I like to think that it hasn’t been that long since I first became involved with Farm Bureau, but I’ve been a Wisconsin Farm Bureau member just shy of 25 years.
My first memory of Farm Bureau is helping my mother in the Farm Bureau food stand when I was very young. Anyone who knows my mother knows I was ‘voluntold’ to help, but I loved being part of a team anyway.
The reason I became a WFBF member was the opportunity to network with other likeminded individuals. I thought membership was a great way to make friends while talking shop and learning about farming and agriculture through the experiences and knowledge of others.
As I saw the benefits of my Farm Bureau membership unfold, I continued to get more involved in the organization. Farm Bureau was well respected at many levels. During a trip to Washington, D.C., I began to realize how, as a member of Farm Bureau, I could have influence on a legislative bill or policy that impacted my farm and my community.
Farm Bureau has influenced me and my life greatly.
Collaborating with others will always get you further than working on your own. Being part of a team has its challenges, but the outcomes that we can achieve together often far exceed those we attain when working independently.
Throughout the year, I’m always impressed by the work and accomplishments on the local level by our county Farm Bureau leaders.
We make time to educate youth and families about their food, give back to our communities, pay it forward to those less fortunate, defend farming through policy involvement and build a network of support for fellow farmers and agriculturists. Farm Bureau is unique that way. Our strength is in our numbers and our grassroots philosophy.
As agriculturists, we are a small percent of the total population. Therefore, our role in educating others about what we do has never been more important. We are the ones the world relies on for food, fuel, and clothing. It starts with us.
Our Ag in the Classroom program is the perfect vehicle for this. Not only do we have dedicated volunteers working at the local level, but we have a new Ag in the Classroom coordinator who started this past year. Together, they have been working diligently to make Ag in the Classroom a major success.
This year, we started the new 35 Under 35 program with the leadership of our YFA Committee and WFBF’s director of sustainability communications and partnerships. This program has created quite a buzz and it allowed us to showcase how impactful our members are in all areas of sustainability, not just in the environmental space.
When we come together as a team and a unified group, we are an enormously powerful voice legislatively. That is a large part of who Farm Bureau is and it’s up to us to maintain that reputation.
With the announcement of the UW-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course changing its structure, Farm Bureau has been at the table to ensure our young people have opportunities to further their agriculture-related educational pursuits. We have worked with all UW agricultural schools to find solutions that will meet the needs of the next generation while standing on the principles set forth by our partnering agricultural groups.
On the national scene, WFBF helped advocate for American Farm Bureau to host a national forum to discuss Dairy Federal Milk Marketing Orders as we get closer to true reform.
We also are heading into another farm bill and WFBF has established a Farm Bill Working Group made up of Farm Bureau members to help prioritize the needs of Wisconsin agriculture. This group will be an integral part of discussions surrounding our next farm bill.
That’s a short list of the many areas we are working in for you. Farm Bureau also gives opportunities for each of us to connect with our representatives. We must be engaged with our local, state and national representatives.
Coming together isn’t always easy. It’s hard to work on so many needs across the diversity we have in our state. Ultimately, we have different backgrounds, priorities and opinions.
But when we come together and when we get behind one voice, we are impactful.
Remember, you are part of something bigger. What we are and who we become starts with us.
I sincerely thank you for being a part of the Farm Bureau family and wish your family a blessed new year.
Kevin Krentz was elected to the WFBF Board of Directors in 2012 to represent District 5, which includes Adams, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Juneau, Marquette, Waushara and Winnebago counties. In December 2020, Kevin was elected as President of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. Kevin and his family own a dairy farm in Berlin. He started his farming career when he purchased his father’s 60 cows in 1994. He grew the farm to 600 cows and 1,300 acres of crops.
Column originally appeared in the December | January 2022023 Rural Route.