Sunday, March 1, 2009

Joining Farm Bureau

This is another post I've been putting off just because I wanted to make it worthwhile. I still don't have a lot of information to offer you but want to share our experience thus far. We went ahead and joined the bureau 2 weeks ago. We do not carry FB insurance and so joined as "Regular Farmer Members". Actually we only signed Brian up. The dues were $45 for year and as his wife I can attend all the events anyway.

We signed up at the kickoff event. A handful of couples that we're friends with had already joined and encouraged us to check it out. We actually had a lot of fun at the kickoff. It started off with a couple of short presentations from some of the extension staff. They talked for about 20 minutes on the new A.C.R.E. program which Brian is interested in. It is basically a different type of subsidy program from what I understood. It was good to learn about anyway.

The organizers had hired a local company, "A Touch Of Vegas" to come in an do some casino games. Each person was given a ticket to get chips equivalent to, I think, $200. I personally have never gambled and never been to casino so I didn't think that would be much fun. Turns out I had a blast at the Roulette table and tied for overall winnings at $800! That got us a $50 gift card to Red Lobster. We both love there food and so we more than got back our dues already. They also passed out tickets for beer or mixed drinks. I wasn't too keen on drinking and gambling on a Sunday but did have fun!

If you're interested in joining FB I'm sure you'd like some more useful information. The website might help you. We also get the Michigan Farm News now so I will try to keep you updated on relevant issues. I like the paper because it lists all the current legislative proposals and where FB stands on the issues. I will say that from scanning the paper (we've gotten it for a few months) I disagree wholeheartedly with FB on a lot of topics. I need to do some more research before I point fingers. If you've read this blog much you know that although I live on a cash crop farm my thinking is much less mainstream. FB seems to favor conventional agriculture on a lot of points. Some of our friends that are quite active in the bureau are organic farmers so the organization must not be too discriminatory at the local level. Maybe I am wrong here, that is just my first impression.

Concerns aside, I think this is going to be a great thing for us to be apart of, even if the only benefit is a social life! It will be a good excuse to get together with friends, learn about ag. issues, and share with other young farmers what we are doing. This weekend was the Young Farmers' Conference downstate. We missed the registration this year but hope to attend next year.

I'll keep you posted on our experiences with the bureau. Any fellow members out there? Any experiences with the organization to share? I'd love to hear what you have to say.

BTW, I want to add that I'm not sure yet how the organization's infrastructure is set up. I don't like the idea of "the blind leading the blind" but I don't think farmer members get to vote on these issues. Not sure how that works. I'll keep you posted.


Farmer's Daughter said...

Ed and I are members. Our mortgage is through First Pioneer Farm Credit, which is connected with the FB. They were fantastic to work with for a construction loan, because a normal bank would give installments of money after inspections, which is a hassle. But all it took for First Pioneer was for me to fax them a bill, they'd deposit the money in our account and I could pay the bill. The people there are very friendly and know what they're doing. Also, when we finished construction and closed on the house again, they keep all loans in-house, instead of selling them somewhere else. For us, this means our mortgage company is a place we can call, a specific man that we know well after years of working with him. I called him the other day and asked about refinancing, and he talked for 20 minutes about the costs and benefits. (Instead of some random bank, speaking to someone I don't know, or someone who doesn't know what they're doing...)

That's pretty much my only experience with the FB, but it's been very positive. We've gotten mail-in ballots for some of the FB leaders, but we've never felt we know enough about it to vote.

My family and Ed's family both belong and work with FB, too, and we've all had really good experiences. I think this is a really good thing for you!

Jena said...

Great! I'm glad to hear that you think it is a positive thing. Hopefully we will have many good experiences too. Our mortgage is through Greenstone Farm Credit, they have been very good to us as well although I don't think they are affiliated with FB.