by John Parker
The combined Ashtabula County Farm Bureau and Soil and Water Conservation District 2017 annual meeting was Sept. 18. It was a busy evening with business, elections and awards plus good food served by the Winery at Springhill. Farm Bureau President Lynn Frank presided.
Awards were presented to Sharon and Harry Spieth for being the SWCD Cooperator of the Year. The Spieths operate a successful aquaculture, or fish farm, as well as a fish hatchery. Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus teacher Ken Noble was recognized as SWCD Teacher of the Year.
As a complete surprise to me, the Farm Bureau Board presented me with the Distinguished Service to Agriculture award for 2017. It was much appreciated.
Election of Farm Bureau Board members, as well as Soil and Water Conservation supervisors, went smoothly.
Farm Bureau Board members elected for two-year terms included Terry Atkinson from Monroe, Jayne Bodnar from Jefferson, Sara Frank from Austinburg, Michael Hiener from Denmark, Debra Hurst farming in Jefferson and Dorset, George Kalas farming in Jefferson and Colebrook and Lee Kellogg from Rome.
Delegates to the 2018 Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting were elected to represent Ashtabula County Farm Bureau. They include Jason Hayes from Kingsville, Debra Hurst from Dorset and Ann Marrison from New Lyme Township. Courtney Spencer from Conneaut will serve as an alternate.
SWCD directors elected included Robin Boggs from Andover and Ron Smoker from Saybrook.
Scholarships were presented to Lisa Kalas from Jefferson, a senior at Lake Erie College this fall; Katie Stokes from New Lyme, a freshman at Ohio State University; and Hunter Williams from Chardon, a freshman at Ashland University.
Mandy Orahood, Farm Bureau organization director for Ashtabula, Lake, Geauga and Trumbull counties, gave a report on the activities and programs of Farm Bureau. Nate Paskey reviewed SWCD accomplishments.
Approving proposed Farm Bureau policies for 2018 is an important part of the meeting. Proposed policies come from members and others with an interest in agricultural and rural Ashtabula County. Local policies determine the kinds of activities the board will be working on this next year.
Local policies include: promoting a more secure and equitable source of funding for OSU Extension and Soil and Water; supporting the elimination of CAUV recoupment; keeping agricultural education programs and FFA in local high schools; engaging with the public about agricultural and agricultural issues; developing a Maple Research Station in the area; helping farmers analyze farm financial records; supporting law enforcement efforts to contain drug problems; and supporting a federal review of EPA Class II regulations of injection wells and support efforts.
It was a full evening for both Farm Bureau and SWCD members with a lot of business, as well as visiting with friends and neighbors, an important part of any good meeting.
Parker is an independent writer for the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau.