Across the Table: It’s not an ending. It’s a new beginning.

For the past several years, Farm Bureau members have been hearing of changes coming in our relationship with our greatest partner, Nationwide. And if you know anything about the incredible importance of that relationship, change is naturally a scary proposition. So here’s the straight story of what’s going on.

Since we founded the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in 1926, through its transition to its own identity as Nationwide in 1955, our two organizations have grown from the same seed: rooted in farming, nurtured by farmers and maturing into valuable servants of each other’s members. Farm Bureau helps our members navigate political, social and economic risk; Nationwide helps protect against financial risk. And we’re both about building community.

As Farm Bureau celebrates its 100th anniversary and Nationwide approaches its own centennial, our two organizations are no less committed to each other and to our shared values. That said, the world around us has changed. The insurance and financial products marketplace, regulatory requirements, consumer expectations, technology and dozens of other influences have evolved in ways that required both our organizations to rethink and reshape how we partner going forward. The planning process began years ago and is now coming into practice. Some of the changes are significant, as are the structural changes your Farm Bureau board and I have implemented to ensure our future success.

Nationwide, too, has stepped up to help with the transition. The exciting part though, is what comes next.

The Farm Bureau/Nationwide partnership of the future is about helping each other prosper. What’s good for our members is also good for their businesses. Already, by working together we’re finding answers for your problems. For example, for the growing agritourism industry, where folks visit farms to pet animals, get lost in a corn maze or pick their own produce, Farm Bureau helped pass new liability laws while Nationwide created insurance coverage specific to the unique needs of host farmers. Other members, who told us of their need for complicated coverage for multiple aspects of their operations, now have farm certified agents, developed by Nationwide to address complex needs. And be sure to read what Nationwide did for Medina County Farm Bureau members Mike and Patti Boyert, who faced difficult questions about passing the operation on to future generations.

As a long-time Farm Bureau member, I’ve experienced the value of the close ties between county Farm Bureaus and their local Nationwide friends. As a policy holder, I appreciate the attentive service of my agent. I’m proud to include among my friends seven past Ohio Farm Bureau officers and trustees, who make up nearly half of Nationwide’s board of directors including its board chairman. And as your Farm Bureau executive, I have the privilege of working closely with Nationwide executives on a frequent and regular basis. In a recent Columbus CEO article, retiring Nationwide CEO Steve Rasmussen talked about the beginnings of what would become Nationwide: “The profits weren’t necessarily the motivation. This was how do we take those dollars and … build things like tractor factories and a lot of other things (that make the company) a cultural hub of helping people.” Nationwide remains “very close to nine (state) Farm Bureaus, and those agricultural roots are real, and they still exist, and we value that…”

We value it, too.

Ohio Farm Bureau membership