Turning Ideas Into Ideals
American Farm Bureau
President, American Farm Bureau
Just as each season brings us different chores to do on our farms and ranches, so it is with Farm Bureau's program of policy development and execution. Farming is our year-round job. So is a voting member's responsibility to our organization. We work to accomplish two open-ended goals--to improve net farm income and to enhance the quality of rural life.
Policies express Farm Bureau's fundamental ideas on community, county, state, national or international issues. Once adopted, these policies become the plan for the year's work. They are the statements of what a majority of Farm Bureau members have voted, after prolonged study and discussion.
Farm Bureau policy originates with us. A few farmers talking in the coffee shop can and have influenced how we farm in America. Our democratic process is open to all farmer and rancher member families, to assure that farm policy is developed by and offers advantages to the Farm Bureau member.
Process Delivers Policies of Substance
Over the long haul, our deliberate approach has traditionally provided us sound, accurate policies. To become a policy, neighbors, usually in community discussion groups, kick around one farm family's idea. Once they agree, a county Farm Bureau resolutions committee reviews and researches the proposal. If they think it passes muster, the proposal is disseminated to all voting members in the county for consideration at their annual meeting. If it addresses a county issue and is adopted, the proposal becomes county Farm Bureau policy. If the policy deals with state or national issues, it is passed on to the state Farm Bureau resolutions committee, comprised of a representative from every county in the state.
There, the recommendation undergoes a process similar to the county's. If adopted and it deals with state issues, it becomes state policy. If it is national or international in scope, the recommendation goes to the American Farm Bureau Federation resolutions committee. Again, if passed, it becomes national policy.
Throughout this process, the state and American Farm Bureaus are providing current information, background history, professional analysis and research data to help members in their debating the merits of the various issues. Five current discussion aids circulating around the country from AFBF deal with loan rates, biotech labeling, conservation incentives, nutrient management and profit potential of carbon sequestration.
Think, Then Act
We are not done when our idea is adopted as organizational policy. It must be implemented. Not all of our policies deal with legislation, but it sure seems that most of them require creating a good law or changing a bad law. We have had tremendous success over the years obtaining laws that promote Farm Bureau members' policies and philosophies.
Increasingly, we see that our job is not done just because the president's signature is dry on one of the laws we support. The new law must be implemented in the way Congress intended. When we see it isn't, further work is necessary, such as legal defense of our property rights in issues involving water quality or endangered species. Or we work for new legislation to force congressional oversight on agencies of the federal government bent on implementing their own agendas, such as the Environmental Protection Agency. And we work for adequate appropriations to fund projects that Congress itself created. An example of this is the needed funding to properly report livestock market prices--critical information if we are to accurately assess the impact of agribusiness mergers and acquisitions.
Our process is admired. Our successes are envied. Farm Bureau is successful because of the keen judgment, honest straight-thinking and moral integrity of America's farm and ranch families. And we are successful because of our continued commitment and dedication to seeing the job through, to making sure our policies work the way we intended when we first conceived the idea.