Banks County Opinions...

August 22, 2001


Column
By Shar Porier
The Banks County News
August 22, 2001

I've been slimed!
I was at the house subcommittee hearing on the house bill for farmers' rights recently. The room was filled with unknown "suits," company execs, subcommittee members, poultry farmers and the executive director of the Georgia Poultry Federation. Abit Massey was his name.
Now this man has a way with words. At 90 miles per hour, Massey rattled on about how happy the poultry farmers in Georgia were. He said, "I would submit to you that the poultry farmers of Georgia are a lot happier right now than many of you legislators sitting in this room today." (This was during the very trying time of reapportionment hearings in the house and senate.) While the legislators got a big laugh out of his "joke," the farmers present weren't laughing. They found no humor in the comment made at their expense, literally. The GPF is funded in part by "donations." These "donations" are, in fact, required and are based on a farmer's potential earnings. They pay his salary. He's supposed to be looking out for them. At least that's what one would assume.
"I don't know anything that's perfect," he said as he stood there next to me addressing the representatives. "We get a lot of calls from people who want to get in the business. Companies have waiting lists for people who want to get in the business." He said UGA had done a 10-year study and they found broilers had the highest probability of profit.
Hmm Was that highest probability of profit for the poultry farmers or the poultry companies? From the men who had just poured their guts out about how they'd been plucked by the industry, I figured he was talking about the companies.
Massey exclaimed, "The LAST thing a poultry company would do is cut off a farmer."
Hmmwell, that IS the last thing the poultry companies do. We all just heard how companies cut off farmers leaving them with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts.
The gist of Massey's oration? To sum it up, something like - Legislation? They don't need no stinking legislation!
All of a sudden, I felt like I'd been SLIMED! Eeeewww! Slippery, slimy residue from his slippery, slimy words coated the room, hung in dripping globs from the lights in the ceiling. Massey suddenly transformed before my eyes into a money-green glob! Looked a lot like that little guy in GhostBusters. Relatives maybe?
Spoofin' aside, by using a little common sense, it would be in the poultry industry's and the legislators' best interests to treat the farmer better. Give the farmers a contract that's fair and equitable. If the state can legislate an organization like the Georgia Egg Association into existence and mandate egg farmers pay dues into it to keep it going, seems they could legislate a fair contract for poultry growers. Poultry giants could easily work with farmers to make farms profitable again.
They could also work with environmentalists and accept some of the responsibility for disposing of the waste and by-products that's not harmful to the land and water. Share some of the financial burden with the farmer.
If changes are not made, it may not be long before Georgia begins to lose all that ag income. And, oh my, what would happen to all those lobbyists running around? (Guess that would be a check in the "+" column.) Where would certain elected and appointed government officials get those little perks? Those weekend travel jaunts in private company jets? Those donations to campaign funds?
If the farmer goes, the product goes. If the product goes, the company goes. If the company goes, the money goes. If the money goes, the economy goes.
Where will we all be then?
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.

Column
By C.W. Crawford
The Banks County News
August 22, 2001

Nothing finer than a tomato sandwich
I thought I was getting my fill of home-grown tomato sandwiches. My mouth was a little sore from the acidity and, you know, enough is enough. But I was mowing the lawn the other morning - it seems that all my spare time, which is little, is spent mowing grass or pulling weeds and even then I stay behind - when I passed a raised bed in which two tomato vines and trellised cucumber vines were growing.
There I saw the perfect tomato: Solid, red and plump with the insides about to burst out of its thin skin. Mesmerized, I plucked it and carried it to the kitchen sink and sliced it onto a piece of loaf bread spread with Dukes mayonnaise, adding just a dash of salt and pepper and washing it down with a glass of cold milk. Nothing could be finer.
The summer is nearing a close. Some annuals and perennials will be ending their bloom season soon. You can add a longer bloom season on most annuals like dahlias and zinnias by cutting them back in half and using liquid fertilizer. The same is true for your butterfly bushes, roses and crape myrtles, except you don't need to cut them back. Just remove the spent flowers and seed pods to a new flush of leaves on the stems and they will continue to bloom into the fall.
Don't forget to divide your day lilies and irises. Day lilies can be divided while in bloom and the extra plants moved to a new spot or spots in the yard. Irises can be divided if needed and moved also. I like to cut my irises back to about eight inches in a fan pattern and move them to a trench of, oh, about eight inches wide with the soil mixed with manure or compost. Plant them with the rhizomes (roots) all in one direction lengthwise in the trench and cover them lightly so that a little of the white rhizome where it touches the green leaf is above the soil. Water them weekly for a few weeks. When you divide them use a sharp knife and make sure each division has a growing point of leaves in a fan shape. If you want a lot of flowers in one spot, use more than one growing point. If you want to multiply the number of plants use as little as one point. The same holds true for your day lilies except that you don't want to cut them back.
Now is a good time to start planning your fall garden and a possible planting of a vineyard, orchard or flowering shrubs. Visit your county agent's office or garden supply store for information as to what to plant, when and where.
One tip in planning space - if the recommendation is 10 feet or 20 feet or whatever - pay heed. Often a little plant looks forlorn set out, but when the vines or limbs start growing and spreading and running, it is a different matter. I know, I have made the mistake. It can become a jungle.
It is about time to plant turnip salat and mustard to complement that fried streak-o-lean and cornbread that Bess serves up so well. Speaking of eating, I believe I will warm up some of the spaghetti that Bess made using our own tomatoes, onions, peppers and herbs and make us some Caesar salad with lettuce I found growing under the tom-a-toe tomato plants.
C.W. Crawford is a master gardener.


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