GFB News Magazine

GFB commodity committees discuss ag issues

Posted on May 21, 2021 12:00 AM

By Jennifer Whittaker

Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) held individual meetings this spring for its 20 commodity advisory committees that represent water and the state’s top crops and livestock.

Each committee consists of GFB members who produce the commodity their committee represents. Committee members give GFB input on issues affecting their commodities and guide GFB’s legislative position on these issues. County Farm Bureaus nominate committee members.

“Implementing the policy that you, our members, develop is the most important thing Farm Bureau does,” GFB President Tom McCall told committee members as they met.

Leaders of state commodity organizations working on behalf of their various commodities attended some meetings. GFB’s Vegetable Commodity Advisory Committee heard an update from Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association Legislative Director Chris Butts. Georgia Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Dale Sandlin spoke to the Beef Committee.

During the GFB Peanut Committee meeting, Georgia Peanut Commission Executive Director Don Koehler reported the GPC is allocating $886,235 to fund 42 research projects during the 2021-22 research budget year to address peanut production issues such as peanut breeding, irrigation/water management, pests, weed and disease management.

While speaking to the GFB Cotton Committee, Georgia Cotton Commission Executive Director Taylor Sills encouraged cotton growers to enroll in the U.S. Trust Protocol program - designed to increase the reputation of and demand for U.S. grown cotton by measuring and verifying the sustainability of U.S. cotton. Grower participation includes an on-line self-assessment that asks growers questions about their farming practices, such as tillage and water usage. Individual farm data won’t be shared but will be aggregated to develop a wide picture of U.S. cotton’s sustainability. Cotton leaders hope to enroll 50% of the U.S. cotton crop in the program.

Several GFB committees toured facilities close to Macon related to their commodities. Members of the GFB Beef and Goat & Sheep Committees toured Midsouth Packers in Forsyth.

GFB Cotton Committee members toured the USDA Cotton & Tobacco Macon Classing Office that grades all cotton grown in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Macon Classing Office Area Director Noah Bell and USDA graders Benjamin Graham and Ieisha Queen discussed the higher presence of seed coat fragments found in the 2020 cotton crop.

Graham showed committee members cotton samples with lots of seed coat fragments so they could see what the classers saw. Graham and Queen explained how trained certified cotton classers manually inspect cotton samples for things such as plant matter, seed coat fragments, plastic, etc. This visual inspection is performed on every cotton sample in addition to the computer test that measures the cotton sample’s color, fineness, fiber strength and length, and trash percent area.

Employees of the USDA classing offices go through a four-week training session and must pass a USDA exam to become certified to class/grade cotton samples.

Georgia Forestry Commission Director Tim Lowrimore welcomed the GFB Forestry Committee to the GFC headquarters outside Macon detailing GFC’s services.