Alabama Farmers Federation was recognized with six Awards of Excellence and two President’s Awards during the opening session of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Meeting Jan. 8 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Federation President Jimmy Parnell accepted the awards for Alabama’s 100-person convention delegation and almost 360,000 member families.
“We are honored to receive these awards on behalf of our members, employees and county Federations that work hard every day for Alabama farmers,” Parnell said. “This convention is a great opportunity for us to gather with farmers from across the country who share our values, challenges and opportunities. Our involvement in Farm Bureau gives Alabama a voice in shaping policies and programs that impact agriculture and forestry.”
The Federation received Awards of Excellence in all six Farm Bureau programs areas: Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Benefits; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation, and Public Relations and Communications.
In addition, Alabama received President’s Awards among large membership states for Education and Outreach and Public Relations and Communications.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall said farmers’ work in these areas is vital to American agriculture. In his first year as president, Duvall visited 33 states and is committed to meeting with members on their farms in all 50 states, so he can help tell their story.
“We must help consumers understand that we all want the same things,” Duvall said. “A safe and plentiful food supply — for our national security and for the health of our families and our children. A strong farm economy — agriculture supports 17 million American jobs. A wide range of food choices — whether organic, conventional, genetically modified … or a mix of all types of production.”
Duvall criticized marketing ploys using misleading advertising or labeling to cast doubt on the health, safety and nutrition of other food choices.
“We have a great story to tell,” Duvall added. “We need to take back the concept of sustainability because nobody is working harder to be sustainable than America’s farmers and ranchers.”
Duvall’s opening remarks also touched on the need for an efficient, legal guest worker program and fewer regulations. Citing examples of regulatory overreach on farms from Massachusetts to California, he said the government’s actions would be comical if not so harmful to farm families.
“There’s nothing funny about the federal government coming onto our land and telling us what we can and can’t do on our own farms,” Duvall said. “It amounts to federal control of what we do. It’s unwarranted, and it’s unlawful.”
During the meeting, Duvall called on the 5,000 in attendance to take out their mobile phones and send messages to Congress encouraging regulatory reform. In a matter of minutes, more than 1,500 members took action.
The annual convention includes educational workshops, a trade show and Young Farmers and Ranchers contests.
Alabama Outstanding Young Farm Family recipients Stewart and Kasey McGill were selected among the Top 10 for the national Achievement Award. Lauren Cline of Lee County competed in the Discussion Meet, and Ben and Heather Maples of Limestone County presented their story of educating future generations about farming in the Excellence in Agriculture contest. Young Farmers contest winners will be announced at the closing session Monday.
Federation members will vote in elections and consider policy changes during the AFBF voting delegate session on Tuesday.