Young Farmers win state award

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The ALFA Young Farmers Division of Chambers County won the Outstanding Committee award from the state-wide ALFA Farmers meeting. Only the top percentage of counties receive the award, often given to those who made significant strides in the past year.

The Chambers County group was honored due to its increase in membership this year as well as community outreach. Their most recent effort has been collecting supplies for a local nursing home. 

The Young Farmers are a division of the larger ALFA Alabama Farmers Federation. Any farmer from the age of 18 to 35 can join the group. The Chambers County division has almost doubled its membership in the past year. They currently have 11 members, although based on the crowd that attended the group’s meeting on Monday night, the member’s families and friends are also involved in the group.

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The Young Farmer’s Division, formerly called the Young People’s Division, has been around for decades. Although the last generation that was active was almost 30 years ago. When the current Chairman, Christopher Langley, joined eleven years ago there was just one other member. 

“Sometime around the ’60s, the Farmers Federation kind of looked around the room like everybody does from time to time and the organization goes there’s a lot of gray hair in this room and not a lot of young folks,” said member, Steven Blackmon, at the meeting. 

Langley credits his other members with its recent growth saying, “Everybody that’s already in the young farmers getting out, getting their buddies, their friends, their family to join.”

Monday night’s meeting, felt more like a reunion, with kids running around and hamburgers being served. Langley said this group is invaluable for its members.

“Whether it be a cattle farmer or row crop guy, they might just have a few chickens in the backyard, everybody’s like-minded in here…by being in the young farmers, it gives like-minded people a place to congregate and discuss the problems they’re having,” said Langley.

When asked what problems farmers in Chambers were facing, Langley laughed and said, “Everything.”

The increase in gas prices has hit the farmers especially hard he said. For younger farmers land prices have also been an issue in recent years.

“The young farmers don’t have enough equity to go out and buy the land that we need and want and are able to grow with the price of land being what it is,” added Langley. 

President of the Chamber’s County Farmers Federation, Jason McKay complimented the group on its continued success in the face of these difficulties.

“Farming is not an easy occupation so it’s getting everybody together and working together. They serve the community in a lot of different ways… we need to have more young farmers. But these guys are heading in the right direction, they are doing a great job.” said McKay.

The division hopes to continue growing its tight-knit community.

“We’re a grassroots organization. We don’t we don’t make anything at all from this. Everything we do is to benefit the community, you know in the state and all the people in it. We just work hard every day doing what we love,” said Langley.