I hope many of you were able to view our premier virtual convention on February 9 and 10.
I would like to thank everyone involved in making this happen, especially, Perry Garner, Helene Bergren, Frank Alampi and Judy Krier. Our hats off to NFU for all of their assistance with our Zoom resolutions meeting on February 4.
Convention this year was definitely a team effort. We are all looking forward to our next annual winter meeting, in person in the Quad Cities, Feb. 8 and 9. In spite of all the challenges we faced last year, National Farmers enjoyed some of the best growth we have had in years—from new memberships to growth in our commodity divisions.
National Farmers’ Dairy Division is presently handling more milk than at any time in the last twenty years. The Livestock Division has been enjoying double-digit percentage growth and with the addition of the former Manchester, Iowa barn, we expect that to continue. The largest growth continues to be in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Our Grain Division is working hard and has also enjoyed a lot of success. NForganics continues to be the bright star in our Grain Division with many new members and tremendous growth. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank OFARM for all of its support.
A few words that come to mind to describe 2020 are scary, uncertain, and volatile. NFO as whole felt the biggest impact during the second quarter, as markets were disrupted, and at times completely non-existent. For producers, COVID-19 turned their lives and their livelihoods upside down.
Today we ask ourselves, ‘When will things be normal again?’ and ‘What will normal look like?’
We are finally enjoying a nice bump in grain prices, but livestock and dairy prices continue to be volatile, and need to follow the same trends as grain for everyone to finally be profitable.
With all that said, we can’t change 2020, but I hope as a nation, we have learned some valuable lessons from last year.
Food security must be addressed, because our country was put to a test and failed miserably. Also, we cannot and should not rely on other countries for our medical supplies.
The last year brought one more thing to the forefront. It has never been more obvious that we are a nation plagued by inequities and inequalities that must also be addressed, including production agriculture.
Farmers and ranchers are eternal optimists. That is who we are, but that trait alone does not pay the bills. We must keep our eye on the target, continue to grow, and work with whoever we can to put stability and prosperity back in rural America.
In a few weeks the landscape will change from cold and snow to lush green grass and warm temperatures. The season of hope will surround us. The hope for a normal planting season, a good growing season and hopefully, no breakdowns.
In the meantime, I hope everyone can get their vaccine shots and we can all long for the day we can get together for in-person meetings and enjoy some good food and fellowship together.