Alabama’s new Agricultural and Rural Crimes Unit (ARCU) will highlight Alabama Farmers Federation Commodity Conference seminars Aug. 3, as more than 700 farmers gather in Birmingham.
Lt. Gene Wiggins, head of the unit, will encourage farmers to use the new 1-855-75-CRIME hotline to report suspicious activities. He also will discuss ongoing investigations involving cattle and equipment theft. Although a law passed by the Alabama Legislature this spring doesn’t require consolidation of state law enforcement until January 2015, Gov. Robert Bentley and Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier tapped Wiggins to organize the ARCU this year based on an immediate need for agricultural investigators.
“With sheriff’s departments understaffed, it’s important to have trained investigators who understand these types of crimes and can focus on solving them,” Wiggins said. “I appreciate Gov. (Robert) Bentley and Secretary (Spencer) Collier for allowing our unit to begin working cases and bringing these criminals to justice.”
Wiggins will address Commodity Conference participants during a 3 p.m. general session. Saturday’s agenda also includes a 2 p.m. general session on a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative to improve soil fertility plus morning seminars on topics ranging from private property rights and equine management to ruminant nutrition and food safety.
Saturday’s seminars follow a day of farm tours Friday, Aug. 2, and a welcome banquet Thursday, Aug. 1. Thursday night entertainment will be Alabama’s champion FFA String Band, and Saturday’s closing banquet features comedian James Gregory. Entertainment is sponsored by Alfa Health and Alfa Dental.
The conference also includes the Women’s Leadership Division quilting, tablescapes and apron-sewing competitions, with winners announced during a Saturday luncheon.