Minnesota Farmer


American Farm Bureau Federation’s 99th Annual Convention

This past week I was able to attend the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 99th Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show. Part of the reason I go is to participate in educational workshops that help me to expand leadership skills and impact policy discussions. There is the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of leaders in agriculture and witness keynote speakers in the general sessions. I get to explore the IDEAg Trade Show floor to gain a stronger industry network, learn about innovative technologies, and enjoy TED-style talks on the Cultivation Center stage.

An annual meeting gives you the opportunity to interact with others in agriculture and share your stories of the rural life. There were plenty of opportunities to tour the Nashville area and experience things only available in Music City.  I also met up with a few friends from across the country that I only see at a major event like this.

Since the Convention was held in Nashville we were lucky to get Reba McEntire as our Monday keynote speaker, but we also heard from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval plus others.

Sessions I was able to go to included ones on Membership Recruitment, Talking to Consumers, Animal Activism and Religion, Crop Markets, Crop Insurance, Farm Policy, Retirement, and Dicamba.

The last official event of the General Session was an address by President Trump.  It has been 25 years since a president has addressed the AFBF, they are always invited, but few take the time.  Policy development sessions were scheduled for Tuesday, but not being a delegate we did no stay for that.

Next years 100th AFBF meeting is in New Orleans, a place I have yet to visit.  I’m seriously considering making the trip.

 



In the room
January 10, 2018, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Farm, Farm Bureau, Politicians, Politics | Tags: , ,

I’m just back from a trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) meeting in Tennessee.  I like to go every once in a while, especially when it is a city that I have family near.  In this case my sister lives just south of the city.

The main sessions run from Sunday morning until Monday afternoon.  There are tours and contests that run before and during, a trade show and on Tuesday a delegates session.IMG_1408

This years registration included an orange arm band for use on Monday.  That was the only way you could get in to the room for the closing session.  The extra layer was because for the first time in 25 years, a sitting President was going to speak to attendees.

Before we left there was a news release that President Trump would be speaking to the assembly.  Until later Sunday no one was told exactly when.  Then those with the meeting app were sent a change of schedule for the days meetings, including a security page.

Many meeting times were moved up, or moved to different locations, the trade show closed early and security check points were set up.  The ball room was to open at 10:00 for the noon closing session, and the line started forming about 8:00.  By the time we got in line at 9:00 the line went almost all the way across the Opryland hotel complex.

The security was not ready until 10:30 and the line movement didn’t reach us until 30 minutes later.  The first speaker, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue, started on time. Once you cleared security you were ushered to your seat, you went where they told you, no exceptions.  Your group had better clear security together, or you had to sit apart.  We got in at 12:15 and were pleased to get in the door.  We were about 3/4 of the way back and off to the side so the cameras were not in our way.  The auditorium seats about 5000 people, what with about 500 news people, special guests and a congressional delegation, we were quite a crowd.  Extra rooms were ready for a remote feed, but a saw a few empty seats in the back.

Security included toilets and a lunch cart.  Your only choice was hot dogs, and a few different varieties of drinks.  There were no where near the facilities needed for the group.  If you left the secure area you could not be sure you would be let in again.  After the closing session and an interview of Reba McEntire, there was a scheduled 45 minute intermission, which went a bit longer, no one rushes the President.

The speech was not overly long.  He did spend much of it praising the farmers there for their hard work.  He also reminded the delegation that throughout our countries history, farmers have answered the call to build and defend our country.  The President knew the areas of the country that turned out to elect him were mostly rural.  He told us that our forgotten area of the country was not forgotten anymore.

Overall, my opinion of Trump did not change.  He seemed to be on message more than usual, perhaps because he thought he was with a friendly audience.  He got 6 standing ovations, but not all of his usual topics were universally well received.  He did seem to forget where he was later in his speech when he spoke only to the Tennessee delegation, not the whole Federation.

At the end of his speech Trump signed two Executive Orders to promote the increase of the availability of Broadband Internet access in rural areas.  These orders were the product of the Rural Prosperity Task Force which was to deliver it’s findings that day.  The report is available at usda.gov/RuralProsperity

It was interesting to be in the room with a sitting president, to go through the security measures and hype of a presidential speech.  Secretary of Ag. Purdue and AFBF President Duval seem to think he is doing good things for agriculture, we shall see how this all plays out.  I can say I was in the room, and in politics it is better to be sitting at the table in the room, than on the menu.