Through the Years
By Kim Vail, Executive Director
Published August 1, 2017
For Sonoma County Farm Bureau members who may have not noticed, this year has marked the centennial year since local farmers and ranchers came together in 1917 to organize as a county Farm Bureau. Sonoma County, along with seven other county Farm Bureaus and several farms and ranches were inducted into the Agricultural Heritage Club last month in recognition of 100 years continuous operation. As I have taken a look back, it is not surprising to find that the impetus for the founding of the organization has in large measure remained in place and consistently evolved over the years to keep pace with members’ needs.
In those earlier times, farmers were increasingly in need of a mechanism to address common issues that were impacting their ability to remain viable through education and economic channels. The farm family and rural community were of utmost importance in determining the structure than any one commodity or economic function. More simply stated, the main objectives were the development of farm people and the promotion of their welfare.
Over the years this focus has been supplemented with contributing objectives and related services that were deemed within practical achievement. One of the initial needs was to develop a channel through which the Agricultural Extension Service could more readily reach farm communities in its educational work through farm advisors. This relationship, though organized differently, still exists locally. In the following decades, several services and commercial activities were established at the state level including the operation of marketing and purchasing associations along with legislative work affecting agriculture. The commercial services eventually were replaced by other business models that had the ability to perform more economically.
While the commercial activities and services provided through membership in Farm Bureau have selectively been adjusted and trimmed throughout the years, the need for effective legislative representation and public education remains as the value proposition largely recognized by members today. Although seemingly intangible in nature, not providing these services would result in a very different and much more difficult environment for farmers and ranchers to prosper.
These are challenging and exciting times for Farm Bureau in Sonoma County as we begin the next century of service for members of the organization. We continue to represent the wide array of agriculture producers from grapes and apples to flowers and vegetables or livestock to aquaculture. Large or small, Farm Bureau attempts to balance the needs of farmers and ranchers in a manner that supports the industry and improves our community as a whole.
Our board of directors has recently taken several steps to build upon this heritage and position our organization to continue evolving in carrying out the mission of preserving, protecting and progressing local agriculture. An important catalyst for this strategy began with the move to new offices earlier this year located near the airport. We will share more about these steps as the year unfolds, but until then, please mark your calendars for late afternoon on November 9th for our annual meeting, open house and ceremonial ribbon cutting at the new offices.
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