Farm Bureau leaders sharpen each other during conference
By Sean Ellis
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
McCALL – As iron sharpens iron, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation volunteer leaders from across the state spent three days in McCall learning and discussing ways to improve the organization and their own county Farm Bureaus.
“We recognize and appreciate your service to this great organization,” IFBF President Bryan Searle, a farmer from Shelley, told those who attended the annual IFBF Summer Leadership Conference.
About 70 people who serve as Idaho Farm Bureau Federation leaders in various capacities attended the conference, along with their families.
They included county Farm Bureau presidents and vice presidents, members of the state’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and Promotion and Education Committee, as well as chairs of IFBF’s various commodity committees.
The conference, which took place July 18-21 this year, happens during a busy time of year for farmers and ranchers and Searle thanked participants for taking the time to attend.
“We know there are things at home that need to be done, but the sacrifices that you make I know will pay big dividends for agriculture,” he said. “It has in the past and it will long into the future. So your engagement is important.”
A host of topics important to agriculture were covered during the conference and participants were encouraged to stay engaged on the various issues affecting the industry. They were also encouraged to remain active in helping to implement the various policies that IFBF members have adopted.
IFBF’s professional staff advocates for those policies, “But where we really move the needle is when we get the grassroots members advocating for these positions,” said Braden Jensen, IFBF’s deputy director of governmental affairs.
Jensen and Chyla Wilson, an IFBF governmental affairs representative, reinforced the need for the organization’s volunteer members, who are farmers and ranchers, to know the policies contained in the IFBF Policy Book and be comfortable advocating for them.
“You guys have a lot of power,” Wilson said. “With great power comes great responsibility. You need to know the policy and be comfortable communicating it.”
The different presentations that took place during the conference were interactive and participants were encouraged to participate and speak their minds.
The interactive nature of the conference is by design, said IFBF CEO Zak Miller.
“These are some of our top Farm Bureau leaders in the whole state,” he said. “Our real goal of this conference, from my perspective, is to let the talent talk to the talent. Let them share their successes and their ideas with each other because that’s how they grow.”
County Farm Bureau leaders are at the ground level of the issues facing agriculture and they have in-depth knowledge and experience dealing with those issues, Miller said.
“The best training is when someone who knows what agriculture is about and has a real understanding of a certain issue can share their experiences with somebody else who’s going through the same thing,” Miller said.
Washington County Farm Bureau President Tristan Winegar said the annual conference always provides worthwhile information, even if it requires some sacrifice to attend because it occurs during a very busy time of year for producers.
“This is a really busy time of year for farmers especially but yet we still have a really good turnout every year and it’s because when we come here, we get things that are worthwhile and beneficial that we can take back to our counties and use to improve our county Farm Bureaus,” he said. “With Farm Bureau being a grassroots organization, that’s what it’s all about.”
“To me, it’s worthwhile to come up here for the networking, to rub shoulders with other … farmers and ranchers and forestry people from all around the state to learn from them and grow together,” Winegar added.
He said the conference is also an opportunity to catch up with old friends and their families.
“The networking is awesome but being able to meet with friends and the Farm Bureau family itself is amazing,” Winegar said. “It’s great to come here and be around those people and laugh and talk and grow together and just make each other better.”
During the conference, Todd Argall, CEO of Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. of Idaho, told participants he is “a Farm Bureau guy to my core” and said the insurance company is committed to strengthening its relationship with Idaho Farm Bureau Federation.
“Our objective as a company is to … strengthen that relationship,” he said.
At the conclusion of the conference, Searle thanked the organization’s volunteer leaders for the sacrifices they make serving Farm Bureau and the agriculture industry.
“Thank you for the active role you play in Farm Bureau,” he said. “We appreciate everybody; you make a big difference. I take my hat off to each one of you. Thank you for taking the time to serve.”
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