For more than a century, Farm Bureau has harnessed the energy, innovation, and passion of volunteers. In the words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” As farmers and ranchers, we do our best to provide for our families and raise healthy, safe and sustainable food, fiber and fuel for our nation and the world. It’s how we make a living. But across the Farm Bureau family, our lives are made more meaningful in how we give back to our communities.
Our grassroots organization could not function without the work of tens of thousands of volunteers across the country. When I joined Farm Bureau as a young farmer, I wanted to help my community and impact the lives of farmers around me. From day one with my county young farmer program, I got to see firsthand how Farm Bureau is not just about farming but much more.
Just like our farm communities, the Farm Bureau family is there for our neighbors. We come out to celebrate the good times, and we show up to lend a hand and lift each other up in the tough times. Volunteers don’t raise their hands expecting a thank you or a favor in return. You step up and show up out of love for neighbor and a desire to give back from the blessings you have known. And in communities large and small, you will find Farm Bureau members stepping up and leading the way to support their neighbors and the next generation.
The volunteer spirit is at the heart of all three of our national Farm Bureau programs. Our Young Farmers and Ranchers Committees work across the country to collect food and funds to buy meals for those in need. Last year alone, they collected enough funds and meals to provide over 30 million meals to those in need. Women’s Leadership Committee members serve in their communities and, through their work with Ronald McDonald House, raised over $26,000 and provided 103 volunteer hours in 2021. And most recently our Promotion and Education Committee, which shines a spotlight on the significance of agriculture and helps consumers understand where their food comes from, showed how Farm Bureau members give back with big hearts. At a recent training event in Minneapolis, P&E committee members donated 705 pairs of socks and $3,000 to support the unhoused in the Twin Cities. Farm Bureau volunteers engage in many ways, including with local youth organizations like 4-H and FFA, by providing scholarships and offering boots-on-the-ground support at county and state fairs, to name a few.
Within Farm Bureau, we’re grateful to have volunteers who step up to lead their county Farm Bureaus and others who fill other critical roles that keep our organization moving forward. From county boards of directors to program committees, I am incredibly proud of each person who answers the call to keep our organization strong. And we invite more to join us! Our Farm Bureau family is stronger as folks from all types of agriculture, walks of life and regions of the country join in.
Whether Farm Bureau volunteers are driving a tractor in the 4th of July Parade, staffing a booth at the county fair, or serving food at a fundraiser, without each of you taking part, many of our community events wouldn’t happen. I know you don’t seek acknowledgement or recognition. Service is simply part of who you are as farmers and ranchers, feeding this great country, lending a hand to neighbors and caring for those in need. On behalf of everyone at American Farm Bureau, I thank you for being servant-minded. Volunteerism truly is the lifeblood of our communities and our Farm Bureau family.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.