them) knew my name.

A few years later, I was offered a job as the chef at a food broker. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry, I didn’t either. It’s basically promoting products to restaurants and distributers – being a middleman, if you will.

It was during this time that I came in contact with SouthFresh. After a while, it was apparent this company was different from the rest. Quality product, approachable and, most importantly, I felt they honestly had the same attitude toward catfish I had developed when cooking food. They really cared that the customer received the best. Not only that, they also wanted to make sure the farmer was treated fairly for producing a great product.

I think I bothered them for about a year before convincing them to take a chance on me. I’m blessed they did. SouthFresh has been the best thing to happen in my career, without question. I know I can go out every day and have familylike support from my company and everyone in it while promoting and selling a product that is the best in the market.

BUFFALO CATFISH NUGGETS

Buffalo Catfish Nuggets

Servings: 2-4

1 pound U.S. farm-raised catfish nuggets
Oil, for frying
1 package fish fry (Louisiana, Zatarain’s, etc.)
4 ounces wing sauce (I like Texas Pete)
4 ounces ranch or blue cheese dressing
Carrots and celery, as desired

In a deep fryer or large saucepan, preheat oil to 350°. Thaw and rinse catfish nuggets well. In a medium bowl, pour fish fry mix. Dredge nuggets in mix, making sure to coat evenly and thoroughly. Place nuggets in hot oil, not overcrowding the container. Fry until golden and crisp, maybe a little longer than you normally would. Remove nuggets and drain well on rack or paper towel-lined plate. In a large bowl, pour wing sauce. Toss nuggets in sauce to coat evenly. Put in center of a plate and serve with carrots and celery. Dressing can be drizzled over the top or served on the side as a dipping sauce.

GRILLED CATFISH STEAKS

Servings: 2-4

1 lemon, zest and juice
4 ounces olive oil
1 ounce chopped garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ bunch parsley, chopped and divided
4 (approx. 4 ounces each) U.S. farm-raised catfish steaks

In a bowl, mix together lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and half the parsley. Coat catfish thoroughly and place in a container. Refrigerate for a minimum of an hour. Remove catfish from refrigerator to temper. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill for around 3-4 minutes per side or until a nice crust has formed and fish is cooked throughout. Remove from grill and place on plate. Squeeze lemon juice over catfish and sprinkle with remaining parsley.

BBQ WHOLE CATFISH

BBQ Whole Catfish

Servings: 2-4

4 whole (5-8 ounces) U.S. farm-raised catfish
4 ounces BBQ rub
Cooking spray
Soaked wood chips or chunks (I prefer pecan or white oak)

Preheat grill for an indirect cook, putting all coals on one side of the grill. Rub catfish liberally with BBQ rub and coat well with cooking spray. When coals are ready, place wet wood chips on coals and put fish on the opposite portion of the grill, as far from the coals as you can. Cover with lid, allowing the smoke to vent and temperature to reach around 450°. Cooking times will vary, but I’ve found around 15 minutes is usually close, turning fish with a spatula once at the halfway point. Remove with a spatula, supporting the entire fish when lifting. Serve warm.

CATFISH PICATTA


Catfish Picatta

Servings: 2-4

1 cup seasoned flour
1 cup water
2 eggs
1½ cups seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
4 (5-7 ounces each) U.S. farm-raised catfish fillets
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 Tablespoons butter, divided
½ cup white wine
1 lemon, juiced
3 Tablespoons capers
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
8 cherry tomatoes, halved

In three separate bowls, place flour, mix water and eggs, and breadcrumbs. Dredge fillets in flour, shaking off excess. Dredge in egg wash, allowing excess to drip off. Coat well with breadcrumbs. Place fillets in refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes for crust to set. Do not overlap or stack as this will cause the breading to fall off. When ready to cook, in a high-sided fry pan or skillet on medium heat, heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter. When hot, pan fry fillets until golden brown and cooked through, around 4 min per side. Remove fish to drain and wipe pan clean of oil and any particles that may have fallen off the crust. To pan over medium heat, add wine and lemon juice. Allow to reduce by ½. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in remaining butter (this should not break and thicken the liquid). When butter has combined, remove from heat. Add capers, parsley and tomatoes. Mix. Place fillets on plates and spoon sauce over tops.

Brian Taylor CEC, CCE is the corporate executive chef for SouthFresh Farms.

Chris Posey

Staying True To His Roots

by Suzy Lowry Geno

Chris Posey performing.

To many, it would have been a dream come true! A chance to sign with a major recording label that would market his music throughout the United States and beyond!

That’s what Chris Posey had just TURNED DOWN when I first interviewed him about 15 years ago.

"They started talking about putting gel in my hair and me wearing leather britches," the laid-back country singer explained back then. "That’s just not my style."

Fast forward going on two decades and Chris not only records with a Grammy-award-winning producer and performs throughout the Southeast (with his records being played throughout Europe) but also still sticks to his country roots, making his home on his great-granddaddy’s former farm in the small community of Nectar AND teaching welding at the new Oneonta campus of Wallace State Community College.

How in the world does he manage to balance all those things and still live a simple life?

Although it can’t be easy, Chris makes it seem completely uncomplicated as he compares his music to his welding.

Welding student Caleb Smith and instructor Chris Posey in the new Wallace State-Oneonta facility.

"Setting your welding machine is a lot like fine-tuning your guitar to play a show and the technique shows your true colors in both," he explained.

Chris began both of his careers while still a child. He began welding at the age of 9 at his dad’s Posey Welding Shop in Nectar, first welding on a tricycle frame and then moving up to a D-9 bulldozer!

He picked up a guitar early on. Although there’s really not a lot of music history in his family, his dad Donald (better known as Sockum) said as a young man that he tried his best to play guitar. Donald and mama Jane live near Chris, his wife Crissy and their son, 9-year-old Owen.

While he grew up in the community of Nectar, Chris attended Oneonta schools for all 12 years, graduating with Crissy in 1996.

While playing his music, he attended Snead State for two years earning a degree in Electronic Engineering and then finished at Auburn with degrees in Animal Science and Ag Business, intending to perhaps concentrate on meat sciences such as U.S. Department of Agriculture grading.

If that wasn’t enough, he also became an American Welding Society Certified Welder, AWS Welding Inspector, AWS Certified Welding Educator and AWS Certified Welding Sales Representative!

So when Wallace State Community College opened the satellite campus in Oneonta this past year, it seemed only logical for Chris to step in as their welding instructor!

"The vocational school is already great in Blount County," he explained. "They have souped-up their welding program and have high school students winning national awards ... actually the entire vocational school as a whole is wonderful. So having the college right here in Blount is fantastic.

"Wallace is a wonderful thing for our community, especially the tech aspect of it. There are lots of kids who are really good working with their hands and this facilitates them moving on to better themselves with a career. This will give them opportunities to help them not feel like they are stuck in one place, like I did for a while.

"I played music and was gone full time, but I got to missing home too much. When I had a chance to buy my great-grandpa’s 48 acres, I jumped at it."

Chris has part of that land now leased out to another farmer who is raising commercial breed cows.

He is planning on reopening his now-retired dad’s welding shop in the afternoons for repairs to small farm equipment, bush hogs, three-point-hitch repairs, etc., and to work on small construction equipment.

And to keep things just a little bit busier, there should be another album, recorded at Grammy Award-winning producer Jimmy Nutt’s studio, Nutt House Recordings in Muscle Shoals. It will be available on iTunes and other venues by the time this article is published.

Chris and Adam Hood do songs they’ve written together, sometimes along with friend Tony Brook. The Chris Posey Band includes Cody Farris, lead guitar; Patrick Lunceford, drums; Wade Allen, bass; and Kenny Brown, pedal steel guitar.

Chris feels the main-stream country music of today "just doesn’t seem to have any heart." He feels listeners deserve more than cookie-cutter music.

About his own latest album, he explained, "It’s kind of an organic record. There are no frills. It’s just us. What you get on a record is the same thing you get when you see us live."

Chris, alone or with all or some of the others, plays regularly around the Southeast, including at the Flora-Bama on the coast at least twice a year and currently playing at the Heritage Country Club in Oneonta about twice a month. He’s also played in St. Louis, Texas, Ohio and Myrtle Beach.

Chris said he keeps all the different aspects of his life "compartmentalized."

"Once I get focused on what I’m doing, that’s where I’m at," he said. "There’re so many things about welding and music that are alike. You have to pay attention to detail."

"There are certain breaks and adding certain tones in a song; it all must come together just right.

"That’s just like working on a certain welding project and getting your machine set up."

As of the spring quarter, there had not yet been any women in the Wallace State-Oneonta welding program but he expects that to change soon.

Chris and Crissy Posey on their wedding day last year along with their 9-year-old son Owen.

"Women are usually better welders," he noted. "They can usually control the wire better and their hands are more relaxed. Men are more rigid. I tell my students to make themselves as comfortable as possible when making a weld."

Students in the spring quarter made special lamps for Dr. Kelley Jones’ office. She is the director of the Wallace State-Oneonta campus and said that employers are already contacting the college about hiring certified welders.

Welders can be certified after successfully completing four semesters at Oneonta and can earn an associates’ degree in six. Jobs can pay anywhere from $46,000 a year to well over $200,000 a year, if someone wants to travel and work; for instance, on a pipeline or off shore.

Chris hopes the Oneonta campus will soon add other vocational courses to the full slate of academics; courses such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning; computer numerical control, or CNC, machining; and others.

Chris said his grandfather, Sam Posey, taught him that, if he had the drive to do something, to not let anything stand in his way. Sam also told him that if something does get in his way to find a way to move it.

"Being raised here taught me a good work ethic," Chris said. "It taught me respect for other people and other people’s things. Could I have grown up in any better way?"

As he balances his love for music, his determination to help local students excel in the welding field and his family life, Chris leans back casually in his chair.

"I just never have a chance to be bored!" he said.


Suzy Lowry Geno is a Blount County freelance writer who can be reached through Facebook, Old Field Farm General Store, or her website, www.taitsgapstore.com.




Corn Time



CowPokes



Defining a “Closed Herd”

by Robert Spencer

This photo captures essentials for isolation pen: secure fencing, shade, forages, shelter and water. Supplemental feeding may become necessary.

When it comes to livestock production, many of us have heard or read about the term "closed herd." Closed herd refers to a system of biosecurity management practices designed to prevent the risk of disease being introduced into a herd and prevent the spread of disease within a herd. Sounds simple, but it is quite complex when trying to plan, implement and monitor. During my years of interaction with experts and small ruminant producers, I have heard this term used many times. And people’s perception of this term varies. It has always surprised me how liberal people are with such a serious issue that controls disease and insures animal health.

What diseases are of concern? Pink eye, sore mouth, internal and external parasites, Caseous lymphadenitis, caprine arthritis encephalitis, Johne’s disease and Q fever. These are the primary diseases, though the latter three do not occur very often. I am sure someone will come up with something like scrapie. (When was the last time there was an outbreak of that?) I am focusing on the more commonly occurring diseases.

What practices are utilized to maintain a closed herd?

  • Do not allow visitors to interact with animals or walk on your property without using a foot bath, protective foot covers, and possibly protective clothing and gloves.
  • Do not allow new animals to enter your farm without isolating them in a remote location for 30-60 days.
  • Isolate sick animals for 30-60 days.
  • Do not transport animals to and from livestock shows or for breeding.
  • Many utilize artificial insemination rather than bringing in new breeding stock.
  • Control incoming vehicles or equipment by sanitizing wheels and possibly washing the vehicle in remote location.
  • Do not provide breeding services to outside animals.
  • If incoming animals are allowed, they must be tested for aforementioned diseases.
  • Do not allow animals to interact with neighboring animals or wildlife.
  • Heat treat milk and bottle feed newborn and young.

Why do practices vary? Practices differ because of varying situations, ability to implement and personal choices. Let’s face reality and recognize that this is a very complicated process. It is challenging to keep a deer or stray animal from jumping the fence and contaminating a herd. Isolation pens require space and ability to sanitize area afterward. Artificial insemination requires expensive equipment and sources and conception rates are low. Heat treating milk and bottle feeding young is time-consuming. Catching every person or piece of equipment before they enter your property is a challenge.

As stated in the first paragraph, the definition and implementation of closed herd as a form of biosecurity varies. I hope this article provides you with some ideas to implement a practical style of biosecurity that works best for your farm. Coming up with a biosecurity plan requires a little bit of time and implementation, but not as much time as treating or euthanizing a herd of sick animals.

References:

"Biosecurity on U.S. Goat Operations." USDA APHIS. Veterinary Services. Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health. March 2012. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/goa.... Last retrieved June 2017.

Hemenway, Melanie, DVM. NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets. "Biosecurity for Goats" (PowerPoint Presentation). https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/programs/NYSCHAP/docs.... Last retrieved June 2017.

Lee, Brenda. "Closed Herd Versus Open Herd." Kalispell Kinders & More! February 17, 2013. http://www.kalispellkindersandmore.com/blog/closed.... Last retrieved June 2017.

Robert Spencer is an Urban Regional Extension Specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. You can contact him at rds0002@Auburn.edu.




Earl



EPA Withdraws Clean Water Rule

Press Release from Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries

Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan, along with fellow National Association of State Departments of Agriculture members, applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to withdraw the 2015 Clean Water Rule and recodify the previous regulations. NASDA represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of the departments of agriculture in all 50 states and four U.S. territories. As a group, they work together to advance sound agricultural policy benefiting all farmers and consumers.

After the June 27 decision, the NASDA organization released this statement:

"The EPA has sided with state and local governments, farmers, landowners and small businesses in their decision to rescind this burdensome regulation. The 2015 rule lacked clarity, and was fraught with procedural concerns and violations of congressional intent, making it necessary to start over with a new rule that protects clean water and respects state regulatory authority. State laws and programs partner with EPA, farmers and ranchers, and local entities to protect clean water every day. We look forward to working cooperatively with the EPA in developing – and eventually implementing – a new rule."

