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.



January 2013 drive across the corn belt.

cropped-2013_blog_headerThe 2013 American Farm Bureau meeting in Nashville allowed me to make a drive across the corn belt from my home in southwestern Minnesota.  Of interest to me, as to most farmers were the conditions along the way, specifically water conditions.de43f58f66faba7a30340d6b664284a0-1

In our area we are still in the grips of a drought.  We have had very little moisture since June of 2012.  Although our surface soil has some moisture, our subsoil is dry.  This is really evident in our rivers, creeks and lakes.  The Des Moines River, which is only a few miles from my home, is a mere trickle in its bed, creeks are mostly dry and lake levels are low.  It was these items that I looked for as I drove to and from Nashville.

When we left home on January 10 the conditions were looking up.  We have had several inches of snow, dry snow, but snow, over the last few months, and there was rain in the air.  The hoped for rain only amounted to 4 hundredths of an inch, not enough to make a difference and snow has also been absent this month.  As we drove south across Iowa, the story was the same.  Little snow, low lakes and rivers.

Conditions improved a bit as we crossed the northeastern corner of Missouri.  There was evidence of a bit of rain, and the rivers seemed to be running a bit better than further north.  As we moved southeast the evidence of rain increased and there were even some places in Kentucky and Tennessee where water was standing in the fields.  Rivers in these areas were running bank full, a fact which bodes well for the early part of the cropping season for them.  It has also helped out barge traffic on the lower part of the Mississippi.

We arrived in Nashville to some really nice weather, temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s and sunshine.  After those first two days the weather changed.  Our last days in Nashville were cold and rainy.  Mornings were icy, and temperatures rarely got over the mid 30’s, not good sight-seeing weather.  During our stay they received about six inches of rain.

The entire Ohio river valley has been getting a good soaking this winter, but folks further north are not quite so fortunate.  I would say that unless conditions change soon Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas are in for another dry year.  This will not be good news for those who want to buy corn and soybeans in the coming months.

End users of the crops raised in the corn belt need rain to reduce the price of corn and soybeans.  We are bleeding demand with each month that the prices stay high.  The coming months are going to be very interesting for all of us in the midwest and plains states.

Michael



American Farm Bureau in Nashville

cropped-2013_blog_headerWe made the trip to Nashville for this years Annual Meeting.  Since my sister lives just south of the city it was a dual event.  Our weather started out really nice, and then went cold and rainy.  Wish we could have brought some of that rain home.

Essential things for the AFBF Meetng

Essential things for the AFBF Meeting

Site of the meeting was the Opryland Hotel.  It’s a huge place with 2881 rooms and 15 restaurants on 6 floors.  Because of continued expansion and no understandable structural layout the hotel is bit confusing.  Each hotel area has a central garden area that is really stunning, with each different in many ways.  The attached convention area was also a bit confusing so keeping a map within reach was really helpful if you were going someplace new.  They said we had almost every room in the place booked for Farm Bureau members.

Sunday morning started out for us with a Minnesota breakfast at 7:30 gathering.  It was a place to get to see most of the folks who made the trip from Minnesota.  It was also a chance for President Paap and his staff to give us our tasks for the event.  Since I’m not known to be shy, I was assigned 4 radio stations to call back in Minnesota at specific times.

After breakfast we gathered for the opening session.  Along with many awards and introductions of important people we all needed to know, we had an address from AFBF President Bob Stallman.  Bob talked about the challenges and triumphs of the past year.  Included in those challenges was the lack of a Farm Bill in the U.S. congress.  This lack of a farm bill leaves a lot of uncertainty for all involved in agriculture.  He also addressed some disturbing government regulations that we were able to stop.  These included a regulation that would have prevented farm folks from employing their children on the farm, and threatened regulations on a small chicken producer that would have forced them to get a pollution discharge permit when nothing was being discharged.

We also got to spend some time at the trade show where they had displays from each state showing what they were doing to promote agriculture, as well as displays from several agricultural companies.  We had our choice of seminars put on by companies and the Farm Bureau.  I got to meet some old friends and make some new ones along the way.  The evening was free to spend as we wished.

Fellow bloggers Ryan Goodman and Janice Person

Fellow bloggers Ryan Goodman and Janice Person

Monday included more seminars and demonstrations in both the morning and the afternoon.  At noon I joined other county presidents for a luncheon and a speaker.  Our closing session started at 3 in the afternoon and included more awards and contest winners.  We also heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who spoke of the optimism he has for the future of agriculture.  The real highlight of the day was Keynote Speaker Captain Mark Kelly.  He had a great story to tell.UnknownThat was the end of the sessions for the general public.  Tuesday brought the delegate session and regional caucuses, wednesday was the AFBF Board of Directors meeting, none of which I attended.

With the rainy and cold weather, the rest of our time was mainly spent indoors checking out area attractions including one night spent in a country music bar, we just had to check out Vince Gill andTTJ_LOGO_225group_MainFeature  It was a fun and restful trip, but it is good to be back home.

Michael