Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Date Day at the Farm Bureau Meeting

I know. You're at the edge of your seat with the excitement that this title brings.

Joe and I really know how to live it up! The funny thing is, we DID have an actual date night...but it started at a design center for our new bathroom and ended at Target.

Again, we know how to live it up.

Anyway, Joe is a board member for our county Farm Bureau. It's my home county, Knox County, and I have written about how I have come to terms, and have come to enjoy my home county (more than I thought I EVER would!). So, when I walked into the banquet facility, I was not only greeted by happy, familiar faces of the staff and neighbors, but dads of friends from elementary school, life long friends, and even folks who were good friends with my grandparents.

It's a good feeling.

Having Joe on the board has meant a few more evenings that he's gone, which can get tricky, but this past annual meeting was particularly eye opening for me as a Farm Bureau member. Maybe I was paying better attention because I was just there, sans any kids. Maybe I was more in-tune because now I understand a little more, or maybe I was just more engaged in the speaker because I was the speaker with my good friend Holly two years ago, so I know how it felt to be paid attention to (or ignored).

Who knows?

Regardless, I actually took notes! The speaker, Mark Gebhards who is the Executive Director for Governmental Affairs and Commodities, was eloquent, and with the changing of the guard in our state (we now have a Republican governor, and in a room full of farmers, you can imagine the excitement level!) and the changing role of government in a farmer's operations, it was an interesting talk.

I won't bore you with the details (although I was not bored...just hungry by the's a lunch meeting...and we're on a weight loss challenge...and I'm nursing...and was within eyesight of the CAKE) of the talk, but Mr. Gebhards challenged our already very active county. Farm Bureau, for those of you who may just think its name is indicative of yee haw and drive your tractor to the meeting, is quite the opposite. The level of professionalism by not only just the state, county and volunteer staff is astounding, but also the impact its programs have is pretty impressive. Sure, there's some flaws, every organization has them, and there's a lot of patting each other on the back with awards within the system, but who doesn't like to be recognized?

I'm digressing.

Back to the challenge.

In his position, Gebhards walks with the politicians, talks with them, gives them insight to how producers are being impacted by various regulations, rules, etc. He challenged us to stay involved, at a very basic level. Calling legislators, writing letters, staying involved with programs like Illinois Farm Families, and Ag in the Classroom (to name a few local programs). By being active, we ACT like we CARE.

Who would have thought?

Well, me, in starting this blog, but that should be the tip of my iceberg. He cited an instance where he was sitting in Senator Durbin's office, addressing a bill or something that would impact farmers. Durbin asked Gebhards if the farming community would be impacted negatively by this particular issue. Gebhards answered, "Yes," emphatically (and if I were paying really great attention, I could tell you what it was...sorry, my blood sugar was plummeting by this point of the talk). Durbin then shared that he had received over 10,000 phone calls from the other side of the coin, and only one hand and two fingers SEVEN...from the ag people.

That's ridiculous.

I am on my phone all the time... why not add Senator Dickie Durbin to my list of contacts, and instead of whining to him through the TV, TALK TO HIM.

So that was interesting.

Our date concluded with a lovely meal, and at the risk of sounding 75 years old, I'll spare you the menu, but at an ag function, you tend to eat good beef.

I will challenge you, friends, that if you're at all interested in agriculture, if you're not a member, or if you even are a member, do a little research on the Farm Bureau. You may be surprised how active your area may be, and you don't even realize it. You may notice programs that are happening that are sponsored by your county's Farm Bureau. You may want to join because you get a great deal on a rental car, who knows. I have decided to find out more because they just had their annual national meeting in SAN can I become more involved and go THERE???

Our unconventional date day was a success, I'd say, even if we traded in the more traditional movie theater/dinner date with politics and beef. Either way, I was fed, and was happy.


  1. A much needed post, Emily, with funny side commentary to boot! You're right. So many of us don't take action on things that are really important. Great reminder.

  2. I have had those kid of dates with my farmer but I admit I do not pick up the phone and tell the politicians my thoughts. Even an email shows I care about what is going on.