3 weeks ago

‘Sweet Grown Alabama’ now accepting membership applications

“Sweet Grown Alabama,” the state’s new agricultural branding program, has officially launched and opened membership applications.

The program’s mission is to enhance marketing opportunities for the state’s farmers by connecting retailers and consumers to Alabama-grown foods and other agricultural products.

The organization of Sweet Grown Alabama was announced in August. The program is run by a non-profit foundation governed by a board of directors, including: Rick Pate, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Jimmy Parnell, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance; and Horace Horn, vice president of external affairs of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

The board members on Monday traveled to press stops in Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile to share plans for the program and encourage potential members to participate.

Horn last week was honored with Yellowhammer Multimedia’s 2019 Power of Service Award.

“By strengthening agriculture, Sweet Grown Alabama will benefit the entire state,” he has stated. “Agriculture already contributes $70 billion to Alabama’s economy and accounts for more than 500,000 jobs. Sweet Grown Alabama will enhance economic development in rural communities by giving farmers and associated businesses additional resources for marketing.”

Membership incentives include licensing rights to use the Sweet Grown Alabama logo, statewide branding through traditional and social media advertising campaigns and consumer advocacy encouraging local eating and purchasing.

“Gaining members is the first step in a cycle to bring fresh, local, high-quality products to Alabama consumers,” Pate, the Sweet Grown Alabama board president, said in a statement. “We need farmers to brand their products so we can promote them to consumers.”

Ellie Watson is the director of Sweet Grown Alabama. The board is also assisted by an advisory committee made up of farmers, chefs, association representatives and other industry experts.

“In addition to branding their products with the logo, members will be included in an online searchable database coming spring 2020,” Watson explained. “This will be a tool for consumers to locate high-quality Sweet Grown Alabama products near them and will drive traffic to farms, markets, stores and restaurants sourcing local products.”

Membership is not exclusive to Alabama farmers and is open to value-added product makers who use at least 50% Alabama-grown ingredients. There is an associate category for restaurants, retailers, farmers markets, agritourism operations and businesses with a vested interest in Sweet Grown Alabama.

Annual dues are determined on a sliding scale based on farm or company annual sales. Dues range from $100 for a business making less than $50,000 per year to $4,800 for a business making over $10 million annually.

The Alabama Farmers Federation, the state’s largest agricultural organization and a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, is playing a leading role in Sweet Grown Alabama.

“We’re proud to be part of this effort to provide additional marketing opportunities for Alabama farmers,” Parnell said.

“Our goal is to increase demand for Alabama-grown products and improve sales and profitability for farm families,” he continued. “Alabama is among America’s most agriculturally diverse states, and Sweet Grown Alabama gives us a chance to showcase the quality and variety of our products.”

Membership applications for farmers, value-added product makers and associates are available online here.

RELATED: Survey endorses local branding for Alabama specialty crops

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

52 mins ago

10 fun family Thanksgiving tradition ideas

This year my mom and I got started talking about traditions. You know, what activities do we want to pass down from generation to generation, especially since there are grandbabies runnin’ around now!

We chatted about all the standards: painting/carving pumpkins at Halloween, baking cookies/gingerbread houses at Christmas and present wrapping parties throughout the year for birthdays, etc.

But we soon realized that other than a day full of cooking, we were coming up dry with a fun tradition for Thanksgiving. Aside from curling up to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (which is a tradition I will always cherish), we decided we needed to remedy this clear unfairness to such an important holiday.

It seems pretty unfortunate that the only time most people gather and converse about God’s many blessings is around the dining room table once a year on Thanksgiving. It would be nice if there was a way we could remind ourselves daily what we have to be grateful for and what our family members are grateful for as well. So, I’ve scoured the minds of my much smarter friends to help us all out this year.

I present to you 10 fun family Thanksgiving tradition ideas:

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(1) Create a thankfulness countdown – For each day in the month of Thanksgiving, talk as a family about something or someone you are thankful for. There are several ways you can display the results of your thankfulness chats. You could cut out turkey shapes and allow children to write a new item to be thankful for each day on a feather. You could use a chalkboard displayed prominently for all family members to see throughout the day. You could even use a journal to keep as family treasure forever. No matter how you preserve the fruits of these chats, I promise it will change your whole perspective and get you more excited than ever to spend an entire month focused on all your many blessings!

