ORLANDO, Fla. (DTN) -- The American Farm Bureau Federation delegates voted Tuesday for Georgia's Zippy Duvall to take over as president of the group.
Duvall, 59, has been president of the Georgia Farm Bureau for the past nine years. He beat out three other candidates for the position in three rounds of secret votes among the 353 delegates at Farm Bureau's national convention in Orlando.
This was the first open election that had been held for the American Farm Bureau Federation president in 30 years. Duvall replaces Texas farmer and rancher Bob Stallman, who has held the presidency of AFBF for the past 16 years.
In the final vote, Duvall defeated Don Villwock, who until December was president of the Indiana Farm Bureau. Duvall and Villwock had strong constituencies and campaigns at the AFBF annual meeting going into the final days.
Kevin Rogers, president of the Arizona Farm Bureau and Barry Bushue, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, also ran for national president and were eliminated in the first two rounds of ballots.
A Farm Bureau member since 1977, Duvall is a beef, poultry and hay producer near Greshamville, Georgia. He grew up mostly in the dairy industry until he converted the dairy to a beef herd about a decade ago. Duvall talks frequently about the diversity of agriculture in his state, ranging from fruits and vegetables to cotton, dairy and poultry.
Duvall came up through the Georgia Young Farmer and Rancher Committee and became national chairman of that committee. He then became president of the Georgia Farm Bureau. In accepting his nomination, Duvall told delegates, "I believe this is the only organization in the country that can organize all the commodities and all the regions of the country to get things done."
Duvall stressed that farmers are overburdened by regulation and challenged by the lack of labor for farm jobs. He also stressed that he has a style of leadership that builds bridges and solves problems.
In Duvall's acceptance speech, he said he would fight for farmers' freedoms and let people know around the world where the heart of the American farmer lies.
"We're the ones that have built the rural communities of this country," Duvall said.
He also quoted Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." He also talked about the humanitarian importance of every farmer.
"There is no other human right more precious than the right to eat. Bob Dole said that, and when I read that, it touched my heart," Duvall said.
Bushue was national vice president for AFBF since 2008, but he opted not to run for another term as vice president after losing the presidency. South Dakota Farm Bureau President Scott VanderWal won the vote to become AFBF's new national vice president.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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