"Alabama farmers, forest owners and landowners across the nation, exercise conservation practices to ensure clean water for themselves and their neighbors every day," McMillan added. "They have the most vested interest in preserving the water and soil on their land so it continues to remain healthy and productive for generations to come.

"The opportunity to work together and develop a new rule that takes into account clear and realistic guidelines is a responsibility we all are ready to undertake. After all, everyone lives downstream."




Exemplary Leadership

Barbara Struempler

Alabama Extension's Barbara Struempler received the 2017 National Jeanne M Priester Award for her outstanding contributions to health and wellness education.

by Donna Reynolds

Dr. Barbara Struempler received the Jeanne M. Priester Award May 3 for her exemplary leadership to Alabama Extension and Cooperative Extension nationwide in the area of health and wellness. Her Extension career embodies the use of research generated by land-grant universities to achieve lasting, measurable and practical results, notably the upward mobility of countless Americans – our most vulnerable.

"The Jeanne Priester Cooperative Extension Health Award is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s premier national award recognizing excellence in nutrition and health Extension education," said Dr. Gary Lemme, director of Alabama Extension. "This award is special to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System because it recognizes Jeanne Priester, one of Alabama’s native daughters, and her national leadership in nutrition Extension.

"Barb Struempler is a leader in developing Extension programs serving limited-resource families, fighting childhood obesity and improving the health of Alabama communities with high rates of obesity," Lemme added. "Struempler has served the residents of Alabama for 33 years as an Extension specialist and has been awarded $133 million in competitive grants directed for use in Alabama."

"I am honored and humbled to receive the Jeanne Priester Leadership Award," Struempler said. "She was a mentor of mine. It makes it more special to receive an award in leadership when you know the giver.

"Priester was a visionary. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program that she helped start is still here 50 years later."

Professional Network Leadership

Struempler secured improvements in nutrition, exercise and health through team building, enlisting the efforts of health advocates and educators both within and beyond Auburn University to improve the eating and exercise habits of Alabamians.

Her teams were the first to develop computer-based assessment, instructional videos and educational apps.

She is distinguished for insisting on fair and informed decision making and other exacting standards to ensure evidenced-based documentation of her outreach programs. Her standards have served as a basis for building and sustaining these programs in an era of decreased public support and within an exceptionally competitive funding environment.

Lemme said the ones who have benefited most from her efforts are those who deal with challenges linked with poverty – high infant-mortality rates, low incidences of breast-feeding, and obesity and obesity-related diseases.

The members of the Nutrition and Health Education Team are, from left, Alicia Powers, Lindsey Tramel, Sondra Parmer, Jamie Griffin, Barbara Struempler, Ruth Brock, Krystal Kellegrew, Meagan Taylor and Cecilia Tran.

Innovative Programming

Perhaps no other program conceived, designed and implemented by Struempler better reflects her concern with limited-resource individuals than Today’s Mom. Today’s Mom is a prenatal program addressing Alabama’s high infant-mortality rate. For a quarter century, 100 educators have worked with pregnant women with limited resources throughout Alabama to provide successful birth outcomes.

One of cooperative Extension’s first maternal-infant programs, Today’s Mom, received the national USDA Superior Service Award in 1991.

She developed an offshoot of Today’s Mom called Mom’s Helper. It encouraged breast-feeding among new mothers. Subsequent testing revealed an increase of breast-feeding rates from 6 percent to 35 percent.

In 2014, Struempler was instrumental in securing a three-year obesity-prevention grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC had never before provided such funding to a land-grant university. The program, ALProHealth, seeks to prevent and reduce obesity through community coalitions in 14 counties with obesity rates higher than 40 percent. Its three-year goal is to increase healthy behaviors by igniting grassroots behavioral and policy, systems and environmental changes.

Under her leadership, the Nutrition Education Program works to ensure that individuals eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles. NEP’s 35 professionals, employed through AU-Extension and approximately 15 individuals employed through agreements with other Alabama institutions, are mostly located in rural Alabama where employment opportunities are scarce.

NEP brings in $5 million federal dollars annually. In fiscal year 2015, 174,875 limited-resource individuals took part in NEP. Every year, about 7,000 elementary youth and 4,000 parents take part in a 15-week nutrition series. Evaluations have documented that participants increase fruit and vegetable consumption significantly.

BodyQuest

BodyQuest, the flagship NEP initiative, is a childhood-obesity-prevention program. Its target audience is third-graders in schools where 50 percent or more of students receive free or reduced-cost lunches. Struempler was instrumental in developing the curriculum, consisting of a battery of interactive, colorful and anime-style materials. The initiative includes seven nutrition iPad apps to reach and energize youth.

In the past five years, BodyQuest has reached over 25,000 third-graders in 55 Alabama counties with interactive learning opportunities. Findings demonstrate BodyQuest students consume more fruits and vegetables than students not receiving BodyQuest.

About Jeanne M. Priester

The Jeanne M. Priester Award was named after the Alabama native. Priester was an Alabama Extension specialist at Auburn University. In the early 1960s, she led a federal pilot project in Alabama to reach homemakers in low-income rural areas. This project became the national Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in 1964. She joined the National Extension Service as a National Program Leader to duplicate Alabama pilot programs nationwide.

Priester helped design Team Nutrition to support child nutrition through nutrition education for children and caregivers. This contributed to the present day focus on healthy eating and physical activity.

The annual Priester National Health Conference and Priester Health Award remain ongoing tributes to her and her work. She also received the 1988 Alumna of Year Award from the Auburn University School of Human Sciences.

The Jeanne M. Priester Awards were presented at the National Health Outreach Conference Awards Luncheon in Annapolis, Maryland.

Donna Reynolds is the communication editor of news and public affairs with ACES in Auburn.




Fresh Is Best

Wanda and Wayne Moseley provide locally grown, affordable and great-tasting produce in Washington County.

by Carolyn Drinkard

Wanda and Wayne Moseley are well-known for their fresh, locally grown produce. Their customers know seasonal fruits and vegetables from Hillside Farm will be of the highest quality.

Fresh, flavorful, seasonal fruits and vegetables are producer-grown locally in Leroy.

Summer brings lots of flavorful, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and finding them near home is an added treat. Wanda and Wayne Moseley believe that locally grown foods are always the best. The Moseleys grow seasonal produce on their Hillside Farm in Leroy, a small community in Washington County. They pick daily, assuring the food is fresh and full of nutrients. Along Highway 43, their customers look for the red truck with a big sign saying, "Fresh produce grown in Leroy, AL." The Mosleys also market their producer-grown crops at local farmers markets in Jackson, Wagarville, Chatom, St. Stephens and Grove Hill.

The couple’s excellent reputation for quality and good prices has earned them many loyal customers. Some call to find out what will be available each day, while others place their orders weeks ahead and then come directly to the farm when their produce is ready. Still others follow Hillside Farm on social media, ordering what they need.

"At the farmers markets, we have good customers who come just for what we are offering," Wayne explained. "People want fresh food produced right here at home. We take care of things for our customers, and they know it!"

Evelyn Roscoe always comes to pick in her pearls and Sunday dress. “She is amazing,” Wanda said. “She looks like this when she finishes, too!” Roscoe has a prosthetic hip that prevents her from bending her leg. Still, she can out pick everyone on the farm, a feat Evelyn is very proud of.

The Moseleys farm 15 acres, growing a wide variety of favorites such as peas, butter beans, tomatoes, eggplants, squash, snap beans, sweet corn, cantaloupes, watermelons, okra, peanuts and pumpkins. The long, South Alabama growing season allows them to plant crops to harvest at different times, as well as successive plantings of the same crops that mature first in midsummer and again in mid-October. They irrigate their crops from two deep wells on the property.

"Last year, I was able to pick watermelons in November," Wayne laughed. "I’m realizing that we’re not taking advantage of our growing seasons. They seem to be getting longer and longer. I want to push the seasons longer so we can get more of some things such as peas, okra and melons."

For the Mosleys, peas are their most requested product, followed closely by butter beans. They can never seem to grow enough butter beans to meet demands, but they are working on solving this problem. They also sell many bushels of okra, a plant that loves the hot, humid South Alabama climate.

"I try to plant things I can work with my tractor," he explained. "Instead of using herbicides, I get out and hoe. This helps me be more active.

"Kevan Tucker, Clarke County Extension Coordinator, showed me how to control weeds by putting down plastic mulch sheeting. He even loaned me his own spreader and told me about the biodegradable kind of sheeting."

Bobby Farrish, left, buys fresh corn from the Moseley Red Truck Market. The Moseleys’ granddaughter, Sydney Smith, runs this market.

Since then, Moseley and a neighbor, Dale Cunningham, have made their own spreader from an old cultivator.

Wayne is a Vietnam veteran who worked a short time at Ciba Geigy in McIntosh. He left the mill to help his brother on Moseley Farm, a 1,200-acre farm producing cotton and peanuts. Wayne and Wanda have always planted and sold crops from their own Hillside Farm. However, after Wayne retired five years ago, he wanted to stay busy, so he planted even more produce.

The Moseleys offer both you-pick and pick-on-halves. Many customers enjoy harvesting their own vegetables, and the Moseleys like having people come to the farm to fellowship, visit and talk about old times.

"I don’t like to pick anything but okra," he laughed. "Wanda likes to pick everything. She picks, and I use my pea sheller to shell. It seems to work out for us."

For many years, Wanda worked as a seamstress for an interior decorator. Her sewing talents were well-known in this area.

"One day, when I came in after picking string beans, I thought to myself, ‘If I can enjoy being out in this heat, it’s time to quit sewing and keep picking!’" she recalled.

And that’s just what she did. She helps her husband in all aspects of the business.

The Moseleys use Facebook to advertise and sell their produce; however, most of their goods are sold by word-of-mouth. They are also a part of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the SNAP Program. In addition, they supply homegrown vegetables to some grocery stores in Jackson.

The Moseleys get their farm supplies from Farmers Cooperative Market in Leroy.

Daniel, Sydney and Allie Smith help their grandparents with their produce business.

After purchasing Sweetlix protein supplements, they recycled the black tubs to start container farming on their back deck. They have satsuma, lemon and fig trees, as well as pepper and tomato plants in their containers. This year, Wayne and Chris Giles planted containers and took them to seniors who were not able to plant their own gardens.

"I call it share-cropping," Wayne laughed. "It gives these folks a chance to garden, which they love, and they share their joy with me!"

The Moseleys plant a quarter acre of cotton, so locals can use the field for pictures. A friend brings his mule wagon to serve as a backdrop. They have also planted a large patch of pumpkins that will be ready in October for school children to pick. They have a hoop house where they grew broccoli, tomatoes and peppers in 2016. This year, they are planning to plant on a larger scale.

"It gets really hot here," Wayne explained. "I want to use my hoop house to extend the growing seasons and produce even more food. I’m just learning about growing strawberries in there."

Peanut harvesting time is an exciting event for the Moseleys. Many visitors come to the farm to pick-on-halves. Last year, the Moseleys welcomed many pickers, some in their 80s and 90s, who enjoyed remembering when they had picked as children. Wayne believes relationships and fellowship with others add years to anyone’s life.

"My granddaddy owned a fertilizer business," he said. "I think he lived many years longer because he was around people, talking and visiting, and helping others."

Will Rogers once said that a farmer had to be an optimist or he wouldn’t be a farmer. That has certainly been true for the Moseleys this year. In late June, Tropical Storm Cindy brought strong winds and heavy rainfall that lingered over a week. Some crops such as tomatoes, eggplants and cantaloupes suffered some damage.

Wanda and Wayne provide local, affordable foods that taste good and are good for you. As good stewards of the land, they work for a greater purpose than their own; they grow foods that not only feed the body but also the soul.

Carolyn Drinkard is a freelance writer from Thomasville. She can be reached at drinkardcarolyn@gmail.com.




Goldenrod and Ragweed

by Nadine Johnson

As I write these words, I am looking forward to the annual adorning of our countrysides with the beautiful flowers of goldenrod. Some people will join me by enjoying this truly American plant which nature provides. Others will look at it and say, "Oh, damn! It’s hay fever time."

Alongside this vibrant golden plant there will be another plant growing. This plant is unseen by the average eye because it is totally green. If plants can laugh, I’m sure it is doing so because it was put here on Earth to make many people miserable. Right here I’m going to state a blessing – I HAVE NEVER HAD HAY FEVER OR ANY OTHER SIMILAR SYMPTOMS. Yes, I’m blessed.

I often ask people if they recognize the ragweed plant. Nine times out of 10, the answer is, "No." I also explain that a person can be allergic to goldenrod but this is a rare instance. The average person’s so-called "hay fever" is caused by ragweed.

Rex Locklar was a cousin of mine. We grew up together in what is most often referred to as "The Henderson Community" in Pike County. Rex was the first victim of hay fever I knew in my life. His eyes were red and teary. His nose was red and runny. He was miserable. Oh, if I had only known then what I know now. We could have nipped his misery in the bud. We now know this misery was an allergic reaction to pollens such as ragweed.

Now, I would suggest he take the herbal mixture Enviro-Detox. It is a mixture of milk thistle, red clover, dandelion, yellow dock, burdock, marshmallow, pepsin, fenugreek, ginger, echinacea, sarsaparilla and cascara sagrada. This mixture is designed to cleanse all the eliminative systems including the liver, lungs, kidneys, skin and intestines. It also supplies good bacteria, Bacillus coagulans and lactospores from Lactobacillus sporogenes, that are so often destroyed by antibiotics. These bacteria are very important for our overall health.

One lady had a problem when mowing her extensive yard. She began to take Enviro-Detox and now mows with pleasure. Mowing is a favorite pastime for her.

She was given one antibiotic after another for coldlike symptoms. The symptoms continued. She began to take Enviro-Detox and vitamin C. For the past two years, she has seldom needed an antibiotic. Her unpleasant symptoms have subsided.

I have a pretty good idea why this health problem is often referred to as "hay fever." It occurs as farmers are gathering their crops and baling their hay. Like Dolly Parton, I was country when country wasn’t cool. I have fond memories of involvement with many chores … from the planting of the seed to the gathering of the crops. I didn’t actually help with hay baling but I visited the peanut picker.

Years ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to a sold-out crowd at Montgomery Country Club. The first words out of my mouth were, "I’m glad I picked cotton." I then explained that I didn’t enjoy the chore. However, I realize now that it was there that I was unknowingly forming an interest in herbs. I’m sorry today’s children miss out on that activity in their lives.

At harvest time, goldenrod and ragweed were always in evidence.

Nadine Johnson can be reached at PO Box 7425, Spanish Fort, AL 36577, by calling 251-644-5473, or by email at njherbal@gmail.com.




Healthy Grilling & Freezing Tips

by Angela Treadaway

Grilling is one of the healthiest forms of cooking and a summertime staple. Backyard burgers, tasty T-bones and crispy corn on the cob are just a few of the delicious things that can be cooked on the grill. But research has shown that, if done improperly, the food can become charred. Charred food can be chock-full of cancer-causing compounds called carcinogens. Here are six strategies for grilling the healthier way.

Timely flipping. Too much flipping can tear the meat and make it dry. Don’t force it! When the food gives with a gentle tug, it’s ready to flip.

Proper portions. Cubing or slicing the meat into smaller portions can speed up cook time. Or try quick-cooking options such as shrimp or fish.

Less is more. Foods that cook faster are less likely to char. Also, keep track of the internal temperature. Avoid cooking meats past their temperature goal: 165 degrees for poultry, 155 degrees for pork and ground red meats, and 145 degrees for steaks and chops.

Avoid flare-ups. Never put water on a grease fire. If you have a flare-up, simply move the food to a cooler part of the grill or set it aside while the fire dies down.

Try something different. Grilling isn’t just for meat, you know. A variety of foods including fruits, vegetables and breads can also be deliciously grilled. Grilled vegetables are great in the summer as well as baking them in the oven. They are healthier and sweeter tasting.

Keep it clean. Cleaning the grill rack regularly can prevent burned bits of food from causing future flare-ups.

Keep food safety in mind, too. Make sure you use a different plate to place your cooked meat on than the one that you brought the raw meat to the grill on. Also, if you are using a sauce to baste with, don’t use the same brush on the raw meat and the cooked meat. Make sure you have two different brushes and bowls of sauce for cooking and serving to prevent cross contamination.

How to Prevent Freezing Fiascos

Freezing is a safe and effective way to preserve foods. However, if not done properly, it can lead to ruin and waste: freezer burn, dehydration, bad flavors and odors. But these things can be prevented by following some simple tips.

Choose the right container. All containers are not equal. Choose the container that best fits the product. For example, liquids such as soups and beverages can be stored in quart-sized plastic storage bags. After they’re frozen, they’re stackable!

Function over fab. Sure those little round bowls with the polka-dot lids are cute, but they’re not practical for freezer storage. Square, flat, stackable containers are ideal for the freezer; round containers just waste space.

Banish the burn. Wrap foods correctly in materials designed specifically for freezer storage such as coated freezer paper, double-seal zip top bags and rigid plastic containers with airtight lids. These will keep the air out. Vacuum sealing is a great way to prevent freezer burn and meats will last much longer in the freezer this way, too.

Say no to mush. Fruits and vegetables will always thaw softer than they were before freezing because freezing changes the cell structure. With vegetables, if you blanch them in hot water for about three to five minutes and then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking, they will not turn as mushy. To fast-freeze foods such as peaches, berries, okra, squash, peas, green beans, etc., spread them out on a baking sheet for about an hour and then bag them for the freezer. There will be much less mush or softness when you thaw them. Make sure your freezer is freezing at zero, too, by checking with an appliance thermometer.

Play it safe. If the power goes out, the food in a full freezer should remain safe for 48 hours. If only half full, you have 24 hours, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Adapted from Cooking Light, June 2010.

Angela Treadaway is a Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety. For any questions on food safety or preparation of vegetables, contact her at 205-410-3696 or your local county Extension office.



Horizon Excel 12 Horse Feed

by John Sims

Do you want top performance from your horse? Then give it the feed that is packed with everything it needs. Horizon Excel 12 has all the protein, energy, vitamins and minerals for your mature horse.

Horizon Excel 12 is a sweet, textured horse feed consisting of steam-flaked corn, oats and supplement pellets. It is formulated to be highly digestible so you do not need to feed a lot to give your horse the nutrients it requires.

We steam flake the corn to maximize the metabolizable energy and give your horse the stamina it needs for high performance. We increased the level of oats to give it easily digestible energy, fiber and amino acids. Our supplement pellets are packed with vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, and biotin for health, immunity and reproductive performance.

Feed Excel 12 at a rate of 0.5-1 pound of feed per 100 pounds of body weight per day. Feed lower amounts for maintenance. When fed at the correct rate, this feed will save you money over your current feeding program. Feeding a lower amount of higher-quality feed is more cost effective than feeding a larger amount of a cheaper feed. Always split your feeding rate, and feed twice a day for better utilization and safety.

Your horse deserves a nutritionally complete feed. No matter its performance level, Horizon Excel 12 will fit your feeding program and your horse will love it!

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS:

Crude Protein, not less than 12.00%
Crude Fat, not less than 3.00%
Crude Fiber, not more than 10.00%
Calcium, not less than 0.90%
Calcium, not more than 1.00%
Phosphorus, not less than 0.55%
Sodium, not more than 0.25%
Selenium 0.48 ppm
Copper 34.00 ppm
Zinc 120.00 ppm
Vitamin A, not less than 5.00 KIU/lb
Vitamin E, not less than 22.00 IU/lb

John Sims is a products specialist for AFC’s Feed, Farm & Home department. He can be contacted at 256-260-3433 or johns@alafarm.com.



How's Your Garden?

by Lois Trigg Chaplin

Tall and Successful

While some fancy hybrid lilies may not be easy to grow in parts of Alabama, the old-fashioned, white Formosa lily (also called Philippine lily) thrives and multiplies. Look for it in bloom at this time of year – it’s the tallest lily in the landscape. Formosa resembles an Easter lily, only it’s 5 or 6 feet tall (and will need a stake for rainy and windy weather). What a wonderful item to enjoy at night when the white flowers glisten in moonlight while their sweet fragrance attracts giant hummingbird (sphinx) moths! Another plus is that they reseed, giving you lots of seedlings to share with friends. In fact, that may the easiest way to find a Formosa lily. The lily grows throughout the state, but is most popular along the coast where many other Lilium species and hybrids struggle. Look for it in the garden of a friend, at local plant sales or a favorite garden center. Like all other lilies, the stalks will gradually die back at the end of the season, but the plant will bloom again next year. Don’t pull it, just cut back the stalk after it naturally dies back in the fall.

Summer Croton Also Perfect for Fall

Often sold as a summer houseplant, croton is a good choice for containers outdoors. Great as a late-season purchase, most plants sold at this time are large enough to fill a container instantly. Use them in full sun or partial shade to freshen a porch or patio. Later, the red, orange and yellow leaves work very well for autumn decoration. In frost-free areas, crotons are landscape plants, but here they don’t survive winter freezes. However, they can overwinter indoors in a bright window. Some leaves will drop, but, if the plants stay healthy, new leaves will sprout next summer when you move the plants outside again. You can give them a shower or two during the winter to help keep the foliage clean and free of mites.

When Kousa dogwood fruits, everybody looks.

It’s a Dogwood!

They might make you think of a cross between cherries and sweet gum balls, but they are neither. They are the fruit of a dogwood, but not the one that is so well known. This is the fruit of Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), or Chinese dogwood. Not only does it put on a show at this time of year but in the spring it waits until our native dogwoods have finished blooming before opening its white blossoms in late May and June. Fruit that looks like Christmas ornaments follow the flowers in July and August! There are several named selections of Kousa dogwood, including the well-known Empress of China, part of the Southern Living Plant Collection. Kousa dogwood is not bothered by anthracnose, a leaf spot disease that disfigures plants, especially those growing in sun or under stressful conditions.

Left, the green or brown pupa of the black swallowtail is sometimes found attached to a plant or structure around the house. Above, pretty parsleyworms eventually morph into beautiful black swallowtail butterflies.

Swallowtail

Those beautiful black swallowtail butterflies flying from flower to flower may have grown up in your garden. Parsley is one of the caterpillar’s favorite foods, which also earns it the nickname "parsleyworm." It feeds on members of the parsley family including Queen Anne’s lace, dill, carrot, fennel and celery. It also likes citrus, rue and milkweed. Adult butterflies land on nectar-rich flowers such as glossy abelia, zinnia, purple coneflower, sedum, butterfly bush, garlic chives, porterweed, Joe Pye weed, lantana, butterfly weed and many others. If you see a chrysalis like the one pictured above attached by two threads, check it regularly and you may see the butterfly emerge. Watch for these now, as they are on their second or third generation and more numerous than earlier in the season.

Fall Vegetable Garden

It seems unlikely to be thinking about a fall garden now, but this is the month to start seeds of many crops that will mature as the weather cools in the fall. To me, fall is the best time to garden, especially after the weather has cooled enough to control insects. Right now there is still time to seed early-maturing bush beans and summer squash directly in the garden for a late-summer and early-fall harvest; basil and dill, too. It’s also time to direct seed many cold-hardy crops such as beets, mustard greens, snap peas, Swiss chard, carrots and turnips. Cover carrot seeds with a board and check them daily, uncover when most of them have sprouted. The board provides needed cool and darkness. It’s also time to start seeds of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower and endive, or purchase transplants later in the month to set out in early September. Lettuce might need a little more time in the shade because it is bad about bolting in hot weather. Timing is everything for the fall garden because crops must be planted early enough to catch the mild fall days for good growth before the shorter, colder days of winter.

Lois Trigg Chaplin is author of The Southern Gardener’s Book of Lists and former Garden Editor of Southern Living Magazine.




Local Food For Local Schools

Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries receives USDA grant to increase local foods in school cafeterias.

Press Release from Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is pleased to announce they received a $100,000 support service grant that will positively impact school districts across the state. The ADAI organized state and community partners, including the Alabama Department of Education, the Foodbank of North Alabama/Farm Food Collaborative, the Alabama Farmers Federation, Feeding the Gulf Coast Food Bank, food hubs, Druid City Garden Project and EAT South, to create the Alabama Farm to School Collaborative.

The goal of the Alabama Farm to School Collaborative is to encourage schools to serve fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to students, implement hands-on education in school gardens, and provide nutrition and agriculture education. This is one of 65 projects spanning 42 states and Puerto Rico receiving support this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Grant Program, an effort to better connect school cafeterias and students with local specialty crop farmers.

"Increasing the amount of local foods in America’s schools is a win-win for everyone," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. "Our children benefit from the fresh, local food served in their meals at school, and local economies are nourished, as well, when schools buy the food they provide close to home."

Specific projects funded by the USDA grant include improvements to an online farmer aggregation database, technical training for child nutrition directors to increase local food purchases and statewide Farm to School promotion. Funding will also be used to develop standards-based curriculum encouraging students to eat fresh, nutritious produce and educate them about agriculture. The curriculum will include cooking lessons for locally grown vegetables using a cooking demonstration cart. The grant also aims to increase the number of farmers involved in the Farm to School program by providing farmers with food safety training and certification.

"The Alabama Farm to School Collaborative provides farmers an opportunity to develop relationships with the students in their local schools districts," ADAI Commissioner John McMillan commented. "Not only do the students enjoy locally grown food but now they can make a connection to the person who grew it for them."

For more information about the Alabama Farm to School Collaborative, please contact Andrea Carter by email at andrea.carter@agi.alabama.gov or call 334-240-7247.



My Introduction to Trichomoniasis Foetus

by Baxter Black, DVM

I was the veterinarian for a livestock company in the Northwest. We had 10,000 cows on six ranches in five states with a progressive, well-managed cow/calf operation. The year was 1976.

In October, I preg-tested our cows in Owyhee County, Idaho. The conception rate was 92 percent.

Albert managed that set of 2,000 cows and he was concerned … it should have been 94 percent. We discussed it. I thought 92 percent was pretty good and he conceded the range was worse than last year. I made no effort to find a cause.

The next fall, we worked the cattle again and the conception was down to 90 percent. Albert had been right. I learned a lesson and set about seeking an answer. I must say infertility and abortion in big herds is very difficult to confirm. I went through the testable diseases: vibrio, lepto, IBR, poison plants, selenium, foothill abortion, metabolic disorders and, finally, trichomoniasis.

It was a wild long shot! I had never diagnosed it nor had I ever heard of anyone who did. But I went through the collection procedure on 12 head of Albert’s bulls. I had a small laboratory and was good at parasitology in vet school. There, under my microscope swimming across the petri dish, was a one-celled protozoan with flagellae breast-stroking itself across my screen!

I examined all of the dishes several times and found it in two more bull samples. Over the next month, I called several authorities, professors, state veterinarians and recommended cow vets. To a man, each told me … "It didn’t exist anymore" … "It had been eradicated" … "My sample was a rumen contaminant" … "It hadn’t been seen since the ’30s."

To humor me, my parasitology professor offered to send me some Diamond media to send back samples. I did. He was stunned! It was like I had struck oil or won the Super Bowl! After the discovery smoke had cleared, I set out to find a cure. The old vet books said trich is related to the protozoan that causes blackhead in turkeys.

Let me condense the next several months: I diagnosed trich at EVERY ranch – positive bulls were culled – all others were treated individually, orally with a 16-ounce dosing syringe – black bucket, caught, haltered, head pulled up with a 10-foot A-frame with block and tackle, and tied it to my rear bumper for five days in a row.

Sarcastic remark: It really got fun by the third day.

I put on meetings for the neighbors, the local vets and the state cattlemen; I became a minor authority. The lesson I learned was to pay attention to Albert. I read articles nowadays discussing the control, prevention and treatment of trich.

