The opportunity to participate in the discussions that shape agriculture is the No. 1 benefit of membership in Ohio Farm Bureau, according to Executive Vice President Jack Fisher.
“Your Farm Bureau dues payment is the price of admission to an organization with incredible resources, a programming structure that allows you to get things done, expert staff to advise and consult, the clout that comes with the Farm Bureau name. That’s the biggest benefit of membership, and one we should never forget,” he told farmers at Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting.
That’s even more important now as food and food production are at the top of the minds of consumers, activists, the media and politicians who all are weighing in on how farmers conduct business.
“In some cases, other farmers are too,” Fisher said. “Farming is under a spotlight, and as you know, where there’s light, there’s heat.”
Fisher said Farm Bureau’s job is to manage the heat.
“In my lifetime, I’ve met very few farmers who crave the spotlight,” he said. “To the contrary most farmers would preferto stay well under the radar.”
OFBF President Brent Porteus said the list of social, environmental and economic ills laid at the feet of farmers is a long one.
“And we shouldn’t be surprised. America has moved well beyond the days when kids visited their grandpa’s farm,” he said. “Most people across our country don’t have the first idea of what we do. More importantly, they have never been exposed to who we are.”
While farmers want their profession viewed favorably, Fisher said they’re rarely looking for individual attention.
“The attention has come, whether you want it or not,” he said. “So the question is how do you handle it?”Farm Bureau can organize the conversation about food production, he said.
“The hard part is getting your buy-in, getting you, as farmers, to change what’s been the farmer’s nature for generations: to welcome, or at least tolerate the spotlight, to become comfortable talking about what you do and becoming comfortable listening to the people who buy and who vote.”
Porteus said the ability of Farm Bureau to draw all farmers together to find common ground is more important than ever.
“With so many questions, accusations and misperceptions out there about what you and I do for a living, agriculture cannot afford anything short of a unified front,” he said.