Farm Bureau Elects Grassroots Leaders at #AFBF14

Delegates at the 95th American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention re-elected Bob Stallman as president for an eighth two-year term. He is a cattle and rice farmer from Columbus, Texas, and previously served as Texas Farm Bureau president. In addition, Barry Bushue was re-elected to a third two-year term as AFBF vice president. Bushue is a berry and nursery plant producer from Boring, Ore., and also serves as Oregon Farm Bureau president.

AFBF President Bob Stallman was re-elected for an eighth two-year term.

AFBF President Bob Stallman was re-elected for an eighth two-year term.

Delegates also newly elected three state Farm Bureau presidents to the AFBF board of directors: Steve Nelson of Nebraska (Midwest Region), Ryck Suydam of New Jersey (Northeast Region) and Tom Buchanan of Oklahoma (Southern Region).

Thirteen other state Farm Bureau presidents were re-elected to represent their regions on the AFBF board of directors: Midwest Region – Steve Baccus of Kansas, Blake Hurst of Missouri and Scott VanderWal of South Dakota. Southern Region — Mark Haney of Kentucky, John Hoblick of Florida, Randy Knight of Mississippi, Jimmy Parnell of Alabama, Wayne Pryor of Virginia, Randy Veach of Arkansas and David Winkles of South Carolina. Northeast Region — Richard Bonanno of Massachusetts.  Western Region — Bob Hanson of Montana and Hank Combs of Nevada.

Jake Carter, a Georgia farmer who offers u-pick strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, a fall corn maze and educational school tours year-round, was elected the new chairman of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, which also makes him a member of the AFBF board of directors during his one-year term.

Isabella Chism of Indiana, Denise Hymel of Louisiana and Lillian Ostendorf of Montana were re-elected to two-year terms on the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee; Joan Myers of Pennsylvania was elected to a two-year term on the committee.

Farm Bureau members will gather for the 96th AFBF Annual Meeting, Jan. 11-14, 2015, in San Diego, Calif.

Lots of Smiles Captured, Lessons Learned During #AFBF14

My Instagram feed has been busy the last several days as have my Twitter and Facebook pages. There have been dozens of photos of smiling faces sent from San Antonio as I have experienced the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention.

It’s amazing how many friends I have made scattered all around the country. Thanks to these folks & others (a bunch of who are now dear friends), I have real faces of farmers to go with so many of the foods I have always enjoyed. I also have a better appreciation of the ways they are involved in their local communities, understanding the stresses they farm under and more.

Thanks to all of you who make agriculture feel a lot like home for this city girl! Here are some of those folks I snapped & shared photos of over the last few days with a long-time favorite song!

How are you sharing your story of AFBF 14 with those who didn’t have a chance to attend?

Janice AKA JPLovesCotton is Janice Person, a city girl who loves cotton and biotechnology. Her work for Monsanto focuses on social media outreach. A colorful adventure is her personal blog. Follow her on Twitter (@JPLovesCotton) and find her on Facebook.

Farm Bureau Delegates Set Public Policy Positions for 2014


Voting delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th annual meeting today approved resolutions that will provide the organization with authority from its grassroots members to push Congress toward the goal line on unfinished issues like the farm bill and ag labor.

AFBF President Bob Stallman was elected to an eighth two-year term as president.

AFBF President Bob Stallman was elected to an eighth two-year term as president.

“Securing victories on those issues is critical to our competitiveness as individual farmers and ranchers, and to our nation’s success as a food producer,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, who was re-elected to his eighth two-year term as the organization’s president. “Farm Bureau made progress on our priorities this past year, more so than most other organizations, and this year, our delegates have provided us direction to work with Congress to complete this agenda.”

On the farm labor front, delegates reaffirmed their strong support for meaningful ag labor reforms that ensure farmers and ranchers have access to workers when they are needed. Delegates also voted to support flexibility that would allow the employment of workers by more than one farmer.

“Farmers and ranchers need a reliable supply of labor,” Stallman said. “That is a simple truth. It’s about availability and flexibility – neither of which have been hallmarks of the system our farmers, ranchers and growers have operated under for many years. We must have a workable ag labor program.”

With congressional farm bill action nearing completion, delegates reaffirmed Farm Bureau’s policy, overwhelmingly determining that now is not the time to make changes.

“Congress is still haggling over dairy policy, but for the most part, they are very close to completing a five-year farm bill,” Stallman said. “It has been a long process, but substantial reforms have been made. Crop insurance has been strengthened so that farmers can play a role in determining the level of their safety net, and how much they are willing to invest for that coverage.”

Specifically on dairy-related issues, delegates reaffirmed policy supporting changes to the dairy safety net, including margin insurance programs.

On another livestock-related issue, delegates maintained their support for country of origin labeling and reiterated that it needs to be compliant with World Trade Organization rules. They also voted to support efforts to lengthen the term of grazing permits from 10 years to 20 years.

On other issues, delegates adopted new policy that supports the use of unmanned aircraft systems for commercial agricultural, forestry and other natural resource purposes. They also supported the requirement for drone users to gain the consent of the landowners, if operating below navigable airspace However, delegates opposed federal agencies’ use of drones for regulatory enforcement, litigation or natural resource inventory surveys.

