fb - voice of agriculture
June 2005

Farm Bureau: A Friend When in Need

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

A wise man once said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” When a crisis arises, many organizations are unable to effectively deal with the emergency due to limited resources and lack of a broad understanding of what’s at hand. Typically, the hammer is the only device in their toolbox.

Because Farm Bureau is a general farm organization, we see the big picture of American agriculture. That perspective gives us a full view of the many challenges and opportunities presented to each facet of our industry. Because our scope is multi-issue and multi-commodity, the very structure of Farm Bureau is comprehensive from the standpoint of organization and staff resources. There are few, if any, agriculture issues out there today where we do not possess a hefty level of expertise and knowledge – either at the national, state or county level.

In essence, Farm Bureau is the toolbox.

A Helping Hand

Whenever anyone in agriculture is facing a crisis, Farm Bureau is there to step in and help them through it. The organization has all the tools to respond to perceived crisis situations. From top to bottom we have resources in the communications, policy, economic and legal arenas to provide the kind of support that is needed in times of uncertainty. We have all the resources in place to make us a partner to production agriculture when extraordinary scenarios require extraordinary attention.

This was driven home during a Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy scare, which turned out to be a false alarm, right before Thanksgiving of last year. Everyone – from regulators to reporters – came swooping in. Locals were scared, almost to the point of paralysis, not knowing what to do, what to say, who to say it to or even who to trust. While individuals at the local level may not have been prepared to handle the scenario, the state Farm Bureau was. Farm Bureau at all levels – national, state and county – worked seamlessly to preserve consumer confidence in beef and protect member interests. Farm Bureau had the tools and the relationships within agriculture and government to bring a sense of order and restore a degree of calm to the potential crisis.

I like to use the analogy that when the ox is in the ditch, it is no longer a matter of wringing your hands wondering how it happened. It is time to embark on a plan, hitch the yoke to a new ox and commence efforts to put the cart back on the road. Farm Bureau has the ability to do that in any crisis scenario because we have been through the battles. And while individuals involved may not always be ready, we are prepared, and we can serve as a friend and trusted resource to Farm Bureau members in a time of emergency. Farm Bureau is just a phone call away.

An Opportunity When Least Expected

When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity. Call me optimistic, but I like to look at a crisis situation as an opportunity for change and growth. No matter what, it is a learning experience – one that will leave you better prepared for the next go-round.

Farmers, more so than most folks, have had our share of adversity, but we have typically come out a lot stronger – and a lot wiser – than before. Because we stick together during emergencies and provide a shoulder to lean on until the crisis is averted, our industry and our organization are stronger and more prepared. Your Farm Bureau is ready to meet the next challenge head-on.

So, the next time you find yourself in a situation where you need a wrench, screw driver or that ‘ol trusty hammer, call on Farm Bureau. Our toolbox is well broken-in and has seen a good amount of rugged service, but we still have the sharpest tools in the shed.