Commentary: Farmers must reach out to the world beyond the farm

Issue Date: February 19, 2020
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall speaks during the opening ceremonies for the 2020 World Ag Expo in Tulare.
Photo/Dave Kranz

(Editor's note: American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall visited California last week, touring Central Valley farms and speaking at the opening ceremonies of the 2020 World Ag Expo in Tulare. Here are excerpts of his remarks.)

I am honored to be here to open this show. It's just a wonderful time to come to California. I've been out here for two days now and traveling around this community. What a great community this is and yes, the agriculture is awesome.

I work with (California Farm Bureau President) Jamie Johansson and his staff every day and my staff works with them, and they do a great job of making sure that you've got a voice, not only here in California but that farmers have a voice in Washington, D.C. And if you're not a member, you should be, because they have got your back 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making sure that we do everything that we can do to make your life better on your farm.

I'm a farmer. When I come to farm shows, I want to kick every tire, I want to talk to every dealer. I can see all the different brands, all the different companies, look at the characteristics that I like and don't like, go back home and make my decision as to what make of machinery is going to make me more efficient on my farm so that I can sustain for the future.

This is the most exciting industry in the world, with the entrepreneurship, the new technologies coming down the pike. And we are the most important business in the world. We have many luxuries here in this country, but if you take everything away from us, the first thing we're going to try to do is find something to eat and drink.

Two things set us apart from the world: being on the cutting edge of technology in agriculture and our unbelievable infrastructure across our country. But it is crumbling. If you're an elected official, maybe we should not worry so much about some of the things we worry about and think about how we are going to deliver and move things around, and make sure that all this great stuff that we produce gets to the people that really need it.

Sustainability is important, and we want to continue to focus on staying on the cutting edge. But if you're a farmer and you budget your time for the day, you need to budget a little bit of time for a couple of other things.

There are people across this state and across this country who are setting policies that are going to affect your life on your farm. The only way they're going to make really good decisions is for us to inform them how that policy is going to affect us. So if you can spend a little bit of time to think about policy, to talk to your congressman, your senator, your statehouse member and say, "This is how it affects me and my community and my family," then that gentleman or that lady can make an informed decision on that policy. We invite you to let Farm Bureau be your vehicle to do that.

People want to know where their food comes from, and we should seize the moment. Let's show them the wonderful things about American agriculture. Take a little bit of time to show them on social media all the things that we already do to make our food safe, and our farms and our communities sustainable.

No one is more sustainable with the environment or any other part of our life than American farmers and ranchers. If you're here today to look at this new technology, you're engaged and making sure you've informed yourself to make the right decisions and be sustainable in the future.

Our elected officials deserve to hear from us. My daddy described that as getting outside of your fencerows. My dad said, "You've got to be part of the world outside of your farm, to make your life and your family's life and your community better. Your community deserves it. Give back to the community that's done so much for you in your lifetime."

Farmers are diligent, dedicated and the hardest-working people I know, and I know that that diligence, dedication and hard work will continue American agriculture to be the leader in production of the safest food in the world for years and years and years to come.

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.




Special Reports

Features

Series

Special Issues

Special Sections