Farm Bureau…Who is in Charge?

15 Dec

I get a lot of questions about Farm Bureau, well maybe not so many questions as just incorrect accusations.  Most of the time it’s when I’m trying to stand up for an issue, and I can usually point out that Farm Bureau agrees with me, or that they are working at the capital to help us with certain issues.  Many times the response is something along the lines of, “Well Farm Bureau can’t be trusted, they are just in the back pocket of all big ag companies anyway.”  “Isn’t Monsanto a member of Oregon Farm bureau?!  They must just be looking out for their best interest!”

So while I was sitting in the Oregon Farm Bureau House of Delegates for the better part of two days, turning page after page of policy, I wanted to make sure that people understood the basics of just how this grassroots organization goes to work for all farmers in Oregon.

FullSizeRender (4)2014 House of Delegates, Lincoln City, Oregon

As a grassroots organization, all things start from the ground up.  Or I guess you could say from the dirt up, soil up, boots up, etc.  You get the point, it starts at the farmer level.  As a member of the organization you can bring issues to your county board.  From there the issues, if in policy, are worked on at the county level and if needed moved up to the state level.  All situation depending.  If for some reason there is not anything in our policy book to cover any particular issue, once a year we gather as a state organization and bring in delegates from across Oregon.  We have new policy brought to our attention, corrections to old policy, and sometimes even just a re-wording of some parts to make it work better for our current industry here in Oregon.  An industry that is so diverse, it creates no room for a stagnant policy book.

FullSizeRenderJohn Dardis, Ireland’s Secretary of Agriculture speaking to Oregon Farmers at the Oregon Farm Bureau Annual Meeting.

The policy book is then used by the lobbyists and staff, and members of the organization as a guideline for what we stand for.  They must advocate within those parameters.  It is also distributed to all elected officials.  So back to the Monsanto question, yes, they are a “member”, but they are only an associate member.  As such they are only showing that they support for Farm Bureau, but they don’t have any say in what direction we take our policy, our advocacy, or our time and efforts.

Farm Bureau as an organization has from the get go supported all types of agriculture.  Which I know many times puts them in a pinch as different commodities can sometimes not get along as well as they should.  But as an organization it always strives to work the area that can keep farmers farming here.  It’s one of those groups where it pays to show up, work hard to get what you want, and help get more people behind your issues that you’re facing.  I’m glad to be a member and glad that we have a strong group that is looking out for farmers across the state, and across industry lines.

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