9 months ago

Agriculture research funding needed

American agriculture has long been the envy of the world. Thanks to investment in plant and animal breeding, pest management, conservation and automation, U.S. farmers have more than doubled productivity since 1980 while reducing erosion and protecting the environment.

If America is to remain a farming superpower, we must strengthen research efforts at our colleges and universities. That’s why Alabama Farmers Federation is calling on Congress to increase support for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Since 1921, the Farmers Federation has worked to build public support for agriculture and forestry. Securing funding for research at Alabama’s land grant universities was an early focus of the organization, and it remains a priority today.

Each year, farmers set aside a portion of their harvest revenue to fund education, promotion and research through check-off programs. Over the years, these voluntary efforts have provided millions of dollars to Auburn University and other research institutions. Likewise, private companies leverage intelligence and innovation at our universities to develop new products and technologies.

Still, public investment is needed to ensure American agriculture and forestry remain globally competitive. Alabama’s Congressional delegation has been supportive of agriculture and forestry research. But in recent years, Brazil and China have outpaced America’s commitment to food and agricultural research. In fact, China is now investing twice as much as the U.S. on potentially groundbreaking research to help farmers feed, clothe and shelter a growing world.

NIFA provides a vehicle for coordinating research that can have immediate impact on the agriculture and forestry industries. In one example, over $18 million in competitive grants through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program have been awarded to research projects at Auburn University, Alabama A&M University, Tuskegee University and other state institutions. These AFRI grants, under NIFA, have allowed researchers to discover new ways for farmers to prevent infectious diseases that threaten farm animals; developed strategies to ward off pests that could affect soybean production; and helped farmers embrace data to increase profitability.

The Farmers Federation was founded in the decades following the passage of federal laws establishing land grant universities and Cooperative Extension Systems. Our country’s investment in the threefold land grant mission of instruction, research and outreach had a direct impact on the growth of productive and sustainable agricultural and forestry practices.

By pairing the scientific curiosity and initiative of researchers with the innovation and hard work of farmers, America became the world leader in agriculture. Our farmers learned to produce more food and fiber with fewer inputs. We developed conservation practices to reduce erosion and create habitat for wildlife. Families were given access to a greater variety of high-quality, nutritious food. And, we were able to export much of this technology to help poor and impoverished people around the world.

If the U.S. is to remain the leader in agriculture, we must invest in the future.

Alabama’s 40,000 farms generate $70 billion in economic impact and create one in every five jobs. These men and women possess the work ethic, ingenuity and dedication to take agriculture and forestry to the next level. They are investing their own hard-earned money in research. We ask Congress to join us in keeping American agriculture the envy of the world.

Jimmy Parnell is the president, CEO and chairman of the Board of the Alabama Farmers Federation.

22 mins ago

Monument to gold star families will be added to Huntsville’s Veterans Memorial

The Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial, a park on the north side of Huntsville’s downtown area, will be adding a monument to gold star families in 2020.

Gold Star families are those who have lost a member during service in the United States Armed Forces.

The monument is the final planned addition to the veterans memorial, a project that was first dedicated on 11/11/2011. Its origin dates back to 2000 when a half-sized replica of the Vietnam memorial was temporarily displayed in Huntsville. Some residents wanted something more permanent.

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“The Veterans Memorial has been erected not to commemorate the glory of battle or triumph of victory, but to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and to pay homage to those heroes we have lost,” said Brigadier General (Retired) Bob Drolet, chair of the Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial Foundation.

The monument to the gold star families is designed and aided by the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, a foundation that has helped install similar monuments across the United States. To date, the group has placed 59 monuments across 45 states.

An identical monument was recently announced for installation in Mobile.

The primary sponsors of the Huntsville installation are Mike and Christine Wicks.

The Gold Star Family Memorial to be installed in Huntsville will be the first of its kind in Alabama.