(2) Save to give! – For the entire month, pick up a few extra items each time you go grocery shopping. Blankets, warm coats and clothes are nice to have on hand as well. Reach out to local shelters, women’s’ groups and churches to see what needs they may have for the upcoming holiday. Make it a priority to give back in whatever way you feel called. Thanksgiving is a reminder of all the many blessings we have been gifted, and a perfect opportunity to give back to those in deepest need of our love and kindness.

Another way you can give back is to serve in the weeks leading up (and even on Thanksgiving Day), at your local shelter. These individuals are often without any other means of providing a meal to their families and investing in their lives is something you will be very grateful you made time to do. Often, having the ability to give back is one of our greatest blessings.

(3) Create love baskets – Before the insanity of the season truly kicks in, take a few moments to create Love Baskets for your closest family and friends. Consider baking some cookies with your children and gathering some hot cocoa supplies. You can purchase inexpensive baskets and wrapping supplies at your local dollar store. Put little baskets together to take and drop off at your loved ones’ houses. Share with them that you want to make it a point each year to remind those you love just how much you love them. Trust me, this tradition will swiftly become one that all of your friends and family look forward to year after year!

(4) Host a family game night – Who says you can only be thankful and fun on a few nights each year? Put together a night of fun-filled with games and story-telling. Invite your friends and family to participate. Trade off with hosting duties. Throw in an extra level of fun by having a theme. Making time for each other is one of the most important parts of the holiday season.

(5) Start a Friendsgiving supper club with friends – When I think about Thanksgiving, all that comes to mind (food-wise) is a giant turkey, tons of fluffy dressing and canned cranberry sauce (the form of canned cranberry sauce is emblazoned in my brain forever, y’all). Since you know you will be enjoying all the spoils of a pilgrim-approved meal later in November, spend the rest of the month gathering with friends each week to share taco night, noodle night, Italian night, BBQ bonanza, etc. This is such a fun way to make sure and spend time loving on your friends and also saving the Thanksgiving approved nosh for later!

(6) Family affirmation craft – Instead of lurking in the corner attempting to avoid the political conversations we all know are bound to fill the halls of our homes this year, be intentional about changing the topic of conversation! Take the talk back inward and chat about all the many ways you are grateful for one another.

Here’s how to get it going: Every November, give each family member a card for every other family member. (So if there are 10 family members total, give each family member nine cards).

Write each family member’s name on the back of their respective card. Then, ask each family member to write something nice, something they love or something they are grateful for about each of the other family members on their respective cards. (They could also choose to include a quote or story about the family member, too.)

Select an “organizer” who will collect all of the cards and add them to a binder ring for each family member. Do this for a few years in a row and each family member will have tons of uplifting messages, quotes, and encouraging words of love to reflect upon.

I love this concept because it reminds us daily of why we love each other, why we are grateful to God for giving us one another and how we should live in gratitude all year long.

(7) Create a family recipe Book – Take some time to sit down the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving to reach out to you family members requesting them to bring their favorite recipes to Thanksgiving dinner. Once collected, put them all together and make copies to create a treasure for each family. You can create recipe books in almost all online photo hubs such as Shutterfly, Snapfish, even Walgreens will print a photo book for you in under an hour. These will become unique memory books worthy of passing down for generations to come!

(8) Personalize your place settings – Rather than the simple name card, consider crafting a special welcome for your thanksgiving dinner guests. Using the same card idea, jot down personality traits, encouraging words or quotes to include as well. The more personal you make your loved ones feel, the more deeply those memories will last with them forever.

(9) Set up a simple craft table for children – One of the more stressful parts of holiday entertaining is what to do with all the little ones running around. Planning ahead saves the day! Using an inexpensive card table, lay out a paper tablecloth with crayons. You can also pick up very inexpensive crafts at Hobby Lobby or Michaels throughout the season (Heads up: both stores dramatically mark down their products the closer to the day, but stock is always better the further out you prepare …). Set up a station to control the frustration! There’s you a catchy new motto. By providing them a “home,” children will feel welcomed and entertained for hours giving you time to socialize without the stress.

