By Marlee Moore
Following a three-day whirlwind of educational sessions, elections and research updates, 500 farmers headed home to apply information gleaned during the Commodity Organization Meeting in Montgomery Feb. 3-5.
Members and leaders of 14 commodity committees were elected throughout the Alabama Farmers Federation’s meeting, and those who served the maximum three terms on state committees were honored.
The Federation’s Brian Hardin thanked producers for their willingness to represent fellow farmers.
“Serving on a state committee gives farmers an opportunity to engage in the grassroots process and understand issues in specific commodity areas,” said Hardin, the Federation’s Governmental & Agricultural Programs Department director whose staff coordinates the meeting. “These farmers represent interests of producers across Alabama, urging practical research, overseeing checkoff dollars when applicable and introducing policy initiatives.”
Attendees included Ginger Gaines of Coffee County, whose family raises beef cattle and has a custom hay baling business west of Enterprise. She’s a regular at Commodity Organization Meeting, which she said helps spark ideas for improvement on the farm.
“It keeps us in the know about what’s going on in the industry and how we can keep our operations moving in the right direction,” Gaines said.
She said speakers have also taught her how to effectively communicate commodity issues to consumers. Speakers and panelists included representatives from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, government agencies and private industry.
“It’s been helpful to know how we can defend ourselves on current topics of conversation related to the beef industry,” Gaines said. “We want to talk with consumers in a way that’s easy to understand, is truthful and shows what kind of product we produce.”
Federation President Jimmy Parnell addressed attendees during lunch each day, giving an update on the Alabama Farm Center, thanking them for service and encouraging participation in FarmPAC, the Federation’s political action committee.
Commodity divisions highlighted were Bee & Honey; Beef; Cotton; Dairy; Equine; Forestry; Hay & Forage; Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod; Meat Goat & Sheep; Pork; Poultry; Soybean; Wheat & Feed Grain; and Wildlife. The Alabama Catfish Producers and Alabama Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association held meetings last fall, while the Alabama Peanut Producers Association annual meeting was Feb. 6 in Dothan.
For a complete list of newly elected commodity committee members, visit AlfaFarmers.org.