This weekend marked the 101st Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. The conference, held at the Palmer House hotel in Chicago, IL, is one where agriculturalists of all kinds come together as a body and have the opportunity to not only make significant decisions but to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Originally, founded in 1916, the American and Illinois Farm Bureaus were designed to “improve the economic well-being of agriculture and enrich the quality of farm family life.” What started as a small organization dedicated to helping farmers grew to over 400,000 members in just Illinois alone! Membership has grown to include not just farmers, but dedicated leaders in the agriculture industry.
One of my favorite parts of the Annual Meeting is the opening session. Before all business begins, the American, Illinois, Farm Bureau, FFA, and 4-H flags are carried in by FFA and 4-H members. America the Beautiful is playing in the background and then, as one big group, hundreds of Illinois Farm Bureau members say the Pledge of Allegiance.
How many conferences do you know of that do that? Not many.
Picture it. Hundreds of agricultural leaders standing together and pledging allegiance to our flag and country. To me, that is one of the most inspiring things. Why? Because it gives me hope. Hope for our country to come together as one. Hope for better days. Hope for the future of agriculture. One thing that I appreciate about this industry is how we strive to protect traditions that symbolize who were are and where we come from.
Agriculture is literally the backbone of this country, and as the media found out during the presidential election, we’re pretty powerful. As James Wesley so eloquently put it in his song Thank a Famer, “I still believe in amber waves of grain. Man on his knees praying for rain. That grew this country strong, and keeps us moving on.”
I am proud to be a member of the Farm Bureau, and I am extremely excited to see what the future holds for such an outstanding organization.