Ohio Farm Bureau: We need our nonfarm members

COLUMBUS — Ohio Farm Bureau members heard the message loud and clear, because it came from both CEO Jack Fisher and Ohio Farm Bureau President Steve Hirsch: We need associate members, we have to give them more value, we have to do more to connect with them.

Both spoke Nov. 29 at the Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting in Columbus.

“You are the minority in your organization,” Hirsch told the active farmer-members.

Of the farm group’s 214,000 members, fewer than three out of 10 are active, or farm, members. And three-fourths of the membership revenue comes from associate, or non-farm members.

OFBF President Steve Hirsch.

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation CEO Jack Fisher

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation CEO Jack Fisher, speaking at the OFBF annual meeting Nov. 29.


Hirsch said some would say that’s a problem, but he chooses to see it as an opportunity.

“Our associate members may not farm, but they buy and they vote,” he said. “And because they’re Farm Bureau members, we have a unique opportunity to interact with them.”

And what that means, Hirsch said, is we have to give them something more than discount tickets to Kings Island.

While the governance of the farm organization will always rest with active members, the Farm Bureau wants to reach out to engage more of its nonfarm, associate members.

“Today, you need to earn public permission to farm,” said Fisher. “Consumers are changing; they’re thinking differently about what you do and how you do it.”

“Their relationship with us is changing.”

Consumers have questions, Fisher said, that need answers. Farm Bureau needs to reach out, engage and have a dialogue, to listen to the other person and find out where they’re coming from, then figure out a new way to communicate.

He pointed to the long-standing advisory councils that involve farm members, and said perhaps there’s a new way of re-creating them as “community councils.”

Instead of the farm-based councils, Fisher suggested Farm Bureau explore connections from nonfarm residents, and engage new circles of people who work together to enhance the quality of life where you live, and ultimately “get permission from your neighbors, your community, to farm.”

“Working together works,” Fisher said, adding for Farm Bureau to be successful, it needs to build a community of promoters.

The future in this dialogue with consumers is going to be a lot more why you farm, not how you do it.

About the Author

Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell has been with the paper since 1985, serving as its editor since 1989. Raised on a farm in Holmes County, she is a graduate of Kent State University. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scrowell and follow Farm and Dairy at http://twitter.com/farmanddairy. You can also find her on Google+ and Facebook. More Stories by Susan Crowell

3 Comments

  1. Fern Zaugg says:

    Why should anyone join the Ohio Farm Buearu. They sold out to the animal rights groups, main one is HSUS. They went against their own rules and testified against animal owners, not just “wild dangerous” animals all animals. HSUS puts less than 1% of what they take in to truly help animals. Most of the millions are linning their bank accounts, so how much are they linning your pockets for? So again I ask why join the OFB?

  2. FED-UP &PO'd farmer says:

    What a sickening joke….Ohio FB already sold us true farmers out, backstabbed us, then crapped on us when they let their trashy animal rights “associate” members such as HSUS have a say in our private personal businesses. Many of us have become so digusted with them we actively encourage people NOT to join them…guess they are joining ranks with all the other ANTI-farmer trash they can get to join to further their ANTI-farmer regulations. They need to change their name to a more appropriate truthful one…they are the Ohio ANTI-Farm Bureau…

  3. Proud Farm Bureau Member says:

    I’m a dairy farmer and Ohio Farm Bureau member. I value being involved in Farm Bureau and believe the organization represents farmers and rural interests well. I don’t agree with every policy or decision OFBF makes, but I believe in their overall mission of forging a partnership between farmers and consumers. The only way to change policy or have your opinion heard is by being involved. Farm Bureau will continue to be one of the main voices for the agriculture community when it comes to state policy, so the best way to make a difference is to be involved.

Leave a Comment

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.

eNewsletter

Get our Top Stories in Your Inbox

Services

Recent News