To me, it seemed a monumental task, but the hard way was the only way. I remember a call from a cattleman in Las Vegas, Nevada, whose herd had been diagnosed positive. He was griping about having to treat his bulls, so much work, what a pain, is there any other way … he went on and on.

Finally I said, "Just quit yer cryin’, bite the bullet and man-up for goodness sake!"

He said, "You don’t understand … my bulls are Longhorns!"

Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television, and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.



Pals: Earth-Altering Activity at Asbury High

by Jamie Mitchell

Alabama PALS is thrilled that Asbury High School in Marshall County is a member of our Clean Campus Program! At the direction of teacher Helen Partrick, Asbury High School students have been working to become more environmentally aware in their community of Albertville. Partrick recently invited me to come speak to her students and provide them with more information as well as show them how important they are in the fight against litter.

The students heard my 30-minute presentation on littering, recycling and small changes that can make a big difference. With almost 200 students in attendance, I explained the impact they can have would be exponential if they told two or three other people what we discussed!

We also talked about reusing items and being more resourceful to keep items out of the landfill. A couple of examples we mentioned were buying products with very little packaging or using the packaging to create recycled art. One small change does not seem like much until many people make the small change together. It can be Earth-altering … literally!

Could your community benefit from having your schools become a part of the Clean Campus Program? Please visit our website at www.alpals.org to learn more! The Clean Campus Program is FREE to all Alabama public, private and county schools. Schools may sign up for the Clean Campus Program online or by calling 334-263-7737.

Jamie Mitchell is the PALS State Clean Campus Coordinator.



Perseverance in Peach Country

Even top growers in Alabama’s peach capital were affected by adverse weather conditions this season.

by Alvin Benn

Dordie Hayes holds a big basket of colorful peaches even though weather problems reduced their best crop.

Dordie and Hal Hayes have been peach producers for decades, but this year’s crop has been one to really remember – for the wrong reasons.

It turned out to be an agricultural nightmare from start to finish in Chilton County, better known as Alabama’s peach capital.

Each day seemed to present new problems and new challenges – too much rain or not enough moisture, lack of cold weather to provide chill days or a late freeze that seemed to mock growers across the region.

August’s arrival in past years always heralded the late peach varieties during the dog days of summer. By the end of this month, however, the peach crop is expected to be the worst in recent memory.

That’s because most of the best peaches were either picked in orchards at the start of the season or just left behind, withering on trees that failed to get the proper number of chill hours.

"In my 50 years being involved with peaches, we’ve never had this severe of a shortage," said Dr. Arlie Powell, the dean of Alabama’s peach industry. "Some peaches were the size of marbles."

Powell, professor emeritus at Auburn University, is as upset over developments as roadside vendors and big operators who counted on big, red peaches to help produce a profitable bottom line at the end of the season.

Jerry Harrison recaptured his title as the “Top Peach Grower” in Alabama with his 21st victory at the 70th Peach Festival in June.

"We were cleaned out of peaches in just a few days," Dordie said. "When customers asked us what happened, all we could do was try to explain some of the factors that got us where we ended up."

Early predictions for this year’s peach crop came true – a drastic dip in production. Weather, once again, turned out to be the culprit.

Dordie and other growers were a bit luckier because a few of their late varieties looked good, but it still proved to be a matter of too few, too late to make much of a difference.

Peach results for Alabama in 2017 amounted to a disappointing harvest that may well be a negative record once all the reports are in by summer’s end.

It was pretty much the same next door in Georgia, known as the Peach State. The same conditions hampering peach production in Alabama hit Georgia.

Growers in Chilton County have been commiserating with one another since the first blooms failed to impress anybody early in the spring.

The shock is slowly wearing off, but it could be next year before smiles return.

Some of the county’s peach farmers apparently put their favorite fruit in one basket and Mother Nature took it from there.

That meant those farmers without backup support in the form of other fruit such as blueberries or a variety of vegetables paid a hefty price because of weather vagaries.

"It hasn’t been a good year for those in the entire peach industry," Powell said. "When you’ve got constant rain, floods and low chill hours, there isn’t much you can do about it."

In past years, peach farmers had to contend with occasional blizzards that wiped out or trimmed back on peach crops, but, for the most part, enough growers survived to make a profit by the end of the season.

Not this year. Powell could see it coming before a lot of the growers did. He knew the signs, and it was anything but encouraging.

"In terms of peach crop production, I said all year that it would be something in the range of 10-30 percent and, unfortunately, it seems to have come true," he said.

Veteran peach growers have discussed the unusual circumstances of the past year and few, if any, have chalked it up to global warming or anything like that.

However, they are worried it will become a trend with warm temperatures again cutting chill hours.

Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan, right, and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks attended this year’s Peach Festival.

For most peach growers in Chilton County, their crop is as much a part of their family and its history as the oxygen they breathe. Sitting around and hoping for the best isn’t something they want to think about, but they know their livelihood is at stake if it continues to occur.

Some have begun to focus more and more on row crops just in case that happens. In some parts of the county, "blueberries for sale" signs are posted for visitors to see when they drive through.

Hal, Dordie and other activist farmers have been augmenting their peaches with row crops such as watermelons, tomatoes and other vegetables … just in case.

Loyal customers still buy their fruit, but they also cool off with homemade ice cream and even purchase clothing. However, the growers know that folks come for their peaches. It’s as plain and simple as that.

When the bottom fell out of the peach crop this year, it meant raising prices for what remained, even if they were half the size of previous years.

Some peach farmers have increased their prayers as a way to get their message across to a higher authority for help.

"We try to remain optimistic, but we also know we can’t depend on something that is out of our hands at times," Dordie said. "The weather often dictates our future in the fields."

The weather did intervene early in the season when predictions of possible storms caused Peach Festival officials to call off the popular Peach Parade. It was one of the few times the parade was canceled.

Hal and Dordie have been able to keep their employees on the payroll, but they did have to modify their hours because lack of peaches is a sure business killer.

"We wanted to be able to make it through the Fourth of July, but that wasn’t going to happen," Dordie said. "All we can do now is hope for a better year next year."

The couple began making their own peach baskets a few years ago, but wound up with an excess because there weren’t many, if any, peaches to go into them.

It’s unfortunate, but true, that this year has been pretty much a wipe out for the peach industry in Chilton County.

"We aren’t giving up," said Dordie, who has been a teacher, a school bus driver, sold insurance and even raised baby pigs when times were tough. "After this year, we’ll just have to pray a bit harder."

Not everybody was wearing a frown in Chilton County this year. Jerry Harrison reverted to form by taking the title of "Top Peach Grower" – even if the peaches weren’t as big as in past years.

No other farmer has come close to what he has achieved since the Peach Festival was created just after the end of World War II.

It marked the 21st time he’s won the title. Brother Jimmy Harrison has also won his share of the coveted honor.

Alvin Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.



Protect Your Backyard Poultry Flock

Follow these biosecurity measures to guard against avian flu.

by Jackie Nix

It is important to keep vigilant watch over your backyard flock and immediately report symptoms.

Even though avian flu isn’t in the news like it once was, don’t think you can breathe a sigh of relief yet. With confirmed cases in Alabama earlier in the year, the need for biosecurity remains high. Avian flu has been found in wild birds as well as backyard and commercial poultry flocks. While biosecurity is a familiar topic with large commercial producers, owners of small backyard flocks need to familiarize themselves as well.

Avian flu is not only a danger to birds but is potentially a concern for humans, as well. The chances for the virus to infect humans are low, but still exist; so don’t just casually dismiss symptoms. Symptoms in humans include cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, and in some cases a mild eye infection. If you develop a fever, cough and body aches, immediately see your doctor and be sure to inform him or her if you are in regular contact with poultry.

Unfortunately, the chances of the recent avian flu outbreak continuing to spread to other areas of the United States is very high. For this reason, it is important to keep vigilant watch over your birds and immediately report symptoms to your local or state veterinarian, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture, toll-free at 1-866-536-7593.

In order to protect your birds, good biosecurity will be key. The following practices are recommended to help limit the spread of avian flu:

1. Restrict access to your property and birds from wild animals and other humans. Remember, other animals such as dogs, cats and rodents can also spread the disease.

2. Prevent interactions with wild birds. This means limiting or totally eliminating free ranging.

3. Carefully wash your hands and change shoes and clothes after contact with your birds. It is best to have one set of shoes and clothes that you only wear into housing areas and you immediately remove upon leaving the coop, pen, etc.

4. Do not permit bird-owning friends to come into contact with your birds. Also, do not share lawn and garden equipment, tools or poultry supplies from other bird owners.

5. Regularly clean and disinfect areas where birds have access. Avian flu viruses are inactivated by heat and drying, and are very sensitive to most disinfectants and detergents (for example, Dow Chemical’s GS2 or Preserve’s Synergize). Be sure to clear away organic matter before disinfection for best results.

6. Do not purchase birds or eggs from unknown sources.

7. Report the symptoms listed or unexpected deaths to your local or state veterinarian, or USDA.

In addition to the aforementioned tips on biosecurity, you can help protect your birds by providing them proper nutrition to keep their immune system fully functioning. The SWEETLIX Farm Flock Supplement Block is a highly concentrated supplement to help provide essential minerals and vitamins, including Sel-Plex organic selenium yeast, that are critical for a strong immune system and healthy, happy birds. Sel-Plex delivers selenium in a form that can be readily stored in tissues. Selenium is a critical nutrient allowing animals to optimize health status during periods of increased demand.

SWEETLIX Farm Flock Supplement Blocks also contain Bio-Mos for gut health. Bio-Mos promotes good gut bacteria and builds defenses, thereby optimizing efficiency and supporting bird performance and chick quality. SWEETLIX Farm Flock Supplement Blocks supply extra protein and energy that may be missing from the diet due to decreased free ranging opportunities. Since these convenient blocks are available 24/7, birds can access them day or night and get what they need when they need it.

In summary, avian flu is a very real threat for backyard flocks. Be vigilant for the symptoms of this disease and implement biosecurity practices to help lower your risk. SWEETLIX Farm Flock Supplement Blocks can be a part of your overall management plan to keep birds fortified nutritionally to help keep them healthy and happy. For more information, visit your local Quality Co-op location or www.sweetlix.com.

Sel-Plexand Bio-Mos are registered trademarks of Alltech.
SWEETLIX is a registered trademark of Ridley USA Inc.


Jackie Nix is an animal nutritionist with Ridley Block Operations (www.sweetlix.com). You can contact her at jackie.nix@ridleyinc.com or 1-800-325-1486 for questions or to learn more about SWEETLIX mineral and protein supplements for cattle, goats, horses, sheep and wildlife. References available upon request.




QuickBooks for Farmers Extension Classes

A two-night class offers solutions and discussions on farm bookkeeping.

by Robert Page

It’s an early summer night at Pell City Civic Center and the gym is noisy with kids playing basketball. However, in a small meeting room next to the reception desk, there’s a different group gathered to talk about farm recordkeeping. In this small group, there are poultry, goat and commercial gardening producers and spouses. Some producers are already using QuickBooks and others have never seen the software before. Each person wants to learn how to keep accurate farm financial records for their unique farm operation. Many of them come into class knowing they really need some help to clean up their existing financial records.

As their instructor, I show them that, if they can fill out a check register, they can learn how to keep a good set of financial records in about two hours per month using QuickBooks. Two hours a month doesn’t seem like a lot of time to the group, even to producers routinely working 60 hours a week or more. I also show them that, whatever data entry errors they have made in the past, we can correct them and generally find ways to improve what they have learned by trial and error.

Thanks to the 23 years of the now-discontinued Alabama Cooperative Extension System Farm Analysis program, we have a well-established accounting system adaptable to virtually any farm operation. We have a standard chart of accounts farmers can use to pick and choose the extra accounts they need for their farm, in addition to the startup chart of accounts.

In our classes in DeKalb, St. Clair, Lawrence and Limestone counties, we covered sample farm entries from actual farms. After students saw the examples, they started asking questions for their specific farms. For example, one farmer wanted to track repair costs on one particular piece of equipment. The answer was to set up a repair subaccount for that tractor and add explanations for each repair item in the memo line of the entry.

However, the most powerful example was for farmers to start using Enterprise Accounting. The Auburn University National Poultry Technology Center and Alabama Extension are working together to help poultry farmers with specific profit-and-loss reports for poultry operations, while also having accurate, separate profit-and-loss reports for row crop and/or livestock operations. To get these Enterprise reports, it’s a simple matter of turning on a couple of QuickBooks options and taking about 10-15 additional seconds on each check entry or bank deposit entry to add more information. Those extra 10-15 seconds per entry make a gigantic difference in the quality of farm financial reports available to producers.

To learn more about Enterprise Accounting and QuickBooks for Farmers classes, please visit the ACES website, www.aces.edu, and sign up for a class near you in 2017.

Robert Page, CPA, REA II, is a regional Extension agent with Farm & Agribusiness Management.



Responsible Ag

Lauderdale Farmers Co-op in Rogersville achieves certification.

by Sharon Cunningham

Lauderdale Farmers Co-op in Rogersville employees are (from left) Wendell Walker, Liam Black, Sheila Surles, Jeff Hendrix, Will Inman and Justin Pace.

Lauderdale Farmers Co-op in Rogersville is located off Highway 72 near Joe Wheeler State Park. The area is traditionally known for being a pathway by land and water between Athens and Florence, and it also connects Chattanooga and Memphis. The Co-op is on this path through the Muscle Shoals area and waiting with a welcoming smile, full blooms in the nursery and a complete lawnmower service shop. Manger Wendell Walker can help you with any item you may need, from nutrients for the field or the perfect cut lawn from one of his Hustler mowers. If you are out camping in the peaceful area and just need to pick a part for that camper, Walker and his group can help.

Sharon Cunningham is EHS coordinator for AFC. If you have any question, please let her know at sharon.cunningham@alafarm.com.



