President and CEO Tommy Paulk announced the third consecutive year of
record earnings and a return of $5.7 million to its member cooperatives
at AFC’s 69th Annual Meeting in Auburn. He noted, however, that this
is no time for members and staff to rest on their laurels, nor spend a
great amount of time patting themselves on the back.
February meeting came just weeks after President George Bush’s State
of the Union address where he pronounced the national economy good and
improving, yet offered no reassurance to farmers who fear the loss of
their safety net provided by the 2002 Farm Bill.
however, was not so reticent to show his concern over the economic
situation regarding the agricultural section of the economy.
the White House to the halls of Congress, powerful politicians at the
highest levels have publicly declared their desire to end all farm
subsidies," Paulk said. He added that Congress and Administration
claims that there is no money because of a huge budget deficit is belied
by the fact that "they find money for their special pet projects.
’02 Farm Bill, which provided a badly needed hand up for our nations’
farmers, is set to expire soon and not even the people who will help
draft it know today what the 2007 Farm Bill will contain or how it will
impact U.S. agriculture."
advised AFC members and staff to pressure their congressmen to
understand that the farm subsidy crisis is more than the loss of a
safety net to family farms, but a national security issue.
easy will it be for someone to poison food supplies shipped to us from
third world countries that can’t even protect their own food supplies.
And think how we will be weakened as a nation, if we are as dependent
upon foreign nations for food as we are today for oil."
said the most serious challenge to be faced by AFC and its member
cooperatives is the set of challenges faced by farmer members,
"because AFC’s success is inextricably tied to their success. The
same high energy costs that have driven down the margins for our local
Co-ops on fertilizers, crop protection materials, animals feeds and
other products necessary for production agriculture have driven up the
prices for these same products for the farmers who must purchase them,
while the prices received by farmers for their products are lower or
flat at best."
also spoke of unnecessary restrictions on GMO technology and laid the
blame at the feet of misguided environmentalists who have frightened an
uninformed public, rendering the technology more expensive, less
accessible and less useful to farmers and a hungry world.
then asked store managers, division managers, member farmers and staff
to build on the mutual earned trust between them to meet the challenges
must stick together in our buying and in our marketing when we have a
vehicle for doing so. Folks, I would submit to you that your local
Farmer’s Cooperative is such a vehicle. Your loyalty to your Co-op,
which in essence is really your loyalty to your fellow farmers and
ultimately to yourself, has never been more critical. Your Co-op
deserves the last look on every price on every product, on every
service, and then – it deserves your business. We must all go out into
our communities and sing the praises of our Co-op, and then – we must
put our money where our mouths are."
Sharp is a freelance writer from Alabaster.