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CCFB News» June 2020

Downwind"Re-open" Farm Bureau

06/01/2020 @ 9:00 am | By Bob Rohrer CAE, FBCM, Manager

Re-open Illinois. Re-open Cook County Farm Bureau®? We were fortunate that we never really closed, aside from that sign on our building doors in the village of Countryside that said we were working remotely.

 

Over the past 2.5 months, your Cook County Farm Bureau farmers have been doing essential services like FARMING. Your Cook County Farm Bureau staff, while “sheltered in place”, have been focused on continuing to serve members in whatever capacity necessary.

 

Our mantra has been “be present, not MIA” while walking virtually side-by-side with our members through this continuing crisis.

 

  • That means when there was a question of whether greenhouses and garden centers were considered essential services, we kicked it into full gear to make numerous communications and appeals with the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Governor’s office, as well as congressional leaders.

 

  • That means when schools were shut down and went to remote learning, our Ag in the Classroom staff quickly transitioned to some amazing online content, farm experience videos, and at-home activities/lesson plans.

 

  • That means when members had questions about the latest COVID-19 news, programs, and guidelines for assistance through the small business administration loans, payroll protection program, coronavirus farm assistance program, and a host of rules in the changing landscape of livestock, trucking, drainage, marketing, farmland assessment, taxes, and so much more, we found answers and provided support. 

 

  • That means when local farms and small businesses were having difficulties due to the Governor’s order with the ability to move products, we developed various programs to help market and promote local products, needs, and services.

 

  • That means when our members and COUNTRY Financial staff needed membership support and membership services throughout this time, we have provided direct and timely responses, follow-through, and action.

 

  • That means when some of our members were sheltered in place, we delivered online trivia, stay-at-home scavenger hunts, and a myriad of other activities that provided a welcome distraction from the drum of the daily headlines.

 

  • That means when our frontline warriors (nurses, doctors, farmers, police officers, firemen, EMTs, construction workers, and other essential personnel) carried heavy burdens, we offered our deepest appreciation and heartfelt thanks for the work and efforts that they are making.

 

  • That means when area food banks were swamped with demand and dwindling resources, we stepped up by providing financial support and connections to access available farm food commodities.

 

And we know our work is far from over…

 

Our farmers, feeling the effects after several “down” years, are painfully aware this pandemic could not have happened at a more disastrous time… Our battle will wage on to help farmers through this difficult time.

 

Our many members with small businesses, devastated by the Governor’s orders, will need every helping hand of encouragement and support offered… Consider participating in our Member-to-Member Buy Local campaign (we plan on promoting this program through a special 4-page insert next month!).

 

Our educational system may be forever changed, and our Ag Literacy program will need to plan intentionally and strategically to effectively communicate in the future to kids and their parents why farming is an essential service (is there any doubt in anyone’s mind now that farming is essential?).

 

COUNTRY Financial, Conserve FS, Prairie Farms Dairy, the IAA Credit Union, and our other affiliated companies will continue to support the needs of members and their families, properties, and lives.

 

At some point, the physical Farm Bureau office will reopen. We are developing reopen plans so that we can effectively serve members while protecting staff, guests, and tenants in the Cook County Farm Bureau building. In addition, Cook County Farm Bureau leadership is discussing our approach for the 3rd and 4th quarters of the year regarding program activities and functions and you will see more information on that topic in ensuing Co-Operator publications or on our website.

 

I believe that we have done the “right” things, including sheltering in place while continuing to fully function for members as an organization. Now, it’s time to get back to business as normal… Whatever that means.

 

I’m so ready.

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