DOVER, Ohio – Ohio Farm Bureau’s Director of Local Affairs Larry Gearhardt warmed up the crowd with a series of humorous slides illustrating “why isn’t Larry’s farm profitable.” But he was all business when he shared issues updates with the Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau members during their annual meeting Aug. 27.
His comments on biofuels, eminent domain reform and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District embodied why Farm Bureau members say they continue to pay their dues: Someone is looking out for their best interests.
Gearhardt called the first six months of the current legislative session “extremely gratifying,” and ticked through reasons why: approval of new alternative fuels infrastructure grants and a school bus biodiesel grant program; introduction of S.B. 7, which reforms the state’s eminent domain law; and the likelihood of a new fence line law introduced this fall.
Local policies. Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau members raised their own concerns by approving suggestions for new local, state and national policies.
The members encouraged better wildlife control practices and also voiced support of the county commissioners in their landfill management efforts.
Key in the county’s proposed state policies is the development of a governance program for all conservancy districts that allows greater accountability. The Tuscarawas County members also approved a lengthy proposal regarding Ohio State University Extension, and encouraged the university to rethink its master’s degree-only standard for county educators.
State board members Kim Davis and Gale Betterly also briefed members on hot issues, including animal welfare and goals for the state Farm Bureau.
Awards. Local volunteer-leaders received Standards of Achievement, or Star, awards from the state Farm Bureau. The awards recognize the top programs on the county levels.
This year, Tuscarawas County received 10 out of a possible 10 awards. Committee leaders honored included:
John Feller, government affairs chairman; Jaynie Norman and Rita Lahmers, promotion and education; Bill Hawthorne, safety; Dan Evans, information; Mary Jane John, membership; Michelle and Jeremy Evans, youth council; Mike Yoder, advisory councils and young farmers; Greg Hoffman, agriculture ecology; Jim Rowe, policy development; and Hallie Hawthorne, Nationwide sponsorship.
Steve Cronebaugh and his wife, Sarah, received the county’s Outstanding Young Farmer Award. He farms in partnership with his father, Howard, and brother, Jeff, near Stonecreek.
In addition to his work with the crops and 90-head dairy herd, Cronebaugh manages a custom silage bagging business that started in 2004. He is also a licensed auctioneer and Realtor, and serves on the county agricultural society (fair board).
As the county winner, Cronebaugh is eligible to compete in the next level, leading to recognition as the state Outstanding Young Farmer.
Teachers, youth thanked. Two area teachers received the group’s Agriculture Educator Awards.
Trisha Rhodes, a teacher at Central Elementary in the New Philadelphia School District, and Erin Lyons, Rush Christian School, were honored for their use of agriculture projects in their curriculum. Both received a $250 award and a plaque.
Sisters Nicole and Courtney Snyder, students at Garaway High School, received the group’s Outstanding Youth Awards. Their younger sister, Mallory, was also recognized for her participation in the Bootscooters Farm Bureau Youth Council.
New format. In the new Farm Bureau county-level leadership structure, Matt Durbin will be the communication action leader; Don Hoffman, organization; and Jim Rowe, public policy. Other key volunteer team members include: Michelle and Jeremy Evans, Bill and Hallie Hawthorne, Greg Hoffman, Mary Jane John, Mike Yoder, Chris Zoller, John Feller and Rita Lahmers.
Members elected Thad Gerber, Steve Quillin and Scott Grove to the county board of trustees and re-elected Matt Durbin and Don Hoffman.
Durbin, Jim Rowe, Chris Zoller, Steve Specht and Matt Miller were elected delegates to the 2008 state annual meeting.
(Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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