Iowa Farm Bureau programs and members receive awards and recognition at 105th American Farm Bureau Annual Convention
Farm Bureau members from all 50 states and Puerto Rico gathered at the 105th American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention this week in Salt Lake City, Utah to set the organization’s national policy direction for 2024 and recognize and celebrate the achievements of state Farm Bureaus. Several Iowa policies were adopted, including measures to prevent the harmful consequences of California’s Proposition 12 and similar initiatives, maintaining a strong crop insurance program and adding policy to recommend Congress investigate fertilizer supply chain outages and tariffs placed on imports.
During the convention’s closing general session, longtime Iowa Farm Bureau leader, Craig Hill, was presented with the AFBF Founders Award, recognizing more than three decades of leadership, including a 10-year stint as IFBF president. During Hill’s 32 years of leadership on the IFBF board of directors, he visited 23 countries on trade and diplomacy missions. During his tenure, Hill carried Farm Bureau members’ voices and stories into conversations with trade officials, lawmakers and the media as he shared the impact of policies on family farms.
“This is a remarkable honor because I know how much so many have given to move this organization forward,” Hill said. “I’m humbled to be included in that category.”
AFBF President Zippy Duvall announced a landmark alliance offering free, anonymous, online mental health and wellbeing services to provide a nationwide network of confidential and on-demand support to farmers who understand the challenges and rewards working in agriculture. Farm Family Wellness Alliance was launched in 2020 in the aftermath of the derecho storm, with Iowa Farm Bureau as an early partner in their pilot program. In August 2021, services expanded to Illinois, and now services will be available to farm families nationwide in 2024.
Farm Family Wellness Alliance brings together the best resources to build farm family wellness. Access to services starts at Togetherall, a safe, clinically moderated peer-to-peer community, where members around the world are there to listen, support and give members’ mental wellbeing a boost. Through an anonymous profile, users can access a global network of peers, backed by the safeguarding of licensed clinicians overseeing the community around-the-clock. Access to the platform is available to members of a farm family aged 16 and older.
During the general session of the convention, AFBF recognized Iowa Farm Bureau with several Awards of Excellence. IFBF was celebrated for outstanding achievement in all four program areas: Advocacy, Coalitions and Partnerships, Engagement and Outreach and Leadership and Business Development.
Iowa entrepreneurs continued a strong track record of success in AFBF’s Ag Innovation Challenge on the tradeshow floor. Appanoose Manufactured Products, an innovator in firefighting technology, was recognized as a Final Four contestant. Mark Mendick, owner and founder of Appanoose Manufactured Products, competed in a live pitch off with the other semifinalists, sharing his company’s vision and future market opportunities for fire suppression equipment for farmers and rural residents. Mendick’s designs focus on ultra high pressure (UHP) systems that can quickly extinguish a fire using a limited water supply, which has proven extremely valuable for farmers experiencing equipment fires.
Mendick received $10,000 in prize money for being named one of 10 finalists, and he earned an additional $5,000 for advancing to the Final Four in the challenge. To learn more about the contest or apply for the 2025 Ag Innovation Challenge, visit fb.org/challenge.
“From setting policy that advances agriculture to recognizing programs that deliver value to our membership, Iowa Farm Bureau members have much to be proud of this week,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Brent Johnson. “Innovation and opportunities were on display throughout the AFBF Annual Convention, and we’re all proud of Iowa’s success from serving members through valuable programming and effective policy.”
Along with Johnson, Iowa’s other voting delegates to the 2024 AFBF policy session were: IFBF Vice President Brian Feldpausch of Grundy County; District 1 director Randy Brincks of Winneshiek County; Jeff Pape of Dubuque County; Meghan Leibold of Buchanan County; Dave Bolin of Butler County; Gary Rees of Louisa County; Dan Hanrahan of Madison County and Kevin Schechinger of East Pottawattamie County.
Members attended workshops covering topics, including insights into helping farmers and ranchers cope with stress and anxiety, ways to engage Generation Z, also known as “the change makers,” and outlook for a long-term farm bill and other legal updates.
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