fb - voice of agriculture
January 2003

Farm Bureau Is A Functional Family

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

Gifts have been unwrapped. Leftovers have been devoured. New Year's resolutions have been made...and perhaps broken. Another holiday season, and year, has drawn to a close.

The holidays are always busy, but the opportunity to get together with family and friends makes the season special.

Farm Bureau Family Tradition

Just as each individual family celebrates the holiday season in its unique way, the Farm Bureau family has its own long-established annual tradition. After months of dedicated, grassroots, policy-development work, and countless volunteer hours of telling agriculture's story and making our communities better places to live, we soon will come together for several days of re-assessment, recharging and retooling.

This year an estimated 5,000 member-families will travel to Tampa, Fla., for the American Farm Bureau's 84th annual convention and meeting.

Our annual family reunion provides an opportunity for members across the nation to visit with old and new friends. Members will learn about developing issues important to agriculture, get a much-needed boost from motivational speakers and receive recognition for outstanding contributions to our organization.

Our convention is about people. It renews those thousands of Farm Bureau members who every day of the year volunteer for worthy projects such as Ag in the Classroom and programs such as Farm Bureau Women, Young Farmer & Rancher and Promotion & Education.

The AFBF convention focuses on grassroots members dedicated to working the land and tending to livestock and on their Farm Bureau families - solid people who care about agriculture and their communities and strive to make a positive difference.

Grassroots Members Make the Difference

It's also during our convention when members of our Farm Bureau family - farmers and ranchers from all across this great land -- transform their ideas and ideals into one voice...The Voice of Agriculture.

This year, 409 voting delegates selected by and representing Farm Bureaus from all 50 states and Puerto Rico will vote on and set the official public policy positions to guide the organization. This vital task culminates a year-long policy development cycle that started at the county level. This part of the get-together is truly a uniquely Farm Bureau feast -- somewhat like a spirited discussion around the family dinner table.

There are not many organizations out there that share our commitment to people. It's a notion grounded in our grassroots policy process that starts with the individual and ascends through the county, state and AFBF levels. While some may judge this process as tedious, our family knows it is the only way to ensure that our organization's over-riding policy positions reflect the wishes of our members.

It is the foundation on which our functional family has built its house.

We also recognize that as a family grows and changes, the house needs remodeling along the way. Agriculture is an industry in constant transformation and our policy process, likewise, includes the ability to positively respond.

Farm Bureau is a family organization that has always approached the business of farming and ranching with excitement and an optimistic attitude. We believe we can make positive change. We delight in helping each other. We give of ourselves to help make the future better for each other and agriculture. We are family.

I can't wait to see that spirit as we gather in Tampa.

May God bless us all in this new year.