Alabama Farmers Federation Holds 83rd Annual Meeting
The diversity, patriotism and community involvement of the Alabama Farmers Federation was showcased Dec. 5-6 when more than 2,000 Federation members gathered in Mobile for the 83rd annual meeting of the state’s largest farm organization.”Alabama Farmers Federation: We Are Alabama,” was the theme for this year’s event, which was held at the Mobile Civic Center.Federation President Jerry Newby said the theme gives the organization a chance to celebrate the contributions its members make to society not only as farmers, but also as volunteers, small business owners, civic leaders and bi-vocational workers.Newby’s annual report reflected on how the organization pulled together to promote agriculture, answer legislative challenges and elect government leaders who are responsive to the needs of its members. The report also included a special video presentation on how the Federation and Alfa Insurance responded to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ivan.During the Dec. 5 general session, Mike and Shannon Dee of Pickens County were named Alabama’s Outstanding Young Farm Family, and Federation Commodity Director Jim Cravey, who will retire in February, received the Special Service to Agriculture Award.During the Dec. 6 morning session, Auburn University Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture Dr. John Jensen received the Service to Agriculture Award, and Jaine Treadwell accepted the Federation’s 2004 Communications Award on behalf of The Troy Messenger.Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Ron Sparks addressed the crowd and received rousing applause when he pledged to continue promoting the use of Alabama agricultural products in school lunchrooms. Sparks also reported on the successful talks that have resulted in Cuba purchasing food and forest products from Alabama, and he said he would be traveling to that country later in the month to ensure trade channels remain open.At the afternoon business session, voting delegates approved a $9 increase in dues. By the time the increase takes effect July 1 it will have been 27 years since dues have been raised.A long range planning committee had studied the dues structure extensively and carefully surveyed the needs of the county and state organizations before bringing a plan to the delegates. The increase makes the total dues $28 with the additional voluntary contribution to ELECT remaining the same. Two dollars of the $9 increase collected by the state organization will be divided 67 ways and dispersed back to the counties.This method of dividing dues among the 67 counties applies only to the additional $2 and was designed to help smaller counties afford to participate in programs.Delegates also approved policy recommendations supporting the use of biofuels and the creation of a mandatory identification system for all-terrain vehicles. Other policy changes called for: raising fines for trespassing; supporting the production of meat rabbits; and supporting programs to help landowners with stream and riverbank stability.Newby was elected to his fourth two-year term as president, and delegates re-elected two vice presidents and elected four new state board members.During the final general session, April Dawn Hawthorne of Pike County was crowned Miss Alabama Agriculture, and Haley Mims of Montgomery County took top honors in the Talent Find competition.