By Marlee Moore
An all-star slate of speakers, including innovative Alabama farmers, headlined the Farm & Land Expo in Birmingham Aug. 4-7.
The Alabama Farmers Federation’s 50th annual summer conference focused on improving farmers’ bottom lines through an array of workshops, while tours showcased outstanding operations.
The event offered 650-plus attendees fresh perspectives, fellowship and a refreshing respite from daily stressors, said Federation President Jimmy Parnell.
“One hundred and one years ago, this organization was formed to represent our farmers politically in this state,” Parnell said. “It’s humbling that 101 years ago someone thought of something, and we’re still doing it today. These are hard times we’re living through. It means the world to have a strong collection of farmers who can rely on each other and who have faith in our Creator.”
During the Farm & Land Expo welcome dinner, the organization honored two Alabama Extension and Auburn University employees — Dr. Geoff Williams and Dr. Adam Maggard — for work tangibly impacting Alabama farmers and forestland owners. (Read more on pages 8 and 9.)
Afterward, the W.S. Neal FFA String Band entertained the crowd of farmers and industry experts.
Ten buses departed early the next morning for farms and agribusinesses stretching from Mississippi to Georgia. At TTT Ranches in Fayette, four generations of the Trice family spoke about Brangus feed conversion rates, grouping cattle for sales and increasing productivity.
Jimmy Trice highlighted the importance of heritage, too.
“At any different time on our farm, you’ll have four generations on tractors, cutting hay and working cattle,” he said. “We’re a family operation.”
The family message resonated through the Farm & Land Expo, with sessions featuring how farmers are pivoting to remain financially stable for the next generation. Topics included agritourism, ag labor, farm succession plans and carbon markets.
During a farm bill listening session, farmers shared their thoughts on bill provisions with hard-hitting agriculture staffers from Washington, D.C. Discussion ranged from crop insurance to feral swine removal programs to preserving farmland from development.
Another popular session featured partner-leaders who fielded questions from farmers and shed light on supply chain issues. The panel included Harold Sumerford Jr., American Trucking Associations; John Driscoll, Alabama Port Authority; Taylor Pursell, The Fertilizer Institute; and Trey Davis, Bayer Crop Science.
The Farm & Land Expo included contests for the Women’s Leadership and Young Farmers divisions. (Read more on pages 6 and 7.)
Inspirational entertainment from country music singer-songwriter Rory Feek closed the event.