We often hear that Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization. I, along with several other Ohio Farm Bureau members, recently experienced this concept in action as we participated in the first meeting of 2021 of the American Farm Bureau Issues Advisory Committees.
The Issue Advisory Committees provide an avenue for grassroots leaders to contribute their expertise on specific issues, helping to guide the organization’s policy deliberations. The committees meet several times throughout the year to discuss new developments on their assigned issues. The conversations help to guide the AFBF Board of Directors on policy-related actions. There are 12 committees established, covering a vast array of issues that are of utmost importance to Farm Bureau members.
I was appointed to a two-year term on the Market Structures Committee, which deals with a variety of issues, ranging from checkoff programs to commodity markets and everything in between. While typically the committees meet in-person at the American Farm Bureau offices in Washington, D.C., this year’s February meeting was held virtually (I’m in the upper left corner of the featured photo). The virtual format afforded our committee the ability to learn from a broad range of experts from across the country. We heard presentations on carbon markets, livestock marketing and price discovery, and long-term impacts on CFAP payments, among other things. We provided our insights and experiences on these topics in order to allow American Farm Bureau staff to keep in touch with what our committee is experiencing at the local level.
Ohio is well-represented on the Issue Advisory Committees; other members include Ryan Conklin (Environmental Regulations), Sarah Ison (Food Safety), Paul Dorrance (Organic and Direct Marketing), and Anthony Stateler (Water). Senior Director of State and National Policy Brandon Kern also lends his expertise to the Organic and Direct Marketing Committee.
The power of Farm Bureau is in its grassroots, and our policy work depends on members engaging in conversations. The Issues Advisory Committees are just one way that American Farm Bureau ensures that its members’ voices are heard.