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We have a lot to be thankful for in Alabama

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh

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By Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh

This is always one of my favorite weeks of the year.  As we gather to give thanks for and with our loved ones, 396 years since the first Thanksgiving, this week also marks the 62nd annual National Farm-City Week.

It is only fitting that we celebrate both of these occasions at the same time.  After all, the early settlers came together to rejoice over a successful harvest that would sustain their colony.  The Thanksgiving experience certainly has changed over the years, but Farm-City week gets us back to our traditional roots.  We can sometimes lose sight of this in modern times, but farmers work diligently year-round to put food on our tables.  We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.  Without them, we could not enjoy our American way of life.

For some context, my brother and I were “the city cousins” growing up.  Our grandparents on both sides of the family were farmers; my dad’s parents were poultry farmers (really they called themselves “chicken farmers” back then) in Crenshaw County, and my mom’s parents grew soybeans, cotton, and peanuts and had a small herd of cattle near the line between Pike County and Bullock County.  We would spend our time at one of the two farms during the summer, on weekends, and for holidays.  However, unlike our cousins, we lived in the city because my parents moved to town so they could both teach school.  While we were fortunate enough to experience life both on and off the farm, most families only know one of the two lifestyles.

That’s why since 1955, this week has been designated as National Farm-City Week.  It is the time of year when we focus on increasing understanding between people on and off the farm.  You really do not know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes until you have walked in them.  To that end, the Alabama Farm-City Committee does a tremendous job throughout the year providing educational programs and first-hand experiences to bridge the gap and increase understanding.

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Even with these differences between farm and city life, rural and urban communities rely heavily on each other for their livelihood.  On one hand, farmers work diligently to produce high-quality food, fiber, and forest products for everyone to enjoy.  Getting these products from farms to homes across the state, country, and world requires cooperation with people across many industries and walks of life.  There are manufacturing and distribution aspects of agriculture, too.  Grocers, truck drivers, factory workers, computer scientists, bankers, veterinarians, chemists, salesmen, and various others all play vital roles in getting agriculture products from the farm into households worldwide.

The increased understanding that stems from Farm-City programs leads to better cooperation and a stronger economy.  This is a boon for families across our great state.  Overall, the positive effect that agriculture has on Alabama year-round is truly unparalleled.  While the most direct impact is reflected in this year’s Farm-City Week theme, ‘Agriculture: Food for Life,’ there are many lesser known “ag facts” that I would like to share.

For instance, farmland covers approximately a quarter of our state and forestland covers two-thirds.  This provides a significant benefit when it comes to ecosystem services.  Second, Alabama is home to around 43,000 farms, most of which are family owned and operated.  The influence goes way beyond these families, as nearly 600,000 Alabama jobs are dependent on agriculture.  Between agriculture, forestry, and related industries in Alabama, the annual economic impact is over seventy billion dollars.

This does not even include the social benefits of agriculture in our state.  Alabama farmers are pillars of their local communities who are giving of their time, talent, and resources.  They practice a core belief of mine in all of their work: doing more with less.  From my personal experience, life on the farm builds character.  The scorching-hot summers I spent working in my grandparents’ chicken houses, my shoes caked with chicken litter as I bustled about trying to keep the chickens from killing each other, helped teach me the virtues of hard-work.  This has stuck with me throughout my life, and I am forever grateful for my time on the farm.

Which brings us back to Thanksgiving.  Let’s challenge ourselves this year.  We have so many things to be thankful for in Alabama.  But all we see in the news is negative.  Let’s count God’s blessings and highlight the things that we love about our state.

Most importantly, we still live in a state of God-fearing people.  We are also blessed to have an abundance of natural resources in Alabama.  We have the most navigable waterways in the country, allowing goods to flow in and out of the state.  We have a huge supply of coal that provides jobs for so many families and helps keep electricity rates low for everyone.  Our beautiful land and bodies of water make our state a premier destination for hunting and fishing.  Alabama is also blessed to have tremendous farmland, ranging from the dark fertile soil in the Black Belt to the bountiful Tennessee Valley.  The unemployment rate just hit an all-time low, and we are moving in the right direction with workforce development.  Our manufacturing sector is thriving, with new companies making Alabama home left and right.  And so, so much more.

