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A Look at Farm Bureau:  2011
By Troy Uphoff, Illinois Farm Bureau District 11 Director

When I was a child my grandfather used to talk about the depression, the great battles of World War II and the devastating droughts of 1934, 1936 and 1954 – or recount stories of his grandfather who would have to fight off wolves at night to protect the farm’s livestock long before the Civil War.  These hearty souls worked from dawn till dusk with horses, not tractors and with no chemicals and certainly not hybrid seed. They never really left the community or realized the challenges and issues beyond the fence row – never even dreaming of the challenges that we all face today.
Recently, the American Farm Bureau Federation held its annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.  Modern agriculture is very different than that of the past.  Today we deal with issues such as animal welfare, environmental regulations and remaining competitive in an increasingly global marketplace – and we communicate using the internet via social networking and sometimes all but bypass the television, telephone and a printed newspaper.
The mission of Illinois Farm Bureau is to improve the economic well-being of agriculture and enrich the quality of farm family life. We do that, in part, by addressing environmental regulations, taxation, transportation issues and government policies at both the state and federal levels.
Through the Fiscal Integrity Project, we’re working to restore responsibility when it comes to government budgets and spending.
Through the Farmer Image Campaign, commodity groups are working together with IFB to re-connect with consumers, most of whom are at least a couple of generations removed from the farm. Another goal of that campaign is to modernize the image most people have of farmers.
Through our network of 96 County Farm Bureaus, we work with members to publicly promote responsible farm production practices and to impact local policies.
These are all illustrations of how farming today is much different than in the days of my grandfather.  As Farm Bureau today, we must work together to help our members prepare for and meet these challenges.  Not as “I,” but as “we” through the Farm Bureau.  As your IAA director, I take great pride in making a difference in people’s lives – in their farms and communities.  In the words of former President Ronald Reagan, “our greatest years are yet to come.”

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