The following are excerpts from Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke’s address at the TFB 80th annual meeting held recently in San Antonio.
For those of us who have worked long and hard to build Texas Farm Bureau, we have come to a time when there is great cause for celebration.
We sometimes hear people talk about “the good old days.” Usually, that means there was a time in the past that we think of as “better.” Well, I’m here to tell you—when it comes to our organization—these are the good old days.
Let’s start out with the big news, which by now is no secret. The Texas Farm Bureau has surpassed the 500,000-member mark! There are a whole bunch of very good reasons for being in our organization. This year, more than half a million people discovered those reasons. When a couple on a small acreage in Coupland, Texas renewed their membership in October, we passed that milestone.
We count families in Farm Bureau. We always have. We did a little bit of Googling on the Internet and learned that the mythical average American family has 3.14 members. That takes into account all of the single folks, couples with no children and so on.
That’s a pretty conservative estimate, I think, but that means that our organization represents well over a million and a half Texans.
There’s another way to say that: Clout. Influence. Our membership numbers mean that our elected officials must listen to what we say. Our membership numbers mean we have economic power to build service programs and save money for our member families.
That membership number also means we have the resources to do big and important things. Membership is important. It is the life’s blood of Texas Farm Bureau. We work to build membership because nothing else we work on can happen without it.
I think people are members of our organization because they like to know that they can count on Farm Bureau to be there when times are hard. You want to believe that the people working beside you or with you are up to the challenge. Farm Bureau has been doing that for 80 years.
For many reasons, Farm Bureau members are special and we expect to be treated in a special fashion.
That membership clout shows up in other ways, too. For example, during an election when there are only constitutional amendments on the ballot, the turnout is traditionally very low.
That’s a shame, but farmers and ranchers and Texas Farm Bureau members do turn out to vote in numbers larger than the population would suggest. When there is something very important on the ballot—like this year’s Proposition Six which funded the state water plan and supported vital water projects—we can make a positive difference.
We have our organization, more than a half million families strong. We have a policy that is responsible and achievable. And we have the will to work hard.
Our history is just that—a thing to be celebrated, but not dwelled on. For Texas Farm Bureau, our time is now. These ARE the good old days!