AFBF president: 'We're going to persevere'

The theme “Stronger Together” could not be more appropriate for the 2021 American Farm Bureau Federation Virtual Convention.

Because while the past year had its own unique set of challenges for everyone, American agriculture worked together to keep pushing forward.

“We truly are a Farm Bureau family,” Zippy Duvall, AFBF president, said during his annual address kicking off the convention Sunday. “We’re more connected than ever, and we’re getting great things done for American farmers and ranchers. We are stronger together.”

This past year, Farm Bureau members from across the nation donated $5.4 million and 1.4 million pounds of food to local food banks, food pantries and pandemic relief programs, plus thousands of volunteer hours.

This was all done despite challenges with acquiring farm workers, keeping employees safe and changes in the markets for milk, vegetables, fruits and meat.

Farm Bureau worked with Congress and the administration to deliver $38 billion to help the nation’s farms survive. Farm Bureau also advocated for other policy changes, including replacing the Waters of the U.S. rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, tax reforms and new trade agreements.

Farm Bureau stands ready to work with the new administration.

“In a few days, we’ll have a new president and a new Congress that will be sworn in,” he said. “Let me assure you, it’s still our time. Farm Bureau has built strong, productive relationship with every administration, every Congress. And we’re already building those relationships again to continue to be the strong national voice of agriculture. But regardless of who is in Washington, Farm Bureau’s impact comes down to our active, engaged, grassroots members. We must work together because we still have much more to do for our American farmers.”

Looking ahead, Duvall sees no shortage of issues to address, including the impact of COVID-19 on the food system and mental stress. Making sure agriculture has a seat at the table for climate discussions is also critical, he said. Other issues, such as taxes, agricultural labor, markets for farm exports, agricultural innovation and broadband, will continue to be tackled.

“These are the issues of our age, our time,” Duvall said. “And as we’ve always done at Farm Bureau, we will lead the way. Has it been a tough year? Darn right it has. But we’re going to persevere just like we always do.”