Welcome to day two of our American Farm Bureau presidential candidate interviews. Four candidates are in the running to lead our national organization into the future as the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Today we asked candidates running for president of the American Farm Bureau Federation to tell us why they are the right person for the job.
Don Villwock, Indiana Farm Bureau
I think my lifetime of leadership experiences and achievements with multiple farm organizations have prepared me for this important position. I graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Ag Economics and Farm Management. I have served in almost every position in Farm Bureau at the local, state and national level. I have extensive experience in farm policy and trade issues. I have also traveled the world on various trade missions and have met with many of the Ag leaders and minsters from those countries.
My experience serving as state Ag liaison for US Senator Richard Lugar for over 5 years taught me a lot about the legislative/lobbying process. I then went on to manage over 500 employees during my tenure as State Executive Director of ASCS (now FSA). This was an invaluable management experience.
For the past 14 years I have served on the AFBF board of directors and have been on the executive committee for the past four years. President Stallman appointed me as vice chairman of both the American Agriculture Insurance Company (our national FB reinsurance company) and the American Farm Bureau Insurance Services Company (our national crop insurance company). I was elected by FB member state presidents as vice chairman of Farm Bureau Bank. I have a long history of building coalitions with like-minded individuals and agriculture organizations in order to accomplish common goals and find workable, common sense solutions.
I think, most importantly, I’m a good listener with an open mind, a positive attitude and a proven track record. I believe I can make a positive difference in the lives of our Farm Bureau members and all farmers and ranchers across this great country. My passion is to help improve the profitability and quality of life for farmers and ranchers. When there is profitability in agriculture, great things happen for everyone. Rural communities grow and prosper, educational opportunities multiply, and the quality of life for farm and ranch families improves greatly. Our ability to meet our environmental responsibilities can exceed baseline expectations when we have adequate resources.
I’m extremely proud of what we do in agriculture. We have a great story to tell about how we care for our land and livestock. I will champion, through all means available, to show consumers that we are the solution and not the problem.
Barry Bushue, Oregon Farm Bureau
I am a strong industry and Farm Bureau leader in a very challenging state and have extensive American Farm Bureau experience advocating across issue areas and regions. I have represented American Farm Bureau at state Farm Bureau meetings, on task forces, committees and other venues. I have testified for AFBF before congressional committees in the US House and Senate on pesticides, farm bill, ESA, costs of regulations to agriculture and the demographics of the farm population. I serve at the pleasure of the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack on the Agriculture and biotechnology in the 21st Century, representing American Farm Bureau.
Additionally I represent AFBF on other national boards. American Farm Bureau is strong and effective and I am honored to have played a role as part of leadership, but I am not tied to the past. I am a collaborative and inclusive leader who values the engagement of our membership. I am solution oriented and decisive but unafraid to make tough choices. Above all, I am a passionate and outspoken advocate for the importance of Farm Bureau as the national voice for agriculture.
Zippy Duvall, Georgia Farm Bureau
I have been asked this question a few times during the campaign. The other three candidates are well qualified and we are all close friends. It comes down to leadership abilities and what the delegates feel our organization needs at this crucial time in agriculture.
Agriculture and farming will continue to play an enormously important role in the future of our country. It’s no secret that our rural population is shrinking, and the world population is expanding. America’s farmers and ranchers need a strong Farm Bureau organization to advocate for them. There has never been a more important time for agriculture to maintain an effective grassroots organization and I feel with my experience and background I can build bridges, and influence policy makers.
I’m not looking to retire, I’m looking to work! I pledge to the members my commitment to shoulder the challenges ahead and be willing to embrace changes, if necessary, to make sure Farm Bureau remains representative of the farmers and ranchers in all the communities across this great nation.
Kevin Rogers, Arizona Farm Bureau
First, I would like to commend President Stallman for his 16 years of service and the legacy he leaves behind. I would also like to say that the three other candidates are all great men of character and all have a heart for the American Farm Bureau. We each would bring a different personality to the office and I believe I am the right man for this position!
American Farm Bureau needs a leader that is experienced in the diversity of issues facing American agriculture. I have experience of being a stake holder in defending a safety net for our industry to defending multiple use on our western public lands. The west is a breeding ground for questioning agriculture's use of water and the government's incessant desire to control more land. The southwest is arid, so dust regulations started in Arizona and in California. Because of this, I have become a national spokesman on how agriculture deals with dust under the Clean Air Act. In addition, the west became the battleground when HSUS decided we were mistreating pigs, chickens and dairy calves.
I have worked for years with other commodity groups to make sure we move forward on the same page whenever possible. We must work with our friends to build a united front as we deal with the issues of the day.
In-your-face and in-your-gut experience is what I believe the AFBF president needs. The years of training and experiences I have, has prepared me to be the next president of the American Farm Bureau.
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Are you the right person for the job?