It will be close to 6,000 members in total for the 94th annual meeting, and AFBF President Bob Stallman says there are two primary goals.
“One is to provide an opportunity for our members from all across the country to meet up with old friends, make new friends, have a lot of discussion about issues, get information about things and hear some interesting speakers. And then there’s the business which requires the delegates to come in and to make the important policy and organizational decisions for the future of the organization.”
Stallman says determining those policy goals is the proof of the organization’s strong grassroots.
“I don’t know how you can be any more grassroots than Farm Bureau. We have 2,800 county and parish level organizations which are focused on doing things to promote agriculture and discuss policy and then our 51 states, which includes Puerto Rico get together and have the input from their counties as they make decisions to forward to the American Farm Bureau Federation. So it’s a three-level process. Ultimately the decisions that guide us as an organization have all been derived from our members.”
And while it’s sometimes hard to predict the hot topics, Stallman says there are a few sure things.
“I’m sure we’ll have some discussion of renewable fuels and the fuel verses feed issue. We’ll probably have discussion about tax issues given what has just happened with Congress. Regulatory issues will always be high on the agenda. Given the possibility this time that we may actually have significant movement in the U.S. Congress on the issue, immigration reform and how we have an adequate guest worker program will probably be another important topic.”
And the purpose of the policy decisions is to give the organization a clear direction for the year ahead. Stallman says that’s especially important with a new Congress up on Capitol Hill.
“We literally have roughly 5,000 farmers and ranchers actually come to Washington, DC to visit with their individual members of Congress and their United States senator to talk about the policies that are important and that constituent contact and them making the effort to come to Washington really carries a lot of weight up on the Hill.”[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2013/01/AFBF-2013-set-to-begin.mp3|titles=AFBF 2013 set to begin]