The Labor Department approved a record 32,084 H-2A visa program positions during the last quarter of 2017 — a 15 percent increase over the same quarter the year before and a 109 percent increase since 2013, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The average minimum wage for H-2A workers is $12.20 an hour this year, which is 13 percent higher than 2013.
-Mac Higginbotham, division director
Meat Goat & Sheep
Tuskegee University’s Annual Goat Day is April 21 from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. The theme is “Ideal Composite Meat Goat Breeds for the Southeastern U.S. and Related Techniques.” The event includes research presentations, roundtable discussions and field demonstrations. Registration is $15 before April 1. Visit tuskegee.edu/goatday to learn more.
-Nate Jaeger, division director
Soybean and Wheat & Feed Grains
During the Commodity Organizational Meeting, Alabama’s Soybean and Wheat & Feed Grain Producers set priorities for research in 2018. The top five issues are resistant weeds, soil health, insect pests, drought tolerance and precision agriculture.
-Carla Hornady, divisions director
The Dairy Alliance (formerly SUDIA) will hold a Global Dairy Summit March 12-13 in Atlanta. Agricultural leadership will gather from nine Southeastern states to discuss collaborations to add value to Southeastern milk. Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who is the U.S. Dairy Export Council CEO, will share his vision of increasing dairy exports by 5 percent over the next five years.
-Guy Hall, division director
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently announced a new habitat restoration program for bobwhite quail for landowners in eligible areas. Applications are due March 2. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s Working Lands for Wildlife, funding will be available for several central Alabama counties. Visit Alabama’s NRCS website to learn more.
-William Green, division director
In light of a fierce cold and flu season, dietitians suggest consumers eat more peanuts and peanut butter to increase immunity. Legumes are one of the top immune-boosting foods, a key to staying healthy this winter.
-Caleb Bristow, division director