By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
The 97th annual Alabama Farmers Federation meeting was held this weekend and on Monday they had their wrap up keynote address where former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke about the 2016 election, the state of politics, the Trump administration and future elections.
Governor Kay Ivey gave a few remarks to kick off the dinner Monday night, saying that she wanted to sincerely thank everyone there for supporting her this past election season and that ALFA has a friend in the governor’s office.
“I am proud to continue to work alongside ALFA to make improvements in our great state and giving more Alabamians opportunities for success. Our agriculture and timber industries are vital to our economy and there for, essential, to our state as a whole,” Ivey said.
Ivey’s speech was in total around two minutes long and mostly consisted of thanking the members there and to say that she will continue to work for Alabama farmers.
Earlier in the day, Federation President Jimmy Parnell was re-elected to a fourth term along with other officers and regional directors. He is a fifth-generation beef cattle farmer and partner in a family logging business.
“I’m convinced we serve some of the best people in Alabama,” said Parnell. “Farmers built this country and have the values which make our communities, state and nation strong. It’s an honor to work alongside people who are dedicated to making things better for our members and policyholders.”
Gingrich has become a celebrated conservative commentator, Fox News contributor, and a multiple best-selling author.
He began his speech saying that he wanted to put the current political climate of the nation into some perspective for 1,200 gathered at the Renaissance convention center in Montgomery.
He went into some detail about election night in 2016 and how the liberal establishment and liberal voters were thrown into disarray that night once Trump took Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Trump won in 2016 because populism was on the rise, Gingrich explained, and this same thing is being seen in other country’s elections like Austria, Hungry and Poland. But, the main reason why Trump won, Gingrich says, is because voters were tired of established politicians like John Kasich and Lindsay Graham. Voters wanted someone who will come in and “kick over the table.”
“He walks on stage kicks over the table and everyone would cheer,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich got a good response from the crowd when he mentioned Trump’s effort to turn the federal judiciary “back to a constitutional conservative mode,” and also claims that Trump is the “largest deregulatory president in history.”
The former speaker also took the time to speak against the Robert Mueller investigation, saying that Mueller is nothing more than a part of the “destroy Trump project,” and said that Mueller’s work was part of a “constitutional coup d’etat,” and will fail cause there’s not much there.
Gingrich did say though that he’s told the president that if he didn’t tweet as much, he would be a much more effective leader. He continued to make various jokes about tweeting throughout his speech.
He warned about the rise of left-wing activism and even said that he thinks the left wing resistance is the largest it has ever been since the Vietnam War era. Gingrich especially railed against Democratic socialist politicians like U.S. Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and said that she was the proof that the American education system is failing.
Gingrich made an interesting connection from the “liberal elite” to the children’s animated movie, The Lion King, explaining that liberals have this fairytale mindset where they think that lions can simply live peacefully among animals like giraffes and zebras, which are lions’ typical prey.
Gingrich finished out the keynote address by answering a few questions from the audience and urging everyone in the audience to go our and talk to everyone they know about improving America by voting for Republicans.
The speech was well received by many in the crowd, including State Sen. Randy Price from District 13 in East Alabama.
“I thought it was great….I’m a Republican,” Price said, confirming that many in the crowd of farmers were conservative and aligned with most of what Gingrich supports.
Price is a small business owner and raises cattle and goats on his family farm for more than 30 years. He told Alabama Daily News that ALFA has done some wonderful things for Alabama farmers and continues to be concerned with their success.
Price talked about one of the great things about ALFA is how they want to educate farmers about all of the latest farming technology.
“Agriculture, with the help of ALFA and Auburn University and other Universities within the state we’re able to use this new technology that is growing very rapidly, and is forcing everyone involved in agriculture to keep up with what’s new because these new developments are helping us improve our product each and everyday,” Price said.
State Rep Matt Fridy from House District 73 said that one of the great things about ALFA is their support for young farmers.
“One of the exciting things about the Farmers federation is how they recognize and support their young farmers. That’s one of the highlights of this dinner every year, is their celebration of young farmers,” Fridy said.
In fact, right after Gingrich was finished with his address, a few awards were handed out, among them was the “Outstanding Young Farm Family Award,” which this year was given to the Upchurch family who walked on stage holding their newly born baby boy.
Neither Fridy or Price mentioned any specific policy that they were working on that would specifically go towards helping farmers but did say that infrastructure is one of the top problems for the state that is also affecting agriculture businesses.
Price said is at the top of the “plate” for the legislative session.
“Infrastructure is going to affect agriculture. Our county roads, as far as being able to get our product to town. It makes a big difference, as far as infrastructure is concerned,” he said.