January 15, 2019
Alabama farmers voted on policy Jan. 15 at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention in New Orleans.
Alabama Farmers Federation members had a front-row seat to history as President Donald J. Trump helped the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) celebrate its centennial convention Jan. 14 in New Orleans.
Trump earned standing ovations from nearly 6,000 farmers when talking trade, labor and rolling back regulations. It was his second consecutive appearance closing the organization’s annual meeting, which was Jan. 11-16. He highlighted his support of American agriculture, touting successful trade treaties such as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and new export markets.
“On every front, we are fighting for our great farmers, great ranchers and great growers,” he said.
Trump said he was proud to sign the 2018 farm bill, which provides critical programs like crop insurance.
“The American farmer feeds and fuels and sustains our nation,” Trump said. “The future for America’s farmers is bigger, better, bolder and brighter than ever before.”
Trump’s topics reflected AFBF President Zippy Duvall’s review of 2018 achievements like implementing a new Clean Water Rule, tax reform, trade and the farm bill. Duvall, a farmer from Georgia, also outlined key 2019 issues — including farm labor, agricultural research and improving broadband internet access — while reflecting on the organization’s century-long history.
“The most important people in Farm Bureau are our county members. They were back then (in 1919), and they are today,” Duvall said. “We just want to do what’s right and feed people. We want to care for the people.”
It’s a mindset Alabama farmers understand, said Blount County’s Tim Whitley. The row crop and cattle farmer was one of the state’s 18 farmer-delegates who helped chart AFBF’s path during the business session by voting on policy recommendations.
“It’s extremely important we get what is in the policy book correct so staff can represent farmers properly when meeting with elected officials and government agencies,” said Whitley, the Alabama Farmers Federation District 4 director. “It’s great that this organization was not born yesterday. It has experiences. It has deep roots. It can be more effective because it is 100 years old, and everyone knows what American Farm Bureau can accomplish.”
While at the convention, farmers heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas.
Young farmers also represented Alabama in national contests in New Orleans.
Chris and Jordyn Upchurch of Clay County made the Top 10 in Achievement Award, which recognizes the nation’s best young farm families. The poultry and cattle farmers were one of 26 contestants.
Tallapoosa County’s Sid Phelps made the Discussion Meet Sweet 16, tackling industry issues such as inclusivity, the future of agriculture and protecting production technology options for farmers. Phelps, the Bonnie Plants e-commerce manager, competed against 35 contestants.
Samantha Carpenter of Limestone County competed in Excellence in Agriculture against 28 competitors. She is Alabama Farmers Cooperative’s digital marketing and public relations director.
Alabama brought home Awards of Excellence in all four AFBF program areas — advocacy; outreach and engagement; leadership and business development; and membership value. The state also received an Apex Award for contributions to the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.
The Alabama Farmers Federation is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and represents 350,000 members in the state’s 67 counties. AFBF represents farmers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.