Stepping Up in 2022
This time of year, my family farm mailbox is bursting full of holiday cards—and I bet yours is too! I love seeing the merry greetings from friends and family, pictures of everyone in their holiday best and highlights from the year. My favorite cards, though, are the ones that come with a good, old fashioned Christmas letter, recounting the year. Today, I’d like to bring you a Farm Bureau Christmas letter to share some of the great things our Farm Bureau family has been up to this year.
Our grassroots advocates were busy in 2022! You all stepped up to calls for action on key issues in record-breaking numbers. AFBF Action Alerts garnered nearly 38,000 engagements over the past 12 months—from comments to federal agencies to emails to lawmakers. That breaks down to an average of more than 100 contacts per day every day of the year. Wow.
We kicked off the year strong with grassroots comments to EPA on the Waters of the U.S. rule and carried that momentum. The Securities and Exchange Commission chair heard from farmers and ranchers, probably more than ever before, as we spoke up on their climate rule proposal that would impact the whole supply chain. When the railroads were on the verge of a strike, you sent thousands of emails to Congress to help ensure these critical lines remained open which kept essential agricultural goods moving from the farm to consumers. Together, we made a difference not only to keep agriculture strong this year, but to ensure its vibrancy in years to come.
Advocacy with our urban and suburban neighbors is critically important, too, and as of the end of this year, 4,333 of you have undergone 9,031 hours of training to become better advocates for agriculture and leaders in your communities, whether in Farm Bureau or the local PTA. Not to mention the thousands registered for online learning with FB University and those who take their advocacy engagement to the next level through programs like PAL (Partners in Advocacy Leadership) and the GO (Grassroots Outreach) Team. And a special congratulations and thank you to our 2022 GO Teamers of the Year! Nancy Caywood from Arizona, April Clayton from Washington and Paula Peterson from Nebraska have exemplified the Farm Bureau advocacy spirit and gone above and beyond with media interviews, engagement with lawmakers and outreach to consumers.
I’m pleased that AFBF’s own engagement efforts were noticed in 2022 as we received the gold award for best video from Association TRENDS, competing against trade associations across the country representing every industry. Winning top honors for the “Sustainability: It’s Just What We Do” video is a tribute to the power of our members’ stories, featuring Tara Vander Dussen from New Mexico, Doug Darling from Michigan and Kamal Bell from North Carolina.
Farm Bureau continues to be a leader in the agriculture community, and this October, we hosted an unprecedented meeting to tackle Federal Milk Marketing Order challenges. Meaningful change here is long overdue, and we took it seriously when Secretary Vilsack called on the entire industry to come together to discuss solutions. We had a great turnout with over 180 farms, cooperatives, processors and other dairy groups represented. After a couple days of long discussions, we found common ground on recommendations to modernize federal milk marketing.
The strength of the Farm Bureau family also shines through in how we come together to strengthen our rural communities through efforts like Farm State of Mind. Topics like mental health and addiction are not easy to talk about, but together, with partners like National Farmers Union, we are making a difference and reducing the stigma. Just this week, our organizations released a new poll that shows more folks are aware and willing to talk about the opioid crisis. Sixty percent say adults in their community are more aware of the crisis than they were five years ago, and nearly eight in 10 rural adults say they feel comfortable having a conversation about opioids. Being willing to talk about it is a critical piece of the puzzle and this is encouraging progress from where we started five years ago.
Finally, our Christmas letter would not be complete without sharing a bit of the great work of our Foundation for Agriculture in 2022. The Foundation’s Feeding Minds Press keeps churning out high-quality children’s books that help young consumers learn about how their food is grown. But don’t take my word for it. They brought home a Good Housekeeping award for “I LOVE Strawberries!” this year! That’s just one example of the work the Foundation is doing to engage learners of all ages and share the innovative world of agriculture with those far from the farm.
I am so proud to be part of this Farm Bureau family, and I could fill pages bragging on you all and the great work you do together. I hope as you reflect on this year, that you are encouraged by what we can do through our united voice and in service to our communities and that you are excited for what’s to come in the new year.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Want more news on this topic? Farm Bureau members may subscribe for a free email news service, featuring the farm and rural topics that interest them most!