The Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) is home to a wealth of fond and familiar traditions, first and foremost being the promotion and support of agricultural and farming traditions.
Yet, for many Illinois farmers, the tradition that means the most is the grassroots, member-driven decision making that stems from the IFB’s annual meeting. Each year, Illinois farmers gather in December to meet and discuss issues facing agriculture and set policy for the coming year.
During this year’s annual meeting, held Dec. 7-10 in Chicago, members and guests were recognized as awards were given, listened to keynote speeches and even heard from several elected officials and gubernatorial candidates.
Bureau County Farm Bureau was recognized for its outstanding programs. Members were acknowledged for their efforts by earning a Gold Star in Membership Quota and Local Affairs; a Silver Star in Commodities & Marketing, Health & Safety, Legislative/Political Process, Communications & Promotions, Membership Relations and Policy Development; and a Bronze Star for Ag Literacy.
Bureau County was also recognized for two Most Outstanding Projects. The first program was the Farmer for a Day activity at the county fair and the second program was Board Member District Policy Discussion Activities. We thank all members who actively participated in all of the successful programs during the year.
Bureau County Committees were awarded for their accomplishments by earning a Gold Star for Women’s Committee and Prime Timers Committee; a Silver Star for Young Leaders Committee and a Gold Star for Multi-County Programs.
Annual meeting attendees also continued the tradition of steering the organization’s policy. On Dec. 9 and 10, delegates had a chance to conduct the necessary business to prepare for the coming year and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting.
Four delegates and three alternates attended the annual meeting representing 1,176 voting members in Bureau County. Delegates were Bill Naffziger, Rex Elmore, Larry Magnuson and Curtis Marcum. Alternate delegates were Charles Meisenheimer, Joe Olson and Richard Ioder.
This year’s delegate session had several highlights, but the main concerns were illustrated in two sense of the delegate body resolutions, said Mark Gebhards, executive director, Governmental Affairs and Commodities, IFB.
“One resolution dealt with the current RFS situation that is proposed by the U.S. EPA to reduce the RFS numbers,” Gebhards said. “There’s a great amount of concern by our delegate body and membership that we want to see the RFS left intact — or to use a quote from [former] President Nelson, ‘Don’t mess with the RFS.’
“The other dealt with the fiscal issues in the state and federal arenas,” Gebhards said. “There’s still a great deal of concern that we want to get our fiscal house in order, even though the recent pension reform measure was just passed by the Illinois General Assembly. There’s still a great deal of concern about the decision yet to be made on the temporary income tax increase and whether that will be made permanent, and the amount of unpaid bills and the overall fiscal health of the state.”
Additionally, delegates discussed and voted on policy regarding raw milk, data collection, utility and energy transmission projects, tax policy, renewable fuels, funding county and township road projects and wind energy.
Finally, Tuesday, delegates elected two new officers to the IFB Board of Directors. Former President Philip Nelson retired this year after 10 years serving as president was replaced by former Vice President Richard Guebert Jr. of Randolph County. Guebert ran unopposed.
The vice president’s office was filled by David Erickson, of Knox County. Erickson previously served as the Illinois Soybean Association president, American Soybean Association president and Knox County Farm Bureau president.
As we wrap up a successful 2013 IAA annual meeting we continue to plan for our 99th annual meeting of the Bureau County Farm Bureau. This event will take place Jan. 23 at Wise Guys in Princeton. Call today to reserve your tickets to attend our regular business meeting and annual dinner and help kickoff our 100th year of this outstanding organization.
Jill Frueh is the manager at the Bureau County Farm Bureau.