South Dakota man named Farm Bureau VP |

South Dakota man named Farm Bureau VP

Newly elected American Farm Bureau Federation leaders today said the organization is in great shape, but they want to work more with other farm groups to establish a stronger, single voice for agriculture.

Delegates to the AFBF convention in Orlando on Tuesday elected Georgia Farm Bureau President Vincent “Zippy” Duvall to a two-year term as its new president and South Dakota Farm Bureau President Scott VanderWal as its vice president.

Duvall, the 12th president of AFBF, succeeds Bob Stallman, a Texas rice grower who is retiring after 16 years as president. VanderWal succeeds Oregon Farm Bureau President Barry Bushue, who ran for president but did not win.

At a news conference following the election, Duvall said that under his leadership, Farm Bureau will “reach our arms” out to other commodity groups and agribusiness and “speak with one voice.”

Duvall also said that, while he has traveled in the West, he expects to get help from VanderWal on issues such as the sage grouse and public lands.

But Duvall professed to have knowledge of agriculture nationally, saying that Georgia is “a mirror of American agriculture.”

Duvall said that he had traveled to 29 states and more than 55,000 miles in three and a half months campaigning for the election. He said he learned that farmers are concerned about regulation, prices, and trade.

Duvall recalled that when he, as a young farmer, complained about regulation, taxes, and labor, his father told him that if he wanted to work on those issues, “you have to manage your farm and get outside your fencerows.”

Asked by The Hagstrom Report about companies that want to differentiate themselves for marketing purposes by doing such things as labeling for genetically modified foods, Duvall said Farm Bureau has no problem with voluntary labeling, but is opposed to mandatory labeling.

Asked for an issue on which he would like to testify before Congress, Duvall said immigration, because he considers it “a moral issue, a sensitive issue, and a business issue.”

Duvall also described himself as a deeply religious man who considers “faith, family, farm and Farm Bureau” to be the center of his life.

In his campaign speech, VanderWal said that farmers have to “push back against animal rightists and environmentalists” and other critics of agriculture.

At the news conference, he also noted the importance of the Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers program in his life. Duvall noted that he, too, had been in the program and that he wants to find a way for farmers who reach the cutoff age of 35 to be more active in Farm Bureau after that.

Four candidates ran for president, and the election took three ballots before a candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote. On the first vote, Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers was eliminated; on the second ballot, Bushue was. That left a final race between Duvall and Don Villwock, who just retired as Indiana Farm Bureau president.

The race for vice president was decided on the first ballot. VanderWal defeated New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton and Tom Buchanan of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

Farm Bureau does not reveal the vote tallies.

Duvall and his wife, Bonnie, are poultry, cattle, and hay producers from Greene County, Gorgia. He has been active in Farm Bureau since being chairman of the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee in the 1980s. He has also served in local government and on a bank board of directors.

VanderWal is a third-generation family farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Michelle, raise corn, soybeans and do custom cattle-feeding and some custom harvesting.

VanderWal has been a member of the South Dakota Farm Bureau board of directors since 1997, including three years as vice president. He was elected president in 2004 and has held the office since.

The VanderWals are both graduates of South Dakota State University and served on the South Dakota Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers committee for several years, including one year as chairs. They also served on the American Farm Bureau Federation YF&R committee from 1992-1994.

VanderWal’s agricultural background includes an exchange trip to Germany in 1996, tours of the soybean “frontier” in Brazil in 2001 and 2006, and an agricultural trade mission to Cuba in 2004. More recently, he has traveled to China and Switzerland to promote agriculture. He is a graduate of the South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program.

–The Hagstrom Report