A little more than a week ago, Farm Bureau delegates from across the country gathered to vote on policies that will drive our organization forward in 2019. Our annual meeting of delegates from all 50 states and Puerto Rico is a clear picture of our grassroots at work, uniting as the Voice of Agriculture just as we have for the last 100 years. It’s an exercise in faith and cooperation because we know we are stronger when we work together.
Each year brings its own set of opportunities and challenges, and 2019 is no exception. Farmers and ranchers aren’t strangers to tough times, either. We all breathed a sigh of relief at the end of 2018 when the storm clouds broke a little over farm country with the promise of a new Clean Water Rule, the announcement of the USMCA agreement, and the signing of the new farm bill. But now we are watching the clouds gather again as we wait for a resolution to the current government shutdown.
Our farmer and rancher members were grateful and excited for President Trump’s second visit to speak at our convention last week. A presidential visit is a rare honor, and it’s been a quarter of a century since any other U.S. President has accepted Farm Bureau’s invitation to come speak with us. This President loves farmers, and we’re grateful for the steps the Administration is taking to give farmers and ranchers access to FSA offices to process much-needed loans and certain program assistance to keep our businesses running during the shutdown.
The 2018 farm bill set a prime example of the work our lawmakers can get done for rural America when they find common ground. We know Secretary Perdue and his team at USDA are eager to put this 2018 farm bill to work for America, but the shutdown has created delays in implementation. As farmers and ranchers struggle through a trade war in a down farm economy, I have no doubt that the President and Secretary Perdue will continue to do everything they can to help farmers weather this latest storm.
Like the rest of the country, though, farmers and ranchers are ready for this shutdown finally to end. In fact, Farm Bureau’s closing order of business at our delegate session this year was to pass a statement urging Congress and the Administration to work together to do just that and bring an end to this shutdown as soon as possible. Our government of the people needs to be able to get back to work fully for the people. There is no time to waste in 2019, and there is still much work to be done for American agriculture. Let’s once again join together in calling on our lawmakers to find a swift resolution and to move on to what’s next in the business of strengthening our great nation.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.