(Posted Sat. Mar 1st, 2014)
The 2014 Commodity Classic general session took place this morning, featuring a panel of top commodity leaders, keynote remarks by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and an inspirational and hilarious presentation on happiness by Brad Montgomery.
Program emcee Mark Mayfield opened the presidents’ roundtable, conducting brief interviews with each participant. Speaking with National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre, Mayfield inquired about why so many farmers play an active role in the greater industry both by participating in Commodity Classic and joining NCGA in record numbers.
“Commodity Classic is all about communications, about getting our word out to all the people who come, and not only communicating to our members who are here, but listening to them communicate to us,” Barbre said. “It’s a great forum for us to really get a good grasp of what’s going on in the industry and out in the country.”
Mayfield then conducted similar interviews with American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser, National Sorghum Producers Chairman J.B. Stewart and National Association of Wheat Growers President Bing von Bergen. Then, the conversation shifted to a more open format as the presidents offered their organization’s thoughts on the issues, the discussion offered a glimpse into the many shared concerns and unique issues facing each group.
For the fifth consecutive year, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed attendees, where he provided an update on efforts at USDA to implement the new farm bill and highlighted the importance of farmers for all aspects of the national economy.
“The great flexibility, the great freedom that we enjoy in this country to be whatever we want to be starts with the fact that we have a strong enough agriculture that we can shift that responsibility to someone else gladly and have it fulfilled year after year,” Vilsack said. “Everyone else in this country that does something other than farming and ranching owes you an enormous debt of gratitude for the freedom you’ve given them to pursue their dream, to make this country as strong and diverse as it is.”
The general session, sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, wrapped up on a positive note with the motivational humor of Brad Montgomery who focused on three steps for happiness – finding happiness in small things, being a leader in making others happy and simply being happy in the challenges of daily life.