American Farm Bureau (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall opened AFBF’s 105th annual convention in Salt Lake City last month by challenging members to envision the next frontier for Farm Bureau.

The Georgia farmer urged Farm Bureau members to consider their role in charting the path forward, highlighting the collective strength that comes from working together.

“As farmers, I believe we all have a little pioneering spirit in us,” said Duvall, who was reelected to his fifth two-year term as AFBF president during the convention. “We’re eager to see what’s next and how we can get there together.

“New frontiers are not just new lands to explore. They are the places where our communities come together in new and creative ways, where innovation drives us toward a brighter future, and where we find solutions to the challenges we face.”

A new farm bill

Chief among those challenges, Duvall said, is securing passage of a new farm bill with a stronger safety net protecting farmers’ livelihoods while ensuring Americans have access to safe and nutritious food. 

Working with a diverse coalition of farm and nutrition groups during the past year, Farm Bureau has reached millions of people across the country with messages explaining why the farm bill matters for all Americans, Duvall said.

At the same time, the organization is working with leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees to develop a modernized farm bill that addresses new challenges that have emerged since the 2018 Farm Bill including the pandemic, rising input costs, extreme weather events and trade disputes.

“I’m asking you to send a resounding message to Congress to deliver a new farm bill for our farms and our country,” said Duvall. 

“The road to a new farm bill has become longer than any of us would have liked, but together we can see it through.”

Other advocacy efforts

A victory last year at the Supreme Court on the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule served as a powerful example of AFBF’s strong leadership in shaping agricultural policies, Duvall added. 

“The highest court in the land agreed with what we’ve been saying all along by unanimously striking down the significant nexus test,” he said. However, Duvall cautioned, there’s more work to be done on the issue.

“The EPA did come out with a new rule, and it technically complies with the court’s decision, but it still doesn’t provide the clarity we’ve been calling for,” he said. “You can bet we’ll keep working to protect you from the threat of penalties for simply farming your land.”

Farm Bureau will also continue to press forward in helping navigate the challenges brought by California’s Proposition 12, which carries implications for disrupting interstate commerce for agriculture and beyond, he said.

Duvall cited other examples of AFBF’s collective advocacy efforts, such as reforming the Federal Milk Marketing Order and advocating against a proposed climate reporting rule, showcasing the strength that comes from working together.

Forging partnerships

He also underscored the importance of agriculture’s role in the climate discussion. 

He highlighted Farm Bureau’s success in advocating for voluntary, incentive-based solutions over government mandates and emphasized the need for farmers to be treated as partners in sustainability initiatives.

In addition, Duvall highlighted the diverse partnerships forged by the American Farm Bureau — including collaborations with culinary schools, food companies like Pepsi, and the formation of the Food and Farm Council — which aim to enhance understanding among farmers and various stakeholders in the food sector.

He concluded by emphasizing the teamwork and unity needed to carry AFBF to the next frontier. 

He challenged members to invite their friends and neighbors to join Farm Bureau in working to improve the future for farmers and ranchers nationwide.  

“We need everyone at the table, working together to reach new frontiers,” he said. “The task is too big for anyone to tackle alone, but together we can reach the summit.”