This past week I spent a couple of days with several hundred of my closest friends at the Kansas Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. This is an event that I truly look forward to each year and this year was no different. If you walk down the halls during a break almost all of the conversations centered on crops, livestock or family, now that is my kind of crowd. Sure we had a lot of fun and rekindled old friendships but at the end of the day a lot of good work was also accomplished.
If it was not for farm organizations like Kansas Farm Bureau, some of the challenges facing agriculture would be too much for us as individual farmers and ranchers. During the two day conference we learned about and created policy for topics as far reaching as prairie chickens, water and farm data just to name a few. Increasingly our fates are in the hands of politicians, government officials and even our own customers, many of whom do not understand our business or how we go about it.
That is why it is important to become involved with any of our general farm organizations or specific commodity groups. I know it is hard to get away from the farm or ranch and take part in these meetings but it is just as important as the time spent behind the wheel of your tractor or feeding cows. Agriculture must have a seat at the table when issues directly affecting us are discussed and the only way to do that is for our organizations to be strong and the only way that happens is for each of us to become involved.
A great example of that involvement is Steve Baccus, former president of KFB, Ottawa County farmer and a great leader in the agriculture community. Steve retired as president at this meeting and was showered with accolades he richly deserved. His tenure at Kansas Farm Bureau saw our organization face some of its toughest challenges and in the end we came out tougher, stronger and better equipped to handle future challenges.
I am sure the easiest thing for Steve to do would have been to stay home, focus on his own farm and not get involved. I am glad he did not choose that path, I am not sure where we would have been without his leadership but I am thankful we did not have to find out. He has been the front man for Kansas agriculture for over a decade and served us well in that capacity. I think we would all be surprised if we knew the hours and the sacrifices he has made on behalf of the farming and ranching community.
Personally, I am forever indebted to Steve. He trusted me with some of the most incredible leadership opportunities I have ever had but more importantly he was always there with encouragement and advice. Now when you ask Steve for advice or an opinion you need to be ready for it. It will be straightforward and honest, just as all opinions and advice should be. In any case, I am grateful that I had the chance to learn leadership from his example.
So how does Kansas Farm Bureau replace a great leader? You elect another great leader. I have known Richard Felts longer than either of us wants to admit and I have the utmost confidence in his leadership. Just like many football coaches like to say, it is next man up. However, the success of Kansas Farm Bureau or any agricultural organization does not rest on one person and it is up to all members to be involved in its leadership.
Finally, let me stress that I believe it is imperative for all of us in the farming and ranching community to become involved in some organization. While I am a bit biased when it comes to Farm Bureau and if you want to get active in KFB I would be more than happy to help you. In the end it is more important for you to find the organization you are most comfortable with, have a passion for and roll up your sleeves and get involved. There is plenty of work to do.