Thursday, December 5, 2013

IFBF 74th Annual Meeting, Sun Valley, Idaho

Gerald and Celia Marchant win 2013 President's Cup

Sun Valley--Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley awarded long-time Farm Bureau members Gerald and Celia Marchant this years President's Cup.

"This means a lot," said a tearful Marchant as he accepted the coveted award at the podium in front of a full house at the Sun Valley Inn.

"It took me completely by surprise, never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be standing here." The beloved couple accepted the award in front of a standing ovation of more than 300 friends and Farm Bureau members.

The Marchants run a ranch outside of Oakley, Idaho. They've been in Farm Bureau Leadership for more than 40 years.

"I was just a member that had to have insurance, I was just like anybody else, then one of my neighbors took me to a county meeting, and it changed my life," recalled Gerald Marchant.

Marchant served on the County Board in his native Utah, but soon volunteered for everything from the soil conservation board to 4H. It was then that he realized that of all the organizations, Farm Bureau had the most clout.

"In my mind the lobbying effort is the name of the game," he said. "If Farm Bureau does not stand up for agriculture, no one else will. It's all about core beliefs and promoting agriculture. Like it or not its a political game. We have to be involved to protect our interests, our neighbors and fellow members as well," said Marchant.

Gerald and Celia always felt that they could always get more things done through Farm Bureau.

"I look at it like this, If you to to Washington and talk to Congress as the Cattle Association, well its just a few people. But with Farm Bureau we are involved in so many commodities we can't have a biased, one-sided option, they have to listen because Farm Bureau policies have to satisfy all of its members. Those Congressmen know if they want to stay elected they have to listen to what we say," said Marchant.

Celia Marchant puts their lifetime Farm Bureau involvement in perspective.

"Western issues are so much different, the water issues are so complex, we realized that Farm Bureau was the only organization that had the clout and money to speak up for us, it was clear from our first country resolution meeting, and its very clear now," said Celia Marchant.

Gerald Marchant proudly tells anyone that'll listen that ideas hatched on horseback with fellow ranchers reached national prominence.

"I can think of one or two instance in Cassia County where we talked about an issue that was bothering us and we took it the County meeting, then it done went to State and passed and sure enough, made it all the way into the American Farm Bureau policy book. An issue that started with a group of mad Cassia County ranchers made it to the national policy book, there's nothing like this. In fact theres a bunch of issues that started at county meetings here in Idaho that's now AFBF policy," said Marchant.

It was Farm Bureau, Celia Marchant says that gave the family confidence and know-how to branch out.

"We've been involved as precinct chairs, Farm Bureau gave us the leadership we learned the political process. Our children have grown up always being involved in things. Two of them sit on County Farm Bureau Boards, like us, they're deeply involved in the political process," said Celia Marchant.

The Marchants have served on the State Board for more than a decade and confess that there were many disagreements along the way, but the disagreements strengthened their beliefs in the organization.

"I was always devoted to the Board," said  Marchant. "We had our fights but when we break for lunch there's no hard feelings we all know it was all for the members back home."

Through the years, at any Farm Bureau function, you'd see Gerald and Celia always with a smile and a firm handshake. He says his greatest accomplishment was overseeing the new building on the hill overlooking Pocatello.

"We were there from the first conception, I couldn't believe the project, knowing that we were building something that would symbolize agriculture in Idaho. It'll be there for generations. A lot of people will never realize the symbols the architects designed into that building and it really means a lot," said  Marchant.

"The Marchants are Farm Bureau institutions," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. "They've done so much, its an honor to give them the Cup this year, I know they'll be back next year and their family, for generations to come."

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