Together with farmers and the entire agricultural community, Farm Bureau built a steady momentum throughout 2017. An increase in active membership met with policy wins at the Statehouse as Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) reform was passed after years of advocacy work by Farm Bureau members and staff.
Hundreds visited the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms and learned how farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin are researching and testing voluntary conservation practices to protect water quality — just one of several efforts Farm Bureau and partners have participated in to work on this priority issue for the organization and the state. Farm Bureau members statewide also took steps and worked with community leaders to help combat the ongoing opioid crisis, which touches rural and urban communities across Ohio. Those partnerships culminated in sponsorship of Hope for Ohio: A Teen Forum on the Opioid Crisis in December.
County Farm Bureaus continued to do what they do best — work to better local communities. In 2017, eight counties were recognized by American Farm Bureau with seven County Activities of Excellence awards, the most of any state in the country.
As Farm Bureau enters into its 99th year in 2018, it will continue the mission of “working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.”
While looking forward to future success, here’s a look back at even more accomplishments from 2017 through our Year in Review.
If you care about a strong national, state and county Farm Bureau federation
Every year American Farm Bureau recognizes the top county Farm Bureau programs across the country through its County Activities of Excellence awards, and in 2017, seven of the nation’s top 24 county Farm Bureau programs came from Ohio.
The Ohio winners and their award-winning projects:
- Adams County’s Strong Ag Partners/Youth Beginner Beekeeper Scholarship
- Jackson-Vinton County’s Farm Fest in
- Ottawa County’s North Coast Jackpot Show
- Paulding County’s County Farm Bureau Day at the County Fair
- Shelby County’s Conservation Day Camp
- Wood County’s Sheriff Training
- Carroll and Tuscarawas Counties’ Weeding Out Substance Abuse in Rural America and Farm Bureau’s Got Your Back Campaign
If you care about farmland preservation and taxes
In a win for the preservation of farmland and relief for farmland owners, Farm Bureau successfully pushed for long-needed reforms to the Current Agricultural Use Value program in 2017. Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 49 and farmland owners, who had seen skyrocketing taxes related to CAUV property for several years, began to experience an average 30 percent reduction in their CAUV values.
If you care about engaging with the ag community
The Together with Farmers campaign was launched to coincide with Farm Bureau’s membership kickoffs early in the year. It evolved into a marketing campaign that aims to engage the entire food and farming community. Farm Bureau invested in communities by hiring more organization directors to work directly with county Farm Bureaus. In addition, approximately $1.2 million in member funds was invested in county Farm Bureaus and their communities.
If you care about water quality
Ohio Farm Bureau awarded $64,660 to 17 county Farm Bureau-led projects that help improve water quality in local communities, marking more than $1 million in Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and matching funding over the three-year grant program. The innovation and collaboration of the County Water Quality Grant Initiative earned Ohio Farm Bureau the New Horizon Award from American Farm Bureau.
Water quality initiatives remained at the forefront of Farm Bureau’s priority issues agenda as more than 700 visitors toured the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms, a five-year, $1 million project to research and encourage conservation practices in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Ohio Farm Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service are partners on the project. Tours included community stakeholders such as county commissioners, Rotary, Sen. Rob Portman, FFA students, farmers, statewide media and City of Toledo staff and elected officials. Ohio Farm Bureau also rolled out a statewide well-water testing program in each county through a partnership with Heidelberg University in Tiffin.
If you care about the courts understanding agriculture
Ohio Farm Bureau’s legal team filed 12 legal briefs in 2017 on behalf of members regarding property rights, taxes, oil and gas, local government and eminent domain. Briefs were filed in nine Supreme Court cases, two appellate court cases and one trial court case. In all, OFBF’s legal team supported about 160 landowners with these cases, but the decisions themselves will have an impact on landowners across Ohio. Farm Bureau’s legal team received favorable outcomes in nine legal cases.
If you care about saving money
Two national retailers, Ford and John Deere, became new member benefit partners. Ohio also became one of the leading states in Grainger sales. While more than 55,000 members have registered for the Member Savings Advantage program, more than 14,000 are logging on every month through the website or their mobile devices to view and redeem the latest discounts and coupons.
If you care about great member communications
American Farm Bureau awarded Ohio Farm Bureau with several communications awards at its annual communications conference in 2017:
- Best Magazine: Our Ohio
- Best Member/Leader Newsletter: Buckeye Farm News
- Best Media Relations Event: Blanchard River Demonstration Farms press conference
In addition, the Town Hall Ohio radio program continues to be featured on 12 Ohio radio stations. The show is the top rated program during its time slot on WTVN in Columbus. Thousands more listen on 11 other radio stations and a podcast is available on iTunes.
