The AFBF Annual convention is in Puerto Rico.  One participant is Beth Blevins, a large animal veterinarian from Ronan.  She took a few minutes between sessions and talked about why she is there and some of the activities she has done:

Beth: the Women's Leadership Committee has a project here in Puerto Rico to give travel kits to the Ronald McDonald's House here in Puerto Rico and it's a fairly small house. But Montana Women's Committee gave women's men's and a baby kit and then some travel towels to go with it so that when they get there with their sick child they'll have if it was an emergency they have the toiletries on hand to be able to stay there and be with their children.


We've had speakers and one of the really good speakers who just finished now was one of the founders of Life is Good t shirts and their positive attitude and all the good they've done with their business is really inspiring. We also had Big Kenny Elphin who is the big part of Big and Rich, his talk was really inspiring. He is actually owner or inheritor of 11th generation farm. So their farm in Virginia started in 1745 with a land grant of 550 acres from Lord Halifax and that stayed in the family and his kids will be the 11th generation. They're starting to use farm as a wedding venue but they still have cattle on the farm and raise hay. That was pretty impressive to have it going that long. Tom Vilsack spoke, the Secretary of Agriculture and our producers need to watch for new developments and funds to help with recovering from COVID and the supply chain upsets that we've had. And even though there's been record income for some sectors of agriculture, probably mainly in grain, it's also over 50% of the farms are depending on off farm income to make it. So he is talking about the new opportunities coming with funding and then also the need to get the new Farm Bill passed.


There's been workshops on the new Farm Bill and a big focus on getting that put in place early this year or at least this year and not extending into another year. I also attended the Proposition 12, which is the California Proposition that wanted to mandate that pigs could not be raised in gestation crates. And there were some regulations on chickens not being caged. And the regulations that were made were not looking at any of the necessities of agriculture for providing those regulations. And they were wanting to affect interstate commerce, by limiting what animals could come into California. Well, American Farm Bureau did file suit against it, and actually the Biden administration filed an amicus brief. So it's in the Supreme Court now and it's looking like it's probably going to be a successful thing to stop that. Proposition Twelve no state can interfere with interstate commerce. And the restaurant representative of the restaurant association was very adamant that it would add a tremendous cost to the price of food that they supply. And I don't think consumers realize what impact it would have. And that while you're trying to benefit the sow, you're not benefiting her because of the inter-fighting between sows, and then you're definitely not benefiting the piglets because they either get laid on or sometimes even cannibalized by their mom if the sow is not in a gestation crate.


We've covered many interesting topics and I just grazed the surface here, but it's excellent networking, visiting with other farmers and ranchers from around the country. Puerto Rico has been fabulous. They've been very gracious hosts and it's been a good conference, great information that is absolutely perfect.

Seminars, workshops, speakers and tours are all a part of the convention scene.  Beth said in addition to all that one of the most important aspects is:

Beth: I think knowing that American Farm Bureau is networking with the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which is a good help, knowing that we have other people that are going through similar problems. And our resources is one of the big focuses of a convention like this. So you meet people from across the country and even if we don't cover it in the main sessions, knowing that there are resources to help figure out that's aspects of what we do in agriculture is a huge help.

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