News Taste of Alabama: Good Food with Direct Discussion

Taste of Alabama: Good Food with Direct Discussion

Taste of Alabama: Good Food with Direct Discussion
February 22, 2024 |

By Tanner Hood

Farmers and elected officials gathered around the table Feb. 21 to enjoy Alabama-grown products and discuss important issues during the Taste of Alabama Legislative Reception in Montgomery. 

State Sen. Robert Stewart, D-Selma, serves on the Senate Ag, Conservation and Forestry Committee. He said he treasures every opportunity to meet farmers and promote agriculture. 

“Ag is the cornerstone of our economy here in the state,” said Stewart. “It’s such an honor to interact with people who really undergird our communities and make sure they are sustainable.”

Hosted by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the reception provides farmer-leaders the opportunity to display homegrown products while getting in the weeds about policy and other important matters. Attendees include over 100 legislators, constitutional officers and other government officials. 

Chris Upchurch, owner of Rockin’ U Farms and Clay County Farmers Federation president, said meetings like this ensure leaders hear directly from their constituents about the issues facing them every day. 

“Taste of Alabama allows our legislators and farmers to come together in a room with a good environment where we can have conversations and serve food from across Alabama,” Upchurch said. “It gives us an opportunity and start and build relationships with our legislators and I believe it is very important to our farmers.”

Guests enjoyed the best Alabama farmers have to offer during the annual visit to the Federation home office. This year’s menu included: beef sliders from Rockin’ U Farms, Clay County; Bishop’s Barbeque Pork, Colbert County; fried catfish from Consolidated Catfish, Greene County; honey provided by the State Bee and Honey Producers; lamb meatballs from HD Farm, Talladega County; peanut butter energy bites from the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, Houston County; shrimp and grits from Greene Prairie Shrimp, Greene County; sweet treats and samples from Priester’s Pecans, Lowndes County; vanilla ice cream from Blue Ribbon Dairy, Elmore County; venison loin from Venison Provisions, Macon County; and more. 

State Rep. Jennifer Fidler, R-Fairhope, grew up on a farm and serves on the Alabama House Agriculture and Forestry committee. She hopes her fellow legislators take advantage of the face-to-face conversations with producers. 

“Our legislators do need to see how hard our farmers work every day,” Fidler said. “I think farmers being involved with the lawmakers is important to see our grassroots effort, too, and that we can make good changes taking care of the folks who take care of us all the time.”

State Rep. Ben Robbins, R-Sylacauga, said he wants to find any way he can to help farmers who are essential to the local economy. 

“Agriculture is the backbone of Alabama,” Robbins said. “We have to hear from ag producers to know what’s actually going to benefit the entire state.”

In addition to legislators, Gov. Kay Ivey and other constitutional officers were welcomed by the Federation. Upchurch said the magnitude of attendees spoke volumes of the hard work county Farmers Federations are doing with elected officials. 

“We know it’s a busy time, and we appreciate everyone who came out to speak with us,” Upchurch said. “We’ve had good conversations, and I know our officials will take them to heart and use them to better Alabama.”

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