KFB Well Represented at 101st American Farm Bureau Federation Convention

Posted on Feb 7, 2020

AUSTIN, Texas- With over 400 members attending, Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) was well represented during the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention. In fact, Kentucky brought the largest member group from any state to this year’s event.

KFB President Mark Haney said having such large numbers reflects on the efforts being made at the grassroots level to get members involved and keep them motivated.

“Having the largest group here is something to be proud of, and it shows the support we have from our members,” he said. “We encourage our county leaders to be involved and send their officers, board of director members, and their young farmers to events like this and they are responding.”

This year’s total attendance reached nearly 5,000 as Farm Bureau members from across the country made their way to the Lone Star state to hear from leaders within the organization, experts in a variety of ag-related fields, and to see state competition winners compete on a national stage.

Along with the general and breakout sessions, as well as local agricultural tours, many other events took place at the convention. Each year, KFB’s annual meeting winners in the Discussion Meet, Young Farm Family, and Excellence in Agriculture competitions are invited to the AFBF Annual Convention to compete at the national level.

Trisha Campbell of Logan County competed in the Discussion Meet, Wesley and Alicia Logsdon of Pulaski County were named in the top 10 of the Achievement Award competition, and Kirby Green of Daviess County won top honors in the Excellence in Agriculture competition.

“It is such an honor to be named the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Excellence in Agriculture winner,” said Green. “There were so many great participants from all across the country competing this year, and I appreciate and thank each one for their efforts in our agricultural industry. I also want to thank Kentucky Farm Bureau for their guidance and support throughout this year and every year that I have been involved. Farm Bureau is a true family and I’m so glad to be a part of it.” 

While KFB Young Farmer participants fared well at the convention, the organization now has national representation on the AFBF’s Women’s Leadership Committee as Vickie Bryant was elected to a two-year term. 

She has served the last 19 years as Kentucky Farm Bureau’s 4th District Women’s Chair and just completed her third year as Kentucky Farm Bureau’s State Women’s Advisory Committee Chair. 

 Vickie also served on the Kentucky Farm Bureau Board of Directors, Centennial Committee, Safety & Rural Health Advisory Committee, and Resolutions Committee. 

“I am very honored to be named to this prestigious committee and look forward to serving with these great leaders from across the country,” she said. “Women have long been such an important part of farming operations and in policy making efforts with Farm Bureau, and I appreciate this opportunity to further my service to the organization and to our agricultural industry.”

In addition to the individual honors received, KFB took home several organizational awards presented at this year’s convention.  Each year state Farm Bureaus are presented awards in different categories related to programs and initiatives.

KFB was honored with awards in all four Awards of Excellence categories given, including: Advocacy; Engagement and Outreach; Leadership and Business Development; and Membership Value.

National policy

For the third straight year, President Donald Trump addressed the convention, doing so this year after a major trade deal had been made with China and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement had passed the full Congress.

The President told the attendees that when he ran for the presidency, he said he would always have the farmer’s back.

“My administration understands that if we want to stand up for America, we must stand up for American farmers,” he said. “If we want America to thrive and grow, then we must ensure that America’s farms flourish and prosper.  And that’s what we’re doing.  You feed our people, you fuel our nation, you sustain our land, you uphold our values, and you preserve our cherished American way of life.”

As he concluded his remarks, President Trump said, “With your faith, your grit, your tenacity, your talent, and your patriotism, the best days for America and the best days for America’s farmers and ranchers are yet to come.”

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue also addressed the convention as well as participating in a question-and-answer conversation with Tennessee Farm Bureau President Jeff Aiken.

Perdue said while realizing 2019 was a tough year for agriculture, he believes this year will be better.

“It’s 2020 and I think a new decade can give us reason for new optimism,” he said. “New trade deals and stronger consumer demand in the United States and abroad, are a great sign of brighter days ahead because we need those markets.”  

Haney said having such high-level government officials attend the convention is a sign ag advocacy efforts are effective.

“They hear us and understand how important agriculture is to this country and to the many markets around the world that depend on the American farmer,” he said. “And Kentucky agriculture has a seat at the table when developing national policies that will affect our farm families for years to come.”

The convention concluded with its annual business session where voting delegates made decisions on AFBF policy and priorities moving forward through 2020.

AFBF report on adopted policies

Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 101st Annual Convention adopted policies to guide the organization’s work in 2020 on key topics ranging from dairy to labor and climate change to conservation compliance.

“Delegates from across the nation came together to look ahead at issues and opportunities facing farms, ranches, and rural communities,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Scott VanderWal. “The 2020 policies ensure we are able to continue producing safe and healthy food, fiber, and renewable fuel for our nation and the world.”

Delegates also re-elected American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and Vice President Scott VanderWal for their third terms. VanderWal served as chair of the meeting on behalf of Duvall, who is grieving the loss of his wife, Bonnie.

Delegates updated labor and immigration policies, emphasizing that we must see significant changes to the H-2A program. While AFBF has long had policy in place to ensure an accessible, competitive guest worker program, the updates address problems with the adverse effect wage rate and emphasize the importance of year-round program access to all of agriculture. AFBF looks forward to working with Congress on efforts that align with these policy objectives.

After a year-long process to review ways to modernize Federal Milk Marketing Orders, AFBF’s delegates voted to support giving individual dairy farmers a voice by allowing them to vote independently and confidentially on rules governing milk prices. The opportunity to vote on milk pricing rules, along with other proposed changes to marketing orders will form a strong foundation to guide the organization during future reform efforts to better coordinate milk supply and demand in the U.S. Delegates also voted to support the creation of a flexible, farmer- and industry-led milk management system.

There are significant new policies on conservation compliance. Delegates called on USDA to significantly improve program transparency and due process for farmers. They specifically prioritized changes in USDA’s processes for wetland delineations and the appeals process. Delegates also adopted a new policy supporting the repeal of Swampbuster provisions. The changes highlight growing frustration with conservation compliance practices within the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Delegates voted to support allowing a higher THC level in hemp, giving AFBF staff the flexibility to engage in discussions with regulators and lawmakers about the appropriate legal level, and to increase the window of time farmers are allowed to conduct THC testing, acknowledging the many questions about how the testing process will work and the potential for backlogs.

New policies are on the books supporting science-based climate change research and the documentation of agriculture’s tremendous advances toward climate-smart practices. Delegates also made clear they want federal climate change policy to reflect regional variations, and they oppose a state-by-state patchwork of climate change policies.

Beyond policy changes, delegates also elected members to serve on the AFBF board of directors and national program committees.

In addition to Duvall and VanderWal being re-elected to two-year terms, thirteen state Farm Bureau presidents were re-elected to two-year terms to represent their regions on the board, including KFB President Mark Haney from the Southern Region.