County Annual Meeting Season: The Meaning of Grassroots!
By Diane Clary; NHFB Executive Director
New Hampshire Farm Bureau Executive Director, Diane Clary
NHFB, The Voice of Agriculture, is a “Grassroots” organization. That means everything we do originates from the individual member. Each voting member has an equal voice and that voice steers Farm Bureau. If you don’t add your “voice,” our message is diminished. New Hampshire Farm Bureau demonstrates its strength through membership and member participation. We are nothing without our members and our member’s voices. “How can I add my voice to our message?” you ask. Attend your County and State Annual Meetings. Not only will you enjoy great fellowship with great people but you will have the opportunity to have YOUR VOICE heard. County and State staff work very hard to make these events worthwhile for attendees and your attendance would show appreciation of these efforts. Change starts with the individual member, share your concerns with the county and begin the process of grassroots policy development. Get your voice heard and make a difference. If you would rather have a more supportive roll and less vocal roll; attend the meeting so that you will be informed on the issues and make your decision of support based on all of the information.
The 2016 growing season has brought its fair share of trials and troubles to the Granite State. We have all been experiencing, either first hand or through the countless news stories on television and on-line, the effects of a prolonged and fierce drought. The dairy industry may have been hit the worst as the unique combination of weather and low milk prices has led to twice as many New Hampshire dairy farms closing up shop this year than the previous four years combined. While no one can legislate enough rain to pull us out of the drought, our farmers have begun calling for legislative remedies to the dairy crisis looming over the state. As more and more folks speak up and challenge our elected officials to find a way to help, those officials have been forced to listen.
Politicians have been visiting farms and holding meetings to gather information. They are reaching out to lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and saying all the right things. But so far no action has been taken. Although a Milk Producers Emergency Relief Fund was established in New Hampshire in 2008, it has never been funded. The assurances and platitudes have borne no fruit.
While our legislators have had no choice but to pay heed to the challenges facing agriculture, moving forward it is up to us as individuals to hold them to their campaign promises. Listen to what your local and regional leaders are saying about how they will help agriculture. Get involved by calling or writing your Representatives and Senators. But don’t stop after you cast your vote in November. As an industry we must be sure the promises made in an election year are followed through when we need them most.
As a grassroots organization, Farm Bureau’s best gift to you is the confidence that thousands of other farmers, conservationists, and land owners stand behind you, but it is the power of individuals getting involved that makes the biggest difference. This time of year you have the opportunity to help write the policy that guides our organization by attending your County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Policies adopted at those meetings move along to the Policy Development Committee and finally the delegate session at NH Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting in November. Through this policy development process, Farm Bureau’s members plot the course of action we will take as the voice of agriculture in New Hampshire.
-Josh Marshall, NH Farm Bureau Communications Director