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Illinois Farm Bureau strategic planning continues

Last year the Illinois Farm Bureau began a process of self-examination aimed at better meeting the needs of the state’s agriculture industry. 

Mark Gebhards, chief strategy officer, says reaching younger farmers was one thing that led to development of the Organizational Member Strategy (OMS)…

“Bad news is we have a lot more members over the age of 75 than we do under the age of 35 or 40.”  He says, “The good news though, is the age of our County Farm Bureau board members. It is trending younger in a dramatic way, and that’s really good because we’re getting younger people involved in leadership in our counties.”

He also notes the age of the delegate body at the 2023 IFB Annual Meeting was the youngest it’s ever been. 

He tells Brownfield some other organizational needs have surfaced through the project…

“Unfortunately, we only have about half of our members e-mail addresses, which I think is really an issue in and of itself.”  He says, “We really need to focus again on making sure that we’re modernized to the point we can communicate in a more efficient way I guess I would say with our membership.”

Gebhards says a roadmap to potential organizational changes is expected later this spring…

And I think those changes will focus around some of the programs that we do.”  He says, “We may look a little bit at the structure of our counties. Do we have what I refer to as the subject matter experts out there to assist our county managers.”

He anticipates the first OMS pilot programs to be introduced this summer.

IFB has surveyed members and numerous other partner commodity organizations, as well as held several focus groups, as part of the process.

Brownfield spoke with Gebhards at the recent Illinois Ag Legislative Day at the state capitol.

AUDIO: Mark Gebhards – IFB Chief Strategy Officer

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