At American Farm Bureau, we pride ourselves as the unified Voice of Agriculture. And that voice comes directly from our farm and ranch family members. As a grassroots organization, our strength is rooted at the local level. This is where members become family, and together we foster innovation and bring forward policies to strengthen agriculture and our rural communities. The county level is not only critical to our success but where we embrace excellence.

Farmers, and Farm Bureau, value innovation. As the world around us evolves, we know that agriculture must also adapt to meet new challenges and opportunities. The same goes for how we serve our communities. I am proud of how Farm Bureau members are finding new approaches to engage with the public on agriculture, recruit new members and help make our organization more effective.

To honor and celebrate the hard work and creativity of our local Farm Bureaus, AFBF presents the County Activities of Excellence Awards each year to outstanding counties that set the bar for local program development. These awards showcase the incredible abilities and innovations of our grassroots members. The categories for awards cover education and ag promotion, member services, public relations and information, leadership development and policy implementation and safety.

At our 104th annual convention in San Juan, we highlighted 24 exceptional counties from across the country. Each one demonstrated their leadership and commitment to quality programming within their county.

From California, we saw the Modac County Farm Bureau step in to help their community with local forest projects. Through their partnership with the Modac National Forest, they facilitated the placement of temporary skilled workers to help on urgent projects around the forest. This collaboration not only met the critical needs of the forest but also allowed these employees to gain experience and, in some cases, even full-time positions.

In Texas, the Montgomery County Farm Bureau ran a Reindeer Feed Store during Christmas time. Through hands-on activities, both kids and adults learned more about agriculture and where their food comes from. For example, children put together their own bag of reindeer feed, learning about the nutritional value of each ingredient and how it was grown.

In Geauga County, Ohio, the local Farm Bureau hosted an Amish Safety Day. They partnered with local authorities to help educate their large Amish community on a broad range of topics from farm safety and first aid to water quality and fire management.

Not far from Washington in Fredrick County, Maryland, Farm Bureau created a Soil Smart Fun Day. Local members led a one-day tour of four farms to engage with county leaders and elected state representatives to give them an opportunity to see agriculture first-hand. This event gave leaders and lawmakers a chance to get their boots dirty and see the role farmers play in their community and how they are cultivating best practices as they care for their land.

Now, this was just a sampling of our incredible 2023 winners. I wish I could have taken you on a tour of all 24 counties, but you can learn more about these and others, if you check out our FBNews page, where we’re spotlighting each of the 2023 winners.

There is amazing work being done every day across the thousands of county Farm Bureaus. If your county, or one you know of nearby, deserves to be highlighted for their efforts, now is the time to nominate them. The 2024 applications are now open till September 1. Winners will be announced the first week of October and have the chance to display their county activity at our annual convention tradeshow in Salt Lake City, January 20-22. In the meantime, I want to thank our grassroots members for their outstanding efforts. Keep up the good work as we commit together as a Farm Bureau family to make a difference in our communities.