Welcome to 2020 everyone. I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. I was able to take some time off between Christmas and New Years and went with the family to Santa Cruz for a few days. The thing I experienced this Christmas season, besides watching the joy my kids have opening new toys, is how many more presents I have to carry to the car with having a third child! In all serious though, experiencing Christmas though their eyes is truly magical!
I am writing this article after attending a Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Meeting. I was the guest speaker talking about the different activities Farm Bureau is involved in. It was great to see such a good group of young farmers and ranchers wanting to learn more about what they can do to help support agriculture. If anyone between the ages of 18-35 wants to get involved with YF&R please contact our office. YF&R is a good way for young agriculture enthusiasts to network with other likeminded individuals.
To start the year, I wanted to go over some of the benefits of being a Farm Bureau member. This is always a good time to reflect on the value of Farm Bureau as California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) held their 101st Annual Meeting on December 8-11 in Monterey. Representing Merced County Farm Bureau (MCFB) were Joe Scoto, Joe Sansoni and Eric Harcksen and myself. Bre, Lorraine and Denelle were also able to attended. The convention is a great way to network with other people involved in agriculture. It really helps to recharge your batteries being able to talk to other members going through the same issues we’re facing every day. To start off Annual Meeting, I attended the County President Caucus and Bre attended the Mangers Roundtable. These two meetings allowed us to express our ideas with other Farm Bureau leaders and understand what has worked or not worked for them. It helps give me a better idea on how MCFB should move forward.
The convention had many breakout secessions covering issues we are facing today. Some of the breakout secessions were how to tell your story and why, industrial hemp, and Nationwide’s new partnership with CFBF members on a 401k retirement program. At night we had the CFBF awards banquet, trade show reception and the Farm Bureau County Fair. I think the Farm Bureau County Fair was my wife’s favorite part, since she beat in the “whack-a- mole” game.
I bet you didn’t know all the different things CFBF has done for its members this year! CFBF had 190 members take advocacy trips participating in 149 meetings. Farm Bureau leaders testified at more than 100 congressional, legislative, and regulatory hearings. As a result of CFBF advocacy, the Trump Administration broadened the list of specialty crops eligible for the Market Facilitation Program making 8,000 farmers of tree nuts and fresh grapes potentially eligible to apply. CFBF submitted 207 pages of court briefs in support of its case against the Bay Delta Plan which would take our water from the Merced River. As the top source for reliable information about California agriculture, CFBF handled more the 350 inquiries from local, regional, national and international media.
At the local level, we have worked on many issues affecting Merced County. At the forefront is water issues including SGMA and the Bay Delta Plan. MCFB attended county supervisor meetings during the hemp ordinance, providing input on the effects the ordinance would have. Some other issues we have been working on are the new immigration bill, the USMCA Trade Agreement and keeping a watchful eye on high speed rail. These are a few examples of issues MCFB is working on a daily basis.
Besides the work advocacy Farm Bureau does, there are discounts Farm Bureau members can receive from partner companies. Members can take advantage of 27 separate member benefits at the state level. They include a variety of insurance services from Nationwide. Members can receive discounts on the purchase of farm equipment, cars, trucks, industrial supplies, auto parts and more. Some of these discounts come from leading companies like Ford, John Deere, Cat, Case and Grainger. Your membership even provides travel discounts from places like Avis, Budget, Choice and Wyndham hotels. Locally, MCFB members can benefit from discounts from Anteris Agronomics, Ag Safe and UnWired broadband. I personally switched our ranch to UnWired and found them to have faster, reliable service.
When paying you dues each year the thought may go through your mind, “What I am getting for my membership?” I hope this article shows our members the value in a Farm Bureau membership. The advocacy work Farm Bureau does on behalf of its members is enough in itself to pay for your membership but as icing on the cake you can receive discounts from numerous companies who partner with Farm Bureau!