CONTRIBUTED BY ALFA/MAGGIE EDWARDS
For the second year, Alabama Farmers Federation voting delegates elected grassroots commodity committee leaders during the organization’s annual meeting. Elections were held Dec. 4 in Montgomery.
State committee members put boots on the ground in their respective communities and commodities, said Mitt Walker, Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department director.
“They know the issues their industries are facing,” Walker said. “We depend on these leaders to give us advice on policy matters, which then directs our work and our organization’s future.”
State committee members also host commodity-specific educational programs throughout the year.
Serving statewide is a time commitment (each term is three years) but is worth the sacrifice, said State Wheat & Feed Grain Committee member Jeremy Wilson of Talladega County.
“As farmers, we’re always looking to increase yields and increase sales,” Wilson said. “One way to do that is by serving on a commodity committee. It gives you a chance to provide direction on how checkoff dollars are spent. We need representation from all across the state. Farmers have different needs in different areas of the state. If you’re not on a committee to bring up needs from your area, no one may be aware of it.”
Charlie Thompson of Lauderdale County, who serves on the State Sheep & Goat Committee, echoed Wilson.
“I get to meet people that I otherwise never would have crossed paths with in my life,” Thompson said. “I’m glad we have more younger people who’ve been elected to the committee and that there were so many interested in serving. That’s a good thing. A lot of folks in Alabama raise sheep and goats, but they aren’t always aware of the federation and what they could have access to through this group.”
With help from the committees, the federation dives deep into individual policies and issues that impact each of the federation’s 17 commodities — bee & honey; beef; catfish; cotton; dairy; equine; forestry; greenhouse, nursery & sod; hay & forage; fruit & vegetables; peanuts; pork; poultry; sheep & goat; soybean; wheat & feed grain; and wildlife.
In addition to annual meeting elections, State Catfish Committee members will be elected during the annual Catfish Industry Update Meeting in Greensboro Jan. 10. The federation’s affiliated organizations — the Alabama Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and Alabama Peanut Producers Association — will elect leaders in February during respective conferences in Gulf Shores and Dothan, with the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association electing leaders in January. Learn more at AFVGA.org, AlPeanuts.com and TREASUREForest.org.
State commodity committee members who rotated off their respective committee were honored Dec. 5 for serving the maximum nine years.
• Beef – Billy Hixon of Pike County
• Hay & Forage – Winford Parmer of Autauga County
• Equine – Tina Hammons of Lowndes County and Amy Hegeman of Calhoun County
• Sheep & Goat – Kirk Smith of Blount County
• Pork – Joe Bradley of Randolph County and Roland St. John of St. Clair County
• Poultry – Greg Edwards of Russell County and Chris Upchurch of Clay County
• Cotton – Ricky Wiggins of Covington County
• Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod – Jason Powell of Chilton County.