Federation of Southern Cooperatives Annual Meeting
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund (FSC/LAF) celebrated its 43rd anniversary and Annual Meeting on August 19-21, 2010. FSC/LAF works with small and limited resource farmers and landowners throughout the Southeast. Their mission is to develop self-supporting communities with programs that increase income and enhance other opportunities, assist in land retention and development, strive to protect the family farmer, and ensure that the African-American farmer remains an integral part of America's agriculture system. The Federation also provides services, resources, technical assistance, and advocacy to its membership of cooperatives, credit unions, and their individual families, as well as any other distressed landowners.
This year, FSC/LAF honored Alice Walker during their annual banquet on Thursday August 19 in Birmingham, AL. Ms. Walker spoke out on behalf of black farmers on the importance of land and for people to be able to hold on to their land in order to have roots and a sense of self. Walker is best known for her book "The Color Purple," for which she won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
On August 20 and 21, a series of activities were held at the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center in Epes, AL. A distinguished group of guest speakers participated in the events including: Dave White, Chief, USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service; Tom Tidwell, Chief, USDA’s Forest Service; Johnathan Coppess, Administrator, Farm Service Agency; Shirley Sherrod, former Georgia Director of the USDA's Rural Development; and NAACP Director Ben Jealous.
NWF sponsored the forestry activities happening during the celebration. Partnered with the Alabama Forestry Commission and the US Forest Service, they hosted the forestry workshop and tour with the Southeast Regional Center’s Southern Restoration Manager, Amadou Diop, in attendance. The workshop focused many topics, including Longleaf pine restoration, carbon credits, biomass, silvopasture, timber marketing, and wild forest fire prevention, and was attended by over 150 landowners.
Left image: Landowners listen to Amadou Diop’s Forestry presentation
Right image: (Left) Dave White, Chief NRCS; Ken Arney, Deputy Regional Forester for State and Private Forestry U.S. Forest Service, Southern Region with Amadou Diop