As guests munched on menu items including shrimp with stone-ground grits, beef brisket and honey-topped ice cream, Alabama Farmers Federation members and growers shared the bounty of Alabama agriculture with elected officials Feb. 12.
The annual Taste of Alabama legislative reception at the Federation’s Montgomery home office allowed farmers to initiate conversations with state representatives and senators. Statewide officers including Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth also visited with attendees.
“It’s important for farmers to grow strong connections with local and state leaders,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “Every year, legislators vote on critical issues that impact farmers and rural families. When farmers can break bread with elected officials at events like the Taste of Alabama, that opens the door for more effective working relationships down the road.”
More than 70 officials attended the event, including Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika. Price said he eagerly awaits enjoying the beef, catfish and fried green tomatoes served, in addition to fellowshipping with farmers.
“This event is a great representation of Alabama’s hard-working farmers and the product they put on our tables,” said Price, who serves on the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. “I appreciate the Farmers Federation bringing everyone together from the Legislature to meet with different county members. It gives us an opportunity to talk about issues that are very important to the state of Alabama, especially when it comes to agriculture.”
Barbour County Farmers Federation President Trip Horne said the Taste of Alabama reception helps farmers share their stories and form more comfortable relationships with legislators.
“The most important thing we’re showing is that we are accessible to our legislators,” said Horne, who raises poultry, cattle and hay in Louisville. “They get to see that we are a grassroots organization and that we are involved and invested in our communities and the state of Alabama.”
Featured products, and the farmers who provided them, included greenhouse tomatoes from Phil Slay, Chambers County; Bishop’s Barbecue Pork from L.O and Luther Bishop, Colbert County; Oakview Farms grits from Joe and Patty Lambrecht, Elmore County; farm-raised shrimp from Dickie Odom, Greene County; goat stew from Charlie Thompson, Lauderdale County; quail and pheasant gumbo and wild hog sausage from Frank Boyd, Lee County; and beef brisket sandwiches from David and Julie Lee, Lowndes County.
Attendees sampled sweet treats such as Priester’s Pecans candy from Stinson and Thomas Ellis, Lowndes County, and honey from Todd Mullins, Madison County. The Alabama Peanut Producers Association provided grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and roasted peanuts.
Also on the menu were fried catfish and chicken, cornbread, fruit cobbler, sweet potato fries and turnip greens.