FARM BUREAU WELCOMES FEDERATION WITH STANDING OVATION
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Members of the Alabama Farmers Federation were welcomed with a standing ovation by 6,800 attendees and the words "Welcome Back Home," by American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman at the opening session of the AFBF's 87th Annual Convention Jan. 8 in Nashville, Tenn.
|Stallman meets with Federation President Jerry A. Newby and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Dunn|
The general session followed a ceremony during which Stallman and Federation President Jerry A. Newby signed a memorandum of agreement designating the Federation as the official AFBF affiliate in Alabama. The affiliation was approved by the Federation's voting delegates in December at the organization's 84th Annual Meeting and was later approved by the AFBF Board of Directors.
"This is a great day for the Alabama Farmers Federation. We are pleased to be a part of the American Farm Bureau," Newby said during the signing ceremony. "There have been a lot of folks who have worked on this. We looked at this to see what would make our organization better and what would help our membership. That's our responsibility as leaders of the Alabama Farmers Federation. We feel that being a member of the American Farm Bureau will help our organization meet its goals and meet its mission."
Stallman called the affiliation a "win-win situation," adding that the signing was "one of those real historic occasions in the life of an organization."
"Alabama Farmers Federation is a very strong state agricultural organization, well representing farmers in Alabama," Stallman said. "(The Federation has) a lot of influence with their congressional delegation, their senators, and is very strong in programs that work to encourage members to join and also help members as they try to improve their economic well being and quality of life.
"From our side, (AFBF has) a strong national resource base in terms of technical expertise that we share with all of our state members," Stallman continued. "Having that national presence in Washington, D.C., then having the ability for the Alabama Farmers Federation to once again interact with all of our other state Farm Bureaus -- that kind of peer interaction in and of itself provides a lot of benefits."
During the AFBF Annual Convention, Stallman also announced that contributions to the Hurricane Ag Fund had surpassed $1 million, and that the money was already being distributed in Gulf Coast states to help farms devastated by Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina and Rita.
Senate Majority Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was presented the AFBF Golden Plow Award for his support of agriculture and fiscal responsibility in Congress. During his keynote address, Frist spoke in favor of improving laws that regulate the use of migrant labor on farms as well as additional incentives to expand the use of renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Frist reiterated the need for Congress to repeal the death tax and said that, working with the farm community, "we will cultivate a field that is healthier and heartier than ever before."
At the convention, AFBF also released the results of a nationwide survey that showed Americans are unified nearly 2-to-1 against government use of eminent domain to take private property, except in limited circumstances. The survey was prompted by last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled New London, Conn., could seize private property for private development.
In Alabama, that decision led to a strong private property rights law that was passed in the 2005 special session of the Alabama Legislature. The Federation hopes to strengthen that law with a constitutional amendment during the current regular session. The AFBF survey found that 95 percent of Americans disagreed with the Supreme Court decision, and 87 percent strongly disagreed with the ruling. In general, 62 percent of those polled opposed "the right of government to take property while compensating the owner at fair market value."