Friday, January 29, 2016

Farm Bureau Approves Strategic Action Plan for 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 29, 2016 – The American Farm Bureau Federation today released highlights of its 2016 strategic action plan, which addresses public policy issues in the coming year. The plan is a result of deliberations of delegates to the AFBF’s 97th Annual Convention in Orlando.
The board-approved plan focuses the organization’s attention on a number of key issues including:
Creating a more-positive dialogue with consumers about modern agricultural practices;
Protecting farmers’ ability to use biotech plant varieties and other innovative technologies;
Opposing unlawful expansion of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act; and
Moving forward with congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

“We will continue to work hard to protect the business of American agriculture on all fronts. This plan is an important roadmap to key issue areas that AFBF and our grassroots members will address in 2016,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s new Waters of the U.S. rule remains among the most pressing issues in agriculture. Although presented as a water issue, the measure in fact would unlawfully regulate land in violation of the Clean Water Act itself. The rule takes over local and state authority while threatening private property rights and normal farming activity nationwide.
“EPA’s blatant overreach is nothing short of a federal land grab,” Duvall said. “The administration has refused to listen to business owners, local governments and lawmakers. The courts have ordered this rule temporarily stopped. The Government Accountability Office found EPA’s actions illegal, and Congress—which originally gave EPA its authority under the Clean Water Act—called for an end to this rule. We won’t give up until it’s gone and farmers are free to care for their own land.”
AFBF’s action plan also supports agricultural biotechnology that promises great benefits for agriculture, consumers and the environment.
“Farmers and ranchers need better tools to be more productive and efficient. We will continue to defend farmers’ and ranchers’ access to biotechnology and protect their right to use other promising new technologies, from data services to drones,” Duvall said.
The AFBF board reaffirmed its commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
“TPP promises to open up markets around the Pacific Rim. These are some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and America’s farmers and ranchers are ready to expand business there,” Duvall said. “We’re ready to work with Congress to move this agreement forward for the overall good of U.S. agriculture.”
The action plan also places a special focus on food safety and security issues.
“Consumers should have the confidence that their food is safe and wholesome. As farmers, we want the best for our families and yours. We’ve made great strides in opening up the dialogue to help consumers understand more about modern agriculture, but there’s a long way to go,” Duvall said. “All consumers deserve access to safe, affordable food, and we will continue to protect agriculture’s ability to meet that need.”
The AFBF board approved an additional list of issues that will require close monitoring as they develop over the course of 2016. Those issue areas include advancing legislation that addresses agriculture’s long- and short-term labor needs, implementing business tax reform, monitoring the overall farm economy, and energy availability and affordability.

Donald and Cheri De Jong Win 2016 Top Producer of the Year Award

Philadelphia, Pa. (Jan. 29, 2016) – Dairy producers Donald and Cheri De Jong of Hartley, Texas, have been named the 2016 winners of the Top Producer of the Year award. The husband-and-wife team has grown their dairy from 1,000 cows to 17,000, producing milk for organic and conventional markets.

The De Jongs grow about 85% of their feed needs, both organic and conventional, on 50,000 acres in Texas and Colorado. “They have detailed standard operating procedures, software to track every expense and audited financial statements,” noted Sara Schafer, Editor of Top Producer magazine. “Core competencies are outlined for every position, and employees are able to develop career paths.”

A centralized management business called AgriVision Farm Management controls accounting, human
resources, purchasing and inventory for all of their main operations, which include Natural Prairie Dairy,
Northside Farms and Jersey Gold Dairy. The De Jongs have 300 employees.

Sponsored by Bayer CropScience and Case IH, the Top Producer of the Year contest is in its 17th year and represents the best in the business of farming. Three finalists are chosen from a slew of applications by a panel of judges based on entrepreneurial originality, financial and business progress, and industry and community leadership.

Also honored as finalists during the annual Top Producer of the Year banquet, held Wednesday night, were father-daughter team Ron and Zoey Brooks of Brooks Farms in Waupaca, Wis., and Annie Dee of Dee River Ranch in Aliceville, Ala. Approximately 1,000 attendees participated in Farm Journal Media’s Top Producer event, including more than 600 of the nation’s largest producers, representing about 4 million acres. Producers came to Chicago from 28 states and Canada.

“There is no other event in agriculture that attracts such a concentration of the nation’s top farmers,” said Ron Wall, Division President, Publishing, Farm Journal Media. “Top Producer Seminar attendees not only hear from the industry’s best experts but have the opportunity to network with likeminded producers, as well as sponsors.” This year’s seminar theme “Cultivate Every Opportunity” featured more than 30 different educational sessions for producers to hone their money, marketing and management skills and deal with today’s volatile farm economy.

In addition to Top Producer Seminar, the eighth annual Tomorrow’s Top Producer event will be held June 16-17 in Nashville, Tenn., and will host the nation’s brightest young producers. The program is designed to introduce young and beginning farmers under the age of 35 to the business of farming. Top Producer also recognizes a top operator 35 and under with its Horizon Award. This year’s winner is Chris Noble of Noblehurst Farms in Pavilion, N.Y.

Premier Sponsors of the 2015 Top Producer Seminar are Advance Trading, Inc., Agrium, BASF, Bayer
CropScience, Cargill, Case IH, Channel, CropZilla, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, Farmers Business
Network, Farmers Edge, Firestone, Granular, John Deere, K·Coe Isom, MAVRX, New Holland, O&B
Barnstorm,, Top Third Ag Marketing and Verdesian. Co-sponsors are Agro-Liquid,
CliftonLarsonAllen, Conservis, Gavilon and Gulke Group. Supporting sponsors are T-L Irrigation and Transition Point Business Advisors. For more information on the Top Producer Seminar or Tomorrow’s Top Producer event, visit