Your American Farm Bureau turns 100 next month, a truly special cause for celebration. All year long we have been celebrating a century of working together for the men and women who grow our food, fiber and energy. This remarkable milestone is a testament to how much stronger we are when we speak with one voice.
A lot has changed in 100 years, but farmers’ and ranchers’ most essential needs and concerns have not. Then and now, we need markets for what we produce, labor to grow and harvest it, infrastructure to transport it, and fair prices to keep our businesses moving forward.
Thankfully, there is a strong, national organization working for those goals. Founded in November 1919, the American Farm Bureau Federation has given all farmers and ranchers a voice in our nation’s capital. Because of the decision 100 years ago to establish the American Farm Bureau Federation, farmers and ranchers are represented when Congress works on a wide range of issues. No matter what they grow or where they grow it, farmers and ranchers come together through Farm Bureau to work for the good of all of agriculture.
On a day-to-day basis, it’s easy to take this organization for granted. It seems as if it always has been here for us farmers and ranchers, and it always will be. But to appreciate something’s true value, you need to imagine how things would be without it. Without Farm Bureau, we would not have federal programs to provide risk management tools to help farmers and ranchers survive volatile ups and downs in the farm economy. Without this great organization, non-farm interests would drown out the voice of farmers and ranchers.
The American Farm Bureau was the first organization to bring groups of grassroots members to Washington, D.C., to influence their members of Congress in favor of farm legislation. Our Farm Bureau forefathers wrote the book on grassroots advocacy and influence, and we’re still proud of our grassroots structure.
We have been standing firm for farmers since day one. In the early days of Farm Bureau, Congress wanted to recess without voting on a farm bill. The American Farm Bureau worked with a “farm bloc” of senators and representatives, however, to stop Congress from recessing until the farm legislation was considered. With that same passion, we continue to band together across Farm Bureau to ensure that Congress, the White House and federal agencies make our farmers and ranchers a priority.
We in Farm Bureau often say that if there wasn’t an American Farm Bureau, we’d have to create one today. Of course, the reality is we do “recreate” Farm Bureau with each new generation of grassroots farm and ranch leaders. Each generation determines where this movement will go next, how engaged they will be and, therefore, how effective and influential Farm Bureau will be. Each generation strengthens Farm Bureau for the next, so that future farmers and ranchers will have a strong, united voice working for them, too.
In an age when it seems that so much is coming and going faster than ever, it is such a blessing to be able to celebrate 100 years as an organization. Much like the farmers and ranchers we represent, we tend to keep our heads down and hands on the plow here at American Farm Bureau, moving forward with the work that needs to get done. I’m so thankful for this opportunity to pause and reflect on our organization’s history and the good work we’ve accomplished together. May God bless us with another fruitful century of Farm Bureau!
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.