Giving Back: Farmers Prioritize Philanthropy
By Marlee Moore
It’s hard to quantify a hundred years of generosity from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
In 1944, Federation members helped fund a Red Cross Clubmobile to entertain servicemen.
In 1986, the group endowed an Auburn University (AU) eminent scholar.
Jump to 2015, and members donated $210,000 to the American Cancer Society.
Examples below continue to show how farmers give time, talents and resources to serve others on county, state and national levels.
The Ag Foundation
Although philanthropic giving was prevalent since the Federation’s inception in 1921, the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation (AFAF) was founded in 2009. The AFAF primarily builds on the Federation’s history of providing college scholarships for students. In partnership with counties, the Foundation gives $1,750 scholarships annually to AU agriculture and forestry students. The Alfa Foundation, a subset of Alfa Insurance, annually gives 100 students $1,000 scholarships.
The AFAF also supports Alabama Ag in the Classroom and raises funds through Ag Tag sales and events such as the AFAF Skeet Shoot.
Developing youths’ passion for agriculture is paramount for the Federation through donations such as its scholarship endowment at AU, which started in 1983 and has built continually since.
The Federation also sponsors FFA Career Development Events. County Federations support local students who compete statewide and nationally.
The same is true for Alabama 4-H. The Federation laid a foundation for its involvement in 1984, when counties helped fund the Alabama 4-H Center Alfa Dormitory. In 2016, the AFAF donated $50,000 to renovate the dorm. Another donation funded a cafeteria refresh in 2021.
The state organization, AFAF and county Federations support local livestock shows and host the Junior Beef Expo and new Junior Swine Expo, launchpads for young leaders to network, cultivate their work ethic and get experience in agriculture.
Additional gifts provide high-GPA athletes scholarships through the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Foundation. In 2004, an Alfa donation helped revitalize SchoolFest, a school matinee program at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
Donations improve quality of life for farmers. The Federation helped make AU’s Seed Lab a reality in 1979 and funded AU’s state-of-the-art ag testing lab in 1996, which provide accurate, helpful soil and plant diagnostic reports.
In 1984, a Federation-funded computer lab at AU’s Extension Hall helped farmers process information more quickly. Another donation maintains Mesonet Weather Stations installed by Alabama A&M University.
The Federation’s AU endowment has led both Alfa Eminent Scholars — Robert Taylor, hired in 1988, and Mykel Taylor, named in 2021 — to provide tangible solutions for Alabama farmers via agricultural economics work.
Gifts to the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology help with projects such as drought-tolerant soybeans and gene-mapping peanuts.
Additionally, a $100,000 gift supported the National Poultry Technology Center; a $200,000 donation helped fund the AU Meats Lab; a $500,000 donation founded the Alfa Pavilion at Ag Heritage Park; and $1 million built a new Tennessee Valley Research & Extension Center administrative office.
Federation leaders are active community members. Local donations range from small, tangible gifts — angel tree donations, food drives and soy crayons given to schools — to sizable donations.
Gifts of time and expertise are prevalent, as members and employees serve on local boards or through other organizations. For example, Alfa Insurance employees coordinate Meals on Wheels deliveries to address senior hunger and isolation in Montgomery, while Women’s Leadership Committees collect pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House Charities.
When communities are in need, local Federations are ready to help. For example, the Walker County Farmers Federation donated $500 to all volunteer fire departments in the county after 2016’s rampant wildfires exhausted local resources. In 1987, Mobile County Farmers Federation donated $25,000 to purchase a helicopter for the University of South Alabama Medical Center.
Peanut butter donations are common following hurricanes and other natural disasters. So is boots-on-the ground assistance after events like the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.
Federation members serve farmers outside Alabama, too. For example, they gave over $80,000 to help farmers in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado recover from wildfires in 2017.
Helping Rural Alabama
In 2004, the Federation and Alfa presented the University of Alabama’s Rural Medical Scholars Program $1.8 million for scholarships for students who will practice medicine in rural areas. Since 2006, Alfa Health has supported UAB’s Rural Medicine Program by giving $500 book stipends to first-year students.
On the state level, donations include $120,000 to Children’s of Alabama; $60,000 to help construct greenhouses at Rainbow Omega, a home for people with disabilities; $250,000 for a dorm at Helen Keller School; and multiple gifts over the years to Camp ASCCA, most recently a $45,000 donation in 2005 to renovate a pavilion at the camp for people with disabilities.
Additionally, Alfa supports rodeo associations and Master Gardener programs and funds the People Against A Littered State (PALS) program.
Plus, thousands of tourists from across the U.S. have discovered the importance of agriculture at The American Village thanks to a $250,000 donation to renovate a historic barn at the park in Montevallo.
Gifts to the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation are tax deductible. To donate, visit AlabamaFarmersFoundation.org or contact Amanda Butts at (334) 612-5525 or email@example.com.