Alabama Agriculture Department

The Huntsville Times/Michael Mercier

The state agriculture commissioner says Alabama's farmers are in line to have the same 6 percent growth in income that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast for farmers nationwide this year.

   Commissioner John McMillan says Alabama's largest farm product, poultry, is 9 percent ahead of 2012 levels. He attributes that to a strong overseas demand and the leveling of costs, including energy and feed.

A plan by state Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan to hire another of his rivals from the 2010 campaign is off.

McMillan had planned to hire Shelby County businessman Dale Peterson, who ran against McMillan in the Republican primary in 2010, but Peterson announced Thursday he's not going to work at the state agriculture department. Peterson says he realized McMillan was trying to neutralize him and keep him from being a potential candidate in 2014.

AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File

Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan is hiring another rival from the 2010 campaign.

Deputy Commissioner Brett Hall says McMillan is bringing Shelby County businessman Dale Peterson on board. Peterson will serve as his confidential assistant with an annual salary of more than $72,000.

The two men faced off in the Republican primary in 2010. McMillan had previously hired the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner, Glen Zorn, to be his assistant commissioner.

State agriculture officials say Alabama's record yields in cotton, soybean and peanut crops in 2012 helped to offset lower than average corn yields.

The Gadsden Times reports ( ) that soybean and cotton yields in northeast Alabama also likely set records this year.

David Derrick, regional extension agent for the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, says this year has been one of the best ever for row crop farmers.

Officials say farmers benefited from higher than average prices for corn and soybeans.

Alabama's agriculture department is reworking a proposed $288,000 consulting contract. Agriculture officials on Thursday pulled the item from the agenda of the Legislative Contract Review Committee. Commissioner John McMillan said he wanted to rework the contract's terms and expand its description. The committee's agenda had included a two-year, $288,000 deal with lobbyist and former state Rep. Noopie Cosby Jr. The contract requires him to create significant agriculture product exporting and rural development programs, among other duties, for McMillan.