Gauging the Aspirations and Needs of Women in Agriculture

Terry Gilbert, outgoing chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee, is encouraging all women in agriculture to complete the “Women in Ag” survey. The online survey aims to gauge the goals, aspirations, achievements and needs of women in American agriculture in a number of different areas.

All women who are farmers, ranchers, farm/ranch employees, employed in agricultural businesses, pursuing ag-related higher education or supportive of agriculture in other ways are invited to participate in the survey at Respondents must reside in the United States. Farm Bureau membership is not required to participate.

Farm Bureau Elects Grassroots Leaders

Delegates at the 96th American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention elected six state Farm Bureau presidents to the AFBF board of directors: Richard Guebert Jr. of Illinois and Jim Holte of Wisconsin (Midwest Region), Russell Boening of Texas and Mike McCormick of Mississippi (Southern Region), Chuck Fry of Maryland (Northeast Region), and Mike LaPlant of Washington state (Western Region).

Eleven other state Farm Bureau presidents were re-elected to represent their regions on the AFBF board of directors: Midwest Region – Craig Hill of Iowa, Kevin Paap of Minnesota and Don Villwock of Indiana. Southern Region – Ronnie Anderson of Louisiana, Tom Buchanan of Oklahoma, Zippy Duvall of Georgia, Lacy Upchurch of Tennessee and Larry Wooten of North Carolina. Northeast Region – Dean Norton of New York. Western Region – Don Shawcroft of Colorado and Paul Wenger of California.

Jon Hegeman, a greenhouse grower from Alabama, was elected the new chair of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, which also makes him a member of the AFBF board of directors during his one-year term.

Sherry Saylor, a row crop farmer from Arizona, was elected the new chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee, which also makes her a member of the AFBF board of directors during her two-year term; Isabella Chism of Indiana was elected to a two-year term as vice chair. Lorenda Overman of North Carolina and Carol Guthrie of Idaho were elected to two-year terms on the WLC; Deb Walsh of Indiana was elected to fill a one-year term; and Marieta Hauser of Kansas and Debbi Tanner of Connecticut were re-elected to two-year terms.

Farm Bureau members will gather for the 97th AFBF Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show January 10-13, 2016, in Orlando, Florida.


Farm Bureau Delegates Set Public Policy Positions for 2015


Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention today approved resolutions that will provide the organization grassroots authority to ask Congress to finish many measures that remain unsettled at the start of 2015.

“Our delegates are the men and women growing the food and fiber for our nation and much of the rest of the world every day,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “They have made great strides over the last decades in improving their environmental performance, in adopting cutting edge technologies and taking actions to make sure they can pass their farms and ranches on to the next generation.”

According to Stallman, however, these same producers recognize that many of the challenges they face are derived from the federal government’s attempt to overreach in its regulation of land use.

“This is particularly true with respect to improper application of federal water rules,” Stallman said. “Our members also want us to continue our effort to secure a stable and reliable supply of agricultural labor.”

Regarding other policy matters, delegates:

  • Reaffirmed that farmers’ proprietary data remain strictly the property of the farmer or rancher when submitted to third parties for analysis and processing;
  • Agreed that farmers and ranchers must have the right to remove their data permanently from the systems of agricultural technology providers. Members feel especially strongly about this point given the exponential growth of agricultural data systems and the double-digit productivity gains they have generated in just a few short growing seasons;
  • Opposed state efforts to dictate out-of-state, farm-level production practices;
  • Reaffirmed support for producer-led and -approved checkoff programs;
  • Reaffirmed support for country-of-origin labeling provisions consistent with World Trade Organization rules;
  • Called for a state-led, voluntary pollinator stewardship program to address concerns over recent declines in the populations of honey bees and butterflies;
  • Supported the production, processing, commercialization and use of industrial hemp;
  • Called for an end to the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempts to require permits for farmers to repair erosion damage on their property;
  • Opposed the current cap on agricultural labor visas under the H2-B program; and
  • Called for common-sense reform in endangered species protection legislation.

A total of 355 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 convention will guide the nation’s largest general farm organization throughout 2015.


Check out Video, Audio and Photo Coverage of #AFBF15

Extensive video, audio and photo coverage is available for AFBF’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show:

Live streaming:

Streaming Video:

Download Video:

Audio Podcasts:


Available audio and video, both downloads and streaming: 

President Stallman’s Annual Address

Distinguished Service Award Presentation: Don Borgman and Dr. Temple Grandin

State Farm Bureau Membership Awards

President Stallman’s Opening News Conference

Dr. Temple Grandin’s News Conference

Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

Farm Bureau Town Hall

Parade of Flags

YF&R Discussion Meet Final Four

YF&R Awards Presentation

Secretary Vilsack’s News Conference

President Stallman’s Closing News Conference


General Sessions

News Conferences


IDEAg Trade Show (including VIP Event and CAE Awards)

Foundation Events (Golf Classic, Foundation Night Out, Flapjack Fundraiser and Book of the Year Signing)

Women’s Leadership Events (Annual Meeting of the AFB Women and Leadership Luncheon)

YF&R Events (YF&R Achievement Award, Discussion Meet Competitors and Excellence in Ag Competitors, Excellence in Ag Presentations and Discussion Meet, Final Four, Awards Presentation, Winner Photos)

Audio from workshops:

