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(From the August 2014 issue of the Georgia Farm Bureau News)



Zippy DuvallIt’s shaping up to be a typical, hot and dry Georgia summer, but this summer is heating up in other ways besides the temperature. In the last issue of the “GFB News” I encouraged you to submit comments opposing the rule the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have proposed to expand their regulatory authority over water on our farms under the Clean Water Act.


I’d like to thank everyone who took time to submit comments through GFB’s “Ditch the Rule” webpage. American Farm Bureau and GFB’s “Ditch the Rule” campaign got the EPA’s attention, and they’re on the defensive. They started a “Ditch the Myth” website they’re using to refute our concerns with the rule and promote it. You can read more about this on page five, but the important thing is: If you haven’t submitted comments opposing the rule, please do so before the Oct. 20 deadline.


Don’t be intimidated to submit your comments and speak your mind for fear of retaliation. Plenty of American farmers and their children have fought for our country to defend our right of free speech and our way of life. Don’t let their sacrifices be in vain.


If you need a reason to submit your comments, I’d like to ask you to do it for the future of Georgia agriculture. GFB hosted its annual Young Farmer Conference July 10-13, and I was reminded why GFB’s mission of being the voice of Georgia agriculture is so important.


More than 400 young people between the ages of 18 and 35 attended this conference. GFB did our best to offer them family-oriented fellowship and workshops to help them address issues they’re facing as beginning farmers and to get them plugged into GFB.


You can read all about the conference on pages six and seven and meet some of GFB’s leaders who were named finalists in our three Young Farmer contests.


July 10 marked a special day for Georgia agriculture in Moultrie, Ga. The Sunbelt Expo held a field day to showcase the farm research being done at the Expo farm and the preparations being made for the 37th Annual Expo to be held Oct. 14-16. Chip Blalock, Michael Chafin and the rest of the Sunbelt staff are doing an outstanding job tending to the crops and every detail of the upcoming Expo.


I hope you are making plans to attend because this year is very special. Each year a different state is chosen to be the spotlight state. This year it is our turn. The theme is “Always in Season, Georgia Agriculture.” Georgia Farm Bureau is proud to partner with UGA and the Department of Agriculture and other ag organizations in building a permanent structure to house our exhibit and future spotlight states. I am proud that Georgia is taking the lead to provide a permanent home to showcase Southern agriculture.


In mid-July I attended the annual AFBF Council of Presidents Meeting in Washington. This meeting gives state Farm Bureau presidents the chance to Meet and discuss issues, hear presentations from elected officials and policy makers like Krysta Harden, the USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Krysta spoke to all the state presidents. I was proud of our own farm girl from Mitchell County. Her father taught her to love and appreciate farmers and the land at an early age, and now she is leading the USDA team in implementing the 2014 farm bill. Krysta said every farmer in the country needs to educate themselves on the opportunities in the farm bill.


The passion Krysta has for helping others get started in agriculture is contagious. Her words about women, young people and our veterans will inspire you. Reconnecting our wounded soldiers to the land and nature through agriculture is the best way to help our brave warriors heal their wounds, Krysta said. These are powerful words, which are full of truth and hope.


We are so blessed to have a person like Krysta helping lead our USDA. I am confident she will always hold the love she has for agriculture at the root of every decision she has to make.


While in D.C., I also had time to visit our legislators on Capitol Hill. Henry County Farm Bureau member Jake Carter, who is chairing the AFBF Young Farmer & Rancher Committee, also attended the meeting. We visited Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson together. Sen. Chambliss has been a faithful friend to Georgia agriculture during his 19 years in Congress. We’re going to miss him when he retires at the end of this year, but I’m confident Sen. Isakson will carry the torch for agriculture as our senior senator.


GFB’s summer membership campaign, which started June 1, has united the energies of our county Farm Bureau boards, county staff and insurance staff across the state. This campaign has created much excitement and is yielding positive results toward our membership goals.


The campaign ends Aug. 31, and I challenge you again to ask your neighbors and friends who aren’t members to join Farm Bureau.


The two biggest misconceptions about Farm Bureau membership are: 1) that you have to be a farmer and 2) that you have to have insurance with us to be a member. Neither is true. We’re just looking for members who want to be Farm Bureau Proud – folks who value faith, family and Georgia Grown food. Protecting these three things is the core of Farm Bureau’s mission. I think a lot of people would gladly pay our $25 member fee to join us in our mission. Remind them that they’ll be rewarded forb joining us with member discounts that will save them more than their $25 dues.


In closing I leave you with this devotion. Upon the death of Moses, the Lord came to Joshua and explained to him that he had prepared the way and would provide everything Joshua needed to lead his people into the promise land. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid, do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


As I read the book of Joshua, I can’t help thinking about our agriculture communities. God tells us to be strong and not be afraid or dismayed. We should not be intimidated by the EPA. We should encourage our neighbors to join Farm Bureau and help us. We should encourage our young and beginning farmers.


God has blessed us with everything we need to be successful on our farms. Georgia has the best farmers, plenty of water, the best soils and weather to grow our crops. To top it all off, God promises to always be with us. I thank God every day for allowing me to be a Georgia farmer. We, the agriculture communities of Georgia, are blessed by God for success.