Salt Lake City, UT |
Hollywood or no Hollywood, this year’s convention unfolded like a perfectly scripted story. American Farm Bureau went all out, treating its guests to a red carpet experience while squeezing a wealth of information into just a few memorable days.
“This whole convention is put together. It is a major undertaking to get it focused on the members who are Farm Bureau, and it’s everything from our peanut commission that has a booth in the trade show to companies like Case and John Deere,” says GFB President, Tom McCall.
“I think the biggest thing is the networking. Just, you know, in the time I’ve been here seeing people that I’ve seen in years past or standing in line over there a little while ago, had a young farmer out of North Carolina started talking to me, telling me about his operation, some of the challenges he faces day to day. And it’s just to me, it just boils down to the networking that we have here at a conference like this,” says Russ Wilburn, GFB 4th District Director from Barrow County.
New Frontiers was the theme of this year’s convention. President Duvall’s annual address was inspiring and motivational as he challenged convention attendees to go even further in their advocacy in the coming year.
“Leadership starts with each and every one of us. Whether this is your first convention or your fiftieth convention, doesn’t make any difference. It doesn’t matter what your title is or how young or old you are, you can help us chart a path to new frontiers for Farm Bureau and for our communities,” says AFBF President, Zippy Duvall.
Arguably, the biggest and most welcomed news at this year’s convention was the announcement of not one, but two major partnerships for rural mental health. First up, the Farm Family Wellness Alliance, a coalition of food and agriculture organizations, is launching free, anonymous online mental health services for farmers and ranchers nationwide. Next came the “Love, Your Mind” campaign. At the forefront is Florida Farm Bureau member and mental health advocate, Marshall Sewell.
“Watching that video and sharing the story sometimes, it’s not easy. It’s not comfortable. And President Duval, in your opening session, you actually shared some comments. He quoted Philippians, and I’ll say this, I choose to believe that the Lord’s not gonna waste pain. And so I share that story in the hopes that we can have a positive impact and that we can change others positively,” says Sewell.
“I mean, probably just five, ten years ago, the stigma was you didn’t talk about those problems. So I think it’s great to hear Zippy get up on stage and talk about how it’s okay to not be okay and to get out and talk about it,” says Wilburn.
“So let’s explore these new frontiers before us. Let’s keep blazing the trail with leadership, perseverance, teamwork, and faith. And we have got this if we work together,” says Zippy.
By: Ray D’Alessio