> News Release

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by AFBF President Zippy Duvall

AFBF Staff

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by AFBF President Zippy Duvall

2024 American Farm Bureau Convention

Salt Lake City, UT

January 21, 2024

Welcome to the 105th American Farm Bureau Convention!

It’s so good to be with you all again, and I’m looking forward to our time together here in Salt Lake City.

Anyone going to the Sundance Film Festival?

I was going to head there to see if I could break into the film industry, but they told me there's only room for one Tom Cruise in Hollywood, so I guess I'll stick to farming.

Before I continue, I’d like to recognize my family. Please stand and give everyone a wave. Thank you for all your love and support through my Farm Bureau journey.

Jennifer and I welcomed another grandbaby this year. That’s 8 grandkids in our family. And we're proud of each and every one of them.

And guess what? We also welcomed 3 new Jersey calves, bringing Jennifer’s little herd up to 5. Now, if I’m not careful, I am going to find myself right back in the dairy business!

We are exploring New Frontiers this convention, and you can truly feel the frontier spirit out here in the West.

I can just imagine the pioneers watching the sunset over the mountains, and wondering what was waiting on the other side.

I’m sure they had their doubts and fears along the way. But they worked together and persevered—and they made it!

As farmers, I believe we all have a little pioneering spirit in us. We’re eager to see what’s next, and how we can get there together.

New frontiers are not just new lands to explore.

They are the places where our communities come together in new and creative ways; where innovation drives us toward a brighter future; and where we find solutions to the challenges we face.

We reach New Frontiers together, one step at a time.

It’s not always easy.

There may be obstacles we can see--and some we can’t. The journey may begin on a clear day—but then storm clouds roll in. But we press on with courage. And when we get to the summit, the other side is often more amazing than we imagined.

So, what does it take for us to reach new frontiers?

First, it takes leadership.

At the American Farm Bureau, we are leading the way as your voice in Washington.

Part of our role as the national Voice of Agriculture is rallying our members to strengthen agriculture by engaging with leaders, boosting our influence, and achieving our goals.

A powerful example of our federation’s strength is our advocacy on the Waters of the U.S. rule. Together we saw a major victory at the Supreme Court with WOTUS.

The highest court in the land agreed with what we have been saying all along. The Justices unanimously struck down EPA’s significant nexus test. I'll say that again—the Supreme Court unanimously struck down the significant nexus test. That’s right, and they sent EPA and the Corps back to the drawing board.

Now, the EPA did come out with a new rule, and it technically complies with the Court’s decision. But it still doesn’t provide the clarity we’ve been calling for. You can bet we’ll keep working to protect you from the threat of penalties for simply farming your land.

When it comes to many big issues facing our farms, you better believe that Farm Bureau is at the table. In fact, we’re setting the table for discussion. We are pulling up all the chairs we can find to get everyone seated and solve the challenges we’re facing.

Last year, I talked about the power of farm and nutrition groups coming together to advocate for the farm bill.

Today, we are united behind the Farm Bill for America’s Families campaign.

We brought together a diverse group across agriculture, conservation, and nutrition to explain why the farm bill matters for all Americans.

Our messages are resonating with the public.

Through this campaign, we have reached millions of people across the country.

But’s that’s just a slice of all we’re doing to advocate for a new farm bill. We started working closely with all four corners of the Agriculture Committees long before the farm bill expired.

And we got a jump start on others. In fact, 2,300 of our grassroots leaders and members came to Washington in 2023 to advocate for the farm bill.

Many others are amplifying the message on social media and through testimonials like these.


That’s some great work by our members.

And thankfully, we achieved a farm bill extension.

But, we need to get even louder.

Now, I know we need to get through the budget process, but we also need to tell Congress it’s urgent to pass a new, modernized farm bill.

And that’s just what we’re inviting you to do this week. You can stop by the AFBF booth and pick up a postcard like this one. Then you simply scan a code to call for action.

This is just the first step in our 2024 grassroots advocacy efforts on farm bill.

I’m asking you to send a resounding message to Congress to deliver a new farm bill for our farms and our country.

The road to a new farm bill has become longer than any of us would have liked, but together we can see it through.

There is strength when we explore new frontiers beyond policy, too. For example, AFBF’s Promotion and Education Committee is now working with the Escoffier Culinary School. P&E’s engagement with this network of chefs—and future chefs—is having a real impact.

We are helping trusted voices in the food sector better understand where their ingredients come from.

