Recently we all came together as Kansas Farm Bureau members at the 103rd annual meeting. This annual meeting was especially memorable because we could not be together in person last year. There is something special when farmers and ranchers from all parts of Kansas come together, and our time apart made it even better.

Many old friendships were renewed, and new acquaintances were forged during the meeting. One of my favorite things is to watch the conversations in the hallway between sessions. Watching the handshakes, pats on the backs and warm greetings, in many cases with people you see once or twice a year. It was good to be among friends once again.

The general session and workshops were incredible, but they were not the main event. The featured event came Monday morning when delegates from all across the state met to discuss and formulate the policy for Kansas’ largest farm organization. Every proposal discussed came from the grassroots. That is what makes our organization so strong. Every member, no matter the type, size or location of their farm and ranch, can bring ideas forward, and that is why I am a proud member of Kansas Farm Bureau.

Those policy proposals then go through our resolutions process before they become policy of Kansas Farm Bureau. The last step in that process is the approval by the majority of the voting delegates from each county in the state. Our policy book is the guidepost for advocacy efforts in both Topeka and Washington D.C., and it is the direct result of involvement at the county level.

Each year I come away from this process with a great deal of satisfaction. Maybe not the satisfaction of always being on the winning side but the satisfaction of knowing that the policy in the book reflects work of members surfacing, debating and refining the issues and the subsequent policy before giving their ultimate approval to the language in the policy book.

I am proud of the way we can debate difficult topics and yet come together after the votes are counted. I do not know if you have noticed but that is not always the case in our society. I genuinely believe our ability to debate topics we believe in and are passionate about and still be able to be unified is because of those relationships and friendships that are forged in the hallways and meeting rooms.

My fervent hope is that this next year brings more normalcy, and we can carry on more meetings in person because I believe the relationships formed by those meetings are our strength. We are an ever-shrinking band of brothers and sisters, and our power is in our grassroots bonds. Just like the roots of our native prairie we are anchored by the very network of grassroots. Those intertwined roots give us strength when storms approach and gale winds blow. Just like the prairie, if we maintain those roots we will be around for a long, long time.