The American Farm Bureau Federation is the country’s largest general farm organization and prides itself in being the unified national voice of agriculture. Each January, members gather for the annual convention. This year, the 99th Annual Convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation, held Jan. 5-10, was held in Nashville, Tennessee.
This year’s convention was attended by Utah Farm Bureau President Ron Gibson and Morgan’s own Albert Wilde of Wild Valley Farms. Wilde was in attendance as part of the Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge.
The Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs with food and agriculture businesses. This year, out of 470 applicants from 47 states and Puerto Rico, Wild Valley Farms placed in the top four, bringing home $15,000 in start-up money.
This also secured them a spot to compete for additional monies at the AFBF convention. Although they didn’t win those additional monies this time around, Wilde said, “We had a good time and made a lot of good contacts from around the country.”
He noted that many of the contacts they met were organic farmers and nurseries that will use Wild Valley Farms’ wool pellets. “We also met potential funding sources and had a number of interviews that gave great PR.”
The Croydon-based company, the only Utah entrepreneur to enter the competition, has two new products on the market. One is a potting mix with the wool pellets pre-mixed in for fertilizer and water holding. The second is a wool pot that will hold water better and is 100 percent bio-degradable when put into the soil.
After the competition, President of the United States Donald J. Trump addressed the audience. Trump is the first sitting president to speak to the AFBF in 25 years.
Wilde and Gibson were both present for that speech. Wilde related that the president talked about the things he has done to help farmers and ranchers specifically. “He received a standing ovation when he talked about his changes to the death tax, which is a big issue for farmers in Utah as well as the country. He also talked about his changes to water ways laws that affect many farmers. Then he signed orders to help bring high speed internet to rural communities. All of these items discussed will help Utah farmers,” explained Wilde.
Gibson expounded on those thoughts saying, “I think any opportunity you have to be in the room with the president of the United States is an exciting time. I think that it was fun to see his personality,” said Gibson. “We’ve done an analysis of the tax plan and we’re very excited. We feel like everything that has to do with farmers and ranchers in that tax plan is going to be positive for Utah.”
Gibson clarified that although the death tax did not go away, it was taken to $ 11 million per individual, $22 million per couple, which Trump said would enable farmers to keep family farms in the family when a loved one passes away. “We’ve always felt as an organization that having to pay tax on what you’ve built over your life is just sad,” perceived Gibson.
President Trump also noted that the annual deduction for equipment purchases went up to $1 million. This deduction may now be taken in full the year that the expense occurs instead of spreading that out over time. “The reason that’s important to the ag economy is that we live in such a volatile economy now days, we might only have one good year in 10 years, so we don’t need those tax deductions spread out over a 10-year period. If you happen to have that one good year, you need to take it all that year and upgrade your equipment,” explained Gibson.
Gibson is a sixth generation farmer in Weber County. He noted that he has been farming the same land that his family has been on since 1869. “There is a tremendous amount of purpose and responsibility there for me as I farm that land. The problem is today I am selling my milk in January for prices lower than what my dad sold the milk for in 1975.”
He said the issue we are facing right now is that American trade policies are not getting the ag products that are produced here out of our country. “That’s something we need to work on with this administration. We need to make sure we are working hard to build those relationships and not damage the relationships that we have in trade, because if we don’t export these ag products, our farms are not going to be able to survive.”
To get up-to-date gardening tips local to Morgan and other helpful information, visit www.wildvalleyfarms.com.