Throughout my years of involvement with Wisconsin Farm Bureau I’ve had a variety of opportunities to meet members across the state and nation. When talking with other members, or even potential members, the topic of why they joined or why they should join is often discussed. The reason I joined and have been a member for almost 50 years, still holds true today. I joined because of the unspoken security in knowing that there is a team of people working behind the scenes to ensure that every farmer has a voice at our state and national capital.
I became engaged in Farm Bureau because of our grassroots policy development. The policies that allow our lobbyists to do the amazing work they do starts with conversations held all around the state.
Grassroots policy is the heart of every county Farm Bureau. Being a grassroots organization also has some draw backs. For example, for all of us to make strides one of us must stand up and speak out. Policy development is a passionate topic for many. One that I see could use a few tweaks and improvements to would allow our organization to be even stronger.
The one major improvement I see having the greatest impact is by having all county Farm Bureau annual meetings before the second week in October. The reason for this suggestion is that it would allow our state policy development committee more time to get the draft copy of resolutions out to the delegates and to discuss items with their county board of directors and members.
The more members we can engage in the policy development portion of our organization the better our resolutions will be.
Last year in Taylor County most of our delegates attended a district meeting in November to review the proposed resolutions. This allowed us to gather feedback from others and take it back to our board. We also discussed a variety of local resolutions that did not make the draft.
By meeting in November to discuss the proposed draft we were able to talk with other counties and members to craft language that was better suited to the membership. This in return, allowed us to try and bring forth more resolutions and amendments that didn’t make the original draft. I’m proud to say that our district had the highest number or resolutions brought forth at the state annual meeting. I credit this to county delegates getting the chance to discuss items prior to our district caucus.
We are all busy in the fall with harvest activities, but I encourage you and your county Farm Bureau to look at moving your annual meeting sooner (if you aren’t already meeting before the second week in October). A grassroots organization like Farm Bureau is only as strong at the members who choose to participate in things like policy development. Farm Bureau works on our behalf, meaning they work toward the policy that county delegates set at annual meeting. We must all take our place at the table when policy discussions occur on the local level.
I challenge you to try this simple change to your annual meeting schedule. As farmers and agriculturists, Wisconsin Farm Bureau is our voice in the state and national capitol when we are at home, busy on the farm doing our day-to-day work. Other groups are trying to take our voice away, I urge you to step up and participate so agriculture’s voice can be heard loud and clear.
Rob Klussendorf is the Taylor County Farm Bureau Vice President and Policy Development Chair. Although, Rob has retired from dairy farming he stays actively involved on his son and daughters-in-law farm. Rob is also active in local agriculture youth groups and is a member of the WFBF Institute Class XII. Rob and his wife are proud parents of two children and their five grandchildren.