By Zippy Duvall
Agriculture policy is off to a promising start in 2018. The American Farm Bureau Federation began the year at our 99th Annual Convention in Nashville with the theme “Transform,” because we’re committed to pushing the issues that will revitalize and transform our rural communities. We intend to keep agriculture on the cutting edge of innovation and ensure that our nation’s farmers and ranchers can continue to feed the world.
We were honored to host President Trump at this year’s convention, the first time in 26 years that a sitting U.S. president spoke to Farm Bureau members on that stage. The president’s visit was a visible reminder that rural America is being heard and that this administration takes a real interest in the concerns of farmers and ranchers. We’ve already seen great strides to relieve the burden on farm and ranch families with the review of the flawed 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule and a new tax law that has brought farm families additional relief from the estate tax. We hope that this is only the beginning of a transformative time for policies that support agriculture and rural America.
President Trump concluded his remarks to all of us gathered in Nashville by signing two executive orders to improve rural broadband access across the countryside. Rural America has been left behind when it comes to broadband access. But thanks to the president’s actions, rural Americans soon will be just one click away from medical services, educational resources and business tools that for too long have been hundreds or thousands of miles away.
The president also pledged his full support of a robust farm bill, including risk management tools like crop insurance. Farm policy also was top-of-mind for Farm Bureau delegates as they met to vote on our policy agenda for 2018 at our annual business session following the convention. It’s time we ensure that the next farm bill works for all farmers and ranchers, so that the business of agriculture can remain sustainable for generations to come. We’ve heard from our friends in the dairy and cotton sectors, and we are committed to fixing the problems in those programs as well as improving the Agriculture Risk Coverage program to address disparities across counties.
All Americans need a stable and predictable food supply. This year we are eager to work with Congress and the administration to produce a 2018 farm bill that ensures a continued supply of the safe, affordable and high-quality American-grown products we all enjoy.
While the policy reforms we’ve been calling for won’t come overnight, we’re confident that the seeds planted at our annual convention to strengthen U.S. agriculture and our rural economy will bring a bountiful harvest.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. You can follow him on Twitter @ZippyDuvall.