While Farm Bureau has made some changes in its political action committee structure, the grassroots endorsement process remains the same, according to Katrina Hall, INFB director of public policy, and Dana Carter, INFB political engagement manager.
In August, INFB created AgELECT, a state-level political action committee that supports and makes endorsements in Statehouse races. The organization’s existing political action committee, which is known as ELECT, will continue to make endorsements and provide support in federal races.
ELECT and AgELECT both use the same system of PAC trustees, who are organized along congressional and state legislative district lines. Trustees come from each county in those district lines and vote yes or no on endorsement recommendations. The endorsement recommendations from the grassroots level move on to the Oversight Committee, which also makes a recommendation about endorsement and determines the level of financial support for individual candidates.
“We’ve had questions from members who think the creation of AgELECT included structural changes to the endorsement process or that it changed the trustees’ role,” Hall said. “But that’s not the case. Their role, particularly the role of the trustees, remains the same.”
One major difference between AgELECT and ELECT is that, due to the way AgELECT is structured, the rules governing contributions are more flexible. Individuals, LLCs, sole proprietorships and partnerships are able to contribute an unlimited amount of money to AgELECT.
Carter, who was hired by INFB in September, has been developing a fundraising strategy for ELECT and AgELECT and assessing the potential for fundraisers across the state.
“We’ve increased the checkoff amount on the INFB membership application from $1 to $5, but it’s hard to raise the amount of money we need to be influential in the endorsement realm $1 to $5 at a time,” Hall said.
INFB Vice President Kendell Culp has already hosted a fundraiser on his farm that raised $25,000.
“All fundraisers won’t reach that amount, but we need to be proactive,” noted Carter.
Carter has begun going out across the state with INFB regional managers to assess potential and possibilities. In addition, to answer any questions members have about AgELECT and ELECT, she will be manning a booth at the INFB Expo, the trade show held during the state convention. The convention is Dec. 7-9 in French Lick, and the expo will be offered the evening of Dec. 7 and all day Dec. 8.