Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest state Farm Bureau organization received the top honor Pinnacle Award, which is a crystal column and a new award this year presented to only six state Farm Bureaus nationwide. TFBF President Lacy Upchurch accepted the highly sought after award from American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman during the session.
The state organization also received two AFBF President’s awards in the areas of Leadership Development and Membership Services. Tennessee once again earned Awards of Excellence in all five areas: Agriculture Education and Promotion, Leadership Development, Member Services, Policy Implementation and Public Relations and Information. A total of 29 President’s Awards were presented. These are the “best of the best” awards presented for excellence in each of the five program areas to states by membership category size. Farm Bureau’s national membership rose to 6,277,664 member families in 2009, marking 49 consecutive years of membership growth. Tennessee, which grew by 10,162 members to 646,240, has maintained a consecutive growth in its membership for 68 years, holding the national record for doing so among all the states.
During the opening session on Sunday and in his annual keynote address, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman issued a call to action to Farm Bureau members and a stern warning to critics that farmers and ranchers will no longer tolerate opponents’ efforts to change the landscape of American agriculture. “Emotionally charged labels such as monoculture, factory farmer, industrial food, and big ag threaten to fray our edges,” said Stallman. “We must not allow the activists and self-appointed and self-promoting food experts to drive a wedge between us.”
Stallman said that Farm Bureau continues to represent all farmers and ranchers, no matter their size of farm, commodity raised or political philosophy. Farmer’s missions of feeding the nation and the world, caring for the environment and respecting neighbors’ rights has not changed from when AFBF was founded in 1919. But the ways in which farmers and ranchers carry out their mission have changed, said Stallman, which is not understood or respected by critics of modern agriculture.
“A line must be drawn between our polite and respectful engagement with consumers and how we must aggressively respond to extremists who want to drag agriculture back to the day of 40 acres and a mule,” said Stallman. “The time has come to face our opponents with a new attitude. The days of their elitist power grabs are over.”
Attending the four-day event are 144 Tennessee Farm Bureau delegates from across the state. While in Seattle they will be involved in sessions dealing with their agricultural industry, a trade show with the latest agricultural innovations, agriculture tours in the Washington and Oregon area, along with a meeting of the Farm Bureau Women’s organizations from across the nation.
Tennessee’s Outstanding Young Farmer winners Eric and Jo Ann Maupin of Dyer County are competing in the national Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award contest. Andy Holt from Weakley County competed in the national Discussion Meet competition and Overton County’s Brian and Samantha McLerran are representing the state in the Excellence in Agriculture contest for young agricultural professionals who work off the farm. Announcement of the winners of these contest will be made during the Monday afternoon general session, which will feature a keynote address from NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw.
Delegates will return home Wednesday following the annual meeting of the voting delegates, who will discuss and set policy for the national farm organization.
For more information please contact: Pettus Read, Director of Communications, TFBF (931) 388 -7872 or firstname.lastname@example.org