Members talk shop on being a part of the ‘voice of agriculture’
Some people join an organization to receive the great benefits; others might sign-on because they hope to advance a worthy cause. If for the former, they might weigh the cost of membership with how much money their active status will save them in the long run. If the latter, they may not even consider the cost to join because they believe coming together with like-minded individuals will help make a difference for the community.
With over 4800 members and growing, Polk County Farm Bureau (PCFB) is one of the largest county federations in the state of Florida, which serves as a testament that there is more than one reason why people join— and remain involved.
Being a member of PCFB involves multiple tangible benefits, including discounts to various goods, services, and Farm Bureau banking. One of the most helpful perks that members receive, however, is the one-of-a-kind insurance and customer care. While Farm Bureau Insurance is a nationwide company, the customer service is specially catered to the local members being served.
“My family’s auto insurance is very comprehensive and competitive with other providers. I also enjoy working with agents that have the ‘hometown appeal’ . . . they remember me and are always willing to answer any insurance questions I may have,” explains Lauren Cline, the Director of Agricultural Studies at Warner University in Lake Wales, who has been a PCFB member for almost three years.
“They break it down to your level here locally and provide personal service,” says Dean Evans, a PCFB member since 1996, who also serves as secretary on the PCFB board. “Because of the backing they have, being a national company, it protects you . . . but also gives you the responsive one-on-one service of a local agent.”
Along with their “hometown appeal” insurance offerings, PCFB prides itself on representing farmers and landowners on the local and state level. “The Farm Bureau serves many purposes, but one of the greatest is that it creates the opportunity to build and maintain relationships between lawmakers and agriculturalists,” explains Christian Spinosa, who has been an active member for five years. One such opportunity is the Legislative Appreciation Dinner, which is hosted annually by PCFB. This event allows members to have an open dialogue with local, state, and congressional leaders; it gives locals the chance to thank representatives for their work and also talk to them personally about important issues. “These relationships are important to farmers and landowners because they know their voices are being represented from the local level all the way up to the federal level; this is especially critical when issues are being discussed, such as farm labor, land taxes, farm bills, and most importantly, water rights,” says Spinosa.
For this reason, PCFB’s reputation precedes itself as the “voice of agriculture.” A big part of its mission and purpose is to represent members and help them stay in business; PCFB does this by keeping an ear to the ground concerning local and state legislation to ensure agriculturalists are having their best interests taken into consideration. “With a focus on agriculture and quality service, you always know the members’ interests are being considered first and foremost,” adds Cline.
“Our job is to fight for the protection of local farmers in the political arena. Choosing candidates that have our best interest in mind; fighting for laws and regulations to be put in place; and do what we can to change those things and create an environment farmers can work in, make a living in,” says Evans, who works heavily with citrus, blueberries, and cattle.
With over 4,000 members, it’s easy to make connections and have support systems inside the local ag industry. Members not only receive backing from the Farm Bureau, but also from their fellow members who may be having similar issues. “The connections and relationships that come automatically with being an active member are invaluable,” says Spinosa. “You cannot put a price tag on having many experienced minds working to find a solution to a common problem.”
Since 1942, Polk County Farm Bureau has been fighting for our agriculture industry. Members, new and old, not only receive tangible benefits, such as discounts and insurance, but also the relentless support of the PCFB that proves to make members’ issues, their issues. For more information on the benefits of becoming a member and the different activities members can be a part of, or if you would like access to a membership application, go to pcfb.org/memberbenefits