The Value of Membership; Depends on Who You Ask
I was at a seminar recently and the subject was how to recruit new members to the Farm Bureau. I was tasked with coming up with a short “elevator pitch” for the value of membership. This seems like an easy task, but it is much harder than you would think. It’s not difficult because there is no value, it’s difficult because the value depends on who you ask.
As someone who spent many years serving the organization as a lobbyist, the advocacy work of the organization is the area where I am well versed in discussing the value. All our members benefit directly and indirectly from our efforts at the state capitol and in Congress. The value is so tangible that in my elevator pitch, I share real numbers.
Farm Bureau Advocacy
For some of the most tangible and valuable examples, I direct you to real-world legislative fixes. We have worked hard to protect our agricultural tax valuation and indeed have worked to extend that to new and emerging sectors of the industry, like commercial equine facilities and agritourism. Additionally, we worked with others on a program to secure $46 million in irrigation efficiency funding and the development of a $1 billion fund to secure new water resources with the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority.
Advocacy is not always about what passes, but what doesn’t. We have been instrumental in ensuring policy that threatens our access to water is stopped cold. We worked with several other groups to ensure that harmful changes to critical tax policies like stepped-up basis, 1031 exchanges, and estate tax were not successful in Congress. We also willingly jump into the fray when environmental policies like WOTUS, ESA, and NEPA threaten to limit our ability to produce food and fiber.
Farm Bureau Strategic Communications
There is no doubt that advocacy is an important part of being a member of the Arizona Farm Bureau, but we are so much more than grassroots advocacy and politics. The voice of agriculture reaches millions of consumers every year with positive messages about agriculture. Last year, we had over 1.3 billion in impressions and engagement through our social media, marketing, and traditional media relations channels. Our members are also well informed on the latest developments in the industry and our communications team is without equal in providing our grassroots members with a platform to tell their story.
Farm Bureau Ag Education
We are not only making connections with our Arizona consumers, but we are also educating the next generation of consumers through our Ag in the Classroom programs. Because of AZFB’s efforts, 150,000 children PER YEAR are connected with a positive experience in agriculture. Our highly trained educators are crisscrossing the state and connecting students with agriculture, many of which would make that connection no other way.
Farm Bureau There for You in Crisis
AZFB is also there when the worst happens, and our members are in need. When tragedy struck the communities of the White Mountains during the Wallow Fire, we worked with others to coordinate emergency relief for ranchers impacted by the fires. Our insurance products are also a critical part to protecting the livelihoods and futures of our members. We are proud of our track record of standing behind our members when tragedy strikes, and they need some help to keep going. Our company and our agents are first on the scene after any storm, fire or other incident and they take their responsibility to protect farmers and ranchers seriously.
The Farm Bureau Family
One of the benefits of membership that all our members can agree on is the sense of community and leadership opportunities farm bureau provides. Whether it’s your county farm bureau, our Young Farmer and Rancher Committee, or the Women’s Leadership Committee, there is a way for everyone to be active in the Farm Bureau. No matter how you choose to participate, you will find a sense of community, and a chance to network with other ag professionals and contribute to making agriculture stronger for a more prosperous future. It’s no wonder why our members compare the farm bureau to a family.
The farm bureau is for everyone, so take a moment to ask someone to join us!
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of Arizona Agriculture.