fb - voice of agriculture
May 2002

Many Paths to Achieve Common Goals

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

Farm Bureau means different things to different people. After all, there are more than 5 million families who join their local Farm Bureau for one reason or another. The organization – at the local, state and American level – is dedicated to improving farmers' lives and livelihoods. This is done in numerous ways. To get better prices for our commodities, we work to create more favorable market conditions by promoting more competitive bidding for our products as well as by helping to obtain national support for programs that open or expand foreign markets. We seek support for renewable energy supplies produced on our farms and ranches and we encourage researchers to come up with new uses for our commodities as well as to find new crops that can help diversify our production efforts and take advantage of new markets.

Nationally, our American Farm Bureau advances our member-written policies daily, whether in the halls of Congress, in the White House, or before government agency officials. We also strive to communicate with other opinion makers through our public relations efforts to help non-farmers recognize and appreciate our interdependence. And Farm Bureau is scoring victory after victory in federal courts, representing the interests of Farm Bureau members.

These efforts are not only aimed at increasing our incoming funds as farmers and ranchers but also at reducing our expenses and protecting our assets. So Farm Bureau seeks lower taxes, private property protection or more effective risk management programs. Our multi-faceted work plan covers many topics, because Farm Bureau members have many interests and many concerns.

Making Money by Saving Money

There are national programs that provide savings to members in participating state Farm Bureaus who belong to a group telephone use and billing service or buy industrial supplies through our group purchase plans. There is also a program that provides access to the most current market prices and strategies, as well as weather forecasts and reports.

State and county Farm Bureaus offer a vast array of additional goods and services, based on the specific needs of their member families. Such benefits run the gamut from estate planning and protection assistance to cooperative marketing of livestock; from bulk purchase of farm supplies to bargain-priced eyeglasses. In many instances, these money-saving programs are mutually beneficial efforts between rural small business owners and their farming neighbors.

Farm Bureau – The Family Farm Organization

But Farm Bureau does far more than help members make or save money. There is a definite social component to our organization. Member families eagerly look forward to "Farm Bureau Day" at their county fair, or the quarterly potluck supper, the summer picnic, the annual dinner meeting or fund-raising events for their local political action group or a charitable benefit. No one has yet to leave a Farm Bureau meeting hungry, just as no one has ever left as a stranger. If you give it a chance, Farm Bureau is more than a family organization – it is family.

This point was strongly brought home to me during the confusion surrounding the terrorist attacks on America. Airports were immediately shut down throughout the land. Like any large company, Farm Bureau had people stranded in many places. One state Farm Bureau staff person, stuck in Washington, D.C., was with a group that rented a car to drive cross-country to get home. She said that despite the terrible attacks on this nation and the uncertainty that existed, she was not afraid of the long drive because, "If I run into trouble, all I have to do is get the local phone book and call the Farm Bureau and I will be among friends who can help me."

That is quite an endorsement of our organization and our people. Farm Bureau is working for us. Farm Bureau is us.