P&E provides just one of many opportunities for you to lead. There's also Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R), Women’s Leadership Committee (WLC), and Partners in Advocacy Leadership (PAL).

And you are stepping up across Farm Bureau, in your communities, in local and state government, and as digital influencers.

It’s pretty impressive.

If you are a graduate or current participant in one of these programs at the county, state or national level, please stand and be recognized for your leadership.

Another great example of our leadership is our work on sustainability.

We took bold action in working with a wide array of groups and companies to find common ground.

We’re working to find the right pathway forward – in government policy and in corporate commitments.

Today, farmers are at the forefront of the climate discussion in Washington. We have successfully advocated for voluntary, incentive-based solutions, instead of government mandates.

Now, leaders and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are inviting farmers to the table to help create those solutions. We have even been called to the White House, twice now, to talk about how climate programs must be voluntary and treat farmers fairly.

We all know mandates can come from outside the government, too. So, we are also working with food companies to help them better understand farmers.

For example, we invited leaders from Pepsi to our convention last year. And guess what? As a result, they formed a new Food and Farm Council.

I'm proud to represent you on that council.

It’s all about treating farmers as partners.

We've come a long way in a few years, but that is the power of leadership.

It’s not a quick or easy journey to get to new frontiers. Not at all. Along with leadership, it takes perseverance.

It only took me four hours to fly here from Atlanta, but the first journeys out West were long and perilous. Those early pioneers needed to press on, and we do too in the journeys we face today.

It takes boldness to step out and climb that mountain not knowing what you might find on the other side. But if we don’t persevere, we can miss out on some amazing opportunities.

This morning at the Foundation Flapjack breakfast, we celebrated how far the Foundation has come with the new frontier of book publishing.

The book “I Love Strawberries” brought home more than a half dozen awards!

Good Housekeeping has ranked it in their list of top 17 books for young children!

This book is now in its fifth printing and in the hands of more than 30,000 kids.

How about a round of applause for our Foundation board and staff?

Thanks to their efforts, kids across the country are learning more about where their food comes from, and many of the parents reading to them just might be learning something, too.

If you’re interested, you can stop by the Foundation booth at the Trade Show and learn more about the great work we’re doing.

New technologies on the farm are a new frontier of their own.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep up, but when we harness new technologies, we can see amazing results.

We are already seeing tractors that drive themselves, drones that can spot crop disease, and robots that are harvesting fruits and vegetables.

It’s nothing short of remarkable that we can determine the exact amount of water and fertilizer needed for each plant in an entire field.

And can you believe the advances we are seeing with innovation like biotechnology and gene editing?

Who would have thought that we could breed pigs that are immune to an incurable disease?

Or that we would be growing crops that can withstand drought?

There are bold steps yet to be taken in agriculture, like in the new frontier of carbon markets.

There is much to explore there, but if we’re going to realize benefits, we need to ask bold questions, challenge assumptions; and find answers together.

Not all new frontiers are promising though. Sometimes we are driven there by a storm, and we are forced to press forward.

We found ourselves there after a hard-fought battle on Prop 12.

The final ruling did not go as we hoped but we are pressing on. Now we must navigate state laws that ignore science and veterinary guidance that farmers depend on to care for our animals.

And there are big implications when it comes to disrupting interstate commerce too.

But we are not giving up, and we must not lose faith.

Remember, the public overwhelmingly trusts us, as farmers. Ours is the most trusted profession in America. That’s pretty cool.

That trust is on full display in many places, like in Texas, where Farm Bureau won a big victory. Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment protecting the right to farm and ranch in Texas.

Congratulations to President Boening and his team.

We stand together to celebrate victories and face down challenges on a personal level, too.

Farming is tough even on the best days. It can be lonely, especially with all the pressures we face. It takes courage to speak up when you need help and it also takes courage to reach out to others when they are hurting.

That’s why Farm Bureau entered a new frontier five years ago around mental health and wellness.

Fast forward to today.

I’m proud to say the Farm State of Mind platform has become the go-to resource in our rural communities.

And today, we are announcing that we have entered into a new relationship with the Farm Family Wellness Alliance. Together with the Alliance partners, we are launching access to a new peer-to-peer support community.

It’s available free of charge to farm families across the country, and you can reach out anytime, 24/7.

And get this, if additional counseling services are needed, they will also be made available free-of-charge.

You do not need to go through hard times alone. And Farm Bureau is right there with you.

We have truly taken this conversation to a new level.

