In December, the officers and I were the delegation from Sonoma County Farm Bureau to California Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Monterey. During the House of Delegates Business session, we spent time discussing Farm Bureau’s dues structure and how much dues would be in the future.
After much discussion and several votes, the House of Delegates adopted CFBF’s recommendations to increase dues in 2017 and future years to help cover the costs of operating Farm Bureau and to cover the short fall of State Compensation Insurance no longer contributing to CFBF.
During the course of the discussion, President Wenger made a statement that county Farm Bureaus are selling themselves short. I completely agree with this statement.
After being the membership committee chair for the last four years, I have sat through many meetings with the committee’s members. During those meetings, I have had considerable push back whenever the idea of raising dues has come up.
My response has always been, “Why is this an issue?”
We are talking about a $10 to $35 increase per year. The committee members responses to this range from: We will lose members from this increase! What does a member get from the increased dues? This will be a hardship on members.
After listening to this, my blood pressure has always gone up! My initial response is “are you kidding me?” SCFB does so much for our members. Farm Bureau is there when you can’t be! Farm Bureau is the only organization fighting for property rights, water rights and employer rights. We are fighting against over regulation and protecting the Williamson Act. Farm Bureau created the Ag Sales Tax exemption, and Farm Bureau is at the table on many other issues.
Your membership in Sonoma County Farm Bureau gets an automatic membership in California Farm Bureau Federation and American Farm Bureau Federation. Without Farm Bureau on all these levels working on these issues where would agriculture be in our county, in our state and in our country?
During meetings, I have used the comparison that Farm Bureau membership is, on a yearly basis, less than ½ the cost of a cup of coffee at Starbucks every work morning. It’s less than your gym membership annually. The point is that when you pay for something in small increments, the total is rarely questioned.
It is a normal business practice that costs go up. Employees expect to have a cost of living increase and services we use go up – inflation is a reality for all of us. Why is it hard to imagine that a Farm Bureau membership would go up?
For all Farm Bureau does, ag membership should not even be a question for someone who derives an income related to agriculture or for someone connected to the agriculture industry. For example, when my kids Jake and Jordan turned 18, I made them both join Sonoma County Farm Bureau as ag members because I knew they were going to have careers and livelihoods that depend on agriculture. Are your kids members? If they are involved in ag, why not?
When we stand in front of our elected officials and say that we represent 1,250 members involved in agriculture, it matters. Officials take notice when Farm Bureau weighs in because of our strong membership base.
As President and former membership chair, I ask you:
If you are questioning if you should continue your membership call me or Jennifer Beretta (our new membership chair) or any board member first so we can talk about it.
Ask your neighbors and friends who are involved in agriculture – are you a Farm Bureau member, and if not, why not?
A Farm Bureau membership’s return on investment is hard to measure, but even if we had no discounts membership is worth the cost.
For all a member gets from Farm Bureau, membership shouldn’t be a question, it should be a must – whatever the cost.
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