We are truly blessed, and I am proud to call Alabama home.  Happy Thanksgiving and happy Farm-City Week!  Our state’s great farmers work hard so that we can focus on our families and enjoy cherished traditions this Thanksgiving Day.  So, if you see a farmer during the holiday season, be sure to thank them.  This week and throughout the year, we should be grateful for everything they do.  When you are saying your prayers, please ask God to continue blessing our farmers and our great state.

The above is the opinion of Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, the President of the Alabama Public Service Commission. Opinions expressed do not represent the position of the Public Service Commission or its other commissioners. 

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Guest Columnists

Opinion | Americans are better off now

Bradley Byrne

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Two years ago, I joined other Republican House members in unveiling our “Better Way” agenda. The agenda covered everything from national security to tax reform to the economy. It was a bold vision about a different path for America that wasn’t driven by a larger, more powerful federal government. Instead, we advocated for a better way where we got government out of the way and allowed the American people to flourish.

 Working with President Trump, we have held true to our promises to the American people. Two years later and with many parts of the agenda in place, we can safely say that Americans are better off now. Our communities are safer. The economy is booming. Our military is being rebuilt. Our “Better Way” is paying off.

 Our communities are safer because we have made supporting law enforcement a top priority. We have passed historic legislation to address the opioid crisis, which is having a horrible impact on communities in Alabama and throughout the country. In addition to better policy, we have invested $4 billion in grants and programs to help combat the opioid crisis.

 We passed legislation to devote more resources to school safety, and we have made real progress in the fight against human trafficking. In fact, we have seen a 60 percent decline in online advertising for sex trafficking.

Also, important to keeping our communities safe, we set aside $1.5 billion for physical barriers and technology along the southern border and provided for over 90 miles of a border wall system. Border security is national security.

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No one can deny that the American economy is booming. Just consider these numbers: 90 percent of Americans are seeing larger paychecks under our tax reform bill. 3.7 million jobs have been created since November 2016. There are 6.6 million job openings in the United States as of May 2018, meaning more jobs than job seekers. And, $4.1 billion has been saved in agency regulatory costs by rolling back burdensome government regulations.

 One of my biggest concerns during the Obama Administration was the hollowing out of our military. We had planes that couldn’t fly and ships that couldn’t sail. We were not making the continuous critical investment in our military necessary to keep up with our adversaries. Thankfully, those days are over.

 We have made the largest investment in our military in 15 years. This means 20,000 new troops, the largest pay increase for our service members since 2010, more training time, better equipment, new ships, and much more.

 On the world stage, countries know that the United States means what we say. ISIS is on the run in the Middle East, North Korea has come to the negotiating table, and China is being held accountable for their dangerous trade practices.

 Now, I want to make clear that much work remains. For example, we have to keep working to fix our broken immigration system and ensure that our borders are finally secure. We also cannot give up on our efforts to improve health care in our country. Costs remain too high and rural communities right here in Alabama are facing dangerous hospital closures.

 But, despite what some on the other side of the aisle and the national news media want you to believe, the American people are better off now than they were two years ago. That’s a testament to our pro-growth agenda, but, more importantly, it is a testament to the spirit and drive of the American people.

Want to know more? I encourage you to visit Better.gop to learn more about the various ways the American people are better off now.

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Guest Columnists

Opinion | Pro-Life Movement momentum is strong

Martha Roby

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As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have the privilege each year to advocate for the priorities most important to the people who live and work in Alabama’s Second District.  Among many other key issues, I have been proud to stand up and fight for a strong military and smart agriculture policy on this committee. On the reverse, I am also in a strong position fight against funding from being steered towards programs or organizations that I adamantly oppose. Recently when the Appropriations Committee approved our Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Fiscal Year 2019 funding bill, I had the opportunity to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves: the unborn.

As a member of the Labor-HHS Subcommittee, I am extremely proud to report that our bill passed by the full Committee includes the strong pro-life language I have fought for year after year and implements additional policy riders to defend life. Every single one of these measures is critically important and further ensures that no taxpayer dollars can be used for abortions.

