By G.B. Crawford
Farm Bureau people have traditionally identified themselves as the grassroots voice of agriculture in their respective communities.
This role was clearly apparent in September when a group of animal science researchers and production managers from Afghanistan visited with Florida Farm Bureau Federation staff members.
The foreign guests requested the meeting to discuss ways in which they might develop an advocacy organization that supports farm enterprise in their home country. They wanted to learn more about how Florida Farm Bureau serves its members and maintains a substantial presence in the midst of a heavily-urbanized state.
G.B. Crawford, FFB director of public relations, along with Jaime Jerrels, director of agricultural policy, and Michele Curts, leadership program coordinator, greeted the visitors and offered overviews of various Farm Bureau operations while answering questions about specific matters raised by the Afghans.
The discussions addressed such topics as strategies that can mobilize citizens for lobbying initiatives, the differences in outreach programs for urban and rural Farm Bureau members and the relative balance of power between states and the federal government in this country.
One of the main challenges the Afghans said they must address involves their society’s lack of experience with private advocacy organizations. The central government’s direct role in local affairs has limited the emergence of such groups. But farmers there are seeking a more active role in shaping public policies.
“We were delighted to welcome this group of skilled animal science practitioners with us at our headquarters,” Crawford said. “I hope that the meeting reinforced our positive relationships with the Afghan people. We cheer them on as they make their way toward improving food production as well as the lives of farm families in their homeland.”
The visitors were sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
G.B. Crawford is director of public relations for the Florida Farm Bureau.