A total of 1,959 farmer members responded to our Illinois Farm Bureau survey in July. This represented a 7.6% response rate, which is considered excellent.

Your feedback is very helpful as we seek to provide programs and services for our members.

Responses showed a positive outlook on the farm economy, a renewed interest in ag issues and an appreciation for Farm Bureau membership. The recent survey showed overall farmer optimism on the farm economy increased to 74%, up 7% from the previous November 2020 survey.

Strong commodity prices and purchases from China under the Phase One trade agreement contributed to the change, as well as economic recovery from the initial impacts of COVID-19.

There are concerns about industry consolidation and how changes in technology will shift both consumer preferences and agricultural operations.

We gathered input on potential future locations for our IAA Annual Meeting. More than 80% of the members who attended in 2018 and 2019 plan to attend in person Dec. 4-7 at the Palmer House in Chicago.

Members said they find the most value in content that focuses on policy and regulations, followed by farm management, agronomy and commodity market analysis.

Our news content providers have continued to innovate their processes to provide timely updates on these topics. I invite members to visit our news platforms regularly for updated coverage.

Unfortunately, there have been instances where farmers received their FarmWeek newspapers later than expected due to post office delivery issues. IFB staff is aware of these delays and continues to work with the U.S. Postal Service to find solutions.

In the meantime, I encourage you to take advantage of the “e-edition,” which is posted on FarmWeekNow.com each week, as you wait for your physical copy to arrive.

In addition to FarmWeek subscriptions, Farm Bureau membership also comes with a variety of member benefits, including access to programs aimed at supporting specialty growers, assisting farmers with farm to market opportunities and growing the next generation of agriculturists.

Members suggested we further engage smaller farmers, female farmers, provide more programming supporting livestock farmers and provide information on carbon markets. Members desire more programming related to financial aspects of their operation, such as property values and taxes, estate taxes, income taxes and investment strategies.

The average value members placed on their membership this summer improved to 76%, up 2% from last fall’s survey. Participants also found increasing value in their membership as they became more involved in IFB events and activities.

This goes to show that — just like everything else in life — what you put into something is what you get out of it.

In the future, we hope to hear from more of our members.

Your feedback remains critical to the work our organization does on behalf of farm families.

As always, remember that your county Farm Bureau is a great place to start when you need help, and IFB is here to offer additional resources and assistance.

Richard Guebert Jr. serves as Illinois Farm Bureau president and farms near Ellis Grove.