Registration for AFBF’s 100th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show opened this week, and we’re excited for the celebration in New Orleans. Like most Farm Bureau meetings, there will be lots of good fellowship and good food as we kick off the centennial year of your American Farm Bureau.
The 100th Annual Convention gives us a great opportunity not only to look back on the rich history of the American Farm Bureau Federation but also to look forward to what lies ahead in the next 100 years. With this year’s theme, “Breakthrough,” we will explore how farmers and ranchers can continue to lead the way in making agriculture a driving force in shaping policy and boosting our economy. I am so proud of the dedication and innovation you bring to your farms and the greater ag community each day, and I know that together we will keep leading the world in sustainably growing and raising the highest quality food, fuel and fiber.
Our convention team has been hard at work planning to make this event enjoyable and educational for all. The lineup of educational sessions and events will help farmer and rancher members sharpen their leadership skills, improve their businesses and advocate on pressing issues. From sessions that look at what’s ahead in commodity markets or the latest in biotechnology to exploring member recruitment strategies and sharpening your media interview skills, this year’s breakouts and workshops keep with the high quality you all have come to know and expect from our team.
One of my favorite parts of convention is the chance to meet up with old friends and new. I hope we’ll see you on the IDEAg Trade Show floor to explore the exhibits, catch up with members and staff and check out the events we’ve got lined up. The Cultivation Center is back this year with TED-style talks for you to drop in on while you’re there. Plus, we’ll be hosting the final round of competition for our Ag Innovation Challenge live on the Cultivation Center stage. Come cheer on these inspiring entrepreneurs, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite! The Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year is chosen by a panel of judges, and the People’s Choice winner is chosen by you.
Entrepreneurs won’t be the only ones taking center stage in Farm Bureau competitions this year. Our annual YF&R competitive events, including the Discussion Meet, showcase the importance of getting the next generation involved—and leading the way—in advocating for agriculture. I’m eager to hear from these young leaders and to applaud their achievements for agriculture this year. Last, but not least, we will be recognizing one of man’s best friends with AFBF’s first Farm Dog of the Year winner. I hope you’re all getting your entries in to honor these loyal helpers on our farms.
Of course, it just wouldn’t be right to be in New Orleans without having a party, or two. We hope you’ll be able to join us for a live concert to support the important work of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture at the Foundation Night Out. This event is always a great time for an even greater cause. Be sure to get your tickets early before they sell out!
Finally, you didn’t think we’d turn 100 without a big Farm Bureau-style party, did you? You won’t want to miss the special Centennial Celebration on the trade show floor this year. I can’t think of a better way to mark 100 years of advocating for agriculture than with great food from across the country, grown by our own hardworking farmers and ranchers.
We’re grateful for the opportunity this organization has had to serve America’s farmers and ranchers for nearly 100 years, and we are excited for what the next 100 years will bring for American agriculture. I hope we will see you in New Orleans and that you will come ready to have a good time as we breakthrough to the next century of Farm Bureau. Our work wouldn’t be possible without each one of you, and serving you every day in our nation’s capital is what makes us Farm Bureau proud.
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.