Legislators and state leaders sampled fruits of farmers’ labor during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Taste of Alabama legislative reception in Montgomery March 20.
The event highlights commodities grown in Alabama — and the farmers who grow them. At the annual reception, producers mingled with lawmakers and discussed local and agricultural issues.
“The Farmers Federation was founded to work on public policy issues. It’s invaluable for our members to talk one-on-one with local and state leaders, especially while enjoying good, Alabama-grown food,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “The relationships they’re forging will pay dividends down the road when it’s time to work on issues that farmers and rural Alabamians are facing.”
Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, D-Hayneville, called the Taste of Alabama a highlight of the legislative session.
“I always enjoy coming here and meeting people and tasting food from Alabama,” said Lawrence, who has represented House District 69 since 2014. “It makes it personal. You get to know the people who make farming and growing Alabama work.”
Before dishing up Alabama-grown goodies during the reception, FarmPAC representatives from across the state held the political action committee’s annual meeting. Lowndes County Farmers Federation Thomas Ellis said he was impressed with the number of legislators who attended the Taste of Alabama.
“It’s especially nice to share products we’re proud of with our legislators, relax and get to know each other in a more casual environment,” said Ellis, whose Priester’s Pecans booth was a popular attraction. “My legislator made sure we spoke. It’s encouraging for them to take time and visit.”
Around 100 elected officials attended, including Gov. Kay Ivey, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, Attorney General Steve Marshall, Secretary of State John Merrill, Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Rick Pate and State Auditor Jim Zeigler.
The reception featured Alabama shrimp raised on David Cottington’s farm and provided by Dickie Odom, Greene County; brisket from David and Julie Lee, Lowndes County; Bishop’s Barbecue from L.O. Bishop, Colbert County; pecans from Priester’s Pecans, Lowndes County; Oakview Farms grits from Joe and Patty Lambrecht, Elmore County; goat stew from Charlie Thompson, Lauderdale County; honey from Jimmy Carmack, Jefferson County; and peanut-packed desserts from the Alabama Peanut Producers Association.
The menu also included catfish, chicken strips, collard greens, sweet potato fries, fried green tomatoes, fruit cobbler, ice cream, lamb kabobs, cheese and cornbread muffins.