Applications of UAS Technology in Precision Agriculture

FDA regulatory and Issue Update

Livestock Market Outlook

The Farmer’s New Cash Crop: A Way to Monetize Data

Field to Market

Managing Water Availability for the Future

Grain, Growth and Gridlock

Farm Bill Decision Tools: What Farmers Need to Know

When Consumers & Science Collide: Time to Get Real

Food Safety Modernization Act: Preparing for Compliance

Crop Market Outlook

Dedicated, Disciplined and Determined

Improve Nitrogen Applications by Utilizing Technology

Crop Insurance and the Farm Bill

UAVs, Water & Nutrient Management: The Future is Today

Streamlining USDA Acreage Reporting for Producers

Hiring Practices

The Disruptive Force of Social Media on Insurance

Managing Taxes Through the Downturn




ScoutPro of Iowa Honored as Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year

The American Farm Bureau Federation together with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas has announced the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year as part of the first-ever Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The winner was announced at AFBF’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show. Four finalists competed for the award by pitching their business ideas to a team of judges before a live audience.


Michael Koenig

ScoutPro of Lone Tree, Iowa, team lead, Michael Koenig, was named Entrepreneur of the Year from a field of four finalists and received a total of $30,000 in prize money to implement his business idea, which is software to assist farmers with crop maintenance.




Paul Greive

Pasturebird, LLC of Temecula, California, team lead, Paul Greive, won the People’s Choice award in the competition and $10,000 in prize money. Members of the live audience at the challenge finals competition and members of the general public voted online to select the People’s Choice winner. Pasturebird is a cost-effective method of producing pastured poultry on a large scale.

“Rural entrepreneurs continue to be a major driving force in our nation’s economy,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “We congratulate all the finalists and wish them well in their future business endeavors.”

The finalist businesses were chosen from more than 200 applicants. Golden Bridges, Inc. of Palmyra, Missouri, team lead – Suzanne Ellerbrock and Pulaski Grow of Pulaski, Virginia, team lead – Lee Spiegel, were the other two finalists who competed in the final round of the challenge in San Diego.

“The seed money provided to entrepreneurs through the challenge will help them take their businesses to the next level, which can make a huge difference in small rural communities,” said Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative.

The Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is a key component of the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, a joint effort between AFBF and the Georgetown McDonough School of Business. The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative is directly tied to AFBF’s mission of building strong and prosperous agricultural communities. Learn more at

In addition to the prize money awarded at the convention, each of the four national finalists received $15,000 in November for advancing in the competition.

Dr. Ron Leclerc, AgFunder; Amy Gales, CoBank; Mark Rockefeller,; and Dr. Ron Hustedde, University of Kentucky and Kentucky Entrepreneurial Coaches Institute judged the live finals competition. Dave Alwan of Echo Valley Meats, a cattleman and farmer featured on Shark Tank, served as moderator.



An Amazing Day at #AFBF15

By Terry Gilbert

Today has been an amazing day at #15! The day started with a great Flapjack Breakfast with the announcement of the Book of the Year and Jack Hanna and his amazing animals. This was a fun event to help raise money for continuing the efforts of the AFB Foundation.

Flapjack alligatorAt the Leadership Luncheon we were entertained and inspired by Heather Dineen, the 2014 “America’s Farmers” Farm Mom of the Year! A very sweet lady with a great message. Heather was followed by our keynote speaker Leighton Cooley, a Georgia farmer and one of the stars of the documentary film Farmland. His message answered the question “Can I Alone Make a Difference?” Very inspiring and yes, each of us as an individual can make a difference! We just have to do our part!

Flapjack bookVespers at the end of the day led by Amy Gerak and her mom Sherry Saylor was beautiful and inspiring! The perfect end to and amazing day at #AFBF15!




Terry Gilbert is chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee. She and her husband are farmers in Kentucky, where they raise beef cattle and corn. Find her on Twitter (@trg1173) and Facebook (Terry Gilbert).


Pizza: The Universal Language

By Hilary Maricle

AFBF’s new Promotion and Education Committee has hit the ground running! You may have seen us at the IDEAg Trade Show at the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture booth. Did you make a pizza bracelet or take the quiz on chickens? Which kid doesn’t like pizza and thinking about what toppings they’ll put on it. A simple pizza bracelet can help someone understand that to get tomatoes you need farmers.

Committee members worked hard on Friday to start to lay out a plan for the next year and part of that plan is to visit with members from across the country to find out what they’re doing. So, if you’re at convention and we caught up with you at the IDEAg Trade Show on Saturday or Sunday that’s great, but if we haven’t caught up with you yet, please stop us in the hall to say hi.

Hilary 1A few key elements of our plan for the year include communicating to help everyone work together and understand that Farm Bureaus across the country are all stepping up their consumer education focus. Collaboration is key so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel and can help everyone to share ideas for agriculture promotion and education. Lastly, we are going to do our best to provide some inspiration to help recognize and develop amazing projects in ag promotion and education.



Hilary 2We all know that pizza is a universal language that can help us connect to consumers.We’re excited to think about how we will be able to have even more influence on consumers when we start to communicate and collaborate. It doesn’t matter what Farm Bureaus call their promotion and education activities, we want to know about them!


Hilary Maricle is a member of AFBF’s national Promotion & Education Committee and graduate of the Partners in Agricultural Leadership program. She hails from Nebraska, where she is a county commissioner and raises beef cattle, hogs, sheep, corn and soybeans with her family. Her Twitter name is @mariclefarm and she’s also on Facebook (Hilary Esch Maricle).