Steve Dunn of Conecuh County, Jake Harper of Wilcox County and Dean Wysner of Randolph County each retained their positions as officers with the Alabama Farmers Federation during elections Dec. 5 at the organization’s 90th annual meeting in Mobile.
President Jerry Newby, a Limestone County row crop and cattle farmer who was elected to his seventh straight two-year term in 2010, presided over the election process in which almost 500 voting delegates elected new officers and board members. All officer positions are for two-year terms.
Newby, 64, announced he would not seek re-election at the end of his term in December 2012.
Dunn, a row crop and cattle farmer, was re-elected secretary-treasurer of the 400,000-plus member organization.
Harper, a cattle and timber farmer, was unopposed in his two-year term as vice president of the Southwest Region, an area that includes Baldwin, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Hale, Lowndes, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Sumter, Washington and Wilcox counties.
Wysner, a Randolph County cattle and hay producer, retained his post as vice president of the Central Region, which includes Autauga, Bibb, Calhoun, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Fayette, Greene, Jefferson, Lamar, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties.
Elections were also held for four district board positions, which have three-year terms.
Waymon Buttram of DeKalb County won the District 3 board seat. That district includes Cherokee, DeKalb, Etowah and Jackson counties.
Dell Hill of Talladega County was elected to represent District 6. That district includes Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair and Talladega counties.
Garry Henry of Montgomery County was re-elected to the District 9 seat, which includes Autauga, Butler, Chilton, Lowndes, Montgomery and Wilcox counties.
S. Steve Dunn of Geneva County was elected to serve as the District 12 board member. That district includes Dale, Geneva, Henry and Houston counties.
Elected to one-year, ex-officio terms on the state board were Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Rita Garrett of Cherokee County and State Young Farmers Chairman John Bitto of Baldwin County.
Highlights of the meeting included comments from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and a concert by Grammy-award winner Charlie Daniels.
Nearly 1,200 farmers welcomed Huckabee during the meeting. With a witty repartee focusing on common sense practices, he commanded members’ attention during his delivery of the keynote address at the Dec. 6 closing session.
“A country has got to be able to feed itself, fuel itself, and it must be able to fight for itself to avoid any form of slavery to some other country,” said Huckabee. “We don’t lack the energy to do these things; we lack the common sense in Washington to accomplish it.”
Huckabee also commended farmers on serving as the backbone of the American economy, noting that there is no other nation where it is as inexpensive to feed a family as it is in America.
Bentley also was well received by members. While introducing Bentley to attendees during the meeting’s opening session, Newby compared Bentley’s work ethic to that of farmers.
The governor addressed many issues facing the state including the catastrophic tornadoes in April, the immigration bill, the BP oil spill, Jefferson County’s recent bankruptcy and the continuing water wars with neighboring states. However, as Bentley prepares to make decisions to help the state, he promised that taxes will not be increased, adding that the state will live within its means.
“We face many challenges in this state, and we don’t have enough money in our budget and we know that,” Bentley said. “We are going to live within our means, and however we have to do that, we’re going to do it.”
Also during the opening session, Newby recognized U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., who was awarded the Federation’s Service To Agriculture Award. Newby described Rogers as a strong voice for agriculture.
Farmers also attended an Agriculture Issues Briefing with American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Senior Director of Congressional Relations Mary Kay Thatcher and AFBF Senior Director of Regulatory Relations Don Parrish.
Outstanding county Farmers Federations and individual and senior farm leaders were recognized during an awards program, and Malarie Haven of the Sand Mountain Reporter received the Federation’s Ag Communications Award for excellence in journalism.
Awards were presented during the Women’s Leadership Division luncheon to outstanding counties. They were Chambers, Blount and Shelby counties.
Outstanding Young Farmers county committees were recognized during the Young Farmers dinner. They were Dale, Calhoun and Cleburne counties. Joe Murphy of Pike County received the Outstanding Service to the State Young Farmers Committee Award.