Agriculture advocacy, politics and food technology were among topics for the annual Alabama Farmers Federation Women's Leadership Conference in Birmingham April 5-6.
More than 250 Federation members from around the state attended the conference, which was held in conjunction with the Alabama Farm-City Awards program at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel. Cullman County’s Lisa Lake has attended several of the conferences, including this year's. She said she always looks forward to learning more about agriculture advocacy.
“It provides a great opportunity to network with other women across the state who are interested in farming and agriculture,” said Lake, who raises poultry and beef cattle with her husband, Steve, near Vinemont. “We learn about the crops grown in our state and the Alabama Agriculture In The Classroom program, which is one of my favorites. When I talk to other women who are interested in agriculture, it energizes me to share more information about the importance of farming.”
The opening session began with Marji Guyler-Alaniz, founder and president of FarmHer.com. What started in 2013 as Alaniz’s photography project to accurately portray the role women play in American agriculture has turned into a popular show on RFD-TV.
“As I began to explore women's role in agriculture, I discovered 30 percent of all jobs in agriculture are held by women,” Alaniz said. “But I also discovered that was not represented in the depiction of American agriculture to the public.
“My goal is to change that and make people more aware of how important women are to raising our food and feeding the world and to encourage women to consider agriculture as a career,” she added.
The next morning, attendees heard updates on state and national politics from Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs Director Brian Hardin, National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker and former Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman.
Following the breakfast meeting, members attended workshops on cooking, GMOs and peanuts.
Conference attendees joined the Alabama Farm-City Awards luncheon where many members and their counties were honored for outstanding work for county programs.
Federation President Jimmy Parnell said attending the annual conference is always an uplifting experience.
“Our Women's Leadership Division is an important part of the overall mission for the Farmers Federation,” Parnell said. “Whether it's serving as advocates for farming and agriculture, or being politically active to help protect the rights of farmers and rural property owners, these ladies play a big role in our success.”
Also at the conference, county Women's Leadership committees hauled in 588 pounds of aluminum pop tabs for Ronald McDonald Houses to help house families with ill children.
“The Women’s Conference is a highlight of the year for many of our ladies,” said Federation Women's Leadership Division Director Kim Ramsey. “It allows members to come together to not only network and catch up but also reflect on and learn ways to better promote agriculture through educational workshops and informative speakers.”
The closing dinner featured Alabama's own Ashton Shepherd, who entertained the crowd with down-home country music.
Visit the Federation's Facebook page for more photos.