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August 08, 2007   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
August 08, 2007

MOBILE, Ala. -- Alabama's port city and the azalea capital of the world will host about 800 farmers Aug. 9-11 when the Alabama Farmers Federation holds its 35th annual Commodity Producers Conference at the Riverview Plaza Hotel.

Packed with tours, educational workshops and seminars, the three-day meeting promises to help farmers improve the profitability of their operations while highlighting the rich and diverse agricultural economy of the Mobile Bay region.

"As the state's port city, Mobile is the hub of Alabama's $500-million agricultural export business. The county also leads the state in greenhouse, nursery and sod production, and it boasts some of the state's most sophisticated row crop and livestock operations," said Federation Commodity Director Jimmy Carlisle. "We are excited about the opportunity for farmers from across the state to tour some of the area's ag-related sites, discuss important farming issues and enjoy some family entertainment."

The conference begins Thursday night, Aug. 9, with a welcome banquet at the Battle House Hotel in Mobile featuring an address by new Auburn University President Jay Gogue. Friday morning, participants will board buses for a series of tours that will visit farms and related businesses in Mobile and Baldwin counties as well as southeastern Mississippi.

After a full day of touring, the third day of the Commodity Conference will be devoted to educational seminars and workshops designed to help farmers be more successful.

Secretary of State Beth Chapman will be on hand to discuss recent improvements in the way the state processes liens on agricultural investments, and State Treasurer Kay Ivey will meet with farmers about Alabama's linked deposit program. Concurrent seminar topics will include continuing education training for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs); using FarmSuite software by USDA's Agricultural Research Service to improve management decisions; and "Cotton to Catfish," a historical perspective of Alabama agriculture by long-time Extension agronomist Charlie Mitchell.

Dr. Steve Taylor, head of Auburn University's new Center for Bioenergy, will present a seminar on new bioenergy research projects the university plans to begin this fall. Other seminars will be held on animal welfare issues, immigration and international trade.

A highlight of the conference is expected to be Saturday afternoon's general session. The first part of that session will be a federal legislative update during which Federation National Affairs Director Keith Gray and representatives from Alabama's congressional offices will discuss the 2007 Farm Bill now being drafted.

Following that discussion, Betty Wolanyk, director of education and research with the American Farm Bureau Foundation of Agriculture, will conduct a workshop on "Addressing the Misconceptions About Agriculture." The workshop is based on the findings of a multi-year research study that is thoroughly vetted and supported by a bibliography tracing Wolanyk's findings back to original scientific papers.

Also on Saturday, the Federation's Women's Division will host its annual Cotton Sewing and Quilting Contests. Teens and adults who won their respective county contests will compete for cash prizes in the categories of hand-stitched cotton quilting, machine-stitched cotton quilting, cotton crocheted table runners, heirloom clothing, children's clothing, garments sewn by young adults and adult clothing.

The Commodity Conference finale will be Saturday night's banquet featuring entertainment sponsored by Alfa Health.

Click here to view PDF of agenda.

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