News AFBF’S Stallman Highlights Federation’s 85th Annual Meeting

AFBF’S Stallman Highlights Federation’s 85th Annual Meeting

AFBF’S Stallman Highlights Federation’s 85th Annual Meeting
December 28, 2006 |

One year after voting to rejoin the American Farm Bureau Federation, AFBF President Bob Stallman was the keynote speaker as the Alabama Farmers Federation held its 85th Annual Meeting in Mobile on Dec. 2-4. The event drew about 1,500 people from across the state.”One of the best aspects of the job is the opportunity to get out into the countryside and visit with the grassroots because that’s what we are about as an organization,” Stallman said at a press conference during the three-day meeting. “This is where all of our policy positions begin; this is where our membership strength is; and this is where our influence in Washington, D.C. is.”The meeting, with “Homegrown Values” as its theme, also saw Federation President Jerry A. Newby re-elected without opposition to his fifth two-year term as leader of Alabama’s largest farm organization. Five hundred voting delegates also elected state board members and officers. Morgan County poultry farmer Hal Lee of Hartselle was elected to his fifth two-year term as Federation vice president of the north region, while Covington County peanut farmer Ricky Wiggins of Andalusia was elected to his fifth two-year term as vice president of the southeast region.In the Federation’s district board elections, Joe Dickerson of Lauderdale County was elected to represent Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Marion and Walker counties. Dennis Maze, a poultry farmer from Blount County, was elected as district director for Blount, Cullman, Marshall and Winston counties.Richard Edgar, a row crop farmer from Elmore County, was elected to represent Coosa, Chambers, Elmore, Lee, Macon, Russell and Tallapoosa counties. Mike Dunn, who raises cattle and timber on his farm in Bullock County, was re-elected to his second, three-year term as a district director and will represent Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Crenshaw, Covington and Pike counties.Vice presidents serve two-year terms while district directors serve three-year terms. Elected to one-year, ex-officio terms on the state board were Women’s Committee Chairman Dianne Nall of Monroe County and State Young Farmers Chairman Steve Stroud of Pike County.Stallman, a Texas rice and cattle farmer in his fourth term as president of the nation’s largest farm organization, said the 5.7 million members of the AFBF hope to use their strength in Washington to open foreign markets for U.S. farm products.
Securing funding for agricultural programs and capitalizing on the potential of renewable fuels also will be priorities for farmers when the new Congress convenes next year, Stallman said.”There will be a very healthy, long debate about what provisions should be in the new 2007 farm bill,” Stallman said. “It’s up to us to make the case that farming not only feeds Alabama; farming feeds the rest of the world.”In other comments, Stallman said the AFBF is supporting the construction of new reservoirs to help farmers cope with dry weather.The reservoir issue helped earn Rep. Terry Everett the Friend of Farm Bureau Award. Everett, a senior member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, introduced the Farm Reservoir Act in the House in mid-November, citing the devastating droughts of 2005 and 2006. Under the act, cost-share assistance would be provided through the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to assist farmers with the construction of reservoirs. Stallman also noted that renewable fuels are “one of the bright spots for American agriculture.””All of the pieces are in place, and I really think this is going to be a long-term benefit to American agriculture,” he said.That sentiment was echoed by Sen. Jeff Sessions, who told the group that biofuels can help free America from its dependence on foreign oil producers.”I hope we can continue to use biofuels to expand our price manageability on the farm, and take back our independence from foreign domination in the supply of our oil,” Sessions said in a brief, unscheduled appearance at the opening general session. “I appreciate what you do. I value your support and your friendship. I hope I am worthy of the confidence you place in me. I’m honored to be a friend of this Federation. I look forward to continuing to work with you in years to come, to have a strong farm bill very early next year, and I hope we can come out a victor.”Auburn University President Dr. Ed Richardson, who received Federation’s highest award, the Service to Agriculture Award, also spoke of biofuels and other possibilities as he discussed the formation of an Institute of Natural Resources at AU. The institute would include the College of Agriculture, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Alternative Fuels Unit, Water Initiative Unit, and other environmental units.
In presenting him the Service to Agriculture Award, Newby said Richardson had “refocused, re-energized and redefined” the university’s role as a land-grant institution.The remarks drew a thunderous applause from the audience, many of whom had attended an agricultural issues briefing earlier in the day in which experts discussed the 2007 farm bill, water management and storage, and the 25 x ’25 alternative energy initiative.Hollis Curl, owner, editor and publisher of the weekly newspaper, The Wilcox Progressive Era, in Camden, was presented the Federation’s Communications Award. Curl, a former president of the Alabama Press Association, has owned and operated the Progressive Era for 39 years.County awards were also presented for various commodities, communications, Young Farmers, Women’s Committees, and leadership.In other business, Will Gilmer of Lamar County was elected vice chairman, and Greg Kaiser of Baldwin County was elected secretary of the Young Farmers Committee. Kaiser was re-elected to his committee seat representing District 8. Other elected committee members are: Jeff Maze of Blount County, representing District 2; Dawn Lazenby of Lee County, representing District 6; and Jonathan Burge of Randolph County, at-large representative for North Alabama.Delle Bean of Calhoun County was elected vice chairman and Sarah Lazzari of Baldwin County was elected secretary of the state Women’s Committee. New committee members include: Rita Garrett of Cherokee County, Region I; Doris Odom of Fayette County (re-elected), Region II; and Gloria Jeffcoa of Houston County, Region IV.The Alabama Farmers Federation has 460,000 members statewide and is the Alabama affiliate of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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