> News Release

American Farm Bureau Convention Monday Recap: Remarks from Ag Secretary Vilsack, Ag Innovation Challenge and YF&R Awards, Food Company Perspectives on Sustainability and More



Bailey Corwine

Media Relations Specialist

The American Farm Bureau Convention continued today with remarks from the United States Secretary of Agriculture, an exciting slate of workshops, an inspiring keynote address and several awards presentations.

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack provided information on several developments taking place at USDA during an address at the closing general session, including details on the next phases of the Emergency Relief Program and Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program. Vilsack also discussed the importance of the 2023 farm bill.

“A farm bill isn’t just about farms, and it isn’t just about nutrition, and it isn’t just about conservation. It’s about preserving a fundamental aspect of our country, of being a food secure nation that empowers the rest of the nation to do all of what we do in America,” Vilsack said.

“The future of our country is directly connected to your future,” Vilsack told attendees.

In addition to general session programming, four workshops were offered, with two available to those registered on the virtual convention platform. Topics included an in-depth discussion on AFBF’s challenge to California’s Proposition 12, which went before the Supreme Court in 2022; an ag economy outlook on the dynamic issues set to face farmers and ranchers in 2023; and perspectives on engaging farmers in sustainability efforts from leaders on the retail and manufacturing side of the food chain.

During the workshop titled, “So You Say You Care About Farmers? A Food Company Perspective,” AFBF Vice President of Communications Terri Moore was joined by Walmart Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives Mikel Hancock and PesiCo Vice President of Sustainable Agriculture Rob Myers to discuss relationships between food producers and food retailers and how company commitments directly impact farmers.

“We go and speak to ranchers to listen and hear what’s on their mind. I’ve never met a rancher who didn’t want to do the right thing,” Hancock said.

The workshop titled “Bringing Everyone to the Table” included a panel discussion about what it’s like learning about Farm Bureau as an outsider in the agriculture world and offered insights into how Farm Bureau can be the connecting force.

Kamal Bell, a farmer, entrepreneur and founder of Sankofa Farms in North Carolina, said Farm Bureau is powerful because it allows farmers, ranchers and everyone involved in agriculture to be a part of something real.

“There was a realness I felt with Farm Bureau and for me that goes a long, long way,” Bell said.

NORDEF, a startup from Kansas that developed technology to produce diesel exhaust fluid at the point of use, was named the 2023 Ag Innovation Challenge winner while EmGenisys Inc. was named runner-up. NORDEF will receive a total of $50,000 in prize money sponsored in part by Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, John Deere, Farm Bureau Bank and Farm Bureau Financial Services.

MycoLogic LLC, an Ag Innovation Challenge semi-finalist, won the People’s Choice Award, which is decided by public vote, and received $5,000 in additional prize money. Learn more about the Ag Innovation Challenge here.

Winners of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions were announced. Daniel and Carla Trantham of Alabama won the Achievement Award, Mike Hannewald of Ohio won the Discussion Meet and Stacie Anderson of Ohio won the Excellence in Agriculture Award.

Also during the convention, members of the AFBF YF&R Committee elected a new executive team. Matt Fimon of Virginia will be the committee’s chair for 2023, taking over the position in March at the end of the FUSION Conference, and will serve for one year. He will also serve a one-year term on the AFBF board of directors.

Heather Graham of Kentucky was elected vice chair and Joel Currier of Colorado was elected secretary. They will each serve one-year terms.

Tuesday Preview

The annual meeting of AFBF voting delegates will take place tomorrow. The voting delegate session will not be available virtually.

However, programming broadcast throughout convention will remain available for 90 days following the conclusion of events in San Juan and can be found at annualconvention.fb.org/virtual.

Press Contact

Mike Tomko
Director, Communications
(202) 406-3642

Bailey Corwine
Media Relations Specialist
(202) 406-3643