A Message from WFBF’s Dale Beaty
The goal of Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s staff is to execute our mission of providing valuable services and benefits to members. It’s my pleasure to report to you that your staff accomplished its mission in 2019. They did so by overcoming challenges of multiple unforeseen staff transitions. The only way to power through these challenges was through individual determination and overall teamwork. I’m very proud to inform you that your staff accomplished great successes this year in membership, communication, outreach and advocacy.
Member recruitment and retention are top priorities for Farm Bureau. WFBF membership has grown from 500 members in 1920 to 47,102 members in 2019. WFBF has experienced 12 consecutive years of membership growth; the longest stretch of continuous membership growth in the history of the organization. Through the efforts of Farm Bureau volunteers, Rural Mutual Insurance agents and staff leadership, WFBF continues to recruit and retain members whose ideas will move WFBF forward. Nearly 93 percent of those who become Farm Bureau members renew their membership.
We have many new improvements for our members to take note of. The Ford $500 Bonus Cash member benefit was added this year to our member benefit lineup. To make it easier for our members to register for WFBF conferences we have begun online registration. Lastly, the Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom program has a brand-new website where you can order a variety of resources.
WFBF’s Public Relations team works diligently to let members know the work Farm Bureau is doing on their behalf at the local, state and national levels. The Rural Route magazine, which was recognize by American Farm Bureau as the best small state magazine, Grassroots newsletters, the WFBF website and social media platforms keep our members informed on the local, state and federal issues impacting agriculture. This year special emphasis was put on increasing media coverage on rural road safety and farmer wellbeing with the #FarmNeighborsCare campaign.
WFBF is committed to reaching out to audiences outside our membership. Those include youngsters, consumers, stakeholders and future agricultural leaders. The Ag in the Classroom program provides resources to help volunteers and teachers help young students discover how food gets from the farm to their table. Achievements include 2,064 students participating in the Ag in the Classroom essay contest.
Each year at the WFBF Annual Meeting, delegate members set the policy of the organization. In 2018, delegates provided direction on the consideration of dairy supply management. The Dairy Committee held five meetings and spent numerous hours researching and contemplating dairy policy. More than 325 farmers and agriculturists attended Ag Day at the Capitol. Fourteen Leadership Institute graduates, as well as 35 county Farm Bureau leaders, board members and staff traveled to Washington, D.C., in 2019 to advocate for agriculture.
WFBF is committed to leading a growing and dynamic agriculture. That’s done by providing new engagement and learning opportunities for members.
The WFBF Promotion and Education Committee hosted the first-ever Ag LEAD Summit on March 8-9 in Appleton. More than 120 Farm Bureau members attended and participated in a variety of interactive workshops focusing on advocacy, agricultural promotion, consumer outreach and education.
The Local Affairs program is dedicated to helping county Farm Bureaus be more proactive in addressing local policy issues impacting their members. This program continues to grow and develop.
Twelve Farm Bureau members comprised WFBF’s 13th Leadership Institute class, and since 2007, 178 members have completed the year-long premier training program. Wisconsin had the honor of hosting the AFBF FUSION Conference in Milwaukee in March. The FUSION Conference brought together 1,100 Young Farmers and Ranchers, Promotion and Education and Women’s Leadership Farm Bureau members from across the nation to improve their leadership and advocacy skills.
Your staff is dedicated to continuous improvement. I encourage you to thank the staff for the great work they do to fulfill Farm Bureau’s mission.
Beaty is WFBF’s Chief Administrative Officer.