(Scroll down for a slide show of various scenes from the 2018 Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting.)
COLUMBUS — The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation kicked off its centennial celebration during the 2018 annual meeting, Dec. 6-7 at the Columbus Convention Center.
The Ohio Farm Bureau was founded Jan. 27, 1919, during Farmers’ Week, a conference held on the campus of Ohio State University. Many county Farm Bureaus were formed prior to the state federation’s creation.
The year-long commemoration includes a new logo, a book tracing the organization’s history, promotional clothing and gift items with the new logo, and special events.
More than 340 voting delegates were present on opening day.
“The fact that we’re here, celebrating 100 years, is a really big deal, and you are a part of that,” OFBF President Frank Burkett told the delegates and members during his address.
“Farm Bureau’s success is because of our people.”
During his address, Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Adam Sharp rattled off a list of the farm group’s accomplishments over the past 100 years including:
- Creation of its own auto insurance company in 1926, which ultimately grew into insurance giant Nationwide;
- Creating the farm bureau ag credit cooperative board in 1931;
- Starting a rural electrification cooperative, 1935;
- Founding WRFD radio to spread news and farm messages, 1947;
- Pushing the constitutional amendment creating Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) in 1973;
- Pushing the authorizing legislation for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, 2009.
- Eliminated the Ohio estate tax, 2013.
Sharp also praised members’ and partners’ recent efforts in water quality issues, saying it “is an absolutely critical issue to our state and to our industry.”
“I think we made it abundantly clear that public policy in the state of Ohio will absolutely not be enacted without the input of Ohio agriculture.”
Sharp, who was named executive vice president in May 2016, has crisscrossed the state since then, meeting local members. Those conversations, he said, reaffirmed the organization’s priority issues: advocacy, communication, membership, strategic partnerships, financial strength and organizational excellence.
One hundred years from now, he added, when the Ohio Farm Bureau is looking back at its second 100 years, “they’ll say we honored our traditions, we prepared for the future, and they will say our organization adapted to the world around us.
“And they will also say, we never abandoned our principles.”
Two longtime volunteers were honored with the organization’s Distinguished Service Awards: Dennis Heyob, Hamilton County, and Charles Lausin, Geauga County.
Chuck Lausin was a longtime dairy farmer and maple syrup producer and held many leadership roles with dairy organizations including Milk Marketing, Inc. (now Dairy Farmers of America), Ohio Dairy Farmers Federation, OSU Dairy Science advisory groups and the American Farm Bureau dairy committee.
Within Farm Bureau, Lausin served as Geauga County Farm Bureau president and was on the state Farm Bureau board for 10 years. He served as a township trustee and planning commission member, and was also a member of the Ohio Public Works Commission and served on the Ohio State University Extension state Extension advisory committee. He served on the county Soil and Water Conservation District board, the Geauga Landmark board and was active with the local maple festival.
Heyob is a lifelong farmer and Farm Bureau volunteer who served as county Farm Bureau president in four different decades. He provided leadership for many Hamilton County events including the Farm to Family project that provided fresh produce and education on healthy eating to underserved urban families.
A frequent spokesperson for agriculture with local media, he coordinated farm tours for nonfarmers and headed the county Farm Bureau’s work to wholly fund the $80,000 4-H Community Fair Show Pavilion at Stricker’s Grove.
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The late Alfred DiVencenzo was received the Cooperative/Agriculture Educator Award, and James Bachmann received the Ezra C. Anstaett Heritage Award.
DiVencenzo was a 23-year Farm Bureau volunteer, who died unexpectedly in July. He served as president of Lorain County Farm Bureau, and as state trustee, representing members from Cuyahoga, Erie, Huron and Lorain counties. He served as vice president of the Ohio Christmas Tree Association and led its Ohio State Fair exhibit.
DiVencenzo spent 30 years in public education, and his work often blended his personal agricultural interests.
Bachmann is a longtime business and community leader and served on the Nationwide board of directors from 2003 to 2018. He retired as managing partner for Ernst & Young’s Columbus location in 2003.
