January 29, 2018
By Marlee Moore
Over 100 Alabama farmers witnessed President Donald J. Trump pledge to rebuild rural America and sign two executive orders supporting rural broadband Jan. 8.
Trump promised to continue fighting for U.S. farmers during the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention in Nashville, Jan. 5-10.
“Farm country is God’s country,” said Trump, earning a standing ovation from more than 4,000 farmers at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. “We know our nation was founded by farmers, our independence was (won) by farmers, our continent was tamed by farmers.... Throughout our history, farmers have always, always, always led the way.”
The president’s speech touched on agriculture hot topics, such as repealing inheritance tax, passing a farm bill on time, reviewing trade agreements and rescinding the Waters of the U.S. rule and other burdensome environmental regulations.
“We are putting an end to the regulatory assault on your way of life,” he said.
Trump is the first sitting president to speak at the annual convention since President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Lawrence County farmer Allen Pickens said he was impressed with the president’s promise to support rural America, like the Mount Hope community where Pickens raises cattle and timber.
“It shows he’s interested in what we do. He’s committed to helping all family farmers make a living,” said Pickens, an alternate voting delegate for Alabama. “This has been an interesting convention because we get perspectives on agriculture different from our area. Talking with these farmers gives me a clearer vision of what they’re going through. They’re like us; they just want to make a living.”
During the closing session, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue reaffirmed his commitment to reorienting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to farmers. He announced the USDA will soon unveil farm bill principles to provide a road map for policy development.
“Your voice is powerful,” said Perdue, who encouraged farmers to share burdensome regulations by visiting usda.gov/ruralprosperity. “We must reach beyond our own operations to influence public opinion.”
The Alabama Farmers Federation won AFBF’s New Horizon Award among large-member states for the Alfa Cares program. The state also brought home Awards of Excellence in all program areas — advocacy; engagement and outreach; leadership and business development; and membership value. Alabama received an Apex Award for contributions to the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.
Alabama’s 19 voting delegates joined 334 farmers from across America to consider policy changes and elect leaders during the business meeting. A $1 AFBF dues increase passed.
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell was re-elected to the AFBF board of directors. Zippy Duvall of Georgia was re-elected president, and Scott VanderWal of South Dakota was re-elected vice president.
Other events included Women’s Leadership caucuses, Young Farmers contests, the IDEAg Trade Show, workshops and Foundation Night Out at the Grand Ole Opry featuring Wynonna. Country music legend Reba McEntire identified with members as she shared her farm background during an interview with Duvall and wife Bonnie.
Alabama’s Young Farmers competitors were Eric and Carrly Lovvorn of Cleburne County, Achievement Award; Andrew Brock of Marshall County, Excellence in Agriculture; and Ethan Mobley of Franklin County, Discussion Meet.
In January 2019, AFBF will hold its convention and centennial celebration in New Orleans.