Q&A: Steven Bunse

Written by Christine Bush
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Steven Bunse, Corporate Resolutions Committee
Bunse Dairy
Cosby, Mo.

Steven Bunse is a fourth-generation dairy farmer operating Bunse Dairy in Cosby, Mo. Steven and his wife, Carole, raised three children on the same dairy his great grandfather started when he immigrated from Germany. The couple milks 40 cows and farms 440 acres, growing hay, corn and beans. The Bunses joined Dairy Farmers of America when it merged with their original cooperative in 1998. Steven and Carole were Young Cooperators, and Steven serves on the Central Area Resolutions Committee and the Corporate Resolutions Committee.

How has the resolutions process changed during your involvement?

Originally there were so many things to work out. We were just starting out, so we spent a lot of time talking about options. We had to look at resolutions in three or four different forms and then decide which is the right form. Over time, a lot of the big issues have been agreed upon, so now we don’t spend as much time discussing those. Today, we are all approaching things from a DFA perspective, not as four different cooperatives. It makes coming to an agreement much easier.

Has the focus of corporate resolutions meetings changed?

Now, we spend more time modifying and updating rather than adding new resolutions. While we don’t have as many old issues to hash out, there are things that keep changing. Legislation and policy issues keep evolving, so you’ve got to look at that and see how it affects us. Some resolutions need to come out because they are no longer relevant, while new issues come up and different organizations keep thinking of new ways to attack dairy, so we’ve got to look at what it takes to meet the constant change.

What is your goal as a corporate resolutions committee member?

I have to think about what’s best for the Cooperative and our members as a whole and what’s going to make the Cooperative right. In an Area, you’re looking at the whole Area and thinking ‘what does this Area need?’ Then, you bring that to corporate, and we have to ask if it fits the big picture or if it is something that needs to be taken care of at the Area level.

What advice do you have for people who want to get involved in the Cooperative?

It’s your cooperative, so you can make out of it what you want. If you don’t get involved, then you have to accept what’s there without complaining. If you really care about it, you need to be involved so that you can have the input to help you and others. It’s hard for an individual to do something. With a cooperative, we have the opportunity, as a group, to do things that we could never get done otherwise. Individually, we can suggest different legislative ideas for dairy, but if we hadn’t come together as a group, we would have not have gotten what we got in the Farm Bill. You need to have the group element to get some things done.

How does being involved help you as a dairy farmer?

Being involved helps you understand the big picture, and you can pick things up from listening to and talking with other people. The communication helps you have a better understanding of what direction you might need to go in. Looking at the big picture helps you make better choices, and it’s important to be involved so you can help improve things.