Scouts Serve

by John Howle

"The Boy Scouts, of course, had an influence on me because I learned about service in
the community." ~ Rex Tillerson

Boy Scouts set a good example for serving the community.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is one of four Eagle Scouts serving in President Trump’s cabinet. The other three are Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and, of course, Attorney General Jeff Sessions from Alabama. As the father of an Eagle Scout, even if I didn’t know who these men are, the fact they were Eagle Scouts speaks to their moral compass.

Each Boy Scout learns early on the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. The Scout Oath states, "On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to GOD and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."

The Scout Law states, "A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent."

With oaths and laws like this, we can have comfort in knowing that some of the leaders making tough decisions in this country have a guiding moral compass that comes directly from doing their duty to God and country. The fact they made Eagle Scout says they have a history of doing much service in their own communities when they were young. In the turbulent times we now live, it is good to know that many of our leaders share the Scouting values.

Keep a one-gallon sprayer of Remedy ready for spot spraying.

Keep the Sprayer Handy

This August as you are checking fence lines or looking at pasture growth, keep a one-gallon spray tank ready and full of Remedy mixture. Remedy is a brush killer, so any stray weed, briar or wooded sprout coming up in your pasture can easily be treated. I usually keep a one-gallon mixture on the four wheeler rack.

Often, you will see small privet hedge in the early stages of growth, and the 1-gallon sprayer makes it handy for spot spraying isolated sprouts and woody weeds. Make sure to mix in surfactant that allows the chemical to stick to the leaves for a better kill. If you don’t have surfactant, you can add dishwashing soap to the mixture.

Drilling Seeds Fits all Needs

The great thing about a seed drill is the lack of soil disturbance when planting forage. Any time you can keep plant growth in place, you are saving soil and nutrients. Now is the time to start planning for fall seed drilling, and this involves deciding where to drill, what seed to plant for fall and winter grazing, and locating the nearest seed drill you can rent.

Another great thing about the seed drill is the seeds are planted in furrows of a constant depth. Jethro Tull invented the seed drill in 1701. This was not the rock star but the farmer who helped usher in the Agricultural and Industrial Revolution with his innovative seed-drilling process. The seed drill consists of a grass seed hopper, furrow openers, seed-metering controls and a seed-press wheel.

Square Bale Fitness

It sure is much easier to store winter hay in the form of round bales. Most all the work is done from the tractor seat. However, square bales still serve a purpose.

Often, you may only need to feed a small amount of hay to a few heifers you have separated or you might have a horse requiring smaller amounts of hay. If you have a sick cow, you might only need a half a square bale at a time. This makes round bales inconvenient except when feeding large numbers of livestock.

Certainly when traveling to livestock or horse shows, the square bales are much more convenient. It’s a sad thing to see many of the younger generation growing up without the experience of hauling square bales of hay, so do your part to help today’s youth and bale a few square bales. If nothing else but to stay in shape, hauling a few square bales of hay will do three things: make you sweat profusely, eat heartily and sleep soundly.

Rotate Regularly

In an ideal world, you would be able to rotate your cattle before the forages get below the 4-inch height. Droughts, lack of fertilizer, poor soil health and overstocking can make this rotation rule invalid. However, if you are able to get your cattle off pastureland before it gets below 4 inches, you will experience many benefits.

First, the extra ground cover holds in more moisture, preventing drought situations and promoting grass growth. Second, if there is 4 inches above the ground, you know there will be at least 4 inches of root growth below the ground resulting in better uptake of nutrients and moisture. Finally, soil health will improve any time you don’t see dirt. When you see dirt, rainfall can easily erode the soil, especially on sloping land, and you will lose a lot of nutrients due to runoff in the absence of ground cover.

This August, visit your local Co-op for help in getting all your farm and garden work completed, but also take time to serve your community. The Boy Scouts set a good example of what it means to serve and, fortunately, we have some leaders who are willing to do the same.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.



Southeastern Land Group Welcomes a New Land/Farm Agent

Randall Upchurch brings experience and knowledge in marketing poultry and cattle farms, pastureland and timberland.

Press Release from Southeastern Land Group

Randall Upchurch

Southeastern Land Group is proud to announce the addition of a new land/farm agent. Randall Upchurch, of Lineville, is now licensed in Alabama and Georgia with Southeastern Land Group. Upchurch brings his experience and knowledge of marketing poultry and cattle farms, cropland and timberland. He has been a licensed agent since 2008.

Upchurch and his wife Tiffany live on their family farm with their three sons Bence, 8; Aiden, 7; and Cager, 2. They raise registered Angus in conjunction with his brother’s family as Upchurch Angus. The operation spans over 300 acres and has over 150 brood cows. Upchurch is a Deacon at Barfield Baptist Church, where he and Tiffany teach Sunday school and assist in children’s ministry. He also is a member of the Realtors Land Institute.

Upchurch is the co-founder of PoultrySouth.com. This is a marketing platform for poultry farms through Southeastern Land Group. He and co-founder Robert King have become leaders in marketing poultry farms throughout Alabama and Georgia. Experience and knowledge also allows Upchurch to be a leader in marketing cattle farms, pastureland and timberland. He is ready to assist you in buying or selling your rural property.

To contact Randall Upchurch, visit www.selandgroup.com, call 256-239-5379 (cell), email
upchurch.farmagent@gmail.com or find him on Facebook at Randall Upchurch-Ag Real Estate.




Stretching Snapper Season

Additional Days on Federal Waters for Recreational Anglers

by David Rainer

My fishing buddy Todd Kercher posted a video in June that many feel justifies the significant extension of the red snapper season for private recreational anglers in federal waters.

Kercher took his family out in the Gulf of Mexico to catch a limit of snapper, two per person with a 16-inch minimum. What he captured on video was what many snapper anglers have been screaming for the past few years.

As Kercher tells one family member that they have a limit in the boat, they start throwing the leftover bait into the water.

A feeding frenzy ensued with 10- to 15-pound red snappers attacking the bait with such fervor that they were coming completely out of the water, "skying" as Kercher called it.

The reason Kercher and his family were able to enjoy the phenomenal red snapper fishing was the result of a unified effort by a diverse group, including the affected anglers, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Alabama Congressmen, city councils and mayors in Gulf Coast communities, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

When National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries announced earlier this year that the private recreational sector would only get a three-day season, the above groups were disgusted to the point of anger.

A little more than a month ago, the groups began to come together to encourage the U.S. Department of Commerce that oversees NOAA and subsequently NOAA Fisheries to reconsider the season in federal waters.

Those efforts paid off in June when NOAA Fisheries and the Gulf States reached an agreement that, if the states forego snapper seasons in state waters out to the 9-mile boundary Mondays through Thursdays, the federal private recreational season would be extended from three days for an additional 39 days. The season is set for each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through and including Labor Day. The charter-for-hire’s 49-day season, running through July 19, and the commercial sector’s individual fishing quota system are not affected.

Chris Blankenship, who has gone from Alabama Marine Resources Director to DCNR Deputy Commissioner to Acting DCNR Commissioner this year, said the negotiations have been in progress for much longer than a month.

There is an abundance of large snapper, 25-plus pounds, and plenty of 2- to 4-pound snapper on the hundreds of artificial reefs in federal waters.

"We started trying to work with the new administration not long after [Commerce] Secretary [Wilbur] Ross was appointed," Blankenship said. "That has been very beneficial. Congressman [Bradley] Byrne also lined up help from other Gulf Coast Representatives such as Steve Scalise and Garrett Graves from Louisiana, Matt Gaetz from Florida and Steve Palazzo from Mississippi. They met with the secretary’s staff to urge them to extend the red snapper days.

"Then Gov. Ivey sent a letter to the White House and actually talked to President Trump about red snapper while she was in Washington for a meeting about infrastructure.

"Then we had resolutions from Orange Beach, Dauphin Island and the Baldwin County Commission, along with a letter from Senator [Luther] Strange. It was a very concerted effort to get this extra time."

Blankenship believes the main reason the Commerce Department responded to the requests of such a diverse group was the unified message.

"We were all asking for the same thing," he said. "We wanted weekends, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. All the resolutions and letters were very similar. I think having that good community effort and single message helped this to be a success."

Orange Beach City Councilman Jeff Boyd echoed Blankenship’s assessment of the teamwork.

"I think this is the greatest indication that the average voice was heard," Boyd said of the extension. "It was heard all the way to the White House and Department of Commerce across many states. It showed that a team effort can absolutely be successful.

"Congressman Byrne was just by here, and we were talking about the work done by Chris Blankenship, Gov. Ivey, Senator Strange’s letter and Senator [Richard] Shelby in the budget hearings. With that, we were able to gain enough momentum and energy to make it happen. I think it was wonderful."

Boyd’s constituency includes a great number of private recreational fishermen and one of the largest charter fleets on the Gulf Coast. He said some are extremely happy and some apprehensive.

"From the private rec guys, there’s nothing but ecstatic excitement," Boyd said. "From the charter guys, they’re worried about what it might do to them next year."

Boyd said Blankenship was a crucial coordinator to make the snapper season extension a reality.

"Chris can’t get enough kudos," Boyd said. "He’s the quiet hero who brought other state commissioners to the table. It’s hard enough to get a family to agree on anything, much less four different commissioners from four other states with different agendas."

Blankenship said negotiations for the extension included several options including Saturday and Sunday, plus the holidays, but the addition of Fridays to the season prevailed.

"In order to get Fridays, the five states had to agree that they would not open a season in the fall," Blankenship said. "Alabama and Florida felt it was more important to get the 39 days and not have a fall season. Mississippi and Louisiana agreed to do the same thing. Texas catches a very small percentage, half of 1 percent, of the quota during their fall season. So we were able to work out the details for 39 days, primarily through the cooperation of Alabama and Florida, which account for the majority of the red snapper catch.

"We realize not everybody is happy about giving up some of the state days. But we surrendered 23 days in state waters, where we have hundreds of [artificial] reefs, to get 39 days in federal waters, where we have thousands and thousands of reefs. We thought that was a fair trade."

Blankenship hopes this process will reset the way the Gulf States work with the Commerce Department and NOAA Fisheries.

"All the states felt like this was a new opportunity, not just for 2017 but the future, to work with Congress and the Department of Commerce to find long-term solutions," he said.

Blankenship said Rep. Scalise, who is recovering from a serious gunshot wound in an assassination attempt in June, was at the forefront of the negotiations.

"We pray for his speedy recovery," Blankenship said. "This is an important issue to him. We hope he will get back to work soon. We look forward to working with him, as the Majority Whip, to pass a long-term fix in Congress."

Blankenship said without the data gathered through the Alabama Red Snapper Reporting System, known as Snapper Check, the argument for an extension would likely have not been considered by Commerce.

"To the Commerce Department’s credit, they gave states the benefit of the doubt," he said. "They compared the data from Snapper Check and Marine Recreational Information Program. They were open to looking at the data. They recognized the disparity in the data and decided the private recreational fishermen needed some relief. It was a bold move on their part and very appreciated by the recreational fishermen."

One of those private recreational anglers is Marcus Kennedy of Mobile, who made it clear he felt the private rec guys were "getting the short end of the stick" in my column a little over a month ago. When we talked, he had just returned from a quick trip into the Gulf to catch a limit of snapper.

"It looked like a normal weekend, which is good," Kennedy said of the number of boats in the artificial reef zones. "When you’ve got the season spread out, you won’t have everybody trying to get out at the same time.

"I think this is the best we could have hoped for. We basically traded the remaining state days for 39 days in federal waters. I’ll take the federal season every time. That’s good for Alabama."

Kennedy agrees that the Snapper Check data is far more accurate than the federal estimate.

"The state catch surveys have consistently been two to three times less than NOAA’s catch estimate," he said. "Therefore, this season is more in line with what the actual catches are instead of the inflated numbers NOAA has been using. Everybody I fish with is glad we got the extension, but they know it’s not a long-term solution, and we’re probably going to have to go through the same fight next year."

To be ready for further negotiations, Blankenship said it is crucial that Alabama anglers report all their catches through Snapper Check, which offers three ways to comply. The easiest way, by far, is to use the Outdoor Alabama app for smartphones. Online reporting is available at www.outdooralabama.com, and paper reporting slips are located at select boat ramps.

Major Scott Bannon, acting director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division, explains Snapper Check and its importance to red snapper management in the linked video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVpiZDgkVyw orwww.facebook.com/OfficialOutdoorAlabama/videos/101....

Kennedy said there is an abundance of large snapper, 25-plus pounds, and plenty of 2- to 4-pound snapper on the reefs he’s fished lately. And he’s glad he doesn’t have to stay in state waters to fish for Alabama’s premier reef fish.

"It’s bad when you have to cram it all into one weekend when the weather might be bad," he said. "Now we can breathe a little easier and not be under the stress that you have to go. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable outing. You want to go when the weather is nice, not when the federal government says you have to go."

David Rainer is an outdoor writer for Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.



Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family

Preparing ahead can be the key to healthy eating.

by Christy Kirk

Jason Kirk prepares some ears of corn to be frozen. Corn isn't from the wildside but it sure goes well with all of them ... no matter how it's fixed.

My mother’s mother, my Grandma Helen, became a widow at the age of 51, and she lived alone until she passed away at 69 years old. My mom first learned to cook from Grandma Helen, so they used many of the same combinations of ingredients in their recipes. They also had similarities in what they served at meals.

When either of them cooked, instead of serving up a meat-and-three, both typically served a minimum of five sides for supper. No matter what the meat was, there might be squash, broccoli, corn, potatoes, peas, carrots and more. Hand-chopped slaw, sliced tomatoes, deviled eggs, and buttered rolls or cornbread were not reserved for Sunday dinners and were routinely on the table at my house for supper during the week.

As children, my sister and I didn’t cherry pick from all the vegetable choices; we had some of everything. My plate would be so full that my food, gravies and juices overlapped, and it made everything taste even better.

Not long before Grandma Helen’s death, she had become sick. My mom and I had gone down to Anniston from Huntsville to stay with her until she got better. A few days before we arrived, my grandma had shucked and cut ears of sweet white corn for creaming. Even though she was not feeling well, she already had most of it bagged and frozen. Although we ate grandma’s from-scratch creamed corn at her house all the time, I had never seen the effort she put into having it on hand all year.

