Ohio Farm Bureau earns AFBF award

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RENO, Nev. – The Ohio Farm Bureau was one of nine state Farm Bureaus receiving Gold Star awards at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in Reno, Jan. 6-9.

Farm Bureaus from Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas each earned the maximum 12 gold stars, which recognize superior work in the organization’s 12 program categories.

In addition to gold stars, Ohio Farm Bureau earned the President’s Award for overall program and membership achievement. The category winners included: Maine, under 7,500 members; Montana, 7,500-20,000 members; New York, 20,000-55,000 members; Missouri, 55,000-150,000, Ohio, 150,000-275,000 members; and Tennessee, over 275,000 members.

This was the third consecutive year and ninth out of the last 11 years for Ohio Farm Bureau to earn the President’s Award.

Pa. earns 10 stars. Capturing 11 gold stars in the competition was North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation. Six state Farm Bureaus – Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Montana, New York and Pennsylvania – each earned 10 gold stars.

Ohio Farm Bureau was also honored for making the most presentations of any state in the new Breakthroughs in Biotechnology program.

National leader. Ohio Farm Bureau Federation president Terry McClure was elected to the board of directors of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

McClure, of Grover Hill (Paulding County), is the first Ohioan elected to the AFBF board since Dave Miller of Newark in 1985.

During his two-year term, McClure will represent the Midwest region, which includes 12 states. He will continue his duties as president of the state farm group.

Also elected were state Farm Bureau presidents Barry Bushue of Oregon and Don Villwock of Indiana.

National winner. Dustin Sonnenberg of Hamler (Henry County) became the first Ohioan to win the national discussion meet. The meet simulates a committee meeting where active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.

Sonnenberg, who farms and is a vo-ag teacher at Patrick Henry High School, won a fully loaded 2002 Dodge Ram 2500 Quad Cab 4×4 pickup truck with a Magnum V10 engine and free registration fees.

Joey and Denise Olivier of Louisiana received the Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award.

In addition to the competitive events, Kerry Gibson of Utah was announced as chairman of the Young Farmer and Rancher Committee for a one-year term, succeeding Gary Baldosser of Ohio. Baldosser, of Republic (Seneca County), presented an address during the annual meeting and is completing a one-year appointment to the board as committee chairman.

Portage County Farm Bureau member Aaron Harnar of Paris Township was one of only 15 farmers chosen to exhibit in the Farmer Idea Exchange, in which participants showcase their innovative ideas or inventions designed to improve farmer income. (see related story “Biodiesel discovery fuels dream”)

“Ohio goes into every AFBF convention expecting to win our share of the awards, but this year may just top them all,” said Jack Fisher, Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president.

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