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CFBF President's message: Exercise your choice to be politically active

Issue Date: October 10, 2012
By Paul Wenger
Paul Wenger, California Farm Bureau Federation President

Another election year is upon us and with it, many decisions must be made about candidates running for office and propositions on the ballot. Many Farm Bureau members have found value in recommendations from the CFBF Board of Directors as to which candidates would best serve our farm community and which measures are important to agriculture.

In this issue, you'll see our recommendations about the 11 statewide propositions on the ballot. In next week's Ag Alert®, we'll print a special section profiling candidates endorsed by the CFBF board.

Many of the ballot propositions are confusing and their titles can be deceptive. Our CFBF staff spends considerable time evaluating the measures and provides insight to the board based on the policies set forth each year by members at our Annual Meeting. When there is no clear guidance from Farm Bureau policies, the CFBF board will normally take no position. The position of the board is meant to be a guide and ultimately it's up to the individual member to decide how to vote on a particular proposition.

One of the measures Californians will be voting on, Proposition 32, deals among other things with union members not having part of their paychecks automatically diverted to political activity. Many Farm Bureau members belong to unions that assess monthly dues, a part of which go for political action. Those members have no real choice on which candidates their union leadership supports, many times supporting candidates who may not understand or act in the best interest of agriculture. CFBF supports Proposition 32, which would require that union members approve having any portion of their dues being spent for political action.

For Farm Bureau members, political contributions have always been entirely voluntary. Just this past week, Farm Bureau members were sent a letter from Farm PAC, the Fund to Protect the Family Farm, seeking such voluntary contributions.

Through contributions to Farm PAC, we ask Farm Bureau members to actively engage in supporting efforts to elect agriculturally friendly legislators. If we as farmers and ranchers do not voluntarily contribute to political action, we will continue to suffer the same challenges in Sacramento and Washington that we have experienced the last few years—and will find it more difficult to repeat the successes we have had.

With fewer candidates from rural areas, it is extremely important to help elect individuals—particularly in districts with little or no agricultural production or constituency—who will have an open mind regarding issues critical to the success of California agriculture.

By working together and pooling our political resources, we can accomplish together what we could never accomplish alone.

Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to choose for themselves whether and how to participate in the political process. I urge you to choose to support Farm PAC and I urge you to vote in the November election.

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

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