Grandma’s preparation wasn’t just for her family, though. Living alone, she made sure to look after her own health, always having plenty of nutritious vegetables on hand.

"Just because you live alone don’t mean you can’t cook good just for yourself," Grandma Helen told me. "You have to take care of you and eat healthy."

When Grandma Helen passed, there were bags and bags of creamed corn in her freezer. Some would have been used for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, but most would be eaten by her throughout the year. I was only 20 years old, but the lesson I got from that was: Don’t skimp on your own nutrition and health, and prepare ahead for future meals for both yourself and your family.

This summer, Jason brought home a big bag of sweet white corn. He got most of it in bags ready to freeze still on the cob and then cut some off the cob to make creamed corn. Each bag has six pieces of corn in it, just enough for the four of us at dinner.

Sometimes when Jason starts preparing meat or fish for the freezer, it looks like too much for just us, but like Grandma Helen’s corn we will eat it for an entire year. One pound of meat might be just enough for the four of us, but as Rolley Len and Cason get older, they go back for second servings more and more. So when he grinds deer meat for freezing, he puts about 2 pounds of meat in each freezer bag to make sure we have plenty.

Whether we are making hamburgers or browning meat for recipes, we usually cook the whole 2 pounds to eat over a few days. Cooking the meat ahead cuts down on my prep time for the rest of the week, but I realized the key to dinnertime success was making sure the kids don’t feel like they are eating heated-up leftovers for two or three days. Although I may cook all 2 pounds of meat at once, I try to use it in at least two different ways.

If you have limited time in the kitchen because of work or other obligations, you may not be able to serve a meat-and-three every night, but there are other nutritious options that are quick and simple.

Having a variety of wholesome choices for your next meal isn’t just for growing children. Grandma Helen said that, when it comes to your health, taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of others.

Whether you live alone or cook for a large family, here are a few recipes for ground deer meat that are nutritious, delicious and will add variety to your menu each day.

CREAMED CORN

About 3 cups fresh corn, kernels cut from cob*
Water, enough to cover corn
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon sugar

In a saucepan, cook corn in water to boiling. Lower heat to medium-low. Cook corn until pulp begins to thicken. Add butter and flour. Add a little milk at a time while stirring. Cook until it thickens. Add salt and pepper, and sugar if you like it sweeter.

Note: This is one of those recipes that my mother would say, "You will know when it’s ready, when it’s ready."

* For each additional cup of corn, add an additional tablespoon of flour and butter.

SPAGHETTI PIE

Spaghetti Pie

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti noodles (4 cups cooked)
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3-4 Tablespoons milk
½ cup chopped green onions
Cooking spray
1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
Meaty marinara sauce, enough to cover the top of the casserole (recipe included)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. While noodles cook, in a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, milk and onions. Set aside. Coat bottom of 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. When noodles are cooked, drain and place in dish. Spread cream cheese mixture over noodles. Sprinkle about ½ cup of cheese over cream cheese mixture. Top with marinara sauce. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Note: To adapt for dietary needs, you can use skim milk, low-fat cheese and cream cheese, and whole wheat noodles without any change in taste.

MEATY MARINARA SAUCE

2 pounds ground deer meat
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 (24-ounce) jar chunky spaghetti sauce with tomatoes, garlic and onions
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

Garlic powder, to taste

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the deer meat. Drain and return to skillet. Add remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat until it reaches a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.

CALZONES

½ pound (about 1½ cups) ground deer meat
¾ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
¾ cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
Cooking spray
1-2 cups marinara or meaty marinara sauce (recipe included), for dipping or pouring over calzones

Preheat oven to 400°.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook deer meat, onion and garlic until meat is brown. Drain and return to pan. Add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Onto a baking sheet, unroll the pizza crust. Cut dough into 4 even pieces. Press into rectangles. Spoon beef mixture in the center of each rectangle. Sprinkle with cheese. Bring opposite corners of rectangles together, pinching to seal. Spray tops of calzones with cooking spray.

Bake for 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Heat marinara or meat sauce and serve with calzones.


DEEP DISH TACO PIZZA

1 pound ground deer meat
½ cup chopped onion
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (drained)
1 teaspoon Mexican seasoning (I usually use a taco mix)
1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salsa and sour cream, if desired.

Preheat oven to 425°.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook meat with onions until browned. Drain and return to pan. Stir in tomatoes and seasoning. Cook 1-2 minutes until heated through. Set aside.

Coat a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Unroll pizza crust dough and press into the bottom of dish and halfway up sides. Spoon meat mixture onto pizza dough.

Bake for 12 minutes. Top with cheese and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust edges are browned. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.



The Candy Man Can

Late-Summer Annuals for Attracting Whitetails

by Todd Amenrud

Some brassicas such as radishes and turnips will grow large root bulbs or tubers that whitetail relish along with the plant’s green tops.

It’s time to get those fall food plot seeds in the ground. If you have enough ground to devote to your food plot program, most managers would agree that a well-diversified plot program with an assortment of plants to offer the herd is the way to go. You want to give them what they need regardless of the time of the season or current conditions. Some of the plants you choose would likely be perennials, but for the best in attraction during the hunting season it’s hard to beat a food plot full of luscious, late-summer-/fall-planted annuals.

Annuals are typically easy to plant and because they are a late-summer/fall planting, the summer weed cycle should be over – for the most part. While always called a "fall planting," you’ll see I call these "late-summer/fall plantings." If you’re waiting to plant some of these until it’s literally fall (Sept. 22 or 23, depending on the year and your location), in some areas you may end up with a failure; or at the very least you’re not getting the most out of some of your plants, especially your brassicas.

The two primary late-summer/fall plantings when it comes to annuals are cereal grains and brassicas. In the Southern states, brassicas should be planted anywhere from early to mid-August (in the transitional states), late August in the northern part of our Southern states, all the way through mid-September in the far south. Cereals should be planted anywhere from the first part of September in states such as Kentucky and Tennessee, or even farther South if you have a high deer density, through to around the first part of October in the Deep South.

Years ago when Toxey Haas and Grant Woods first introduced brassicas to the food plot market, rape was the primary type of brassica used. As most of you probably know, brassicas require cold temperatures to convert the plants’ high levels of starch into sugar and turn the plant into its most attractive palatable stage. Initially, for some here in the South, the plants weren’t reaching their most attractive phase until after the hunting season was over. Some of this was due to a learning curve. When you introduce a new plant, it can sometimes take several years for whitetails to realize what it is and whether or not it’s a viable food source. And in some instances the plants really weren’t turning palatable early enough in the season. Since then, BioLogic has introduced other types of brassicas that develop their sugars much earlier. Even in the South, they are possibly the best attraction you can plant – bar none.

A common progression during the hunting season would see the herd switch from legumes (both perennials such as clover or alfalfa, or annuals such as soybeans or cowpeas) to cereal grains (such as oats, wheat or triticale) to brassicas (such as radishes, turnips, rape and kale). While there are many other things we can offer a herd, with these three types of plantings, you should have a palatable food choice throughout most of the hunting season or until each type of food runs out. Different crops will dramatically extend the palatability time frame of your plot.

To take that variety approach, within every type of crop, a step further, planting a different assortment of each will also extend the amount of time your plot will remain attractive, especially when it comes to brassicas.

From my experience, they will attack radishes first. Whitetails will lay siege to the green tops first, then finish by devouring every bit of the long root tubers. These aren’t your auntie’s dinner radishes; these are large tubers that resemble a huge, white carrot rather than our more familiar small, round, red and white radishes. My favorite blend is BioLogic’s Deer Radish. It’s not just my preferred brassica planting, it’s my favorite planting – period. From my experience, they will begin eating these radishes around early October (northern Alabama) until they’re gone. If you plant enough, they can last throughout the season.

Next, whitetails will typically set their sights on various turnips and beets. While sugar beets are actually in a different plant family and are not a brassica, they are very similar. Just like turnips, cold temperatures cause the plant’s high levels of starch to convert to sugar. I usually see them hit these plants after the radishes and I use them for attraction for the months of November and December, and on, until they’re gone. My favorite blend is Winter Bulbs & Sugar Beets. Just like the radishes, they will consume the entire plant. The radishes are easier for them to pull out of the ground and consume. With turnips and beets, often you’ll see them partially eaten or they’ll scoop out the top and inside of the turnip or beet so it looks like a beet bowl left in the soil.

Last, they tend to hit rape, canola and kale. These last three brassica types do not produce large root bulbs or tubers but they do produce an amazing yield of green forage. I tend to use them more as winter nutrition than hunting-time attraction.

When it comes to the blend Maximum, you may want to also plant some for hunting attraction. Maximum produces a yield of more succulent, nutritious forage than any other planting I’ve ever seen.

While the deer certainly may hit these brassicas as soon as cold temperatures convert the plants’ huge green tops to become sweet, if you have radishes and turnips also planted, they’ll typically consume rape after the other two brassica types.

Kale is especially cold hardy. Kale’s large leaves will stay green and attractive long into the winter, even if covered by several feet of snow. I would only use kale as winter nutrition.

The time frame I’m suggesting for these to be their most attractive is just a guess. It can vary from year to year and region to region. As an example, in the big woods where there isn’t a lot of agriculture or other foods to back up your food plots, they may eat any of these as fast as they come out of the ground. Or, if we have an unseasonably warm fall, it may take the brassicas longer to develop their sugars, pushing back the entire attraction calendar.

While there is a succession in which whitetails will typically consume assorted brassica varieties, in different areas or under distinct conditions, you can scrap the theory. As an example, in a big woods scenario, they may eat any variety as fast as you can grow them.

The other great thing about brassicas is not only are they the best attraction I have ever seen but they are, without a doubt, the absolute best nutrition you can provide for a herd. With an average crude protein content of 32-38 percent (depending on the cultivar and stage of growth) and total digestible nutrients of over 80 percent that would suit me fine. Also, add that they yield more than any other planting. I believe they are the best deer food God has ever created.

More often than not, I plant my cereals and brassicas separately, for several reasons. However, if a manager wants a fast, simple, one-and-done plot, a blend of cereals and brassicas (and sometimes other plants) together may be your ticket. Blends such as Full Draw, Last Bite, Green Patch or Winter Grass Plus provide brassicas mixed with cereal grains. An annual or biennial clover is sometimes added to provide extra nutrition or a flush of nutritious forage re-emerging after dormancy the next spring.

BioLogic’s Head of Research and Development Austin Delano told me, for his home state of Alabama, he likes to mix Trophy Oats with Deer Radish.

"It’s an easy-to-do, one-and-then-you’re-done hunting plot," he said. "Provided you plant enough, this can keep them coming back for more throughout the entire hunting season."

I don’t know anyone who tests more than Delano or many who know as much about deer management. When he says so, I take it as fact. There are several reasons why a manager may choose to plant each (oats and radishes) separately. As a simple plan for a simple, yet diverse, hunting plot, I would consider this.

We didn’t even talk about spring-planted crops that can also be very attractive to whitetails such as corn, buckwheat or clover. Or about other late-summer-planted annuals such as winter peas that are amazingly appealing to whitetails – probably too attractive. With winter peas, you need to plant enough to overwhelm the amount of mouths you’re feeding or they’ll be promptly wiped out.

One important thing to mention is that brassicas can also be planted with perennials. In the North, they traditionally plant perennials during the spring. In the South, this can be a great way to kill two birds with one planting. Blends such as Perfect Plot or Premium Perennial are my go-to products for this. You just need to make certain when planted you give the perennials 50-60 days of growth so they can establish their root systems. This will ensure their survival and re-emergence after winter dormancy. Because the brassicas won’t come back, I would suggest you overseed with a pure perennial such as Clover Plus or Non-Typical the next spring to fill in any spaces vacated by the annual brassicas growing there the previous year.

In a very roundabout way, I guess I’ve tried to convey that variety in a food plot program is important and brassicas are my favorite food plot crop. All of the plants mentioned are great choices for a food plot, but they’re eaten at different times or under different conditions – exactly why it is smart to plant a variety if you have enough acreage.

Todd Amenrud is the director of Public Relations for Mossy Oak BioLogic, Editor-in-chief of Gamekeepers, Farming for Wildlife magazine and a habitat consultant.



The Co-op Pantry


by Mary Delph and Jena Klein

Since August is National Catfish Month, we decided to let Brian Taylor, with SouthFresh and our own Chef’s Corner cook, have one of our usual two pages in the magazine, so we're glad you are visiting us here on the website for all the great recipes we've collected for this month!

We are still looking for cooks to feature. Don’t be shy – our next cook could be YOU!! Let us know if you are interested!!

The foods we are looking to feature in the September issue are biscuits, breakfast, chicken, honey, mushroom, organic harvest, potato, rice (including wild), whole grains, waffle, bacon, coconut, coffee, guacamole, linguini, acorn squash, ethnic foods, peas and goose. For October, we are looking for vegetarian, chili, cookie, dessert and pizza dishes; and recipes with one of these as a main ingredient: apple, caramel, cranberry, pasta, pickled peppers (or how you make yours), pork, pretzel, sausage, tomato, kale, nut, pumpkin, country ham, spinach and wild food.

Whew, that’s a lot of choices! You are sure to have a recipe with at least one of them as the main ingredient.

Keep those recipes coming – we love getting them!!

QUICK PEACH PIE

Makes: about 4 servings

2/3 stick of butter
½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup milk
2 small cans peaches

Preheat oven to 350°. Into a small casserole dish, cut butter. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar and milk to make a running batter. Pour batter over butter. In another bowl, pour peaches. Mash. Pour peaches over batter. Bake until brown.

Rhonda Baldwin

OLD FASHIONED LEMONADE

4 lemons
¾ cup sugar
1 quart water
1 tray ice cubes (or about 8-12 cubes)

Wash lemons. In a large bowl, cut lemons into thin slices and remove seeds. Remove a few slices for garnish. Cover fruit with sugar. Let stand 30 minutes. Press firmly with potato masher or pastry blender to extract juice. Add water, continuing to press fruit with masher until liquid is well flavored. Add ice cubes.