New episodes of the Emmy-award winning Our Ohio TV series aired on public broadcast stations around the state.
If you care about legislators in Washington, D.C. understanding ag
This past year marked the 71st anniversary of county presidents taking their annual trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress and agency officials. In 2017 topics included GMO labeling, trade, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, immigration, farm bill, veterinary feed directive and federal regulations. Attendees also heard from AFBF President Zippy Duvall and his story on how he began his journey of advocacy for America’s farmers and ranchers. In all, 71 county presidents and vice presidents attended. Eleven members of the media were on the trip and reported on the presidents’ activities.
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation launched the Adopt-A-Legislator program to help bring newly elected officials up-to-speed on agricultural issues. Through this program members became an even more valuable resource for elected officials to tap into for input regarding questions and concerns involving agriculture.
If you care about landowner rights in energy development
Pipeline placement on farm property and ongoing remediation concerns continued to stretch across the state, along with other energy issues including mineral rights, royalty payments and the placement of solar arrays. In all, 86 county Farm Bureau-sponsored briefings on various energy development projects were held, reaching thousands of Farm Bureau members.
If you care about the Ohio General Assembly understanding ag
In addition to engaging on a wide range of policy issues affecting Farm Bureau members, the OFBF policy team also spearheaded the General Assembly inaugural luncheon and managed the Ohio Youth Capital Challenge, AFBF Issue Advisory Committees, Ag Day at the Capital, FFA Legislative Leadership Conference, state Policy Development Committee, Ohio State Fair joint ag committee hearing and the annual Trends and Issues Conference with OFBF advisory teams, which was held in Cincinnati in 2017.
If you care about young people sustaining agriculture
The Young Agricultural Professionals Winter Leadership Experience hosted 650 attendees in 2017. The two-day event included sessions on topics ranging from managing agriculture finances to new strategies for maximizing cover crop profitability and building your own personal brand. The keynote speaker was Tyne Morgan from RFD-TV.
Young Agricultural Professionals and AgriPOWER Class IX participants, 58 in total, traveled to Washington, D.C. in September to meet with members of Congress and advocate on behalf of agriculture.
The policy team worked on these issues in 2017:
- Greater access for farm equipment on roadways
- Renewable energy standards
- Unemployment compensation reform
- Water quality
- Regulatory reform
- Grain inspection
- Packers & Stockyards Administration rules
- Tax reform
- State FFA Charter
- Drug Price Relief Act
- Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule
- Deer and wildlife management
- Royalty transparency
- Food Safety Modernization Act
- Farm bill
- 1,050 agritourism signs sold
If you care about a growing organization
A change to the year-end structure and enhanced membership training programs were implemented in 2017 to put more emphasis on local members speaking to their friends and fellow farmers about the benefits of Farm Bureau membership. A new membership resource manual was developed to support these efforts.
If you care about helping the public understand ag
An estimated 275,000 fairgoers visited the Land and Living exhibit at the Ohio State Fair, presented by Ohio Farm Bureau and Nationwide. The exhibit, at the Nationwide Donahey Ag & Hort Building, demonstrates agriculture’s link to everyday life. The exhibit featured a wide variety of agricultural interactive and educational exhibits for kids to enjoy, including the wildly popular Augmented Reality Sandbox. OFBF also participated with several displays in its building at the corner of Beef Street and Friday Avenue at the annual Farm Science Review in September at Ohio State’s Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London.
If you care about access to health insurance
The Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan grew during its first year of operation in 2017. More than 700 lives were covered under the plan by the end of the year and that number is rising. The Health Benefits Plan was created to help the agricultural sector and related businesses address the high cost of medical care and promote a healthier Ohio.
If you care about supporting 4-H and FFA
Ohio Farm Bureau collaborated with partners Bob Evans Farms, Event Marketing Strategies and Huffman’s Market to purchase the Reserve Grand Champion Market Barrow exhibited by Ella Sprang for $32,000, of which Sprang received $7,000. Sprang is the daughter of Farm Bureau members Mike and Debbie Sprang of Holmes County. The funds from the Youth Reserve Program, which oversees the Sale of Champions, are distributed among carcass contests, scholarships, outstanding market exhibitor program, outstanding breeding exhibitor program, showmanship, skillathons, 4-H and FFA. The Sale of Champions garnered $284,000, with $196,000 raised for the Youth Reserve Program in 2017.
If you care about raising money for good causes
The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation and the Walter family established a new scholarship to honor the memory of long-time Farm Bureau employee Kenny Walter in 2017, as well as began to allocate the more than $1.5 million assets of the Fisher Fund into OFB Foundation signature projects. An annual report was also completed and published for the first time in Our Ohio magazine, including donor acknowledgements.