A lot has changed this year. Gatherings are much smaller or held outside or online. We have adapted to a new “normal” of spreading out, wearing masks and giving elbow bumps. More of us are staying home. But for all that has changed—for a time that is—there are fundamental things that have not changed. We are still finding ways to celebrate together, and to mourn together. We are still caring for our families and neighbors. We are still farming and ranching. And at American Farm Bureau, we are still working hard to ensure our members have a voice in Washington, D.C.
Even though our staff in Washington are based in their home offices for now, that hasn’t changed their dedication to fighting for each of you back at home on your farms and ranches. Our team misses gathering in person, getting out to visit you, and meeting with you all as you come to Washington. But we haven’t let that distance stand in the way of keeping us connected. I am proud of the creativity and perseverance of our AFBF team as they host remote meetings and trainings and regularly check in with Farm Bureau leaders and staff across the country.
Our team has worked tirelessly with Congress and the administration to ensure your farms have the resources you need throughout this crisis. And we’re not done either. Every farmer and rancher must have access to the opportunities and help that is available to get us to the other side of this crisis. Just this week, USDA answered our call to extend the deadline for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program funds, so that more farmers can access these critical resources. The coronavirus pandemic and its impact have not spared any region or commodity, and we must all do our part to protect our nation’s food supply.
Your American Farm Bureau team is also leading the way when it comes to bringing the latest information and analysis throughout this crisis. AFBF’s Market Intel reports, from Dr. John Newton and his team, set the standard in the agriculture industry for economic analysis. These insights have been a critical resource with industry leaders across Washington to Capitol Hill and USDA—as they assess COVID-19’s impact on markets, jobs numbers, trade and rural infrastructure.
Above all, American Farm Bureau wants to shine the spotlight on you, America’s farmers and ranchers. We are proud to be working for you, and we want consumers to hear your stories. That’s what led us to start the #StillFarming social media campaign this spring, and it’s been a great success thanks to everyone pulling together across the Farm Bureau family to share agriculture’s story. Through #StillFarming, we have reached 89 million people and gotten a positive sentiment rate that is off the charts at 89%. I know it may not always feel like 89% of folks have a positive view of agriculture, but this should encourage all of us to keep sharing our story. There’s a hunger out there for folks to know more about where their food comes from, and there’s a real strength in all of us joining our voices together.
I often like to compare Farm Bureau to a three-legged stool: one leg is your county, another is your state, and the final leg is the national organization. All are equally important and play a critical role in our success. Our team at AFBF is proud to be standing with each of you across this great organization, both to take on our greatest challenges and celebrate our greatest achievements. We all need each other to stand strong and make our voices heard.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.