What is in this article?:
- Alabama farm leaders testify on irrigation, immigration, poultry research
- Using only small percentage of available water
• 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 senators on the panel are looking at a number of bills that would encourage the expansion of on-farm irrigation, including tax incentives.
SEN. CLAY SCOFIELD, center, visits with Joe Sumrall of Gov. Bentley's office, left, and Walker County Farmers Federation President Dorman Grace, right, prior to a Senate and House Agriculture Committee meeting in Auburn.
Using only small percentage of available water
Edgar noted that Alabama only utilizes about 2.5 percent of the water available in the state, while Arizona uses 102 percent of the water that falls on or flows through its borders.
(To see how one Alabama grower plans to use irrigation to increase profitability, see http://southeastfarmpress.com/equipment/mitch-lazenby-investing-irrigation-farm-s-future. For an overall look at irrigation in the state of Alabama, visit http://southeastfarmpress.com/equipment/obstacles-still-hinder-irrigation-alabama.)
In addition to poultry technology and irrigation, Federation leaders also spoke on issues ranging from career and technical education to immigration.
Walker County Farmers Federation President Dorman Grace recalled how 4-H Club and FFA leaders encouraged him to pursue a college education. Grace called on legislators to support the Career Tech Initiative by sharing stories about mentoring young people who’ve gone on to successful careers in technical and mechanical trades.
“We have a responsibility to those kids to make them producers in society,” Grace said.
“How do we do that? We do it by caring for them and helping them.”
Montgomery County Farmers Federation President Bill Cook spoke about the impact of Alabama’s new immigration law on farmers. “The greenhouse, nursery and landscaping industry is very concerned about the immigration law and how its going to affect our industry. We’re scared to death,” he said.
Cook noted that his business has complied with all state and federal labor laws and has tried unsuccessfully to hire local workers. He also took exception to those who accuse farmers of paying a low wage and asked the lawmakers to carefully consider the impact of the law when they convene Feb. 7.
(For an look at details of the law itself, visit http://southeastfarmpress.com/government/alabama-immigration-law-called-nation-s-toughest.)
Federation Southeast Vice-President Ricky Wiggins of Covington County specifically addressed legislation that would require ordinances related to timber harvesting be uniform throughout the state. However, Wiggins’ overall message to the legislators was that farmers “don’t need any more regulations.”
He called on regulatory agencies to use common sense in dealing with farms and other businesses.
Pike County Farmers Federation President John Dorrill testified about the need to preserve the current use provision in Alabama’s property tax law and to preserve exemptions for feed, seed and fertilizer.
As the meeting drew to a close, Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, illustrated how agricultural research and technology can improve the lives of people and the economy of a nation.
A combat veteran, Williams recalled seeing Afghan farmers progress from pulling plows by hand to using modern farm equipment during his tour of duty. “What I saw first hand is what technology can mean to productivity.”