Your Illinois guide to AFBF's national convention

Thousands of farmers from across the country — including more than 300 from Illinois — will virtually gather together starting Sunday for American Farm Bureau Federation’s 102nd annual convention.

The event, themed Stronger Together, will focus on advances in agriculture and how farmers addressed the challenges of COVID-19 and the shifts in markets, while also giving back. The convention runs Sunday-Thursday.

“Even in a difficult year, we find ways to unite and focus on the issues that we’re facing and find solutions to it,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Whether it be through policy or whether it just be through working with federal departments to find an answer to that question. And Stronger Together means that even through technology, we can meet face-to-face, and talk about those issues and find those solutions.”

Here are some Illinois-specific events to watch:

  • Young Farmers & Ranchers Discussion Meet: Alex Mahrenholz of Lawrence County will represent Illinois during the national Discussion Meet. Competition began Sunday afternoon. Learn more about Mahrenholz here.
  • Excellence in Agriculture: Joe Goodman of Xenia will represent Illinois in the Excellence in Agriculture contest. Goodman is an AgriEdge specialist for Syngenta. He will present before a panel of judges at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday.
  • Achievement Award: Correy and Kellie Rahn of Chadwick will compete in the national Achievement Award competition. The Rahns farm in Carroll County, raising corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa, along with having a cow/calf and feeder cattle operation and hay business. The Rahns did not advance to the Top 10.
  • Counties of Excellence: Two Illinois County Farm Bureaus are among 12 in the nation selected as winners in the AFBF County Activities of Excellence program. Kane and Woodford counties will have their winning programs featured during a virtual ag showcase.
  • Farm Dog of the Year: We’re rooting for Rayne, a 6-year-old border collie owned by Farm Bureau members Julie and Terry Willis of Belvidere. Winners will be announced Monday night.
  • Workshops: IFB’s Lauren Lurkins will serve on a panel with Brent Bible, owner of Stillwater Farms, to discuss agriculture ecosystem credit markets. The panel discussion was pre-recorded and available on-demand at any time.
  • Delegate session: AFBF delegates will debate and adopt national farm policy Thursday. Illinois will have 20 delegates and six alternates.
  • Notable speeches: Duvall will deliver his annual address during the opening session Sunday evening. Outgoing USDA Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is scheduled to speak Tuesday evening.

More information is available at AFBF’s convention website. Registration is free. If you haven't registered, do so here.

Can’t watch? Comprehensive coverage will be available through all of our platforms: FarmWeekNow.com, FarmWeek & RFD Radio.

VIDEO: Highlights from AFBF President Zippy Duvall's opening press conference