SAN ANTONIO — The phrase “Forward Farm Bureau,” uttered by Ohioan Oscar Bradfute while serving as American Farm Bureau Federation’s second president in the 1920s, was a rallying cry heard across the land as the bureau struggled against the headwinds of a farm depression and later the Great Depression.
Bradfute’s phrase was echoed numerous times as the theme of the bureau’s 90th annual meeting.
He would have been proud to see the accomplishments of his home state as Ohio Farm Bureau Federation was once again recognized as one of the top state farm bureaus in the nation.
For the third year in a row, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation earned the distinction of achieving the most President’s Awards (four out of a possible five) of any other state in the nation — twice as many as its nearest competitors.
The organization also received the Award for Excellence in all five program areas — agriculture education and promotion; leadership development; member services; policy implementation and public relations and information.
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation will also bring home a new award this year, the Pinnacle Award.
This award is given for overall outstanding program achievement combined with membership growth, and is only awarded to the best of the best in each of American Farm Bureau Federation’s five membership categories.
Forty-one years of consecutive membership growth, totaling 234,061 member families in Ohio, also earned the organization praise.
Ohio’s representatives in American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer and Rancher contests brought their dreams of bringing home a top prize in their respective areas to San Antonio as well.
Harrison County’s Wendy Chrisman participated in the Discussion Meet. Chrisman was announced as a Sweet 16 participant in the contest after competing in two preliminary rounds consisting of representatives throughout the entire nation.
Of her experience, she said although the sizes and specific issues may be different, the farm bureaus throughout the nation share the same interests and mission to work together to develop leaders and promote agriculture.
Katy Endsley of Pickerington and Autumn and Robert Morrison of Bloomingdale also represented Ohio in the Excellence in Agriculture and Outstanding Young Farmer competitions, respectively.
Shelby and Tuscarawas County Farm Bureaus were two of 15 county farm bureaus from across the nation recognized for innovative new program ideas in this year’s County Activities of Excellence program.
Each manned a display promoting its outstanding program on the meeting’s showcase floor.
Shelby County was recognized for its “Images from the Land, a Concert” event which featured photos of local farm families doing day-to-day activities.
The photos were set to music for a concert with the audience able to follow the seasons of agriculture through photos and music.
Tuscarawas County was recognized for its “Animal Agriculture 101: An introduction to Livestock Production and Care” event.
The two-day seminar provided instruction for county animal control officers on identification of livestock, basic body condition, feeding, shelter, animal behavior and handling, biosecurity, proper removal and disposal and other issues.
Touching upon the theme of forwarding farm bureau, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman opened the meeting saying farm bureau members are eager to work with the new Congress and President-elect Barack Obama’s administration on the current issues facing the U.S.
“We, the farmers and ranchers of farm bureau, are ready to roll up our sleeves and move forward,” Stallman said in a direct message issued to the incoming U.S. president.
“We feed the nation, and no matter which national priority — the economy, energy, immigration, trade, environment — that you choose to pursue, we are ready to hit the ground running.”
Stallman touched upon a number of issues the bureau will work on in 2009 including immigration reform for agriculture, global trade negotiations, new rules dealing with manure management on concentrated animal feeding operations, climate change legislation and a comprehensive energy plan that puts farmers in position to play a pivotal role in the nation’s renewable energy future.