Sowing the Seeds of Policy for 2019

Zippy Duvall
AFBF President

We are coming up on an exciting time for Farm Bureau when you gather as members to begin the policy development process with your local county Farm Bureau. This is a tradition many of you have been carrying on for a century now, and we can all be proud of our active grassroots heritage. Our strength comes from our grassroots at Farm Bureau, and this process is living proof. You know better than anyone the impact that policies and regulations coming out of your state capitals and our nation’s capital have on your individual farm and ranch. This is your opportunity to bring those issues to the table, so we can all speak with one voice to protect our businesses and way of life. You set the direction for Farm Bureau as you each step outside your fencerows to make a difference for agriculture.

Every time I meet with lawmakers and officials here in D.C., I am proud that I can say our Farm Bureau policies come directly from their farmer and rancher constituents back home. Together we shape policies that affect not just our farms today but future farms for generations to come. And we have not shied away from the tough or complex issues either. When big data became a major concern on farm and ranch land, threatening our privacy and placing our valuable farm data at risk, our grassroots members stepped forward to begin developing policy to tackle the issue. Since then, we have established broad coalitions and worked with leading agriculture companies to develop privacy guidelines that make it clear just how, when and where your information is stored and used. 

 Every time I meet with lawmakers and officials here in D.C., I am proud that I can say our Farm Bureau policies come directly from their farmer and rancher constituents back home. 

Technology is changing the landscape of agriculture, and farmers continue to be on the cutting edge. Your involvement and adoption of new technology like drones has given us the opportunity to work with agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration to be sure you can bring the latest innovation to increase the efficiency of your farm. But our policy directive to shape that work began at a county Farm Bureau meeting.

We are eager to hear what you all bring forward for the coming year. Questions are swirling around Washington on how to address innovative technology like lab-grown meat. I expect it’s a topic that has come up around your local feed stores as well. While we need to keep exploring innovative ways to feed a booming population, we must also be on the alert to protect our ability to bring healthy, farm-raised meat to consumers’ tables. This is something we need to talk about soon, especially as government agencies plan their next steps.

This is also a time for you to tackle the challenges you’re facing on your farm with the down economy and ongoing trade disruptions. Farm Bureau has been a longtime advocate for trade, and we continue to meet with Congress and Administration officials to urge a swift resolution to the trade war, as well as the opening of new markets for agriculture. Farm Bureau is committed to protecting your status as a leader in the global marketplace. As you meet in the coming weeks and share with one another how the trade war is hitting your farms, we are counting on you to share with your county and state leaders what you need to keep your businesses moving forward. Finding a solution for our nation’s trade challenges will be difficult, and getting new and improved trade deals could take a long time. As we move forward with our policy development, we need clear and current policy on trade and aid, policy that addresses the crisis at hand and the long battle ahead. At the national level, we will keep taking those messages and stories to Congress and the Administration, and we won’t ease up until the trade uncertainty is resolved. Together we can ensure agriculture remains a top priority in trade negotiations.

Finally, I want to thank you for taking the time to come together to discuss these tough issues and help strengthen our farming and ranching communities. Time is always precious, and even more so on our nation’s farms and ranches. But I trust that the time you spend planting these policy seeds will yield a fruitful harvest for all of U.S. agriculture for years to come.

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