NEW ORLEANS – This week farmers and ranchers from across the nation are gathered in New Orleans, LA for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 100th Annual Convention.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation website, the association was, “organized on November 12, 1919, in Chicago, Illinois, by Farm Bureau leaders from 34 states. A declaration at the beginning of the convention said, “This country needs the sound, conservative common-sense of the farmers expressed in a collective and organized way.”
The newly-minted farm organization gave farmers and ranchers a voice and a seat at the table with the powerful economic interests of the day—business, manufacturing, railroads and labor. American Farm Bureau is the national advocate for farm and ranch families through good times and bad in the belief that more prosperous agriculture contributes to the well-being of all Americans.”
At the beginning of the 20th Century, American Agriculture was experiencing hard economic times. From those hard times, came the American Farm Bureau Federation and states affiliates.
Georgia Farmer, Zippy Duvall serves as the AFBF President. During the opening general session of the convention, Duvall described the circumstances that led to the creation of the national organization.
“Farmers were grasping, trying to find a way to make a living with transportation issues and trade problems,” said Duvall. “The rest of the world had tariffs on our agriculture products. Farmers were struggling to try to find an answer and do things the right way. Through the extension service and other means, all the farmers across the nation started uniting. They looked at what they were accomplishing in their communities with local Farm Bureaus on state and county issues. They realized they had to do this on the national level. They created what we now know as the American Farm Bureau. Because they needed one united voice.”
Over the last century, Farm Bureau has been a voice for agriculture, while also advancing the prosperity of rural communities during good and bad times. Montana Farm Bureau member, rancher Casey Mott of Big Horn County, says it is vital that farmers and ranchers tell their story to the public and elected officials.
“We have to have our voice heard, and it’s through Farm Bureau we can do that,” said Mott. “To get our word out about what we do and what our concerns are.”
Montana Farm Bureau President Hans McPherson knows it has not been easy for American agriculture over the past few years and that fare agriculture trade is essential for prosperity. He is hopeful that current trade tensions won’t hurt American producers.
“The ag economy has not been great,” said McPherson. “It’s been a tough year for agriculture all around. There is a lot of enthusiasm, excitement, and anticipation of better things to come.”
As to President Donald Trumps trade renegotiation efforts, McPherson is cautiously optimistic.
“We are hoping for no net loss on our crops,” said McPherson. “So far in these trade renegotiations, we have made gains. We have not lost anything. We expect these negotiations, and we understand we must have the deals fair and balanced. It’s painful to go through it. Agriculture is always the tip of the spear. That is exactly what we are experiencing.”
President Donald Trump is expected to address trade issue concerns and other issues that impact American agriculture when he addresses the 100th AFBF Convention on Monday afternoon.
Reporting by Lane Nordlund for Montana Ag Network