The value of farmers working together through their county Farm Bureaus and the state organization has never been more apparent than in today’s unsettled era, Craig Hill, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation president, told members last week at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting in Des Moines.

Iowa farmers today face difficult questions and challenges on a wide range of issues as they close 2019 and prepare for 2020, Hill said. Commodity prices remain stubbornly low, trade with China and other key partners is unsettled, weather remains a wild card and the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to enforce biofuel rules written by Congress, he said. In addition, farmer and rural residents in southwest Iowa are still recovering from disastrous flooding earlier this year, he added.

“While we don’t know the answers to all these questions, one thing is for sure, your organization, the 100-county-strong Iowa Farm Bureau, is committed to Iowa agriculture and the farm families that make this state great,” Hill said. “Iowa Farm Bureau will remain the leading voice to support the near-term and long-term viability of our farm families.

Remaining confident

Hill urged Farm Bureau members to remain confident and to draw upon the Iowa Farm Bureau’s proud legacy as they look to the future.

“Our confidence resides in our abilities to engage and involve the people to make progress and take pride in what we do. And to find a way. Find a way to adapt, overcome and succeed,” Hill said. “That’s what our ancestors did when they settled Iowa, when they overcame difficult growing conditions and worked through economic downturns. They knew, as we know today, that working together makes us so much stronger than working alone.”

Another of Farm Bureau’s strengths is the care that members show year after year, Hill said.

Good examples of that were Farm Bureau members in Mills and Fremont counties, the counties hit hardest by the flooding in early 2019, Hill said. Those members stepped up to help neighbors in need by donating time and resources to the recovery.

“The Farm Bureaus in Mills and Fremont were not alone,” the Farm Bureau president said. “The strength of our people shows through in the continued success of all our county Farm Bureaus. Across Iowa, dedicated county leaders and volunteers give their time and energy to activities that make our policy process top rate, influence elected officials, help teachers and students understand where their food comes from, connect with consumers and a range of other important activities. This year, 97 county Farm Bureaus earned outstanding recognition. We salute these and all our county Farm Bureaus for their engagement.”

As Farm Bureau members rise to address the immediate challenges, they very much remain focused on addressing agriculture’s future, Hill said. A key task, he said, is helping the public understand and appreciate agriculture.

A focus on education

“Today’s farmer produces more from one acre than was produced from seven before, with yields in crops, livestock, vegetables, fiber and fuel all with astounding new efficiencies and shrinking environmental footprint. From 1950, a 270% improvement in overall productivity and more to come if we are allowed to seek continued improvement," Hill said.

In addition, he noted, Americans spend only 5% of their disposable income on food, less than any other country in the world. “Oh, and by the way, with more choices, greater convenience and the highest food safety standards,” he noted.

As the Iowa Farm Bureau proudly moves into its second century, and as members confront today’s many questions, Hill said the organization will continue to build on the foundations laid by the men and women who worked in the past to create today’s vibrant, vital and innovative agriculture.

Grassroots strength

“We will continue our grassroots focus to help agriculture lead a growing and prosperous Iowa, we will continue to innovate and advocate for Iowa farmers and their families, and we will continue to champion our young farmers and all they offer our state’s future,” he said.

“Through the vast changes in agriculture and in our state over 101 years, we remain proud of what we do to feed and fuel the world, protect the environment and create a brighter future for our young people,” Hill said. “We cherish and represent the values Iowans embody: dedication to hard work, passion for the land and character rooted in faith and family.

“People, progress, pride … says it all about Iowa agriculture and your organization, the Iowa Farm Bureau. People who care, progress at work and pride of Iowa.”

Watch President Hill's speech

Click here to watch a recording of President Hill's full annual meeting speech.