Veach to again lead Arkansas Farm Bureau

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Officers, seven state board members also re-elected

LITTLE ROCK -- Randy Veach and Rich Hillman will continue as president and vice president, respectively, of Arkansas Farm Bureau following their re-election Friday. Delegates also re-elected seven board members during the final day of the organization's 77th Annual Convention at the Peabody Hotel and Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

Veach, 61, of Manila (Mississippi County) begins a fourth term as president. He is Arkansas Farm Bureau's tenth president since its creation in 1935. Veach farms cotton, soybeans, rice, wheat, corn and milo in and around the community of Lost Cane near Manila. He is a third-generation farmer and farms with his son Brandon. His wife's name is Thelma.

"It's a privilege and honor to continue serving as president of this great organization," Veach said. "I am humbled by the opportunity."

At its three-day statewide conference focusing on the 77-year-old organization's legacy, Veach says it's the building of grassroots policy from member farmers and ranchers that makes the organization effective.

"This organization has built a legacy as the voice of Arkansas agriculture. The reason that we are effective in the policy arena for our farmers and ranchers is because of our grassroots process," Veach said. "Grassroots policy development that benefits the efficient and sustainable farming of food, fiber and shelter is the foundation of Arkansas Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau.

Veach says Arkansas will not give up on or deviate from its member-developed policy.

"Once we do that we destroy the foundation and the legacy of this organization," he said.

Veach says that's why the farming and ranching community needs to stick together during this period of economic challenges.

"We are receiving some pressure to give up on parts of our Farm Bill policy. Arkansas Farm Bureau has stood strong, while some other states have not," Veach said. "We will remain committed to our policy. We will work on implementation of our policies."

Voting delegates also addressed a wide range of policy issues including positions on environmental regulation, agriculture research, taxes, elected terms for county officials, private property rights and eminent domain, and maintaining a safety net for agriculture as it relates to the upcoming farm bill.

Hillman, 48, hails from Carlisle (Lonoke County) and will begin his fourth term as vice president. He farms 4,500 acres and is a third-generation farmer. His main crops are rice, soybeans and wheat. He and his wife Tina have two children, Collin and Caroline.

"It's a great opportunity to serve again," Hillman said. "I'm humbled."

Board action later resulted in the re-election of Tom Jones of Pottsville (Pope County) as Secretary/Treasurer. Jones is a cattle and hay producer. His wife Jayne is vice president of development at Arkansas Tech University.

The voting delegates also re-elected seven board members to new two-year terms. They include: Mike Sullivan of Burdette (Mississippi County); Gene Pharr of Lincoln (Washington County); Bruce Jackson of Lockesburg (Sevier County); Richard Armstrong of Ozark (Franklin County); Mike Freeze of Keo (Lonoke County); Troy Buck of Alpine (Clark County) and Jon Carroll of Moro (Monroe County).

Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of more than 210,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.

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