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August 24, 2012   Email to Friend 

South Alabama Welcomes 40th Annual Commodity Conference
Debra Davis

Federation members enjoyed tours to diversified farms in Mobile and Baldwin counties, including Waters Nursery of Robertsdale, above, and Predido Vineyards, below.
High temperatures and an occasional thundershower weren’t enough to dampen the spirits of nearly 700 farmers who attended the 40th annual Alabama Farmers Federation Commodity Producers Conference in Mobile, Aug. 2-4.

Tours and educational seminars helped introduce farmers to new crops, farming methods and the latest technology. Members of the Federation Women’s Leadership Committee enjoyed the cotton sewing and tablescapes contests, while young farmers honed their leadership skills in the Discussion Meet.

The conference kicked off with a reception Aug. 2 for Supreme Court Justice candidate Roy Moore and Public Service Commission presidential candidate Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. The Danville High School FFA String Band provided entertainment for the evening.

Covington County farmer Jerry Foshee was among those on the Aug. 3 tours in Mobile and Baldwin counties. He said while all farmers share things in common, it’s interesting to see how other farms work.

“I was interested in the fencing they were doing to keep the deer out of their cotton,” Foshee said of the tour at Andy Thornburg’s Mobile County farm. “I also wanted to see the processing plant (at the Gulf Coast Agricultural and Seafood Cooperative in Bayou La Batre). I like to see what everybody else is doing and learn. Seeing is learning.”

Limestone County Farmers Federation President Paul Looney shared similar thoughts.

“Some things will not work at our farm, but there is a principle we can use off of every stop on the tour,” Looney said. “We might not do it this way, but we can use the principle of it on some of our stuff. I love to see how all parts of Alabama work. We’ve got a variation of agriculture from one end of our state to the other.”

Seminars on everything from the farm bill to mobile phone applications filled most of the day Saturday. A luncheon for Women’s Leadership Committee members recognized the winners in the sewing and tablescapes contests.

This year’s sewing contest introduced a new challenge – home-sewn aprons. The hand-stitched and machine-stitched quilt contests were popular again this year, as was the tablescapes competition.

Pat Schrand of Coffee County won first place in the Apron Contest. Brenda Curry of Dale County took second, and Ruby Nuss of St. Clair County won third.

In the Youth Apron Contest, Kayla Sarro of Talladega County won first place, Tallie Schaffer of Cullman County finished second, and Sarah Swain of Calhoun County took third.

Margaret Caldwell of Talladega County won first place in the Hand-Stitched Quilt Contest. Delores Mount of Crenshaw County was the second-place winner, and Ruby Nuss of St. Clair won third.

Gayle Smith of Limestone County won first place in the Machine-Stitched Quilt Contest. Gail Oden of Etowah County won second, and Margaret Caldwell of Talladega County finished third.

In the Tablescapes Contest, Carolyn Hill of Talladega County won first place, while June Flowers of Pike County finished second, and Rhonda Hughes of Jefferson County won third.

Winners in each division received cash awards of $150 for first place, $100 for second place and $75 for third place. For more information about the Federation’s Women’s Leadership Division, visit http://www.alfafarmers.org/programs/womens_division.phtml

The closing banquet Aug. 4 introduced finalists in the Young Farmers Discussion Meet held Saturday morning. They were Kirk Smith of Blount County, Jon Hegeman of Calhoun County, Josh Turner of DeKalb County, Zach Ingrum of Limestone County, Andrew Brock of Marshall County and Leanne Jenkins of St. Clair County. The final segment of the discussion meet will be at the Federation’s annual meeting in December in Montgomery where the winner will be announced.

Christian comedian Mark Lowry had members singing and laughing with his spiritual routine as he closed out the meeting that evening.

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