HONOLULU — As American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) kicked off its 93rd annual meeting, Ohio Farm Bureau members received recognition for their previous year of work, and Licking County farmers Matt and Rachel Heimerl advanced to the top 10 in the Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Awards program.
Ohio Farm Bureau received Presidents Award for having the best programming in Agriculture Education and Promotion and Leadership Development. It also received Excellence Awards in those categories as well as for Member Services, Policy Implementation and Public Relations and Information.
Also during the first day of the event, Shelby Brammel of Hardin County competed in the Discussion Meet, which tests participants’ problem solving and group communication skills. Scott and Tracie Isler of Marion County represented Ohio in the Excellence in Agriculture program.
Medina and Darke County Farm Bureaus were also recognized in the County Activities of Excellence program for their innovative local programs that helped promote agriculture in their communities.
AFBF President Bob Stallman addressed farmers, highlighting recent successes of the organization and encouraging members to meet new challenges.
He asked Farm Bureau delegates to give the organization clear direction on the farm bill as they prepare to set the organization’s policy later in the week.
“Have an open and spirited debate, but put this organization on a solid farm bill footing,” he said, adding that the proposal should support farmers and ranchers when they need it most, while recognizing the current fiscal condition of the nation.
Stallman remained critical of what he characterized as over-regulation that puts unrealistic expectations on farmers.
“I am not sure how anyone could cast aspersions on farmers and ranchers for seeking regulatory certainty,” he said.
Also saying Americans are tired of division, Stallman pointed to food as a path for unity.
“Folks, maybe, just maybe, we, as the producers of food in this country, can play a role to help unite instead of divide. It’s about time to put all else aside, and for all of us to stand up as Americans first.”
However, doing so may require a new approach, Stallman said.
“We have been guilty. I have been guilty, too often in the past, of telling consumers what we think they need to hear as opposed to listening and answering their questions, openly and honestly. That is changing,” he said.