True grassroots organization…member participation guides our work – September 2019
Why is Farm Bureau supporting this policy asked a Farm Bureau member? You know that it will hurt me and others? Another member called wanting to know why we weren’t supporting a piece of legislation and in a meeting with some legislative leaders we were asked if there were some way we could support a legislative proposal different than Farm Bureau policy.
In all of the conversations I reminded the folks that I couldn’t change our member’s policies. That was only something the members could do.
This is the time of year when a lot of county Farm Bureaus hold their policy meetings. The policies that begin at the county levels and make it through the voting delegates at the state meeting serve as the staff’s direction on issues affecting members. If members feel the policies aren’t right or they need changed, they have to begin the process during the county meetings held for that purpose. No amount of arguing or pleading or cajoling the staff will change a position the organization takes through it’s member led policy development. If the member feels our policies need to be changed, they can’t talk the staff into making the change. They have to take the initiative. The old adage that “the world is run by those who show up” applies to Farm Bureau policies.
That’s the way our process has worked for almost 100 years and so far there hasn’t been any members who feel we need to change the way we develop those policies. Being involved in another organization where association executives get together to discuss organizational issues, I know that policy positions in other organizations can be developed by the organization’s board, or in many organizations, particularly on a national level, staff is the main driver of the organization’s positions.
These top down approaches can work for an organization and of course the ultimate determining factor on whether leadership or staff are correct comes with the members who can vote with their pocketbook. None of those groups, however, ever advertise themselves as a grassroots organization like Farm Bureau. Our process works, but it still takes a member to start it so get a hold of your county Farm Bureau and find out when the policy meeting will occur. Thencome and participate because if you don’t agree with the organization’s policies, no amount of eloquent persuasion to the staff can change it.
By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President