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Across the Table: Listening to the Members

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2016-2018 CORE Tour – The dots represent the homes and farms of the more than 800 members who welcomed me into their communities.

When I was hired a couple years ago, I made a promise to you and your fellow members. I would listen to what you want from your organization. The map you’re looking at is my proof of performance.

As the new CEO for this sizeable, diverse, important organization, my top priority was to connect with our grassroots, because to do my job, I had to know what you want Farm Bureau to be and do. Polls and surveys were helpful but weren’t going to fully cut it. So, I hit the road. My CORE Tour (County Outreach, Research, Engagement) was an incredible experience.

Some stats: 13,759 miles of interstates, state routes, city streets and township roads. More than 500 hours of travel and conversations. Visits with 832 members, who each hand-placed a dot on the map showing where they live. Two- to four-hour chats in homes, farm shops, diners, conference rooms and backyards. I heard from women and men, full- and part-time farmers, operators big and small, veteran and beginning farmers, ag suppliers and buyers and producers of diverse crops and livestock. adam-3

I got the conversation rolling at every meeting with the same four basic questions about Farm Bureau: What do you like and want us to keep doing? What do we do O.K. but could be doing better and how? What are we not doing that we should be? What should we stop doing?

The thoughts, ideas, wishes and suggestions I gathered would fill this magazine several times over. But I learned that regardless of gender, age, location or enterprise, members have six common priorities: They want Farm Bureau to be a strong advocate, an effective communicator,  build strategic partnerships, grow and engage members, be financially sound and excel by every measurement. We’re already on it.

Our strategic plan through the year 2020 focuses our organization on those six essential mandates, lays out our steps to attain them and establishes how we will measure success. I’m confident your Farm Bureau will evolve in a way that makes you proud. Mostly, because it was you who mapped out what we should be.