By Debra Davis
That was the theme of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 99th annual meeting in Montgomery Dec. 6-7 where members of the state’s largest farm organization gathered to elect leaders, discuss policy and chart a path into the next century.
COVID-19 brought many changes to the meeting. Programs were shortened, members practiced social distancing and wore protective masks; however, Federation business continued in many ways as it has for nearly a century.
“I love what I do, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you,“ said Federation President Jimmy Parnell, who was reelected to his fifth two-year term. Parnell praised the work of farmers who persevered through a pandemic, trade issues and storms in 2020.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall attended the meeting and echoed Parnell’s remarks.
“We want to let the general public know we’re still farming, and let them know the challenges the pandemic has brought,” Duvall said. “We want them to know how wonderful it is to live in a country with food security because of what you do each day.”
In addition to elections for Federation state officers and board members, elections also were held for the Women’s Leadership and Young Farmers state committees.
Outstanding county Federation boards, committees and individual leaders were recognized during the conference, as were new and outgoing county Federation presidents.
Individual Leader Awards were presented to those instrumental in establishing or supporting county-level programs. Those included :
- Young Farmers Award — Abby Stewart of Clay County, Chris and Jordyn Upchurch of Clay County, and Andrew Pinyan of St. Clair County
- Women’s Leadership Award — Faye Dial of Clay County and Emily Taylor of St. Clair County
- Commodity Division Award — Hobert Harris (posthumously) of Cleburne County
- Public Relations and Communications Award — Brooks Wall of Shelby County
- Local and Community Service Award — Jan Parker of St. Clair County and Jerry Mobley of Winston County
Jimmy Jimmerson of Cleburne County was recognized with the Senior Leader Award for service to agriculture, his community and the Federation.
Thirty-six counties were recognized with a County Award of Excellence for Federation activities. They were Baldwin, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers, Choctaw, Clay, Coffee, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, DeKalb, Elmore, Fayette, Franklin, Henry, Houston, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Montgomery, Morgan, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa and Winston counties.
In the Women’s Leadership Division, four county organizations were honored for outstanding work for the past year. Those were: Region 1, Marion County; Region 2, Jefferson County; Region 3, Clarke County; and Region 4, Barbour County.
Other special events were held during the conference, including a tribute breakfast to honor Federation leaders who passed away in 2020.
In the opening general session of the meeting, Bill Alverson, former assistant dean of the Auburn University College of Agriculture, received the Service To Agriculture Award, the highest honor given by the Federation.
Young Farmers contestants and winners were announced and recognized during the annual meeting.
Winners will represent Alabama in contests with other state young farmer winners at the National Young Farmers & Ranchers competition during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s virtual convention Jan. 8-14.
The meeting concluded with the announcement of plans for the organization’s centennial celebration that will culminate at the Federation’s 100th annual meeting Dec. 5-6, 2021, in Montgomery.