June 12, 2024

The Zipline: The policies shaping ag’s future start with you

Leaders and lawmakers know that when the American Farm Bureau Federation speaks, AFBF is speaking directly on behalf of farmers and ranchers.

The American Farm Bureau Federation is the “Voice of Agriculture” thanks to our active grassroots members speaking up on the issues affecting their farms. The landscape of agriculture is always changing, but what doesn’t change is our ability to make a difference on our farms and in our rural communities by stepping up and speaking up.

Our nation’s leaders and lawmakers know that when Farm Bureau speaks, we are speaking directly on behalf of farmers and ranchers. Every policy that we advocate for can be traced back to farmers and ranchers raising that issue at the local, state and then national level.

All over this country, in 2,800 counties, the Farm Bureau policy development process has begun. Our county Farm Bureaus are grassroots in action, and I am thankful for the hard work and dedication you put into shaping our great organization.

From farm bill to trade, from regulatory reform to food safety, your AFBF team is working on your behalf on a wide range of issues, and we count on you to provide the policy direction because we believe you know best what works and what doesn’t on your farm.

Our policy book is a living document that our grassroots members regularly update to address the latest issues we face on our farms and ranches. In January at the annual AFBF Convention, delegates from across the country, from all types of agriculture and all sizes of farms and ranches, will gather to update that book and set the policies for the new year.

There are times when our team in Washington will see an issue arise, and we will ask for direction from our grassroots members to ensure we can continue to lead the way in advocating for you.

An issue we’re hearing a lot of buzz around right now is artificial intelligence. Almost overnight it seems, AI is affecting every aspect of life — from our professions to our daily tasks — and it has the potential to transform every industry.

In fact, we are already seeing the significant potential for agriculture. AI can transform the way farmers and ranchers approach crop management and sustainability practices.

For example, AI can quickly project levels of pesticides to apply, monitor the health of crops and even run automated machinery. Its level of efficiency and utility could take agriculture into a new frontier.

But we must be sure to look before we leap with this technology. There is currently very little guidance governing AI and lawmakers have not established ground rules, so companies and individuals are navigating on their own.

A looming question that must be addressed around AI is, “What will this tool mean for data privacy?” For many of us, the way we record information has long changed from a small notebook in our pocket to spreadsheets, data apps and software.

We use farm data not only to manage our business, but also to make planting decisions, care for crops and livestock and achieve sustainability goals.

And while AI could simplify much of that and save hours along the way, many current AI systems collect data without a guarantee of privacy. No tool should place the sensitive information collected from farms and ranches at risk.

At Farm Bureau, privacy is one of our top concerns and that is why we brought AI forward, asking for direction from our grassroots members via the policymaking process.

We want to hear from farmers and ranchers across the country about how this and many other topics affect their livelihoods so we can fulfill our mission to be the voice of agriculture.

Zippy Duvall

Zippy Duvall

Zippy Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Georgia, is the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.