Farmers and Non-Farmers are Stronger Together

What we can learn from the cowbird.
iStock/WilliamSherman

Have you ever seen a “cowbird?” Well, according to Google, what I would call a “cowbird,” I should be calling a Cattle Egret. You know, the white birds flying around cows and other livestock, or congregating around freshly plowed fields. You see them often this time of year when fields are disked or pastures grazed. Long legs. Long neck. Short beak. 

Well, “cowbirds” have a symbiotic, often mutualistic relationship with their surroundings. They eat the bugs harming or annoying cattle, and the birds stay well fed. Win-win, right? 

Agriculture has similar relationships, albeit not so primal. While the farmer or rancher is the central concern for Farm Bureau and what this industry is revolved around supporting, there is a whole host of other career professionals, educators, farm employees and others benefiting from a stronger agricultural industry. The same could be said for most Mississippi towns, big or small. 

When ag is strong, Mississippi is strong. It’s a simple point that Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation policy staff and volunteers reiterate to policy makers daily. But what about you, the Farm Bureau member? Do you consider what role you have to play? 

At the core of its bylaws, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation and your county Farm Bureaus note who has voting rights in our organization, most of which come down to full-time farmers receiving the majority of their income from the sale of a commodity. This makes us the state’s largest general farm organization. However, did you know we have many ag professionals, scientists, salesmen, mechanics, contractors, veterinarians and other ag career personnel involved with our organization, too? 

These are the “cowbirds,” if you will. The ones helping our farmers and ranchers do what they do. The ones who need agriculture and agriculture needs them. And, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (unlike a lot of cow pastures) needs more “cowbirds.” We need more Mississippi State University Extension staff, more seed and chemical salesmen, and more local leaders to step up and step out to be a positive voice for agriculture. 

While the population of farmers continues to shrink, our organization has grown for three consecutive years. So, that means there are more of you out there as associate members who can be of help to our state’s largest industry. The first thing you can do is continue to be a Farm Bureau member, as well as encourage your neighbors, colleagues or friends to join. 

You can also help us in policy efforts by signing up for email newsletters and joining in when Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation asks for your help reaching our elected officials on particular issues. More than that, however, you can attend certain Farm Bureau events, contribute to our Farm Families of Mississippi campaign, or support farmers by buying local and/or buying American. 

If nothing else, do your research about Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation when it comes to issues you hear in the news. Give us a chance to tell our side, the farmer’s side, of the story. 

For those of you already on our side of the fence now, think about sharing the positive news of Farm Bureau with some other “cowbirds.” There is nothing more effective to get further participation than one bird calling to the other. 

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation strives to create an environment in which Mississippi farmers, ranchers, and Farm Bureau members can have a better life and make a better living. When we accomplish this mission, Mississippi becomes stronger and more successful. Join us, won’t you? 

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