January 7, 2013
C’mon Down SouthBy Tracy Grondine
Farmers and ranchers attending the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 13-16, will find there’s something for everyone. From Nashville’s music scene and culinary delights, to the latest in agriculture policy issues, to outstanding young farmer competitions and even an astronaut, Farm Bureau’s meeting at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center will have it all.
AFBF’s tradeshow will showcase exhibitors from some of the top food and agriculture industries. Included in the tradeshow will be a cooking demonstration area where chefs will teach attendees how to lunch southern-style, as well as how to prepare Nashville’s most famous dinners. There will also be fun, interactive workshops and seminars at the tradeshow on everything from energy and agriculture, to meeting Tennessee 4-H and FFA student leaders, to the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s new Book of the Year.
If it’s entertainers that excite you, Nashville takes the cake. Country music artist Phil Vassar will headline the Foundation’s Night Out at the Grand Ole Opry House on Mon. Jan. 14. Vassar has co-written songs with country greats such as Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson. His first self-titled album came out in 2000 and went gold. The Foundation event will be hosted by former Miss Mississippi and Great American Country personality, Nan Kelley. Other performers include: The Driven Bow; Line Dancers: Barry and Dari Anne Amato; The Fiddleheads; and Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman performing together.
Further, the three-part country music group, Edens Edge, will perform at the opening general session on Sunday, Jan. 13. The Arkansas trio will delight attendees with a vibrant sound that honors country music’s roots while pushing the envelope with their unique sound. The band credits farming, faith and family with providing them a springboard for their musical aspirations.
Young farmers and ranchers play a big role in AFBF’s annual meeting. Through various speaking and leadership competitions, attendees will get to see agriculture’s future leaders in action. Attendees will also hear from distinguished leaders including AFBF President Bob Stallman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly will give the keynote address at the meeting.
Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), served his country as an astronaut and naval aviator. He flew his first NASA mission in 2001and continued to pilot or command NASA missions until 2011 with the final mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
If getting right down to business is your cup of tea, issue conferences on 2013 crop and livestock forecasts, energy and transportation issues, social media’s role in agriculture and even a historical seminar on how Nashville became “Music City, USA” will be offered. And don’t forget about AFBF’s delegate session where grassroots policy will be debated and set to guide the organization through 2013.
AFBF’s annual meeting in Nashville is the place to be in January. So, c’mon down South, y’all.
Tracy Grondine is director of media relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation.