Shelby County Board President Seth Middleton resides in Sidney with his wife, Britnie, and three children Amelia, William and Hudson. On their farming operation, Seth rents just under 500 acres from his parents (Ronald and Debra) in which he grows corn and soybeans. In addition to the farm, Britnie is an intervention specialist in junior high at Fairlawn Local Schools and he works off of the farm at Heartland Bank where he is the assistant vice president of the agribusiness division. At Heartland, he works as an ag lender and covers most of western Ohio.
Seth became active in Farm Bureau by first becoming a member a little over seven years ago and then was asked to become a board member five years ago. He was elected county president of the Shelby County Farm Bureau in 2019 and is currently starting his second term in that position. Additionally, Seth participated in Ohio Farm Bureau’s AgriPOWER leadership program and has been active with the Farm Bureau Young Ag Professionals (YAP). He has found all opportunities a great learning experience and he said he hopes to pass some things on to his children from what he has learned with Ohio Farm Bureau.
Q & A
Q: How did you become involved in the banking industry?
A: “I graduated from Franklin University with a degree in financial management and wanted to bring that knowledge back to the farm. Farming only 500 acres though does not supply the type of income where I could work on the farm as a full-time employee so for as long as I can remember, I have always helped on the farm, but worked off the farm. The banking and lending industry has always allowed me to stay connected to the rural community as a lender by helping people realize their dreams to build and grow their business and raise their children on a farm. I have since spent over 10 years in the ag lending world.
Q: What are some issues you see facing the agriculture industry today?
A: With his work, he sees some of these situations first hand. He remarked that there are many issues facing the agricultural industry today, the biggest being funding for the younger generation who want to get started in agriculture.
“Western Ohio Farm real estate often exceeds $8,000-$10,000 per acre. On top of that, operation and equipment costs are exceedingly high as well. Before you get your first grain check, most people are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. In addition, interest rates are rising and commodity prices dropping, which is creating even more difficulties. Next, is the consumer who has never been on a farm and lacks the knowledge of how their food is produced. This puts farmers on the defensive when it comes to issues such as water quality and animal husbandry.
Q: What do you see the industry looking like in 20 years?
A: My hope is that we are able to keep people interested in the industry. Since many farmers are looking to transition their land to the next generation, consumers will likely see a decrease in the number of operators, which is the trend today. This will cause an increase in larger farms and even corporate farms in some situations. One thing we have to understand is agriculture is one of the largest employers in the state of Ohio, and across the US along with being one of the largest income producers for the state as well.”
Q: As a member of the county board, what would you like to tell people who may be looking into becoming more active within Ohio Farm Bureau?
A: I think once you become active, you learn a large number of benefits that Farm Bureau has to offer in helping with the continued growth of the agriculture community and how being a member creates valuable opportunities.
Thank you for all of your time and dedication toward Farm Bureau, Seth! We appreciate all of your hard work.