It is during this time of year that most people reflect on where they have been and what they accomplished during the prior year, and then look forward to what is ahead as far as challenges that remain and opportunities to forge a path ahead. In Farm Bureau, this process plays out at the state level across the country between the end of harvest and the Christmas holiday. Then at the national level, leaders from every state Farm Bureau meet to share their various challenges and proposals to jointly determine a path forward by the organization for the next year.
It is unique that all of these shared challenges and proposals at every level have an origination that begins on farms and ranches in each local community across the nation. Ideas move upwards from committees and county Farm Bureau boards through the Farm Bureau organization. During this progression the ideas are analyzed, discussed and determined by a majority decision of member delegates as to their fate for inclusion as adopted policy positions.
This process of developing policy positions is entrenched in how Farm Bureau has built trust and influence over the past 100 years, and why it will continue to effectively represent the interests of agriculture and rural communities. No matter how diversified or specialized agriculture becomes, a voice of unity is essential.
Our new county president, Steve Dutton, has outlined a number of local challenges that have faced Sonoma County agriculture over the past two years that received significant attention and time by past president John Azevedo. Certainly, John has been one of the most dedicated and effective leaders I have been privileged to work with during my years as a part of the Farm Bureau organization. I am also confident that the new leaders of Sonoma County Farm Bureau are not going to miss a beat.
There continue to be several challenges that confront farmers and ranchers’ ability to earn a living while feeding the rest of us. Some are economic, some are environmental and unfortunately, some of the challenges continue to come from elements that advocate in the name of preserving or protecting agriculture but are becoming further and further removed from understanding what it takes to produce a crop or raise an animal.
It has been mentioned before, but 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Farm Bureau in Sonoma County. What has come before is a shining example and legacy of leadership that continues to feed the mission of Sonoma County Farm Bureau. We intend to use this year to not only reflect on what has been done, but also address the coming challenges head on. Whether it will be regulations for managing and monitoring groundwater use, the yet to be known impacts of legalizing and regulating cannabis or something unknown, it will take a unified agriculture voice to result in reasonable solutions. To echo Steve’s words, “Be willing to take the time! Be willing to spend the money! Be willing to be involved!”
Kim Vail, Executive Director, Sonoma County Farm Bureau