Duvall: Stay united, look to the future

American Farm Bureau Federation president outlines the organization's successes and challenges during his annual address Sunday.

By Deana Stroisch

During his annual address Sunday, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall encouraged members to remain united, engaged and focused on the future.

“These are challenging times for us. The farm economy is bad. And farmers in several states are hurting from terrible fires, hurricanes …,” Duvall said. “But nobody is more resourceful and enduring than the American farmer.”

Duvall delivered his 45-minute address during the opening session of the 99th AFBF Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

Agriculture has been united, he said, and farmer leaders have been engaged “like they’ve never been engaged before.” He said farmer engagement helped Congress pass a tax reform bill and encourage the administration to take steps to repeal the “waters of the U.S.” rule.  He said President Donald Trump’s team “is getting good things done."

Farm Bureau members participated in a smartphone action request during the conventions Sunday general session to show support for the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Photo: AFBF)
Farm Bureau members participated in a smartphone action request during the convention's Sunday general session to show support for the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Photo: AFBF)

“It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to advocate for getting things done instead of having to constantly … defend agriculture against a steady stream of challenges from our own government,” he said.

Duvall called Secretary Sonny Perdue “a tremendous advocate for us on trade.”

He pointed to Perdue’s appointment of Ted McKinney as the first Under Secretary for Trade at USDA. “They, together, are making sure the president knows how critical trade is to farmers and ranchers.”

More than 500 Farm Bureau members from Illinois traveled to Nashville to participate in the American Farm Bureau Convention. (Photo by Mike Orso)
More than 500 Farm Bureau members from Illinois traveled to Nashville to participate in the American Farm Bureau Convention. (Photo by Mike Orso)

Duvall said he believes the administration “is doing the best they can do” to get a better North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The president promised a group of farmers last year “that what comes out of the NAFTA negotiations would be even better than what we have today.”

“I intend to take him at his word,” he said. “But we … intend to work with him and his team to make good on that promise.”

Ahead of Trump’s visit to the convention Monday, Duvall called on the crowd to take on their phones and send messages to the president and members of Congress. The messages encouraged support of trade, regulatory reform and the farm bill.

Ellis Grove farmer Richard Guebert Jr., president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, serves on the AFBF Executive Committee. During the AFBF Convention Sunday, Guebert thanked farmers retiring as state Farm Bureau presidents. (Photo: AFBF)
Ellis Grove farmer Richard Guebert Jr., president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, serves on the AFBF Executive Committee. During the AFBF Convention Sunday, Guebert thanked farmers retiring as state Farm Bureau presidents. (Photo: AFBF)

“We need to make sure the president hears from the whole country,” he said.

Members participated in a similar exercise last year with regulatory reform and the same week, the House passed the bill.

With Congress working on a new farm bill, Duvall said ag advocates will be needed this year more than ever.

“Farm programs are so important right now, as we have seen farm income plummet. But I want everyone to understand our opponents will be out in force, once again, to attack the farm bill.”

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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