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My Series of Conversations Brings on the Chatter August 12, 2013

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

This year, I’ve really enjoyed the “Conversations” series I began early in the year for Arizona Farm Bureau’s Arizona Agriculture, our monthly publication for our agriculture members. Every interview brought new insights to the conversation.

American Farm Bureau Federation

Arizona Farm Bureau

Here are my favorite quotes from some of the interviews.


Howard Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett: “It drives me nuts the amount of money that is spent on research that never transfers to farmers. We have the problem here too in the United States. It’s a big issue.”


Chief Economist for American Petroleum Institute (API), John Felmy, Ph.D.,

Arizona Agriculture: Can we truly become energy independent in five to seven years despite governmental roadblocks including regulations?

Felmy: We can certainly get a long ways toward it. Certainly within a dozen years. A variety of groups support these development advances including unions. We’ve worked closely with the building trades and unions that are in the business of developing pipeline capacity.

The challenge mainly comes from the environmental community which is strongly opposed to developing fossil fuels. You might have seen recent demonstrations in Washington D.C. that are fundamentally just silly. The notion that somehow they’re going to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and that will stop development of the Canadian oil sands is just simply silly. The oil sands are worth 10 times what the Canadian GDP is at. So the notion that Canada is not going to develop the oil sands is just absurd. If you really are an environmentalist you’ll support developing and sending the oil to the U.S. because it will reduce emissions for shipping, processing and use.


Director, President, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Yulex Corp, Jeffrey A. Martin

Arizona Agriculture: Eventually, what type of crop revenue can guayule bring in to the state?

Martin: I’m not sure I can give you what the crop revenue will be. Essentially, we hope to maximize the growth of guayule in Arizona. From our standpoint, we think the sky is the limit. We think that guayule is not just for medical and consumer products but for the tire industry too. The crop has the ability to grow on a global basis as an industrial crop. Versalis will help create this market for industry products. Yulex has done an outstanding job of helping us find consumer and medical products, Versalis will take this technology to the next level, the industrial level and find applications for customers.

Just natural rubber as a commodity product, the value is in excess of $50 billion dollars. That’s not products made from rubber, that’s simply the average global value of the raw material.

Essentially, we like to think of Arizona as the future capitol of the natural rubber industry. Currently, 95% of the raw material comes from southeast Asia.


Glenn Hickman is a 4th generation native Arizonan, and a 3rd generation poultry farmer. His parents, Bill and Gertie (Valenzuela) Hickman, raised five children and produced millions of eggs from their farms.

Arizona Agriculture: Why do farmers and ranchers have to be their own advocates and marketers in today’s world?

Hickman: Everyone in farming and ranching has to advocate for themselves because unless you make a concentrated effort, it’s simply not going to get done. So, it’s much, much cheaper to tell your own story in your own words and propose your own agenda than it is to hire someone to do it for you. Although the Farm Bureau and some of the other Ag lobbying groups do a great job advocating on behalf of farmers and ranchers, I don’t think we can put the entire burden on our trade associations and other membership-driven organizations. Assigning the task of advocacy to anybody else means some compelling part of your particular story might go missing.

Editor’s Note: To check out the entire series, you can find it in our media section on azfb.org.

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