AFBF president to Congress: Slash regulations, reform immigration

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AFBF Bob Stallman
Bob Stallman (second from right) received the American Farm Bureau Federation's Distinguished Service Award. Stallman served as AFBF president for 16 years, stepping down in 2016. (AFBF photo)

PHOENIX — American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall is calling on Congress to reform regulations that burden the lives of farmers.

“The election should send a message — loud and clear — to our politicians: Ignore rural America at your own risk!” Duvall said.

During his annual address Jan. 8 at the AFBF annual meeting in Phoenix, Duvall reminded the 5,000 farmers and ranchers in attendance that a reliable and profitable supply of labor is central to economic sustainability, and called on Congress to pass legislation to assure farm laborers can work without fear of deportation.

“Without a legal supply of labor, too many farmers face lost crops, and they can’t compete on the world market,” Duvall said.

“Mr. Trump says he wants to keep American jobs from going overseas. One way he can do that is by keeping America’s food production in America.”

Top awards

During the annual meeting, the American Farm Bureau Federation presented its highest honors, the Distinguished Service Award to Bob Stallman and the Farm Bureau Founders Award to James Quinn, posthumously.

AFBF established the Distinguished Service Award in 1928 to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving the national interest of American agriculture. The Farm Bureau Founders Award is a new award to recognize exemplary leadership, service or contributions to Farm Bureau by officers or employees of AFBF and state Farm Bureau organizations.

Stallman served as AFBF president for 16 years, stepping down in 2016. A rice and cattle producer from Columbus, Texas, Stallman became president of the Texas Farm Bureau in 1993, and AFBF president in 2000.

Under Stallman’s leadership, the AFBF brand became stronger, and the organization was retooled for the 21st century. He moved AFBF headquarters from Chicago to Washington, D.C., to strengthen Farm Bureau’s voice and policy influence for its members.

Stallman served as the first chair of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, and was appointed by both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations to serve on the advisory committee for the U.S. Trade Representative, and worked with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to address the issues facing rural America.

The secretary called Stallman’s leadership “critically important” in the passage of the farm bill and in helping advance trade opportunities for American agriculture.

Quinn

More than a century ago, James Quinn was elected as the first president of the first Farm Bureau in the country, Broome County, New York, in 1911. A prominent local dairy farmer, Quinn set an important precedent for the Farm Bureau being directed by farmers and for farmers.

“He got it started, and we have so much pride that it happened right here in Broome County,” said Broome County Farm Bureau President Dave Johnson. “I think he must have been a really trusting, respected person from the community because he was willing to accept new ways of farming.”

He worked closely with one of the first county Extension agents in the country, John Barron, who taught Quinn and his neighbors best farming practices for their challenging soil. Quinn led by example, holding the first farm experiments on his land.

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