CINCINNATI, Ohio (OFBF)—Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) delegates got to work on Thursday, discussing, debating and working on setting policies that will guide the organization in 2010. But as they looked forward, they also took some time to assess current situations and honor past achievements.
Much conversation at the organization’s Kick-Off Lunch centered around the November passage of State Issue 2, which creates the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. The board will be charged with making decisions affecting how livestock and poultry in the state are raised.
OFBF President Brent Porteus said it was “incredible to see, first-hand, the unbelievable amount of good work being done by volunteers in the counties.” He said the unity of Ohio agriculture is unique, but at some point that resolve will be tested.
That day seems to be coming soon, according to Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jack Fisher. Shortly after the passage of Issue 2 in November, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that it was putting the state square in its sights for a ballot initiative on livestock care in 2010.
“Don’t underestimate what you’ve accomplished (with Issue 2),” he told the farmers during the Kick-Off Lunch. “But also don’t underestimate the work that lies ahead. We are staring down the barrel of HSUS,” Fisher told Farm Bureau delegates. “They are about to unleash an arsenal aimed at undoing what you did with Issue 2.”
Both Porteus and Fisher stressed the importance in connecting with consumers.
“The world in which you and I farm has changed,” said Porteus. “What you and I do is no longer about food.” He said farming is now considered an environmental cause, societal justice cause, economic, political, health and religious cause. “It’s also a human rights cause and an animal rights cause,” he said.
They also stated that Ohio Farm Bureau is ready.
“Ohio Farm Bureau has always been a leader and we’re not stopping now,” Porteus asserted. “Without a doubt, we’re positioned to lead.”
“Partnerships between farmers and consumers can be strained, but cannot be broken,” Fisher added.
“We purchase our food based upon sound science,” Mike Townsley, president of Bob Evan’s Farms Food Product Division told the annual meeting audience during Thursday morning’s Omelet Breakfast, adding that the Ohio-based company was a big supporter of Issue 2.
Townsley gave Ohio farmers a look into current consumer trends and food issues. He said consumers these days are more conscious of their food purchasing decision than ever before, both in a health sense and financially. He also said they are much more informed and prepared when going to the grocery store, noting that they “know how and where to find the best deals.”
Some upcoming issues with which Townsley said the food business will encounter include nutritional concerns, childhood obesity and the continued growth of the natural and organic food markets.
Steve Rasmussen, CEO of Nationwide Insurance also spoke to Farm Bureau delegates at the Kick-Off Lunch. He told them Ohio Farm Bureau is not only the company’s largest customer, but also its most important.
“Agriculture is a dynamic business,” he said, “and Farm Bureau has played a key role in helping us understand the changing needs of agribusiness customers that we serve.”
Harvest Banquet and Awards
The annual meeting continues Thursday evening with the annual Harvest Banquet, where multiple awards will be presented in the Young Agricultural Professionals contests and more.
On Friday morning, elections will be held for seats on the OFBF Board of Trustees, and delegates will finalize the organization’s policies for 2010.