By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Farmers Federation celebrated 100 years in operation over the weekend.
The Federation was founded on January 29, 1921 and has now grown to represent more than 350,000 member families in 67 counties. In addition to serving as a hub for the state’s largest industry, the Federation plays a key role in advocating for agriculture-friendly policies at the state and national level.
Alfa president Jimmy Parnell said that in 100 years of growth, the group’s mission hasn’t changed: providing a voice for farmers.
“We were formed to represent the farmers of the state of Alabama. They felt like they lacked a voice in government,” Parnell said in a news release. “County agents from around the state worked to develop us. They collected membership dues for the organization and got us started 100 years ago. It’s just been an amazing journey, and I’m pleased to say, today, I don’t think the farmers of the state would worry about whether they’re represented or not in politics. I think we’ve done what we were intended to do, and we continue to try to do that every day.”
Outside of politics and government, the organization is best known for Alfa Insurance, which was formed 75 years ago out of a need to provide fire coverage in rural Alabama. Now the company insures more than 1 million homes, cars, farms, businesses, churches and other property across 11 states, and has $30 billion of life insurance in force, according to the company.
“As you know, there are not as many farmers today, so along the way, we started insuring everybody,” Parnell said. “We have special focus on rural customers, but we also insure people who live in cities. We are the No. 1 insurer in some areas and the No. 2 insurer in other areas — in the state of Alabama. I’m very proud of that.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting the state, plans to gather for a big 100th anniversary celebration must be put on hold until later in the year at the group’s annual meeting in December. However, federation and insurance leaders did host a more intimate “thank you” celebration for employees at the south Montgomery headquarters.
Alfa employs more than 2,000 people in Alabama, including about 700 at its Montgomery campus.
Gov. Kay Ivey issued a special proclamation marking the occasion, noting the organization’s impact on the state.
Parnell said that while milestones are important, his eye is on the future.
“We are doing the things that prepare us for another 100 years, and maybe another 200, you know,” he said.
“I can’t imagine how far we could go as an organization, assuming that things continue, because we have built the groundwork for a long-term operation to continue.”