Lane Osswald, a Preble County Farm Bureau member and State Trustee, shares his views during a recent task force meeting.

Members discuss OFBF’s future

Buckeye Farm News

“Your job is to build a better Farm Bureau at the county, state and national level,” he said.

The task force was created by delegates at last December’s annual meeting. It continues a multi-year effort to shape Farm Bureau’s response to significant trends that could challenge the organization’s influence and effectiveness. Its goal is a membership model that fulfills Farm Bureau’s mission by adapting to changes both internal and external.

OFBF Treasurer and task force Chairman Frank Burkett, III told the group their “opportunity and challenge is to seek solutions that will last a very long time.”

Social factors that will influence Farm Bureau’s viability include generational differences, public scrutiny of food, farming and environmental issues, distrust of government and traditional political parties and the impacts of technology.

Within the overall association world, already apparent trends include declining membership, reduced volunteer time, questions about dues structures, succession planning and the mix of member benefits.

Another factor very important to Ohio Farm Bureau is how our partnership with Nationwide will be affected by changes in the insurance and financial services marketplace. With more than three-quarters of Farm Bureau’s operating revenue linked in different ways to our working relationship with Nationwide, consideration must be given to assuring the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Initial input from the task force members revealed some common beliefs. They said the most valuable aspects of Farm Bureau are public policy advocacy, networking and education and financial savings.

In describing what OFBF must do to remain viable in the future, task force members said the organization must become more inclusive but that farmer control is important. Other ideas were to communicate better with members, be able to explain the value of membership, attract younger members and preserve the strength of the local organization.

Regarding Nationwide, task force members acknowledged the importance of the financial support OFBF receives and considered how to strengthen OFBF’s contributions to the partnership.

The task force has three full days of meetings scheduled in March and is to present a membership model proposal to OFBF’s state trustees in June. Communication with all members will take place throughout the summer. The state code committee will consider the plan in the fall and delegates will act on at the annual meeting in December.

All Farm Bureau members are encouraged to share their thoughts on the organization’s model for membership. Visit with any of the task force members.

Taskforce members:

District County Farm Bureau members

1 Dean Gentner, Fulton

2 Bill Myers, Lucas

3 David Peth, Cuyahoga

4 Eric Cotton, Lake

5 Ryan McClure, Paulding

6 Kerry Oberlitner, Hardin

7 Rose Hartschuh, Crawford

8 Mike Haley, Wayne

9 Phil Greenisen, Columbiana

10 Dennis Howick, Mercer

11 Jody Carney, Madison

12 Gary Mast, Holmes

13 Steve Quillin, Tuscarawas

14 Kyle Smith, Clark

15 Whittney Bowers, Fairfield

16 Joe Smith, Guernsey

17 Andy Barricklow, Belmont

18 Tim Hesselbrock, Butler

19 Craig Cook, Clinton

20 Brett Rogers, Brown

21 Mackenzie Stokien, Pike

22 Karin Bright, Athens

State board members

4 Bill Patterson, Geauga

5 Mike Poling, Van Wert

6 Paul Harrison, Seneca

7 Cy Prettyman, Marion

9 Frank Burkett, III, Stark

11 Katherine Harrison, Franklin

13 Jerry Lahmers, Tuscarawas

15 Steve Hirsch, Ross

18 Lane Osswald, Preble

20 Craig Adams, Highland

21 Tim Williams, Pike

SE Patty DeBruin, Fairfield

Young Ag Professionals:

9 Danielle Burch, Columbiana

10 Aaron Heilers, Shelby


Jeff Zellers, board of directors

Patrick Smith VP, sponsor relations

Ohio Farm Bureau staff:

Leah Curtis, state office

Connie Ward, regional supervisor

At-large stakeholders:

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Ohio Associationof Foodbanks

John Logue, CompManagement, Inc.

The work of the task force is being aided by professional facilitator Annie Gallagher of Gallagher Consulting Group, Inc.