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January 2005

Farm Bureau: A Kindred Spirit

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

The holidays have come and gone. Gifts have been opened, eggnog toasts have been made and many New Year’s resolutions have already been broken. With another holiday season under the belt – as well as all the holiday trimmings – we can now focus on the new year and resolve to make it the best yet for Farm Bureau members.

This month, more than 4,000 farm and ranch families will join together in Charlotte, N.C., for American Farm Bureau’s 86th annual meeting. Old friends will pick up where they left off, celebrations will take place, new policies will be decided and Farm Bureau members will refresh and recharge their passion for agriculture.

A Neighborly Process

January is a special time of year. Perhaps it is the holiday spirit still fresh in the air that makes Farm Bureau annual meetings affable and productive. The policy process, at times high-spirited, is always met with congeniality by Farm Bureau’s leaders. I would like to think it is more than remnants of the holiday season, but instead a kindred spirit that links all Farm Bureau members.

Building up to what I like to call Farm Bureau’s annual reunion, there have been thousands of hours spent on grassroots, policy development work and countless volunteer hours of communicating agriculture’s many good deeds and making our nation a better place to live.

Culminating in one big celebration in Charlotte, members will have an opportunity to work together toward one common goal: To implement policies that are developed by members and provide programs that will improve the financial well-being and quality of life for farmers and ranchers.

This year, 433 voting delegates from all 50 states and Puerto Rico will debate and decide official public policy positions that will guide Farm Bureau. This get-together is truly unique and, as I have said before, is like a spirited discussion around the family dinner table.

A Blessed Family

Farm Bureau is about more than just helping secure agriculture’s future. It is about helping others. Every day thousands of Farm Bureau families volunteer their time and financial resources to such worthy causes as feeding America’s hungry, helping families of sick children at Ronald McDonald houses and teaching students about agriculture.

This year, Farm Bureau will be helping our troops in Iraq. Through Farm Bureau member donations, we will be able to include beef jerky, one of the most requested items by our service men and women, in care packages sent to the troops. This special USO program is a good example of Farm Bureau supporting our troops with nourishment, warm wishes and a little touch of home.

Farm Bureau is also committed to its family. Grounded in a policy process that begins with individual members and ascends through county, state and national levels, we know that it is its people that drive the organization. And it is these same folks with which we celebrate a good harvest, mourn the loss of loved ones and rejoice at the many blessings we have been given.

It is these individual members that I am proud to represent, and I look forward to seeing them come together as family every January.

I can’t wait for that kindred spirit to shine through in Charlotte.

I look forward to sharing the many blessings, as well as challenges, with my Farm Bureau family in this new year.

May God bless us all in 2005.