By Maggie Edwards
Thousands of Alabama motorists daily crisscross the state sporting Farming Feeds Alabama Ag Tags.
The current third-generation Ag Tag streams red, white and blue as the American flag anchors its background. Agricultural commodities and equipment are incorporated into each tag, telling the story of Alabama’s 44,000 farm families, said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell.
“Twenty-one years ago, the Alabama Farmers Federation created the Ag Tag to bring awareness to agriculture, support agricultural education and engage consumers with producers,” Parnell said. “The Ag Tag represents faith, freedom and farming.”
Ag Tag sales benefit the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation (AFAF). The AFAF mission is to support and advance agriculture through education and research; increase awareness of agriculture through public programs and activities; improve and expand agricultural services and products for the benefit of all citizens; and establish and maintain high standards in agriculture.
AFAF benefits agricultural literacy projects, Ag in the Classroom, livestock expositions, youth agricultural programs, scholarships and more.
“Driving a vehicle with an Ag Tag is more than just having ‘Farming Feeds Alabama’ on your bumper,” Parnell said. “Having an Ag Tag makes you a part of a family — a family who supports this state and feeds the world.”
Owners of private passenger automobiles, trucks, motorcycles and recreational vehicles may purchase the Ag Tag at a local Department of Motor Vehicle office.
The Maze Family: Blount County
For poultry farming duo Dennis and Jeff Maze, purchasing an Ag Tag is a family priority.
“We feed chickens, and chickens feed people,” said Jeff, the Blount County Farmers Federation president. “That was the inspiration behind our personalized Ag Tags.”
Maze Farms Inc. in Snead averages 1 million pounds of chicken each flock. The farm has eight poultry houses — raising 180,000 birds per flock. They raise cattle, too.
“Having CHIKNS on my tag helps me promote the poultry industry, which is one of Alabama’s top commodities,” Jeff said. “The tags also give money back to the AFAF.”
The Maze family has supported Ag Tags since its inception in 2002.
“Our family purchases at least four Ag Tags a year,” said Jeff’s father, Dennis. “We are proud to invest $200 a year in Ag in the Classroom and all the programs the foundation supports.”
Hannah, Jeff’s wife, is a teacher and directly benefited from Ag Tag sales by attending Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute, Dennis said.
“People don’t know where their food comes from anymore, and we need teachers to incorporate that in their classrooms,” Dennis said. “That is why it is so important to support this cause.”
Dennis and Jeff find merit in showing off their vehicles’ bumper. Dennis’s personalization is WEFEED.
“These tags are great conversation pieces,” Jeff said. “I like to know I have something that travels down the road and tells my story.”
Side by side, the father and son’s tags sum up their work: “We feed chickens.”
“We not only feed Alabama but the world,” Dennis said. “People still admire farmers. It makes us proud to do what we do.”
The Roberts Family: Fayette County
Five. That’s the number of Ag Tags Joe and Debbie Roberts have between farm, personal and family vehicles.
“From the very first time they were offered, we bought them,” said Joe, the Fayette County Farmers Federation president. “We just want to support agriculture. We watch these tags go down the road and see if we recognize the driver.”
For Debbie, buying an Ag Tag helps tell the world about farming.
“I am proud to be an Alabama farmer,” she said. “I am proud of my tag. It says, ‘Farming Feeds Alabama,’ and that is the biggest truth for agriculture.”
The tag is a cost-efficient way to advertise and promote agriculture, Debbie said. Ag Tags are just $50 extra per renewal.
The family proudly displays RFARM, RFARM2, RFARM3, RFARM4 and 8CHIKN. The latter represents their eight poultry houses in Fayette County.
“Joe was born into a farming family,” Debbie said. “We have always been involved with the industry and the Federation.”
Joe and Debbie appreciate family life. Their grandchildren — Jacob, David Thomas and Hannah Grace — are integral to the farm.
“I tell the kids that because you have farmers, you can have doctors and lawyers,” Debbie said. “Farming isn’t for everyone. It’s a lifestyle, and we’ve been blessed.”
The Sessions Family: Mobile County
Fruits, vegetables, cotton, peanuts, pecans and satsumas fuel Sessions Farm in Grand Bay.
“My husband, Art, loves farming,” said Martha Sessions, whose husband is the Mobile County Farmers Federation president. “This is a great way of life, and we find value in supporting this industry.”
For the Sessions family, paying a few extra dollars for an Ag Tag is an easy decision each year.
“I get a lot of comments when people see my tag,” Martha said. “I tried several different commodity options, but VEGIES kind of just stuck. After all, it is what we grow.”
The Sessionses have sported their Farming Feeds Alabama tag for so long, they still have the second-generation design, which showcases rolling hills, farm commodities and a rural lifestyle.
“It’s such a good cause, we don’t want to change our tag now,” she said.
For more information on the Farming Feeds Alabama Ag Tag, visit alfafarmers.org/resources/foundation.