American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, a Georgia farmer, told the Sunbelt Ag Expo awards luncheon audience that farmers must be engaged with government to effect change on the farm and across rural America.
“Farmers went to the polls,” he said. “Now we need involvement and exercising our rights as Americans.”
Duvall urged farmers to remember how government is supposed to work. “They work for you,” he said. “You don’t work for them.”
He also suggested that farmers and ranchers take time every day to find ways to communicate with legislators. “Take a part of every day to take a photo of that new calf or a beautiful cotton field and send it to them to remind them of what you do.”
“America remains strong because of American farmers. Food security is the most important thing we can do to fight terrorism. What we do can help (our own) rural communities and help the world be a better place.”
Duvall said the American Farm Bureau “works every day on issues important to the American farmer. Labor is the biggest issue,” he said. “Regulation is next and trade is third, followed by others.”
He praised Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue as the “right man to serve agriculture at a difficult time. And the EPA under (Scott) Pruitt is a breath of fresh air.”
He said rollback of the Waters of the United States rule will remove burdensome regulations. “We are gearing up to revise the Clean Water Act. We want to do it right so rural communities won’t have to worry about federal intrusion.” Duvall said agriculture faces some hard challenges, in addition to losses from Hurricane Harvey and Irma damage. “And ag faces one of the worst economic times we’ve ever seen. But we have hope because we have good leaders in Washington.”
Duvall said he has faith in the American farmer’s ability to withstand hard times. “I don’t worry about American farmers,” he said. “They have grit and will embrace challenges. They have grit that means they will take advantage of opportunities and face the future with passion. That’s what they do. They will face challenges and come through with flying colors.”
The Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition is held annually in Moultrie, Ga. This marks the Expo’s 40th year.