By Daniel Thompson

Farm Bureau Holds Annual Meeting at Event Center


The Kimball/Banner County Farm Bureau held their annual meeting at the Kimball Event Center Thursday, October 14.

Members of the Kimball/Banner Farm Bureau piled into the Meadowlark room of the event center where they enjoyed a dinner prepared by the event center staff before the meeting was called to order.

Along with the regular members of the local Farm Bureau, notable guests also attended the annual meeting including Nebraska State Senator Tom Carlson, who had spent the day in Sidney at a meeting concerning water issues.

“I’m a friend of agriculture. I have farm land. I don’t actively farm it, but I’m very interested in what happens on the farm. It’s important to me. It’s our number one industry, and it needs to stay that way in the state of Nebraska. The mission of agriculture is to feed the world, and I say that’s only second to the mission of the Church. That’s how important it is,” Carlson said.

After Sentor Carlson had finished speaking, Kimball/Banner County Farm Bureau President Donna Johnson introduced the guest speaker of the night, Craig Head, who serves as the Vice President of Issue Management for the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Head focused on the perceptions of agriculture in the public eye and the detachment that the average non-farming American has to the work of the members of the farming community.

“Agriculture has a great story to tell. There are a lot of good things that come out of agriculture. I think today you go about anywhere, and you can find people that don’t quite make that connection. The average American is now three generations removed from the farm. If you’re not there every day, if you’re not around it, you don’t get the same flavor that you do when you live in it,” Head said.

Head also expressed that the Nebraska Farm Bureau would be refocusing its efforts in order to attract more members.

"There's a whole new focus on the organization on membership growth and the importance of what we do as an organization. There's nobody better to ask someone to be a member of this organization and talk about the value of this organization than you. Anybody can hand them a brochure. You have a story to tell about why you became a member of this organization," Head said.

The importance of utilizing social media platforms was also discussed by Head.

"A lot of people even in Lincoln, Nebraska don't quite get what's happening on the farm.That's one of the reasons we have recently created a social media person in the Nebraska Farm Bureau. That's the place we're going to need to be," Head said.

Among the many misconceptions that Head feels that the farm bureau faces is one that many farmers do not receive a college degree.

"You won't be able to farm if you don't go to college, because you won't have the wherewithal to do all the things that go into it, particularly from a management standpoint. Not only are you a mechanic, but you also have to be tech savvy to run the new equipment that's coming in," Head said.

According to Head, farmers even look for people with a college education when seeking help on the farm.

"It's hard to find help, because we need people that our sharp enough to put in these combines to help us during harvest season. It's changing a lot," Head said.

Head also wants to battle the misconceptions about the farm itself, and the public's perception of it from looking at it from the outside as it evolves over time.

"We still care about the land. We still care about the resources. These are still the same people in most cases that are generational farmers. It's not a job they get in to, and it's tough to get into. I worry some times that people think that farmers are like everybody else. We are small business people. Farms are bigger now, but in a lot of cases these farms are supporting three families," Head said.

Before walking away from the podium, Head acknowledged that changing the common misconceptions that people have concerning the farm bureau and farming in general will not be easy.

"We still have a really good story to tell. We just haven't probably thought of it the way that we should have. We probably should have been doing this 20 years ago. We've got a lot of work to do," Head said.

President Johnson also took time to recognize members who have served the Kimball/Banner Farm Bureau throughout the many years of its existence focusing on Wes and Esther Phillips, Bev and Kendall Atkins, and Peggy and Howard Atkins.

"I think that Kimball and Banner County are very privileged to have people like this that have been involved for a very long time," Johnson said.

Philips joined the farm bureau in 1949, serving the board for 64 years before stepping down this year.

"He has been a faithful and dedicated worker all that time. We as the board of making are making a contribution to the Nebraska Foundation for Agriculture in honor of Esther and Wes to say thank you. It's unbelievable to me to think how long he has worked very hard for farm bureau," Johnson said.

Howard and Peggy Atkins have been long time farm bureau members serving both the work force and showing dedication in every aspect of their involvement in the organization.

"They have given their hearts to farm bureau. That's as much as what it's about as even some of the things we do. We appreciate all the work they've done and everything they do," Johnson said.

Kendall and Bev Atkins, who previously served as the president of the bureau, have been serving the farm bureau since 1962.

"Bev and Kendall are almost hard to say enough about. They have been faithful, very hard working farm bureau people. They believe that if agriculture is what you do that you should be passionate about it and share that dream with other people. They have been very instrumental in education across the state and even at the national level," Johnson said.

Johnson also gave the Atkins a clock inscribed with a dedication to show the bureau's appreciation for their years of service.

Elections were also head at the meeting with Johnson elected to continue on as president, Linda Halstead to serve as vice president, Rick Perry elected to be the third member of the administrative board, Mark Halstead elected to serve as the Youth at Large coordinator, and Johnson, Bev Atkins, and Linda Halstead to serve as delegates to the Nebraska Farm Bureau meeting held in December with Warren Gifford serving as an alternate.

New board members were also selected at the meeting with Mark Miller, James Vrtatko, and Marshall Mossberg joining the board.

"I am particularly thrilled we have, basically, three new people coming onto the board. I know James has been on before, but we're glad to welcome him back. We're really happy to welcome Marshall and Mark. We're excited when we have some new voices on the board. It's always good to have new people," Johnson said.

The board also passed county resolutions concerning supporting adding bindweed and puncture vine to the noxious weed list in Kimball and Banner Counties and creating a safer way to route truck traffic in the vicinity of Castronics' entrances and exits in order to decrease the potential for tragic accidents in that area.


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