fb - voice of agriculture
October 2001

Farm Bureau is Building for Tomorrow

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

The atrocity America suffered last month will have repercussions far beyond the immediate shock and sorrow...and anger. The sneak bombings of non-military targets test our nation's tolerance and resolve. Perhaps, in the future, our nation may exhibit more grit as we deal with traditional allies, and we may offer more compassion to those we do not always associate with. As a people, our faith and belief will endure and be strengthened.

After such an unprovoked and, in America, unprecedented slaughter of civilians, there is the temptation to either isolate ourselves or to retaliate. We cannot and will not lose sight of our ideals, our traditions, our glories or our dreams. It is these tangible intangibles that have made our nation so great and global citizens so envious or resentful of America.

President Bush is a man of faith and a man of action. His leadership will help Americans focus on defending and solidifying our liberties. In his call for rebuilding, he is quick to praise our nation's productive workers and, at the beginning of every utterance, he leads by citing America's farmers and ranchers. We know the role we play, producing dependable, affordable bounty. We also have a role in participating in public policy debates, to bring the common sense of the country into national discussions.

Farm Bureau Fosters Personal Interaction

In the days when it would take two or three days for rural families to learn of an event that today is seen instantaneously, Farm Bureau served an important role in informing and educating the farm community. That role continues today. This month, Farm Bureau-- in 2,800 counties, 50 states and Puerto Rico-- is in the tail end of our policy development process that helps state our desires and needs. If your county Farm Bureau meeting has not yet occurred, I urge you to attend. Most state Farm Bureau meetings will be coming up in the next several weeks and are open to members. Our national meeting will be in Reno in January.

Members can see their organization in action. More important, you will interact with your neighbors. Farm Bureau is more than a policy organization. We are a people organization and if ever we needed to talk to one another, now is that time. We need to work to build on our strengths, and not diminish ourselves by adopting the faults of others. We need to build our future.

As you attend your Farm Bureau meeting, look around. How many farmers under 35 years of age are there? They are America's future and they have a place in Farm Bureau. With the decline in farm numbers, there is an increase in the farmers' average age, primarily because it costs so much to farm today. To strengthen America and to strengthen Farm Bureau, we need to invite and involve the young farmers and ranchers that are out there to participate. Most do, but we need everyone.

Young Farmers and Ranchers Expand Contact Efforts

To help attract attention at an earlier age, our current YF&R leaders will visit with 41,000 FFA high school students during their national convention in Louisville this month. For decades, AFBF has sponsored FFA's national extemporaneous speaking awards. To maintain contact with these young people, we are working with interested universities who are starting Farm Bureau chapters. There are 10 collegiate Farm Bureau chapters now and we are working to build more.

During our national YF&R Leadership Conference, we annually survey attendees to learn their thoughts and goals. Every year, they solidly support building mutually beneficial world trade and global interaction as a means of not only strengthening American agriculture but also to help encourage world peace. Their continued dedication to this goal will help steer us to better times.

God Bless America.