We, The Farmers... Working Together
By Zippy Duvall
Relationships make things happen. Our organization is only successful because of the many relationships we have with our members, volunteers, public servants and other organizations.
I can’t help thinking about the relationships that began 75 years ago when the founders of Georgia Farm Bureau first met in Bartow County on June 17 and again in Atlanta on July 31 to formally organize. The power of working together was their vision then and it remains our vision today. Our passion is stirred up by the encouragement of others and it strengthens us more each day.
It’s hard to believe, but this year is more than half over! Before we know it, October will be here, and farmers will be traveling to Moultrie for the 35th Annual Sunbelt Agricultural Expo, Oct. 16-18.
In July, I attended the Expo Field Day along with other Georgia farmers to get a look at the research being done on the Expo farm. Georgia Farm Bureau teamed up with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to host a biscuit breakfast for those attending the event. As most of you remember, Farm Bureau partnered with the Department of Agriculture last year to renovate an existing building at Expo so Georgia agriculture would be front and center as you enter the main Expo gate.
Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and I thought it would be a good idea to use the building during the field day to serve breakfast to the farmers before they headed out to the research plots. We wanted to remind Georgia’s farmers that both of our organizations are in the business of serving them and advocating for agriculture.
I enjoyed visiting with the farmers attending the event and learning about the research being done to ensure that agriculture remains the top industry in our state. Hearing about yield expectations for the new row crop varieties and ways to improve crop production through better fertilization and irrigation techniques was exciting.
Be sure to come by the Georgia Agriculture Building when you come to Expo to learn more about how Georgia Farm Bureau is serving as the voice of Georgia farmers.
I also had the privilege in July of attending and speaking at GFB’s annual Young Farmer Leadership Conference. This is the third year we’ve held this summer conference to develop the future leaders of our organization and strengthen Georgia’s young farm families. The more than 250 young farmers who attended the event had the chance to learn about USDA conservation programs, GFB legislative initiatives and ways to improve their farm finances while making family memories on Jekyll Island.
We held the conference in Jekyll Island’s new convention center. If you haven’t already made plans to attend GFB’s annual convention in December, you’ll want to be sure to attend this year to see this wonderful facility.
If you attend our convention, be sure to attend the final round of competition for the GFB Young Farmer Discussion Meet. The preliminary rounds of the contest were held at the young farmer conference, during which 23 contestants were narrowed down to four finalists in three rounds of competition. The three finalists for the GFB Young Farmer Achievement Award were also announced, with the state winner to be named at our convention in December. Read more about these contest finalists and the conference on pages eight and nine.
In August, I enjoyed visiting with members of the GFB Commodity Advisory Committees during our annual commodity conference in Perry. Besides kicking off our annual policy development process, attendees also got the latest update on the farm bill and other legislative issues and met Dr. Pam Knox, the newly appointed agricultural climatologist at the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, who discussed the state weather stations and their value to Georgia farmers. I appreciate Capt. Gregg Willis with the Georgia Dept. of Public Safety discussing things we farmers need to do to safely haul our commodities on public roads and for explaining the licensing requirements we need to satisfy. Ladonna Lee with the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance did a great job of bringing us up to speed on how this coalition is promoting animal agriculture to consumers and combating attacks activists are making on our way of life.
It was a pleasure to present Dr. Carter Black the 2012 GFB Commodity Award. During the 27 years Dr. Blackworked at the Georgia Department of Agriculture he used his veterinary skills to help Georgia livestock producers. Thanks to Dr. Black’s efforts, Georgia is free of cattle and swine brucellosis and pseudorabies.
As a former dairy farmer, I can tell you I was relieved when Georgia was declared brucellosis-free and I no longer had to worry about testing cattle at the sale barn. I know beef cattle and swine producers were equally relieved to no longer have to test their herds before they could sell or transport their animals out of state.
Congress left Washington for their August recess without passing a new farm bill, but we’re hopeful they’ll get something done before Sept. 30 when the current bill expires. Georgia Farm Bureau will continue to monitor the situation and fight for a bill that works for Georgia’s farmers.
On a positive note, agriculture did score a victory this summer when Congress passed transportation bill H.R. 4348, which exempts farmers and certain farm vehicles from some federal regulations that made it difficult for farmers to transport their crops short distances across state lines.
Now, some farm vehicles and their drivers are exempted from federal requirements regarding commercial driver’s licenses, medical certificates, hours of service restrictions and vehicle maintenance. These exemptions apply to properly marked farm vehicles weighing less than 26,001 pounds. Farm vehicles that weigh more than this are exempt if they are traveling within the state or within 150 air miles of their farm when crossing a state line.
Last year I sent letters to members of Georgia’s congressional delegation pointing out that the regulations were burdensome for farmers living in counties on state borders when their best markets are just across the state line.
Everything in life is accomplished through a relationship. A successful business depends on relationships with employees and outside vendors. A good family life depends on strong, loving relationships between parents and their children. Even our salvation is only complete when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts – a personal relationship with the one that gave it all on the cross.
Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
(Zippy Duvall, a farmer from Greene County, is president of the Georgia Farm Bureau, the state's largest general farm organization.)
© 2012 Georgia Farm Bureau Federation