Kansas Farm Bureau members just finished celebrating our first 100 years. I say the first 100 years because one thing that became very clear to me this year was KFB is very much a healthy and vibrant organization. We have weathered tough times, grown as an operation and become the biggest and most influential general farm organization in the state.
This year we crafted a strategic plan to serve as a road map for the near future of KFB. This document was created with input from all 105 county Farm Bureaus and many, many hours of volunteer time from a task force. It is a living document meant to help keep KFB the thriving, growing organization of which we all can be proud.
One of the things brought to light in the strategic plan process is the need for our organization to be more inclusive and continue to be the umbrella farm group where all producers can find a home. As we continue to face challenges in agriculture, more and more of us look for ideas that can only be described as out of the box. The list of niche or small agriculture ventures is long and varied, but Kansas Farm Bureau needs to be the place that all are welcomed and the voice that speaks for everyone.
We do not want to forget our traditional agriculture roots. Those of us who raise conventional crops and livestock will continue to be the backbone of the organization. However, we must also welcome others to the table. I don’t think I need to remind anyone that we are less than 2 percent of the population — that’s all of us. We need to make sure we have a united voice.
Another main point of the strategic plan is we must find a way to strengthen our county Farm Bureaus. Just like the rest of agriculture, some of our counties have fallen on tough times and have seen membership dwindle as our rural population shrinks. We must make sure the very essence of our grassroots, the county Farm Bureaus, continue to be the foundation of the organization.
Without input from every corner of the state we will not be a whole organization, and it will be hard to represent the needs of all farmers and ranchers. What will it take to strengthen and help support each county? I would guess there are 105 different answers, and we must think outside the box. Each county Farm Bureau is a dynamic entity unto itself. There is no cookie-cutter answer.
These are only two of the main points in the strategic plan. Each was crafted after a great deal of input and even more thought and discussion. As proud as I am to be a member of Kansas Farm Bureau and the rich history of the past 100 years, I am even more excited and hopeful for the next 100 years.
“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.