About 750 Alabama Farmers Federation members traveled north to the Appalachian foothills to visit farms and factories and harvest information during the organization’s 47th annual Commodity
Headquartered in Chattanooga Aug. 1-3, the conference also had workshops and seminars with topics including a new Alabama branding program, industrial hemp, estate planning, timber production and farm bill implementation.
Federation President Jimmy Parnell said farm tours are always a favorite for farmers who attend the conference.
“The tours allow our members to get outside of their day-to-day operations and see firsthand how other farms work,” said Parnell, a Chilton County timber and cattle farmer. “We can always learn something by watching others. Touring working farms and seeing their successes and challenges can help us develop new ways of doing things.”
The Chattanooga site marked the first time the conference has been held in Tennessee. Parnell said the location allowed Alabama farmers to tour the northeast corner of the state, plus farms in Tennessee and Georgia. Tennessee Farm Bureau President Jeff Aiken welcomed Alabama members during the conference opening banquet.
Etowah County Farmers Federation President Donald Sewell said the conference location introduced members to farms in his neck of the woods.
“The tours were really good, and there was something for everybody,” said Sewell, a Federation state board member from Southside. “We farm a little different from farmers in south Alabama, and it’s always good to share ideas.”
Grand Bay farmer Calvin Freeland might have traveled farther than anyone to attend this year’s conference. The distance, 438 miles from his Mobile County farm, was worth the drive, he said.
“I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and this was one of the best,” said Freeland, Mobile County Farmers Federation president. “I enjoyed seeing the cattle on the tour and how those farmers run their operations. The topography and climate are totally different from where I live.”
Freeland said he also enjoyed the workshops, especially those where he learned about implementing the farm bill and commodity price trends.
Young Farmers contest winners were announced at the conference for the Outstanding Young Farm Family and Excellence in Agriculture competitions, while four finalists in the Discussion Meet were named.
Additionally, inaugural awards were presented by the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation (AFAF) to outstanding Alabama Cooperative Extension System and research professionals.
Representatives of North Jackson High School football and baseball teams were honored at the conference for assisting farmers Jackie and George Loyd of Stevenson following a grain bin accident at their farm earlier this year. The AFAF donated $5,000 to the school in appreciation.
Welcome banquet entertainment was provided by the Geneva FFA String Band. Closing banquet entertainment was The Heart Behind The Music.
Fore more conference coverage see pages, 5, 8 and 9.
Next year’s Commodity Producers Conference will be in Mobile.