By Maggie Edwards
For the second year, Alabama Farmers Federation voting delegates elected grassroots commodity committee leaders during the organization’s annual meeting. Elections were Dec. 4 in Montgomery.
State committee members put boots on the ground in their communities and for their commodities, said the Federation’s Mitt Walker.
“They know the issues their industries are facing,” said Walker, the Federation’s Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department director, whose staff members work with commodity committees. “We depend on these leaders to give us advice on policy matters. This then directs our work and our organization’s future.”
State committee members also host commodity-specific educational programs throughout the year.
Serving statewide is a time commitment (each term is three years) but is worth the sacrifice, said State Wheat & Feed Grain Committee member Jeremy Wilson of Talladega County.
“As farmers, we’re always looking to increase yields and increase sales,” Wilson said. “One way to do that is by serving on a commodity committee. It gives you a chance to provide direction on how checkoff dollars are spent. We need representation from across the state. If you’re not on a committee to bring up a need from your area, no one may be aware of it.”
Charlie Thompson of Lauderdale County echoed Wilson.
“I get to meet people I otherwise never would have crossed paths with,” said Thompson, who serves on the State Sheep & Goat Committee. “I’m glad we have younger people who’ve been elected to the committee and that there were so many interested in serving. That’s a good thing. A lot of folks in Alabama raise sheep and goats, but they aren’t always aware of the Federation and what they could have access to through this group.”
With help from the committees, the Federation dives deep into individual policies and issues that impact each of the organization’s 17 commodities — bee & honey; beef; catfish; cotton; dairy; equine; forestry; greenhouse, nursery & sod; hay & forage; fruit & vegetables; peanuts; pork; poultry; sheep & goat; soybean; wheat & feed grain; and wildlife.
In addition to annual meeting elections, State Catfish Committee members were elected during the Catfish Industry Update Meeting in Greensboro Jan. 10, while affiliated organization the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association elected leaders later that month. The Alabama Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and Alabama Peanut Producers Association will elect leaders in February during respective conferences in Gulf Shores and Dothan. Learn more at TREASUREForest.org, AFVGA.org and AlPeanuts.com.
State commodity committee members who rotated off their committees were honored Dec. 5 for serving the maximum nine years.
- Beef – Billy Hixon, Pike County
- Hay & Forage – Winford Parmer, Autauga County
- Equine – Tina Hammonds, Lowndes County; Amy Hegeman, Calhoun County
- Sheep & Goat – Kirk Smith, Blount County
- Pork – Joe Bradley, Randolph County; Roland St. John, St. Clair County
- Poultry – Greg Edwards, Russell County; Chris Upchurch, Clay County
- Cotton – Ricky Wiggins, Covington County
- Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod – Jason Powell, Chilton County