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Young ag professionals
Prior to the official start of the policy development session, members honored 2018 Discussion Meet winner Annie Specht, of Columbus, who won the competition in February.
The Excellence in Agriculture Award, announced earlier this fall, went to Adam and Jess Campbell, of Waynesville.
The Campbells run Carroll Creek Farms, a livestock farm that sells directly to consumers, and Jess is also assistant vice president of agribusiness at Farm Credit Mid-America.
Also announced earlier this fall, but honored during the annual meeting, were the winners of the Outstanding Young Farmer award, Brandi and Nick Anderson, of Mechanicsburg. The Champaign County Farm Bureau members raise cattle and sell the meat at farmers markets under the Women That Farm name. Nick is farm manager of Van Raay Dairy.
The top five counties earning achievement awards in the four membership size divisions include:
- Division I: Paulding, Fayette, Lawrence, Morgan and Van Wert counties;
- Division II: Mercer, Carroll, Scioto, Putnam and Coshocton counties;
- Division III: Greene, Ross, Hancock, Columbiana and Clark counties;
- Division IV: Wood, Wayne, Licking, Montgomery, Lorain and Lake counties (a tie awarded the top six counties).
Collaboration awards, which recognized county Farm Bureaus who teamed up with each other to conduct programming, went to Seneca and Sandusky counties; Butler, Hamilton, Preble and Montgomery counties; and Ashland, Holmes, Medina and Wayne counties.
Earlier in the year, eight counties or county groups were recognized for programming by the American Farm Bureau Federation: Belmont; Butler/Hamilton/Montgomery/Preble; Fayette; Jefferson; Lucas; Noble; Pike; and Wood counties.
Eighty-seven members qualified for the Ambassadors Club by signing 10 or more new or sign-back members.
Eight members earned the Murray Lincoln Award, for signing at least 50 new or “win back” members: Susan Shoup, John Fitzpatrick, both of Wayne County; Becky Vincent, Stark County; Carman Mengon, Belmont County; Ervin Raber, Holmes County; Julie Tripp, Jackson-Vinton County; Anthony Boothe, Medina County; and Clarita Myers, Lucas County.
OFBF officers re-elected
Frank Burkett III of Massillon was re-elected president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, and was also re-elected District 9 trustee, representing members from Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage and Stark counties. This will be his third full term as president.
James W. (Bill) Patterson of Chesterland was re-elected first vice president, and was also re-elected to serve as the District 4 trustee representing Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties.
Cy Prettyman of New Bloomington was re-elected Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s treasurer, and also was re-elected to represent members in his district, which includes Crawford, Marion, Morrow and Richland counties.
State trustees re-elected to the board include: Karin Bright of Athens, representing Athens, Gallia, Lawrence and Meigs counties; Wyatt Bates, of Wheelersburg, representing Jackson, Pike, Scioto and Vinton counties; Michael Boyert, of Seville, representing 20 northeastern Ohio counties; and Matt Bell, of Zanesville, representing Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Perry counties.
Wade Smith, of Whitehouse, was elected District 2 trustee, representing Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky and Wood counties. Previously he was the organization’s Northwest regional trustee.
Joining the board will be newly elected Northwest Regional Trustee Rose Hartschuh of Sycamore, Crawford County; and Jesse Whinnery, of Coshocton, representing Coshocton, Holmes, Knox and Licking counties.
Following a preliminary competition at the annual meeting, four finalists were named to compete in the 2019 Discussion Meet: Gregory Corcoran of Chillicothe, Andrew “Dewey” Mann of Ashville, Micaela Wright of Arcanum and Victoria Popp of Cincinnati.
The finals will be held at the Young Agricultural Professionals’ Leadership Experience at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus Feb. 1 and 2.
At the close of the annual meeting, and during the busy Friday end of the workday, Nationwide projected a video on its outdoor digital billboard, saluting the 100th anniversary of the Ohio Farm Bureau, which founded the insurance company back in 1926.
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