Farm Bureau members found financial advice, voted on new leaders and celebrated unifying strength at 90th annual meeting
Lolo Jones and hero from 'Black Hawk Down' inspired members
A growing world population's demands for food, fiber and energy combined with volatile market prices for farm commodities, fertilizer and farmland, made for lively discussions at the 90th Iowa Farm Bureau annual meeting held Dec. 3 to 5 in Des Moines.
Farm Bureau members from across Iowa came together to discuss a variety of energy, economic and environmental issues with experts including, Sue Ellerbusch of BP Biofuels; Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group; Jim Knuth, Farm Credit Services of America; and John Phipps, host of U.S. Farm Report.
"We know this has been a tough year in farm country for many of our members," said Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Craig Lang. "Our farmers are committed to learning how to manage these risks so they can succeed on the farm. That's what it's all about. Farming is more than choosing a rural lifestyle of wide open spaces and green pastures; it's honoring a commitment to feed and fuel the world."
At this year's meeting, farmers learned that market, fuel and fertilizer price volatility, which held down profits for many farmers this year, will not recede. Instead, the 'roller coaster ride' will become a natural part of a market cycle for at least the next five years. That's why it was standing room only for the panel discussion, "Managing a New Level of Farming Risk," moderated by John Phipps, host of U.S. Farm Report. Farmers also asked dozens of questions during the panel discussion on the effect of energy in agriculture markets.
In addition to savvy marketing and financial advice, Farm Bureau members who attended this year's annual meeting were also inspired by Iowa Olympic hurdler, Lolo Jones and 'Black Hawk Down' hero, First Sergeant Matt Eversmann. Jones talked about her experiences in the Olympics--the years of sacrifices and sweat, only to have it all disappear in 12 seconds when she hit a hurdle near the finish line. But Jones said she learned it was important "to not give up, just because of that one missed hurdle. Just keep going. Now I'm the fastest woman in the world." Eversmann had the same advice for Farm Bureau farmers facing increased regulations, unpredictable weather and economic challenges in 2009; develop a strategy to make it, and don't give up. President Lang, a fifth generation dairy farmer from Brooklyn, echoed the sentiments, "It is so important that we stick together as farmers, both large and small by size of operation, young and old, grain and livestock. The times that are coming require unity. Unity is strength. That's what a grassroots organization like Farm Bureau is all about. "