While the Arizona Farm Bureau set its policy priorities last November, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) just set its priorities at the 105th Convention yesterday in Utah to guide the organization’s work in 2024. Farmer and rancher delegates across the United States covered key topics ranging from artificial intelligence to labor, to crop insurance.

Arizona’s range of key topics is similar but also covers water, state and federal lands and a few more specific to Arizona. The work of the Farm Bureau at the state and national level reflects a collaborative and strong grassroots effort driven by our member leaders.

For the second year, delegates to the AFBF Annual Meeting were polled at the beginning of the voting session regarding their farms. The results show 99% of those who cast votes operate family farms and nearly two-thirds represent small to mid-size farms as defined by USDA.

“Today, delegates demonstrated their readiness to seize the opportunities and take on the challenges facing agriculture,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “It’s crucial that Congress pass a new farm bill and address the labor shortage in 2024. The policy set forth by Farm Bureaus in all 50 states and Puerto Rico will guide AFBF in its efforts through the process. We look forward to making our members’ unified voice heard as they work to ensure a strong food supply for America’s families.”

Today, delegates to the American Farm Bureau business meeting voted to create a new policy to address the growth of artificial intelligence in agriculture. AI has the potential to enhance farming practices and conserve resources, but privacy rights must be respected.

Recognizing the challenges of maintaining a strong agriculture workforce, delegates voted to stabilize wage rates for guest workers and revise H-2A and H-2B programs to better meet the needs of America’s farms.

They reaffirmed their support for increasing reference prices in the farm bill and maintaining a strong crop insurance program, including an expansion of eligibility to ensure more commodities are covered. 

On foreign investment, delegates added policy in support of additional funding to improve data collection on the foreign ownership of agricultural land. Delegates also voted to support the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. reviewing foreign investments in U.S. agribusinesses, natural resources and real estate.

Delegates called for changes to the contract poultry pay system to ensure long-term economic sustainability for farmers, and to require more transparency from chicken companies.

On trade, delegates added policy to recommend Congress investigate fertilizer supply chain outages and tariffs placed on imports.

Beyond policy changes, AFBF President Zippy Duvall and Vice President Scott VanderWal were unanimously re-elected for another two-year term.

Board of Directors

Delegates also elected members to serve on the AFBF board of directors and national program committees.

Brian Duncan, Illinois (Midwest Region); Allen Carter, New Jersey (Northeast Region); and Angela Bailey, Oregon (Western Region) were elected to fill one-year terms on the AFBF board of directors. Garrett Hawkins, Missouri (Midwest Region); Paul Larson, Connecticut (Northeast Region); and Eddie Melton, Kentucky, and Dan Wright, Arkansas (Southern Region) were elected to serve two-year terms.

Eleven other state Farm Bureau presidents were re-elected to two-year terms to represent their regions on the board: Carl Bednarski, Michigan (Midwest Region); Carlyle Currier, Colorado (Western Region); Chris Hoffman, Pennsylvania (Northeast Region); Mark McHargue, Nebraska (Midwest Region); Harry Ott, South Carolina (Southern Region); Jimmy Parnell, Alabama (Southern Region); Wayne Pryor, Virginia (Southern Region); Bryan Searle, Idaho (Western Region); and Jeb Smith, Florida (Southern Region).

National Program Committees

Mindy Orschell of Indiana (Midwest Region) was elected to a two-year term on the Women’s Leadership Committee. Vickie Bryant of Kentucky (Southern Region), Jennifer Cross of Maryland (Northeast Region) and Dotty Jensen of Utah (Western Region) were re-elected to two-year terms.

Alan Clark of Idaho was elected chair of the Promotion & Education Committee; Heidi Cooper of Massachusetts was elected vice chair. Both will serve two-year terms beginning in March.

Kevin Lussier of Florida was elected chair of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, taking over the position in March at the end of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference for a one-year term. Clarissa Cauthorn of Missouri was elected vice chair and Haily Sand of Wisconsin was elected secretary. They will each serve one-year terms.

AFBF appreciates the more than 80 speakers and more than 4,500 registered attendees who helped make the 2024 Convention such a success.

Planning for the American Farm Bureau’s 2025 Convention has already begun. Mark your calendar to meet on Jan. 24-29, 2025, in San Antonio, Texas.