American Farm Bureau Federation
|Vincent "Zippy" Duvall, President|
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), commonly referred to as the Farm Bureau, is a nonprofit organization and describes itself as the largest general farm organization in the United States. The stated mission of AFBF is "working through our grassroots organizations to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities". AFBF is headquartered in Washington, D.C. There are 50 state affiliates and one in Puerto Rico.
The Farm Bureau movement officially started in 1911 when John Barron, a farmer who graduated from Cornell University, worked as an extension agent in Broome County, New York. He served as a "Farm Bureau" representative for farmers with the Binghamton, New York Chamber of Commerce. The effort was financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Lackawanna Railroad. The Broome County Farm Bureau was soon separated from the Chamber of Commerce. Other farm bureaus on a county level formed across the country.
In 1914, with the passage of the Smith–Lever Act of 1914, the U.S. Congress agreed to share with the states the cost of programs for providing what had come to be called "county agents", who furnished farmers information on improved methods of animal husbandry developed by the agricultural colleges and agricultural experiment stations, which has evolved into the modern day Cooperative Extension Service, shaped in part by political opposition to agricultural subsidies.
Farmers meeting in Saline County, Missouri, were the first to form a statewide Farm Bureau in 1915. The initial Bureaus had a social and educational function furthering the extension service efforts, and they have additionally developed a lobbying presence as well.
The purpose of Farm Bureau is to make the business of farming more profitable, and the community a better place to live. Farm Bureau should provide an organization in which members may secure the benefits of unified efforts in a way which could never be accomplished through individual effort. - Statement originally approved by Farm Bureau members in 1920.
Each November since 1986, AFBF has reported the results of an informal survey on the average retail cost of a classic Thanksgiving dinner, including a 16-pound turkey and all the trimmings. In 2012, the cost was $49.48.
An organization independent of the Farm Bureau called FBL Financial Group based in West Des Moines, Iowa, sells insurance under the brand names of Farm Bureau Financial Services. It also uses the Farm Bureau logo.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company began as an insurance company for members of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. It continues to serve as an insurance provider to Farm Bureaus in nine states. Other insurance companies tied to Farm Bureaus include Farm Family Insurance, which serves as an insurance provider to Farm Bureaus in five states, and Country Financial, serving clients in seventeen states.
The Farm Bureau does not deny climate change, but is opposed to regulation or taxation of greenhouse gases and climate policy that would decrease competitiveness of American agriculture--especially while farmers and businesses of other nations remain unburdened by emission limitations. The Farm Bureau's opposition to climate change related regulation began with cap-and-trade regulation measures, which the Farm Bureau argued would increase fuel and fertilizer prices for farmers. At that time, the Farm Bureau's official position was that "there is no generally agreed upon scientific assessment of the exact impact or extent of carbon emissions from human activities, their impact on past decades of warming or how they will affect future climate changes." The climate change session at its 2010 national meeting was entitled "Global Warming: A Red Hot Lie?" and featured climate change skeptic Christopher C. Horner, a lawyer for the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, a largely industry-backed group that strongly opposes limits on greenhouse gases. At its 2010 national meeting, delegates unanimously approved a resolution that "strongly supports any legislative action that would suspend EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act". Right before the 2010 meeting, the Union of Concerned Scientists sent the group a letter pointing out that its climate change position runs counter to that of every major scientific organization and urged it to support action on climate change. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stated that farmers have more to gain from cap and trade than they stand to lose.
The Bureau's recent stance on climate change is an evolution of earlier positions. Farm Bureau no longer denies climate change, but remains opposed to non-market based solutions. The Farm Bureau continues to argue that carbon and emission restrictions will raise costs of energy and fertilizer and hamper competitiveness of American farmers. It opposes taxes on carbon uses or emissions, any law or regulation requiring the reporting of any GHG emissions by an agricultural entity, any regulation of GHG by the EPA, and any attempt to regulate methane emissions from livestock.
According to a 2012 article in The Nation, the AFBF retains twenty-two registered lobbyists. In 2012, it was the top contributor to federal candidates, parties, and outside groups with payments of over $1 million; 62% to Republicans. Over the past decade, the AFBF spent $16 million, 45% of the total spent by all of the nation’s ten largest agribusiness interests.
AFBF supported the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2014 (H.R. 4719; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the Internal Revenue Code to permanently extend and expand certain expired provisions that provided an enhanced tax deduction for businesses that donated their food inventory to charitable organizations. AFBF argued that without the tax write-off, "it is cheaper in most cases for these types of businesses to throw their food away than it is to donate the food".
- Vincent "Zippy" Duvall, Current President, Elected January 2016
- Bob Stallman, Former President, 2000–2016
- Dean Kleckner, Former President, 1986–2000
List of Farm Bureaus
- We are Farm Bureau Archived August 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine., American Farm Bureau Federation, retrieved December 9, 2011.
- of Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Up Slightly This Year, American Farm Bureau Federation, November 10, 2011.
- FBL Financial Group financials, Google Finance, retrieved December 9, 2011.
- "New York Farm Bureau and Nationwide Insurance announce Strategic Partnership". New York Farm Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-28.
- Winter, Allison (12 January 2010). "Farm Bureau Fires Back Against Climate Bill's 'Power Grab'". New York Times. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
- "Challenges to Both Left and Right on Global Warming". The New York Times. 13 November 2007.
- Winter, Allison (2010-01-13). "Farm Bureau wants Congress to stop EPA on greenhouse gases". Energy and Environment News. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
- "AFBF Policy on Climate Change". American Farm Bureau Federation.
- "Whose Side Is the American Farm Bureau On?" – via The Nation.
- "CBO - H.R. 4719". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- "Fighting Hunger Incentive Act will increase food bank donations". Farm Bureau News. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
- Barnes, John K. (August 1922). "J. R. Howard, Leader Of American Farmers". The World's Work: A History of Our Time. XLIV: 509–518. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
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