MONTGOMERY, Ala., January 29 — Alabama Farmers Federation kicked off its centennial year and celebrated the 75th Anniversary of Alfa Insurance® this week at the organization’s home office in Montgomery.
Founded in 1921, the Federation represents more than 350,000 member families through county organizations in all 67 Alabama counties. Jimmy Parnell, who serves as president of the Federation and Alfa®, said the Federation’s original mission of providing a voice for farmers has been fulfilled.
“We were formed to represent the farmers of the state of Alabama. They felt like they lacked a voice in government,” Parnell said. “County agents from around the state worked to develop us. They collected membership dues for the organization and got us started 100 years ago. It’s just been an amazing journey, and I’m pleased to say, today, I don’t think the farmers of the state would worry about whether they’re represented or not in politics. I think we’ve done what we were intended to do, and we continue to try to do that every day.”
The Federation serves 17 commodity divisions and develops agricultural leaders through its Young Farmers and Women’s Leadership divisions. The organization also is engaged in public policy both in Montgomery and Washington, D.C., as well as through its voluntary political action committee, FarmPAC. The Federation supports youth livestock shows, Ag in the Classroom, Farm-City Week, scholarships and more through its Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation.
The Federation’s most recognizable accomplishment is Alfa Insurance. Parnell said the insurance company grew out of a need for fire insurance coverage in rural areas.
“Those same farmers that were involved — they’d be together talking about policy — and one of their challenges was getting insurance on their rural properties,” Parnell said. “The insurance companies that were out there didn’t want to write those rural farm owners, so the farmers decided, ‘We need to be able to insure our homes, our barns.’ And a group of those folks paid their premium into a pot realizing that if very many of them had claims, they would not have insurance. They had to raise $10,000. Once they had raised $10,000, they petitioned the state insurance department to set them up as an insurance company. So that’s how we got started — a small group of farmers putting their money together to form this insurance company.”
Today, Alfa® provides coverage for more than 1 million homes, cars, farms, businesses, churches and other property across 11 states. Alfa also has more than $30 billion of life insurance in force.
“As you know, there are not as many farmers today, so along the way, we started insuring everybody,” Parnell said. “We have special focus on rural customers, but we also insure people who live in cities. We are the No. 1 insurer in some areas and the No. 2 insurer in other areas — in the state of Alabama. I’m very proud of that.”
Gov. Kay Ivey recognized the anniversaries with a special proclamation.
“At the core of the Federation is its commitment to giving back to those it serves through community enhancement and programs to develop future leaders through its Young Farmers Committee, Women’s Leadership Committee, 17 commodity committees and A.L.F.A. Leaders Class,” stated the governor in a portion of the proclamation. “(I) encourage our citizens to support the Federation and Alfa Insurance in their work on behalf of all residents.”
The centennial and diamond anniversaries of the Federation and Alfa will include observances throughout the year, culminating at the Federation’s 100th Annual Meeting planned for December in Montgomery.
Parnell said it was fitting to kick off the year with special activities for employees.
“It’s such milestone that everyone needs to realize how important it is, and it’s almost a congratulatory kind of thing. Everybody that’s involved — that’s employed — is a part of that, and they’re part of preparing for the next 100 years,” he said.
Alfa employs more than 2,000 people in Alabama, including about 700 at its headquarters.
Parnell said the organization’s investment in technology, new products, expanded service options and leadership development has positioned Alfa well for the future.
“We are doing the things that prepare us for another 100 years, or maybe another 200,” he said. “I can’t imagine how far we could go as an organization, because we have built the groundwork for a long-term operation to continue.”