By Marlee Moore
Excitement, enthusiasm and optimism filled the Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center Dec. 5-6 as the Alabama Farmers Federation celebrated a century of serving farmers.
“This is an exciting time,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell, a Chilton County farmer. “I can only wonder what our founders thought when they formed this organization 100 years ago. Would they be satisfied with where we are? I hope they would.”
The 100th annual meeting kicked off Sunday with 1,200-plus farmers from all 67 counties gathering in Montgomery to review policy and elect members of state commodity committees, a new addition to the annual meeting.
Day 1 continued with awards presentations. Two honorees — the late John W. Morris and James R. Hudson — received the Service to Agriculture Award, the Federation’s highest honor.
The Federation also recognized statewide winners of Young Farmers contests Sunday evening. Winners will represent Alabama in American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) contests in Atlanta in January.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall, a farmer from Georgia, attended General Session 1. He thanked Alabama farmers for their dedication and praised the Federation for its work supporting rural Alabamians and fighting for conservative values.
“Congratulations on 100 years! What an accomplishment,” Duvall said. “We are just as relevant today as we were 100 years ago. Not many membership organizations can say that.”
The meeting continued Monday with a tribute breakfast honoring leaders who died in the past year. Billy Wyatt, pastor at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Maplesville, led the devotion.
Outstanding county Federation boards, committees and individual leaders were recognized, as were new and outgoing county presidents and commodity committee members.
Individual Leader Awards were presented to members instrumental in establishing or supporting county-level programs. Awards were given in two categories. They were:
- Local and Community Services Awards — Jack Robertson of Chambers County, Fred Kendrick of Chambers County, Brandon Harlan of Cleburne County, Eric Lovvorn of Cleburne County and Randy Moody of Winston County
- Women’s Leadership Awards — Jane Harris of Cleburne County and Debbie Roberts of Fayette County.
Senior Leader Awards were presented to Don Roberts of Cleburne County, Morgan Rodgers of Covington County and Diane McCool of Pickens County. This award is for leaders who have served as county president, as State Women’s Leadership Committee chairman or as a state board member and are over 70 years of age.
Twenty-seven counties received Awards of Excellence for Federation activities. They were Baldwin, Barbour, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Colbert, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, DeKalb, Elmore, Franklin, Houston, Jefferson, Lamar, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Mobile, Montgomery, Morgan, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Tallapoosa and Winston counties.
The Federation’s business session and state board elections concluded Monday afternoon.
Guests, elected officials and industry partners joined farmers that evening for a special celebration. The centennial gala featured entertainment tracing the history of agriculture, the organization and music through the past 10 decades.