The 44th Commodity Producers Conference was chock-full of firsts for the Alabama Farmers Federation, from a social media contest to an interactive question-and-answer session and a live Facebook stream announcing the Outstanding Young Farm Family.
Nearly 800 farmers were welcomed to Mobile July 28 by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, a staunch supporter of agriculture who spoke on the importance of farmers at the opening banquet.
“I never lose sight of the fact that agriculture is Alabama’s No. 1 industry,” Byrne said. “Agriculture is a part of our way of life, and it is a part of all of us.”
That evening, the Cold Springs High School FFA string band entertained guests.
The next day, attendees toured some of the best agricultural sites in southwest Alabama and were encouraged to snap photos during the tours and post them to social media with #AlfaFarmers16. Each tour’s best photo entrant won a Yeti tumbler.
This was Connie Fuller’s first Commodity Conference, and she said the value of networking with other, more experienced farmers was invaluable, as was learning about agriculture and natural resources outside her Jefferson County farm.
“I enjoyed learning about how various Alabama institutions pool their resources to protect our watersheds,” said Fuller, whose tour cruised the Five Rivers Delta. “I want to bring back information to north Alabama about how our actions affect watersheds all the way to the coast.”
Saturday, July 30, was jam-packed with educational sessions about the upcoming Farm Bill, forage production, poultry practices and the industrial hemp market, to name a few. Winners in Tablescapes, Table Runners and Quilting contests were announced at the Women’s Leadership luncheon.
“Let’s Talk,” Saturday afternoon’s general session, featured a panel of agriculture and forestry deans from Alabama’s land-grant universities, as well as Alabama Cooperative Extension System director.
The interactive discussion, which touched on agricultural research, workforce development and more, encouraged members to use the Poll Everywhere smartphone app to ask questions.
At the closing banquet, Young Farmers awards were presented for Discussion Meet, Excellence In Agriculture and Outstanding Young Farm Family contests. A drone was also awarded to Jerry Byrd of Dale County, who entered a drawing after signing up with Farm Bureau Bank.
But the conference wasn’t just about its attendees. Members gave back to the local community through the Stuff The Silo fundraiser benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile. Members donated $6,448, nearly a three-month stay for a family whose child is battling life-threatening illness.
Christian entertainer Jason Crabb closed the conference.