Ashtabula County farmer killed in accident, remembered for activism

ROME TWP., Ohio — An Ashtabula County dairy farmer and activist was killed in a tragic farm accident Tuesday afternoon at his farm.

Bryan Wolfe, 55, was mowing hay between 1:30-2 p.m. when he apparently became entrapped inside the haybine, said his wife, Diana Wolfe.

She said her husband had some broken blades on the bine, but would have changed them sometime before he set out.

A passerby found Wolfe at 5 p.m., she said, and called for help, but it was too late.

Wolfe was well known for his work with Pro-Ag, The National Family Farm Coalition, ARMPA, and the Ohio Farmers Union.

Improving the industry

He had lobbied Congress and the dairy industry to correct what he felt were improper milk marketing policies and to strengthen the market for farmers.

“He was committed,” Diana Wolfe said. “He fought tooth and nail to keep dairy farmers alive.”

The family farm consists of 150 or so acres and about 45 Holstein and Guernsey milk cows. Wolfe estimates a couple dozen neighbors have showed up the past couple days, to help with milking and cleaning the barns.

“Everybody knew him and everybody in Washington, D.C. knew him,” she said.

Diana said her husband often described the farm as “a 4-H project that got out of hand,” and “he always said that he would go before his cows.”

Her husband’s biggest accomplishment for the industry, she said, was proving that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was manipulating dairy prices.

Bryan worked especially close with his local Congressman, U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette.

“Bryan was a tireless advocate for dairy farmers on a national level,” LaTourette said in an email to Farm and Dairy. “He was a valued adviser to our office on matters important to all farmers. My deepest sympathy goes out to his wife and family.”

Colleagues react

“All of us that have worked with Bryan for many years are deeply shocked by Bryan’s untimely death,” said Arden Tewksbury, manager of the Progressive Agriculture Organization, in a released statement.

Brenda Cochran, Pro-Ag member, and a strong dairy activist, said, she was in disbelief.

“Bryan was a dear friend of mine,” she said. “All of us will deeply miss him.”

Most recently, Wolfe had been lobbying for better dairy policy in the farm bill.

“It’s up to all of us now to work with Bryan’s associates in Ohio to help fulfill Bryan’s efforts to obtain a dairy bill that would allow dairy farmers to cover their cost of production plus a reasonable profit,” Pro-Ag officials said.

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

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