Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

Membership Matters: One Makes a Difference

Viewpoints / Focus on Agriculture January 27, 2021

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By Robin E. Kinney

I remember a story about a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn at the state fair, winning a blue ribbon. This farmer would also share his seed corn with his neighbors. He was asked “How can you afford to share your best seed with your neighbors knowing they are entering the same competition?” The farmer responded thoughtfully: “The wind picks up the pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. So, if my neighbors have inferior corn, that cross-pollination will steadily degrade my corn’s quality.” The farmer knew that his corn could not improve unless he helped his neighbor’s crop.

So it is today with our lives and the issues or challenges we face, especially those in agriculture.

Even during a global pandemic, members of Farm Bureau found ways to engage at the local, state and national levels.

We are all in the same field. The solutions swirl around us and that’s why there is value in Farm Bureau and engaging others. It’s why I don’t hesitate to ask others to join the Farm Bureau movement. Started over a century ago, that movement has been proven by providing a united voice for agriculture. With more than 2,800 county Farm Bureau organizations nationwide, members continue to influence the direction of policy and make a difference in our rural communities. Even during a global pandemic, members of Farm Bureau found ways to engage at the local, state and national levels to discuss and debate policies that impact the economy, food security and rural life.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest general farm organization, recently hosted its annual convention virtually. During a year when consumers recognized the essential services agriculture brings to their lives, this event was free and open to members and non-members alike.

Top industry leaders like AFBF President Zippy Duvall and Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O’ Lakes, talked about the challenges and opportunities of modern times. These include accessible broadband, consumer concerns, farm labor and ensuring the delivery of food, fiber and fuel as part of the nation’s food chain – often described as “from gate to plate” and “field to fork.” Young farmers talked about their engagement and networking opportunities. Workshops focused on advocacy, mental stress and rural resilience. Innovating entrepreneurs provided a wealth of inspiring ideas. Delegates to Farm Bureau’s annual business meeting had their voices heard as they discussed policy positions for the new Congress and the new administration.

With all that said, why is it that some people will become involved and others will stand on the sidelines? Those that get involved provide their most precious resource – their time. We’re all given the same amount of time and that inventory is depleted at a rate of 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours a day, 168 hours per week. The difference is that those who want to make a difference, engage. They embrace others and ask them to join the movement. Looked at another way – this is our time, to unite and stand strong, to ride for the brand and proclaim our pride in Farm Bureau – the Voice of Agriculture. For more information, call your county Farm Bureau office or find your state Farm Bureau at FB.org/join.

In closing, it’s inspiring to consider the inscription on the “Farm Bureau rock” that marks the Quinn Farm in New York. The words celebrating the first county Farm Bureau in the country and James Quinn, the first Farm Bureau president, still ring true today:

“In 1911 began the world’s largest organization of farmers founded for the purpose of extending the science of agriculture. The growth of their idea resulted in the unparalleled productivity of American agriculture and has directly advanced the social, economic and technological development of American Society.”

Robin E. Kinney is senior director of member engagement at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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