In a year of “firsts”, here are a few more.
Last week would have marked the 98th Annual Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation (LAFB) Meeting, but safety and health concerns and restrictions on gatherings as a result of the pandemic, sent this usually crowded New Orleans event into cyberspace for the first time.
Also, for the first time in more than three decades, the organization elected a new president, behind Mr. Ronnie Anderson’s retirement. Jim Harper, a rice, grain, and sugar producer from Rapides Parish was elected as the 12th president of the storied organization.
“I’m honored and humbled to begin this new chapter in Farm Bureau history,” Harper said. “For nearly a century, Farm Bureau has been there for Louisiana farmers and I only hope to live up to that legacy in the next 100 years.”
Harper had served as First Vice President of the Farm Bureau and served on various committees within the organization. He also holds board positions in the American Sugarcane League, The Central Rice Growers Association, and the Rapides Parish Soil and Water District, where he is chair.
Evangeline rice and grain producer Richard Fontentot, was re-elected to his position as 3rd Vice President. Fontentot serves on several USA Rice Boards and committees, and is also the chair for the Louisiana Rice Research Board.
Fontenot said: “This year was different to say the least! COVID may have cancelled a lot of things, but agriculture wasn’t one of them. Adjusting to attending meetings virtually has been tough, but we all still have jobs to do: protecting the interests of our agriculture industries together as an organization, especially in times like this.”
Due to the cancellation of the in-person meetings, the LAFB Commodity Groups were not able to gather in New Orleans as they normally do, but Chairman Donald Berken of Jeff Davis parish said, “the group will continue to keep our members informed on important rice issues through email, calls, and virtual meetings, until we get the chance to gather in-person again.”
While “firsts” are often a great and notable thing, let’s hope we look back on 2020 and the many conventions, conferences, and meetings that COVID scuttled, preventing our chances to gather together and connect in person, and say it was the “first and only!”