Why, Who, How, What?
By Kim Vail, Executive Director
Published May 1, 2017
The last week of April at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau offices saw two days of thoughtful and inspiring discussion. Gathering together for the interaction were thirty plus professional staff representing County Farm Bureaus from across the northern “half” of California. Most of these leaders were my peer Executive Directors or County Managers along with some county Farm Bureau program staff. Adding flavor and substance to the discussion were several program managers /coordinators from California Farm Bureau Federation accompanied by the CFBF President Paul Wenger, both vice presidents and a representative from the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Washington, D.C. office.
Our conference agenda discussion topics included: What is working, biggest challenges, communications, information sourcing, major issues, social media and marketing. Get the picture? It is no surprise that the current major issues that surfaced were adding and retaining agriculture members (obviously as Farm Bureau is a membership organization), new and unknown regulations and costs from local groundwater sustainability agencies required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, impacts of expanding cannabis production, irrigated lands, engaging and involving members across generations and supporting candidates for office.
All of the discussions were thoughtful and productive, but one topic that seemed to resonate with our group was an exercise about marketing. Taking time to first identify the why leads to clarifying the who, the how and the what. Each area of activities that Farm Bureau directs the resources we receive toward is important : educating the public about agriculture; promoting agriculture through people and events; taking stands on legislation and ballot measures; supporting candidates who support agriculture; preserving and protecting property and water rights; informing and training the agriculture community on business and compliance points; and supporting businesses dependent upon agriculture. These activities might be identified as the what.
The how is best defined as the method of delivery. In Sonoma County we are fortunate to have built a strong local organization with engaged leadership and dedicated volunteers. We are looking ahead to the future and how Farm Bureau continues to grow in both numbers and influence. We are nearing completion of improvements to the new county headquarters, effectively doubling the office and meeting space from the previous building while maintaining steady operational costs. We are also redefining staff roles to reflect the changes needed to sustain growth.
So what remains is the why. This is the most important piece to clearly, concisely and impactfully communicate. In an area as agriculturally blessed as this county and equally impacted by pressures on agriculture, could the why be as simple as keeping farmers on the farm? Whatever the answer is, encouraging the increasing diversity of agriculture throughout the county while strengthening the unity of agriculture can be a message to share. Who do you know that should be on our team?
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the author and Sonoma County Farm Bureau when reprinting this item.