The American Farm Bureau Federation honored several people, groups and even a dog during their recent 100th annual convention.
Here’s a look at honorees.
Longtime congressman Sen. Orrin Hatch received the organization’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.
AFBF established the Distinguished Service Award in 1928 to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving the national interest of American agriculture.
Hatch is a longtime advocate in Congress for farmers and ranchers. His commitment to preserving public lands, cutting taxes, creating jobs and strengthening the economy has helped foster more prosperous rural communities across the country.
“Cutting taxes was of major value to people who farm who were worried they wouldn’t be able to maintain their farming,” Hatch said regarding his efforts on tax reform.
Hatch was first elected to the Senate in 1976, most recently in 2012, and served as Senate president pro tempore for four years. Early in his career, Hatch raised the sagebrush rebellion, a revolt against heavy-handed public lands policy in the West. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch more recently championed the Tax Cuts and Job Act.
Before his retirement on Jan. 3, Hatch was the longest-serving sitting Republican senator in history. He sponsored more bills that have become law than any other living senator.
“Senator Hatch loves the farmers and ranchers in the country and in our state,” said Utah Farm Bureau President Ron Gibson. “Every single time that I came to D.C. as the Farm Bureau president he would make time to see me.”
The Farm Bureau Founders Award went to Pennsylvania native Dick Newpher, who served as a Farm Bureau leader at state and national levels.
The Farm Bureau Founders Award was established in January 2017 to recognize exemplary leadership, service or contributions to Farm Bureau by officers or employees of AFBF and state Farm Bureau organizations.
Starting out at Pennsylvania Farm Bureau as a field representative for Clearfield, his home county, Newpher went on to serve as AFBF executive director of public policy and then executive vice president and treasurer of the organization and its affiliated companies. He was known for demonstrating a supportive management style focused on the betterment of grassroots members.
During Newpher’s tenure at AFBF, the Food Quality Protection was passed and signed by the president and the organization’s efforts in Congress successfully blocked the collection of income taxes on Farm Bureau memberships.
“His major accomplishment at American Farm Bureau was consolidating the Chicago office with the Washington office,” Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert said. “He brought those people that wanted to come from Chicago to Washington to make it the main location and focus for American Farm Bureau.”
Reflecting on his time with the organization, Newpher said: “I saw the ad that said the Pennsylvania Farmers Association wanted a field representative. It fit perfect. I applied for the job. I got the job. Nothing bigger or better has ever happened in my life, except maybe my marriage, that created and controlled my life like the American Farm Bureau did.”
New Congress member
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., was honored with the organization’s first Outstanding New Member of Congress award.
“Congressman Comer has been a good friend to agriculture not only in his home state of Kentucky, but to farmers and ranchers across the country,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We commend his tireless work on the House Agriculture Committee and as a member of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee.”
Kentucky Farm Bureau endorsed Comer for the award because of his commitment in Congress to issues important to farmers and ranchers.
“Congressman Comer knows firsthand the many challenges facing agriculture today,” said Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney. “We are grateful for his dedicated service to agriculture and rural America.”
In addition to serving on the Agriculture Committee, Comer serves on the Small Business, and Oversight and Government Reform Committees.
Comer, a first-generation beef cattle and crop farmer, previously served as Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner and in the Kentucky General Assembly.
AFBF’s Outstanding New Member of Congress award is presented to one first-time representative or senator, regardless of party affiliation, whose philosophy and record demonstrate a commitment to the private enterprise system, sound agricultural policies supported by AFBF, fiscal conservatism and reduced federal regulation of business and individuals.
Woody, an Australian shepherd owned by Texas Farm Bureau members Joe and Mary Sheeran, is the winner of the 2019 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year award. The American Farm Bureau Federation, with support from Nestlé Purina, recognized Woody and four runners-up.
“It’s exciting to celebrate the important role of farm dogs on farms and ranches,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “They are loyal work partners every day on the farm. Their faithful and playful companionship constantly enriches the lives of farmers and their families.”
Woody won a year’s worth of Purina dog food, $5,000 in prize money, a trophy plate and a basket of Purina products.
Woody is part of the Sheeran family and Joe’s constant companion on the farm, herding cattle, sheep and ducks. Over the past eight years he has captured top honors in stock dog competitions around the country. But his bravery as an 8-month-old puppy when Joe faced certain injury from an angry “momma cow” who erroneously thought she was protecting her calf is what sets him apart. Woody came to the rescue, chasing away the cow and saving Joe’s life. “If he wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be here today,” Joe said.
Four runners-up in the contest will each receive $1,000 in prize money, a trophy plate and a basket of Purina products. They are:
- Clue, owned by Florida Farm Bureau members Andrew and Cindy Deak;
- Shine, owned by Kansas Farm Bureau members Denny and Donna Ashcraft;
- Finn, owned by New Hampshire Farm Bureau members Tim and Lisa Molinero; and
- Flint, owned by Utah Farm Bureau members Rhett and Beth Crandall.
A panel of judges with expertise in the pet care industry, veterinary medicine and communications reviewed more than 90 nominations to select the Farm Dog of the Year.
Desired attributes included helpfulness to the farmer and his/her family, playfulness and the role dogs play to make life better on and off the farm. Farm Bureau members submitted written responses to questions, still photos and video clips to nominate their dogs for Farm Dog of the Year.
Watch a video about Woody, the 2019 Farm Dog of the Year, here: https://player.vimeo.com/video/311000443.
More from AFBF annual convention:
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