Voters Organized to Elect Farm Bureau Friends, also known as VOTE FBF, scored perfect marks in federal races during the primary earlier this month. Three endorsements, three wins, three candidates who understand agriculture moving on to November’s general election.
Dr. Roger Marshall came out on top of a competitive and crowded field to win the GOP nomination to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Sen. Pat Robert’s retirement.
Tracey Mann, who is the odds on favorite to take over Marshall’s seat in the U.S. House, secured the Republican nomination in the race to represent the Big First. And Jake LaTurner upset an incumbent in his bid for the second congressional district.
This hattrick of victories isn’t an aberration for VOTE FBF, which has seen a success rate topping 90 percent since its inception nearly three decades ago. The secret to the success? A grassroots process that ensures endorsements come from the bottom up, rather than the top down.
As a relatively new face at Kansas Farm Bureau, this was my first time seeing the process unfold up close. Each of the state’s 105 counties had the opportunity to hear from candidates and make recommendations to the VOTE FBF board, which pooled the feedback from counties to make its endorsements.
The decisions are political, but they’re not partisan. The goal isn’t to elect candidates our members will always agree with, its mission is simply to elect ones who understand and value the work Kansas farmers and ranchers do each and every day.
Of course, despite eschewing partisanship, it wouldn’t be politics without a few snide remarks as seen on KFB’s Facebook page. Throughout the primary process I learned Kansas Farm Bureau “doesn’t represent real farmers,” and our endorsed candidates “weren’t real conservatives,” “were too conservative” or some variation in the run-up to the election.
At its core, VOTE FBF is successful because of its pragmatism. Counties and the VOTE FBF board don’t feel the need to make endorsements just for the heck of it. If no candidate in a race has earned the confidence of members or there’s more than one acceptable challenger, making no endorsement is an option.
In short, securing a Kansas Farm Bureau endorsement is similar to a candidate securing an individual’s vote. And the endorsement carries value beyond any possible monetary contribution VOTE FBF may decide to make.
Contrary to what some believe about Kansas Farm Bureau not representing “real farmers (and ranchers),” we’re the state’s largest general farm organization. The grassroots process employed by VOTE FBF has been part of the organization for more than 100 years, and it’s representative of not only our members, but the view of Kansans at large as the recent election results show.
While those results are still fresh, they’re also only the halfway point for this cycle. Advance voting in person and by mail begins Oct. 14 and Election Day is Nov. 3. If you turn 18 before then or sat out the primary because you weren’t registered, you have until Oct. 13 to do so.
Even if we don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue, I encourage you to cast an informed vote for the candidate of your choice. Because the leadership of our country, state and counties relies on the same grassroots support Kansas Farm Bureau uses in all its decision making.
“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.