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December 02, 2006   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
December 02, 2006

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Sen. Jeff Sessions speaks to the 85th Annual Meeting of the Alabama Farmers Federation.
MOBILE, Ala. -- Sen. Jeff Sessions told a gathering of Alabama's largest farm organization Saturday night that biofuels can help free America from its dependence on foreign oil producers.

"I hope we can continue to use biofuels to expand our price manageability on the farm, and take back our independence from foreign domination in the supply of our oil," Sessions told about 1,500 members of the Alabama Farmers Federation in a brief, unscheduled appearance at the opening session of its 85th Annual Meeting here Saturday night.

"I appreciate what you do," he said. "I value your support and your friendship. I hope I am worthy of the confidence you place in me. I'm honored to be a friend of this Federation. I look forward to continuing to work with you in years to come, to have a strong farm bill very early next year, and I hope we can come out a victor."

The remarks drew a thunderous applause from the audience, many of whom had attended an agricultural issues briefing earlier Saturday in which experts discussed the 2007 Farm Bill, water management and storage, and the 25 x '25 alternative energy initiative.

Keith Gray, the Federation's director of National Affairs, told farmers that the Alabama congressional delegation including House Agriculture Committee members Rep. Terry Everett, Rep. Mike Rogers and Rep. Jo Bonner, are all actively working on behalf of the state's farmers.

"Agriculture is a bipartisan issue," said Gray. "The Democrats may have other concerns, but that doesn't mean we can't work with them."

Dana Brooks, the AFBF's Congressional Relations director, addressed the World Trade Organization talks and implementation of the 2007 Farm Bill.

Dr. Jim Hairston, professor of agronomy and soils at Auburn University and an Extension water quality scientist who recently addressed the Alabama Agribusiness Council on the importance of water storage and management, reiterated his claim that irrigating 2 million acres of Alabama farmland could add $1.2 billion to the state's economy.

Brent Bailey, Southeastern Facilitator for the 25 X '25 energy initiative program, told farmers he believes that, with their help, the nation could meet its goal of producing 25 percent of America's energy by 2025.

"We've got to get active here in the Southeast to develop a state energy plan," he said, adding that Gov. Bob Riley recently agreed to work with the initiative toward that goal.

Also at Saturday night's opening general session, Federation President Jerry A. Newby delivered the Annual Report to the membership. Later this week, 500 voting delegates from throughout Alabama will elect Federation officers and state board members.

Also during the three-day meeting, the Federation will present its highest award -- the Service to Agriculture Award -- to Auburn University President Dr. Ed Richardson, and U.S. Rep. Terry Everett (R-Ala.) will be presented the Friend of Farm Bureau Award at the Sunday morning session.

Also on the agenda are new awards programs, including new Farm Bureau events such as the Young Farmers' Excellence in Agriculture Contest and the Young Farmers' Discussion Meet.

During Sunday morning's session, the Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) for 2006 will be named from a field of six finalists who were honored earlier this year. The winning couple will participate in many activities promoting Alabama agriculture across the state during the coming year.

Other activities during the meeting include a women's luncheon, a county awards program and the presentation of the Federation's Communications Award to The Wilcox Progressive Era.

AFBF President Bob Stallman, a fourth-generation Texas rice and cattle rancher who leads the nation's largest agricultural organization, will be the keynote speaker at the Federation's closing general session Monday night.

Reigning Miss Alabama Agriculture, Melissa Moore of Elmore County, will crown her successor at the Miss Agriculture Pageant. ?

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