Meet Volunteer of the Month - Jeff Fisher
Meet Jeff Fisher, Champaign County Farm Bureau’s Volunteer of the Month! Jeff is a lifelong Tolono resident staying active in the community as a Deacon for the Tolono Presbyterian Church, a Masonic Lodge member, a charter member of the, now defunct, Room for Unity Education Foundation, and Champaign County Farm Bureau volunteer.
Jeff’s involvement with Farm Bureau began right out of college when he became active in Young Farmers, now known as Young Ag Leaders. Jeff has a long history of CCFB volunteering. His many volunteer activities include CCFB Board Member, Legislative Chairman, CCFB Board Treasurer, State Young Farmer Committee, and Vice Chairman State Young Farmer committee. Jeff has also had the honor of serving as an AFBF Annual Meeting alternate delegate and a delegate at the IAA Annual Meeting.
You may recognize Jeff! He is frequently featured in local news stories regarding agriculture issues. Jeff’s media training began in high school as an FFA member and officer. He continued his media interests on the State Young Farmer Committee by participating with other volunteers in media training provided by the IAA staff. Young Farmer discussion meets also provided experience and training, allowing this to evolve into something much bigger than Jeff ever imagined.
Jeff believes it is essential to get an accurate story of agriculture to the general public because “so many inaccurate perceptions of agriculture are out there and there are so few spokesmen for agriculture. Everyone is so focused on trying to make their business better for their family and community that it is hard to take time away from the farm to do media relations.”
Inaccurate perceptions can be combated by getting a message out to the public. Jeff currently believes the public needs to know “the small amount of value, only 10 to 15 cents per box, of corn in a box of Corn Flakes and wheat in Wheaties. This is a common consumer misconception and it needs to be addressed because of the concern over food prices and the expectation that food prices will be going up. Are higher commodity prices really driving the jump in food cost? Many other reasons are driving up costs including advertising, profit margin, transportation, processing, and marketing.”
Another popular inaccurate perception regards what is actually included in the Farm Bill. Jeff says “99% of the population doesn’t know that a large percentage of the Farm Bill covers non-agriculture programs. Only approximately 25% of the Farm Bill can be attributed to agriculture.” The largest portion of the Farm Bill provides funding for food stamps, nutrition and other public welfare programs.
In addition to battling these misconceptions, Jeff has been very busy lately conducting interviews with the media regarding the drought conditions and heat. He recently was interviewed after walking his plot of corn and realizing the crop is much worse than he expected. On air Jeff says his “energy was depleted” after being in the heat and realizing the devastation to the crop in his field. The last 9 – 10 days his corn had gotten much worse!
Several memorable experiences and interviews have taken place during Jeff’s Farm Bureau volunteer history. About 20 years ago, Jeff was flattered to be approached by Channel 3 for a yearlong series called “3 on the Farm.” Channel 3 reporter, Judy Brown, started hosting stories in March and followed Jeff through the year as he hauled out grain, got equipment ready, planted, harvested, etc. Stories were as frequent as one per week during busy times and tapered off during the off season.
In the mid 2000’s, Channel 15 approached Jeff about doing a bi monthly farm report called “15 on the Farm.” Reporter Bob McCaffrey followed Jeff for approximately 9 months, showing the public what the life of a farmer is like. Both of these experiences provided Jeff with a behind the scenes look at reporters and cameramen at work! Continue to look for Jeff on our local news channels as more agriculture issues take center stage.
Jeff is an eighth generation farmer. Jeff and his wife, Susie, live on the farm that has been in the family since 1927. They have four children, ranging in age from 24 to 11 years old, and enjoy sports, travel, and horses. Jeff and Susie dream of one day vacationing in Hawaii!
The Champaign County Farm Bureau would like to thank Jeff for the hours he spends spreading the message about the importance of agriculture. Jeff says he is “humbled to be selected as the Volunteer of the Month because there are so many people who give so much time, talent, and effort to CCFB.”