GOVERNOR-ELECT TO ADDRESS FEDERATION'S 89TH ANNUAL MEETING
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Dr. Robert Bentley, a Tuscaloosa dermatologist whose campaign for more jobs and less taxes, vaulted him into the Governor's Office during the November general election, will be a special guest during the opening session of the 89th Annual Meeting of the Alabama Farmers Federation at Mobile's Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center Dec. 5.
|Governor-Elect Robert Bentley|
The 67-year-old Republican governor-elect, who describes himself as "a pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-Second Amendment conservative," was swept into office Nov. 3, defeating the Democratic nominee, Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, by a 57 to 43 percent margin.
"Alabama's next governor is a man of faith and believes a lot like we do," said Federation President Jerry Newby, referring to the organization's 423,000-plus members. "Maybe that's because he was raised the son of a sawmill worker who instilled in him the kind of work ethic that only those raised in the country can truly understand. Or, maybe it's because of a mother who instilled in him compassion and a strong sense of family values."
Bentley also shares Federation viewpoints on smaller, more limited government. He signed the "No New Taxes Pledge" by Americans for Tax Reform, and favors reverting the property appraisals from once a year back to once every four years. He's also vowed to free all ad valorem taxes on homesteads until the relevant property is sold or passed to an heir.
Furthermore, Bentley strongly opposes abuse of eminent domain powers, believing that no governmental body should exercise eminent domain to transfer property for private profit or increased tax revenue.
Dr. John Wheat of the University of Alabama's Rural Medical Scholars Program will be presented the organization's Service To Agriculture Award during the opening session. Later that evening, almost 1,000 members are expected to attend a concert by country and bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs at the nearby Saenger Theater.
Other highlights of the two-day meeting include a briefing on current issues facing agriculture, election of officers and board members from four districts and selection of the Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF).
About 1,200 Federation members from throughout the state are expected to attend the meeting whose theme, "Agriculture: A Growing Story," is being carried over from November's annual Farm-City Week.
"Telling the story of agriculture doesn't end with each year's harvest season -- it's a story that we must continue to make known," said Newby, who'll present the organization's annual report during the Sunday afternoon opening general session. "Agriculture touches the life of every person every day whether it's the food they eat, the clothes they wear or the homes that shelter them. That's why the challenges agriculture faces are the same challenges we all face. That's the story that must be told."
The annual OYFF contest recognizes young farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 who do an outstanding job in farm, home and community activities. The winner, revealed at Monday night's closing session, will receive a John Deere Gator courtesy of Alabama Ag Credit and Alabama Farm Credit, a personal computer package courtesy of ValCom/CSS Wireless, a one-year lease on a John Deere tractor courtesy of Tri-Green, Sun South and Snead Ag dealers, $500 cash from Dodge, use of a new Chevrolet Traverse from the Alabama Farmers Federation for one year and other prizes. The winner also goes on to compete at the national level for a new Dodge Ram 3500.
The six OYFF finalists, selected from 10 commodity winners, are: Garrett and Emily Henry, Montgomery County, Beef Division; Davy and Heather Wright, Dallas County, Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod Division; Jeff and Randi Whitaker, DeKalb County, Hay & Forage Division; Jeremy and Julie Calvert, Cullman County, Horticulture Division; Colby and Jaclyn Willoughby, Houston County, Peanut Division; and Josh and Jessica Turner, DeKalb County, Poultry Division.
Kirk Smith of Blount County, winner of the Federation's Excellence in Agriculture contest, will give his winning presentation during the Young Farmers banquet and will be recognized during the closing session. Smith will receive $500 from Dodge, $500 from the Farmers Federation and will represent Alabama in the national competition in Atlanta. Kelly Pritchett of Pike County was runner-up in the state contest.
Four finalists -- Josh Turner of DeKalb County, Mike Dole of St. Clair County, Katie Hines of Madison County and Allie Corcoran of Barbour County -- will compete in the organization's annual Discussion Meet during the closing session. The Discussion Meet seeks to develop leadership, problem-solving and consensus-building skills among young farmers through competitive discussions in a committee meeting format. The winner will go on to represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 2011 Discussion Meet in Atlanta. Last year's state Discussion Meet winner, Jennifer Cruise of Morgan County, went on to reach the finals of the national competition in Seattle.
Convention-goers will also have an opportunity to sit in on ag issues briefings by Steve Flick, board president of the Show Me Energy Cooperative in Centerview, Mo., and Dennis Wiese, a consultant in growth energy from Flandreau, S.D.
Outstanding county Farmers Federations and individual and senior farm leaders will be recognized during an awards ceremony Monday morning. Jim Cox of the East Lauderdale News will receive the Federation's Communications Award for excellence in print journalism.
A voting delegates session will elect board seats for Districts 2, 5, 8 and 11, vice-presidents for the Northern and Southeastern Districts and president.
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