By Zippy Duvall
President, American Farm Bureau Federation
Farm Bureau members from across America gathered this week for our 98th Annual Convention. A highlight for me was giving my first address as president and telling the members what I’ve been doing over the past year. I talked about several of the farmers and ranchers I’ve met and the concerns they have shared with me. From immigration and regulatory reform to strengthening the farm safety net, we have opportunities to make real progress this year with the new White House and the new Congress.
The theme of this convention was UNITE! To succeed, farmers and ranchers must unite around our goals. We cannot let our regional or commodity differences divide us. We must also stay involved. Rural America turned out in the last election, but we cannot let our engagement end there. Farmers and ranchers must stay in contact with their members of Congress and answer the call when Farm Bureau asks for help to move our grassroots-developed policies forward.
The convention ended with our voting delegates approving our policies for the year ahead. The annual meeting of voting delegates is the culmination of a year-long process of grassroots policy development. The delegates approved a strong mandate for regulatory reform and gave us both guidance and flexibility to work toward a 2018 farm bill.
Meeting with FFA students who joined us this year and hearing about our Young Farmers & Ranchers, Women’s Leadership and Promotion & Education committee members celebrate their leadership accomplishments were high points of the convention. I especially love talking with young people and seeing the energy and enthusiasm of the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
The bottom line for me is I am wrapping up this convention with more excitement than ever about the future of agriculture and the opportunity to advance Farm Bureau’s policy goals. If you were there, I hope you are just as inspired and motivated as I am. I wish you a happy and successful 2017!
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.