Tag Archives: Farm Bureau

Leadership is an absolutely humanistic element sought in all areas of our lives: school, church, work, family, community and government. A few years ago, an interview with author Simon Sinek went viral on YouTube because it was so relatable. He explained how 35 years of raising kids to think that everyone is a winner, in conjunction with the explosion of social media and digital technology, has had some detrimental side effects to the workplace. The impact has left employers feeling the need to step up and find ways to reverse some of the effects. But the greater question is, does this go beyond just the workplace and will this lead to a leadership crisis everywhere?

There is certainly an exhaustive list of the benefits we’ve received from the digital revolution of the last four decades. But like the rapid-fire disclaimer of all those side effects listed in the ad for the latest anxiety medication (which would cause more anxiety I would think!), we should be aware of where humanistic elements are essential and may be harmed from the reliance on technology.

Sinek explains, awarding every child regardless of achievement has created a lack of confidence and a sense of entitlement. Addiction to social media and gaming has starved a generation of person-to-person interactions, relationship building, imagination and allowing their minds to wander and create. Every technology which makes our lives easier also creates an expectation of instant gratification.

Sarah Moulton of Human Capital Leadership Institute points out that there are four leadership traits that cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence: reassuring communication, human touch, establishing rapport and creativity. This means they need to be cultivated in us…the humans!

Reassuring communication is critical because technology cannot teach or convey hope, essentially. The human touch relates to problem-solving based upon the needs of a unique individual or group; dedication to seeing the solution through. Establishing rapport creates trust and empathy which is needed for people to work successfully towards the same goal. Moulton references Eric Wahl’s explanation of creativity by saying, “Intellect without intuition makes for a smart person without impact.”

At Arizona Farm Bureau we see great value in youth leadership programs such as the Arizona FFA and Arizona 4-H. These organizations provide opportunities to both urban and rural youth and instill the value of hard work, responsibility, leadership, ingenuity, problem-solving and persistence through a myriad of programs offered to fit all sorts of interests. Aren’t these the qualities of leadership we all want to guide the future?

It is true that the Age of Social Media has shifted our axis and we don’t yet know what greatness and cost will result, but I don’t believe Sinek has spent much time around Blue Jackets (FFA students) or the 4-H Creed. Believe me, there is very little instant gratification in agriculture, as those of us involved in it know. These youth are confident because they have earned their reward and they must interact with their peers to get the job done. Their minds have been engaged and broadened through the many projects the programs offer. As long as these programs remain robust with our support, there will be no leadership crisis in agriculture or elsewhere.

The people of Farm Bureau have always made it an organization of distinction. Widely seen as a popular movement to advocate for agriculture and rural families when it was formed, the way we communicate today has meant a return to those roots, or perhaps more accurately, grassroots.

Today, public policy issues running the gamut from transportation and labor to trade and regulations are won or lost in our state and national capitals based on the personal stories shared by individual farmers and ranchers. Facts are still the foundation, but Farm Bureau’s farmers and ranchers communicating how issues are felt at the farm gate is paramount. And that, in a nutshell, is Farm Bureau’s value proposition.

The grassroots structure of Farm Bureau, from the American Farm Bureau Federation through the state and county organizations, is unmatched in the world of advocacy for agriculture. Farm Bureau is arguably the most effective organization of farmers and ranch families in the world, and it all goes back to the commitment of individual grassroots members and leaders.

I have seen this in varying degrees over the last 34 years as a member of the Farm Bureau staff. That time included a lot of farm tours, committee meetings and annual conventions. But what sticks out the most, and always will, is the personal stories of how issues affect Farm Bureau families at the farm and ranch level – whether it was a sweet corn grower in Rhode Island, a nursery producer in California or a wheat farmer in Kansas.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of writing countless speeches, columns and news releases. I have logged years of service with some of the most capable professional staff members in agriculture at the county, state and national levels of Farm Bureau. During that time, the organization has grown in terms of the application of modern communications strategy. As a result, the media profile of AFBF has been greatly elevated. That is more a testament to the AFBF Communications Team than it is to me. One constant throughout that time, however, has been the fact that Farm Bureau is fueled by grassroots passion that radiates from the land, the community and the balance sheet.

