The following are excerpts from Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke’s address to the membership at the annual meeting in Waco.
Texas Farm Bureau is closing in on eight full decades of service to the farm and ranch families of Texas.
This has not happened by accident, as generations of Farm Bureau leaders have now met 79 times to not only deal with the problems of the day, but to secure a legacy.
It’s a record of service of which I hope you are very proud. I often think about those members in 1933, recognizing that the old and failing organization that was created a decade before could not meet the needs of farmers and ranchers.
So, in 1933, they tore it apart. They took some of the pieces and added others, creating a new organization. We are now what they built. We mark our beginning from that moment, when our founding fathers—seeking something better, 79 years ago—created the Texas Farm Bureau.
I often wonder what they’d think if they could look at the modern organization we are today. They’d see an organization with the resources and stature to stand with any other organization in this great state. They would see a group of leaders who have managed the legacy they left to them very well. They’d see that the values of integrity, vision and hard work have not really changed that much—in Farm Bureau, at least.
They created the Texas Farm Bureau in a time of turmoil. The Great Depression was just getting started. The problem of unemployment was much worse than now. Agriculture was struggling. We had serious environmental issues with the dust bowl. There was political strife.
Back then, Americans came together and fought their way back from the edge of despair. Farm Bureau played an important role in that.
Today? I cannot remember a time in my life when our political system was so deeply divided. We have lost sight of the common good. Compromise is so far away that it cannot even be seriously discussed. The political parties seem to be locked away on opposite sides of the same house, and it seems they’d rather tear that house down than come together.
The late Congressman Bob Poage was one of agriculture’s champions in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Poage was a Democrat, though party affiliation seemed to matter much less back then.
The Congressman used to say, “Any jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a pretty good carpenter to build one.” We are far too intent on kicking down the barn. We have not considered the benefits of building the barn or the consequences of it crashing down on top of us.
We’ve just been through a bitter and nasty presidential election—but it’s over. It’s time to look for common ground. We can’t find it if we’re not even looking.
It’s time to recognize that we cannot afford old political animosities. In Texas Farm Bureau, we are conservative people for the most part. There are some things we can’t accept and must oppose.
But clearly, we cannot get everything we want. Neither can Republicans nor Democrats. To achieve anything, we are going to have to seek out common ground with folks who sometimes don’t agree with us.
Politically, we are looking at the remnants of a battleground following a great battle. The question is—will we end the war or continue to engage in pointless bickering? The ground and the structures are battered and torn. From this wreckage, as a nation, we must make our constitutional form of government work for all our citizens.
As I’m making it a point to avoid tearing down—and focusing on building—I have to say a word about building our Texas Farm Bureau.
Mixed in with all that other “stuff” we have to do—raising our crops and livestock, making a living, fighting drought and heat, flood and cold and all the dozens of daily tasks and taking care of our families, churches and communities—amongst all of that—we have to find the time to build Texas Farm Bureau.
When we do, it serves us well. Fortunately, we have a time-tested way to do that—one that we worked hard to perfect.
By building our county Farm Bureaus, we know that we will have an organization that’s up to the task of representing our interests. An organization that can stand up for us wherever—and whenever—decisions are made that affect our lives.
By building the foundation of Farm Bureau—county by county by county—we can build an organization that can do, and will do, what we need.
Farmers and ranchers want to be among the carpenters that build a new future for America. Your stories matter. They are important to the national conversation about agriculture. Your county Farm Bureau matters.
It’s not a time to tear down. It’s a time to build. You are the carpenters. You are the builders. God bless our nation and Texas Farm Bureau.