By Jimmy Parnell, President, Alabama Farmers Federation
As the Alabama Farmers Federation concludes its year-long centennial celebration this week, it is a time to reflect on the past, remember those who came before us and rejoice in our accomplishments.
It’s also a time for recommitment to our values and vision.
In 1921, Alabama farmers united to provide a voice in public policy for the rural families often ignored by politicians. These men and women joined forces to improve profitability in an economic system where they felt powerless. They came together to improve the quality of life for their children and neighbors.
Pursuit of this mission has never been more important than it is today.
Across our country, voices for faith, family and freedom are scorned by celebrities and even our own government. The livelihoods of farmers, businesses and entire communities are threatened by increasing taxation, regulation and inflation. Families fear for their children’s future in a world plagued by anger, selfishness and moral decay.
A century ago, our forefathers faced similar conditions. World War I had ended, but it was already evident this would not be the “war to end all wars.” The effects of a pandemic were etched on headstones across the countryside. While the wealthy in big cities celebrated the roaring ‘20s, rural residents suffered under low commodity prices and crushing debt.
It would have been easy for farmers to feel hopeless. Few could have blamed them for buckling under the weight of a government, economy and culture which was taking their work for granted.
Thankfully, that’s not the farmer’s way — it’s not the American Way.
Rather than succumb to the pressures of their time, the men and women who founded the Alabama Farm Bureau rose up. They took a stand and spoke up for the countless families who love this land.
Their determination and devotion laid the foundation for what would become one of the most impactful and influential farm organizations in the world.
Thanks to their vision, the Alabama Farmers Federation has successfully increased funding for agricultural research and outreach; improved marketing for farm products; enhanced conservation of natural resources; fought burdensome taxes and regulation; and defended the values that make our nation great.
Along the way, these farmers built one of the most respected insurance companies in the South.
They invested their hard-earned money to provide protection for neighbors when disaster strikes. Today, the company they started with $11,000 in 1946 provides coverage for more than 1 million farms, homes, cars and businesses.
As we commemorate the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Centennial and 75th anniversary of Alfa Insurance, we celebrate the visionaries who laid the foundation for this organization; the leaders who set the cornerstone for its prosperity; and our members who give us strength.
We honor them, not with nostalgia or complacency, but with renewed resolve.
It’s our duty to meet the challenges of our time — to stand in the gap against forces fighting our faith, families and freedom.
Ours is a heritage of hope and a legacy of leadership.
At the Alabama Farmers Federation, we are eager to embrace the opportunities ahead with optimism — encouraged by those who came before us and energized by the generations yet to come.
Jimmy Parnell was elected president of the Alabama Farmers Federation in 2012. Parnell is a fifth-generation farmer and a partner in Parnell Inc., his family’s beef cattle farm and timber business. He is a native of Stanton in Chilton County and a graduate of Auburn University in agricultural business and economics. He and wife Robin have two children, James Robert and Anna Grace.
Parnell also serves as president of Alfa Insurance and president of the board of directors for the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation.