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AFBF elects new officers, presents awards

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Delegates at the 97th American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention elected Vincent (Zippy) Duvall to serve as the new president of AFBF and Scott VanderWal as vice president for two-year terms.

The delegates also presented Distinguished Service awards, announced the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year and elected members to the AFBF board of directors.

Duvall is a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, and served as president of the Georgia Farm Bureau for nine years. He succeeds Bob Stallman, who served as AFBF president for 16 years. Duvall is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

A Farm Bureau member since 1977, Duvall has served on numerous Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) Commodity Advisory Committees, the GFB Policy Development Committee and, as past chairman, the GFB Young Farmer Committee. He has represented Georgia as a voting delegate at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention since being elected to the state board and served on the AFBF board of directors in the 1980s as chairman of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. He also served as member of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s Agricultural Advisory Council.

VanderWal is a third-generation family farmer from Volga, S.D., and has been president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau since 2004. He and his wife, Michelle, raise corn, soybeans and do custom cattle-feeding and some custom harvesting.

VanderWal has been a member of the South Dakota Farm Bureau board of directors since 1997, including three years as vice president.

He and Michelle are both graduates of South Dakota State University and served on the South Dakota Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers committee for several years, including one year as chairpersons. The couple also served on the American Farm Bureau Federation YF&R committee from 1992-1994, where Scott VanderWal was elected second vice chairman.

Distinguished service

The American Farm Bureau Federation presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to former Sens. Mike Johanns and Saxby Chambliss.

The Distinguished Service Award was established to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving agriculture.

For more than three decades, Johanns served America’s farmers and ranchers as Nebraska governor, U.S. secretary of agriculture, and U.S. senator.

Johanns’ upbringing and work on a dairy farm in Iowa gave him training for serving others in his career. In his roles as secretary of agriculture and as senator, Johanns met with farmers and ranchers, listened to their concerns and put their input directly into developing the 2008 and 2014 farm bills. The AFBF noted that Johanns also stood up to regulatory overreach and promoted innovative solutions to reducing dependence on foreign oil. His commitment to opening the marketplace for U.S. agriculture helped expand trade and create a more level playing field for America’s farmers and ranchers.

“Senator Johanns’ humility, hard work and discipline, along with his genuine interest in hearing from and working with those he served, set him apart from many other politicians,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “He’s stood side-by-side with America’s farmers and ranchers, putting a stop to over-regulation and expanding market opportunities to keep the business of agriculture moving forward.”

Chambliss has proven himself to be a true friend and champion of agriculture. As chairman and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, he was a key author on four farm bills, crafting market-oriented programs and securing a safety net for farmers and ranchers through updated commodity titles and federal crop insurance.

The AFBF stated that Chambliss has been working closely with farmers since the early days of his career as a lawyer from Moultrie, Ga. Those relationships gave him a deep appreciation for agriculture, and he kept the needs and interests of rural America at the forefront when he came to Capitol Hill. In addition to his critical efforts on farm bill programs, Chambliss worked to reform the nation’s immigration laws to provide a legal and stable workforce for agriculture, and served on key congressional committees dealing with national security and intelligence gathering.

“Saxby Chambliss has led the way on some of the most pressing and complex issues facing agriculture with his courage and straight talk,” Stallman said. “For 20 years, he was one of the best friends that farmers and ranchers had in Washington, D.C.”

The Nebraska Farm Bureau nominated Johanns to receive the DSA award; the Georgia Farm Bureau nominated Chambliss. A national Farm Bureau committee named them both as winners.


AccuGrain of Rose Hill, Iowa, team lead Ryan Augustine, was selected as the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year as part of its Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The winner was selected from a field of four finalists and received $30,000 in prize money to implement his business idea, which is X-ray technology to inventory flowing grain in real time.

Farm Specific Technology of Bolivar, Tenn., team lead Shawn Butler, won the People’s Choice award in the competition and an additional $10,000 in prize money for a no-till crimper for cover crop production.

AgriSiync of Dallas Center, Iowa, team lead Casey Niemann, and Fedora Malthouse of Shepherd, Mich., team lead Julie Baker, were the other two finalists.

In addition to the prize money awarded at the convention, each of the four national finalists received $15,000 in October for advancing in the competition.

The challenge, now in its second year, provides opportunities for individuals to showcase business innovations being developed in rural regions of the U.S. It is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses.

Board of directors

Delegates elected seven state farm bureau presidents to the AFBF board of directors: Carl Bednarski, Michigan; Rich Felts, Kansas (Midwest Region), Harry Ott, South Carolina; Jeff Aiken, Tennessee; Gerald Long, Georgia (Southern Region), Rick Ebert, Pennsylvania (Northeast Region) and Bryce Wrigley, Alaska (Western Region).

Eleven other state farm bureau presidents were re-elected to represent their regions on the AFBF board of directors: Jim Holte, Wisconsin; Blake Hurst, Missouri; Steve Nelson, Nebraska (Midwest Region), Mark Haney, Kentucky; John Hoblick, Florida; Mike McCormick, Mississippi; Jimmy Parnell, Alabama; Wayne Pryor, Virginia; Randy Veach, Arkansas (Southern Region), Ryck Suydam, New Jersey (Northeast Region) and Hank Combs, Nevada (Western Region).

Denise (Denny) Hymel of Louisiana, Joan Myers of Pennsylvania, Lillian Ostendorf of Montana and Deb Walsh of Indiana were re-elected to two-year terms on the Women’s Leadership Committee.

Cole Coxbill, a cattle rancher and crop grower from Wyoming, was elected the new chairman of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, which also makes him a member of the AFBF board of directors during his one-year term.

The 98th AFBF Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show will be held Jan. 6-10, 2017, in Phoenix, Ariz.

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