Several state Farm Bureau organizations are stepping up their sponsorship at Sunbelt Expo.

This year, eight state Farm Bureau organizations from the Southeast will join longtime sponsors Southern States Cooperative and Swisher Sweets in sponsoring the Willie B. Withers luncheon for exhibitors Tuesday, Oct. 19, where the overall winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award will be announced.

Farm Bureau organizations from Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky are working together as major sponsors of the luncheon.

Farm Bureau has a long tradition of support for and participation in the farm show. The Georgia Farm Bureau was an original exhibitor at the first Expo held in 1978, and has been back every year since.

“Several state Farm Bureau organizations have long been outstanding sponsors and coordinators of our Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards,” says Expo director Chip Blalock.
“These Farm Bureaus select the state winners of the awards from which the overall winners are named. We are honored to welcome these state organizations as sponsors for our luncheon honoring exhibitors and Farmer of the Year winners.”

Regarding the new partnership with state Farm Bureau organizations, Blalock says, “This will allow us to work together to continue to help educate farmers who come to our show.”

On a national level, the American Farm Bureau Federation is this country’s largest grassroots, independent, voluntary general farm organization, and has long been an effective lobbying force in speaking out for the needs of the nation’s commercial farmers.

Texas farmer Bob Stallman serves as president of the national organization. Farm Bureau traces its history to 1919, when farmers from 30 states gathered in Chicago to form the organization. American Farm Bureau currently has more than six million member families.

As American Farm Bureau works on the national level, the state Farm Bureau organizations work on the state level by providing an effective collective voice for farmers.

Valuable service for farmers

State Farm Bureaus provide another valuable service for farmers and for others by selling insurance for farms, homes and vehicles. Farm Bureau insurance is competitively priced and is known for offering fast and fair claims service.

State Farm Bureaus also offer educational and leadership programs, along with other activities for young farmers, women and for producers of major commodities in their respective states.

Farm Bureau is a voice for agriculture at all levels, with strong county-level organizations operating throughout the U.S. It can rightly claim that it is a grassroots organization because virtually all of Farm Bureau’s state and national programs and policy positions start out as proposals at the local or county level.

Georgia Farm Bureau, headquartered at Macon, has nearly 400,000 member families and traces its beginning to 1937. Zippy Duvall serves as president.

With a membership of about 140,000 members, Florida Farm Bureau is headquartered at Gainesville and has a record of 69 years of service to the state’s farm families. Farm Bureaus can be found in each of the state’s 60 counties. John Hoblick has served as president since 2006.

The Alabama Farmers Federation began in 1921 and currently serves 460,000 members statewide. The organization prides itself on speaking with a strong voice at the statehouse in Montgomery and on Capitol Hill in Washington.

After a separation lasting some 20 years, the Alabama Farmers Federation rejoined American Farm Bureau in 2005. The Alabama Farmers Federation Alfa Insurance division was started in 1946 and currently has more than a million policies in force. Jerry Newby serves as president.

Tennessee Farm Bureau, based in Columbia, was organized in 1921 and now has more than 646,000 members. Its membership has grown for 68 consecutive years and it is now the largest state Farm Bureau in the U.S. Its insurance company was founded in 1948. Lacy Upchurch serves as the seventh president.

North Carolina Farm Bureau was started in 1936 as a grassroots organization to make sure the farmer’s voice would be heard. That’s still true today, and the organization has more than 500,000 member families and offices in each of the state’s 100 counties.

Insurance services were first offered in 1953. Headquartered in Raleigh, the organization is currently led by its president Larry Wooten.

Kentucky Farm Bureau is based in Louisville, where it was founded in 1919. The voluntary organization now has more than 440,000 families as members. Mark Haney serves as president.

Arkansas Farm Bureau, headquartered in Little Rock, now has a membership of more than 220,000 families. Randy Veach is president. The organization traces its origin to 1931 and was the 39th state to join American Farm Bureau Federation.

Mississippi Farm Bureau, based in Jackson, is the largest general farm organization in the state with more than 209,000 members in 82 counties.

The organization was chartered in 1922 and originally operated as a farm cooperative. David Waide, now serving his seventh term as president, will be stepping down in December.

For additional information about the Sunbelt Expo see the Oct. 6 print issue of Southeast Farm Press, or visit