Kansas Farm Bureau turns 100 this year, and 100 has never looked so good. A lot has happened in the century KFB has been around. We have seen agriculture transition from horse-drawn equipment to modern tractors and combines that virtually drive themselves. We have gone from being an agrarian society to one where less than 2 percent of the population is involved in production agriculture. All of this is mind boggling, and I am sure beyond the imagination of the farmers and ranchers who laid the foundation of our organization.
I often try to put myself in the boots of a founding member. What was their mindset? What did they hope to accomplish? What was their vision for the fledgling farm organization? Kansas Farm Bureau was started to address concerns about commodity prices, new technology and transportation. Issues that are still at the heart of many of our discussions today.
I am sure the founding members of Kansas Farm Bureau would never have imagined their start-up would grow to become the biggest and most influential general agriculture organization in Kansas. One that has a strong voice in making the lives of its members better through legislation in Topeka and Washington, D.C. I doubt if their vision saw KFB becoming the leader in agriculture education and advocacy, and the amazing things its members do to promote the food and fiber we all produce.
I would imagine they saw the need to bring farmers and ranchers together to have a combined voice -- one that could speak for all producers. They saw the need for the agriculture community to band together because as a group we are stronger than we are individually. Kansas Farm Bureau was created to improve the lives of the men and women who poured their blood, sweat and tears into the land they were entrusted with.
Over the years Kansas Farm Bureau has met the challenges, changing with the times and going the extra mile to meet the needs of its members. KFB has been there for the farmers and ranchers through droughts, floods, fires and other disasters. It has championed the cause of agriculture in the legislature making sure the voices of its members were heard.
The issues may have changed. I doubt if the founders could have envisioned defending new technology to the public or fighting for better health care coverage in rural Kansas, but the heart of Kansas Farm Bureau has remained true over the past century.
One hundred years is truly a milestone, but it is not the final one. Over this centennial year we will look at the future of Kansas Farm Bureau, and I hope we will approach it with the same vision, hope and passion that the founding members had when they came together. It is important we celebrate our past, but it is more important that we have a vision for the future.
It is my hope that when Kansas Farm Bureau celebrates its 200th birthday in 2119 the members will look back on us with the same admiration and appreciation that we have for the charter members. Yes, we have accomplished so much in 100 years, but rest assured there is much more work to be done in the next 100. It’s time to cut the cake and celebrate because 100 looks pretty good. Here is to 200 looking even better.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service. Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County.