Taste lemonade for sweetness when it is chilled. Add more sugar if needed and stir to dissolve. Serve in glasses over ice cubes with lemon slices.

Note: This is the world’s best!!

Anne Allen

PEACH DUMPLINGS

½ cup orange juice
½ cup sugar
½ stick margarine
1 can crescent dinner rolls
Peaches, peeled and quartered

Preheat oven to 450°. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat orange juice, sugar and margarine. Open dinner rolls. On a clean surface, separate and flatten a few rolls. Put peach slices on roll and roll them up. Place in a Pyrex dish until all the rolls are used. Pour sauce over rolls. Bake until brown.

Carolyn Parker

PEACH DESSERT

1 baked angel food cake, broken into bite-size pieces
2-3 ounces peach gelatin
2 cups boiling water
2 packages frozen (or 1 quart fresh or canned)
peaches, sliced
1 package instant vanilla pudding, with needed
ingredients from package
1 (8-ounce) container whipped topping

In a baking dish, spread cake. In a bowl, dissolve gelatin using water. Pour over cake. Add peaches. Set in refrigerator until firm. In a bowl, prepare instant pudding according to package directions. Spread pudding over peaches. Spread whipped topping over all.

Marjorie H. Stroud

PEACH ORCHARD MUFFINS

Makes: 1 dozen muffins

Wesson No Stick Cooking Spray
1 (16-ounces) can sliced peaches in heavy syrup, diced
and reserve syrup
1/3 cup Wesson vegetable oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup peach preserves
Sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine syrup from peaches, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in peaches. Fill muffin cups to rim. Bake for 15-22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Remove muffins to wire racks. Brush with peach preserves and sprinkle with desired amount of sugar.

Ann Hamilton

PEACH DUMPLINGS WITH MOUNTAIN DEW

Butter, for baking dish
2 cans crescent rolls
16 whole frozen peach slices
1½ stick (¾ cup) butter
1¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can Mountain Dew (Sprite or 7-Up can be used)
Ground cinnamon, for sprinkling
Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Open a can of crescent rolls. On a clean surface, separate and flatten a few rolls. Roll a peach slice in a crescent roll. Place in dish. Continue until all slices have been rolled.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir once or twice. Pour entire mixture over peach rolls in dish. Pour ¾ can of Mountain Dew around edges and in middle of dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the dish over top.

Susan Smith

ESCALLOPED OYSTERS A LA HUTCHINSON

1 pint half & half
2 Tablespoons plain flour
2 sticks butter, divided
½ pound crackers, crumbled by hand
4 (12-ounce) cans oysters
Salt and pepper, to taste
Paprika

Preheat oven to375°. In a bowl, pour half & half. Add flour and stir until well dissolved. Grease casserole dish well (bottom and size) with half stick of soft butter. Cover bottom of casserole dish with crackers. Add one layer of oysters. Pour half of cream mixture over oysters. Add salt, pepper and a portion of sliced butter. Repeat process by making another layer. Cover well with a layer of crackers, sliced butter, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with paprika and bake for about 40 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Note: When adding salt, bear in mind the saltiness of crackers and oysters.

Kate Curington

OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER

3 dozen oysters on the half shell
Rock salt
Sauce
3 Tablespoons real bacon bits
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach
2 green onion tops, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup margarine
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
Topping
Grated cheese
Real bacon bits

In saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients. Heat to boiling, then simmer.

In bottom of broiler pan, put 1-inch layer of rock salt. Arrange oysters on top of salt. Broil oysters until edges start to curl. Remove from broiler. Spoon sauce over oysters. Add toppings to each oyster. Return to broiler to melt cheese and brown slightly.

Bobby Smith

MOCK APPLE TORTE

12 cups zucchini, peeled, sliced (like apples) and
remove seeds
1 cup bottled lemon juice
1½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Crust
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°. In a saucepan, put zucchini and lemon juice. Cook until tender. Add sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Let simmer about 10 minutes. In a bowl, put all crust ingredients except cinnamon. Mix until pie crust consistency. Keep 1 cup of crust mix for topping. Add cinnamon to reserved crust mix and set aside for topping. Lightly grease a 10x15 jelly roll pan. Pat crust mix in pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour sauce mixture on top. Cover with reserved crust mixture. Bake for another 30 minutes.

Note: You can make this in a 9x13 jelly roll pan, but cut all ingredients in half except zucchini. Use 7 cups of zucchini.

Bud Eber

GRILLED VEGGIE & HERBED-GOAT CHEESE PANINIS

Yield: 1 sandwich per serving

1 large sweet red pepper, cored and quartered
2 small uncooked zucchini, halved widthwise, cut
each into 8 thin slices
1 medium eggplant, cut into 8 thin slices
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, divided
1 Tablespoon minced garlic, divided
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup semisoft goat cheese, crumbled
4 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
8 slices reduced-calorie bread, Italian style

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.

Lightly coat both sides of vegetables with cooking spray. Season with salt. Grill vegetables until tender and grill marks are evident; turning once, about 4 minutes for eggplant and 5-6 minutes for peppers and zucchini. Remove from grill and toss with 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons garlic and lemon juice. (Vegetables can be made ahead and stored, covered, in refrigerator up to 3 days before use).

In a small bowl, combine goat cheese, chives, remaining oregano, remaining garlic and zest. (Cheese spread can be made ahead and stored, covered in refrigerator, up to 1 day before use.)

When ready to cook, bring cheese mixture to room temperature; spread 1½ tablespoons on each slice of bread. On each of 4 slices of bread, place 2 slices eggplant, 1 slice pepper and 2 slices zucchini. Top with a second slice of bread, goat cheese-side down.

Coat a grill or grill pan with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Grill sandwiches, pressing down lightly, until bread is toasted and goat cheese melts, about 2-3 minutes per side (or use a panini press).

Note: Found this one online and really liked it when we tried it!!

Jena Klein


AUGUST HEALTHY RECIPE

Jalapeño Zucchini Popper Boats

Serving: 1 zucchini boat

Makes: 4 servings

2 medium (about ¾ pound) zucchini
6 Tablespoons reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons light tub-style cream cheese
2 Tablespoons light sour cream
1½ teaspoons finely chopped jalapeño peppers
4 Tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.

Slice zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out seeds to form zucchini boats. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 1 minute. Blot any moisture from zucchini with a paper towel. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, place cheddar and cream cheeses, sour cream and jalapeños. Stir well with a fork until smooth. Spread about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture in each of the zucchini boats.

On a baking sheet, place stuffed zucchini. Sprinkle each boat evenly with breadcrumbs. Spray well with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, or until crumb topping is golden brown. Let cool slightly before digging in!

Note: We cut them into small chunks once they were cooked to use as a finger food appetizer! We also found that if you chill them overnight before baking them it makes the flavor more intense!!

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING: Calories 80 | Carbohydrate 6g (Sugars 1g) | Total Fat 4 g (Sat Fat 2 g) | Protein 6g | Fiber 1g | Cholesterol 15mg | Sodium 130mg | Food Exchanges: 1 Vegetable, ½ Lean Meat, ½ Fat | Carbohydrate Choices: ½ | Weight Watcher Plus Point Comparison: 2


Mary Delph is an associate editor with AFC Cooperative Farming News. You may email her at maryd@alafarm.com. Jena Klein is AFC’s Wellness Program Coordinator.



The Least Favorite Part of My Job

by Dr. Tony Frazier

I suppose different people become veterinarians for a variety of reasons. I suppose the fact I liked working with animals and I loved people played a big role in my decision to pursue veterinary medicine. I figured that, if I could make people’s animals feel better, it would be a plus for the animals and the owners. By treating pets or farm animals or providing them with preventive care, I was doing my part in making the world I lived in a little bit better. I don’t see animals anymore on a day-to-day basis, but the responsibilities of my job are to look after the collective health of the livestock herds and poultry flocks in the state of Alabama.

When I was in private practice, the thing I never got used to and never liked to do was euthanize animals. For those of you who are not familiar with what euthanasia means, it simply means "good death." In veterinary practice, I often had to euthanize the family pet because it had become too debilitated to live any type of quality life. Often these animals had some terminal disease resulting in constant pain and they struggled to stay alive long enough to meet their impending, inevitable demise. When I injected the solution into the animal’s vein to cause it to go to sleep permanently, I knew I was doing the animal and, ultimately, the owners a favor. I never liked doing it and never got used to it but knew it was a necessary part of my job.

Fast forward a little over 20 years. I seldom put my hands on animals in my job as State Veterinarian. I have, however, been involved in having to recommend some animals be euthanized to stop the potential spread of some devastating disease. These decisions are made, usually with the input and partnership of the owners or the poultry companies, federal animal health officials and the state animal health official (me) as the case may be. While it is not the same as euthanizing the family pet that has been around to help raise the kids, there is still a considerable amount of stress that goes along with euthanizing large numbers of cattle, swine, chickens or other livestock and poultry.

Some of you reading this column have gotten a little ahead of me and are saying to yourself, "I’ll bet having to euthanize the poultry on the two Alabama farms that had tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza back in the spring prompted Dr. Frazier to write on this subject." Well, you are correct. I remember seeing it reported on the news. The reporter ended her report by saying, "… and the chickens on the farm that tested positive were destroyed and will not make it into the food supply." It takes about three or four seconds to say that. The birds on the farm were destroyed – and life goes on. I want to discuss a few of the necessary considerations involved in that event. It definitely stretched us personnel- and resource-wise, but I feel like it was necessary and likely kept us from having a really bad situation on our hands.

The first consideration I want to address is the method we use for mass euthanasia must be one approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and considered humane. While the euthanasia solution used to inject Ol’ Shep works great, you just cannot use that on poultry farms with 20,000 to over 100,000 birds on the premises.

The methods for mass depopulation must be as quick and painless as possible. That involves equipment and trained personnel to use the equipment. Some of our neighboring states and some poultry companies, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, own equipment that can be used for mass depopulation. In our situation, it was not only appreciated but essential that poultry companies, the state of Mississippi and USDA brought their equipment into Alabama to help us with depopulation. In the future, we will look at finding funding to possibly buy our own equipment that can be used for future mass depopulation.

The second consideration is to be able to get rid of the carcasses in a way consistent with not harming the environment or contaminating ground water supplies. I think I once wrote an article titled "Committing the Crime Was Easy. Getting Rid of the Body Is What Was Difficult." Ideally, we do not want to move the carcasses off the farm and risk spreading the disease as we haul birds down the road to a landfill. That requires some strategic planning that, fortunately, is part of each poultry farm’s disposal plan.

The State Veterinarian in South Dakota is a friend of mine. When they had a few cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza back in 2014 or 2015, he told me they were stretched to their limit pretty quickly. South Dakota is not known to be a poultry state. We are. It is almost impossible to imagine how difficult it would be here in Alabama if we had several flocks positive for avian influenza at the same time. It would make it tremendously more difficult if our neighboring states were dealing with several positive premises of their own.

Thinking about such scenarios makes it easy to want to just whistle as you go by the cemetery and hope nothing like that ever happens. But June 13, poultry company representatives, state and USDA animal health officials, and veterinary services personnel from Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi met in Hanceville at one of our branch diagnostic laboratories. The sole purpose of the meeting was to discuss and educate us about mass poultry depopulation. The meeting was the brainchild of Dr. Jim Watson, Mississippi State Veterinarian. The location was chosen because it was sort of central. Ben Mullins, our emergency programs director, coordinated the details with USDA and Watson.

I have always said that you plan for a hurricane when the sun is shining. We started planning for the next avian influenza event soon after the last was over and it was still fresh on everyone’s mind. We didn’t iron all the details out but we were able to get on the same page concerning mass depopulation of poultry. Hopefully, we will continue to hone our capabilities.

Mass depopulation is definitely the part of my job I like the least. But it is necessary sometimes to stop the spread of potentially devastating diseases. Hopefully, we can go for a long time without having to consider such unpleasant activities. But if we are faced with the need to euthanize large flocks, we will be better prepared as we go down the road.

Dr. Tony Frazier is the State Veterinarian for Alabama. You can contact him at 334-240-7253.



The Perfect Peanut

A new cultivar developed at Auburn University produces higher yields and boasts greater health benefits than current varieties.

by Rebecca Oliver

Dr. Charles Chen stands by the sign for Comer Hall with a bag of AU-NPL17 peanuts.

Auburn University may have produced the perfect peanut. The new variety, called AU-NPL 17, surpassed other varieties in yields, disease resistance and health benefits.

This runner-type cultivar is the first of its kind to be released by Auburn, but it yields higher in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Uniform Peanut Performance Test than the widely used Georgia-06G. The runner-type peanut is most commonly used for making peanut butter. Alabama was home to over 175,000 acres of runner-type peanuts in 2016.

AU-NPL 17 yields 6,449 pounds per acre and the Georgia-06G falls at 6,175 pounds per acre. The Georgia-06G has been regarded as the best choice for Southeastern peanut growers for years. However, the new AU-NPL 17 was ranked first in the Uniform Peanut Performance test in Alabama and second in North Carolina while the Georgia-06G ranked fifth in both tests.

Dr. Charles Chen is responsible for the breeding program that is a joint effort between the College of Agriculture’s Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Department and the USDA. Chen previously worked for the USDA Agricultural Research Service as a research geneticist. Since joining the College of Agriculture as a professor of peanut breeding and genetics in 2012, Chen has established a research pipeline.

Chen said the goal of the research program is to continuously improve genetics.

The AU-NPL 17 has been tested in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina where it has shown good adaptability in nonirrigated fields, twin-row patterns and without fungicide treatment.

According to Chen, the AU-NPL 17 is well-adapted specifically to Alabama farmers’ growing practices.

"Many farms in Alabama don’t have irrigation like those in Georgia," Chen said. "AU-NPL17 is well-suited for our state’s resources as it can tolerate less water than the Georgia-06G variety."

