Commentary: Members assure Farm Bureau remains a leading voice


Issue Date: April 11, 2018
By Kate Fuso
Kate Fuso

Farm Bureau occupies a unique position in representing the interests of California farmers and ranchers. In addition to having the largest number of members of a California trade association engaged in farming and ranching, Farm Bureau remains at the forefront in many areas.

In state legislative advocacy, for example, the California Farm Bureau Federation generally ranks in or near the top 100 advocacy groups in California, out of more than 2,500 such groups registered by the Secretary of State. Few agricultural groups have this level of activity. In addition, CFBF remains a leader in political action and has four advocates who specialize in federal policy.

We also have an unparalleled communications program, with the most-read agricultural periodical in the state (Ag Alert®), and an award-winning magazine and weekly television program (both titled California Bountiful®) intended for a non-farm audience. Our communications professionals work daily to inform farmers and ranchers and to reach out to media and the public on key issues affecting California agriculture.

Farm Bureau is the only trade association with a team of experienced lawyers who work on agricultural issues on an ongoing basis to influence the all-important judicial branch of government, and conduct detailed policy analysis on myriad water, land use and regulatory issues affecting farmers and ranchers.

Most importantly, we are No. 1 in grassroots representation via 53 county Farm Bureaus, which work on the front lines with media, local elected officials and government agencies.

Achieving that level of service is something we have had to cultivate over years and has taken the work of dedicated members like all of you. To be the largest and most comprehensive organization boils down to one thing: you, the member. All our members help ensure the strength of Farm Bureau.

Membership numbers matter, which is why Farm Bureau continuously seeks new members to join our cause.

Many of you joined Farm Bureau for a variety of reasons. For some, Farm Bureau has been a part of your family for generations; it is something your grandparents or great-grandparents joined years ago, and you have kept the tradition alive. For others, you came to Farm Bureau for the information and representation you need to keep your operation viable; with the ever-changing regulations and issues facing us, Farm Bureau is your go-to source for what you need to know.

Whatever your motivation for joining, we thank you for being a member. The time and effort you place into being engaged and active in Farm Bureau helps shape the future of this organization and, in turn, how agriculture is perceived in California.

Looking forward, we must keep reaching out to new members in order to maintain the strength and influence of our organization. We also need to look beyond the traditional family farm membership and start looking at the number of farmers your operation represents.

Many of you operate your own farm or ranch. Some of you have family or other employees on the operation. Have they been asked to be a Farm Bureau member? Have they taken the step to become involved in an organization whose sole purpose is to keep your California farm or ranch in business? If not, I encourage you to ask them to become a member today.

Being from the most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, it is important that we unite for the common cause of protecting and promoting agriculture. We need all generations working in a farming operation to be involved and engaged, because no matter where you are in your career, the decisions made today will affect how your farm remains prosperous for years to come.

Reach out to those in your own family and encourage them to become Farm Bureau members themselves, so we can sustain and enhance our work in protecting family farms and ranches. Individuals in each generation of your family need to have their own memberships and become full-fledged participants in the important work we do.

On my family's winegrape operation in Lodi, this means that not only do my husband and I have memberships, but also my parents, my brother, my grandmother, my uncle and my two cousins have their own, separate memberships. We recognize we each have a stake in the game as farmers and that we all need to be members to strengthen our impact.

Asking someone to join Farm Bureau is as simple as starting a conversation at the dinner table or a business meeting. Sharing your story, and the impact Farm Bureau has had in your daily life, is the best message to share. Often, people do not realize the breadth of work Farm Bureau accomplishes on their behalf and how its work has affected their bottom line. Help expand Farm Bureau within your family, friends and neighbors, and spread the word among your business associates whose livelihoods depend on agriculture.

Our collective membership allows Farm Bureau to be the premier agricultural membership organization protecting and promoting California family farms and ranches. Its foundation was built by farmers and rural residents joining together for a unified cause. We need you and others to be active and engaged members to prosper for years to come.

Don't stand on the sidelines. Help us rally others to join our cause and be part of the organization that sets the course for your farm's future.

People interested in joining Farm Bureau may contact a county Farm Bureau, visit the CFBF website at www.cfbf.com or call our toll-free member help line at 800-698-FARM. It's quick, it's easy and it's important.

(Kate Fuso is marketing manager for the California Farm Bureau Federation. She may be contacted at kfuso@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.