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December 04, 2006   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
December 04, 2006

Auburn University President Dr. Ed Richardson accepts the Service to Agriculture Award at the Alabama Farmers Federation's 85th Annual Meeting Dec. 4 in Mobile.
MOBILE, Ala. -- Auburn University President Dr. Ed Richardson received the Alabama Farmers Federation's highest award here Monday morning during the 85th Annual Meeting of the state's largest farm organization.

In presenting Richardson the Service to Agriculture Award, Jerry A. Newby, president of the 450,000-member affiliate of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said Richardson had "refocused, re-energized and redefined" the university's role as a land-grant institution.

Richardson has received the Auburn Board of Trustees' approval for the formation of a yet-unnamed institute of natural resources, an umbrella institute that will include the College of Agriculture, School of Forestry and Wildlife Science, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Alternative Fuels Unit, Water Initiative, and other environmental units.

Richardson said he expects to appoint a vice president for that institute next week. "The vice president will report directly to the president," Richardson said. "That's so that agriculture's message will be (presented) directly to the president, and will get first consideration -- not second and third."

Richardson told an audience of about 1,500 Federation members that the institute is being formed "so that we can all pull together to wrap around one agenda, and that's to promote agriculture."

"Once this happens," he said, "you're going to see Auburn in a much more responsive posture.... Auburn is going to be far more responsive in the future than in the past."

The final day of the three-day gathering of the state's farmers also saw Stuart Sanderson, a Limestone County farmer, named the winner of the Young Farmers Discussion Meet. Andrea Garrett Eubanks, a teacher from Cherokee County, was named first alternate in the competition, which was a new program added just this year.

Sanderson, who along with his wife Deborah and son, Spencer, was named Sunday as Alabama's Outstanding Young Farm Family, received $500 cash from the Federation and a matching award from Dodge. Eubanks received $500 cash from the Federation. Both Sanderson and Eubanks will receive expense-paid trips to the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, in January where they will represent the state in national competitions.

Amy Belcher of Montgomery was named winner in another new program, the Excellence in Agriculture Award, which recognizes members of the Young Farmers Division who do not derive a major portion of their income from agriculture, but have demonstrated a commitment to Alabama agriculture through Federation and community involvement.

As winner, Belcher receives $500 from the Federation, a matching award from Dodge, and an expense-paid trip to the AFBF meeting in Salt Lake City to compete in the next round.

James and Amy Burgess of Blount County were named first alternate.

Hollis Curl, owner, editor and publisher of the weekly newspaper, The Wilcox Progressive Era, in Camden, was presented the Federation's Communications Award. Curl, a former president of the Alabama Press Association, has owned and operated the Progressive Era for 39 years.

The morning general session also saw county and individual awards presented for leadership, Young Farmers programs, Women's Committee activities, commodity programs, community service and public policy.

The annual meeting continues this afternoon when 500 voting delegates gather to elect new officers for the coming year. Newby, who is unopposed for re-election to his fifth two-year term as president, will preside over the elections.

Monday night, American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman will address the closing general session, and Alabama's next Miss Agriculture will be crowned.

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