During Ohio Farm Bureau’s 96th annual meeting, Ohio Farm Bureau President Steve Hirsch emphasized the core purpose of the organization won’t change: to help farmers work together to help themselves, to be the single most effective voice for the agricultural community at the county, state and national level and to ensure coming generations have the opportunity to continue that legacy.
As part of recent discussions regarding new member classificaions, water quality concerns and rising taxes, Hirsch said he has seen firsthand the power of Farm Bureau and asked delegates to recall those times they have seen the organization at work.
He related the first time he witnessed Farm Bureau in a powerful way — with the defeat of Issue 5 in 1992, known as the labeling law. He said he knew everything he and his family sold in their farm market in Ross County would have to be labeled and wondered how a law like this could be stopped.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but I became a spokesperson against the issue, giving talks to local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs in Chillicothe and talking to our retail customers about the issue. And because hundreds of other farmers across the state were doing the same things, the initiative was defeated 78 to 22 percent,” he said. “I’m sure you have similar stories. Something Farm Bureau accomplished locally, or at the state level or even at the national level that made farming just a little easier or a bit more profitable or your community a better place to live.
“I learned early in my career that a bunch of us working together gets more things done than if we’re working alone,” Hirsch said.
Jack Fisher, Ohio Farm Bureau’s executive vice president, echoed that theme, saying Ohio Farm Bureau was focused on member engagement in 2014.
“That was a game changer. That changed farming. That changed the state of Ohio,” Fisher said.
Ohio Farm Bureau already had a strong background engaging with water quality issues, Fisher noted, and that helped the organization support policy that protected the environment and preserved farmers’ ability to operate.
Fisher encouraged farmers to mentor young people and bring them into the organization.
“There’s so much more talent out there we need to contact,” he said.
Hirsch said he was confident that by the end of the meeting, “We’ll mark our place in the 96-year history of Farm Bureau, and we’ll be among the delegates who for nearly 100 years have believed in this organization and its ability to affect positive change.”