As Farm Bureau enters a new century, we are excited for the next 100 years of agriculture. We must have an eye to the future, to what we can do better and how we can ensure our farms and ranches are sustainable. But looking to the future of our farms and ranches begins with each of us engaging with the topics and trends impacting agriculture. The AFBF Annual Convention provides a place for all of us as a Farm Bureau family to do just that.
From the workshops to the trade show exhibits, from the guest speakers to the Farm Bureau delegates whose votes will guide our work, every aspect is designed to bring the future of American agriculture into clear focus. We are whipping out our binoculars to a get 2020 Vision for Sustaining Agriculture’s Future at the 101st Annual Convention and Trade Show in January. I hope every minute of our time in Austin will be enriching and educational.
Your AFBF team in Washington plans every convention session and workshop carefully to help us make the most of our time together—and we like to pack our days full at Farm Bureau. Many of you have told me how you wish you could be in two places at once over the convention weekend. I’d say that too many choices is a good problem to have! We don’t want you to miss the sessions and conversations that will help take your business into the future, though. This year we’ve even added an extra day of programming on Saturday—with 18 extra workshops—and extended our trade show hours with an early open on Saturday so that you can take advantage of as many educational and networking opportunities as possible.
While we always have an eye to how we can make changes for the better, we also value our traditions here at Farm Bureau. One practice I believe truly shows who we are as a Farm Bureau family is our tradition of giving back. As farmers and ranchers, we know the value and importance of community, and at Farm Bureau that community can be as near as your neighbor down the road or as far as a fellow farmer on the other side of the country. We love our communities and want to make them better and stronger. That’s why at Annual Convention we look for ways to give back to the community we’re visiting. The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture models this practice by donating 100 copies of the book of the year to a local school or library. Through Farm Bureau Gives Back, hosted on the Trade Show floor, every attendee has the chance to lend a hand in providing food to those in need. I can’t think of a better way to connect with old friends and new than by serving together.
The AFBF Annual Convention is, after all, at its heart a big family reunion. For Bonnie and me, our fondest memories at convention are the times we spend with our children and grandchildren and our, even bigger, Farm Bureau family. It’s the conversations in the hallway and on the trade show floor, the times laughing together and learning together, that remind me that we are not in our work alone. We don’t just get outside our fencerows to tell our stories to lawmakers and consumers: We step outside our fencerows to help our neighbors and communities. U.S. agriculture has a bright future because of hardworking men and women like each of you who love what you do, who love your families, and who love the communities and country we all serve together.
I hope to see you all in Austin!
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.