By Dan Arnold, OKFB executive secretary, published in the first issue of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Farmer magazine in June 1949
Farm Bureau is a Service Organization, and is now the only Farmers Organization through which nation-wide farm thinking and united action can be reflected for him and his family.
The thinking farmer does not join his local cooperative wheat elevator association to have them do his thinking for him. He cooperates with his local neighbors in these programs for a specialized service, through which he and they can do a better job of self service at a saving. He joins his County Farm Bureau for the purpose of doing his own thinking and reflecting his thoughts along with those of his fellow farmers from other counties in his state and with farmers from other states, then comes to an agreement on the many economic and social complex problems confronting the industry; thereby, creating the effect of one voice for Agriculture, an effective legislative objective, if you please. Any group which professes to speak of one segment of agriculture, whether in conflict with a general farm organization or not, weakens the effectiveness of both organizations.
Next to his Church, the Farm Bureau member should strive to keep his organization nearest his heart. Farmers are a minority group and only represent 18% of the total population of the country. If he is to continue to hold his position with other economic groups, it is imperative that he make a sincere effort to keep his many commodity group interests from being divided among themselves on issues which will destroy the harmony processes and at the same time any jeopardize his and their voice for Agriculture.
A voice for Agriculture, to be effective must be strong and active. It must be backed up with a broad, loyal, conscious, membership. Passive membership detracts, rather than attracts. Farm Bureau must be an organization which attracts members.
Unfortunately, Farm Bureau like many other organizations, is made up of too few active participating members. It seems there are about three classes of members, those passive members who just belong because it is popular to belong – these fall by the wayside early when the going gets a little rough; the second group, those receiving participating members who are tinged with just a little selfishness and have not yet been convinced of the general good of the organization. This group usually takes a neutral position, but continues to go along. The third group is active, loyal, giving members, who give of themselves to the cause of the Farm Bureau Organization, and the general good. These are the kind of members which keep the county Farm Bureau program clicking.
If we want to keep a voice for Agriculture we must recognize that we have these three types of memberships and we must develop a program which will encourage the passive and the neutral member to move up the scale to the active participating group.
While Farm Bureau members may not always agree on methods, or approaches to their many problems, they do abide by the rule of the majority vote of the membership; and if we can find the way to realize more loyal, conscientious participation of a greater number of our members in expressing themselves toward a unity of agreement, and unity of purpose, the voice for Agriculture will speak louder than ever in our state and National Legislative Halls.