By Debra Davis
Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan was honored by the state’s largest farm organization at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 97th annual meeting today in Montgomery. The award is the highest honor presented by the organization that is more than 350,000 members strong.
“I am humbled and truly honored to have been selected for this award,” McMillan said. “The Alabama Farmers Federation has been an organization I’ve turned to for advice and assistance throughout my career. I’ve been fortunate to work with and be around good people all my life. As far as what I’ve accomplished, this award is as much for all of them as it is for me.”
Growing up in rural Baldwin County as the son of a sawmill owner and farmer, McMillan learned the value of hard work, determination and relationships. Those standards served him well throughout his life in the private business sector and almost 50 years in the political arena.
McMillan’s public service career includes time as a Baldwin County commissioner, state representative, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) commissioner and State Personnel Board member. In 2010, he won his first statewide election as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. He was re-elected in 2014 and was elected state treasurer earlier this year.
Federation President Jimmy Parnell described McMillan as a resourceful leader who used his skills to repair and rebuild the ag commissioner’s office when he was elected in 2010.
“When John first took office at the Department of Agriculture, he set a new tone for the services that office would provide,” Parnell said. “He immediately encouraged a higher standard of public service among department employees and cultivated a new vision for the department’s future.”
McMillan also formerly served as Alabama Forestry Association vice president where, in 2003, he helped the Federation defeat Amendment 1 — the largest proposed tax increase in Alabama’s history.
“He has opposed property tax increases and burdensome environmental regulations,” Parnell said. “Throughout his life, John has been a friend and advocate for rural Alabama.”
During his time as ADCNR commissioner, McMillan was instrumental in creating the Alabama Trust Fund, a state trust to preserve proceeds from offshore oil and gas leases.
While ag commissioner, he served as president of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the Southern United States Trade Association. He also served on the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture board of directors.
Today’s events concluded with a concert by Restless Heart at the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre.
The annual meeting continues Monday with elections of Federation officers and state board members; elections of the State Women’s Leadership Committee and State Young Farmers Committee; policy discussions; and Young Farmers contests awards.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey will address members during the closing session that evening followed by keynote speaker Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representative.
The Alabama Farmers Federation, with more than 350,000 members, is Alabama’s largest farm organization and is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation.