|After spending the weekend with over 135 Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) at their annual conference and nearly 100 county Farm Bureau members attending the Promotion and Education (P&E) Conference there is no way that you cannot be excited about the future of agriculture and be excited about the future of Farm Bureau.
Our P&E programs provide educational opportunities and experiences in order to create awareness and understanding and to promote the importance and values of Farm Bureau and agriculture to all consumers. Thank you to all who promote, protect and represent business, social and educational interests of our farm families in Minnesota.
Our YF&R program introduces those ages 18-35 to Farm Bureau and provides them with educational, leadership development and networking opportunities. These young leaders participate in the YF&R Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture contests as another avenue for leadership development. Congratulations to the eight Discussion Meet semi-finalists that will compete in the final two rounds of competition at our MFBF Annual Meeting in November. The eight semi-finalists are: Jeremy Daberkow from Redwood County, Sadie Frericks from Stearns County, Glen Groth from Winona County, Caitlin Kasper from Steele County, Jennifer Schultz from Sibley County, Stacy Thoeny from Kanabec/Isanti County, Emily Zweber from Scott County and Tim Zweber from Scott County.
During the conferences, we heard from Chris Chinn, a Missouri farmer and a past American Farm Bureau Federation YF&R chair, who encouraged us to speak up on behalf of agriculture and tell our great story. She emphasized the importance of using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to tell our story. I encourage all Farm Bureau members, those who raise food and those who consume food to become more engaged in social media. Check out your Farm Bureau at www.fbmn.org, www.Facebook.com/minnesotafarmbureau, www.Twitter.com/MNFarmBureau, and www.youtube.com/minnesotafarmbureau.
We also heard from Dave Martosko, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) director of research. The CCF is a nonprofit watchdog group that is bringing to light the truth behind the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) through Humanewatch.org. Three statistics he shared with us were; 83 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the HSUS, 71 percent believe HSUS represents local humane societies/local pet shelters and that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) shares less than 1 percent of your donations with local pet shelters. Another statistic I had not heard before was that HSUS spends $49 million on salaries per year – that’s 30 percent more than the White House will! Please take time to visit humanewatch.org and friend them on Facebook.
In visiting with Dave Martosko, he reminded us “Don’t just tell them something. Ask them to do something.”
I took this to heart for my comments to the group and had five “asks” of them, and I have five asks for you. I will not tell you that our Mission Statement is to be an advocate for agriculture driven by the beliefs and policies of our members.
Ask number one, be a better advocate for agriculture, to pick a date (Valentine’s Day is always a good time for a date) and do just one thing to be a better advocate for agriculture.
Ask number two, help your Farm Bureau by being the eyes and ears of our organization. Help us to listen and learn about the questions consumers have about us and how we do things, forward those observations to the state office and to our Farm Bureau leaders.
Ask number three, be willing to not just educate, but more importantly start engaging about who we are and how we raise the food they eat. We must not only talk to. We must talk with. We have to have a conservation.
Ask number four, ask a friend or neighbor to join Farm Bureau. We need to grow as an organization to be more effective at the local, state and national level.
And ask number five, be a better advocate, be proud, be passionate, be positive and proactive, be committed to make a difference for your farm, your family and your Farm Bureau.