Everything from pork to peanuts or honey to hamburgers was on the menu Feb. 10 at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s annual taste of Alabama legislative reception at the organization’s home office in Montgomery.
Farmers and legislators from around the state dined on a healthy heaping of Alabama-grown products with a side of politics. Guests included Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan, State Treasurer Young Boozer, state school board members, several state judges and dozens of Alabama state senators and representatives.
Federation President Jimmy Parnell said the reception reminds legislators that much of the food they and their families enjoy is grown in Alabama. The function also allows legislators to make a direct connection with the food they eat and the farmers who grow it.
“Several legislators and other state leaders have told me they attend lots of receptions, but this is one of their favorites,” Parnell said. “The food is good, and the leaders of this organization are gracious hosts. Besides the food our farmers serve to legislators, this time also allows them to discuss important issues with our lawmakers.”
State Rep. David Faulkner, R-Mountain Brook, said the reception helps him understand the importance of the state’s No. 1 industry.
“I have very little farmland in my district—if any—but I know how important farming is to the state’s economy,” he said. “What our farmers do, the jobs they provide and the products and services they provide to all of us are important. I didn’t grow up on a farm, and I don’t own a farm, but I understand and appreciate farmers because I love to eat.”
Newly-elected Federation State Beef Committee member and Lowndes County Farmers Federation Vice President David Lee said his first experience at the legislative reception gave him the chance to talk with legislators in a relaxed setting.
“There’s nothing that brings people together like good food,” said Lee, who also served hamburger sliders to legislators and farmers. “Seeing my representative, Kelvin Lawrence, it makes it easier to have a conversation and talk about future issues that may arise.
The reception featured Lee’s hamburger sliders; cheese from Wright’s Dairy in Alexandria; Southern-fried quail, biscuits and gravy from Bob and Betty Plaster of Montgomery; grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the Alabama Peanut Producers Association; shrimp from Odom Farms in Eutaw; honey and pecans from Bill Mullins of Meridianville; grits from Oakview Farms in Wetumpka; and pork barbecue from Bishop’s BBQ in Cherokee.
The menu also included fried catfish, chicken strips, turnips, cornbread, sweet potato fries, fried green tomatoes, fruit cobblers, ice cream and lamb kabobs.