Topics ranging from environmental policy and food safety to the 2012 farm bill and use of social media by farmers and ranchers highlight a slate of conferences during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 92nd annual meeting, Jan. 9-12 in Atlanta, Ga.

“Successful farming and ranching in the 21st century involves managing a vast amount of knowledge and information on a day-to-day basis,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “This can be a real challenge, but by attending AFBF’s annual meeting in Atlanta in January, Farm Bureau members can cut through the clutter and return home with a better understanding of how all the various issues impact their lives and livelihoods.”

Dealing with the vast maze of environmental regulations is something every farmer and rancher in every state must worry about, according to Stallman.

“We all want to know what is on the horizon,” Stallman said. “Farm Bureau members attending the Atlanta meeting can gain insight from the most widely respected and knowledgeable individuals in the nation who will give their assessment of current environmental policies and what the future holds.”

Leading the environmental issues conference will be Bryan Shaw, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Shaw is an expert on air quality and a leader in challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to impose federal mandates on states with respect to greenhouse gases. Sharing the podium with Shaw will be Charles Bronson, Florida’s 10th agriculture commissioner, who as head of the nation’s largest agriculture department has been in the middle of numerous water quality battles in Florida, most recently as part of EPA’s efforts to establish numeric nutrient criteria.

Other featured conferences will address timely and relevant issues such as the outlook for the 2012 farm bill, food safety issues and the latest information regarding animal welfare from an agricultural perspective.

Crop, livestock outlook update

Also on the agenda will be the latest update on the crops and livestock markets. Gerald Bange, chairman of the Agriculture Department’s World Agriculture Outlook Board, will provide a picture of USDA’s official supply and demand estimates and the market forces driving them.

In addition to sessions on leadership development and successful management techniques, Farm Bureau members can learn how to successfully use social media to both network with other farmers and reach out to consumers. Speakers addressing “Grassroots Engagement with Social Media” will include Dan Toland with the Ohio Farm Bureau, California rancher Jeff Fowle, Farm Bureau member and president of the AgChat Foundation, and Minnesota dairy farmer and Farm Bureau member Emily Zweber.

More than 5,000 Farm Bureau members from across the nation are expected to attend AFBF’s annual meeting. Farm Bureau members can register for the 92nd AFBF annual meeting through their state Farm Bureaus. Contact information can be found here.