Wilkerson To Retire Nov. 30 As Area 9 Organization Director
Raleigh Wilkerson, the likable soft-spoken former cattleman who helped bring the Boll Weevil Eradication program to Alabama and headed a beef marketing program that still pays dividends today, will retire as organization director of Area 9 on Nov. 30, marking the end of a 33 1/2-year career with the Alabama Farmers Federation.Wilkerson, 65, came to the Federation in May 1974 to serve as a field representative for a nine-county region of the Black Belt. Within five years, he was director of the Federation’s Beef Division. Soon after, he also oversaw the cotton, meat goat and sheep, hay and forage and even a short-lived ratite commodity.”Raleigh has served our organization for many years in several capacities,” said Organization Director Mike Tidwell. “He’s seen a lot of change during his tenure. His experience will certainly be missed, but he’s earned his retirement and we all hope he and his family enjoy that time together.”In his first year as beef director, Wilkerson initiated the annual Beef Tour, and headed efforts in the beef marketing division of the Agricultural Marketing Association of Alabama.Although the marketing program was phased out after a few years due to its risky nature, Wilkerson said the program was a good one for the state’s cattle producers. “We moved a lot of cattle, and got people a lot more money for their cattle,” he said. “We built a lot of relationships with feedlots in other states, some of those are still going on.”As director of the cotton division, Wilkerson also saw his share of political battles in helping bring the Boll Weevil Eradication Project to Alabama. “That was some real turbulent years,” he said. “We had three referendums in two years. There was a lot of work that went into all those referendums.”By 2003, Wilkerson so missed the one-on-one contact with the farmers that he surrendered his position in the Commodity Department to return to the field as area organization director.
Just as it was “the people” that lured him back to the field, they’re the ones he says he’ll miss most.He plans to spend much of his retirement with wife Nancy, daughters Allison McCain and Avery Beatty and six grandchildren.