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Meet the Presidential Candidates, Farm Bureau style

Farm Bureau members across Montana are gearing up for the 97th Annual American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Orlando, Florida. A group of 40 Montanans will trek down to sunny Orlando Jan. 8-13 to attend. Watch the blog and social media for updates and to follow what members are up to!

A main event of this year’s national convention will be the election of a new president. AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Columbus, Texas, will retire after 15 years at the helm.

Four candidates are vying to become the 12th president of AFBF. In preparation for convention and to give you a glimpse of the next new AFBF President, MFBF did a short interview with the candidates. We’ll post a portion of the interview each day this week, so watch for new posts to get the full interview. Let's meet the candidates:


Barry Bushue, Oregon Farm Bureau

I was raised on our family farm in Oregon. We are a Farm Bureau Family and my parents were charter members of our County Farm Bureau in the 50’s. After graduating from college, I travelled to Australia to teach high school. I met my wife Helen there and we returned to take over the family farm in 1988.

I immediately became involved in Farm Bureau eventually becoming State Farm Bureau president in 1999. I later joined the AFBF Board of Directors in 2002 and was elected AFBF Vice President in 2008.

With the help of our three children, Helen and I run a very diverse farm, raising flowers, vegetables, berries and have a pumpkin festival. Our products are all sold on the farm or at local farmers markets. We have an ideal opportunity to engage with consumers.

I am actively engaged in a number of Oregon agricultural organizations and boards and represent AFBF on national agricultural organizations and boards.

Zippy Duvall, Georgia Farm Bureau

I am a third generation dairy farmer, a cattle farmer, and a poultry producer. More importantly, I am the proud husband of Bonnie, father of Vince, Corrie, Zeb and Zellie and grandfather of Ava, Tripp and Jocee.

When I started dairying I remember going in for lunch one day and daddy asked me what was wrong and I told him all the issues that was facing me and he told one something I have never forgotten. Son, to make a difference, you have to get outside your fences. Sure each of you has something a parent has said that set you on a course. This was it for me. To make a difference you have to get outside your fences. One challenge that has got me guided my career to get involved.

I began my Farm Bureau journey as a volunteer at the local Greene County Farm Bureau, where I still serve on the board of directors. In 1982, I won the GFB Young Farmer Achievement Award and went on to win the AFBF Award in 1983. Also, I chaired the GFB Young Farmer Committee, and in 1987 served as chairman of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee and on the AFBF Board under the leadership of the late President Dean Kleckner from Iowa. I have held every position available with Georgia Farm Bureau.

Kevin Rogers, Arizona Farm Bureau

I am a fourth generation farmer here in the central part of Arizona. I have grown up on our family farm with my mom and dad, brothers and my sister. My sister does the books for the operation and my brothers and I run the farm. We farm about 7000 acres around the Phoenix area. We have grown lots of different crops over the years: cotton, alfalfa, wheat, barley and corn silage. Years ago, we even grew sugar beets!

I am also the Vice President of the Arizona cotton growers as well as the wheat growers. I have served on the USDA Air Quality Task Force for the past 14 years or so and have worked hard to make sure we can keep farming and ranching by doing our part to help clean the air. EPA has made that an all hands on deck issue for most all farmers and ranchers. I have testified in Congress on the farm bill as well as air quality issues. I really enjoy sharing the story of our members to help educate the public and law makers about what we do each and every day on our farms and ranches.

My Farm Bureau service started way back as a youth going to Farm Bureau meetings with my parents. My dad was on the county board and the YF&R back in the 60's. I have served in all the seats in the county FB as well as on the AZFB board over my many years of service. I have been President of Arizona for the past 12 years and was just reelected to start my 13 year.

I have been married to my wife Janel for 26 years and we have three kids: Taylor who is 20 and a Junior at the University of Arizona, Kevin is 18 and a freshman at the U of A, and Morgan is 16 and a Junior in high school. All three of our kids have shown livestock and have been very involved in 4-H and FFA. They are great programs that I have given much time to. We live in Mesa just east of Phoenix. We have been 4-H leaders in the past and been members of our church since childhood. I sing in the choir and Janel has taught classes with the youth. Like most in our industry we do what we need to for our neighborhood.

As a lifelong farmer working side by side with my dad and family, I know what it takes to keep an operation going. There is nothing more rewarding and challenging at the same time. We are truly blessed to be able to do what we do!

Don Villwock, Indiana Farm Bureau

I am first and foremost a farmer from Edwardsport, located in Southwestern Indiana. My wife of 42 years, Joyce and I have two daughters and two perfect grandchildren.

I started out in high school renting 40 acres from my uncle. After graduating from Purdue with a degree in Farm Management and Ag Economics I returned home to farm. Luckily, Joyce also had a Purdue degree in home economics and a teaching job, so we were able to devote all of our farm income to growing and expanding the farm.

This past year with the blessing of the Lord, and multiple partner landlords, plus the land we own, almost 4000 acres were planted. We produce white corn, seed soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and sometimes popcorn, on our farm. Before getting so involved in Farm Bureau we had a purebred beef cattle herd. We have been no-till farmers for over 30 years and are always learning how to incorporate cover crops into our rotation.

When I was elected President of Indiana Farm Bureau, a full time job in Indianapolis 14 years ago, I hired a great, young man who manages the day to day operations on the farm. My association with Farm Bureau began with the Young Farmer program. Joyce and I were asked to serve on the State Young Farmer Committee and I was elected to be state chairman by our peers in the second year of our term. We were then nominated by our state president to the national AFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers committee. I was also fortunate to get elected again by my peers and served as the national YF&R chairman during our term. It was through these experiences that we came to know and appreciate Farm Bureau and start our journey with this outstanding organization.

My Farm Bureau experience has allowed me to develop my leadership skills and allowed me to help others to do the same. Through the educational opportunities FB has provided, I've learned new methods to improve my farm's profitability. I've learned by working together we can prevent or slow down over-regulation by government entities. Farm Bureau has helped me accomplish farm policy goals that I could not possibly achieve by myself. Farm Bureau has introduced me to people all around the state and country who believe as I do. It has made me appreciate the diversity of the commodities, topography and weather we have across this great country. I've seen the unified passion of those in agriculture to make their farms and ranches better for generations to come.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of the interview when we ask the candidates to discuss why they are the best candidate for AFBF President.