Arkansas Farm Bureau Selects Leaders, Sets Policy
HOT SPRINGS — Rich Hillman of Carlisle was re-elected as Arkansas Farm Bureau’s president and Mike Freeze of Little Rock will continue as vice president for the agriculture advocacy organization. Both were elected Friday morning at Farm Bureau’s 88th Annual Convention at the Hot Springs Convention Center. Delegates also elected six board members during the final day of the meeting, including three new board members.
Hillman, 59, was selected for a fourth term as president. He previously served 11 years as the organization’s vice president. He first joined the organization’s board of directors in 2001. He is Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 11th president since its creation in 1935. He is a sixth-generation farmer whose main crops are rice and soybeans. He is also vice chairman of Riceland Foods. He and his wife Tina have two grown children, Collin and Caroline, and one granddaughter.
“I’m honored to represent this organization in another term as president,” said Hillman. “I am incredibly proud of the work our members do for communities across this state every day and Arkansas’s agriculture industry.
“I’m grateful for the support of my family, without them, my work at Farm Bureau simply wouldn’t be possible. Representing the hard-working farmers and ranchers from across our state is the honor of my life.”
Freeze, 70, begins his fourth term as vice president. He operates the Keo Fish Farm, the largest hybrid striped bass hatchery in the world. He is a past chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. He and his wife Betty have two grown daughters, Rachael and Kelly.
“I appreciate the confidence put in me,” Freeze said. “Working with our president and board members to further the goals of Farm Bureau is a vitally important job. I want our members to know I don’t take that obligation lightly. I’ll do my best to fulfill my duties as vice president.”
Board action later resulted in the reelection of Dan Wright of Waldron as Secretary/Treasurer. Wright, 62, raises poultry and grows hay. He and his wife, Belinda, have two grown children, Dustin and Megan. They have five grandchildren.
Three new state board members were elected by the delegate body on Friday morning: Magen Allen of Bismarck, Brad Doyle of Weiner and Dana Stewart of Judsonia.
Allen is co-owner of J.A. Farms Feed in Bismarck. She just concluded a term as chair of the Arkansas Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. She is a member of the Bismarck School Board.
Doyle is a soybean, rice and wheat farmer and the outgoing president of Poinsett County Farm Bureau. He also serves as president of Eagle Seed Company and president of the American Soybean Association.
Stewart serves as president of White County Farm Bureau. She is a sixth-generation cattle producer and co-manager of the Martin Cattle Company. She is a member of the American Farm Bureau’s Partners in Advocacy Leadership training program.
Voting delegates also re-elected four board members to two-year terms. They are Jason Henson, Mount Judea; Dan Wright, Waldron; Terry Dabbs, Stuttgart; and Caleb Plyler, Spring Hill.
Voting delegates also addressed a range of state and federal policy issues, including Boards and Commission appointments, tax exemptions for 4H and FFA projects, agricultural education for K-12, the continuation of net metering for renewable energy, additional funding for county and state fairs, the formation of a timber cooperative for landowners, support for water infrastructure projects to conserve groundwater, conservation incentives for private landowners, protection of mineral rights contracts, support of infrastructure on roads, highways, bridges and broadband.
Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of almost 190,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.