Who is your county surveyor? Do you know? Is he elected or appointed? How about a tougher question- who sits on your county library board? Do you know them? Are any of them people with an ag background? Are they appointed or elected? If appointed, who appoints them?
It's questions like these that Bob Shickel thinks every person living in a rural area, farm or not, should know. Schickel, Harrison County, is District 10 director for Indiana Farm Bureau. He made comments at the Indiana State Farm Bureau Convention last week, underlining how important it is to be involved in local government affairs.
"You need to know who these people are and get involved, he stresses. His county Farm Bureau prepared a page on their Website that lists various officials in the county. The point is for other farm families and rural residents to become familiar with who these people are.
"Why should you care about who is on the library board?" asks Greg Slipher, a staff member for Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. "They have the ability to make decisions that affect property taxes, don't they? Any group that makes decisions that can affect property taxes is a group you ought to know about."
In fact, the Library Board in Johnson County is considering a major building project that could result in spending $25 to $30 million on as new library. Because of the size of the project and the rules of Indiana enacted not that long ago, any project will need to come before the public in a referendum. It will be a test of how well the board can relate to all parts of the community, including rural people.
Slipher says that not only farmers on boards, like a Farm Bureau Board, should know county officials, but anyone concerned about the future of agriculture should take the time to know who does what in their county. Meet the people that make decisions that affect you, he adds.
"If you don't know them well enough that if you pass them on the street, you will speak and talk to each other, then you need to start establishing relationships with them now," Slipher concludes. "It could be very important for the future of agriculture in your community."