Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich told tales of politics, President Donald Trump and predictions for the next election cycle to over 1,200 farmers in Montgomery Dec. 3.
Gingrich’s keynote address concluded two days of business sessions and awards presentations during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 97th annual meeting.
“Tension is building because it is real. There are really radically different visions of America,” Gingrich said of the current political climate. “I wish I could reach into each of your hearts and convince you how important it is to protect this country… and how big of a difference you can make.”
Gov. Kay Ivey also addressed the crowd, thanking them for their trust and support as she begins her first full term as governor.
“Please know that you have a friend in the governor’s chair,” Ivey said. “After all, we are only successful when we’re successful together.”
Federation President Jimmy Parnell emphasized the importance of political involvement by members of the state’s largest farm organization, citing the conference theme: “I Farm. I Grow. I Lead. I Vote.”
“That says it all,” Parnell said. “Your leadership is important in our communities, state and nation.”
On the heels of midterm elections, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Vice President Scott VanderWal joined fellow farmers in the Capital City, where he thanked them — and their rural communities — for political enthusiasm and high voter turnout. He also updated attendees on AFBF’s work benefiting farmers nationwide.
“New and young members of Congress have a steep learning curve,” said VanderWal, also the South Dakota Farm Bureau president. “It’s up to all of us to help them understand agriculture and fill that knowledge gap. Invite them to your farm; share your story.”
Earlier in the meeting, lifelong agribusinessman and outgoing Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan received the Service To Agriculture Award, the Federation’s highest honor. McMillan served eight years as commissioner and was recently elected state treasurer.
For their service to farmers and rural families, Jim Donald and Gene Simpson received the Federation’s Cultivator Award. They founded the National Poultry Technology Center in Auburn.
Communications Awards were presented to Adam Smith of the News Courier in Limestone County and WSFA-TV’s Desmond Wingard and Vince Hodges of Montgomery.
Elections for the Federation state board, Women’s Leadership and Young Farmers committees were held, and outstanding county boards, committees and individual leaders were honored.
New and outgoing county presidents were also recognized.
A silent auction raised $9,450 for the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation, which benefits agricultural scholarships and Ag in the Classroom.
Additionally, the Federation honored leaders who passed away in 2018 during a tribute breakfast.
During the business session, a $5 dues increase was approved, effective July 2019.