(10) Get outside! – One of my favorite traditions from childhood is playing a game of whiffle ball with the whole family as soon as everyone woke up from their “turkey nap,” as my grandmother called it. We would block out an entire afternoon of fun by picking teams, setting the rules and involving even the tiniest of family members in the fun. To take it up a notch, we even started crafting team uniforms. Make this day all about gathering in love to celebrate the gift of a family to treasure and memories worth making together.

2 hours ago

Why Dylan Moses suiting up against LSU almost brought some of his Tide teammates to tears

It’s a story that you might not have heard — a story that I think is, well, awesome.

You may know that University of Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses is out for the season after suffering a knee injury before a game was even played.

Why then, was Bama’s star linebacker in uniform for the LSU game?

It’s all because of Dylan’s love for his teammates.

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You see, Dylan is from Baton Rouge, and he wanted to find a way to motivate his teammates, show them how much they mean to him and remind them with which team his heart lies.

So Dylan approached Coach Nick Saban and asked for permission to suit up for the big game. Saban signed off on the idea, and on Saturday just past noon, Dylan went on to quietly dress before kickoff.

Saban explained, “Being from Baton Rouge, he came and asked if he could dress for the game and wanted to be a part of the team for that game. We have no intentions of playing him, nor is that any indication that he’s ready to come back and start practicing or playing – that’s not the case. It was just something that he wanted to do to be a part of the team.”

Dylan’s gesture nearly brought some teammates to tears, and helped unify his teammates as they fought their hearts out. As he stood on the sidelines in full gear on Saturday, he served as a motivator and a role model to the young men in Crimson.

It’s a story that you may not have learned from watching the broadcast, but it’s my pleasure to bring it to you here.

Job well done, Dylan. Job well done.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

Byrne: Serious about corruption? Investigate the Bidens

Speaker Pelosi, Adam Schiff and their Democratic colleagues have spent countless hours and taxpayer dollars to find evidence that President Trump was involved in corruption. At the same time, Democrats refuse to even consider the fundamental issue at hand – was President Trump right to question the activities of Hunter Biden in Ukraine?

Months ago, media reported Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings. But, once impeachment began, the mainstream media moved to kill the story. We’re told nothing to see there. Yet each week, new information continues to emerge demanding a full investigation of the facts.

We know that Hunter Biden essentially made his living as a high-powered lobbyist benefiting from his father’s career as a senator and vice president.

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When Joe was elected vice president, Hunter claimed to leave lobbying, but really he just shifted his game. He formed a series of companies with Christopher Heinz, the stepson of Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and later Secretary of State John Kerry. These kids, trading on their fathers’ names and political ties, made a pretty powerful combo.

As the New York Times reported, Biden and Heinz pursued multiple foreign business investments “where connections implied political influence and protection.”

These guys closed lucrative deals with China right after Hunter visited China on Air Force II with his father. Importantly, they were working in Ukraine while Joe was leading Ukrainian policy for the U.S to fight corruption.

Ukraine is known for its corruption. A small group of oligarchs holds most political power. Hunter and his company went to work for one of these guys and his notoriously corrupt energy company, Burisma Holdings. Hunter was paid up to $50,000 a month to sit on its board.

We know Hunter knew nothing about energy or Ukraine. But, when you’re dealing with a corrupt country like Ukraine, and the son of the vice president of the United States is involved in a corrupt company, that sends a signal to government officials when considering pursuing investigations.

At the same time, Vice President Biden was threatening to withhold aid to Ukraine unless they fired the prosecutor allegedly looking into Burisma. Senior State Department officials raised concerns about Hunter to the vice president. Yet, the arrangement continued until recently.

The bottom line is that there are serious allegations here, they directly relate to impeachment, and Congress needs to find out what happened. In fact, I introduced H.Res. 631 directing the relevant committees to investigate alleged Biden corruption. Despite having a substantial number of cosponsors, my resolution has been bottled up by Speaker Pelosi.

Last week, Republicans on the Intelligence Committee echoed my resolution, requesting that if Hunter Biden is going to be the basis for impeachment, Congress should get his testimony in the impeachment inquiry. But, Democrats have signaled they won’t allow it. My question is, why?

We know the answer – this is a partisan witch hunt against President Trump. President Trump never once demanded a quid pro quo from President Zelenksy. You can read the transcript yourself. While the Democrats and their allies in the press have trashed President Trump for raising Burisma and Ukraine’s role in the 2016 elections, those are serious issues worthy of investigation.

