International connections help area farms
Published 4:29 pm Thursday, October 12, 2023
Matt Fimon is proof that an agricultural background isn’t a requirement to make his mark advocating for the industry at home and abroad. As chair of American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers, he has been traveling the U.S. to gain perspective on the diversity of domestic agriculture, while making international connections.
Fimon shared these experiences with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation board of directors in September.
He moved from urban Minneapolis to rural Southside Virginia in 2018 to start a family with his wife, Lindy Tucker Fimon, a past chair of the VFBF Young Farmers Committee. Fimon also serves on the Lunenburg County Farm Bureau board of directors, works a day job in human resources and tends to the family’s beef cattle and hay operation.
Appointed to a two-year term on the AFBF committee and board in 2021, Fimon reflected on his unique position, and the opportunities to focus on furthering Farm Bureau’s mission. While flashy new advocacy initiatives are appealing, Fimon didn’t want to stray far from AFBF’s grassroots mission—to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans through prosperous agricultural communities.
“Let’s bring it back to the basics,” he said. “Nowadays you see young people who want purpose and value in what they bring to the table. How do we get them to be strategic members of that goal? It’s been the most rewarding experience to bring that full circle!”
LOOKING AT LEGAL IMMIGRATION
In his current role, Fimon traveled with VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor to the U.S.-Mexico border in Yuma, Arizona.
“It was eye-opening to see 15,000 people cross that border legally every day to ensure that U.S. farmers and agriculturalists have the support and labor they need to get the job done,” he recalled. “Farmers wouldn’t be able to meet the demand if workers weren’t able to cross.”
Fimon also was invited to the Japanese ambassador’s Washington, D.C., residence for Virginia-Japan night, where they discussed their strong economic relationship and the importance of agricultural trade. While there, he made friends with Japanese young agriculturalists, and shared resources to help them expand their own programs for young farmers.
“We built relationships with Canada’s young farmers program as well,” Fimon continued. “It’s a buddy system based on commodities and networking on a semi-monthly basis, where we can offer input and support in how to continue to develop these programs.”
VFBF Women’s Leadership Committee Chair Faye Hundley thanked Fimon for bringing a Virginia perspective to his national leadership role.
“You’ve got a bigger hat to wear now,” she said. “And you’ve made a point to participate in so many opportunities that help support farmers in Virginia too.”