By Marlee Moore
Conversation centered on labor issues and the cattle price index as members of Agricultural Leaders For Alabama (A.L.F.A. Leaders) Class V met with decision-makers in Washington, D.C., Feb. 1-4.
Participants in the Alabama Farmers Federation’s premier two-year leadership program include Mobile County’s Dillon Turk, whose family is in the container nursery business.
“This trip to D.C. has been productive because we’ve been able to spend a lot of time with our congressmen and senators,” said Turk, who attended the Federation’s Washington Legislative Conference in 2019. “We got to the heart of some issues. We were also able to see how well-respected the Alabama Farmers Federation is, not just within American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), but with elected leaders, too.”
Before flying into Reagan National Airport, the group researched hot topics in agriculture. A visit with AFBF staffers cemented their ability to jumpstart conversations about the upcoming farm bill, livestock markets and immigration reform.
Ryan Cox, a cattle and specialty crops producer from Chilton County, said the trip changed his perspective on the impact farmers can have by interacting with elected officials.
“Everyone tells you to call your senator or congressman,” Cox said. “A lot of people don’t engage because you feel like you’ll be sent to voicemail. After talking with our representatives, you can tell they mean it when they say to call if you have an issue. I didn’t expect that.”
Members met with leaders in agricultural policy, including U.S. Rep. G.T. Thompson. The Pennsylvania Republican is minority leader of the House Committee on Agriculture. His down-to-earth attitude resonated with A.L.F.A. Leaders member Scott Woodall.
“The whole trip was great, but I most enjoyed hearing from Congressman Thompson,” said Woodall, a forester from Jackson County. “His disposition and openness were great, and he created a comfortable atmosphere for us to talk about how farm security is national security.”
The young leaders also discussed issues impacting their farms and livelihoods with members of Alabama’s delegation, including U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville and U.S. Reps. Robert Aderholt, Jerry Carl, Barry Moore, Gary Palmer and Mike Rogers.
Additionally, they met with the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition minority staff, visited the Museum of the Bible and soaked in sights during a moonlight monuments tour.
The A.L.F.A. Leaders group has two more educational institutes before graduating in December. Previous sessions focused on state policy, Federation structure and the group’s capstone project.