FARMS, FUEL, FUN MARK 36TH COMMODITY PRODUCERS CONFERENCE
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Diversified farms and diversified tours will mark the 36th annual Commodity Producers Conference Aug. 7-9 when the Alabama Farmers Federation plays host to about 800 farmers at Birmingham's Cahaba Grand Conference Center.
|The Green Tour will visit Honda Manufacturing's Lincoln plant where Odyssey minivans and Pilot SUVs are made. This tour has already been filled.|
While it will mark the first time since 2004 that the Magic City has hosted the Commodity Producers Conference, the three-day event promises to offer more diversity than ever before. Attendees will be able to attend a wide range of educational workshops and seminars dealing with everything from alternative energy and water resources to meat exports and animal agriculture.
"I'm really excited about this year's conference," said Jimmy Carlisle, director of the Federation's Commodity Department. "Not only do we have many interesting, informative seminars where our farmers can learn about current ag issues, but we also have a wide range of tours from which to choose. Depending on which tour you choose, you could find yourself touring diversified farms in Cullman, Shelby, Jefferson, Blount, Morgan or Talladega counties."
The conference will kick off with registration beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, at the Cahaba Grand. At 6:30 p.m., the welcome banquet sponsored by Alfa Health and Alfa Dental will begin. Featured entertainment is John Branyan, a comedian known for "comedy that won't leave a filthy residue."
Friday morning, participants will board buses for their choice of five different tours to farms and related businesses and sites in Jefferson and surrounding counties. Only two buses will be available for each tour, so tour-goers are urged to register early for their first and second preferences.
The Orange Tour will head northward to Cullman County where the first stop will be Goldvine Farms, a 200-acre spread where Phillip and Nancy Garrison are third-generation beekeepers who operate an award-winning honey business from their Honey Barn. From there, the tour moves to Simcoe Wood Products, a full-scale sawmill specializing in custom-made pallets and pre-treated crossties. After lunch at Haynes Farm, it's on to Gilley Farms, the 2007 Alabama Farm of Distinction winner that produces broilers, calves, purebred Charolais cattle and hay.
On the return trip to Birmingham, the Orange Tour will stop at The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, a shrine and monastery, which sits on 380 acres of isolated farmland. Tour coordinator will be Buddy Adamson, director of the Federation's Cotton, Wheat & Feed Grains and Bee & Honey Divisions.
The Green Tour -- the first and only tour thus far to completely fill up -- heads east to Talladega County where attendees will visit the massive, 3.1-million-square-foot Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. The plant builds more than 300,000 Odyssey minivans, Honda Pilot sport utility vehicles and V6 engines each year -- all while maintaining its commitment as a Zero Landfill Facility, meaning nothing is sent to a landfill but recycled instead. This tour, however, doesn't permit children under 12, and participants must wear long pants and closed-toe and closed-heel shoes. Canes, crutches and walkers are also not allowed, but wheelchairs are permitted with an escort.
Green Tour attendees will have lunch at the Honda cafeteria before heading off to Sylacauga, where attendees will take a wagon-drawn tour of a goat farm owned by Jesse Goodwin. Goodwin's farm includes purebreds such as Savannahs and commercial crosses with Kiko, Boer, Myotonic (fainting) and Savannah influences. The farm also utilizes Anatolian Shepherd guard dogs, weighing up to 155 pounds, to combat predators. The Green Tour's final stop will be Sylacauga's Blue Bell Creameries, which produces about 50 different ice cream flavors, frozen snack items and a "light" line of ice cream. Green Tour coordinators are Guy Hall, director of the Federation's, Pork, Poultry and Dairy Divisions, and Mitt Walker, director of the Catfish and Meat Goat & Sheep Divisions.
The Blue Tour heads first to nearby Bessemer where Steve Bradley and family have a commercial hay operation which provides hay for livestock producers and straw and mulch for erosion control on construction projects. In addition, the Bradleys operate a commercial cow-calf operation and are involved in constructing an on-farm ethanol plant.
The Blue Tour's second stop is Whitley Red Angus Farm in northeast Blount County, where the Whitleys raise some of the most functional breeding cattle in the Southeast. After lunch on the farm, it's a short hop to Crown Diamond Quarter Horses, owned and operated by James Lynn and Ginni King. This ranch strives to establish a premiere breeding program devoted to the Hancock/Blue Valentine bloodlines. Coordinator for this tour is Perry Mobley, director of the Federation's Beef, Hay & Forage and Equine Divisions.
The Yellow Tour's first stop will be the Gaston Steam Plant, owned and operated by Alabama Power, followed by a visit to Wilson Brothers Farm in Lincoln where David Wilson and representatives of Biodiesel Logic, Inc., will show attendees a biodiesel processor producing biodiesel for use on the farm. Then, just across the road, the tour stops in at the Talladega International Speedway for a look at the track and visit of the Motor Sports Hall of Fame museum. Steve Guy, director of the Federation's Forestry, Soybeans and Wildlife Resources Divisions, will coordinate the Yellow Tour.
The ever-popular Pink Tour will make its first stop at beautiful Aldridge Gardens, followed by a tour of Harpersville's Morgan Creek Vineyards, which specializes in muscadine, blueberry and apple wines. After lunch at historic Rucker Place in downtown Birmingham, it's on to Birmingham's historic Alabama Theatre, built in 1927 as a showcase by Paramount Studios. The tour is hosted by Women's Division Director Kim Earwood.
After a full day of touring and dinner on your own Friday evening, the third day of the Commodity Conference will be devoted to educational seminars and workshops designed to help farmers be more successful.Conference attendees will have an opportunity to attend three seminars of their choice on Saturday morning.
Concurrent seminar topics will include continuing education training for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs); "Livestock Profitability in an Ethanol World," by Jim Sartwell of the American Farm Bureau Federation; "The Animal Protection Movement: Animal Agriculture Maintaining Its Freedom To Operate," by Perry Mobley; and "Farm Security and Farm-Related Crimes," by Bob Holley, chief investigator of the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries.
Also on tap Saturday morning are updates on Alabama water resources by Marlon Cook of the Geological Survey of Alabama, bio-energy projects by Gerald Willis, special assistant to National Resource Conservation Services Chief Arlen Lancaster, and export opportunities for the meat industry by Keith Miller. Additional seminars are still being planned.
On Saturday afternoon, conference attendees will receive an update on the farm bill status from National Affairs Director Keith Gray and Tara Smith of the AFBF, and the Alabama Department of Public Safety will conduct an educational workshop on Federal Motor Carrier regulations.
The Federation's Women's Committee will hold its luncheon and annual Cotton Sewing and Quilting Contest at noon Saturday. Teens and adults who won their respective county contests will compete for cash prizes in categories of hand-stitched cotton quilting, machine-stitched cotton quilting, decorative pillow, heirloom clothing, children's clothing and garments sewn by young teens and adults.
The conference finale will be Saturday night's banquet, sponsored by Alfa Health and Alfa Dental and featuring entertainment by The Cruisers, a seven-member "oldies" band.
Attendees are urged to register through their county's Farmers Federation office by July 11. Tickets are required for all meals and tours. A complete agenda, tour info and reminder is available online at www.AlfaFarmers.org.
For more information about the 36th annual Commodity Producers Conference, contact: Ginger Mullins at 1-800-392-5705, ext. 4293 or gmullins@AlfaFarmers.org
or Carla Hornady at ext. 4735 or CHornady@AlfaFarmers.org
Download Commodity Producers Conference Agenda Here