To help us reach every rural community, we are also announcing another new partnership.

This one is with the Ad Council to launch a mental health campaign focused entirely

on rural America. It features one of our own brave Farm Bureau members willing to share his story to help others.


Marshal is actually here with us today, and I just want to say I’m proud of you.

As I’ve said before: it is OK, not to be OK. But it’s not OK to not say something

This Ad Council partnership will help boost our reach beyond what we could have hoped for.

But, at the end of the day, it comes down to you and me recognizing the warning signs, however subtle, and acting on them when we see them.

Finally, getting to new frontiers takes teamwork - all of us working together to find a way forward.

At Farm Bureau, we took-on a big challenge to reform the Federal Milk Marketing Order system. Everyone across the industry could agree reform was overdue.

Now as a former dairyman myself, I can say agreeing on a problem is one thing, but agreeing on a solution is a whole different ball game.

That was our challenge: finding consensus on what dairy reform should look like.

Where others saw a mountain blocking their path, we saw an opportunity to grow stronger and lift up the industry.

A little over a year ago, we hosted a meeting with farmers, processors and dairy groups.

It laid the foundation for USDA to host historic hearings on the Federal Milk Marketing Order system. Those are continuing, and Farm Bureau is at the table.

Our members, leaders and economists are making a compelling case about reforms needed to help dairy farmers succeed.

Another great example of teamwork is our call for the Securities and Exchange Commission to ensure farmers are not caught up in the new climate reporting rule.

Many of you here today helped us send more than 6,000 messages to Congress about the rule.

We urged them to require the SEC to exclude Scope 3 emissions, or at a minimum include a strong agriculture exemption.

I’ve talked directly with Chair Gensler several times. He assured me he heard our message

loud and clear. And, he didn’t just tell me, he has publicly stated that he agrees with us that farmers shouldn’t get tangled up in it.

I hope he stands strong behind that belief when the new rule comes out, which is expected soon.

What great examples of working as a team!

We also team up on a national scale to support our communities.

YF&R’s Harvest for All program is a prime example of this spirit of giving. The impact it has had on communities across this country is nothing short of amazing!

Quietly, humbly, one county, one state at a time, from Montana, to Pennsylvania, to Florida,

this program has made a difference for our neighbors facing hunger.


That is awesome!

In the last 22 years, Harvest for All participants have donated more than 400 million pounds of food and nearly 230,000 volunteer hours to local food banks.

Put another way, if those hours were donated by one person, it would equal 26 years of work!

And the program won the highest honor given in a national competition among associations.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make Harvest for All such a great success!

So we’ve talked about what it takes to get to New Frontiers: leadership, perseverance, and teamwork.

The great thing is that’s what Farm Bureau is all about. We come together for each other and for our communities because we care, and we know we are stronger together.

So, I want to leave you with a challenge. As you enjoy reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, I’d like you to discuss the next frontier for Farm Bureau.

Whether it’s at the county, state or national level – or all three – what does that frontier look like?

Then, I ask you to consider what role you can play to help us get there.

See, leadership starts with each of us. Whether this is your first convention or your 50th, you can make a difference. It doesn’t matter your title, or how young or how old you are. You can help chart the path to new frontiers for Farm Bureau and for our communities.

When you get home, invite a friend or neighbor along to your local Farm Bureau meeting. That’s how I came to Farm Bureau, and I’d guess that might be your story too.

We need everyone at the table, working together to reach new frontiers.

The task is too big for anyone to tackle alone, but together, together we can reach the summit.

And you know what? The view is truly awesome.

I can already see it, because I’ve had the great privilege of traveling the country on your behalf. I see the excitement at every state Farm Bureau annual meeting. I feel the energy at your county leader meetings, and when I visit your farms and ranches.

Thank you for being a force for good in your communities, a friend to your neighbors, and

an advocate for the noble profession we call farming.

I celebrate our successes with you all - each story shared, each award earned, every policy win, and each new step we take into a new frontier.

Friends, this is our moment.

I see new opportunities in 2024 and such a bright future.

As Philippians 4:13 tells us: "We can do all things through God who strengthens us."

Let’s explore the new frontiers before us.

Let’s keep blazing the trail with leadership, perseverance, teamwork, and faith!

Thank you for being here and for the privilege to serve as your president, it is truly an honor.

God Bless you all!

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Director, Communications
(202) 406-3642

Bailey Corwine
Media Relations Specialist
(202) 406-3643