Susan Lake and her husband Jack farm and ranch near Ronan. They attended the 2020 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention this winter in Austin, Texas, with 36 other Montana Farm Bureau members. Here's what she learned:

The American Farm Bureau Annual Conference was a great experience from beginning to end.  The first thing we saw when we got in were Debby, John and Hans there to welcome us.  Our Farm Bureau staff are always at the annual conferences making us feel welcome and definitely not lost. If you want to leave the farm and have a great time in some far off city, this is definitely the way to do it.

We were treated to the best of the best. The workshops were first class. There was something for everyone. You always leave with new tools to take back home.

We heard from President Trump, and we didn’t have to stand in line for five hours or sleep over like folks did for a rally in New Jersey. This is the third year in a row he has spoken to Farm Bureau. No president has ever done that.  He caught us up on all the trade deals. I hope by next year we can share stories of how they have helped us.  

One of the workshops I attended discussed the impact Trump is having on the judiciary. The chart to the right shows where he is at in appointing judges compared to presidents of the past, and he still has a year to go. Montana’s own Lawrence Van Dyke is an example of that, as he has just been appointed to the Ninth Circuit. The speaker also said for the last 40 years the Supreme Court has considered navigable waters doesn’t so much mean navigable it just means wet.  That’s how we got “Waters of the U.S.” Now navigable means navigable. Thank you, President Trump.

Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, received the “Distinguished Service Award.”  He shared how much he relies on The American Farm Bureau for direction. He also shared how respected the Farm Bureau is. Senator Roberts is retiring this year.  He did tell us that he was sprinting to the finish line. How you can replace a guy like that?  Agriculture will miss him.

Secretary Perdue was also there sharing what he was seeing and what he felt the biggest threat to agriculture was.  He said the American Farmer has been “bubble wrapped in regulation” so they are not able to do what they can do. “I am a believer in the productivity of the American Farmer.  If you turn them loose we can feed world. They are conservationists, they are environmentalists. If we go back to the era where farmers are constrained by people who don’t know what it takes to grow food... I am bullish on the American farmer. I’m bullish on America,” he said.

At the end of this presentation, Purdue was asked, “To the 5,000 farm leaders and agriculturist gathered here today, what advice would you give us to carry agriculture forward in a positive manner?”

Here's what he had to tell us: Farmers have been so productive but we have been guilty of one thing. We’ve stayed behind that farm gate and just we do what we do and expect people to understand. We’ve got to speak locally, we’ve got to speak out state wide, we’ve got to speak out nationally. That is the benefit of the American Farm Bureau. They have a national and state voice, you go to the state legislature and make your voices heard, we’ve got to do that throughout society. We’ve got to speak out loudly and proudly. We have a lot to be proud of. We need to tell that story. No longer can we be so humble and quiet… We have to tell the great story of American agriculture where ever we are.

Jack and I encourage everyone to try to make it to an American Farm Bureau annual convention. You meet new people, you spend time with great folks from Montana. There is always lots to learn and lots to do and President Trump said he would be back next year.