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Across the Table: Key insights from two years on the road

Grassroots is a term we use regularly in Farm Bureau. It’s shorthand for saying that everything we do is from the bottom up, not top down. From defining our values to developing our policies to recruiting new members, everything starts with and is done by and for our individual members.

Being grassroots paid dividends for a little kid growing up in a Farm Bureau family. It meant I got to play with other farm kids while my folks and their friends gathered in each other’s houses to kick around the issues of the day and come up with ideas on how Farm Bureau should or could get something done. Today, as the guy you’ve put in charge of running your organization, hanging out with members is still a lot of fun. It’s also a strategy for helping Farm Bureau thrive for our second 100 years.

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Fairfield County

A couple months ago I wrote about my tour of Ohio, traveling close to 14,000 miles over two years to hear from our grassroots. I shared with you the six big themes that came from my time on their farms and in their communities. They focused on advocacy, membership, communication, finances, partnerships and overall excellence. We’re in the midst of working our plan to deliver on those priorities. But beyond these broad strategic goals, I heard a lot of innovative, specific ideas on how to make our great organization even better.

I’m not sure what took more time, making all those visits or organizing everything I learned. I’ve put together a 20-page booklet that digs really deep into my conversations with more than 800 passionate members. If you’d like a copy, send an email to [email protected]. Short of that, I’ve handpicked a few to share on this page. Let me know what you think. I’ve got a lot of practice listening.

Why do you belong to Farm Bureau?

  • I’m part of the agricultural community
  • Member benefits such as Nationwide, workers’ comp program, discounts
  • Focus on young people
  • Advocacy – the voice of agriculture
  • Information, education
  • Opportunities to be involved

What do you most value about Farm Bureau?

  • Advocacy in the public policy arena
  • Networking with other members
  • Community building
  • Communications about the industry
    and the organization

What can Farm Bureau improve upon?

  • Grow agricultural literacy
  • More, stronger partnerships
  • Coordinate with other farm groups to improve effectiveness, efficiency
  • Find new revenue sources
  • Strengthen efforts on water quality, regulatory reform and other policy issues
  • Improve public perception of agriculture
  • Ramp up political engagement opportunities for members
  • Provide learning opportunities for members
  • Make events exciting, useful, accessible
  • Promote our values
  • Expand social, video and local media communications
  • Engage members more directly
  • Be welcoming to a wide range of ag interests
  • Develop leaders, Young Ag Professionals
  • Focus on economic development
  • Lifetime or multiyear memberships
  • Help for membership workers
  • Create new, relevant benefit programs
  • Engage with the food community

Featured Image: Ashtabula County