Delegates approved new policy supporting the protection of proprietary data collected from farmers and maintaining that such data should remain their property. Delegates also voted to support efforts to educate farmers regarding the benefits and risks of collaborative data collection systems. They also approved policy stating that farmers should be compensated if companies market their propriety information, and that farmers should have the right to sell their proprietary data to another producer, such as in the case of a land sale. Delegates voted to oppose farmers’ data being held in a clearinghouse or database by any entity subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Delegates also reaffirmed their support for the renewable fuels standard and approved a policy supporting renewable fuels tax incentives for the production of biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol and installation of blender pumps.

At the AFBF Annual Meeting, 357 voting delegates, representing every crop and livestock sector in the United States, deliberated on policies affecting farmers’ and ranchers’ productivity and profitability. The policies approved at the annual meeting will guide the nation’s largest general farm organization throughout 2014.


Grassroots in Action at #AFBF14


As much fun as I’ve had at the rest of the 95th Annual Convention, today is one of the absolute high points for me. If you talk to someone involved in Farm Bureau long enough, you’ll hear something along the lines of “the strength of the organization is in the grassroots,” and today is where we see that in action. The voting delegate session is when all of the policy recommendations that started at the county and state Farm Bureaus around the country are voted either for inclusion or exclusion from the American Farm Bureau policy book. Essentially, today will provide direction to our organization and its leaders when they are discussing agricultural issues.

One of the coolest things about this organization – really, the characteristic that separates it from most groups – is that it says and does exactly what its members tell it to say and do. Every single piece of policy that you’ll hear Farm Bureau advocating started with someone standing up at a county or state Farm Bureau meeting and saying “I propose that…”. Is it always easy? No. Are there disagreements? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, everyone involved respects the process of forming our voice, even when a vote or two doesn’t go the way he or she wanted.

From a personal experience, I submitted policy concerning farm data use at the Hamilton County Farm Bureau annual meeting, then spoke in support of it at the Nebraska Farm Bureau annual meeting, helped craft the wording in the American Farm Bureau resolutions committee meeting, then spoke in support of it at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention. The policy we passed today sounded different than the few lines I cobbled together back in September, being greatly strengthened by the voices and expertise of other Farm Bureau members and staff.

Watching the grassroots work is what gives us all the motivation to keep working for the betterment of agriculture. I couldn’t be more proud to help shape the voice of America’s farmers and ranchers.

zjhunn is Zach Hunnicutt, a Nebraska farmer and chair of the national AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. He farms with his dad and brother, growing field corn and soybeans for livestock, and popcorn for people. Find him on Facebook and Twitter (@zjhunn).


A Farmer’s Take on Rural Entrepreneurship

Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur? Well, I farm so I guess so. I knew this wasn’t the answer that the interviewer was looking for when he videotaped me earlier today. In truth I am an entrepreneur. My wife and I started a direct beef and lamb sale several years ago. We looked at it as a way of adding value to our livestock.

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the Georgetown University McDounough School of Business Global Social Enterprise initiative have announced a partnership to help strengthen rural America. To kick this effort off a series of interviews were conducted during annual convention and I was lucky enough to be one of those interviews.

Rural entrepreneurship is something I have spent most of my professional career working on. I started as an Extension agent in Western Kansas and part of my duties included community development. Currently I am the executive director of the Kansas Rural Communities Foundation and part of our focus is helping small, rural communities in Kansas find opportunities for growth. That opportunity many times goes back to developing entrepreneurs. Attracting businesses to our rural communities is a nice thought, but developing those businesses from within is a better long-term solution.

In my own situation, our farm is faced with increasing competition for land and that means the odds of expansion in the traditional sense of expanding our acreage is not a reality. We need to increase our income and that means jumping full-bore into the deep end of entrepreneurship. My interview made me realize that I had an idea but not a solid plan. I, like many entrepreneurs need that help and Farm Bureau and Georgetown University are providing that help.

This post is a to-be-continued type of episode much like the last program of the season for your favorite TV show. The information gleaned from the interviews over the past two days will be formulated to help develop the initial components coming over the next few years. In other words, stay tuned.

gbrunkow2014 is Glenn Brunkow, a fifth-generation farmer/rancher raising cattle, sheep and crops in Kansas. He is also a columnist, blogger and ag advocate. Glenn will represent Kansas Farm Bureau at the delegation session in San Antonio. He previously served on the national AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee and is a graduate of the Partners in Agricultural Leadership (PAL) program. Dust on the Dashboard is his blog, Find him on Twitter: @brunkow.

Testing the Patience of Mother

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said that his mother always told him to be patient at today’s general session. However, even he concedes that she would have to redefine her definition of patience when it comes to the 2013 Congress. Secretary Vilsack said that the impasse involving the farm bill would start to affect more than just producers if a new bill was not passed.Consumers would start to see drastically higher prices and critical shortages of food if the historic farm bill was allowed return. We are fortunate to be in a country where we can raise enough food within our borders and we spend less of our income on that food than just about anywhere else in the world.

He stated that over 50 percent of the land mass of the United States was either involved in farming, ranching or forestry. He also stressed the need for all sectors of agriculture to be united. There is a place for everyone whether they are organic, supply locally raised fresh foods or utilize GMO technology to provide food for the growing world population and their need for nutrition. We are all in this together.

gbrunkow2014 is Glenn Brunkow, a fifth-generation farmer/rancher raising cattle, sheep and crops in Kansas. He is also a columnist, blogger and ag advocate. Glenn will represent Kansas Farm Bureau at the delegation session in San Antonio. He previously served on the national AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee and is a graduate of the Partners in Agricultural Leadership (PAL) program. Dust on the Dashboard is his blog, Find him on Twitter: @brunkow.