Among the key pro-life provisions included in the Labor-HHS FY19 funding bill are the Hyde Amendment, which directs that no taxpayer dollars be used to fund abortions, and the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which bans Labor-HHS funding from being used on research that harms human embryos.

In addition to these longstanding pro-life measures, our bill also includes several other important pro-life provisions that continue our efforts to assign greater protections for life under the law. These measures include the Conscience Science Protection Act, which protects the rights of health care providers that do not participate in abortion.

In addition, the bill includes language that prohibits funding for fetal tissue research obtained from abortion. This measure might sound familiar because it is a direct response to the 2015 scandal that revealed how Planned Parenthood officials were systematically altering abortion procedures to preserve babies’ organs in order to sell them to researchers for profit. Planned Parenthood’s action was sick, callous, and completely inhuman.

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Finally, the bill includes language to prohibit abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving any available funding, including through Title X family grants. This measure works hand-in-hand with the Trump Administration’s “Protect Life” rule, which also directs that Planned Parenthood is not eligible to receive Title X grant money. As I have said many, many times: Abortion is not family planning. Abortion is not health care. Organizations that offer these services should not receive taxpayer dollars that are intended for family planning.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have remained unapologetically pro-life. I believe life begins at conception, and our laws and policies should reflect a strong commitment to defending life at every stage. I have considered it a great privilege to have a platform with which I can serve as a voice for the voiceless.

After eight long years of coming up short pro-life victories, I am encouraged that we now have a President who supports our efforts and is willing to sign important measures into law. The pro-life movement’s momentum is strong, and I look forward to seeing it grow as we continue to impact meaningful change on behalf of the unborn. I am eager to support our Labor-HHS funding bill when it comes before the full House for a vote.

 Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.

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Guest Columnists

Opinion | Gerald Dial is a steady hand for Alabama

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Alabama’s economy is growing…but it can do so much more. The key is having the right leadership in all elected positions, people who have vision.

So far, Governor Kay Ivey has shown she has what it takes to make important changes and place our state in a position to win.

Did you know agriculture and forestry together are the biggest industry in Alabama? They contribute $70 billion each year toward the economy. Nearly 9 million acres and 600,000 Alabamians are involved in this huge business that benefits us all.

I would know; I was Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries several years back. During that time, we put Alabama’s top asset at the forefront of economic development.

John McMillian, our current commissioner who is term-limited and running for Treasurer, has done a good job, and now Alabama is at another crossroads. We need the next Ag Commissioner to find new and more ways to grow our state.

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Gerald Dial is just that person. He and I served together in the State Senate, and his Christian values and new ideas are exactly what Alabama needs right now. The key to making government work for the people is to have someone who can’t be bought but also knows how government works. Gerald Dial fits the bill, and I trust him explicitly.

Just recently Gerald Dial created a solution to a massive problem in our state – the opioid crisis. This pandemic is killing thousands of our citizens each year. Instead of sitting back and think it isn’t his problem, Gerald Dial petitioned the drug manufacturer, Kaleo, of naoxolene, an injection that can save someone experiencing an opioid overdose. The delivery device is called EVZIO.

The result is 1,744 FREE doses of an overdose-reversing drug to Alabama’s volunteer rescue squads to combat the opioid crisis. That $4 million donation to our rural first responders equates to nearly 2,000 lives that will be saved.

I could go on and on about Gerald Dial because he’s such a wonderful friend and effective public servant, but what I want to ask you is to support Gerald Dial in the July 17th Republican Primary Runoff for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

The powerful special interest groups in Montgomery don’t want Gerald elected, because they are scared he won’t take marching order like their preferred candidate. I don’t know about you, but that’s all I need to know about Gerald Dial – the powerbrokers don’t want him, so I do!

Charles Bishop was a Republican member of the Alabama Senate. He represented District 5 from 2006 to 2010. The district covers portions of Winston, Walker, Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties. He was elected as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries for the term 1999 to 2003. 

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We have a lot to be thankful for in Alabama

by Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh Read Time: 5 min
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