fb - voice of agriculture
October 2004

Working Hard To Harvest Results – Now

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

Being a Texas rice farmer, my goal is to climb into the cab of my combine with lofty expectations sometime around early August. While I find myself setting production goals with a summer endpoint, hardly a season goes by across our vast countryside when some type of crop is not being cut, picked or gathered. But, regardless of your crop or circumstance, there has always been something magical in the psyche of American agriculture about the traditional autumn harvest.

Perhaps it's little more than the overall abundance of folklore surrounding farmers and this traditional fall passage. Maybe it's just because fall harvest provides many farmers one last chance for fieldwork before the cold breath of winter sets in. Or, it could even have something to do with the smell of frost in the air or the glow of a big orange harvest moon.

Hard Work Counts

Whatever the reason, and whatever the season, harvest always gives us pause to reflect on all the hard work we have invested, all the little roadblocks we have overcome along the way and all the blessings that result from having a farmer's faith. Farm Bureau's work in the public policy arena is no different.

While some tend to view autumn as the start of a period of decline, AFBF prefers to think of autumn as a season of organizational maturation. This is the time when Farm Bureau makes one final and vital push to implement the grassroots public policy positions that Farm Bureaus members developed months before.

Added Urgency

This year, autumn takes on added urgency as AFBF works to advance key issues, such as energy and trade, during the final days of the 108th Congress. Yet, we also realize it's time to plant for future successes. As you read this, Farm Bureau members at the county level are developing and passing along to state Farm Bureaus the policies we will work hard to implement at the national level in 2005.

Other seeds will be sown a few short weeks from now, as we vote in the 2004 election. We all know there is a lot at stake. Elected offices responsible for helping determine agriculture's future will be filled at all levels of government. In some areas of our nation, initiatives also are on the ballot that could affect how agriculture is practiced for the foreseeable future.

A Shining Example

One shining example of a county Farm Bureau working to safeguard the future of agriculture is Butte County, Calif. In an effort to defeat an anti-biotech referendum in that county, members of the Butte County Farm Bureau have prepared their seedbed of support, done their fieldwork and are putting in the kind of long hours synonymous with harvest.

I recently had the pleasure to attend a meeting with many of Butte County's dedicated Farm Bureau members. They have harnessed their resources and are speaking out boldly with their friends and neighbors about the advantages of agricultural biotechnology. They are pointing out its importance to the future of their communities, their farms and their families. Their position is powered by policy and a willingness to work.

While I am confident that the efforts of the Butte County Farm Bureau will ultimately help voters separate the grain from the chaff on their countywide ballot, moreover I am thankful for that county Farm Bureau's effort on behalf of all of American agriculture.

There is nothing more ominous to a farmer in full harvest posture than storm clouds on the horizon. It is then when we - like our colleagues in Butte County – find a little extra energy and a bit more fortitude. So, we work into the autumn dusk, steered by our beliefs and guided by the glow of that big orange harvest moon.