Hundreds of farmers will head for the Appalachian foothills during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 47th Commodity Producers Conference Aug. 1-3 in Chattanooga. Registration closes June 14 at AlfaFarmers.org.
The Federation’s Brian Hardin said the meeting offers an assortment of agricultural insights in the tri-state area.
“Chattanooga has a lot to offer our members, from first-class meeting spaces and delicious restaurants to scenic spots for afternoon adventures,” said Hardin, the Federation’s Governmental & Agricultural Programs Department director. “We’re also excited to offer tours that highlight north Alabama farms, in addition to operations in Tennessee and Georgia. Our tours and speakers should help showcase agricultural diversity, expand farmers’ horizons and, ultimately, affect their bottom line.”
The conference begins with the second annual Hay & Forage Spokesperson Contest, followed by a welcome banquet. Tours depart for stops in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia the next morning.
On Day 3, seminars range from social media marketing and state branding projects to industrial hemp and highway regulations. State Young Farmers Committee member and lawyer Leah McElmoyl will also lead a general session on estate planning.
The meeting closes with Young Farmers contests results, including the Outstanding Young Farm Family, Excellence in Agriculture winner and four Discussion Meet finalists.
Closing banquet entertainment includes singers Linda Davis and Lenny LeBlanc as part of “The Heart Behind The Music,” which blends personal insight with musical performances.
Blue Tour — The Blue Tour’s trek through Tennessee begins with a wine tasting and tour of Tsali Notch Vineyard, which specializes in muscadine wine and products in lush foothills outside Madisonville. After lunch at the Dinner Bell Restaurant & General Store, the tour heads to Sweetwater Valley Farm in Philadelphia, a diversified cattle and row crop operation that milks more than 1,500 cows with robotic technology.
Orange Tour — Conservation and innovation are featured on the Orange Tour, which starts at Riverbend Farm in Georgia, a 1,260-acre crop and timber farm concentrating on practices like conservation tillage; crop rotation; cover crops; irrigation; and nutrient and pest management. After lunch, attendees will tour Cherokee Gin & Cotton Co. in Centre, Alabama. Its new facility gins 50 bales an hour, compared to 35 bales an hour at the old gin.
Red Tour — Travel to Tennessee horticulture operations on the Red Tour, which starts at Apple Valley Orchard and Cider Mill in Cleveland, a 20,000-tree orchard. Attendees will sample wine and tour Tsali Notch Vineyard in Madisonville next, where they will also enjoy a brisket lunch. The Red Tour ends at Will Estes Industrial Hemp Farm in Sweetwater, where an attorney-turned-farmer discusses his journey to be one of the state’s largest industrial hemp growers.
Green Tour — The Green Tour highlights history and hardwoods. Stop 1 is a tour of Chickamauga Battlefield in north Georgia, the site of Civil War clashes. Lunch follows with an Alabama Forestry Commission presentation on the White Oak Initiative. The day ends at Brown-Forman Cooperage in Stevenson, Alabama, which makes white oak barrels for brands like Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve.
Yellow Tour — Cattle and hay production take center stage on the Yellow Tour, which stops first at Tennessee River Music Inc. in Fort Payne, a registered Hereford and Angus farm owned by singer Randy Owen. Next up is Lookout Mountain Genetics, a custom bull collection facility, followed by a barbecue lunch at the Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center. Participants will end the day at Circle R Hay Farm in Fyffe, which raises warm- and cool-season grasses for equine and beef cattle customers.
Pink Tour — Cattle and hay production take center stage on the Yellow Tour, which stops first at Tennessee River Music Inc. in Fort Payne, a registered Hereford and Angus farm owned by singer Randy Owen. Next up is Lookout Mountain Genetics, a custom bull collection facility, followed by a barbecue lunch at the Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center. Participants will end the day at Circle R Hay Farm in Fyffe, which raises warm- and cool-season grasses for equine and beef cattle customers.