Alabama Farmers Federation leaders encouraged legislators to invest in poultry research and expand irrigation during a joint session of the Senate and House agriculture committees Jan. 27 in Auburn.

Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee Chairman Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, praised the work being done by the National Poultry Technology Center (NPTC) at Auburn University and pledged to sponsor $250,000 in state funding for the complex.

As a poultry farmer, Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Red Hill, said he’s seen first hand how technology being developed at the NPTC is helping keep farmers on their land.

“Implementing their research at my farm has saved me a lot of money. That’s money in my pocket,” Scofield said. “It has allowed me to continue to work on the farm and do what I love.”

Federation North Region Vice-President Hal Lee of Morgan County echoed Scofield’s remarks, adding that technology developed at the center helped him reduce his propane usage from 22,800 gallons a year to 12,800 gallons a year.

While poultry farmers are looking to Auburn for new technology that will reduce energy consumption and improve chicken health, Auburn College of Agriculture Dean Bill Batchelor said the best way for many farmers to improve profitability is by increasing the use of irrigation.

“The quickest way our farmers in Alabama can increase yields is by adopting irrigation technology,” Batchelor said.

The senators on the panel are looking at a number of bills that would encourage the expansion of on-farm irrigation, including tax incentives.

Federation Board Member and Elmore County Farmers Federation President Richard Edgar quoted the state climatologist in stating that if Alabama were to add 1 million acres of irrigated cropland, it would have the same economic impact as bringing two more automobile manufacturers to the state.