I am proud to be a leader in the pressure campaign to expose the hypocrisy of the Democrats’ sham process. And I will continue leading the fight to investigate the Bidens and expose real corruption that may exist. If Democrats are serious about exposing corruption, investigating Hunter Biden cannot be ignored.

One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t win a fight you don’t join. When you fight, good things can happen. That is why I am going to keep fighting, to make sure the truth is out there.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

4 hours ago

Jeff Coleman first up on TV in AL-02

Wiregrass businessman Jeff Coleman, a Republican candidate to succeed U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) in Alabama’s Second Congressional District, on Tuesday announced that his campaign will be going up on television with an advertisement in the Dothan and Montgomery media markets.

The 30-second advertisement is an adaptation of the longer web video, “Mover and Shaker,” that Coleman released last week.

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This comes after Coleman recently kicked off his campaign to a packed crowd in Dothan. He has been designated “On the Radar” by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and he ended the third fundraising quarter with nearly $1 million cash-on-hand after raising $468,001 and loaning his campaign $500,000.

Coleman is a former chairman of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and former civilian aide to the secretary of the U.S. Army for Alabama (South).

Other qualified GOP candidates include Prattville businesswoman Jessica Taylor, former Alabama Attorney General Troy King and former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise).

Roby is not seeking reelection to a sixth term.

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

4 hours ago

7 Things: Trump disappointed Sessions entered Senate race, protesters disrupt Veterans Day events, DACA showdown and more …

7. Obsession with Trump’s tax returns continues

  • District Court Judge Carl Nicholas has dismissed President Donald Trump’s lawsuit that was filed in an attempt to fight the TRUST Act that was signed this year by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
  • The TRUST Act would allow Congress to access Trump’s New York tax returns, and while Trump’s lawsuit was dismissed, Nicholas did allow that Trump could try again in the future.

6. Taylor supports term limits

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  • Jessica Taylor, a candidate for the District 2 congressional seat, has signed the U.S. Term Limits Congressional Pledge, which means that if elected she would then vote for the U.S. Term Limits Amendment.
  • The amendment would limit Congress members to three terms and senators to two terms. Taylor outlined, “We will never drain the swamp if we keep sending the same old career politicians to D.C. election after election.”

5. Biden continues to lead the race

  • A new survey conducted by Quinnipiac University shows that former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the in the 2020 presidential race in New Hampshire while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has edged into third place.
  • The poll showed that Biden is only at 20% in the state, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is in second with 16%, Buttigieg is at 15% and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) came out in fourth with 14%.

4. Canadian cancel culture

  • In a nation with a prime minister who wore blackface, comments about immigrants showing gratitude to veterans have cost a renowned national figure his job as the face of hockey in the hockey-crazed nation.
  • His comments center around the Canadian tradition of wearing a poppy to show support for veterans and how he doesn’t see enough of them. He stated, “I live in Mississauga [Ontario]. Very few people wear the poppy. Downtown Toronto, forget it. Nobody wears the poppy. … Now you go to the small cities. You people … that come here, whatever it is — you love our way of life. You love our milk and honey. At least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price for that.”

3. DACA gets its day in court

  • The attempt by President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by President Barack Obama via executive order, the same way it was created, will have its first argument at the Supreme Court.
  • The program allows 660,000 illegal immigrants to avoid deportation and get work permits, but the question seems to hinge on the idea one president can create a program out of thin air and a federal judge can stop another president from ending it.

2. Protesters arrested at Veterans Day parade

  • As President Trump was honoring veterans, protesters decided this would be a good time to blow whistles and yell about impeachment. Protesters even spelled out the words “impeach” and “convict” on buildings while some chanted, “Lock him up!”
  • During the Veterans Day parade held in downtown Huntsville, three people were arrested while protesting the shooting of Dana Sherrod Fletcher when they staged a “die-in” on Monroe Street during the parade where they laid down in the middle of the road. They were very quickly removed by officers and charged with disorderly conduct.

1. Trump disappointed Sessions entered Senate race

  • While U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) was attending the Alabama vs. LSU game with President Donald Trump, Trump “expressed his disappointment” with former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions entering the U.S. Senate race in Alabama.
  • Byrne didn’t specify what Trump said, but he did go on to say that he feels “extraordinarily encouraged” by the support he’s received since Sessions announced.