Unlike many organizations that try to wrap so-called grassroots campaigns around a hollow façade, with Farm Bureau there is never any doubt about whether the intent of grassroots Farm Bureau policy is being represented. Like all organizations, or for that matter any aspect of society these days, Farm Bureau has its share of critics. Due to its dominant profile in the world of agricultural policy advocacy, Farm Bureau is a big target for those who disagree, whether for reasons of ideology or envy. No organization is perfect, but when it comes to representing the will of its members in the public policy arena, Farm Bureau is unsurpassed and its commitment to members is unrivaled.

One thing that sets Farm Bureau as an organization apart from nearly all others is that if you are a farmer or rancher and you do not agree with a policy, you can work to change it. That does not mean you will automatically succeed, but Farm Bureau’s policy-setting process can be efficacious for anyone with an idea to make agriculture and rural America better and the ability to convince others to follow. And that is why Farm Bureau invests in its members, making sure they have the leadership and communication skills to answer the bell no matter when it rings.

As I sign off my duty as executive director of communications for AFBF, and a career that has encompassed a full one-third of AFBF’s 100 years of existence, I stand confident in the organization’s ability to endure through both good times and bad, just as it has since 1919. Even during the very serious and unprecedented challenges facing farmers and ranchers in 2019, the organization remains effective, responsive and the respected Voice of Agriculture when it comes to public policy advocacy.

While I look forward to a new professional opportunity with the United Soybean Board, I will fondly recall all the advances to agriculture Farm Bureau has helped fuel during my tenure. And for that reason, I look forward to many more years of Farm Bureau involvement, as a member who will continue to be #FarmBureauProud. It’s been my honor to serve.

I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds. The opening of the FFA creed, and a phrase near and dear to the heart of every member who has ever put on the corduroy. It is a phrase that speaks to the very core of who we are as farmers and ranchers and one of the reasons Kansas Farm Bureau supports FFA.

This past week I had the honor of representing KFB at the Kansas FFA Convention, and I must admit being a bit selfish when it comes to volunteering for this gig. I don’t know what it is about the convention that fires me up, but I find no matter how bad the weather or the current situation in agriculture is, I am ready to tackle anything after attending. This year certainly tried to test that.

Maybe that was why this convention was extra special; I was fortunate enough to spend three days on the state officer nominating committee. It was three days of intense interviews with the candidates and long hours, but it also was three days of getting to know 13 incredible young adults. It was an experience I wish I could have shared with everyone.

I got to hear the hopes and dreams of these young leaders as they start their journey in life. I experienced the unbridled enthusiasm and optimism of the best and brightest Kansas FFA has to offer and let me tell you the future is bright. This group of young people have a passion for agriculture and a burning desire to serve their communities. They all know they are going to accomplish something great; they just don’t know what that will be yet.

If you have doubts about the character of our youth, I challenge you to spend a day at the Kansas FFA Convention. You will find several hundred of the very best examples of what we hope our kids will be. All clad in the blue and gold, they will make you feel good about the future.

That is why it is so important all of us invest in the future of agriculture by supporting FFA, 4-H and FCCLA. The money and time we give to these organizations is not a donation, rather it’s an investment in our future. Will all the youth in these organizations come back to the farm? No, but many will find careers in agriculture. Even more will go on to find careers in other fields, and that is OK.

That is why I am so proud to support and help fund these great youth organizations. Through our contributions we must continue to grow future generations of leaders. Why? Because, I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds.

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall commented on President Trump’s immigration proposal saying,

“Farm Bureau welcomes President Trump’s focus on fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. However, nowhere is reform more critical than in the agricultural sector. Labor shortages now are being felt by farmers and ranchers across the country, in dairy, fruits and vegetables, mushroom, livestock and other sectors. We will not relent in our fight to ensure that a solution to our agricultural labor needs is included in any immigration reform package.

“Farm Bureau economists issued two detailed studies of this problem over the last decade. In the more recent report, in 2014, looking at potential losses in vegetable, livestock, fruit and grain production, estimated losses range as high as $60 billion. A reformed agricultural guest worker program that is flexible and affordable for farmers, fair to workers and effective in meeting the needs of all producers is critical. We also need to provide current workers the opportunity to earn legal status. These workers are essential to our nation’s food production.

“This is a difficult issue and there are no easy solutions. We applaud the Administration and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who are tackling the problem. We look forward to working with them to advance solutions that allow us to continue growing our food within our borders.”