Alabama farmers joined others in thanking President Donald Trump for negotiating improved trade deals with China as well as Canada and Mexico during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 101st annual convention in Austin, Texas, Jan. 19.
For the third year in a row, Trump took to the stage at the convention where he was welcomed with a standing ovation and roaring applause from nearly 5,000 members of the nation’s largest farm organization.
“Having President Trump speak directly to our farmers lets us know he really does care about rural America and especially the farmers who feed and clothe not only our nation, but the world,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell, who joined about 100 farmers from the state in attending the convention.
Trump said approval of the phase-one trade agreement with China as well as the U.S. Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) fulfilled a promise he made to farmers early in his administration.
“My administration is fighting for the American farmer, and we’ve been fighting for the farmer every single day,” Trump said. “If we want to stand up for America, we must stand up for American farmers. We are winning for our farmers, and we are winning like never before.”
Trump’s successful trade negotiations were only part of the good news he shared with farmers. He also discussed removal of overreaching regulations carried out through orders of the Obama administration.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue reiterated Trump’s support of American farmers.
“We all know that farming is tough, but our president is tough, too,” Perdue said. “You stood with President Trump, and he stood with you. You had his back, and he had yours.”
Baldwin County farmer Mark Kaiser, who serves as a district director on the Federation’s state board, said hearing the president was an honor and was inspiring. This was Kaiser’s first AFBF convention, and he said the meeting allowed farmers to see what’s happening in agriculture across the nation and globally.
“I was very impressed with all of it, especially the comments from the president,” said Kaiser, who grows peanuts, cattle, hay and cotton. “It finally seems like someone is listening to us. I’m excited.”
During the meeting, Alabama won Awards of Excellence in all four AFBF program areas, including Advocacy, Engagement and Outreach, Leadership and Business Development, and Membership Value.
Alabama’s Young Farmers were well represented by state contest winners in the national AFBF contests at the convention. Lee County’s Ellie Watson was a Sweet 16 finalist in the Discussion Meet. Hale County’s Luke Smelley competed in the Achievement Award, and Kim and Daniel Mullenix of Lee County were in the Excellence In Agriculture contest.
Sue, a blue heeler mixed-bred dog owned by Kim and Phil Slay of Chambers County, was runner-up in the Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest highlighted at the meeting. Sue also won the People’s Choice Pup Award in a social media contest with online voting as part of the overall competition. Sue won bragging rights, a $50 gift card and Purina products, along with $1,000 for being a finalist.
Held Jan. 17-21, the convention included a trade show, workshops, farm tours, policy development meetings and elections.
Delegates re-elected American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and Vice President Scott VanderWal for their third terms.
Parnell also was reelected to the AFBF board of directors.
VanderWal served as chair of the meeting on behalf of Duvall, whose wife, Bonnie, passed away shortly before the convention.