The four panels on the back of the monument will read, “Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

2 hours ago

Bruce Pearl praises religious freedom in Alabama — ‘I can live here in Auburn and practice my faith’

Speaking to members of the media Monday on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Auburn University head basketball coach Bruce Pearl lauded the religious freedom he enjoys living in the state of Alabama. He also called for unity and spoke strongly against anti-Semitism.

Pearl last spring became the fourth Jewish head coach in NCAA history to take a team to the Final Four. He was the first president of the Jewish Coaches Association.

“Today has always been a difficult day for me as it Holocaust Remembrance Day,” the coach said on Monday in the opening statement of his press availability.

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“I was born in 1960, 15 years after we opened up the gates in Auschwitz and discovered the atrocities,” he continued. “We vow to never let that happen again to anyone. Anti-Semitism is a terrible thing. As a Jewish man, I’ve lived with it my whole life and I’ve seen its ugly face many times.”

Pearl explained, “That’s why I’m so blessed to live in this country where there is great religious freedom. I can live here in Auburn and practice my faith.”

“The great challenge for me has always been that we are brothers. We are all brothers. We are all sisters. We are all related,” he outlined. “Abraham had two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. That makes us brothers because we have the same father – Abraham the father of many nations. Jesus was born a Jew and he died a Jew. That makes me brothers with my Christian brothers. If we can focus on that, whether you agree with it or not, that’s not my point. The point is we have a lot more in common than we have apart. We should celebrate those. We should never tolerate racism or something like anti-Semitism. What I would ask you all to remember is: never again.”

RELATED: Bruce Pearl slams AOC for ‘concentration camps’ tweets: ‘Attempt to rewrite the Holocaust’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Ivey previews 2020 State of the State — ‘Challenges to address’

MONTGOMERY — Speaking at a gathering of the Alabama Council of Association Executives at Montgomery City Hall on Tuesday morning, Governor Kay Ivey gave a glimpse of her top priorities heading into the 2020 state legislative session.

The session gavels in at noon this coming Tuesday, February 4 — seven days from Ivey’s remarks. Her 2020 State of the State Address will follow the start of the session that evening, before President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address.

Ivey took to the podium Tuesday morning to an enthusiastic standing ovation.

“Already, 2020 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for our state and our people,” the governor said.

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While noting the “great things” going on with the Yellowhammer State’s record-breaking economy, Ivey added, “But y’all, we do have some work to do and some challenges to address.”

She urged everyone to tune into her State of the State Address next week for more specifics while broadly underlining some of the “challenges” she will discuss in that speech and tackle this year.

The governor listed “the upcoming Census, our prison concerns, healthcare, mental healthcare and education reform” as the top 2020 issues.

“2020 will be a make or break year regarding our Census. … I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a full, accurate count in the 2020 Census,” Ivey stressed. “These numbers directly impact our representation in the United States House of Representatives and directly impact billions — with a ‘b’ — of dollars that come to our state, including funds for community programs, healthcare, education and job opportunities.”

“Ten years ago when we had the [last] Census, an estimated one million children went uncounted [in Alabama],” she continued. “Folks, we’ve got to close this gap and be sure that every person who’s living and breathing in Alabama completes a Census form and returns it — parents do it for their children. This is a must.”

Transitioning to her next priority, Ivey lamented, “Another large issue that has gone unaddressed in our state for decades is our heinous prison conditions.”

She acknowledged the state’s prison problems as “multifaceted and longstanding.”

In turn, Ivey said, a “multifaceted solution” will be needed.

“Y’all, this is an Alabama problem, and we’re going to have an Alabama solution for it,” the governor added. “It’s absolutely imperative we in the state of Alabama solve our prison problems. If we don’t, the Department of Justice will come in, take over, control the administration, control our funds … so failure is not an option.”

Ivey subsequently urged all Alabamians to vote “yes” on statewide Amendment One on March 3. She referred to this as the type of “bold action” needed to improve the state’s public education system.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Three partners elected at Balch & Bingham

One of Alabama’s most prestigious law firms has elected three new partners, the firm announced on Tuesday.

