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The Ag Agenda

August 2008

In Farm Bureau, Character Prevails


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

What makes an organization great? Many would argue it’s how well the organization lobbies Congress. Others say it depends on how well the organization sways public sentiment. Some folks think it’s the member benefits and perks. Granted, while all those components are important, they would mean nothing without character.

Winston Churchill once said that the price of greatness is responsibility. I wholeheartedly concur. Farm Bureau is what it is today not only because of its effectiveness in the political and public arenas, but because of its compassion and responsibility to our next-door neighbors and people across the globe. That is what makes Farm Bureau great.

A Helping Hand

Farmers in the U.S. have seen their fair share of natural disaster during the past several years. If it’s not hurricanes and tornadoes, it’s drought and flooding. Yet, Farm Bureau members always prevail during these true tests of character.

Most recently, Farm Bureau members banded together to help flood and drought victims across the country. Whether they were sandbagging levees in their communities or hauling hay across states to drought-impacted producers, Farm Bureau members were there with a helping hand.

Farmers and ranchers who had little to give went the extra mile when devastating fires burned several hundred thousand acres in the southern part of Utah last summer. Farm Bureau members in northern Utah, who also were suffering from drought, joined together to donate hay to farms and ranches destroyed by fires in southern Utah.

Further, when a killer tornado literally ripped Greensburg, Kansas, to shreds last May, the Kansas Farm Bureau quickly established a recovery fund to help the area. Rebuilding and renewal of the community was the Farm Bureau’s number one priority.

And when Katrina hit, Farm Bureau members across the country gave more than $1 million to help farmers in the hurricane-affected states as part of a fund established by the American Farm Bureau.

Banding Together

Maine Farm Bureau member Morrill Worchester for the past 15 years has assembled and donated thousands of evergreen wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery. He considers it not only his responsibility, but his privilege, to honor the sacrifices of those in the U.S. military.

On a larger scale, to help care for our troops, Farm Bureau members nationwide donated money to send beef jerky to our servicemen and women overseas for the USO’s “Operation Beef Up Our Troops.” Further, when the devastating tsunami hit Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and other areas several years ago, Farm Bureau members banded together to make a large monetary contribution to help the victims.

Back on the home front, Farm Bureau members each year donate hundreds of thousands of pounds of food to food banks and pantries nationwide. And it doesn’t stop there. They give from their wallets and they give their time and their labor to help feed America’s hungry.

So, when someone asks me what makes Farm Bureau a great organization, I simply say it’s the character of our members.

“Be not simply good,” Henry David Thoreau once wrote. “Be good for something.”