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The Ag Agenda

September 2010

Never Discount a Woman’s Voice


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

Someone once said that women get the last word in every argument and anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument. Being outnumbered by two daughters and my lovely wife, I can attest to this sentiment.

It is this persuasiveness, persistence and passion that have brought women to the forefront of politics. They can swing elections, bring awareness to issues and sway the toughest critics. Because of their believability and influence, women help shape and broaden organizations like Farm Bureau.

Hell Hath no Fury

Research shows that women are trusted more so than men. This is particularly true when it comes to issues like healthcare, education and the community in which they live. Women identify with these issues because their families are personally affected by them. Because of this, women tend to speak from a first-person point of view, which lends more credibility to any issue.

Just take a look at the significant role “soccer moms” played in President Clinton’s elections. Women also swing the vote in many state and local campaigns.

A key tool at women’s disposal is the Internet. A recent study shows that women spend more time than men on social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter—averaging 5.5 hours a month compared with 3.9 hours for men. It is these sites that consumers, reporters and decision-makers go to for information, which helps explain why women are a growing force to be reckoned with.

With significant issues currently facing U.S. agriculture and rural areas – like estate taxes, teacher shortages and the downturned economy – Farm Bureau’s female members play a major role in getting our messages heard.

A Force to be Reckoned With

The American Farm Bureau recently wrapped up its annual Women’s Communications Boot Camp, which is an intensive training session where participants learn how to communicate effectively for agriculture and Farm Bureau. They train in public speaking and working with the media, as well as learn how to run for public office and testify in legislative forums. I’m really proud of the group of women who just graduated, as well as the graduates that came before them.

Farm Bureau needs strong women leaders, both within women’s leadership programs and elsewhere in the overall structure of the organization. My challenge to Farm Bureau women is this: figure out where there are opportunities in leadership, step up to the plate and use your unique talents and abilities to fill in the gaps.

The involvement of women in agriculture is important. Their involvement in Farm Bureau is vital. And whether they are running for public office, talking with their local Chamber or PTA, or using Facebook, women’s active engagement can be the factor that tips the scales.