Steve Hirsch of Ross County leaves behind a memorable legacy of accomplishments while serving Ohio Farm Bureau. He stepped down April 5 as president and was elected to the Nationwide board two days later.
Hirsch’s relatability, availability and commitment to Farm Bureau allowed him to tackle hard issues during his years on the board of trustees where he served as treasurer, first vice president and then president for five years. He was first elected to the board in October 2001.
“I’ve been involved in Farm Bureau since I was a kid,” he said. “When I came back to farming, as a young farmer, the Farm Bureau board found me. I worked membership and was elected to the board. I figured out the importance of the issues Farm Bureau was working on that other organizations were not. I thought this is a great organization doing great things and getting those things done.”
During his tenure, the board tackled visionary goals such as the Envisioned Future project, which gave Farm Bureau a specific focus in reaching consumers. He was first vice president in 2009 when Farm Bureau successfully supported a statewide ballot initiative to amend the Ohio Constitution to allow for the creation of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. The board also took on the enormous task of examining the future of Ohio Farm Bureau’s membership through the new member model project.
Hirsh said a critical part of being president was reaching out to county Farm Bureaus. “As president I try not to just update them on what we’re doing but challenge them to think about what the future looks like.”
An area of success he sees in Farm Bureau relates to young farmers. “Over the last three to four years our young farmer program has been revitalized. We’re developing leaders not just for our organization but our community as a whole.”
An issue on Farm Bureau’s radar for 15 years but taking prominence now is water quality. In September 2014, Ohio Farm Bureau launched its $1 million Water Quality Action Plan, and Hirsch served as chairman of Healthy Water Ohio’s steering committee.
“We are serious about identifying and implementing short-term and long-term actions on our farms to ensure both healthy water and sustainable food production,” he said.
Cutline: New state president Frank Burkett (left) presents a farewell gift to Steve and Kimberly Hirsch. Photo by Amanda Domsitz.