Looking back at 2008, he said, "I felt I was talking about some changes that needed to be made at that time. People just didn't realize that, and now they are ready."
While Parnell is ready to make changes in the insurance side, he doesn't expect any major changes in how the conservative organization approaches political issues in Montgomery or Washington. He said it will continue to focus on issues of interest to farmers and on tax issues that affect all Alabamians, particularly keeping inheritance taxes from increasing.
Farmers have to pay such taxes on inherited land, which can quickly add up if they own a valuable parcel.
"You can be a real small farm and have a million dollars in real estate," he said.
For years, the federation has been a major contributor to political races and has backed many of the Republicans who now fill all offices elected statewide in Alabama.
Before being elected president, Parnell helped his father and two younger brothers run a cattle and timber business that is spread over a few thousand acres in Chilton and surrounding counties.
Parnell said he and his wife and two children will continue to live in the Chilton County community of Stanton rather than moving to a home in Montgomery that Alfa provides for its president. He's also confident his father and brothers won't let him escape all the hard work of farming simply because he has an office job now.
"They'll call me when it's time to do something hard," he said.