By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
HOLLY POND —
As a $70 billion dollar industry, Alabama agriculture is working hand in hand with industry as local legislators seek new ways to instigate growth in both sides of Agri-business in Alabama.
Many area representatives traveled to the Guy Hunt museum in Holly Pond on October 29, 2013 to discuss Cullman’s Agribusiness opportunities. Commissioner of Alabama Agriculture and Industries John McMillan, State Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Cullman, Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Hawsey Karolewics, and North Alabama Agriplex Coordinator Rachel Peinhardt Dawsey each shared some of their future goals with those in attendance.
“I think that Governor Bentley has been very helpful and worked well with us,” McMillan said. “They have assisted us with the legislation we asked for and let us reform and make changes, including moving the Alabama Farmers Market Authority under our department.”
McMillan said that many already thought the AFMA was under the Alabama Agriculture and Industries department. He also encouraged the reorganization of the agency to meet tough state budgets causing them to operate more efficiently, effectively, and with more productivity.
“It was logical to begin with to move the farmer’s market authority under our department because in my travels most people in the state thought it was already there anyway,” McMillan said. “I thought it was a great group there in Holly Pond who were interested in the department. This is an important state agency to everyone in Alabama.”
Shedd said the area’s pace involved with agriculture need to meet that of the changes that are coming.
“Governor Hunt was a farmer so it is fitting we are meeting here,” Shedd said. “My goal is to stay focused on meeting the needs of the number one industry in his district-agribusiness. The needs of business in our area changes from time to time and I am always impressed with the way Wallace State changes to meet the standards of business in our community. Certainly, meeting the needs of our number one industry (agribusiness) is important.”
Dawsey shared about the multitude of activities and educational venues available at the Agriplex and the agri-tourism aspect of agribusiness.
Hawsey-Karolewics discussed Wallace State's new 2+2 Poultry Science Program in partnership with Auburn University and other services the college provides to meet the needs of agribusiness in the area.
“Wallace State recognizes the value of the agribusiness industry, not only to our area, but to the State of Alabama; Consequently, we have reached out to Auburn University in the 2+2 degree program in poultry,” Hawsey-Karolewics said. “In response, we are developing a degree program that will be implemented in Fall of 2014 with an emphasis in sustainable farming that will enable people who are interested in community farms, a mid-life change in career, or returning veterans, to have a successful career in farming.”
Shedd said poultry is another portion of agriculture that is a vital part of the area.
"I think there is a great opportunity today for young people to make some extra money growing and selling agriculture products," Shedd said. "They may not realize you don't have to have a big farm to do it. The poultry industry is crucial to our area. Our local legislators are looking at a number of ways to help poultry farmers stay competitive and improve their incomes and hopefully we will have some announcements in the near future that will do just that.”
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.