here are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
Aldo Leopold

09 May 2005

Farm Bureau Membership Speech...Retrospective Upon Reaching Membership Goals

Farm Bureau Annual Meeting Membership Committee Report 2004

Good evening Ladies and Gentleman. My name is Keith Tidball. I am the Membership Committee chairperson this year and would like to share with you our progress to date. But first, a little about myself.

I am what you might call an Agriculture Bureaucrat, which means, I get paid to dream about being a real farmer when I grow up. I worked at USDA in Washington for a few years as a researcher and policy person. One of the things I �researched� while there is �where do I want to settle and raise my family?� I think I am an excellent researcher, and I chose Seneca County. I have been happy with my decision, and I think my family is too. We chose Seneca County because of its diverse agriculture, beautiful landscapes, temperate weather, affordable housing, and rural way of life. In important ways, our choice, and many peoples� choices to come to Seneca County, are a direct result of you the farming community of Seneca County, and of Seneca County Farm Bureau. The partnership of you and Farm Bureau has put Seneca County on the map in terms of agriculture, which relates directly to quality of life. But�

As I have noticed with my work on planning issues for the towns of Fayette and Varick, being noticeable on the map means both good and bad things. Things are changing around and in Seneca County. One only has to look at the average age of Farm Bureau members in this and surrounding counties to understand that things are changing. But change does not have to be a threat�change can be opportunity. Farm Bureau is uniquely positioned right now to be instrumental in shaping this agricultural community, how we will be in 10, 20, 30 years and longer. How? By being active, involved and informed. More than that though, we must be vibrant and relevant. That�s where Farm Bureau membership comes in.

Farm Bureau membership must be viewed as more than being part of the local ag club and a handful of discounts and benefits. It is that, but it must be more than that. Our county membership, we the members, must be an energized and informed body of community leaders, role models, and voters. We are that you say. Great! But can we be more of that? Yes, by turning out attention toward the younger generation. It is time to look toward the next generation of farmers, stewards of the land, rural landowners, and community leaders and help them understand the tools that they have at their disposal to ensure the future of farming and the rural way of life here. One of the most important tools they can have is Farm Bureau. So I ask each of you to help the Membership Committee in our efforts to recruit new members, lots of them, in addition to maintaining our current membership levels.

Hunters use your land? They are potential associate members of Farm Bureau�with the disappearance of farm land goes hunting and wildlife opportunities. Ask them.

Lease land from a landowner who does not farm? Their ag assessment is dependent on the health of agriculture in Seneca County�ask them about Farm Bureau membership.

The possibilities are endless�we just have to get creative about Farm Bureau, like so many of you are about farming.

The rest depends on you my friends. The ground work has been laid for us to have a banner year in terms of membership. Now, we must all get behind this effort . Please consider how you can support Farm Bureau membership efforts and let me or one of the other Membership committee members know your ideas. If every member speaks to one potential new member, we are assured of reaching our goals. If Farm Bureau is to be important, relevant, and influential here, WE THE MEMBERS must make Farm Bureau important and relevant. Like anything else, we can�t rely on anyone but ourselves. That�s how it is and how it should be. That�s why my family came here, because in Seneca County self reliance and independence aren�t against the law yet. So lets take control of our futures, staring with Farm Bureau membership.

I thank you all for this opportunity to serve Farm Bureau, and for all of your support thus far, and I look forward to growing here in Seneca County with you.

(Post script-Membership goals were achieved, including new member recruitment, as of May 1st, 2005)