AU-NPL 17 can be planted in two rows, a method used by Alabama farmers to produce higher yields than single-row planting.

"Not every peanut variety performs as well as others in twin-rows," Chen said. "But the AU-NPL 17 showed it could produce high yields when planted in twin-rows."

AU-NPL 17 is resistant to tomato spotted wilt virus and tolerant to leaf spot disease that plagues farmers in the Southeast. It also has some resistance to white mold.

"Pests will never be a problem that is completely solved," Chen said. "Over time, they become resistant to herbicides used on the plants; so we have to keep developing new cultivars."

The Auburn breeding program is new to the Southeast, but progress is being made. Chen said future cultivars will be developed at Auburn from the foundation laid by the AU-NPL 17.

"We want to continue creating new cultivars with the best traits for the Southeast," Chen said. "AU-NPL 17 showed it was more resistant to or tolerant of tomato spotted wilt virus, early and late leaf spot, and white mold than other cultivars tested in the Uniform Peanut Performance Test," Chen said.

According to Chen, producing a better peanut goes beyond the field and provides consumers with nutritional benefits.

The AU-NPL 17 boasts health benefits for consumers because it contains a higher amount of oleic acid than standard varieties.

Oleic acid reduces LDL, or bad cholesterol, and increases HDL, or good cholesterol. Oleic acid also increases the shelf life of peanut products. These same monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil and canola oil, which are competing products with peanut oil.

According to Chen, industry trends are indicating a demand for high-oleic peanuts.

"The United States doesn’t produce as many high-oleic peanuts as competing countries," Chen said. "I believe that will change."

Chen said Argentina and Australia currently produce more high-oleic peanuts than the United States.

High-oleic peanuts are worth more to farmers bringing a premium price. Top peanut buyers are committing to purchasing only high-oleic peanuts in the future.

To help farmers obtain this premium price sooner rather than later, Chen said he hopes to have 120 tons of AU-NPL 17 foundation seed available to farmers with a few farmers growing test seed in 2018 and most farmers growing by 2019. Six thousand pounds of seed will be planted this year by the Alabama Crop Improvement Association.

Rebecca Oliver is a freelance writer from Auburn.



Underappreciated Trees for Alabama Landscapes

by Tony Glover

Sourwood

This past, dry fall caused the worst tree and shrub loss I have ever witnessed that did not involve a tornado or hurricane. Some of you may have been like me and waited until the early part of summer to see if some things that appeared dead would start to grow. I waited in vain for a magnolia, corkscrew willow and a couple of redbuds that I eventually had to remove from my landscape. Trees and shrubs give us a sense of history and well-being, make our communities livable, provide habitat for wildlife and shade our homes, which helps us save money on utility bills.

Now is a good time to talk to your local nursery about getting the specific trees and shrubs you need since they will place their fall orders soon.

Consider all of the factors when selecting the best tree for each location. A tree should be suited to the location’s light exposure, soil drainage, soil chemistry and available space. Think about both the above- and below-ground space needed for the mature canopy and root system of the tree.

Right Plant – Right Place

It is always best to plant a mixture of tree species. When we rely too heavily on too few species, Mother Nature will punish us sooner or later. For recommendations, consult a local arborist, Extension horticulturist or knowledgeable nursery worker; or visit one of the many arboretums or botanical gardens around the state.

To whet your appetite, I want to give you a short list of underused beautiful trees suited for most everyone in Alabama.

The blackgum tree (Nyssa sylvatica) is a wonderful native species that tolerates a wide range of soil types; has beautiful red fall color; provides a good nectar source for bees; and the female trees produce a small fruit that birds enjoy.

Southern sugar maple (Acer saccharum var. floridanum) looks similar to sugar maple, but is better suited for smaller spaces, hotter summers and poor soils.

Fringe tree, often called Grancy Graybeard (Chionanthus sp), is available in a native and Asian form. Both types perform well in well-drained, partial-sun locations, but the Asian species is actually a little tougher and better adapted to poorer soils and direct sun locations. This is a small tree suited for locations with 25-30 feet of clearance.

American hornbeam, sometimes called musclewood (Carpinus caroliniana) due to its musclelike wood, is a great small tree about the same size as the fringe tree. It is suited for partial shade to full sun. It has fine-textured, birchlike leaves with an interesting bloom and winged seed pods.

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboretum) is perhaps most commonly found on rocky, wooded slopes in the Appalachian Mountains, often growing in combination with other heath family members (e.g., azaleas and rhododendrons) that share the same acidic soil preferences. In cultivation, it typically grows 20-35 feet with a straight, slender trunk and narrow, oblong crown. Bees love this native tree and you will, too.

When you have decided which tree to plant, think small. Better success starts with smaller trees, 1-3 inches in diameter at the base. Small trees are also less expensive, easier to plant and require less time to establish.

Fringe tree or Grancy Graybeard

Planting for Success

Fall and winter are the best seasons to plant new trees so you need to start getting ready now. Soil improvement and preparation as well as proper planting space are critical for a good start and long-term tree health. Always call 811 to locate water and utility lines.

Plant trees in large, wide holes rather than in narrow, deep ones. Do not dig the hole deeper than the root ball of the tree being planted. If the soil has a poor texture – either too sandy or too heavy – add loose, loamy topsoil and composted organic matter in an area as wide as possible and not to individual planting holes. Till any soil amendments such as organic matter, topsoil or lime into the entire planting area.

Blackgum tree

After Planting Care

Planting in fall or early winter reduces planting stress and water needs compared to planting in warmer seasons. However, watering is critically important at any planting time. When a tree is first planted, add water slowly every day or two at a rate of about two gallons per inch of trunk diameter. After a few weeks, decrease the frequency but increase the volume and expand it to a wider area to encourage widespreading roots. You may need to water for six months or even a year, depending on the size of the tree and the time of year you plant.

Fertilization and pruning are not usually necessary the first year except to remove dead, rubbing or broken limbs. Finally, create a weed- and grass-free mulch ring around the tree to protect it from string trimmer and lawn mower damage. Apply about 3 inches of mulch in a ring around the plant, but avoid direct contact with the trunk.

If you have more questions or want further plant suggestions, contact your local county Extension office and ask to speak with the Regional Extension Horticulture Agent.

Tony A. Glover is a County Extension Coordinator in Cullman County.




What I Did On My Summer Vacation

by Herb T. Farmer

I call this one “Blue Sunflower.” The colors strike me as energetic. Besides, they match my sofa in the den.

Summer, just like spring, fall and most of winter, does not offer me many opportunities to vacation. There’s always too much farm work to do. The older I get, just to walk from one end of the property and back wears me out.

Most of my vacations are spent exploring foreign places I have never seen. I don’t have to travel too far to find something new and exciting to photograph, and get lost in a whole new world of adventures, because there’s plenty to explore in my own backyard. If I look closely enough, I will be able to see things that are new and foreign to me.

For the next couple of months, I would like to show off some of my photography work. I have been building my collection and learning how to use different techniques to achieve some really rad images. (Yes, this old codger just used the term "rad.")

Over the past several weeks, the rain has been plentiful, but that makes getting out into the fields a nasty, muddy mess! I shouldn’t complain about it because in 2016 it was a dust bowl around here and, besides, I like my job.

So instead of pissing and moaning about the weather not being idyllic on the days when I want it to be that way, I spent those days learning about creative software. Adobe Creative Cloud is my new best friend. I can catalog all of my photographs, edit the ones that need editing, turn flowers into spaceships and make presidents do things that make me blush. I can now edit my video footage and make sense of it all, design posters for all my farming buddies going to local farmers markets and edit all of my audio tracks.

Berry season at the farm starts around the end of February with strawberries and ends about the beginning of September with late-producing figs. Here’s a couple of stylized blackberries for your viewing pleasure.

In this column, I want to show off some of my early works of weirdness, while not being too far off the subject.

Hmm. Quick thought … did I log any herb photos for this column? OK! Yes, I did. Ricin, echinacea, sunflower and whatever the aphids are trying to kill.

Sitting back in my squeaky office chair with a cup of hot coffee, listening to the notification signal on the fairly smartphone letting me know I have mail, messages or a phone call that I can instantly respond to is one of the simple pleasures of my life. All the while, I am working on editing pictures or videos.

You know? Travel pictures can be boring. How many pictures of the Eiffel Tower have you seen and how many were the exact same angle? I’ll tell ya, if I have the chance to go back to Paris, you can bet I’ll find a new twist to capture it all!

The aphids look extremely lit-up on this plant stalk. It’s almost like they have LEDs in their bellies.

My vacation pictures these days come from my explorations on the farm and I am always looking for different ways to present my subjects.

These pictures are all images I captured on the farm while just walking around with a camera. In fact, these pictures are a couple of years old and you likely have seen most of them before. I just chose to show you a different perspective by using different color balances and filters. All of these pictures have a story. All of these pictures are framed and hanging in my home. If you have any questions about how I achieved the final image, simply email me.

Next month, I’ll have a whole ‘nother bunch of photographs taken on the farm I want to show you. They won’t be quite as abstract as these but they will offer a different perspective on the wildlife on the farm.

I’m hungry! Let’s eat!

MISS OPIE'S GUAC-AROUND-THE-CROCK GARDEN FRESH SUMMERTIME GUACAMOLE

(This stuff really gets me going!)

3 ripe avocadoes and equal parts garden fresh tomatoes
1 lime, juiced
½ Valencia orange, juiced
1 small Spanish onion, finely diced
1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Dice avocadoes and tomatoes. Put in a large serving bowl. Add lime and orange juices right away to prevent avocadoes from oxidizing. Add onion, jalapeño, cloves and cilantro. Toss with salt and pepper.

You’d better make a double batch if you’re having company. It’s more than just a chalupa topping!

Send me some of your pictures from your garden. I’d love to see them.

I eat my yard! You should eat yours, too!

Until next time, remember to watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water, and breathe in and out!

Thanks for reading!

For more information, email me at farmerherb@gmail.com. I’ll answer your questions and I enjoy the emails!

Be sure to find me on Facebook at Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm.



World-Class Catfish Feed

SouthFresh Feeds is the first catfish feed mill in the U.S. to earn Best Aquaculture Practices certification from Global Aquaculture Alliance.

by Jimmy Hughes

The BAP certification was a team effort. The employees of SouthFresh Feeds worked toward this certification for over a year. The employees are (from left) Casey Jones, Bill Miller, Jonathan Bonilla, Chester Brown, John Womer, Jody Day, Grover Houston, Deonte Edwards, Martin Bailey, Javaris Ravizee, James Zanders, Deacatur Copeland, Tracy Watts, Elmer Jackson, Chris Taylor, Kelvin Fritts, Joseph Aldridge, Mel Houston, John Moore, Rod McIntosh, Rhonda Haynes, Jimmy Hughes, Tonia Osburn and Debra Wommack. Not pictured: Jesse Daniels, David Greene, Travares Hall, Rick Harris, Cleophus Howard, Vaughn Koehn, John Marshall, Michael Pratt, Will Sledge and Joseph Taylor.

Global Aquaculture Alliance provides resources to individuals and businesses worldwide associated with aquaculture and seafood. The mission of GAA is to promote responsible aquaculture practices through education, advocacy and demonstration. GAA strives to improve production practices through partnerships with countries, communities and companies. As part of this ongoing mission, GAA has created a third-party certification program, Best Aquaculture Practices. This program ensures aquaculture and seafood products come from facilities managed in an environmentally, socially and economically responsible manner.

Best Aquaculture Practices is the world’s most comprehensive third-party aquaculture certification program with achievable, science-based and continuously improved global performance standards addressing environmental responsibility, social responsibility, food safety, and animal welfare and traceability. It is also known as the world’s only third-party certification program encompassing the entire production chain: farm, processing plants, hatcheries and feed mills.

Best Aquaculture Practices certification defines the most important elements of responsible aquaculture and provides quantitative guidelines to evaluate adherence to these practices. These standards are scientific, rigorous and always evolving while being fair, objective and traceable. To be BAP certified is to prove your commitment to the environment, social integrity, and to the health of the animal and consumer.

SouthFresh Aquaculture Processing Plant in Eutaw has been BAP certified since 2009; a cooperating catfish farm was certified in 2016 and, now, SouthFresh Feeds has earned BAP certification. With the feed mill earning BAP certification, SouthFresh Aquaculture becomes the first three-star BAP catfish company in the United States. SouthFresh Feeds is the first catfish feed mill in the United States to achieve certification and is one of only two feed mills in the United States to be BAP certified.

Peter Redmond, BAP Vice President of marketing development, stated, "SouthFresh Aquaculture is demonstrating real leadership within the catfish industry. It is taking a very strong and proactive action to demonstrate its commitment to selling responsible, sustainable products to the marketplace. As a leader in catfish feed research, SouthFresh Feeds understands the importance of producing safe, nutrient-dense feed for the catfish industry. This BAP certification is a first in the U.S. catfish feed industry and we applaud this action. Over 150 seafood distributors recognize the importance of this certification and require it from those who provide them aquaculture products, including catfish."

SouthFresh Feeds is very proud of this recognition in the industry. A tremendous amount of time and effort was put forth to make this certification a reality. From management, feed mill employees and drivers, who deliver the finished product, it was a total team effort. The employees of SouthFresh Feeds worked toward this certification for over a year and everyone had to buy into the importance of reaching this milestone in the catfish industry. SouthFresh Feeds takes a tremendous amount of pride in what they do and making sure they manufacture nutrient-dense and safe product for our catfish producers and this certification validates that.

As vice president of SouthFresh Aquaculture, I am very proud of this certification.

I am also very proud of all the employees who make up the SouthFresh Feed Team. Each person played an integral part in us receiving this certification and it would not have been possible without the teamwork of everyone. It was a total team effort and I am so proud of our employees and how they stepped up to make this a reality.

This BAP certification is just one more step in our goal at SouthFresh Aquaculture to implement programs combining research, safe products, environmental care and social responsibility to best meet the expectations of the users of our products.

Jimmy Hughes is vice president of SouthFresh Aquaculture.




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