AFBF President Zippy Duvall Visits Wyoming
Written by Caleb Nelson on September 13, 2022
“Getting out to meet with grassroots members helps me better understand the issues they are facing so I can share their stories with members of Congress and officials in the executive branch,” American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall says. “These visits are also a great opportunity for me to remind our members of the power their voices have when they engage with consumers and lawmakers at every level of government.”
AFBF President Mr. Duvall visited Wyoming in mid-August to tour agricultural operations and to meet directly with Farm Bureau members on their farms and ranches. Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) President Todd Fornstrom led the tour that also included AFBF staff and WyFB staff.
“Having the American Farm Bureau President tour our farms and ranches in Wyoming is important,” Fornstrom says. “No other farm organization has the grassroots influence like AFBF and having our national leader see what we do here in Wyoming and carry our message back to D.C. is critical.”
The Wyoming tour included “farming in Park County, the wool mill in Johnson County, ranching in Campbell County, and a Campbell County coal mine,” a recent press release states.
“Wyoming agriculture is diverse. I was able to see everything from seed production and row crops, to ranches and Wyoming-produced wool which has helped me see how farmers and ranchers here deal with water, the federal government, and urban expansion,” Duvall adds. “Farmers are facing a lot of challenges, but I heard excitement for the future and the next generation which just showed me that agriculture in Wyoming has a bright future ahead.”
Multiple generations of Wyoming farmers and ranchers enjoyed showcasing their work in agriculture on the tours. Wyoming agriculture traditions were “proudly on display as a four-year old showed how he helps his dad irrigate their crops with siphon tubes and a nine-year-old proudly talked about calving with his mom and dad in Wyoming winters.” Traditions in agriculture continue to shine when older generations share the work their family has done before them and the work they do in agriculture today on their farms and ranches.
“It was an honor to have President Duvall here representing us and having an understanding of the struggles that we face in agriculture every day,” Lex Geer, Campbell County Rancher and Campbell County Farm Bureau Federation President, says. “It is just amazing to have someone that lives clear across the country supporting, caring and fighting for us all in agriculture so we can stay prosperous in our work that we do.”
“We were pleased to showcase the diversity of Park County agriculture to President Duvall and to the state Farm Bureau staff as well,” Abby Shuler, Park County Farmer and Park County Farm Bureau Federation Board member, says.
The tour stops also included great barbeques and picnics with county Farm Bureau Federation board members in Park, Johnson and Campbell counties.
“Our county Farm Bureaus showed President Duvall just how important they are to carrying the message of agriculture in their local communities as well as the state level,” Ken Hamilton, WyFB Executive Vice President, says.
The grassroots leaders welcomed the opportunity to visit with the national organization’s president and staff.
“One highlight that stuck out to me was our conversation with President Duvall over dinner,” Bill Burke, Johnson County Rancher and Johnson County Farm Bureau Federation President, says. “We discussed issues we both face, a lot were the same, just at different times of the year.”
“We tried to make the visit to Johnson County unique by sharing a part of our history, but still with ties to agriculture,” Burke explains. “The time at the Mountain Meadow Wool Mill was extremely informative and showed another side of the sheep industry that most people don’t get to see.”
AFBF staff members Shelby Hagenauer (Senior Director, Government Affairs) and Cole Staudt (Communications Manager) also participated in the “Wyoming agriculture tour.”
“One of the policy issues I focus on is western water, and so I appreciated talking to farmers who rely on irrigation and visiting the Willwood diversion dam, which was originally built almost 100 years ago,” Hagenauer says. “American Farm Bureau has been advocating for improvements to western water infrastructure, and now that Congress has provided unprecedented levels of funding we will work with our members and the government to focus efforts on getting shovels in the ground as quickly as possible.”
WyFB thanks the members and guests who took the time to provide tours and meet with the tour delegation. President Duvall says he has made a commitment to visit every state and the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation says it was pleased to host him here in Wyoming.
“President Duvall’s visit showed him Wyoming agriculture firsthand to help give him an important picture of our issues,” Hamilton adds. “WyFB President Fornstrom certainly provides that perspective to him in meetings, but it’s one thing to hear about a state’s issues and another to be on the ground and see firsthand.”
“This was President Duvall’s second visit to our state,” Hamilton concludes. “He was able to see a wide variety of agriculture, from the irrigated agriculture which relies on storage water to our rangeland agriculture in the more private land areas of our state.”