Top– Delegate floor at AFBF

Bottom – Breakout session in 2019

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) will call Texas home Jan. 17 to Jan. 22. In its 101st edition, the AFBF Annual Convention & Trade Show offers farmers and agribusinesses opportunity to learn about industry-wide policies and perspectives. This year, 108 Michigan Farm Bureau members and staff will attend the event in Austin, Texas.

Included in the six-day show are educational workshops, keynote speakers and networking opportunities. Farmers and ag leaders use this show to sharpen skills and help set a policy agenda to deploy in the nation’s capital.

“From the workshops to the trade show, from the guest speakers to the Farm Bureau delegates whose votes will guide our work, every aspect of the 2020 AFBF Annual Convention and Trade Show is designed to bring the future of American agriculture into clear focus,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We come together each year to learn and grow as agricultural leaders. Our annual convention is also a time to renew friendships, share our challenges and celebrate our successes.”

A full agenda can be found here  Highlights include:

National Policies 

Once in Austin, Michigan Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors will advocate for the national-level policies Michigan members finalized at the recent state annual meeting in Grand Rapids, including industrial hemp production and dairy issues.

As the opportunity to grow and market industrial hemp continues to evolve, members have been providing input on what opportunities and regulations are necessary to support the growing industry. MFB’s recommendations call for more help from federal agencies regarding guidance, rules research and tools like crop insurance.

Acting on a recommendation from MFB delegates in 2018, an AFBF task force last summer examined the Federal Milk Marketing Order and other issues impacting the dairy economy. Specific dairy issues on the agenda include price reporting, discovery changes and pricing regulations to expand export opportunities.

Other policies close to Michigan’s heart include research into sugar beet juice as an alternative to road salt, and unfair trade practices that have hurt the state’s specialty crop industries, including tart cherries, asparagus and blueberries.

Young Farmers

A trio of outstanding Young Farmers will represent Michigan on the national stage in Austin.

Young Farmer Achievement Award winner Rich Baker of St. Joseph County; Excellence in Agriculture Winner Joe Ankley of Lapeer County; and Mecosta County’s Cora Okkema, winner of the state discussion meet, all received expense-paid trips to compete in this year’s AFBF national contests.

Top 10 in the Young Farmer Achievement and Excellence contests will be announced Saturday and Sunday evening, respectively.  

Also… 

Texas Farm Bureau is offering several agricultural tours (Saturday and Tuesday) during the 2020 AFBF Annual Convention in Austin, Texas. Most tours have sold out, but contact Experient (800-424-5249) with questions.

MFB President Carl Bednarski and staff will share an update on membership, Young Farmer contestants and other organizational activities at a special Michigan dinner Jan. 19 at Trinity Hall.

Also on Sunday, former AFBF President Bob Stallman (Texas) and AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Chair Paul Molesky (New York) will host a noontime fireside chat at the Convention Center.

Download the AFBF convention app for more information, and follow the event online via the hashtag #AFBF2020.