JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — My family and I could not be more excited to be back at the Lake of the Ozarks experiencing Missouri Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in person this weekend. Our kids look forward all year to the food, the friends and the fun. Jennifer and I love those parts too, but we also enjoy the robust discussion about issues that matter to our farms and communities.
In 2020, like many churches, businesses and organizations, Missouri Farm Bureau was forced to hold its Annual Meeting virtually due to the pandemic. Our members and team worked hard to ensure the critical work of the organization got done, and we’re proud of how Farm Bureau was able to adapt and push forward through those difficult times.
After a one-year hiatus from holding the event in person, MOFB members from every county in the state will come together this weekend at Margaritaville Lake Resort. Members will have the chance to hear from government and private-sector experts about how we respond to the supply chain disruptions that we are experiencing in agriculture and across the economy. They will hear from Governor Parson and other statewide elected officials about how Missouri is responding to our current challenges. They will support our agricultural youth at the state FFA speech contest and MOFB Ambassador competition. They will generously support our Foundation for Agriculture through a banquet, silent auction, trivia contest and more.
While these parts of Annual Meeting are important and invigorating for our membership, the core business at hand is crafting our organization’s grassroots policy for the upcoming year. Our members are farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs, but they’re also parents, grandparents, school board members and patrons in their communities. This diversity of membership is reflected by the range of issues in our policy book, which spans agritourism to zoning and everything in between.
Each year, we can try to anticipate what will be the hottest item on the delegate floor. On the federal level, all eyes are on the growth of regulations. From the reemergence of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule to the administration’s massive push on climate policy, our members are feeling the squeeze of an overreaching government and will likely want to push back. At the state level, broadband infrastructure has been a hot topic and may be a focus of delegate discussion.
However, many years our best efforts to predict the issue that gets members most animated are in vain. More likely than not, something new will come up and spur discussion amongst the delegates. These unexpected debates are not a bug of the grassroots system; they are a feature. Farm Bureau works from the bottom up, not the top down, and I can’t wait to see what our members are passionate about when they get together to set policy.
Our business and policy are important. But more important, in many ways, is the fellowship. Interacting with members, sharing stories, telling jokes, catching up about what’s happened in each other’s families in the last year and what’s going on their farms is what Farm Bureau is truly about. It’s time to get back together to learn from each other, do our work and have some fun.
— Garrett Hawkins, Missouri Farm Bureau