It is a great honor to be given the opportunity to serve the members of the Arizona Farm Bureau at the close of its first century - Happy Anniversary!
As we reflect and celebrate 100 years of giving a voice to Arizona’s farmers and ranchers, we must acknowledge our most recent history. A period of nationalism has brought much-needed regulatory relief, but also tightened our labor supplies and disrupted global trade. A virtually invisible enemy, the Coronavirus (COVID-19), created a global pandemic that intensified market instability and resulted in consumer panic, sending the food supply chain into a tailspin. As millions of people in this country obeyed stay-at-home orders, those in agriculture were considered essential and did not miss a day in the field or on the range.
In this collection of Arizona’s agriculture history for the last one hundred years, it is evident that farmers and ranchers are a steady force in both times of stability and crisis. Through their determination, innovation and grit, farmers and ranchers have played a critical role in Arizona’s history by securing sustainable and reliable water for all Arizonans and leading the way for early infrastructure improvements and economic development. Today we are a diverse industry that continues to provide a local source of plentiful, affordable and nutritious food for Arizonans while engaging in a global market. Sustainable agriculture is a matter of national security and depends on a sensible regulatory system, reasonable access to water, fair taxation, diversified markets, reliable labor, freedom to innovate, property rights and an informed public.
Arizona Farm Bureau speaks through a very deliberate and transparent policy development process which often begins in the living room of a farmer or rancher. Every member from our small, farm to plate organic growers to those larger more traditional commercial producers, have an opportunity to bring forward issues of importance for the membership to debate. That is our strength and what has made us effective over the last 100 years. We are a trustworthy source and reflect the pulse of the industry.
As we give consideration to our past, we prepare for the future. The nature of social media will continue to challenge our ability to inform the consumer but also give us a megaphone not seen in our past. Innovations will face detractors, but give us an opportunity to tell our story. Disruptive technology and products will cause us to adapt and pivot while improving our efficiencies. And population growth will tax our water supplies, but lead to greater innovations in conservation and diversification. Not since The Great Depression, have people given so much thought to the food supply. It is certain that consumers, producers and policymakers will have a different perspective about our food system for some time into the future. We are dynamic and in the quintessential spirit of agriculture, there is no problem which we cannot solve!
We live and work by the cycle of the seasons in a loop of prepare, plant, steward and harvest. We have good years and bad. While we are subject to both factors within and out of our control we know, “Agriculture is essential to Arizona’s prosperity and Arizona Farm Bureau is the Voice of Agriculture. We empower members through grassroots advocacy, communication, and education.” and will continue this work for the next 100 years.