AmericanFarm.com

Duvall addresses NJFB event attendees

By RICHARD SKELLY
AFP Correspondent

PRINCETON (Dec. 1, 2016) — While patrons dined on locally produced turkey, potatoes, assorted vegetables, salad, apple pie, wine and hard ciders, American Farm Bureau Federation President Vincent “Zippy” Duvall addressed a crowd of farmers and winery owners at the 98th annual gathering of the New Jersey Farm Bureau.
The Georgia-raised Duvall is a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County and the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“This organization is all about you,” Duvall said. “It’s not about Zippy Duvall, president of American Farm Bureau. I’m just a face. Y’all are the ones that make things happen.”
Given the results of the previous week’s presidential election, Duvall did mention that President-elect Donald Trump did make time to talk via phone to a gathering of American Farm Bureau administrators.
“Mr. Trump called back to our board of directors meeting and I invited him and Secretary (Hillary) Clinton to call in; he made time to call in and talk to us,” Duvall told the crowd. 
Duvall said he and others on the board of directors talked to Mr. Trump about burdensome farming regulations.
“As I travel this country, I’ve been to 30 states, I hear two things: If you can’t fix regulations, the rest of it doesn’t matter and so we talked with Mr. Trump about regulations,” Duvall said. “I’m so excited because this guy talks our language about getting rid of some of the regulations and having real reform. I think it’s a huge opportunity with our new president coming in in January to actually do something to fix some of these problems.”
Duvall said Farm Bureau employees in every state are reaching out to farmers for more revisions of the Farm Bill and for elimination of duplicative regulations.
“If we can stir up some conversation to produce good revisions in the Farm Bill, we’re excited about that. Those are the big issues we’re working on for you each and every day.”
Duvall said on immigration, the second issue he hears most about while visiting state farm bureaus, he said he believes Trump is willing to listen to farmers’ concerns.
“The Trump team later told me: ‘We may have some differences on immigration reform, but we promise agriculture a seat at the table when we do the immigration reform,’ and, that’s all we can ask for.”
Duvall shifted next to the farm economy, saying it will likely continue to be tough.
“I lived through the 1980’s, it was very difficult. I was a young man and now we’re real concerned about our younger farmers that have entered the business in the last five years. They’ve never seen anything like what we’re facing now, and we don’t see any relief in sight.”
But to get through the lean years, it will take farmers working together to solve the industry’s problems.
“We’ve got to figure out how to understand and help each other like a band of brothers. We cannot afford to throw each other under the bus because we’re trying to market our product better than the other farmer,” he said.
“We’ve got to realize there is room in the marketplace for all of us, and the only way for us to accomplish anything as far as policy nationally and through our states is for us to band together,” he said.
In closing, Duvall told the crowd: “I’ve been across this country and I’ve heard people talk and I’ve seen the technology that’s coming, and the most productive years for American agriculture are still ahead of us. That is so exciting to me, that we’re going to have an opportunity to be a part of that.”