This week Ohio Farm Bureau Federation hosted staff members from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan Farm Bureaus for the annual American Farm Bureau Federation Midwest Commodity Conference. These state Farm Bureau staff members, who have responsibilities involving agricultural commodities, came together in Columbus to share experiences and expertise.
Diversity of Ohio farms
The conference started Tuesday with a day full of farm tours that showcased the diversity of Ohio agriculture. At Sippel Family Farm the group learned about a unique creamery that produces artisan sheep’s milk cheese. They then traveled to Owl Creek Produce auction, which has opened up new marketing channels for local small-scale farmers. The trip concluded at Trillium Farms, a large scale egg farm and packaging facility.
Value of sharing
“(This conference) is a good way to bring commodity folks from the Midwest states together to be able to share what is happening in their states, what might be working for them and see if it could be used elsewhere,” said Mary Kay Thatcher, AFBF senior director of congressional relations. “It is also a good way to share information about the way different commodity divisions in different states work. For example I don’t think we have another state that has an energy guy like (OFBF’s) Dale Arnold.”
On Wednesday, much of the conference involved discussion among attendees on issues of importance in the agriculture industry.
For example, former Executive Director of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board Mike Bailey gave the attendees and overview and update on the Livestock Care Standards Board. This was followed up with OFBF Vice President of the Center for Food and Animal Issues Mike Bumgarner asking the group how the Board is viewed by their states and members and what their states are doing in regard to livestock care issues.
Other topics discussed during the conference included grain markets, farm bill, Ohio agriculture, energy issues and crop insurance. Attendees also heard a presentation from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a sponsor of the conference, about the next generation of soybean varieties
“Another thing that happens at these conferences is you get to know people at the ball games or dinner in the evenings, and if you have an issue come up later on, you are more comfortable picking up the phone to call someone from another state for advice,” Thatcher said.
The conference finished up Thursday with further discussion on how state Farm Bureaus are engaging members in agricultural advocacy efforts and Farm Bureau’s grassroots policy development process, strengthening relationships with related organizations, and developing stronger relationships in agriculture on a global scale.
Bumgarner outlined the activities of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), and its conversational approach to agricultural advocacy. He said the organization is putting together useful research and engagement opportunities state Farm Bureaus and Farm Bureau members could benefit from.
“If USFRA disappeared tomorrow, we would still be integrating what we have learned from it into our operations and efforts in our organization,” he said.
Meeting attendees also discussed the importance of developing young leaders for productive and enhanced future engagement in policy development, and ways to enhance future commodity meetings.
Visit Trillium Farms’ website