Tuesday, December 20, 2016

AFBF President's OP-ED

Farmers United in Our Resolve for Reform in 2017

By Zippy Duvall
President, American Farm Bureau
Washington--As I look back on 2016, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside you and serve as your American Farm Bureau president. I am proud of the work our nation’s farmers and ranchers do, day in and day out. I am equally proud of how our state and national Farm Bureau staff work just as tirelessly to ensure farmers and ranchers can continue to feed and fuel our country and the world for generations to come.

When I addressed you for the first time as your American Farm Bureau president in Orlando last January, I committed to working with you all to solve the problems facing agriculture—and that’s just what we’re doing.

This year, I’ve had the privilege of visiting 33 states—and counting—across our great country to meet with Farm Bureau members face-to-face. Each region, every state and all types of agriculture have unique challenges. I have been heartened by one common thread; a reminder of just how critical the reforms Farm Bureau is fighting for are to rural families and farm businesses.

Looking ahead to 2017, we see a clear need for regulatory and tax reform that frees farmers and ranchers to keep their businesses running and gives them flexibility to invest in their local economies. We need to put a stop to regulatory overreach that threatens to put a choke hold on farmers. We need greater access to markets around the world and a stable, legal workforce to ensure we continue leading the world in agricultural production. But none of these reforms will happen if we don’t unite around the table and speak up. 

As I’ve traveled our great country, I’ve been reminded time and again of how much we can accomplish when we learn from our differences and work together. America’s farmers and ranchers aren’t defined by our struggles. We’re defined by what we do best: we lead and feed and fuel the world.

We didn’t take up the work of farming and ranching because we expected it to be easy. While agriculture is our business, it is also our calling.  We are called to take up this work out of love for our family and our neighbors. It’s a mission we take seriously because we believe we’ve been given a unique task to care for the land and animals entrusted to us by our Creator. We have a responsibility to consumers as we grow the highest quality food, fiber and fuel while protecting our precious natural resources. We must continue to earn consumer trust as we strive for continuous improvement in everything we do.

The great story of American agriculture is one of hard work, ingenuity and passion, and it’s a story best told by the folks who live it. Farmers and ranchers made their voices heard in 2016, but we need to keep telling our stories if we want to be at the heart of shaping the policies that will impact our businesses and way of life. The close of one year ushers in new goals for the next, and I am confident that working together through Farm Bureau offers us that common platform for progress. During this new year, I will continue to learn about your challenges and your triumphs, and like 2016, I look forward to hearing many of your stories face-to-face.

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