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Grange Hosts Big Name Speakers During 150th National Convention

Originally Published in Good Day! Magazine

Written: January 2018

Last month, the Grange held its 150th National Convention and brought out the big guns for the event, as far as speakers were concerned. Representatives from the Farm Service Agency, the Department of Agriculture, Congress and Hilton Hotels all came out for the event.

During the Salute to Agriculture Breakfast, Val Dolcini, administrator of the Farm Service Agency, thanked the farmers in attendance for all they do for the U.S.


“I want to thank all the farmers on the room first and foremost, for all the work that you do every day; for folks in rural communities all around the country,” Dolcini said. “For bringing farm workers into the community of agriculture in this nation and or the contributions that make to the fabric of American society.”


Dolcini went on to note some of the achievements the Farm service Agency has seen over the past year, including progress on software that will help farmers determine which equipment will suit them and their needs best. He detailed how the agency has been working to provide programs like the Conservation Reserve Program and the Margin Protection Program, among others.


“All of these programs… are a part of the USDA’s safety net that is absolutely essential to the well-being and economic vitality of rural America,” Dolcini said.

Also speaking at the breakfast was Acting Deputy Secretary of the USDA Michael Scuse. National Grange Master Betsy Huber, when introducing Scuse, described him as “a friend of the Grange in Delaware for many years.”


Starting off his speech by stating the importance of advocating for farming across the U.S. Scuse said, “how we advocate for agriculture can change the feel for the next generation of producers all across rural America.”


Scuse then described how the desire for organic and local food could be key in the next years for the agricultural industry.

“Demand for local and organic food is also attracting more young people… back to the land and creating value added opportunities for farmers to boost their incomes,” Scuse said.


Putting these words into number, Scuse described how there are more than 8,500 farmers’ markets around the country, which is an increase of almost 98 percent since 2006. The number of food hubs, a place to fresh, local foods, has also increased with more than 300 operational hubs; almost double the number that there was in 2009.


During his speech, Scuse acknowledged that some research can only get you so far and emphasized the importance of learning from others; both their successes and failures.


“Sometimes the best lessons learned are from other communities, communities who have forged a very successful path,” Scuse said.


Ending his speech with an important message, Scuse relayed the need for younger people to get more involved in agriculture in every aspect. 


“The average age of the American farmer today is 58. Look around your communities. How many young people do we have involved in agriculture today?” asked Scuse.


Earlier in the week, Convention goers heard from Congressman Glenn Thompson (PA-5) who spoke of the Grange’s relevance in today’s society during the Legislative Breakfast.


“Given what we’re experiencing right now, after the election we just completed, the National Grange is as relevant today as it was 150 years ago,” Rep. Thompson said. “Just like the founding of your organization, your timing is such that it is time for healing in our land and I think the Grange can be a very big part of that.”


Rep. Thompson also spoke about the importance of the rural communities to America.


“The fact is without a robust rural America, people in the cities will wake up in the cold, in the dark, and hungry, and so we have really a moral obligation to make sure we do our best to fulfill the focus and mission of the National Grange,” Rep. Thompson said.


Senior Director of Brand Management at Hilton Hotels, Clay Snyder, also had a message for Convention attendees, mainly the TracFone Communications Fellows in a workshop and luncheon on brands. 


Emphasizing the importance of a brand, Snyder defined it as “a set of expectations established by you that is an explicit guarantee of quality that evokes an emotion and instills a sense of belonging.” 


Stating that “so many are searching for a reason to be involved in an organization like the Grange,” Snyder put the responsibility on the Grangers to make the Grange brand one that “compels other outside the Grange to explore membership.”


Quoting Maya Angelou and giving the advice to “be respectful to each other,” Snyder ended his speech.


Grange members who attended these workshops and luncheons during the 150th National Convention had the opportunity to learn from men and women with immeasurable experience and wisdom in their fields and were given the tools to help forward the goals of not only their local Grange, but the Grange organization as a whole.

copyright 2020 Kimberly Stefanick

designed & created by Kimberly Stefanick

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