Farmers most effective when they ‘speak with one voice,’ Farm Bureau president says

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Each year at the Indiana Farm Bureau convention, the organization’s president lays out his vision for the coming year.

In his first annual address, INFB President Randy Kron, who took office on Jan. 1, looked back on his first year as president, on Farm Bureau’s 2016 successes – and on what the future might look like for Indiana Farm Bureau.

“I don’t have to tell you we are facing tough economic times on the farm,” said Kron, referring to the low prices Midwestern farmers are receiving for many commodities. “Whether it’s those economic challenges or the obstacles we face as Farm Bureau, we must look for solutions and find our collective voice to advocate for change.

“Now more than ever, we must keep raising our voices – here at home and nationally – to protect Hoosier farmers,” he said.

Kron delivered his message Dec. 9 during the INFB convention, held Dec. 8-10 in Fort Wayne.

One of Farm Bureau’s major successes in 2016 was the passage of Senate Bill 308, which represents the most significant property tax break ever for Indiana farmers. The measure fixes the farmland tax formula and provides much-needed relief to farmers whose farmland taxes have increased 63 percent since 2007. As a result, the property tax burden on farmers will be reduced by nearly $50 million in 2018 and by more than $100 million by 2019, Kron said.

“There was never a day that Farm Bureau didn’t have a presence at the Statehouse,” said Kron, noting that nearly 800 farmers traveled to the Statehouse to lobby for Farm Bureau.

“We learned a very important lesson this year: When we speak with one voice, work together, we are effective and influential,” he said.

 Kron also outlined a new strategic plan for Farm Bureau – the state’s largest general farm organization. Twenty strategic planning sessions were held across the state, and members were asked for their input on Farm Bureau benefits, challenges, solutions and suggestions for improvement at the county and state level.

The result, Kron explained, is a five-year strategic plan, with six organizational focuses:

  • Creating and promoting a positive image of agriculture and doing more to “tell our story.”
  • Growing membership in a consistent and sustainable way.
  • Improving the awareness of Farm Bureau as a valuable resource.
  • Creating a positive member experience.
  • Enhancing the organizational structure to strengthen county Farm Bureaus.
  • Continuing successful advocacy efforts at the local, state and national levels.

“Legal and regulatory challenges, including government overreach, zoning, and the right to farm, are key issues,” he said. “We will concentrate on making our successful legislative and regulatory efforts more visible and creating better connections between our programs and advocacy efforts.”