Farm Bureau’s greatest strength lies in its grassroots approach to policy-making and problem solving, giving a voice to agriculture and rural communities. Councils are groups that meet regularly to develop camaraderie and community while discussing farm and family topics. The council program began in in 1936 and is unique to Ohio.
WHAT WE DO
Community councils exist to make a difference in their community by identifying and helping to solve problems. The success of councils is largely based on gaining a variety of inputs and perspectives on an issue through group discussion.
Councils should consider how to become more engaged in their communities and with their local Farm Bureau. Councils should focus on local, community issues so that they can work with their county Farm Bureau to recommend a policy change, and/or partner with other community groups to make a difference, or take action.
As a community council, it is important to become familiar with your county and state Farm Bureau polices. You can contact your county Farm Bureau office regarding county policy or to request a hard copy of OFBF’s policy manual. The Ohio Farm Bureau policy book may be viewed online.
Community councils can play an important role in making plans for their community and involving others in sharing the issues, challenges and solutions for community improvement.
- In what ways does your county Farm Bureau currently work to improve the local community?
- Have each council member complete this statement: Our community would be an even better place to live if…
- Consider things your community needs and identify one practical thing your council could do to improve your community.
- List groups or individuals you could partner with to carry out your plan.
- List the action steps your council will take to put your idea into action.
Community council county leaders help to develop new councils, conduct new member meetings and implement appropriate activities and seminars. Please keep a roster of council members.
MEETINGS AND DISCUSSION TOPICS
Councils gather regularly in each other’s homes. Each council determines when and where to meet. Ohio Farm Bureau has provided policy and issue discussion sheets for councils to use as a reference and background on a variety of topics. The discussion sheets can be used to stimulate discussion at a council meeting. Councils are encouraged to use their judgment to pick and choose the topic they wish to discuss when they get together. The policy and issue discussion sheets are a starting point but councils are free to use newspaper articles, Facebook posts, local issues or other topics of interest to the group or community.
FORMS & FLOW OF INFORMATION
Ohio Farm Bureau asks each new and established Community Council update their records with the County Farm Bureau. Please find attached several items to help with this process:
Council Roster: Please fill out and return one copy of this roster to your county Farm Bureau office and keep one copy for your records. Your elected Discussion Leader will be your primary communication link with the county Farm Bureau. Ohio Farm Bureau communicates with all community councils electronically – be sure to include your Discussion Leader’s e-mail address for all future correspondence.
The Meeting Summary Sheet should be used by each council as a minute or summary sheet for council meetings. This information needs to be forwarded directly to your county Farm Bureau office after each meeting. The County Board may pass the information to appropriate county leadership and committees to address, as well as forward the information to the state office if needed. Meeting Summaries should include policy suggestions and program ideas.
The Activity Sheet should be used to communicate your council’s activities and projects with your county Farm Bureau office. As part of the process, let the county Farm Bureau know how to assist your group, too.
OTHER DISCUSSION OPPORTUNITIES
An online community council has been created and managed by Ohio Farm Bureau members, Ohio’s Advisory Council is a closed group on Facebook discussing the important issues facing Ohio agriculture. Ohioans are invited to participate on their own time, as they are willing and able. To join the group, go to http://bit.ly/OhiosAdvisoryCouncil and click Request to Join.
For more information about the community council program, contact the county Farm Bureau office.