While this year started out with a lot of enthusiasm for agriculture markets, we started hearing about a virus in China that, at the time, didn’t seem like it would impact our daily lives. Today, we know COVID-19 has truly changed the world and how we live.
With our Farm Bureau office being located in Dane County, we were obligated to close the office to visitors and limit staff entry. But we never turned off our commitment to serving our members. I’d like to share some highlights from each of our divisions that show how we stepped up our services to support our members.
Operations Division – went into immediate action to ensure that all of our staff were fully equipped to complete their work responsibilities from home. Decisions that would normally take months to implement were fast-tracked over the matter of weeks to give staff access to Microsoft Teams, a virtual meeting and collaboration platform.
As of July, all county Farm Bureau invoices are paid through Concur Invoice. We expect this to save time, which will help us better serve you, our members.
Member Relations Division – started a postcard campaign based off of the Farm Neighbors Care mental health efforts. These postcards were sent to members with reassuring and supportive messages. WFBF’s mental health efforts started more than a year ago, but have become increasingly important this year as we deal with the stress associated with an uncertain future.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our district coordinators. This group has battled right alongside our county Farm Bureau members in rescheduling and canceling events, brainstorming new ideas and implementing creative solutions to unique challenges never faced before.
Public Relations Division – developed a COVID-19 resources and updates webpage to share information with our members. They also had the foresight to know that hearing directly from our members would be essential and created an online form for comment submissions. These impact stories were ultimately used to advocate for what became the Wisconsin Farm Support Fund.
One thing I am particularly excited about is our ability to create a regular message sent to our county leaders aka the Leader Letter. Early on, this message focused on COVID-19 information and resources but has begun morphing into more general updates.
Governmental Relations Division – headed up the drive for the Wisconsin Farm Support Program. Without the commitment and drive of so many groups pulling together, because of the strong relationships built over years, this would not have come to fruition.
This team also was dedicated to keeping members in contact with elected officials by organizing conference calls with our federal legislators. These calls allowed more members to participate compared with traveling to Washington, D.C.
I must also mention some of the other cross-functional teams and our executive assistant who answered member calls and sorted office mail daily to ensure that nothing was left undone. While I haven’t shared names, let me say that each and every one of the staff members has contributed and I can tell you that we are truly blessed to have so many working TOGETHER on our behalf.
The efforts of our counties have been nothing less than inspirational, adjusting to the challenges and even though having all of the struggles that agriculture faced, many provided food, monetary or other donations to local food pantries. I am humbled and proud of the Wisconsin Food and Farm Support Fund created by Rural Mutual Insurance Company and WFBF. The fund has collected nearly $50,000 to support Feeding Wisconsin and Harvest of Hope. We continue to engage with other stakeholders on how we can grow the impact of this program.
I am extremely proud to be a Farm Bureau member and hope that we will all go … forward together.