Cook County Farm Bureau Leaders Attend 100th AFBF Annual Meeting
Cook County Farm Bureau® leaders from the Board of Directors participated in the 100th Annual Convention of The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) in New Orleans, Louisiana in mid-January.
The group included CCFB President Janet McCabe, VPs Mike and Laura Rauch, Dan and Karen Biernacki, Jim and Kathy Bloomstrand, Gerry and Linda Kopping, Mark and Heidi Yunker, Tim Stuenkel, Roger Freeman, Todd and Laura Price, and Ruth Zeldenrust/Henry Campbell. During the event, they attended various conferences, presentations, and seminars, and spoke to many vendors as a part of the trade show to bring back programming ideas, concepts, trends, and potential membership benefits to the Cook County Farm Bureau.
During the meeting, AFBF delegates addressed national policy issues including one that originated “in part” from the Cook County Board Room. The delegates representing Farm Bureaus from all 50 states and Puerto Rico approved language to support Health Savings Account reform including the following pieces: repeal the annual maximum contribution, eliminate the high deductible health plan mandate from HSA eligibility requirements, allow HSA funds to be used for health insurance premiums and lift restrictions placed on the use of HSA funds for over-the-counter medicines. Cook County Farm Bureau worked with other counties in District 5 in 2017 to develop a resolution calling on the Illinois Farm Bureau to seek options to help farmers and other independent Illinois businesses find affordable options for healthcare. The Illinois Farm Bureau created a task force that created a number of recommendations including several of those listed above.
The group also heard a number of keynote addresses including AFBF President Zippy Duvall, Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and President Donald Trump. Here are highlights from two of keynotes:
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall delivers his annual address to thousands of farmers in New Orleans. (AFBF photo)
Although it was a tough year on the farm, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said 2018 was one of the most productive agriculture policy years in the organization’s history. Duvall pointed to successes in tax reform and regulatory reform as well as passage of a new, five-year farm bill.
“You know who made it happen? It was you. It was the emails and phone calls. It was the trips to Washington. It was going to town hall meetings. You are the power and strength of this organization,” he said. “WOTUS was a big one,” Duvall said, noting the five-year battle to reverse the rule proposed and finalized under President Barack Obama’s administration. He also urged farmers to submit comments on the new Clean Water Rule.
Looking ahead to 2019, Duvall cited farm labor, trade, infrastructure, and ag research as a few of the key issues AFBF will address. “With all of this discussion about the wall and all of this discussion about immigration reform, we’re going to try to seize the moment,” Duvall stated. He also said the trade war with China “is going to be a long one.”
Duvall also reminisced about how AFBF got its start in 1919. “We always talk about this organization working from the bottom up. It started from the bottom up,” he said. “The most important people in Farm Bureau are the county Farm Bureaus and their boards of directors.”
Each year, out of respect for the office of the President of the United States, AFBF extends an invitation to the sitting President to speak (regardless of party affiliation or the President’s position on issues). Past United States Presidents that have spoken to the national convention include Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W.Bush. The Farm Bureau organization refrains from taking positions on Presidential candidates, but rather positions proposed by the President, Congress and regulatory agencies.
President Trump’s remarks focused on topics of tax policy, the farm bill, immigration and border security, regulation on business, roll back of certain regulations impacting agriculture, trade with other countries, and plans to expand broadband access to rural areas of the county. He called AFBF’s 100th convention a “truly historic occasion.”