From the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries:
MONTGOMERY, Alabama. . . Members of the Steering Committee for the Alabama Agriculture & Forestry Strategic Plan Tuesday presented to Governor Robert Bentley their report calling for a more cooperative relationship between business and government that, if enacted, would help to create as many as 58,000 new jobs in Alabama and add $7 billion to the state’s economy by 2020.
“Our steering committee and commodity groups representing the entire spectrum of Alabama’s agriculture and forestry industries have spent several hundred hours working on this strategic plan and are to be commended for their fine work,” Agriculture & Industries Commissioner John McMillan said.
Governor Robert Bentley, addressing members of the Agriculture & Forestry Steering Committee at the State Farmers Market in Montgomery, thanked the committee and reiterated his commitment to work in unison with farmers, foresters and small businesses allied with their industries in helping to achieve their goals.
“Agriculture, forestry and related businesses represent nearly 40 percent of Alabama’s economic output of $70.4 billion a year, and this Strategic Plan provides a clear and concise direction of improving the lives of Alabama’s working families through economic expansion,” Governor Bentley said.
“By focusing our efforts and working in unison with one another, these goals, which may seem ambitious, can be achieved,” Commissioner McMillan said. “We have taken the first critical step of uniting behind a specific set of goals, objectives and action items that are critical to agriculture and forestry.”
Commissioner McMillan referred to the document’s “Keys to Future Growth” as the foundation for building an effective and viable long-range plan. Those keys include:
1. Fostering capital investment
2. Developing a quality workforce
3. Ensuring freedom to operate
4. Maintaining transportation infrastructure
5. Expanding markets and trade
6. Strengthening the land grant mission
7. Promoting economic development with state agency collaboration
“Alabama’s agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries are projected to enjoy a golden age of sustained growth, thanks to a number of factors, not the least of which are our great state’s natural resources and human resources,” Commissioner McMillan said.
Besides Commissioner McMillan, Steering Committee members include:
• Johnny Adams, Executive Director, Alabama Poultry & Egg Association
• Dr. William Batchelor, Dean, Auburn University School of Agriculture
• Leigha Cauthen, Executive Director, Alabama Agribusiness Council
• Stephen Cauthen, Executive Director, Alabama Soil & Water Conservation Council
• James Harwell, Executive Director, Alabama Nursery & Landscape Association
• Chris Isaacson, Executive Vice President, Alabama Forestry Association
• Dr. Gary Lemme, Director, Alabama Cooperative Extension System
• Dr. Graeme Lockaby, Interim Dean, Auburn University School of Forestry
• Jimmy Parnell, President, Alabama Farmers Federation
• Greg Pate, State Forester, Alabama Forestry Commission
• Paul Pinyan, Executive Director, Alabama Farmers Federation
• Dr. Billy Powell, President, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association
Copies of “The Strategic Plan to Grow Alabama’s Agriculture, Agribusiness, Forestry, and Forest Products Industries – 2015-2020” are now available in print and online. To read the plan, go to www.AlabamaStrategicPlan.com.