Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

September 20, 2011

Farm Bureau works for farmers

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — The Barren County Farm Bureau Federation met Saturday night at the Trojan Academy for its annual meeting, to review the past year and form a consensus on agriculture policy resolutions the group will push to the state level.

While many hear the words “Farm Bureau” and immediately think insurance, Farm Bureau Insurance is actually a small branch of the overall organization, the Farm Bureau Federation, which calls itself the “Voice of Agriculture.”

“The Farm Bureau Federation was organized by farmers in the early 1900s because they couldn’t get anything done for the farmers,” said Betty Barrick, the Director of Information for the Barren County Farm Bureau Federation.

Senator David Givens, R-Greensburg, who attended the meeting Saturday night, said Farm Bureau is a great organization on a legislative level, because the group works hard at developing well thought-out policies and bringing them to lawmakers in a comprehensive manner.

“These folks do a really nice job forming legislative policies on the grassroots level,” Givens said.

Fritz Giesecke, second vice president of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, said the annual meeting is a very important time to all county branches of the federation. This is when the board of directors gets approval from the membership body for resolutions already formed, and members are able to bring any policy ideas they have to the table. Policies are developed to lobby against or to fix bad laws, or to introduce new laws.

“They will look at issues that directly affect them. They’ll identify problems and develop resolutions,” Giesecke said.

At the meeting, the Barren County Farm Bureau Federation passed four resolutions. They are opposed to any effort to require commercial driver’s licenses for farm implement operators on public roads; they support bonding requirements for livestock dealers to be bonded for a minimum of one business day for each buying station; they support Senate Bill 94 in reference to livestock seller’s liens; and they encourage Kentucky Farm Bureau to offer more affordable health care plans to Kentucky Farm Bureau members.

Every policy resolution made at the county level will then go on to the state level, and once approved at the state level, the Farm Bureau Federation’s policy resolutions will be delivered to legislators in Frankfort. State resolutions will also go to the national Farm Bureau Federation, where policy resolutions will be gathered from every branch of the federation from Puerto Rico to Hawaii. All of them have their say, Giesecke said.

Farm Bureau insurance is a premiere service offered to members, Giesecke said, but it is not the focus of the entire organization.

“We are a volunteer organization that want to make our communities better that we all live in,” Giesecke said. “We want to be the voice of agriculture. We represent every commodity, whatever our farmers want us to represent.”

Giesecke was Saturday night’s keynote speaker, and he discussed rising beef exports, the issue of dead animal disposal and the importance of getting out the vote and encouraging members to vote in governmental elections.

The Barren County Farm Bureau Federation also presented Stephanie Mattingly with the award of Outstanding Youth of the Year, and named Bethany Schalk winner of the 2011 variety contest.

Givens had high praise for the organization as a whole.

“This group of folks are some of the best salt of the earth people you’ll find,” he said.