Farm Bureau is an independent, non-governmental, membership organization governed by and representing farm and ranch families united for the purpose of analyzing their problems and formulating action to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity and social advancement. Farm Bureau is local, state, national and international in its scope and influence and is non-partisan, non-sectarian and non-secret in character. Farm Bureau is the voice of agricultural producers at all levels.
In 1919, a small group of farmers from 30 states gathered in Chicago and founded the American Farm Bureau Federation. Their goal: speaking for themselves through their own national organization. “The purpose of Farm Bureau is to make the business of farming more profitable, and the community a better place to live. Farm Bureau should provide an organization in which members may secure the benefits of unified efforts in a way which could never be accomplished through individual effort.” (statement originally approved by Farm Bureau members in 1920). Today, over 4.5 million members nationwide belong to the FB organization. While issues and challenges have changed for America’s farmers and ranchers over the past eight decades, the mission and goals of Farm Bureau have remained true to that spirit. Farm Bureau members have become more vocal in speaking out on issues of concern for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.
The Illinois Farm Bureau preceded the AFBF when a group of farmers met in 1916 at the University of Illinois to discuss the need for education, better information, and more effective farming practices. Those discussions and ideas led to the creation of the Illinois Farm Bureau, which now represents nearly two out of every three farmers in the state and boasts around 400,000 total members. The Illinois Farm Bureau (also known by its legal name, the Illinois Agricultural Association) is a not-for-profit corporation with 95 county Farm Bureau organizations representing all 102 counties. When a member joins their county Farm Bureau, they also become a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation. IFB’s mission is “To improve the economic well-being of agriculture and enrich the quality of farm family life”. The organization’s leadership works to achieve these goals through a strategic plan focused on seven key areas:
IFB is governed by a board consisting of eighteen district directors and a president and vice president, all elected every two years on staggered schedules. Richard Guebert of Ellis Grove (Randolph County) is President, Brian Duncan of Polo (Ogle County) is Vice President, and Earl Williams of Cherry Valley (Winnebago County) is our District 2 director representing Carroll, Ogle, Jo Daviess, Stephenson and Winnebago/Boone counties. The State Young Leaders Committee chair and a representative from the Illinois Extension also serve on the board. Dan Deuth of Polo (Ogle County) currently serves as our District 2 Young Leaders representative.
Stephenson County Farm Bureau
The Stephenson County Farm Bureau has around 4450 total members, of which around 1150 have an active involvement in production agriculture. SCFB is led by a board of 15 at-large directors elected to 3-year staggered terms, along with a representative from the Young Leaders Committee elected to a 1-year term. Our mission statement is “To Educate and Advocate for Agriculture”. The organization’s programs and activities are driven by four Task Forces: Education & Advocacy, Ag Production & Marketing, Government & Local Affairs, and Member Services & Outreach, as well as our Young Leaders Committee for those members ages 18-35 involved in farming or agribusiness professions. These groups design and carry out the many activities of our organization.
Education is one of the cornerstones of Farm Bureau, and locally SCFB is a primary partner in the Conservation & Agricultural Partners (CAP) Foundation, a local coalition of organizations focused on agricultural education in the classroom and to the general public. Brittani DeVries is the CAP Education Coordinator, and she works closely with area teachers and organizations to share agriculture’s story. Additionally, the SCFB Foundation is a charitable entity that provides scholarships for members continuing their education in various fields, along with teacher stipends; in 2017, the SCFB Foundation provided $9,500 in grants to deserving students and teachers in the county.
Legislative and local government involvement is also a fundamental part of Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau organization is recognized as one of the most influential organizations in both Springfield and Washington D.C., and FB members regularly visit both capitals lobbying in support of key ag issues. A very successful program to expand FB’s influence and impact is the IFB “Adopt-a-Legislator” program, where county Farm Bureaus ‘adopt’ an urban legislator from the Chicago area and develop a reciprocal relationship with that leader. The goal is to raise the legislator’s awareness and appreciation of ag issues, while helping the county Farm Bureau gain insight into the legislator’s urban district and its unique characteristics. SCFB enjoyed a great relationship with Senator Edward Maloney (D-18) for eight years prior to his 2012 retirement, and since 2013 we’ve been involved in a new AAL relationship with Representative Fran Hurley (D-35), whose district covers the same area of Chicago’s south side and suburbs.
Members are the key!
Farm Bureau’s members are the key to its success through their involvement on the local, state and national level. In 2013 IFB launched a new program called Strength With Advisory Teams (SWAT), which will involve leadership from throughout the state providing guidance on three teams: Local & State Government, Farming Production & Marketing, and Conservation & Natural Resources. IFB also has four Action Teams that focus on various areas of impact and design programs and services targeting needs in these areas. These teams include Public Relations, Membership, Education, and Quality of Life, and members meet twice annually in Bloomington to brainstorm and develop 1-2 statewide projects to be carried out.
One of the significant advantages of Farm Bureau membership is an ever-expanding list of local, state and national benefits offered to FB members. The new Abenity program offers over 302,000 benefits to IFB members, and state and national discounts include $500 off selected Ford vehicles, $300-500 off Case-IH tractors, savings on hotel/motel and rental car reservations, prescription discounts, hearing and vision discounts, theme park discounts, and much more. Locally, SCFB’s Membership Value Program (MVP) has over 100 local businesses offering member discounts on everything from dining and automotive discounts to merchandise and services savings. A complete listing is online at www.stephensoncfb.org or in our printed brochure available at the FB office.
There are three classes of membership in Farm Bureau: those with $2500 of more in annual farm income are Voting members (MM) and pay dues of $65/year; individuals involved in ag-related employment but not meeting the income target are classified as Professional members (PM) at $65/year with similar voting rights as MM members; and all others are eligible to be Associate members (A) at just $20/year with full access to all of the local, state and national discounts and benefits. Spouses or civil union partners are included on a membership.
The IAA Family of Companies
In addition to Farm Bureau, there are several other members of the IAA family of companies that were founded to serve various needs of our members. They include the following:
What can we do for you?
Farm Bureau is here solely to serve the needs of all our members, and our door is always open. We encourage everyone to let us know how we can better serve those needs through programs, services, and information. Give us a call, drop us an e-mail, or stop by our office to visit – we’re here for you! Thanks for your interest and involvement in agriculture!
Stephenson County Farm Bureau
210 W Spring Street, Freeport IL 61032-4346
Phone: (815) 232-3186 Fax: (815) 232-0016