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May 31, 2012   Email to Friend 


Melissa Martin
(334) 612-5448
May 31, 2012

Above, Federation members explore a research plot at Belle Mina in North Alabama during the 39th Annual Commodity Producers Conference. This year, conference attendees will visit farms and other agricultural points of interest in Baldwin and Mobile counties.

Nearly 700 farmers from around the state will tour some of the best farms in Baldwin and Mobile counties Aug. 2-4 during the 40th annual Commodity Producers Conference. 

Jimmy Carlisle, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Department of Governmental and Agricultural Programs, said the conference is a great way to bring Federation members together.

“We are excited to again bring representatives from our commodities together for fellowship during this educational conference,” said Carlisle. “Seminars will cover topics to educate our farmers about the latest agricultural innovations and ways to improve efficiency and productivity.”

Registration opens Aug. 2 at 2 p.m., and a welcome banquet with entertainment is slated for later that evening. Five bus tour options are available Aug. 3, and the conference will conclude Aug. 4 following morning seminars, a general session and an evening banquet.

For the second year, the conference will include Alabama’s Young Farmers and the Young Farmers’ Summer Conference — a benefit to all attendees, added Carlisle.

"Having young people involved injects energy into the group, giving farmers faith in the future," he said. "The conference really provides a great opportunity for our young and more experienced farmers to learn from each other.”

The Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions, part of the Young Farmers program, will take place the morning of Aug. 4.

In the Discussion Meet, contestants provide specific action-plan solutions for certain issues facing agriculture. The Excellence in Agriculture contest requires young agricultural professionals to demonstrate their work and civic activities. Excellence in Ag participants do not receive their primary source of income from an agricultural enterprise. Winners will be announced during the closing banquet Aug. 4.

The Women’s Leadership Committee will host its quilting, apron-sewing and tablescape competitions during the conference. Contest entries must be set up Thursday, as judging will take place that evening. Winners will be announced during the Women’s Luncheon Aug. 4.

The Aug. 3 ag tours will introduce attendees to the culture and agriculture of Mobile and its surrounding areas. Buses will depart from the Mobile Convention Center Friday morning, with lunch served on the tours.

The Blue Tour will feature aquaculture, with stops at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium, the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory and the Aquatic Teaching Facility at Alma Bryant High School. Participants will view the long-term effects of the oil spill and hurricanes with a drive through the community of Bayou La Batre. The final stop is near Grand Bay at Art Session’s farm, where pecans and satsumas, among other crops, are grown for roadside markets.

The Green Tour starts with a boat tour of Week’s Bay National Estuarine Reserve. Enjoy a stroll along the elevated boardwalk to view the unique swamp ecosystem. The tour will then head to a tree farm/TREASURE Forest near Grand Bay to learn about invasive species and forest certification.

Orange Tour participants will experience the Gulf Coast Agricultural and Seafood Co-Op in Bayou La Batre. The tour will head to Andy Thornburg’s Farm to view a Sunn Hemp plot (a plant used as a cover crop to reclaim poor land) and the Deer and Hog Mega Fence. The trip includes a stop at Oak Hill Tree Farm, owned by Cliff and Brian Keller, in Grand Bay.

The Red Tour will visit Sirmon Farms, a sweet potato, cotton and peanut operation owned by Gordon Sirmon. The second stop is Waters Nursery in Robertsdale, where Tony Waters will provide lunch from his catering business, “Waters Edge.” The tour concludes at Perdido Vineyards, a muscadine grape farm owned by Jim and Marianne Eddins.

The Yellow Tour will focus on livestock and forage. It covers three different cattle operations: Higgdon Farms, Faggard Land & Cattle and Driskell Farms. Next is a visit to a commercial goat operation at Pittman Farms. The tour ends at Impressible Minis, a miniature purebred horse farm.

Members interested in attending the 40th annual Commodity Producers Conference in Mobile Aug. 2-4 have until July 2 to register. To register, contact your county Farmers Federation. For more information, contact Carla Hornady at (334) 613-4735.

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