CHICAGO — Delegates to the 102nd IAA Annual Meeting in Chicago today received the final report from the Future of the Organization planning team. The report, which was commissioned by the delegates at the 2014 IAA Annual Meeting, outlines recommendations to help ensure Illinois Farm Bureau’s (IFB) viability in the future.
“With our centennial anniversary rapidly approaching in 2016, delegates to the 2014 IAA Annual Meeting asked that we look for ways to secure IFB’s success and relevance in the future,” said David Erickson, IFB vice president and Future of the Organization committee chair. “IFB formed a planning team and put together listening sessions to find out what our current members and staff felt were important issues to be addressed as we move into our next 100 years.”
The listening sessions included focus groups and individual interviews with county Farm Bureau managers and presidents; IFB Young Leader committee members; IFB staff; members attending district meetings; female IFB members; collegiate Farm Bureau members; new county Farm Bureau managers; FFA advisors; mid-aged ‘M’ members; unengaged members; young farmers and agriculture professionals; Illinois landowners; and Associate members.
Additionally, a series of discussion questions was provided to all 95 county Farm Bureaus for discussion during the board meetings in June, July and August of 2015.
“From the data collected during the focus groups, and during our own planning team meetings, we were able to get a better handle on the needs and desires of our current and prospective members from all different backgrounds,” Erickson said. “Those insights helped to mold the recommendations we passed on to the county Farm Bureaus and IFB.”
Recommendations include the following:
* Adopting best governance practices, including the possibility of term limits for county Farm Bureau board members, reducing the size of county Farm Bureau boards, and shortening board meetings;
* Adopting new technologies — including conference calls, webinars, social media and file sharing services — to more efficiently utilize members’ time;
* Adding membership benefits which appeal to members and potential members under 35 years old;
* Adding a professional membership for individuals who may not farm or own farmland, but who work in an agriculture related field impacted by farm profitability; and
* Encouraging leadership development.
In total, the report delivered 25 recommendations and their expected benefits to county Farm Bureaus. While the report offers many new ideas and strategies for streamlining operations and improving member engagement, they are merely suggestions to be implemented at each county’s discretion.
“Some of the recommendations may fit better in one county than others,” Erickson said. “Essentially, this report serves as a menu of ideas that might work for county Farm Bureaus. What we’re asking our members to do now is fully review those ideas and give them a chance to be discussed and applied.”
For more information about the Future of the Organization project, or to view the complete final report, visit https://www.ilfb.org/resources/future-of-the-organization-project.aspx.
The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 400,000 and a voting membership of more than 82,000. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.