September 5, 2007 Edition

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300 attend Farm Bureau's
60th annual member meeting

Gloria Wilkerson
TD Staff

Lawrence County Farm Bureau President Blake Cox welcomed approximately 300 people to the 60th annual membership meeting on August 27 in the Van Ellis Cafetorium at Walnut Ridge School.

"Farm Bureau is a membership organization," Cox said. "It is always improving the quality of life for members. Started 70 years ago, we still see its benefits in an abundant, safe and affordable food supply."

Cox named many of the benefits members receive for their membership fee, including a full-time lobbyist in Little Rock and Washington, D.C., a full line of insurance programs, youth, safety and education programs, Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance and many other programs that support the membership.

Lawrence County currently has 1,750 family members, according to Cox, which is 93 percent of the county's goal of 1,882 members in 2007, Cox said. " Members make Farm Bureau what it is, and it gets stronger and better every year."

Past Farm Bureau presidents and board members were recognized, along with current staff members and visiting dignitaries including State Senator Robert Thompson, County Judge Alex Latham, Sheriff Dan Ellison and members of the state Farm Bureau staff.

Farm Family of the Year Randy and David Glenn were introduced and presented with plaques. The Glenns are third generation farmers from the Lynn area.

Board member John Andrews introduced Congressman Marion Berry, keynote speaker for the evening. "Congressman Berry is the only member of Congress who has a farming background," Andrews said. "He was a driving force behind the Farm Bill recently passed by the House. He is the man who got it done. He is also a member of the Appropriations Committee, which is quite an honor for a Congressman from Arkansas."

Berry congratulated the Glenns for being selected Farm Family of the Year, an honor he received in Arkansas County in 1979. He spoke briefly about his trip to Iraq a couple of years ago and asked that everyone present keep the soldiers and their families in their prayers and to always remember the sacrifices they are making. "Pray for this war to end and pray for peace," Berry said.

The Congressman discussed the development of the new Farm Bill recent passed in the House. "I've never seen a bill developed, worked on and built with everybody's interests brought into the room. The committee was presented with options with all shareholders coming together with a consensus agreement that this was the best they could do for everyone concerned. They took it to the floor and passed it. Farm Bureau was a major part of that effort and you should be proud of it.

"We think we have written a farm bill that will treat everyone fairly where the average farm family will be better off than they were under the last bill," Berry said. "Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi could not have been more helpful."

Berry said Pelosi told him, "Our farmers have got to be happy, and they've got to be taken care of. I don't know enough about their needs so you've got to tell me."

"I did tell her in a very respectful way and thankfully she listened to me," Berry said. "We've still got a lot of work to do to get the bill passed by the Senate."

"I'm excited about the new farm bill and the future of agriculture," he said. "There are many things that will come in the next 10 to 20 years that we haven't even imagined in agriculture."

President Cox announced that the board of directors had voted to honor the memory and legacy of Bill Edmondson, agency manager for 37 years, by establishing a scholarship fund at Arkansas State University in his memory. "Bill made Lawrence County Farm Bureau what it is today," Cox said.

The scholarship was established with a $10,000 endowment and has a $1,500 a year contribution committed for the next 10 years. Steve Owens, vice president for university advancement at ASU, and Dr. Robert L. Potts, chancellor of ASU, were present along with Edmondson family members, Jean (Mrs. Bill) Edmondson, daughter Leigh Ann Edmondson Graddy of Jonesboro, and Edmondson's sister, Sandra Edmondson. The scholarship will go to Lawrence County students attending ASU with a preference towards agriculture.

Cox presented a slate of officers for the 2007-2008 year, which the membership readily accepted. Officers named were: John Andrews, Hunter Burris, Blake Cox, Harold Forehand, Tori Hicks, Andrew Jones, James Ratliff, Heath Teel, Ray Moseley, Jerry Cox, Jim Perkins, Doug Wayland, Cap Phillips and Ray Stone.

Many door prizes were awarded, and the meeting was dismissed.

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