CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Opinion

November 17, 2010

Working for farmers, farming

CULLMAN — The Cullman County Soil and Water Conservation District honored Tim Scott recently as the 2010 Outstanding Employee and I believe that is a great selection.

I have worked with Tim for more than 11 years now and have been impressed with his ability to work with farmers throughout Cullman County and in the Duck River watershed basin in particular. He is offering direction, financial assistance and guidance on voluntary best management practices that are benefiting both the agriculture industry and the community.

His work has been the corner stone of water quality education and improvements in this county that have resulted in numerous streams being removed from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s 303 D “impaired stream” list for pollutants. He has assisted dozens of agriculture producers in modifying their Cullman County farm operations to meet state and federal requirements to improve the quality of our water.

Tim joined the Cullman County Soil & Water Conservation District in November of 1999 as District Project Coordinator. His position was actually enhanced in a unique partnership with the City of Cullman/Cullman Utilities Board and the Soil and Water Conservation Service to receive a $400,000 grant that would help farmers in the Duck River Reservoir drainage basin and other areas of Cullman County meet agriculture production regulations imposed by the State of Alabama by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had already conducted an alternatives analysis of Cullman County and determined that creating a reservoir on Duck River was the best option to meet the future water needs of Cullman County’s residential, commercial, industrial and agriculture sectors.

ADEM imposed new regulations in 1999 on every Alabama farm (the new AFO/CAFO guidelines). Producers across the state needed someone who could provide them information on best management practices that would help their operations meet state regulations.

Eleven years after those regulations became a daily part of their lives, agriculture producers in Cullman County have noticed very little difference. The county is still the highest gross agriculture receipts community in Alabama and is routinely number 1 in poultry, beef cattle, sweet potatoes, hay and several other production areas. Every farm in a public water supply in Cullman County and Alabama operates under the same state imposed agriculture regulations.

  As a farmer himself, Tim was the perfect choice. He and his brother, Todd, own and operate a Cullman County farm, and are following in the footsteps of their father who farmed all his life. Tim was honored as “The Farmer of the Year” in 1998 by the Soil and Water Conservation District before they recognized his skills were exactly what they needed to communicate with local farmers.

The education process he used was to show local farmers how they could improve their operations by such simple things as:

‰ Fencing fencing cattle out of the streams;

‰ Constructing ponds as alternative water sources;

‰  Cross fencing to allow rotational grazing which moves livestock from one pasture area to another;

‰ Constructing dry stacks, which are buildings to store poultry house litter during the four winter months when ADEM does not allow ground application;

‰ Installing incinerators to replace underground pits as a disposal method for dead birds;

‰ Implementing techniques to prevent soil erosion in both livestock and crop farming;

‰ Education on the types and amounts of fertilizer to land apply for better phosphorus control; and,

‰ General education about techniques for better stewardship of the land and water.

He helped secure funding for the certified animal waste vendor program that gives farmers an approved alternative to have poultry litter removed from their farm if they do not have sufficient property for land application.

His work in the Duck River watershed has been recognized by ADEM and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the “model guide” for agriculture and water supply projects to effectively co-exist.

Tim says farmers have more interest in protecting the land and water than anyone because it is the way they make their living. They are eager to learn about voluntary best management practices and watershed protection methods.

His work helped secure grant funds to assist the producers with the cost of construction and installation of techniques to make them even better stewards of the land. His efforts have resulted in nearly $1 million dollars coming to Cullman County to assist agriculture producers here remain in operation.

For the past 10 years Tim has been the backbone of the Touring Farms for Kids program. He helps secure locations and generate sponsorships to provide a forum to teach students about the importance of agriculture. Students learn where their food comes from. He is insuring a future generation understands and supports farming in Cullman County.

He plays a similar education role in the FAWN (Forestry Awareness Week Now) and the annual Water Festival that discusses the important of an abundant, quality water supply.

Tim is a humble, unassuming person who is making sure farming will remain strong in Cullman County for decades.

‰  Dale Greer is the assistant director of  Cullman Economic Development Authority.

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