fb - voice of agriculture
May 2000

Farm Bureau Prefers High Road to Gutter

Bob Stallman
American Farm Bureau
By Bob Stallman
President, American Farm Bureau

Looking back, we see a long string of accomplishments, achievements we in Farm Bureau can be proud of. Looking ahead, we have many opportunities to add to that list, judging by the number of challenges we need to overcome. We will solve the many questions that confront agriculture today. Farmers and ranchers, working together through Farm Bureau, find ways to triumph over adversity and create our own breaks.

Our record of success attracts attention. Most of the time that's good. But, increasingly, Farm Bureau has become the subject of false comments, half-truths, baseless gossip and outright malicious lies. This whisper campaign is becoming shriller as our enemies intensify the attacks.

We have faced bomb threats in the past. We can certainly stand up to a smear campaign now, as orchestrated by the Defenders of Wildlife and their ally, "60 Minutes." Groups at odds with Farm Bureau's policies resent our ability to implement farm and ranch families' goals and desires. And they are mad because their ideals are nowhere near ours.

Following the televised attack on Farm Bureau, we received several hundred communications, mainly e-mails, some phone calls. About half of the correspondence asked for AFBF's side of the story since Mike Wallace never
did. Since these appeared sincere, we responded to them. Another portion, maybe a third, were profane but not threatening, so we ignored them. The rest were in support of our actions and policies and quite a few asked for information on how to become a Farm Bureau member. This is indeed heartening and should encourage all of us to be even more successful in the future.

Past Successes Give Momentum to Future Accomplishments

Remember just some of the issues we worked on last year and some of the results that were accomplished. Farmers and ranchers received a large amount of economic assistance and disaster aid. The Justice Department created a position to give greater attention to agribusiness mergers. Farm Bureau attorneys won court cases that defended our Constitutional right to own and use our land; made bureaucrats follow their own regulations; protected our privacy from those who attack us now. We worked to increase the farm labor supply. We encouraged Congress to pay stricter oversight on how the laws they wrote were being regulated and administered by federal agencies. Our Ag in the Classroom projects explained agricultural facts to students and, more importantly, teachers who regularly receive material on farming from those with agendas different than yours and mine.

Farm Bureau everywhere is effective. That's why those looking in are envious, some are jealous and a very few are downright hateful. So you and I have to do more to attain our goals, to implement our policies.

Purposeful Action Focuses Our Efforts

This year already, almost 3,000 Farm Bureau leaders from 37 states have been to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress. More of you will come, I know. Thousands more Farm Bureau members will drop in on their legislators' local offices to seek actions that move us forward. Tens of thousands more leaders will serve on their county Farm Bureau board. And hundreds of thousands of Farm Bureau members will work to achieve our goals of improving net farm income and making rural life even better.

With your help, Farm Bureau will become an even bigger target for our detractors because we will be even more successful. With your support, Farm Bureau will build a better agriculture and a greater America.