When Rush County Farm Bureau wanted its county officials to take a more big-picture look at economic development, the board decided the best way to do this was for the county Farm Bureau to become part of the process.
And that is exactly what’s happened. Thanks partly to a priority grant from Indiana Farm Bureau, the county Farm Bureau now has a seat on the Rush County Economic and Community Development Corp.
“To become a voting member of the ECDC, you have to pay a membership fee of $3,000,” explained Rush County Farm Bureau President Virgil Bremer. Along with the $1,500 in grant money from INFB, the county Farm Bureau collected donations from farmers and others in the community for the remainder of the membership fee.
“Now I am a voting member on the board,” Bremer said, adding that this allowed him to provide input on a strategic plan the ECDC just completed.
Having agriculture and Farm Bureau represented on the ECDC board is needed for several reasons, Bremer said. A major reason is that the ECDC board tends to focus on major employers and on Rushville itself, and the county Farm Bureau would like more attention to be paid to small business and to locations outside of the county seat.
In addition, he said, there are tactical infighting issues within the county that pit agriculture against housing.
“Driving the conversation about what comprehensive economic development is for the county is needed, and ag needs to have a pivotal place at that table,” Bremer said.
“I would encourage other county FBs to engage and participate with their economic development boards,” he added.
The purpose of the INFB Priority Grant Program is to provide assistance to a county Farm Bureau that does not have adequate funds to specifically address a critical issue, a membership promotion or advertising campaign, or a young farmer youth program or activity.
For more on the Priority Grant Program, write to INFB executive assistant Jill Shanley, firstname.lastname@example.org.