CANFIELD, Ohio — Mahoning County Farm Bureau members were challenged to stay involved in key ag issues, and to reach down and lend a hand to younger members of the ag community. The farm group held its annual meeting Oct. 4 at Al A Cart Catering in Canfield.
In her remarks, Mahoning County Farm Bureau President Barbara Biery encouraged members to find ways to speak to others about their farms and agricultural issues.
“It has been difficult for us to be passionate,” said Biery, “but this is our vocation, not just our job.”
Last year, the Mahoning Farm Bureau had 4,711 members, of which 860 were active farmer members.
Like the state and other county Farm Bureaus, Mahoning County is working to build programs and encourage involvement by young adults, specifically through the Young Agricultural Professionals program. The county is offering membership at $25 for young adults, age 18-24, and encouraged members to underwrite those dues for someone they know, or make a blanket dues donation so the office can select someone.
State trustee Mike Boyert, of Medina County, applauded the county for that effort, likening the aging of agriculture with his church. “There’s a lot of gray hair in that congregation.”
When the state board visited the Iowa Farm Bureau board this summer, Boyert learned the state has lowered its average farmer age from 59 to 53.
“That’s what we need to be looking at here in Ohio,” he told the Mahoning County members.
Ohio Farm Bureau President Frank Burkett III also spoke to the group about his whirlwind year, which included his succession to the president’s post, and chairing the search committee for the state farm group’s new executive director, Adam Sharp.
“Columbus has certainly become my second home,” said the Stark County dairyman.
He also thanked the local members for the foundation they provide the state group.
“I’ve always known the respect your organization has carried,” Burkett said, “but that respect is there because of the work everyone of you do.”
During the meeting, the local farm group presented scholarships to Sarah Baird, Levi Plocher and Lydia Schlegel.
Baird, the daughter of Matthew and Debra Baird, Green Township, is a freshman at Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. Plocher, son of Todd and Jody Plocher, of Goshen Township, is in his final semester at ATI, with plans to continue his degree in animal science at the main campus. Schlegel is the daughter of Ed and Sarah Schlegel, Green Township, and is a freshman at Youngstown State University.
The county Farm Bureau also presented its Friend of Agriculture award to state Rep. John Boccieri, D-Poland, and state Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, D-33rd.
Sara Greier and Dave Hively were each re-elected to three-year terms on the county Farm Bureau board of trustees. Rick Molnar Jr. was elected to his first term on the board.
Team leaders for 2017 will include: Sara Greier, communications action team; Michael Hammond and Chad Bailey, food and animal issues action team; Jenifer Pemberton, organization action team; and Nancy Kemp, public policy action team.
Members also elected delegates to the 2017 state Farm Bureau annual meeting: Brian Barth, John Biery, David Corll and Nancy Kemp. County presidents also serve as an automatic delegate, so Barbara Biery will also be representing the county.
Members also approved a slate of eight national, 18 state and 21 county policy resolutions that will now be forwarded to the state level for consideration by the state policy development committee. Statewide delegates will set the farm group’s guiding policy during the annual meeting Dec. 1-2.
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