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Commentary: Grassroots policymaking strengthens Farm Bureau

Issue Date: October 19, 2011
By Bob Stallman
Delegates to the 2010 California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting discuss policy issues, some of which will be forwarded to the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting for consideration.
Bob Stallman

Farm Bureau has an outstanding reputation as an effective grassroots organization. For the past 92 years, Farm Bureau members have played instrumental roles in legislative efforts that have helped shape U.S. agriculture.

American Farm Bureau policy comes from the bottom up. Our policy positions start at the county and state levels. They are proposed, debated and approved by farmers and ranchers who grow every different type of crop and livestock species possible across our great land. When you think about the level of policy unity that comes from such stark diversity, it really is astonishing. We don't always agree on everything. That's what makes our process credible and real.

As Farm Bureau members, it is ingrained in us to be actively involved and to fight for what we believe in and what we think will better our profession and our country.We are not ones to rest on our laurels while others do the work. We are also not the types to make a lot of noise about an issue and stop there. Farm Bureau members roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty when it comes to matters that are close to our hearts.

That's why I especially enjoy this time of year. If you're a Farm Bureau member, you probably know exactly why. For many folks, autumn represents back-to-school, fall festivals and cooler weather. For us Farm Bureau policy nerds (speaking for myself, of course), autumn means it's nearing time for most of our state annual meetings. I can almost hear the momentum building out in the countryside.

As I travel to these annual meetings, I listen to Farm Bureau members talk a lot about agricultural issues. Most of the time what they have to say is good; some of the time it's not. That's the beauty of Farm Bureau: There's always room for healthy debate. But in all of my travels, I have never met a farmer without something to say, or more importantly, not willing to roll up his or her sleeves to help further our grassroots process.

As Farm Bureau state delegates prepare for their annual meetings, they are well aware of the importance of their deliberation and votes on potential policy. Those very policy recommendations have been formed and mulled over at the county level by their farmer peers and, if successful, will get forwarded to the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting for consideration.

These grassroots members are the backbone of our organization who will play a significant role at their state meetings as they consider important policy positions on environmental, trade, immigration, farm policy and other issues. They will roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and carry on the Farm Bureau tradition of grassroots excellence.

It's this commitment of our grassroots members who play an active role in U.S. agriculture policymaking that makes Farm Bureau one of the most successful advocacy organizations in this nation.

(Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas, is president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

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