The benefits of being a member of the Kane County Farm Bureau

  • The Kane County Farm Bureau, with offices on Randall Road in St. Charles, offers a multitude of benefits to its members -- many of whom are not farmers.

      The Kane County Farm Bureau, with offices on Randall Road in St. Charles, offers a multitude of benefits to its members -- many of whom are not farmers. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Posted1/10/2019 10:56 AM

Any business or organization would love to say it has an excellent mobile app that provides numerous retail discounts for its users; or has a solid network for raising funds and supporting charitable causes; or has been a vital support system for its customers and employees for more than 100 years; and has a visible building location along one of the busiest streets in the city.

I just described the Kane County Farm Bureau at 2N710 Randall Road in St. Charles, a not-for-profit organization initially established to advocate on behalf of farms and farmers. But this organization has morphed into an advocate for unlimited consumer choice in the farming food supply and has a mission to be active and positive for needs in the community.


"For good or ill, when people see Kane County Farm Bureau, three of those four words say 'government' to them," said Steve Arnold, manager of the farm bureau and executive director of its not-for-profit foundation.

The farm bureau remains a membership organization in which nearly every farmer in the county is a member. But it is open to anyone, and includes those who own a Country Financial Insurance policy as members. In fact, the bureau boasts of about 15,000 non-farmer families as members.

"As part of our mission to support farms of all sizes and their production processes, it also is incumbent upon us to be a positive part of the community," Arnold said. "And that is what we have been trying to do, especially for the last 15 years or so."

Such interaction is noticeable when the bureau promotes its annual volunteer event to support the Northern Illinois Food Bank. It is seeking volunteers to help repack food from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the food bank to redistribute to area food pantries.

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The bureau's work with the food bank over the years has resulted "in about 2 million meals served through what the farmers harvest and give to local food pantries," Arnold said.

Another major plus is the bureau conducting a "10,000 gallon challenge" to raise money for the pantries to be able to purchase milk for its patrons.

The farm bureau doesn't operate like a grocery store, but it does offer special products and protein sources each month for its members to purchase. In addition, the St. Charles office has a "country store" where people can buy "a real farm toy," Arnold noted. "It is getting harder and harder to find a real, steel farm toy in any other place."

It's a significant mixed bag for a bureau that has been in existence for 106 years and located along Randall Road for more than 50 years.

For $20 a year, anyone can join the farm bureau and its support for agriculture and charitable projects. Anyone interested in the volunteer project at the food bank or learning more about the bureau can call (630) 584-8660.


Oh yes, about that great mobile app. It's called the Illinois Farm Bureau Benefits app, and Arnold swears by its effectiveness.

"I think we have one of the most unbelievable apps you can put on a phone," he said. "It can tell you where the best discounts are, whether you are on State Street in Geneva, or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills."

The app features more than 302,000 discount providers throughout the country for farm bureau members. It also provides movie time information and theater discounts.

Most importantly, the farm bureau hopes to get more people interested in what it is doing.

"We really believe there is a lot of opportunity in our industry, and it is not restricted to those who were born or raised on a farm," Arnold said.

Making that difference:

You can be part of a service club for many years and notice the difference it can make locally, but you don't always know what type of impact an organization has nationwide.

In celebrating the Tri-Cities Exchange Club's 40th anniversary last weekend in St. Charles, it was good to hear from Exchange National President Scot Warren about that impact of the club's work to prevent child abuse.

Over 40 years, the national organization, through 70 centers nationwide, has helped 800,000 families break the cycle of child abuse, Warren said.

"That means we have helped 1.75 million kids in our work," said Warren, who has followed in the footsteps of his father, the late Harold Warren of St. Charles, in serving as a national president.

Scot, who is a member of the Naperville Exchange Club, also became a member of the Tri-Cities club during the anniversary celebration.

It tastes great:

There would be a certain amount of bias involved in this statement, but only from the standpoint that I live in Geneva and drink its tap water.

In any case, we have always felt Geneva's water is really good. That notion was reinforced again when the Kane County Water Association declared the city to have the best tasting water in a local contest.

This is the third time Geneva has earned this honor, and it does share the title this time with Batavia.

The cities will now compete in the Illinois State Taste Test held in March in Springfield.

Some more restaurants?:

Area residents can expect to soon see the vacant Chevrolet dealership long known as Avenue Motor Sales at McKee Street and Randall Road turned into rubble by a wrecking ball.

It's time, considering this site has been empty since 2011.

Batavia city officials envision a few different developments on the site -- and a couple could be restaurants.

I engaged in that guessing game about five years ago, thinking it could be a perfect spot for a Culver's or Denny's, or maybe a new Mexican restaurant.

We can forget about those, because all three have surfaced in the meantime. Culver's opened a new spot on the west side of St. Charles near the Costco Warehouse, and Denny's took over the empty Honey Jam breakfast spot in Batavia along Randall Road.

A new Burrito Parilla quick-serve restaurant opened in the empty White Castle location near Wilson and Randall in Batavia.

So, those all have to be considered out of the picture. Which leaves me unable to guess at the moment as to what might come into the soon-to-be-empty land at 1998 McKee St.

Maybe we can think a little bigger this time, like a Maggiano's or a Granite City. That way, we don't need to go all the way to Naperville to visit those.

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