By Marlee Moore
Four educational tracks aimed at improving specialty crop farmers’ bottom lines set the stage for the Alabama Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (AFVGA) Conference and Trade Show in Gulf Shores Nov. 18-19.
Over 200 farmers and industry professionals attended the annual event at the Lodge at Gulf State Park. AFVGA President Joe Lambrecht, an Elmore County farmer, said it was encouraging to see long-time and new friends at the meeting.
AFVGA is an affiliate of the Alabama Farmers Federation, the state’s largest farm organization with over 340,000 member families. Federation President Jimmy Parnell echoed Lambrecht’s thoughts.
“This is the way young people can get in agriculture,” said Parnell, a Chilton County farmer. “The door is wide open for young people because consumers appreciate the value of something grown nearby. There are unlimited possibilities here.”
Conversations about yields, varieties, disease prevention, crop protection and marketing filled the trade show area, where more than 20 vendors visited one-on-one with growers. Seminars focused on tree fruits, small fruits, vegetable production and marketing.
Other conference highlights included a legislative update with U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville field representative Terrie Connell and an H2A labor panel discussion with Federation National Affairs Director Mitt Walker; AgWorks founder Dan Bremmer; American Farm Bureau Federation Congressional Relations Director Allison Crittenden; and Cullman County produce farmer Jeremy Calvert.
“Conferences like this give farmers the opportunity to learn with and from each other,” said recently hired AFVGA Executive Director Blake Thaxton. “Our goal is to improve the industry and meet consumers’ desire for locally grown products. The AFVGA board works hard to serve their fellow growers.”
Board members were reelected during AFVGA’s business session. They were Kent Isom of Limestone County, Larry LouAllen of Lawrence County and Wade Whited of Blount County.