Dear Farm Bureau: #WhyFreddy?

Dear Farm Bureau: #WhyFreddy?

Bruce Maples
Bruce Maples

It’s Farm Bureau Day again at the state fair, with friendly Freddy Farm Bureau greeting people as they enter the fair.

And like every year, there’s a simple question we need to ask:

Dear Farm Bureau – Why are you so discriminatory against gays, and unions, and teachers? Bluntly, why do you even care about these issues? #WhyFreddy?

See, here’s the thing. When you buy Farm Bureau Insurance, you not only pay for your insurance; you also pay a fee to the Farm Bureau Federation, which is used for lobbying. (Bet you didn’t know that.)

Now you may be thinking “well, of course they do lobbying. I would expect them to work on behalf of policies that they think benefit farmers.”

I thought the same thing too, until I looked through their policy book and read through the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of policies and positions. I saw some things there that I expected, like “We recommend the reduction of license costs on vehicles involved in the practice of moving soil conservation equipment.” Exactly the sort of in-the-weeds (sorry) policy statement that would not be a surprise in such a book.

Oh wait – you say you haven’t seen this book, even though you’re a member/customer? That’s because they don’t give the policy book to their members. (Bet you didn’t know that, either.) The only people who see the book are the people who write it (about 24), the people who vote on it (voting delegates to the Farm Bureau Federation), and state legislators, who get their own copy.

Somehow, though, various organizations across the state are able to get their hands on a copy – which is why we know some of these #WhyFreddy policies are in there. (If you want to read through all 96 pages of policy statements, Fairness has a copy in PDF form.)

Now, there are actually a number of policies in the booklet that I agree with. There are others that I disagree with. That’s not the point of this commentary.

Here’s the point:

Why in the world does Farm Bureau think it is important for a farm organization to be anti-gay? And anti-public employee? And anti-union?

You don’t think there are gay farmers? You don’t think there are farmers married to public school teachers? Or to union members?

Here are just a few of the #WhyFreddy policy statements from our Kentucky Farm Bureau (courtesy of Fairness, who had someone read through the hundreds of policies and note the page numbers):

  • The institution of marriage should only be recognized as the legal union of a man and a woman. (p.13)
  • We are opposed to any state-supported agency providing benefits to “domestic” partners. (p.14)
  • We strongly believe in the value of all individuals both born and unborn. (p.14)
  • We strongly oppose teacher strikes. We oppose legislation that mandates collective bargaining for public school employees. (p.64)
  • Alternative lifestyles should not be taught in public schools. (p.64)
  • We support the enactment of right-to-work legislation. (p.79)
  • We oppose an increase in the minimum hourly wage. (p.79)
  • We recommend the federal prevailing wage law be repealed when dealing with government contracts. (p.79)
  • We strongly oppose any mandate that would require any government entities to recognize and collectively bargain with employee unions. (p.80)
  • Furthermore, we oppose public employees being permitted to strike, organize work stoppage or slow-downs. (p.80)
  • We oppose unionization of farmers and farm laborers. (p.80)
  • We support the idea that those who receive SSI, food stamps, housing, or other government welfare payments should have to submit to random drug testing. (p.80)
  • We support capital punishment. (p.93)
  • We oppose any government mandate that forces school districts to provide transgender bathrooms. (p.96)

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why Farm Bureau cares so much about discriminating against people. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why they want to add these statements to their official policy platform.

And I cannot fathom, at all, why people across the Commonwealth continue to do business with a company that is anti-gay, anti-union, anti-teacher, anti-transgender, and anti-working people.

It’s a simple question:

#WhyFreddy?

–30–

Commentary

Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)


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