While most of Oregon was mired in ice and snow last week, 25 Farm Bureau members were in the sunny-and-60s environs of Phoenix, AZ, attending the 2017 American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention, Jan. 6-10, with about 6,000 fellow farmers and ranchers from around the country.
OFB Board members, Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) reps, Women’s Advisory Council members, OFB staff, and other dedicated volunteer leaders were there to hear the latest on pressing ag issues from the experts; enjoy fellowship, tours, and entertainment; and do the important grassroots policy work that guides Farm Bureau at the national level. Also to hear keynote speakers Peyton and Archie Manning talk about the parallels between farming and football.
During the convention opening session, OFB President Barry Bushue was honored with a “best of the best” President’s Award for OFB’s outstanding work in state policy development and implementation.
“This is exciting,” said Bushue. “The OFB Government Affairs team of Jenny Dresler, Mary Anne Nash, and Tyler Alexander lead our legislative efforts at the state level, but all of the staff contributes to meet Farm Bureau’s goals in policy implementation. It’s a testament to how well staff and our grassroots membership keep Farm Bureau effective in the face of significant challenges.”
OFB also received Awards of Excellence for work in policy development and implementation, education and outreach, leadership development, member benefits, and public relations and communications.
Oregon Young Farmers & Ranchers Compete
Oregon’s Kathy Freeborn Hadley was one of only 29 young agriculturalists nationwide who earned a chance to compete in the national Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Achievement Award contest at the convention.
The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have successfully grown their operations and demonstrated outstanding leadership within Farm Bureau and their communities.
“It’s very competitive — and very rewarding,” said Hadley, member of OFB’s YF&R Committee and a farmer who raises grass seed, cattle, and other crops in Polk County.
Bryan Schmidt of Yamhill County Farm Bureau represented Oregon in the national YF&R Discussion Meet.
The meet is designed to simulate idea-generating discussions that are at the heart of Farm Bureau’s grassroots structure. Contestants are judged on communication and persuasion skills on topics ranging from ag data security to federal control of public lands.
“Doing this has definitely helped my confidence in public speaking,” said Schmidt.
OFB is proud of both Hadley and Schmidt for representing Oregon so well at the AFBF Convention.
Four members of OFB’s Women’s Advisory Council represented Oregon in the AFBF Women’s Leadership Annual Meeting: Chair Mickey Killingsworth, Vice Chair Kristie Glaser, Charlotte DeHart, and Anne Rigor.
“WAC puts a face on Farm Bureau for the general public,” said Killingsworth. “We offer leadership opportunities, provide ag education for the general public, promote ag health and safety, and connect with lawmakers on Farm Bureau issues.”
OFB Celebrates 30 Years with Country
At a breakfast hosted by the Illinois Farm Bureau on Jan. 9, OFB President Bushue took to the podium to recognize Oregon Farm Bureau’s 30-year alliance with Country Financial.
“Today we honor the three decades of a strong partnership between Oregon Farm Bureau and Country Financial, two stand-up organizations united to serve their membership and meet their needs,” said Bushue. “We thank Country for its valuable support of Oregon’s agricultural community.”
Q&A: What have you enjoyed most about the AFBF Convention?
“It’s interesting to talk to other farmers. So many of the struggles we have and the joys we experience in agriculture are the same no matter what state you’re from.”
“Being at the AFBF Convention makes you proud to be a farmer and proud to be a Farm Bureau member. I feel like a fish in water, meeting my own kind.”
“It’s a great opportunity to see that there’s a national Farm Bureau presence advocating for our issues in Washington D.C. It also brings a sense of duty and obligation. Who else will advocate for agriculture if not us, America’s farmers and ranchers?”