BILLINGS--American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall addressed a crowd of more than 400 Montana Farm Bureau members during MFBF’s Centennial Celebration Gala Wednesday evening in Billings. In 2019, Montana Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau are both celebrating 100 years of farmer and rancher involvement.

“We are celebrating a century of accomplishing together what none of us can achieve on our own,” said Duvall to an enthusiastic crowd. “We’ve enjoyed looking back over our history, but we’re also enjoying looking ahead to the future of Farm Bureau.” 

Duvall recognized many Montana Farm Bureau members who are active on national Farm Bureau committees and thanked MFBF President Hans McPherson for his leadership, especially on western issues. 

“Hans is a strong advocate for you on federal land policies, endangered species and other so-called ‘western issues.’ I say “so-called” because I believe they are important issues for all farmers and ranchers, not just ones in the west,” Duvall said. “Of course, Montana Farm Bureau is on the front lines in the western region, but what I try to help Farm Bureau leaders in other states understand is if we let the federal government get away with over-reach here, then it will come to their backyards, too.” 

Duvall listed other critical issues to America’s farmers and ranchers including trade, labor and regulatory reform. 

With trade on everyone’s mind, Duvall covered steps forward in trade.  “Trade has been a tough issue for farmers and ranchers. Interestingly, it is also an area where we have seen some wins this year, such as the recent trade agreement with Japan for U.S. beef. Farm Bureau has had a seat at the table like never before and I’ve been invited to the White House several times to be part of trade announcements. However, it’s not about me it’s about you and the power of the grassroots members of this organization.”

Duvall explained the need to pass the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, as it would grow U.S. farm exports by at least $2 billion a year and address biotechnology issues that were not on anyone’s radar when NAFTA was negotiated almost 30 years ago. He also noted that there is continued progress in working with China on a trade deal.

He covered regulatory reforms that Farm Bureau is working on including a new Clean Water Rule and common-sense reforms to the Endangered Species Act as well as AFBF working with both sides of the aisle in Congress to develop a workable agricultural labor bill. 

“I’ve often talked about the importance of getting outside our fencerows in agriculture. The policy wins I’ve talked about are the result of you and your fellow grassroots members doing just that,” Duvall said. “However, if we look inside our fencerows, we see a lot of what is right in America. We see people who work hard—people who are self-reliant and people who love our country and keep food on our plates.” 

The president of the nation’s largest agricultural organization concluded his address by noting, “As the Montana Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau look ahead to the next 100 years, we are pressing forward with diligence and dedication to serving you even better—amplifying your voice and making sure that this great organization is here for you, your children and grandchildren, for many years to come.”