Dear Miami County Farm Bureau Member,
We first want to thank you for being a member of our organization. Whether you have hundreds of acres or one, farm full-time or not at all, Miami County Farm Bureau, Ohio Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation have been working very diligently to promote and keep agriculture the largest industry in Ohio and one of the largest industries in the United States. No matter if you are a foodie or what type of food you enjoy and have access to, Farm Bureau has been at the forefront of protecting all of us in the food chain.
Recently, we have communicated to you some changes. Over the past two years, Ohio Farm Bureau has been studying a new membership model and membership dues increase. This will be voted on Dec. 11th by the county Farm Bureau delegates at the Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting.
In anticipation of this increase, over a third of the counties in the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation have already passed resolutions at the county level to increase their dues and Miami County is one of these counties. Miami County Farm Bureau member dues will be $80, effective Dec. 1, 2014. This resolution was voted on by our members at the Miami County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting at the All Ag Banquet in August.
There has not been a statewide dues increase since 2005 and like any other business, over time the cost of doing business increases. Unfortunately, since 2009, we have seen a loss of over 30,000 memberships statewide, a reduction in Farm Bureau staff statewide, and a number of field staff and local county office staff responsible for larger territories.
Fortunately, over the last several years, Miami County Farm Bureau has taken several cost-saving, significant, positive strides in managing member dollars for local programming and general operating expenses. Examples of these positive measures include:
1. Operating within the set program budget
2. Creating a multi-county Farm Bureau office by combining with Champaign, Clark and Darke sharing office expenses.
3. Use of electronic communication tools to offset traditional mailing expenses
4. Targeting specific groups and specific programming to promote Ohio farmers and Ohio agriculture and
5. Pursuing collaborative programming opportunities with other agriculture and non-agriculture organizations, thus sharing costs and increasing promotion of programs.
In these last several years, Miami County Farm Bureau has provided some valuable programming such as:
Landowner and business meetings: We have served and educated several hundred folks by hosting informational meetings to help landowners gain a better understanding of oil and gas leasing options and providing an annual Workers Compensation Safety Meeting to meet safety requirements for member businesses.
Agriculture promotion and education:
· Participation and/or sponsorship at Miami County Fair
· Collaboration with local farmers markets, supporting local farms providing local, fresh product to consumers
· Hosting Movie On The Farm where consumers could learn more about agriculture.
· Supporting the Miami County Park District Fall Farm Festival.
· Implementing the Bushels For Hunger program that has raised over $30,000 for local food banks.
· Providing agricultural education materials to area schools for classroom use.
Leadership Opportunities, Camps, Conferences and Scholarships: Training opportunities to advance personal and leadership growth is made available to all Farm Bureau members. For young peoploe, we encourage participation in the FFA/Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Camp, and Young Agriculture Professionals are invited to participate in a trip to Washington, D.C. providing future leaders a chance to network, learn, grow and bring their experiences to their communities.
The number of questions about land prices, oil and gas, water quality and nutrient management, food safety and integrity, zoning, certifications and inspections of farms, public utilities across Ohio, government programs available to beginning farmers, and consumer awareness never ends. Farm Bureau staff does everything it can to address these issues and concerns in Washington, D.C., Columbus and here in the county. These concerns are addressed through calls to our legislators that may change how we grow and purchase food, through a variety of webinars and in-person seminars, through our publications, Web and social media updates, and the most fun of all, through county volunteer-led programs and opportunities that have been mentioned.
Personally, the value of this membership goes beyond words. We hope you will see the value and use the tangible and intangible benefits offered to every Farm Bureau member. We look forward to seeing your renewal and we can’t tell you how much we appreciate your membership over the past years.
Sincerely, Bill Wilkins, County Farm Bureau President