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Quillins attend Farm Bureau meeting in Nashville, see Trump PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 20 January 2018 08:55

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ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times



Over the course of nearly a week, earlier this month, the American Farm Bureau Federation hosted its annual convention and IDEAg Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn.

With Nashville being Music City USA, one of the speakers at the convention was country music superstar Reba McEntire, and President Donald Trump was also on hand for some of the week’s activities.

Southwest Kansas was likewise represented with Seward County Farm Bureau Board President Carolyn Quillin and her husband, Dave, among the thousands in Tennessee.

The convention started Jan. 5, and Carolyn said most of the time in Nashville was spent at the general assembly, but Jan. 9 featured tours of Nashville itself.

In addition to seeing Trump and McEntire, Carolyn said she and Dave also attended the leadership foundation luncheon with Missouri’s director of that state’s Department of Agriculture.

Carolyn said the Quillins also attended the trade show, which she said takes the course of entire afternoon to go through.

“They had all kinds of stuff in there,” she said.

Other highlights included a sunrise church service the morning of Sunday, Jan. 7. As for seeing Trump in person, both Carolyn and Dave said it was quite the experience.

“We stood in line,” Carolyn said. “We started at 9:30, and they opened the gates at 11. It was wall to wall, very security tight. When we got in, there were assigned seats. They took you in and showed you where you were sitting. We were told not to get out of our seats.”

“His stage presence was pretty awesome,” Dave said. “Behind the scenes, he has deleted a lot of the regulation that was put in place by the last administration. The people that have been there for years and years and years in politics are squirming and upset, and I think it’s great.”

Carolyn said Trump received standing ovations continuously during his address, and he is very pro-agriculture.

The Quillins likewise had the opportunity to hear from Kansas Senator Jerry Moran at the convention, but the senator’s speech was scheduled to take place during Trump’s.

“I’ve been to a lot of forums where they’ve had a lot of good up and down,” Carolyn said. “This president flew to Tennessee to make sure the farmers knew he was working for us.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was also on hand, and Carolyn said she was particularly impressed with one statement he made.

“‘America has no reason to apologize for being great,’” she said. “This president is trying to make sure America continues to be.”

Carolyn said Trump focused on many issues, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, and she said the president is very interested in cutting the red tape for farmers.

“He said he was going to try to get rid of some of the regulations and rules that didn’t apply to farming,” she said. “They mentioned a couple he’s already gotten rid of.”

One regulation Trump is trying to get rid of is the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States rule, and Carolyn said many of the federal regulations are meant for non-farmers.

“Some of the rules and regs, they try to put on other people, but farmers get caught up in it because of the trucks,” she said. “He’s trying to cut through the red tape and get rid of that. He’s trying to get better services. A lot of the whole theme was how to get our story out to the others so we’re not negative.”

Dave said the AFBF convention is something he has been looking forward to for some time, particularly Trump’s presence.

“He’s totally not what people expected him to be,” he said. “They expected him to roll over and go along. He’s not. He is not that person.”

The Quillins got to see plenty of sights in Tennessee during the tour, and Dave called the experience a different one.

“We’ve been through Tennessee, and we’ve been to some of the places that we saw,” he said. “We got to meet a lot of people that have different farming experience. There were a lot of hay and people that had small farms, really small farms. They raise different kinds of things like tobacco, sheep and goats. There were a couple of pig farmers there. It was a fun place to be.”

Overall, Dave said the experience was a great one for he and Carolyn.

“We’d never been to the Opryland motel,” he said. “That was a humongous place. The meeting, you get 4,500 people in a room, that’s a lot of people.”

At the convention, President Trump also signed two bills to expand the Internet and make access to government-owned properties easier through the Internet.

Carolyn said the AFBF convention helped agriculture leaders learn how to better inform producers about the truth and falsehoods of the business.

“We’re informed so we can transform others and tell our story truthfully so they will know what is fact and what is fiction,” she said. 

Carolyn said there is much in the way of education she brought back to Southwest Kansas to improve the area’s ag economy.

“I wondered how many of them know about the leadership opportunities that Farm Bureau provides,” she said. “In FFA, 65 percent of the people in FFA or 4-H come back and do ag related jobs. For your money you put into there, you’re getting your money back. The others are doing welding or something that helps farming or businesses. That’s your leadership. Most people do not think of FFA people as leadership people, but 65 percent of those come back and own businesses.”

Carolyn said Trump likewise touted his recently passed tax cut as a way to help independent businessmen, including farmers, be better and have better tax breaks.

Carolyn also said supporting ag departments at schools like Seward County Community College brings more professionals like veterinarians into the working world.

Carolyn, who also serves as the district manager for the Seward County Conservation District, said she and Dave were able to meet with farmers from other states, and this helped those farmers, as well as Kansas producers, learn a little about each other, some of which surprised the out-of-state farmers.

“Michigan farmers were astounded with our acres out here,” she said. “What they can make a living with there is a whole lot smaller than what it takes for us.”

Despite the differences between farmers from various states, Carolyn said all ag producers have some things in common.

“Farmers are all farmers at heart,” she said. “They live out on the farm. They want to be by themselves. They don’t want to live in big cities, and yet, here we have the big city people coming in trying to change our way of life from what we really want to be. I think that’s a basic concern, especially for the family farm.”

Carolyn said opportunities such as the AFBF convention make some more aware of what needs to be done to help agriculture.

“They’re finally being aware that if they don’t get their voice out there, we’re going to be run over,” she said. “They’re taking people at grassroots level, showing them how to by media, social media, being on these committees, getting our voice out there so that we aren’t trampled over and that we do make sure our votes count by who we get into office.”

Carolyn said in addition to the trade show, which she said had everything anyone would want to see, she and Dave got a lot out of the all-day tour on Jan. 9.

“We saw Lynchburg, Murfreesboro, some of the littler towns,” she said. “The one thing they did tell us is 100 people a day are moving to Nashville. It was really green. Beef cattle overtook the dairy industry. It used to be all dairy, and now, it’s mostly beef.”

Like Dave, Carolyn said the week in Nashville was a wonderful opportunity for her as well.

“They had the same concerns we do as far as farming overall,” she said. “They have the same taxes, the same marketing. My overall experience, it was just awesome seeing all those people and all their positivity toward agriculture, all the leaders out there that are trying to change things or get you to be more aware and try to have a bigger voice in what farming is doing.”

Above all else, the most important thing Carolyn said she and Dave learned was that ag producers need to get their story out there to bring more success to farming.

“You need to be able to tell people exactly how it is, what you do, make sure it’s not aggressive, be polite about it and make sure they know and make sure you know exactly what you’re talking about,” she said. “It’s trying to make a better way of life for you on the farm by helping you get better services, better deals.”

 

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