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January 24, 2020

AFBF Recap: What Was Discussed at This Year’s Conference

Learn what hot topics in agriculture were discussed during this year’s American Farm Bureau Federation convention.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) held their 101st annual convention and trade show in Austin, Texas on January 17-22, 2020. The conference included educational workshops on trending ag topics and cutting-edge innovation in agriculture, a tradeshow floor with prominent exhibitors, and the much anticipated keynote address from President Donald Trump.

President Trump’s Speech on Trade

This was President Trump’s third consecutive time addressing farm and ranch families at the AFBF conference. He spent 45 minutes discussing the U.S.-China trade deal phase one signing and what it means for U.S. agriculture. He celebrated the deal saying, “We are winning for our farmers and we are winning like never before”. “Farmers love America, and I just want to tell you that America loves our farmers.”

The U.S. and China trade deal marks the beginning of a major shift in the global market of agriculture. President Trump stated, “The USMCA, as we call it, will massively boost exports for farmers, ranchers, growers and agricultural producers from north to south and from sea to shining sea”. “We must ensure that America’s farms flourish and prosper and that’s what we’re doing–you feed our people, you fuel our nation, you sustain our land, you uphold our values and you preserve or cherish the American way of life.”

Trump highlighted a record-high farmer and rancher approval rating of 83 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal. The president showed strong optimism in the future of U.S. farming and manufacturing.

Read more about the impact of phase one in the 2020 U.S.-China trade deal and how it affects American agriculture.

Other keynote speakers included U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, and Senator Pat Roberts.

Key Takeaways from AFBF Conference

Telling the American Farmer’s Story

According to the latest USDA Census, less than one percent of the U.S. population is involved in production agriculture. Less and less people are understanding where their food comes from outside of a grocery store and the effort it takes to keep the shelves stocked. To combat this, it’s important that we share the stories of our hardworking American farmers. The AFBF Foundation introduced new volunteer guides to help share stories in agriculture. The conference also highlighted women in agriculture and their impact on the industry, reporting  36 percent of operators are women. Additionally, the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee launched their Women in Ag Survey last year to promote leadership opportunities for women and help them achieve their goals.

Engaging Youth in Agriculture

The average age of U.S. farmers is between 55 to 64 years. The AFBF Conference focused on programs like Young Farmers & Ranchers and 4-H Youth in Action to peak interest from younger generations in agricultural topics like veterinary science, biotechnology, raising and training animals, and forestry. Some keynote speakers included Youth in Action Agriculture Pillar Winner, Serena Woodard, and National 4-H Council Director of Development, Joe Martinez. To increase the younger generations’ interest in the industry, it’s recommended that agribusinesses work on fostering inclusion and diversity and be a part of these programs that work towards equipping and educating young people to enter the entrepreneurial class of farmers who control production.

Blockchain Agriculture and Food Supply

The introduction of blockchain for agriculture was an area of interest at the AFBF conference. Blockchain technology enables food to be traced from farm to grocery store in just a few seconds, helping keep tabs on abundant commodities and reduce cases of illegal harvesting and shipping frauds. Blockchain is said to eliminate the middlemen involved in the supply chain journey, enhancing transparency as agricultural products reach the market. Benefits of blockchain in agriculture include:

  • Secures a way to store and transact value;
  • Creates transparency, decentralizes, and secures the transaction process while reducing the cost;
  • Keeps tabs on abundant commodities; and
  • Reduces illegal harvesting and shipping frauds.

Importance of Agriculture’s Ecosystem Services

Aside from blockchain, another trending buzzword at the conference was “sustainability”. Conference attendees learned about the opportunities they have as farmers and ranchers to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and why it matters. Recent technology innovations even show the promise of agriculture becoming net-negative in emissions up to 147 percent. Innovations include soil carbon sequestration, biodiversity of crops, and improved water quality. Developments were discussed, such as the changes to the definition of navigable waters, permitting and enforcing issues, and the Rights of Nature Laws. AFBF encouraged U.S. agribusiness owners to find common ground on the topic of to ensure the voice of agriculture is being represented. Due to the increasing trend towards a more sustainable form of agriculture, for both the environment and economy, more investment opportunities are emerging that can benefit both society and the farmer.

AgAmerica Supports the Mission of AFBF

AgAmerica Lending supports the American Farm Bureau Federation and their mission in advocating and being the voice for agriculture, representing the farm and ranch families of America. Each year we attend the national convention as an exhibitor, and as attendees to educate and promote our unique financing options, as well as to stay current on trending topics and workshops that are provided. Moreover, we support the local, county, and state associations as part of our continued effort to give back to the agricultural communities and to celebrate the critical role that American farmers play in the U.S.

AgAmerica works directly with farmers across the U.S. to reduce their ag loan payments, finance new operations, purchase land, consolidate and refinance farm debts, upgrade farm equipment, and increase working capital. As part of our land loan spectrum, we offer alternative lending solutions to help you through the harder farming seasons while you work towards a stronger financial future. Explore our land loan programs to learn how we can help you meet your operational goals.

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