A Message from Former WFBF President Jim Holte
While cleaning out my office it gave me time to reflect on my time in Farm Bureau as a member, a county leader, district leader and as president. It may seem cheesy, but as I packed each of these items it made me remember something in my Farm Bureau career.
Farm Bureau Hat
My Farm Bureau story began in Dunn County. I got my start in Farm Bureau when my county Farm Bureau president called me out of the blue and asked if I would be interested in Young Farmer activities. I do not remember the exact month or year, but it happened not long after I completed college at UW-River Falls and had been back farming in Elk Mound.
I recall attending the next monthly county Farm Bureau board meeting at the office of our local Rural Mutual Insurance agent. I’d say it was there where my Farm Bureau path officially began.
I’ve worn my Farm Bureau hat many times in the county Farm Bureau food stand. It’s local events that can jump start a deeper interest in Farm Bureau.
Something I have always received from my home county and I am extremely grateful for is support. Support both financially and mentally to attend and engage in various experiences.
Hopefully, you have experienced this in your counties as well. Take advantage of the opportunities to meet other members and travel. I promise you – you won’t be disappointed in that decision.
Farm Bureau Duffel Bag
If you would ask my wife, I have taken that last statement, ‘taking advantage of traveling,’ a little too literal. Being on the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Board has led me to some interesting places. I’ve always enjoyed traveling and so I’ve appreciated the opportunities to do that.
The Pinnacle Award is the highest honor a state can be awarded for program by American Farm Bureau. I accepted this award on Wisconsin’s behalf last year.
Wisconsin has grown and improved their programs and because of that has been recognized on the national level many times in the last few years. We have exceptional members and team members who make this happen.
The work we do here in our state is important. The work you do matters.
Wisconsin’s agricultural policy is important to farmers. Being part of the process isn’t only an opportunity but also a responsibility. Whether the topic is water quality, raw milk, livestock siting or fence laws, WFBF has built the reputation of creating policy that is well thought through and appropriate.
Our policy starts with you all on the local level and don’t take that role for granted.
Policy has been our shining star during our 100 years of existence because of our strong member leaders and supportive staff.
Being involved in these conversations is something we can’t delay or deny. I challenge you to engage in the policy discussions on the county level. Together as Farm Bureau members we can make a difference in the future of agriculture. Many of my favorite memories involve discussions on ag policy at the county, district and state levels. Those grassroots decisions and debates are what makes us who we are as an organization.
Artwork from Grandkids
As I took down the photos and artwork made by my grandkids for my office, I reflected on just how much this role has impacted my family.
I have talked about travel and the opportunities this role has given me, but I haven’t mentioned the sacrifices my family, especially Gayle, has had to make for me to serve in this way. With the office being more than 2.5 hours away from our farm the amount of time away has been quite a bit. I thank my wife for the support and help to make this happen.
As I stood on stage during our 100th annual meeting, I was humbled. I am grateful to be part of this Farm Bureau family that has worked so hard to stand up for our farmers in the state.
But mostly, I am optimistic. While the future is usually intimidating, I’m reassured that we have the right people in this organization to carry us through the next 100 years.
Thank you to our excellent staff, my fellow board members and you, our members, for everything.
Holte was President of Wisconsin Farm Bureau from 2012 to 2019.