2019 Update from District 15 State Trustee Mike Videkovich

I am Mike Videkovich, trustee for District 15. It is my pleasure to serve you on the Ohio Farm Bureau board.

The Ohio Farm Bureau has prepared this summary of some of the topics covered during the November board meeting.

Board guests included Perry County President Richard Maxwell; Kaitlyn Meeker, who represented the Young Agricultural Professionals committee and also serves as Ross County Farm Bureau president; and Kyle and Ashton Walls, Excellence in Agriculture award winner. The Walls also made a presentation to the board.

Renée Mancino, executive director of the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association presented an overview of the Standardbred industry in Ohio.

Nationwide representatives were Tim Corcoran, board chairman; Kirt Walker, chief executive officer; and Devin Fuhrman, vice president, Sponsor Relations.

2020 Budget and Strategic Plan

The board approved the organization’s 2020 budget, which included significant cost efficiencies and funding for key programs identified in the strategic plan. A one-year extension to the strategic plan was approved and positions the organization’s priorities through 2021.

OFBF Annual Meeting

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation will be holding its 101st Annual Meeting Dec. 4-5, 2019 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center and Hilton Columbus Downtown hotel. During the two day event, between 600-800 members, staff and guests are expected to attend. The General Session will involve 381 voting delegates from 86 county Farm Bureaus, the largest county Farm Bureau delegation ever.

Several highlights at this year’s meeting include the Young Agricultural Professionals Discussion Meet contest, presentations from OFBF President Frank Burkett III, OFBF Executive Vice President Adam Sharp and Nationwide CEO Kirt Walker. Special recognition will be given to the Outstanding Young Farmer and Excellence in Agriculture award recipients and county Farm Bureaus, plus recognition of Distinguished Service Award recipient Tom Price and Ezra C. Anstaett Award recipient, former Nationwide CEO Steve Rasmussen. Joe Cornely will be honored with the Agricultural Communicator award.

Also taking place is the Foundation Night Out Dec. 4, from 8 p.m. – 12 a.m. This year the Foundation is partnering with the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association for a night of racing, music, food and fun. Volunteers from YAP will be helping to facilitate during the event.

Swank Scholarship

Ohio Farm Bureau is honoring the legacy of Bill Swank with the recently created Bill and Helen Swank Scholarship Fund. Over the course of Swank’s 40-year career at Ohio Farm Bureau, which included 28 years as executive vice president, he enriched countless lives in the farm and food community. Now, the Swank family and Farm Bureau are honoring his legacy with a new scholarship fund for the next generation of agricultural leaders. The Bill and Helen Swank Scholarship will be awarded to students pursuing post-secondary education in agriculture. By donating to this scholarship, you’ll help students with their agricultural education and inspire them to pay it forward in their communities.

Updates to $2,500 Reward program

The board voted to make some exciting changes to this long-standing program. Stay tuned for program updates that will launch in January.

OACI/Governor’s H2Ohio program

Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative is a targeted, long-term solutions approach to statewide water quality challenges. Initial funding in the new two-year state budget is $172 million. During OFBF’s policy development committee meeting in early September, DeWine’s Lake Erie Commission Director Joy Mulinex previewed some general concepts farmers can expect including the funding of research to develop innovative approaches to controlling nutrient loss. H2Ohio also will place an emphasis on creating and restoring wetlands along Lake Erie’s shoreline and in agricultural areas. While Lake Erie is a priority, Mulinex said H2Ohio will address challenges across the state. She credited Ohio Farm Bureau for initiating the H2Ohio concept through our work with Healthy Water Ohio.

The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI), which Ohio Farm Bureau is a part of, was created as an innovative, collaborative effort of the agricultural, conservation, environmental and research communities to improve water quality. After the details of H2Ohio were introduced, OACI announced the framework of its public-private partnership with the DeWine administration’s H2Ohio initiative to ensure funds are provided to farmers at all levels of conservation and nutrient management implementation. Board members were briefed on this new program that would help producers quantify their conservation practices and ultimately receive certification.

Farm Bureau’s support of OACI comes from general water quality policy but our specific support for the certification programs comes from Section 535 of the OFBF Policy Book.

Our Ohio Weekly radio and podcast

Sharing the stories of Ohio agriculture and the mission of Ohio Farm Bureau will be the emphasis of a new weekly radio show and podcast that debuts Jan. 5. Our Ohio Weekly, hosted by Ty Higgins, will feature guests who represent industry, government, academia and the food industry, among others. Ohio Farm Bureau members also will be sharing their own farm stories. The show will include OFBF original podcasts ‘Legal with Leah’ and ‘Field Day with Jordan Hoewischer.’

Our Ohio Weekly will air on 17 radio stations throughout Ohio, including 610 WTVN-AM in Columbus, as well as many major podcast platforms like iHeart Radio. Our Ohio Weekly replaces Town Hall Ohio, which has been hosted by Joe Cornely for 13 years. Cornely is retiring from Ohio Farm Bureau in December.