It’s a long way from Eastaboga, Ala., to Connecticut, but Calhoun County farmers Ray and Delle Bean have more in common with their neighbors to the North than they ever imagined.
“It’s great to come to something like this and meet people from all over the country,” Ray said of the 94th annual American Farm Bureau Federation meeting in Nashville, Tenn. “It’s amazing to find out farmers from other areas face the same challenges we do. That’s what’s great about this meeting – there’s strength in numbers.”
The Beans were among nearly 200 members of the Alabama Farmers Federation and almost 6,000 AFBF members who attended the conference at the Opryland Hotel, Jan. 13-16.
Delle said she met a farmer from Connecticut during one of the Women’s Leadership Committee meetings who raises buffalo and recently added agritourism to her farm.
“Agritourism is something we’ve thought about on our farm, so it was nice to hear about the experiences she had,” Delle said.
The convention is more than meetings, though. Ray said he enjoyed the seminars and trade show.
“The trade show allows us to see the latest technology and speak to representatives of different equipment companies so we get a head start on what’s coming out to the dealers in our area,” he said. “At the seminars, we always learn something we can take back to use on our farm.”
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell said networking with other farmers is at the heart of AFBF.
“It’s important that we know our issues are their issues, too, and we can work together to resolve them,” he said. “We can learn new ideas that may keep us from trying to reinvent the wheel.”
During the business session of the meeting, Parnell was elected to the AFBF Board of Directors. As a director, he joins 30 other Farm Bureau state presidents in setting policies and priorities for AFBF, the nation’s largest farm organization.
“I’m excited about serving on the board and look forward to sharing information about our state and learning from them,” Parnell said.
During the convention, the Alabama Farmers Federation received five Awards of Excellence from AFBF. The awards were for Leadership Development, Member Services, Policy Implementation, Agricultural Education and Promotion, and Public Relations. Alabama also was recognized for financial contributions to the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.
The Blount County Young Farmers Committee was honored at the AFBF convention for its Farm Safety Day (Farm Equipment Extrication Education) and had a booth at the trade show. It was among 25 county Farm Bureaus nationwide recognized for innovative program ideas in this year’s County Activities of Excellence Awards program.
During the closing session of the convention, the immediate past president of the Alabama Farmers Federation, Limestone County farmer Jerry Newby, was recognized for his years of service on the AFBF board.
The 2014 AFBF Annual Meeting will be in San Antonio, Texas.