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Phoenix, AZ — Several honors were bestowed upon dignitaries and members and issues discussed during American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show held in Phoenix.

The AFBF presented its highest honors, the Distinguished Service Award to Bob Stallman and the Farm Bureau Founders Award to James Quinn, posthumously.

AFBF established the Distinguished Service Award in 1928 to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving the national interest of American agriculture. The Farm Bureau Founders Award is a new award to recognize exemplary leadership, service or contributions to Farm Bureau by officers or employees of AFBF and state Farm Bureau organizations.

Stallman served as president of the nation’s largest general farm organization for 16 years, stepping down in 2016. A rice and cattle producer from Columbus, TX, Stallman sharpened his leadership skills as a young farmer and rancher. He became president of the Texas Farm Bureau in 1993, and AFBF president in 2000.

More than a century ago, James Quinn was elected as the first president of the first Farm Bureau in the country, Broome County, New York, in 1911. A prominent local dairy farmer, Quinn set an important precedent for the Farm Bureau being directed by farmers and for farmers.

“He got it started, and we have so much pride that it happened right here in Broome County,” said Broome County Farm Bureau President Dave Johnson.

Young Farmers, Ranchers

Winners of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions were announced at the annual convention. Young farmers and ranchers from around the country competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge of and achievement in agriculture, as well as commitment to promoting the agriculture industry.

Grant and Kristen Strom of IL won the Achievement Award. They are the winners of either a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado or 2017 GMC Sierra.

Runners-up were Stewart and Kasey McGill of Alabama, Chris and Patricia Haskins of Virginia and Jay and Alice Ann Yeargin of Tennessee.

Matt Niswander of Tennessee won the Discussion Meet. He will have his choice of either a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2017 GMC Sierra. Runners-up were Amanda Sollman of Michigan, Skye Gess of Georgia and Jessica Jones of Virginia.

Sarah Scyphers of Virginia won the Excellence in Agriculture Award. She will receive her choice of either a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado or 2017 GMC Sierra. Runners-up were Wayne and Melonie Brinkerhoff of Utah, Terisha and Brian McKeighen of Arizona and Seth and Lyndsay Earl of Michigan

Alaska operation honored

Vertical Harvest Hydroponics of Alaska is the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year. Team leads Linda Janes and Dan Perpich won AFBF’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge by beating three other teams from across the nation.

Janes and Perpich took home a total of $30,000 in prize money, including $15,000 from sponsor Farm Bureau Bank to produce hydroponic vegetables housed in 40’ insulated shipping containers.

Windcall Manufacturing of Nebraska, led by Martin Bremmer, and Grow Bioplastics of Tennessee, led by Tony Bova, were the other two finalists who competed in the final round of the challenge in Phoenix.

National monument

During the event, AFBF spearheaded a coalition of 18 other groups with vital interests in protecting the multiple uses of the nation’s public lands today, urging President-elect Donald Trump to work with Congress to pass legislation to improve accountability and transparency in the designation of national monuments.

According to a letter to Trump, the coalition stated that the designation of lands as national monuments or similar designation without input from communities impacted by the decision “can lead, and in fact has led, to devastating reductions in economic activity and the loss of jobs in resource-dependent communities.”

“Over the last eight years, the Obama administration has used the authority provided by the Antiquities Act to lock up millions of acres of land from multiple-use by designating land as national monuments,” the coalition letter said. “In fact, President Obama has proclaimed more new national monuments than any other president in U.S. history. “

The Antiquities Act of 1906 was enacted as a response to concerns over theft from and destruction of archaeological sites and was designed to provide an expeditious means to protect federal lands and resources. The act requires the president to reserve “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

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