News Faith, Family, Farming Frame Annual Meeting

Faith, Family, Farming Frame Annual Meeting

Faith, Family, Farming Frame Annual Meeting
February 1, 2024 |

By Marlee Jackson

A flurry of activity filled downtown Montgomery Dec. 3-4 as 900 Alabama Farmers Federation members descended on the state’s capital to elect leaders, honor individuals and enact policy changes.

The theme Faith, Family and Farming reflected members’ values and guided work during the organization’s 102nd annual meeting. That included opening sessions with prayer and allowing ample time for fellowship, said Federation President Jimmy Parnell.

“Lord knows we need to talk to folks who think like we do,” said Parnell, citing the divisive political climate and difficult economy. “We need time to visit with each other. This meeting is one way we can do that while taking care of business.”

That business included honoring members of the Federation family. Ricky Wiggins of Covington County received the Service to Agriculture Award, while Tommy Brown of Chilton County was honored with the Cultivator Award. (See page 7.) Senior Leader Awards were presented to Mickey Childers of Morgan County and Leo Hollinger of Wilcox County.

Additionally, 45 counties were honored for excellent programming in 2023. They were Baldwin, Barbour, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Coffee, Colbert, Coosa, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Montgomery, Morgan, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston counties.

Matthew and Amanda Watson of Mobile County perused items in the popular Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation silent auction.

Select counties received Awards of Excellence for Women’s Leadership and Young Farmers programs, while exceptional Young Farmers were honored for winning statewide contests. (See pages 8-11.) 

The annual meeting included elections for state board members, the Women’s Leadership Committee, the State Young Farmers Committee and state commodity committees. (See pages 6, 8-9 and 12.)

Alabama farmers heard updates on agriculture-related Supreme Court cases from American Farm Bureau Federation Deputy General Counsel Travis Cushman.

It also offered opportunities for farmers to visit with sponsors, including Alfa Insurance. At Alfa’s booth, farmers signed up for paperless documents for farm policies, a move that will increase efficiency as new tools come online in 2024. A video detailing Alfa’s strong performance during 2023 played during the opening banquet, followed by the Federation’s annual report.

During the annual meeting, the perennial favorite silent auction raised $12,400 for the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation (AFAF), thanks to gift baskets, furniture crafted by FFA chapters and assorted goods donated by counties.

AFAF also hosted a Tribute Breakfast, which honored 33 leaders who died in the last year.

“A true leader is always committed to the cause,” said Pastor David Phillips, the Tribute Breakfast speaker. “These people we’ve been honoring are good leaders.”

Phillips is a former State Young Farmers Committee chair from Clay County and is familiar with the Federation’s robust annual meeting agenda, which included a business session.

Before voting on policy recommendations, farmers attended an Ag Issues Briefing. American Farm Bureau Federation Deputy General Counsel Travis Cushman gave background on his organization’s work related to Waters of the U.S., plus California’s farm regulatory overreach.

That evening, Gov. Kay Ivey addressed the farm community during the closing banquet.

“Agriculture is woven into the very fabric of our state,” said Ivey, who was raised on a Wilcox County farm. “The success of our economy and the health and well-being of our people rely on farmers.”

 Fox & Friends Weekend Co-Host Pete Hegseth offered an energetic keynote address to close the annual meeting.

A keynote address from Fox & Friends Weekend Co-Host Pete Hegseth followed. A veteran, Hegseth commended the group for its conservative values.

“I love the motto of what you’re doing here,” said Hegseth, noting the meeting’s Faith, Family and Farming theme. “The first place we should go is to the Bible, to the good news.”

Hegseth’s energetic speech intertwined family tales with remarks on education, government and the 2024 General Election.

“Things are so sideways and so backwards,” he said. “The most radical thing you can do these days is tell the truth. If we grow boldly…we have a fighting chance.” 

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