Farm Bureau members share their views in policy development

By Brian Duncan

As farmers, we are lucky enough to work in an industry that is like no other, one where the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. That is not to say that we don’t run into obstacles that can make our job challenging.

While many of these nuisances can be easily fixed, some issues linger and require more than one set of hands to fix. The saying, “Many hands make light work,” can easily be applied to Illinois Farm Bureau’s policy development process.

As a member of our organization, you have the ability to shape and influence Illinois Farm Bureau policy.

When something impactful – positive or negative – occurs locally or across the state, you have the ability to write and submit a policy resolution. But you are not alone in this process. From start to finish you’ll find assistance from your county Farm Bureau, peers across the state and even the guidance of Illinois Farm Bureau staff.

I got my first taste of policy development when I joined my local Young Leaders and made an attempt to influence policy. Since that moment, I haven’t looked back.

It was invigorating for me when I had the opportunity to influence policy at Annual Meeting. First, by stating “Duncan, Ogle” and next providing my thoughts to the resolution.

I admit there was not always consensus among the delegates on my thoughts. But nonetheless, I still rose to the occasion to provide my thoughts on how best to represent the members of my county Farm Bureau. As vice president of Illinois Farm Bureau, I serve as the chairman of the Resolutions Committee and work closely with members to help them find their voice and best represent their county Farm Bureau.

In a few weeks, the Resolutions Committee will meet to review policy resolutions submitted from our peers.

The committee will discuss and debate each resolution that comes before them to determine what additions, deletions and changes should be presented to the delegates. During this process, we learn firsthand about what issues are affecting our membership across the state. Many issues we, as fellow farmers, have experienced. In the instances that we are not familiar with the issue, policy development presents an opportunity for us to learn.

With careful consideration of each policy resolution, committee members put themselves in the shoes of the member who made the submittal. Together with staff advisers, the committee breaks down the submittal and begins discussion.

Every policy resolution that is submitted shapes the conversation among the committee.

Oftentimes we find advocates on both sides of the issue as robust discussion breaks out around the room. It is in those moments that the committee chooses to take a stance on the resolution and determines the best outcome moving forward.

As we get closer to Annual Meeting and the presentation of policy changes to delegates, I encourage all members to get involved and find your voice. Only together can we protect and preserve Illinois agriculture.

I look forward to hearing your voice Dec. 6 in Chicago.

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