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January 09, 2011   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
January 09, 2011

AFBF President Bob Stallman, left, congratulates Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby on his state organization's four Awards of Excellence for public relations and information, member services, agriculture education & promotion and leadership development.

ATLANTA, Ga. - American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman opened the first general session of the 92nd annual AFBF meeting Sunday morning with a spirited address to members saying the organization is ready to face its opponents with a new attitude. "We are fighting back," he said.

Celebrating 50 consecutive years of membership growth, more than 6,000 farmers from throughout the country are attending the three-day meeting in Atlanta, Ga. The Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of AFBF, has nearly 200 farmers attending the meeting that will focus on topics ranging from environmental policy and food safety to the 2012 farm bill and use of social media by farmers and ranchers. With 425,903 members, Alabama ranks sixth in the nation among AFBF organizations. Nationally, AFBF has 6,279,813 members and only Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky and Illinois have more AFBF members than Alabama.

During his opening address, Stallman said AFBF has joined other organizations to oppose those who are determined to mislead consumers by spreading false statements about America's family farmers.

"Our goal is to work together to increase consumer knowledge and restore trust in our nation's food production system," Stallman said. "While we know we are committed to producing safe and nutritious food; to protecting and enhancing the environment; and humanely caring for our animals, the public -- our neighbors -- still want to be convinced. Improving consumer trust is job one."

As the nation's largest farm organization, Stallman said it is important for Farm Bureau members to carefully consider the organization's position on federal fiscal policy. He said an organization with Farm Bureau's political and policy influence has "a responsibility and an obligation" to weigh in and help find solutions.

"It will require budget cuts and those cuts will be painful," Stallman said. "Every aspect of our government and every program and service we enjoy as Americans will be on the table. This problem will not be solved with slogans, sound bites and symbolism. It will not be solved with partisanship that is focused on the acquisition of power, rather than solutions for our nation."

Stallman said to ensure AFBF's position of leadership in the farm bill debate, the organization must have direction that is clear, a strategy that is inclusive and an outlook that is visionary.

Also during the opening session of the conference, the Alabama Farmers Federation was recognized for four Awards of Excellence for public relations and information, member services, agriculture education & promotion and leadership development.

The closing general session of the conference will be Monday at 3 p.m. and features Mike Rowe, host of "Dirty Jobs" as the keynote speaker.

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