Ryan Hodinka, Alan Lovett and Dan Ruth will receive the much-desired designation with Balch & Bingham, a firm that has over 200 attorneys.

All three are based in the firm’s Birmingham office and work in high-impact areas of Balch’s wide-ranging offerings.

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“I am pleased to welcome this talented group of emerging leaders to our partnership. They have demonstrated the highest ideals of client service, collaboration and commitment to excellence,” said Stan Blanton, Balch & Bingham managing partner.

Hodinka focuses on litigation, where he represents companies in matters concerning commercial, construction and products liability.

Lovett works mainly on energy issues. He will give guidance to utility companies in commercial and regulatory issues. Lovett also specializes in all aspects of nuclear energy production.

Ruth’s primary area of concern is corporations. Ruth will advise all manner of companies and organizations on issues like mergers and acquisitions, tax controversies and economic development initiatives.

“Their talents and dedication will continue to lead the way for our clients, staff and attorneys well into the future,” added Blanton.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

4 hours ago

7 Things: Push for impeachment trial witnesses is complicated, Sessions surges as Tuberville stalls, eight dead in boat dock fire and more …

7. Rallying outside of Doug Jones’ office over impeachment

  • A group of people gathered together outside of U.S. Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) office in Birmingham to ask Jones to acquit President Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.
  • There’s another rally planned for Mobile. Last week, there was a rally held outside of Jones’ office in Huntsville.

6. Alabama mayors want violent offenders to stay in jail

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  • The mayors from the 10 largest cities in Alabama met to discuss a range of issues, one of them being judges being given more ability to deny bail for those accused of violent crimes. State Representative Chip Brown (R-Mobile) is currently sponsoring a constitutional amendment that would give judges more freedom with this issue.
  • At the meeting, Mayor Tommy Battle referenced the death of Huntsville police officer Billy Clardy ⅠⅠⅠ, saying, “We lost an officer to someone who never should have been out of jail from another state.”

5. Immigration restrictions allowed by Supreme Court

  • The “public charge” restriction on immigration has been allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is the restriction that would allow the government to deny immigrants entry if they were believed to require public assistance.
  • The vote was 5-4, dividing the court’s conservatives and liberals. A senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program Claudia Center said, “This policy is yet another way for the Trump administration to hurt immigrants. It enshrines the false stereotype that people with disabilities do not contribute to our society. Families will suffer. Congress has repeatedly declared that disability discrimination violates federal law. This rule must be stopped.”

4. Education lottery coming to Alabama legislature

  • State Representative Steve Clouse (R-Dothan) said that he will be introducing a constitutional amendment that would bring an education lottery to the ballot for voters in November. Clouse said that the “general sentiment … is that it needs to be dedicated to education.”
  • Half of the money brought in by the paper lottery would go to Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program, while the other half would go to college scholarships. According to Clouse, the fiscal office has estimated that the lottery could bring in $167 million per year. He believes this is the kind of lottery constituents want.

3. Eight deaths confirmed in Jackson County fire

  • In the fire that burned at least 35 vessels at Guntersville Lake, Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus has confirmed that the eight people who were previously said to be missing died during the fire.
  • Necklaus did say that “that number could go up” as they discover more from the boats that sank. There have been at least seven people hospitalized from the incident.

2. Sessions is leading while Tuberville falls

  • New internal Sessions campaign polling data released by Breitbart News and conducted by Wes Anderson of On Message, Inc. shows that former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions leads the 2020 U.S. Senate race in Alabama polling at 43%.
  • U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) has moved up to second place with 22%, while former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville is in third with 21%.

1. Witnesses seem like a long shot still

  • After the release of a story concerning former National Security Advisor John Bolton, some Republicans are likely to vote for witnesses while Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) is suggesting a one-for-one trade seems more likely to want to see witnesses
  • Republicans will want to see witnesses like U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and the whistleblower, all of which Democrats have declared as non-starters.