Participants in the 43rd Commodity Producers Conference will experience the best Montgomery and the River Region have to offer July 30-Aug. 1, with tours, educational seminars, Young Farmers and Women’s Leadership Division competitions — even baseball.
The conference kicks off Thursday afternoon with registration for the Tablescapes, Quilting and Table Runner contests, sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Women’s Leadership Division. Later that evening, about 800 Federation members will gather for a welcome banquet at the Montgomery Convention Center before getting a good night’s sleep in anticipation of Friday’s tours, which depart at 8 a.m. Following the tours, members are encouraged to stroll over to Riverwalk Stadium for an optional dinner buffet and baseball as the Montgomery Biscuits take on the Tennessee Smokies.
Saturday’s activities include the Young Farmers Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture contests, as well as agricultural seminars on topics ranging from beef cattle breeding and wild hog management to pollinator health and the Endangered Species Act. Lunch options include the Young Farmer Contestant luncheon, Women’s Luncheon and an optional buffet for other participants. In the afternoon, a general session will include a presentation on a new invasive species, the tawny crazy ant, and a talk on weather and climatology by State Climatologist John Christy and WSFA-TV Chief Meteorologist Josh Johnson.
A screening of the movie “Farmland” in the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre precedes the closing banquet, where the Young Farmers will announce the Outstanding Young Farm Family and Excellence in Agriculture winners, as well as the Discussion Meet final four. Entertainment will be provided by Nashville songwriters in a production called “The Heart Behind the Music.”
Registration deadline is June 22.
The purple tour will start at the Alabama Department of Archives and History with a guided tour of its newest section, which features the history of Alabama agriculture. Attendees will then visit the Governor’s Mansion, where they will tour the ground floor, beautifully manicured grounds and Alabama-shaped swimming pool. The final stop is the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance home office for lunch. Along the route, participants will see and learn more about the First White House of the Confederacy, State House, State Capitol, Montgomery Biscuits Riverwalk Stadium, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and Hank Williams Museum and grave site.
The Blue Tour will highlight facilities and programs at Auburn University. Stops include the Lambert-Powell Meats Laboratory, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Horse Center and the Southern Raptor Center. The Meats Lab is a state-of-the-art teaching, research and Extension facility. During its 123-year history, the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine has produced more than 6,400 veterinarians and more than 500 specialists and researchers. About 50 quarter horses, thoroughbreds and warm bloods make their home at the Horse Center. The Raptor Center is home to birds of prey, including eagles that fly during pregame festivities at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Green Tour begins with a visit to the Robert F. Henry Lock and Dam near Selma. A representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will discuss issues impacting the Alabama River. The next stop is the Alabama Super Tree Nursery in Selma. Known as ArborGen, it is a leading global provider of plantation tree seedling products. Lunch will be served at the Central Alabama Farmers Co-op in Selma. After lunch, the tour will visit Butch Wilson’s innovative catfish and tilapia farm. To round out the tour, participants will learn about the latest methods of trapping feral hogs as they visit sites monitored by the Alabama Department of Natural Resources.
The Orange Tour will begin at the E.V. Smith Research Center in Macon County, where participants will view research plots and hear from State Forrester Greg Pate about variable rate irrigation. Participants will view an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) demonstration and hear about Auburn University’s approval to operate a UAV flight school. After lunch, participants will visit George Washington Carver Museum and The Oaks — Home of Booker T. Washington — at Tuskegee University. The museum includes personal items, samples of peanut and sweet potato products and laboratory equipment. The Oaks was built in 1899 by students and faculty using bricks made by students. It contains original and period furniture.
Participants will visit Jimmy Durbin of Sunshine Farms in Chilton County and see a top-notch produce packing facility. In addition to Durbin’s famous peaches, the farm raises strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers and purebred cattle. The tour will stop at the Chilton Research and Extension Center before traveling north to Petals from the Past in Jemison. The nursery specializes in antique roses, heirloom shrubs and hard-to-find perennials. A guided tour will feature specialty crops such as blackberries, blueberries, figs, pears, apples, satsumas and lemons. Participants will have free time to shop, and a catered lunch will be provided in the adjacent educational facility.
The first stop will be Bar El Farm in Montgomery, which includes a training facility for off-track thoroughbreds. At E.V. Smith Research and Experiment Station in Shorter, State Forrester Greg Pate will demonstrate the impact proper fertilization can make on pasture forages. After a steak sandwich lunch, the tour will travel to W.T. Dozier Farm in Tallassee. The diversified farm grows cotton, grain, hay and cattle. The Doziers will demonstrate how hybrid seedstock genetics are used to develop crossbred replacement females. The tour will conclude at the farm of Chris George, whose family operates a market in Eclectic that sells produce and farm-fresh sheep and goat meat direct to consumers.