Arkansas Farm Bureau Set 89th Annual Convention
Farm and ranch leaders from across the state will come together Nov. 29 - Dec. 1 for Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 89th annual convention at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, outgoing ArFB President Rich Hillman and Jason Brown, former NFL player and farmer/philanthropist, will serve as keynote speakers. Sanders will speak Nov. 29 in the event’s opening general session.
The convention is expected to attract more than 1,000 farmers and ranchers and include a trade show featuring vendors of farm services, equipment and supplies. The trade show is open to the public and will feature, for the first time, a farmers market with Arkansas Grown and Arkansas Made products. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is partnering with ArFB to present the farmers market, which will include vendors selling specialty meats (beef, bison, emu), produce, pecans, honey, jams and jellies, baked goods, crafts, seasonings and canned and pickled products, as well as other goods.
The convention’s theme, “Breaking New Ground,” will be reinforced with workshops including topics such as H2A temporary worker programs, overviews of current livestock and row-crop economic markets, use of drones in agriculture, an overview of Arkansas Game & Fish Commission conservation programs, implementation of successful young farmer programs, and a session on multi-species livestock grazing.
Voting delegates define the organization’s policy positions on issues of importance to its members during Farm Bureau’s annual business session. Delegates will elect a new president, as Hillman, who has served as president the past four years, is not seeking reelection. They will also elect a vice president and seven members for its board of directors.
“Farm Bureau’s annual convention is truly a gathering of the farm and ranch community,” said Hillman, a sixth-generation rice and soybean farmer from Carlisle (Lonoke County). “There will be important work done during our convention, but it will also be a reunion of some of the most amazing people our state has to offer. Our farmers and ranchers truly impact the world on a daily basis.”
Hillman announced at the organization’s mid-summer Officers & Leaders conference that he would not seek reelection as president. In addition to his time as president, Hillman spent 11 years as vice president and 22 years as a member of the state board of directors.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as president of Arkansas Farm Bureau,” Hillman said. “I’m very appreciative of the opportunities that Farm Bureau has provided me. My goal all along, really, was to be part of the silent giant that is Farm Bureau, and work to move agriculture forward.
“My role at Farm Bureau has always been a ‘we’ deal. I have accomplished nothing by myself. It has been all of those who I have served with shoulder-to-shoulder who got things done. I have benefited from the many leaders of Farm Bureau who have come before and have walked with me, including many state board members, our current vice president Mike Freeze and going back to former presidents like Stanley Reed and Randy Veach, who were both truly remarkable leaders. Those are the footprints I have followed, and I can say that my steps have tried to match those footprints that came before me.”
Awards will be presented to county Farm Bureaus for their work in support of the organization’s agricultural advocacy and membership efforts. Arkansas Farm Bureau will also present the Women’s Leadership Award along with the Stanley E. Reed Leadership Award, given annually to an active Farm Bureau member, 36 to 45 years old, for outstanding leadership within their county Farm Bureau and community.
Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization with almost 190,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.
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