Annual Report To Members
At the 2003 annual meeting, we unveiled the theme “Alabama Farmers Federation: Many Faces, One Voice,” and throughout the year our membership lived up to that statement by pulling together to accomplish new goals, take on tough challenges and weather vicious storms.One of our first challenges came just two days before Christmas 2003 when a single case of BSE was diagnosed in a Washington state dairy cow. That news sent shock waves through the beef industry, driving down prices and hindering trade with other countries. The Federation responded by working with USDA officials to assure Americans that our food supply is safe. Today, demand for beef is strong and foreign markets are re-opening.When the Alabama Legislature convened, the Federation joined other members of the Foundation for Educational and Economic Development in proposing sweeping accountability measures that would provide a solid financial footing for our state’s future. Although the legislature failed to act on our plan, it sparked meaningful dialogue among lawmakers that should lead to real reform in the future.At the Alabama Farmers Federation, we also must make wise financial decisions if our organization is to remain strong. Therefore, we formed a Long Range Planning Committee to examine the Federation’s needs and make recommendations for the future. That committee worked tirelessly to prepare a proposal that will lay a solid foundation for the growth of our organization while giving us the flexibility to take advantage of new opportunities that may arise.In Washington, our congressional delegation was instrumental in securing over $5 million for agricultural research in Alabama. They also opposed efforts to re-open the Farm Bill, and when Hurricane Ivan struck, they helped pass a $14 billion disaster relief package.Back in Alabama, we teamed up with the State Farmers Market Authority to launch a comprehensive statewide promotional campaign entitled “Buy Fresh, Buy Local,” which encouraged shoppers to purchase fresh, Alabama-grown produce.Throughout the year, our Young Farmers and Women’s divisions continued their work to educate young people about the importance of agriculture. They hosted field days and tours across the state, and a summer institute was held to show teachers how they can incorporate agriculture into their classrooms.In addition to educating consumers, teachers and young people, the Federation also provided valuable information to our members. Meetings on the safe and legal transportation of hazardous materials were held throughout the state. Research updates were provided to 650 members at the Commodity Organizational Conference. And during the summer, we further enhanced our outreach efforts by hosting individual commodity field days across the state to complement our annual Commodity Producers Conference.Last fall, our members came together once again–at the polls. Thanks to your efforts, every candidate endorsed by our political action committee was elected, and we are encouraged that our state and nation chose to elect leaders who share our traditional values.During the year, the Alabama Farmers Federation also partnered with other groups to strengthen agriculture and rural communities. The Alfa Agricultural Services Building was dedicated at Auburn University, and we cut the ribbon on the Alfa Environmental Hall at the University of West Alabama. Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation also gave $100,000 to Tuskegee University and pledged $1.8 million to train doctors through the University of Alabama’s Rural Medical Scholars Program. Ground was broken on the Alfa Pavilion at Ag Heritage Park in Auburn, and with the help of our county Federations, the Alfa Barn was dedicated at the American Village in Montevallo.None of these efforts, however, would have been possible without the help of Alfa Insurance. Despite having claims from Hurricane Ivan that exceeded $265 million as of Nov. 24, Alfa remains one of the strongest companies in the industry. This year, we built on that strength by acquiring Alfa Vision Insurance Co., which will give us a presence in nine new states.On Alabama farms, 2004 was a year of highs and lows. Cold, wet weather caused some farmers to get off to a slow start, but by mid-summer, many were hopeful that they would make a bumper crop. In September, however, producers were forced to lower their expectations when Hurricane Ivan ripped through the state. The storm was followed by prolonged rains that hampered harvest and reduced the quality and quantity of many crops.Despite these setbacks, 2004 was a good year for the 464,000 member families of the Alabama Farmers Federation. Through elections, legislative battles and hurricanes, we have stood together with One Voice.As we look ahead to 2005, our members will continue to be the backbone of this great state. We are the farmers, teachers, soldiers, doctors and volunteers that make this nation strong. We are the Alabama Farmers Federation, and we are Alabama.