Just short of a year ago, I submitted a membership application to join the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation (WFBF). As a beginning Farm Bureau member, my understanding of the organization was limited, but in the 10 short months of my membership, I have come to better understand the vast spectrum of opportunity this organization has to offer.
With active sites in all 50 states, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)'s mission states: "AFBF is the unified national voice of agriculture, working through our grassroots organizations to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities." With the slogan "The Voice of Agriculture," AFBF has a positive reputation to live up to.
As my membership has evolved, I have been fortunate to experience a great array of opportunities. From an agricultural industry tour of Trempealeau County with other women in my district, to the state Young Farmer and Agriculturalist (YFA) conference, to visiting with state legislatures during Ag Day at the Capitol in Madison, Wis., if there is one thing this organization has taught me so far, it's that, as farmers and agriculturalists, we have a voice and it is vital that we share it.
If you turn on the market report on the morning radio or simply take a glance at your latest milk check, it is no secret that we are in some tight times. In my travels with Dairy Star, I often receive off-the-record remarks about this particular challenge among others. While I practice discretion by keeping these individual thoughts and concerns confidential, they often resonate with me and have helped me shape my own vision of the industry we work in.
Farm Bureau has been the way I've been able to share my vision for dairy and all of agriculture with others. This week, I am in Washington D.C. with fellow WFBF YFA members to share our stories and voices with individuals on national and international levels. During this week, we will be briefed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), visit with the New Zealand Embassy and meet with members of Congress. To say I am honored to have this opportunity would be a great understatement.
As we continue into June Dairy Month, the importance of finding our voice continues to grow. It's not just about sharing our farm stories with our consumers or promoting the consumption of our product, it's about sharing our livelihood with those who represent us. Take the opportunity to get to know your government officials - whether that is at the local, state or national level - and share your story with them, too.
Just as importantly, get involved in an activity or organization that connects you to others in your profession. For me, Farm Bureau was where I found that connection, but there are many other groups out there that give you similar opportunities. While it isn't feasible for every farmer to take a week off the farm to meet with members of Congress, you never know who might hear your story during a meeting and leave an impact on.
The successes, struggles, concerns and beliefs of the farmers I am fortunate to work with are always on my mind. They continue to shape my view of agriculture in the world and motivate me to share my voice when I am able. I have been blessed to find an outlet to share my voice; never be afraid to grow and share yours.