Six focus areas emerged in the course of the strategic planning process:
- Grow membership in a consistent and sustainable way. In 1976, Indiana Farm Bureau was the first state to reach 250,000 total members. Since that time, INFB has not seen stability in either total or voting membership numbers. There have been periods of increased growth, but INFB has not been able to sustain that growth. Since 1986, voting membership totals have ranged from a high of 82,630 in 1988 to a low of 73,068 in 2014. A strong and growing membership base is important in achieving the mission of the organization.
- Create a positive member experience. In an environment of rapid technological advances and changing member preferences, it is imperative that we provide a consistent and high-quality member experience that caters to the preferences of a generationally diverse membership.
- Create and promote a positive image of agriculture. “Tell our story.” Members from across the state clearly articulated the need to “tell our story.” A vocal anti-agriculture sentiment negatively impacts farm family businesses through efforts to shape public policy and public perception. To address this trend, we must focus our efforts to provide more resources to share a positive image of agriculture and farm families.
In the first three areas of focus, specific goals for 2017 have been established. Focusing in specific areas during the five years of the implementation plan will keep INFB resources prioritized and ultimately achieving more for members. The remaining three goals are:
- Develop an organizational structure that strengthens county Farm Bureaus. The strength of our organization has long been the county Farm Bureaus. From rural development to leadership development to grassroots involvement in advocacy efforts, county Farm Bureaus are critically important to the success of these efforts and the backbone of the organization.
- Improve awareness of Indiana Farm Bureau as a valuable resource. Participants in the grassroots meetings identified the availability and expertise of staff resources as an important benefit to membership. They know they can call on staff and leaders within the organization to assist them in navigation through any number of issues they may face from zoning, to regulatory challenges or issues growing their farm. Yet we know from our research that there are many members who still don’t fully understand the value of their membership or have familiarity with INFB programs or resources. We must work to increase the awareness of Indiana Farm Bureau within our membership base as well as to prospective members.
- Continue successful advocacy efforts at all levels. Advocacy at the local, state and national levels is a cornerstone to our grassroots organization. INFB members identify the organization’s advocacy efforts as an essential member benefit and strength for the organization. Our research indicates that our members are facing more regulatory challenges and closely watch how legislation will impact their farms. As an organization, we will continue to represent our members through our grassroots advocacy efforts and work to engage more members in these opportunities.