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AFBF Recognizes 15 County Farm Bureaus for Excellence

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 7, 2008 – The American Farm Bureau Federation has identified 15 outstanding county Farm Bureau programs and initiatives for recognition through its County Activities of Excellence program. Each county Farm Bureau with an exemplary program has the opportunity to share information about it in an exhibit at AFBF’s 89th annual convention in New Orleans, La., Jan. 13-16, 2008.

The following county initiatives, grouped in five categories, were honored for excellence:

Education and Agriculture Promotion

Kane County, Ill., Red or Green Raffle – A restored antique Farmall tractor and a new John Deere riding mower were displayed at festivals, fairs and parades, and raffle tickets were sold to win them. The drawing for the winner took place on the final day of the “Touch A Tractor” event. The equipment appealed to farm, non-farm, rural and suburban audiences. Nearly 2,000 people bought tickets, and the event raised $14,000 for scholarships, a donation to an FFA chapter and the Kane County Farm Bureau Agriculture in the Classroom program. (Booth IE32)

McPherson County, Kan., Ag Trivia Maze – Participants are given directions through a 1,000-foot maze based on their knowledge of local crops, livestock and equipment. The maze educates the public about how agricultural commodities are integrated into products used every day and increases awareness and exposure of McPherson County Farm Bureau. (Booth IE1)

Shiawassee County, Mich., Ag Adventure – Ag Adventure, held during the Shiawassee County Fair, is the only exhibit at the fair that allows the public to pet baby animals, watch chicks hatch and learn about animals, seed germination and Michigan agriculture. Children and adults are encouraged to be hands-on with the animals, plants and product displays. (Booth IE35)

Saline County, Mo., Good Neighbor Tour – This bus tour of livestock facilities in the county increases concerned citizens’ awareness of how concentrated animal feeding operations operate. The tour allowed livestock producers to have meaningful dialogue with opponents of a new livestock operation, and farmers were able to show those fears are baseless. (Booth IE13)

Marion County, Ohio, Agriculture in Action – This tour educates the non-farming public about agriculture. The tour included a fertilizer distribution center, a farrow-to-finish swine operation and a large grain farm with the latest technology, equipment and farming practices. Participants had the opportunity to interact with farmers and other representatives of the agriculture industry. (Booth IE38)

Cumberland County, Va., Strengthening Rural Communities – In partnership with the county government and the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, a series of meetings were hosted to educate local citizens and officials about the economic development potential of agriculture, forestry, agri-tourism, bio-energy and smart-growth tools. (Booth IE16)

Frederick County, Va., Family Fun Day – The public was invited to a fun day on a Farm Bureau member’s farm to enjoy a rural experience and learn the importance of agriculture to the community. Attendees were enticed with free food, activities for kids and livestock to pet. The event included farm and safety demonstrations, and other organizations that support agriculture were invited to set up displays. (Booth IE19)

Leadership Development

Tulare County, Calif., Youth Leadership Program – This program educates 25 to 30 high school juniors annually during an eight-month series that includes team building and personality analysis; local, state and federal government education; Farm Bureau history and structure; community service projects; meetings with county elected and administrative officials; a career panel featuring young professionals; an agricultural issues forum; a lobbying trip to the state capitol and meetings with state Farm Bureau leaders and agricultural university officials. (Booth IE44)

Douglas County, Ill., Local Government Conference – The Local Government Conference informs local, state and federal government representatives about issues important to Farm Bureau members. Networking with guests began with a Farm Bureau-sponsored “Luncheon with the Minds,” followed by an open public forum, where guests served on a panel and answered questions from attendees. The goal was to put legislators in front of Farm Bureau members to open lines of communication on key issues. (Booth IE29)

Public Relations and Information

Dade County, Fla., Tropical Fruit Industry Media Tour – This tour introduced members of the media, chefs, food writers and restaurant owners to local tropical fruit growers and showcased the county’s tropical fruit industry. Most people do not equate Miami-Dade County with agriculture, but agriculture is one of the county’s leading industries, providing more than $1.09 billion in economic impacts and 20,000 jobs. The tour allowed the growers to highlight the positive aspects of their businesses while communicating Farm Bureau’s position on key issues such as immigration reform and property rights. (Booth IE10)

Cowley County, Kan., Library Egg-Stravaganza – The Cowley County Farm Bureau hatched chickens in the main lobby of the local public library. Once they were hatched, the baby chicks remained in the library for one week of public viewing. On average, the county Farm Bureau reached 200 people a day. This enhanced the county Farm Bureau’s image, promoted its members’ availability as agricultural educators, enabled the urban public to connect with agriculture, and provided a positive and memorable learning experience about agriculture for youth and adults. (Booth IE4)

Chemung County, N.Y., Traveling Gas Leasing Seminars – With New York experiencing its first world-class natural gas strike and with Chemung County at the epicenter, the Chemung County Farm Bureau became the lead advocate of landowners’ rights and the provider of public education on gas exploration and leasing matters. Experts presented dozens of seminars throughout central New York to educate landowners on the subject. (Booth IE7)

Policy Implementation

Yuma County, Ariz., Heritage Area Education – The Yuma County Farm Bureau organized the community to urge reform of a federal law so that local governments would not be able to use the Yuma Crossing Heritage Area, a federal designation, to restrict the property rights of landowners within that area. The local and state Farm Bureaus worked with congressional lawmakers to amend the underlying federal law to reduce the boundaries of the Yuma Crossing Heritage Area from 23 square miles to 4 square miles. The revised legislation was signed into law by President Bush. (Booth IE26)

Marshall County, Ind., Local Ethanol Plant Construction Advocacy – A group of farmers came together to organize and coordinate with a contractor to build an ethanol plant. To ensure zoning approval, Marshall County Farm Bureau sent notices of upcoming town meetings to members, asking them to express their support of the plant. Pro-ethanol yard signs also were made to show support. At two town meetings, more than 80 farmers expressed support of zoning for construction of the plant, which was approved. (Booth IE22)

Member Services

Stanislaus County, Calif., East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition – Stanislaus County Farm Bureau launched a new member service for farmers who irrigate. Under a new regulation, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board required farmers to either join a coalition or get an individual permit to monitor water leaving their fields during irrigation or storm events. Individual farmers would have been required to pay about $40,000 a year. Under a coalition, the costs could be spread over the acreage signed up. The Farm Bureau provided coverage for members. (Booth IE41)

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Contacts: Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
tracyg@fb.org
Cyndie Sirekis
(202) 406-3649
cyndies@fb.org