Delegates from all 50 states and Puerto Rico elected new leaders and approved policies that will help determine the future of agriculture during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 97th Annual Convention Jan. 8-12 in Orlando, Florida.
Feral hogs, governmental reform, farm policy, risk management and international trade were among the most important matters slated for action over the next 12 months.
Delegates elected Zippy Duvall to serve as the new president of AFBF and Scott VanderWal as vice president.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall is a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, and served as president of the Georgia Farm Bureau for nine years. Duvall has held numerous leadership positions in Farm Bureau and his local community. He is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Scott VanderWal is a third-generation family farmer from Volga, South Dakota, and has been president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau since 2004.
Proposed by Oklahoma Farm Bureau, delegates approved new policy that will charge the USDA with creating administrative rules to end the release of feral hogs nationwide. The new policy also supports allowing landowners to eradicate feral hogs on their land by any means possible.
Delegates approved new policies that covered a wide range of agricultural topics. Among other things, they:
- Supported the addition of cottonseed to the list of oilseed crops eligible for farm programs;
- Supported voluntary risk management products for poultry growers that would provide assistance during disease outbreaks; and
- Reaffirmed support for programs that provide emergency assistance for livestock and tree producers not covered by federal crop insurance programs.
Regulatory Review and Reform
Delegates addressed recent malfeasance by establishing a new policy that opposes governmental attempts to sway public opinion regarding rules that are open for public comment, whether by social media or other means.
Delegates reaffirmed support for fair and open world trade that benefits agriculture. In particular, AFBF voted to support the Trans Pacific Partnership, which promises to expand opportunities for U.S. farm goods to some of the fastest-growing markets around the world.
Delegates reaffirmed their support for the use of genetically modified plant varieties and other innovative technologies. Delegates also called for a voluntary and uniform labeling system for products designated as genetically modified organisms. They denounced mandatory labeling of food products containing GMOs at the local, state and federal levels.
Delegates approved new policy related to forfeiture reform that requires that individuals be convicted of a federal crime before their property is seized.
Delegates reaffirmed support for flexibility in the H-2A program that would allow workers to seek employment from more than one farmer. They also called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform to assist in solving the continuing shortage of agricultural workers.
Delegates reaffirmed support for the protection of proprietary data collected from farmers, as well as fair compensation for farmers who choose to sell their data to third parties including other farmers.
The delegates maintained their strong support for biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard. They also called for continued tax incentives to benefit biodiesel and other advanced biofuels.
Six OKFB members represented the state as delegates: Tom Buchanan, OKFB president; Keith Kisling, OKFB district seven director; Phyllis Holcomb, OKFB district nine director; Josh Emerson, OKFB Young Farmers and Ranchers chair; Tyler Norvell, OKFB YF&R committee member; and Mason Bolay, YF&R member and former YF&R chair.