|Todd, Clair & Kyle Esbenshade|
Tell us about your operation:
My sons, Todd and Kyle, and I are involved full time on the farm. We raise turkeys and we have a swine nursery barn and a cow-calf herd. We also grow corn, soybeans, hay and wheat. To help with our business, we also started a custom harvest business with three other farms. It allows us to get better equipment than each farm could own. It has worked out really well.
You are involved in Farm Bureau’s policy development process.
Why is participating in policy development important?
Throughout my involvement in Farm Bureau, it seems like Farm Bureau does a good job of getting our people and our issues in front of politicians. And they have a fair amount of respect for our organization. Our issues start at the grassroots. They are issues that have been identified and need to be addressed. If they come through policy development, and succeed at Annual Meeting, it gives our organization a little more clout. It says “this is what farmers believe and what needs to be addressed.” It has authenticity to it.
You also spend time working membership. Why is that important?
Numbers mean something. When we speak with our politicians, we can say that farmers are voicing their opinions through Farm Bureau. I know some who might get mad about one issue and not get involved. If you don’t like a policy, there are ways that you as a member can change it. This is not a top-down outfit. When you visit with prospective members, you talk about current issues and what Farm Bureau is doing to fight them. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, no one else will do it for us.
Why do you participate in the State and National Legislative Conference organized by Farm Bureau?
The conferences give us a chance to interact with our elected officials. It puts a face in front of the people you elect, and it’s a personal touch. During the meetings you share how things affect you. The important part is to try and get on a first name basis with your elected leaders. I feel pretty fortunate about the elected officials that represent our region.
Are you optimistic about the future of agriculture?
I have two sons that want to be active and involved. So that makes me optimistic. But I do worry about the future because of some of the actions by our government.
Lastly why are you a Farm Bureau member?
I think it matters. I see what is happening behind the scenes and the influence we have on the legislative process. I think that is the most important. One of the biggest things that Farm Bureau can do is try to influence our legislators and make our lives a little less complicated as we produce food for the world.