Shelby County Farmers Federation receives Award for Excellence

From Staff Reports

The Shelby County Farmers Federation received the Award for Excellence on Dec. 5 at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 95th annual meeting in Montgomery.

The award recognizes counties excelling in five sections of the Federation: organization, agricultural programs, governmental affairs and the county’s Women’s Leadership and Young Farmers committees.

Shelby County Farmers Federation President Jimmy Bice, a resident of Montevallo, accepted the award.

The awards ceremony luncheon was part of the two-day meeting which included elections, policy making, a concert from Sara Evans, an awards presentation and a closing address from Fox News correspondent Dana Perino.

Former White House press secretary under George W. Bush, Perino talked elections, service and her love for America while sharing stories about the nation’s 43rd president.

“What I learned about civility, I learned on the ranch,” said Perino, who was raised on a ranch in Wyoming. “One of the leadership qualities I learned from President Bush is forgiveness; that’s important to be a leader.”

Also during the closing session, State Young Farmers contests winners were recognized. Lauren Cline of Lee County was announced as Discussion Meet winner after the final contest held earlier in the day.

Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2016 Stewart and Kasey McGill of Madison County and their children Allie, Reece and Peyton were also honored, as were Excellence in Agriculture winners Ben and Heather Maples of Limestone County.

The Young Farmers winners will take home more than $80,000 in prizes and will represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, this January.

During an Ag Issues Briefing in the morning, international speaker and GMO (genetically modified organism) advocate Mark Lynas kicked off an educational campaign by the Federation to help farmers better explain modern agricultural practices — particularly the use of GMOs — to the general public. Lynas’ talk was sponsored by the Alabama Wheat & Feed Grains Producers and Soybean Producers.

“You’ve got to get out there and tell the message,” Lynas said. “You’ve got to be clear that sustainability is at the heart of what you’re doing.”

Lynas, a former anti-GMO activist, was well received by the crowd, and encouraged farmers to connect with consumers by sharing their farm stories.

Other Monday events included elections to the State Board of Directors and awards for individual leaders and excellent county Federations.

The Federation’s annual meeting began Dec. 4. Other highlights included State Young Farmers and State Women’s Leadership committee elections and auctions raising $17,415 for the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation.

The Alabama Farmers Federation is the state’s largest farm organization with 360,000 members.