Oakley—Longtime Idaho Farm Bureau Board member Gerald Marchant is retiring from the IFBF Board of Directors after two and a half decades of service.
I'm Gerald Marchant of Oakley, Idaho. I served on the Farm Bureau Board of Directors for 24-years.
How did you get the idea to get on the Board?
Marchant: Well, I was on the County Board for years. I served as County President, I watched the Board and thought I’d like to do that one day. The opportunity came and I ran and served for 24 years.
You’ve seen a lot of people come and go and you have seen a lot of issues come and go too?
Marchant: Building that building in Pocatello was probably one of the biggest highlights, the most notable highlight. I had a lot of fun being involved in the decision making there with that building. We had a lot of political issues over the years, Swan Falls agreement, Federal Land issues, potato nematode issues, a lot of issues we’ve been involved with. I think we had an effect on the outcomes of all of those issues.
Tell us about Farm Bureau clout and how it’s viewed by other groups?
Marchant: It’s an interesting question because there are a lot of other Ag organizations that are jealous of the Farm Bureau because we do have some clout and sometimes it gets us in trouble because we are a general farm organization and we can’t take sides on really hard-line issues on something in favor of cattlemen that would hurt another segment of agriculture, we’re really careful on that. I think we’ve done a good job of balancing things out, arriving at the correct issue. I, myself haven’t always agreed with the stances we’ve taken. But I supported the Board's decision, that's the way it is and perhaps not as vocal on those issues with those I disagreed with, but I tried to support the Board’s decisions and there’s been a lot of them over the years.
Being on the Board, I bet you got phone calls at night over the years?
Marchant: Oh, yea! But they were mostly civil. I didn’t really have any angry people call me. I had people call and disagree with me. I still have a representative in our District that brings it up quite often, that ‘Farm Bureau was on the wrong side of the issue,’ a different side that he wanted.
The cattlemen through the years have been at odds with the Farm Bureau on many issues, you smoothed things over with them?
Marchant: I got right in on the tailed of a lot of that. The fact is that I’m a member of the Cattle Association. I think all Farmers and Ranchers should be active members of their organizations, be it cattle, sugar, potatoes, and Farm Bureau. Because of the effectiveness of Farm Bureau Legislators know that we are a general farm organization and we strive not to hurt one segment of agriculture at the expense of another. I think that's one of the things that gives us a lot of clout. But we need to work closely with other organizations. I'm involved with the cattle business, it's what I know most about, so I need to know the issues. When I first started going to Cattle Association meetings I heard some comments and got a cool reception and heard that ‘Farm Bureau just tries to bully their way through.’ I think that's one of those things where you are involved and get to know people personally, they can see that you don’t try to push things through, there is another side to the story. I’ve strived to present that and I think that we got a good relationship with most Ag organizations.
Some might say that Farm Bureau could be described as imperfect, perfection?
Marchant: Well, (laughs) Imperfect causes us some trouble because we can’t 100percent agree with issues because, like mentioned before it will harm another segment of agriculture, but that's also our strong point, it makes us perfect. We look at all sides of the issue to represent all segments of agriculture, which is what our purpose is. If you had to explain it to someone, what is Farm Bureau? Marchant: “It's an advocacy group for agriculture. We strive to look for the best interests of those involved in agriculture and make a living at it.
Are you going to miss going to those meetings?
Marchant: Yes and no. Really? I'm going to miss the meetings but I’ll enjoy staying at home. I usually attend 7-8 meetings a month, that involves 7-8 nights if you attend all the county meetings, I won’t miss that part. I will miss being involved and knowing what’s going on. You get a better feeling if you're involved, talking to the people that are really involved with it, so yes, I'm going to miss it.
For 24 years you have been on the playing field of agriculture, 365 days a year you have been on the field, you have been a player, is it tough to walk away from that?
Marchant: It really is. Yes, I’ll miss it. I'll miss the people I know from Farm Bureau. I’ve always said that I could travel up and down Idaho. If I had car trouble I could be in any county and find someone from the Farm Bureau and call someone to rescue me.