RAVENNA, Ohio – Bill Kibler wouldn’t think of missing a Portage County Farm Bureau annual meeting, even on the night of history’s worst terrorist attack on the United States.
After all, Farm Bureau claims an important part of Kibler’s life.
He is past president of the Portage County chapter, and has served as a state trustee for the farm organization for the past nine years.
But when Bill and Donna Kibler sat themselves down among old friends for the Aug. 11 annual dinner meeting, did they notice that the table they were directed to was half empty, and that a big “Reserved 13″ sign guarded the vacant seats?
Did they know their family was gathering outside the building waiting for the surprise to be sprung before they came on in to occupy the table?
Kibler received this year’s Portage County Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award, and his family wanted to be there to share the evening with him and to help honor him.
Retiring president Gordon Weber made note of the solemnity of the evening in light of the day’s events, but said he felt that “on a day like this, we are exactly where we should be,” sharing the day with others.
When past Distinguished Service Award winner Dan Kamburoff got up to introduce Kibler, he related that the selection group – the last three winners of the award – realized Kibler was the obvious choice as soon as his name was suggested.
Bona fide farmer. Kibler, a Portage County native, grew up on a Rootstown farm. He has worked on his own 300-acre farm near Edinburg for 38 years. He and his son, Doug, farm 700 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay, and raise Hereford cattle.
Kibler has been Farm Bureau member since 1974, serving on the county board for 15 years, and as president from 1978 through 1984.
He was recently recognized by the state board for 25 years of continuous service to the state and county Farm Bureaus.
He is also a member of the Farm Service Agency committee, and previously served on the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Federal Land Bank boards. He was an Edinburg Township trustee for 16 years.
And he also was a rural mail carrier, retiring after 26 years of service.
Star Awards. Star Awards for achievement were presented for each of the eight committees.
Recognized were Linda Neiss, advisory council; Eleanor McConnell, information; Bill Wallbrown, marketing, Peg Royer and Fred Aherns, membership; Fred Aherns, governmental affairs; Jim Donovan and Ron Dubinsky, safety; Debi Heppe, youth; and Ray and Helen Gless, promotion and education.
The county also received a Superstar Award for membership. The Portage County Farm Bureau had a membership gain in 2000 of 167 new members, bringing total membership to 2,294.
Fred Aherns, who was installed as the new county president, was also elected as a trustee. Others elected were Wayne Bilty, Gail Boldizsar, Ken Royer, Jane Wallbrown, and Gordon Weber.
Local policies. Local policies adopted were to support farmland preservation, to encourage education of local politicians on farm issues, to support strict enforcement of trespassing laws and off-highway recreational vehicle laws, to support bottle refunds to encourage the incentive to recycle, and to recommend that lines fences conform to Ohio law.
Trespassing laws, farmland preservation and fence line laws are also proposed state policies. In the national policy arena, members supported the reduction of the death tax for family farms, transferring environmental farming regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency to the USDA, and more funding for agricultural issues.
Slow moving. On the issue of farmland preservation, President Gordon Weber said that although some policy steps have begun, “it is so slow you don’t even see it moving. If we wait too long, it may be too late.”
He said at the present rate of loss, by 2040 there won’t be any farmland left in Portage County.
Among the proposed national policies approved was one supporting the idea that USDA should adopt a more appropriate voice – i.e., more direct – in agriculture regulations. And another to favor the increase in farm prices to balance the production cost.
New committees established for next year in Portage County include agricultural ecology coordinator and policy development coordinator.
(You can contact Jackie Cummins at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)