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President's Message: How you can help develop new Farm Bureau policies

Issue Date: April 24, 2019
Jamie Johansson

In our centennial year, I've had the honor to speak many times about where the California Farm Bureau Federation, as an organization, has come from and where we go from here.

Each time, I think about how some issues, such as labor and water, have remained priorities over time, but that every year we also face a new set of questions and policies that we couldn't have anticipated in our wildest dreams: Topics arise such as lab-produced food, blockchain technology and broadband connectivity that also require our attention.

It's easy to become overwhelmed at the dizzying pace of politics and technological development and to think, in this landscape of constant change, how can we ever keep pace? But each time that question emerges, I am reminded that we come prepared.

Since Farm Bureau's inception, our policy-development process—the truest and most basic form of our grassroots structure—provides us with the tools to guide us toward our truest and most successful path.

The Farm Bureau policy book is not just a charter detailing our mission as an organization. Rather, it's a living, breathing document, reviewed and updated every year, which reflects the will and ingenuity of our members. The policy-development process provides Farm Bureau with the unique ability to adapt in a timely way in the face of new challenges, and to reflect on how we've changed for the better as a community and an industry.

The transformation of our policies is a year-round process that culminates at the CFBF Annual Meeting, but begins months earlier.

To kick it off, we ask county Farm Bureaus to nominate any agricultural member to serve on eight CFBF Issue Advisory Committees, or IACs. In March, hundreds of these nominated farmer-leaders from throughout the state converge on Sacramento to participate in a day of robust discussion and debate, assisted by CFBF staff, on cross-commodity topics ranging from animal health to climate change, food safety to technology, land use, wildlife and agricultural labor.

These IAC meetings, held in conjunction with the annual CFBF Leaders Conference, serve as great opportunities for Farm Bureau members to network, review policies, discuss current and impending federal, local and state issues, and help craft Farm Bureau's legislative and budgetary priorities. IAC members also interact with guest speakers from state and federal agencies to hear updates and provide a forum for us to share our outlooks.

During this year's IAC meetings, members proposed several changes to CFBF and American Farm Bureau Federation policies that will prove to be thought-provoking as we move to the next stage of the policy development process, the Policy Recommendation Committees.

The PRCs review and refine policy changes proposed by the IACs, as needed, and discuss emerging or critical issues or broader topics assigned to their committees. Proposed policies approved by the PRCs will move on to the Resolutions Committee, made up of PRC chairs and vice chairs, and CFBF district directors. Under the leadership of CFBF First Vice President Shannon Douglass, the PRCs will ultimately act on items that will be put before the CFBF House of Delegates at the Annual Meeting in December.

CFBF is now soliciting nominations for any agricultural member of a county Farm Bureau in California to serve on the five PRCs, which will meet in Sacramento in late July. The PRCs focus on policies related to commodities; labor; natural resources; taxation and land use; and transportation, health and education.

It's important to know that this opportunity to participate doesn't depend on a member's status as a county Farm Bureau board member, participation in Leadership Farm Bureau or other CFBF programs, nor is it reserved for those whose membership spans the longest—all are welcome. As selected PRC participants, we just ask that you come with your perspective, experience and ideas to help guide our leaders and policy advocates to work for you.

The Farm Bureau grassroots policy-development process is democracy in action and represents the foundation of Farm Bureau's ability to thrive. Just as we invest in acquiring the right seed or breed, preparing our farms and ranches, and looking to the horizon for new opportunities, the policy-development process allows us to strengthen our roots as an organization, so we can harvest the benefits in the future.

For information on how to apply to serve as a PRC member, contact your county Farm Bureau.

I encourage every Farm Bureau member to do more than belong: participate!

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

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