February 01, 2017
By Jeff Helms
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell, left, and Federation Young Farmers Division Director Jennifer Himburg, right, congratulate Alabama's Outstanding Young Farm Family Stewart and Kasey McGill as one of four finalists for the national Achievement Award at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting.
Madison County young farmers Stewart and Kasey McGill were selected as one of four finalists for the national Achievement Award during the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting Jan. 9 in Phoenix, Arizona.
The McGills, who were named Alabama’s Outstanding Young Farm Family in August, said they are humbled by the recognition.
“What a huge honor it is for us to be here representing the state of Alabama, to be on this stage, and to be one of the national finalists,” Stewart said. “We want to thank everyone in Alabama for all the help. It’s a huge accomplishment for us as a family, but it’s also a huge honor for the state — for all those who helped us along the way.”
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell was among the first to congratulate the McGills.
“We are very proud of Stewart and Kasey,” Parnell said. “They show what can be achieved through faith, hard work and service. The McGills and all of our Young Farmers competitors give us hope for the future of Alabama agriculture.”
As a national finalist, the McGills received a Case IH Farmall tractor valued at $25,000, $500 in merchandise from Stihl and a $2,500 cash prize.
Alabama was represented in the Young Farmers Discussion Meet by Lauren Cline of Lee County, while Ben and Heather Maples of Limestone County competed in the Excellence in Agriculture contest.
About 5,000 people attended the convention, which included educational seminars, a trade show, agricultural tours and keynote addresses by AFBF President Zippy Duvall and football legends Archie and Peyton Manning.
During the opening general session, Alabama received Awards of Excellence in all six Farm Bureau program areas and President’s Awards among large-membership states for Education and Outreach and Public Relations and Communications.
Duvall said farmers’ work in these areas is vital to American agriculture. In his first year as president, he visited 33 states and is committed to meeting with members on their farms in all 50 states, so he can help tell their stories.
“We must help consumers understand that we all want the same things,” Duvall said. “We have a great story to tell. We need to take back the concept of sustainability because nobody is working harder to be sustainable than America’s farmers and ranchers.”
During the meeting, Duvall asked Farm Bureau members to send messages to Congress encouraging regulatory reform. In a matter of minutes, more than 1,500 took action.
Citing examples of regulatory overreach on farms from Massachusetts to California, Duvall said the government’s actions would be comical if not so harmful to farm families.
“There’s nothing funny about the federal government coming onto our land and telling us what we can and can’t do on our own farms,” he said. “It amounts to federal control of what we do. It’s unwarranted, and it’s unlawful.”
More than 100 Federation members attended the convention, including 19 voting delegates and their alternates, who considered policy changes during the AFBF business session.
“This convention is a great opportunity for us to gather with farmers from across the country who share our values, challenges and opportunities,” Parnell said. “Our involvement in Farm Bureau gives Alabama a voice in shaping policies and programs that impact agriculture and forestry.”
The Federation’s new Farming Feeds Alabama video was played at the start of the closing general session. The video also was featured on digital marquees outside meeting rooms throughout the convention.