Welp, I’ve re-written this President’s Report three times already trying to share with you what is in my mind and my soul. Let’s try this one…
I have filed as a candidate for the position of president for the National Farmers Union.
This sounds simple, but it isn’t.
I waffled a long time over the decision to file. There is comfort in stability and continuity and the position of president of the Kansas Farmers Union, with farming on the side, has become a very comforting saddle to sit in. If elected, my world turns upside down immediately. If I lose the election, which is likely, can life continue on as it has in the past within the FU family and my family without repercussions?
On top of that it’s as simple as, believe it or not, I have never ever lived anywhere else other than our Teske hill for my entire life! Not. One. Day… Re-locating would be stressful.
Then why file?
At first, I was going through all of these self-delusions about how I just had to file for this or that reason, for the good of the world, but I finally woke up one morning with the realization that I wanted to file because I wanted to file. For me. I’ve always been vain, I’ve always been a climber, and this is the next hill to climb and see how far I get. I love new challenges.
And, in my vanity, I would like to think that I can contribute to advancing the policy and mission of the National Farmers Union. In my vanity I would like to think that my years of serving on the national executive board under our four previous presidents, my three years as national treasurer, and my four years as NFU vice president qualifies me for having my name on the ballot. I would argue that I know the dynamics of the NFU family as well as anyone, and I’m pretty darn involved in the insurance income side of the business. But I do acknowledge that I’m certainly not as good on Capitol Hill as Rob though.
But the important part of waking up that morning with the decision solidified in my mind was I asked ma across the bed from me if she would divorce me if I ran for NFU president? Her response was “Never.” That’s good enough for me.
But I’m writing this report for our Kansas Farmers Union newsletter. And I would argue that the repercussions either way from my filing is more important for KFU than my vanity.
We are extremely blessed in Kansas Farmers Union to have a responsible and very engaged board. This board has had to step up in recent years and make some extremely challenging decisions. They did it responsibly and maturely, and for some this belied their actual age.
We are blessed with an actively engaged group of future young leaders, any of whom that, if given the opportunity, may well lead Kansas Farmers Union to new heights. It wasn’t that many years ago that I worried if I would step aside who would take over.
We are blessed with a great staff whose individual talents work together to make us all stronger.
Right now Kansas Farmers Union is as stable as it’s ever been in my involvement with the organization, even though we are always on the brink of poverty and the soup line.
I am so very proud of the Kansas Farmers Union. I’m so proud of our board who takes care of what needs to be done. I’m so proud of my staff who does what needs to be done in their own talents and together make me look good in spite of myself.
It’s always extremely hard for the old silver-back to know when to get out of the way and trust the next generation to carry on the genes. That’s the case with Kansas Farmers Union and also for our own family farm. Too often it’s being thrown out kicking and screaming and also too often, it’s too late.
If elected the first week in March, it will all come to a head immediately. KFU and the farm. It will be up to the next generation to carry it on from here, if they so choose. You all are capable.
If I lose the election, as I said was likely earlier in this rambling, it would be good to go on for a while, if you all will still have me – with KFU and the farm. But, the time for generational leadership change needs to come sometime in the not too distant future. If I just continue to bumble on until I’m totally done, it will drag KFU down. And that is not what any of us want.
So, when is it the magic moment to pull the trigger?
If I win the election, it is this March. Next month. But if I lose the election and continue to bumble on into infinity, I will run off a whole batch of wonderful young leaders chomping at the bit to take KFU to the next level, just as I ran off Nick earlier. And I desperately do not want that.
Right now I’m running for NFU president. That throw of the dice will happen soon and we will see how that comes out. Then we will have to make decisions from there…
It would be comforting to me, if by freakish chance I would actually win, to be able to help nurture the next KFU president as they grow into their position from my position of NFU president. To me that would make the perfect transition.
Here I am rambling on about the NFU presidential election taking up all of my space for my president’s report when I have so much to brag about with the KFU family this past year.
We have chartered TWO new chapters in the past two years. We’ve brought many new leaders into the Ks Farmers Union family. We’ve hosted many great tours this year educating our membership in what they are searching for.
We’ve represented KFU’s policy well at both the statehouse and on the hill in DC. We took the largest contingent of KFU members to fly-in in September that I can remember through my time. They broke us down into two teams and Olivia did a fantastic job as team leader of the second team. When asked to send two KFU members to the rural mental health train-the-trainer workshop in Savannah, I agreed, but worried if I’d even come up with one. We have three going.
The Midwest Agency enacted a membership insurance premium discount that has already brought in over a hundred new members. We’ve done a lot of work with veterans interested in entering into farming.
We also hosted a state convention that I was extremely proud of, was very well attended, and at which we presented a program that addressed many of the needs of rural Kansas in these challenging times with experts in those fields. Experts that I am proud to almost count every one of as friends.
It was a very good year for KFU and I am so proud of our great organization.
Thank you for letting me serve.