Zippy Duvall, Georgia, has been elected president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, at the 97th annual meeting.
“This election is not about policy. It’s about the style of leadership you want,” Duvall told the delegates. “I’m going to get up every day and work hard. We are the strength and the hope for this country and all around the world because we will provide the nourishment.
“There’s no human right more precious than the right to eat. We should be proud to be American agriculture,” he added.
This historic election marks the first time in more than 30 years that more than one candidate has campaigned for the office of president. Duvall, the 12th president in AFBF history, defeated Don Villwock, Indiana; Barry Bushue, Oregon; and Kevin Rogers, Arizona.
Observers noted that the southern states, and how their delegation might split, would sway the election. Of the 353 total voting delegates, 203 are from the South; 92 from the Midwest; 32 from the West, and 20 from the Northeast.
By tradition, AFBF does not publicize the vote count; it took three votes to congregate a majority for one candidate. A second vote was held between Duvall, Villwock and Bushue. That election didn’t yield a majority vote either, and a third vote was held between Duvall and Villwock. Duvall ultimately secured the majority.
“If you didn’t vote for me this time, I’m gonna work so hard you’re gonna want to vote for me next time,” Duvall told the crowd in his acceptance speech, to laughter and applause.
Delegates also elected Scott VanderWal from South Dakota as vice president. He successfully defeated Tom Buchanan, Oklahoma, and Dean Norton, New York.
Texas farmer Bob Stallman has served has president of American Farm Bureau for 16 years, following his election in 2000. His tenure coincided with an especially contentious period in American agriculture, when it’s been difficult to get legislation through Congress and at times, difficult even to pass a Farm Bill. That same time period has seen an increase in regulatory pressures across agricultural interests.