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ALFA makes upper-level staff changes, taps Mitt Walker to lead Governmental and Agriculture Programs Department

The Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA) on Wednesday announced that the organization had tapped Mitt Walker to serve as head of its Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department.

Walker, a 16-year veteran of the federation, formerly served as the department’s assistant director.

Walker expressed gratitude for ALFA naming him department head and outlined his goals in serving the federation’s members.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to lead this great team and appreciate the strong foundation left behind by our previous director, Brain Hardin,” expressed Walker. “This department exists to serve the farmer-members of this organization through promotion of their products, providing educational opportunities, being their voice in Washington, D.C. and ultimately doing everything we can to improve their bottom line.”

According to ALFA, Walker’s career at the federation began in June 2005 as director of the Catfish and Meat Goat and Sheep divisions. Six years later, he was named director of the national legislative programs director.

Prior to joining ALFA, the Clarke County native served as an environmental scientist for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

ALFA advised that as assistant department director, Walker played an instrumental role in assembling the federation’s team of commodity directors and assistants.

Federation executive director Paul Pinyan praised Walker for his leadership in meeting the needs of Alabama farmers.

“I am confident he will continue to help farmers be more successful through the Federation’s commodity divisions, producer-funded checkoffs, affiliated organizations and representation in Washington, D.C.,” said Pinyan. “We are thankful to have exceptional leaders such as Mitt on the Federation Management Team. They share a passion for serving our members, strengthening agriculture and improving the quality of life for rural Alabamians.”

Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental analysis and management from Troy University. He presently serves on the Troy University National Alumni Association board of directors and is a graduate of the ALFA Leadership Academy.

Walker assumed the role formerly held by Brian Hardin, who earlier this week was named External Affairs Department director. Former External Affairs director Matthew Durdin transitioned to the ALFA’s Organization Department after the retirement of longtime director Mike Tidwell.

Durdin previously oversaw ALFA’s advocacy efforts at the Alabama Legislature.

Pinyan asserted that the move will serve to further ALFA’s mission as Durdin brings his grassroots and political experience to his new role.

“Matthew’s relationships with county leaders and elected officials, as well as knowledge of Federation policies and programs, will enhance member engagement and help better align state actions with farmer priorities,” advised the federation’s executive director.

Durdin for 13 years served as area Organization Director in Northwest Alabama. He went on to work five years as legislative programs director in the Alabama Senate prior to joining the federation’s management team in 2018.

Hardin, who formerly led state public policy initiatives, will return to his work in the state legislature.

“Brian and I worked alongside one another at the State House, and he has more than five years of experience leading the Federation’s state public policy efforts,” Pinyan said. “He understands the issues affecting our members and will ensure their voices are heard in Montgomery.”

Hardin joined ALFA in 2000 as director of the federation’s Pork, Horticulture, and Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod divisions. He advocated for the interests of federation members at the legislature as director of agriculture legislation from 2008 to 2010, when he was named assistant director for the Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department. Hardin three years later would go on to assume the role of department director.

In his capacities as director of the External Affairs Department, Hardin will be responsible for state legislation, policy development, relationships with state boards and commissions, as well as the federation’s in-house legal counsel.

Pinyan concluded, “We are thankful to have these exceptional leaders in the Federation. They share a passion for serving our members, strengthening agriculture and improving the quality of life for rural Alabamians.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL