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August 07, 2014

A.J. Watson

Jackson County farmer Colin Wilson (left) talks with other A.L.F.A. Leader graduates Clint McElmoyl (middle) and Grant Buck (right)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., — More than 700 Alabama Farmers Federation members gathered in the Von Braun Center ballroom for the Agricultural Leaders For Alabama (A.L.F.A.) class graduation during the opening session of the 42nd Commodity Producers Conference.

"Once you're identified as a leader, you still have the opportunity to grow," Federation President Jimmy Parnell said. "I know you're proud of them, and I'm proud of them, too. They will make a difference in Alabama agriculture."

The 16 graduates came from all corners of the state and represented multiple commodities.

The program provides structured, two-year training for Alabama residents ages 25-45 through personal and professional development in agricultural policy, industry leadership and organizational involvement. 

The graduates were nominated by their county Farmers Federation presidents and attended eight three-day sessions.

While the program taught leadership, policy and involvement, graduates said the contacts they made and the bonds they share are priceless.

"You see the same common bond in the farming community," Sumter County farmer and A.L.F.A. Leaders graduate Grant Buck said. "All the farms we visited had the same thing in common, and they were the three F's: family, faith and farming. I'm very passionate, but it's great to see other farmers who are passionate, too."

The graduates were Hope Cassebaum, Baldwin County; Allie Corcoran, Barbour County; Shawn Keel, Calhoun County; Abby and Jay Stewart, Clay County; Eric Lovvorn, Cleburne County; Lee Haynes, Cullman County; Clint McElmoyl and Josh Turner, DeKalb County; Justin Barrett, Elmore County; Nick Gibbs, Etowah County; Colin Wilson, Jackson County; Zachary Burns, Marshall County; Jeremy Brown and Garrett Henry, Montgomery County; and Grant Buck, Sumter County.

Following the graduation, conference attendees enjoyed entertainment by the state champion Arab FFA String Band.

The Commodity Producers Conference continues Friday with farm and agricultural industry tours in north Alabama and southern Tennessee. On Saturday, young farmers from throughout the state will compete in the Excellence and Agriculture and Discussion Meet contests — both aimed at developing leadership skills and helping farmers become stronger advocates for agriculture. A series of seminars also is planned for Saturday with topics ranging from animal health to farm economics. 

The conference concludes Saturday evening with a closing general session featuring awards for the Young Farmers contests and entertainment by award-winning gospel singer Guy Penrod.

For photos and updates throughout the conference, follow #affcc14 on Twitter and visit the Alfa Farmers Facebook page.

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