Farm Bureau Remains Hard at Work

by Mike Videkovich, state trustee

During these unprecedented times, the April state board meeting had a different look. The OFBF board of trustees met April 2 via video conference call. We want you to know your organization is hard at work for members and our industry during this difficult time. Even though the organization’s offices are closed, OFBF is open for business helping our members every day.

I am Mike Videkovich, and I represent your county on the Ohio Farm Bureau board of trustees along with Regional Trustee Jenny Cox. Following is a summary Ohio Farm Bureau has provided of key items covered during the abbreviated April meeting.

The board was briefed on OFBF’s response to the COVID-19 situation. During this pandemic crisis, Ohio Farm Bureau has been the lead farm organization representing members’ interests before the governor, lieutenant governor, director of Development Services Agency, ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda, Sen. Rob Portman, Sen. Sherrod Brown, every Ohio member of Congress, the Ohio Legislature and Homeland Security Agency. In addition, staff members have been in constant communication with peers at Ohio’s other major business organizations, the Commodity Roundtable, American Farm Bureau and other state Farm Bureaus.

In the early days of the crisis, the organization provided the governor with input on critical agriculture and food production infrastructure that must remain open for business. This resulted in agriculture being listed as critical infrastructure and workers considered essential employees. OFBF staff has been working hard to identify disruptions to the food chain and determine both legislative and market solutions that will allow members to maintain their businesses while providing a safe food supply.

Ohio Farm Bureau made member communication a key initiative during the crisis as well. OFBF has been sending special editions of Buckeye Farm eNews several times a week to keep members up-to-date on this ever-changing situation and to inform members of the efforts Farm Bureau is making on their behalf. Extensive COVID-19 information is also in the April print edition of Buckeye Farm News that was in member mailboxes last week. The best way to stay up to date on COVID-19 issues is through Buckeye Farm eNews emailed to members regularly. If you aren’t receiving these emails, email [email protected].

Fiduciary responsibilities
A presentation and review of the financial audit for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and subsidiaries was given by Brent Ardit, partner, Rea & Associates. In the opinion of Rea & Associates, the consolidated financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, as they relate to the financial position of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and subsidiaries. The organization’s operating statements and statements of cash flow conform with generally accepted accounting principles. The 990 tax return was reviewed with the board prior to being filed.

Membership
Thank you to everyone who had a conversation with a prospective member and invited them to join the organization. When the final numbers are in on April 15, Ohio Farm Bureau will have grown in active members. This would not be possible without those of you who are dedicated to growing the organization.

There are currently 18 volunteers who have earned the Murray Lincoln award for signing at least 50 new members and 1,253 others who have signed at least one member during the 2020 membership campaign.

Thank you for your continued support as Farm Bureau works to provide value to you, your family as well as your community.

OFBF Membership and Financial Strength Task Force
An update was provided on the OFBF Membership and Financial Strength Task Force. The formation of this group was announced at the December state annual meeting, and since then it has met twice to review the background and trends of the organization’s membership and finances. The group is charged with providing recommendations to the board yet this summer which will help create a strong foundation for the organization going forward. The group’s third meeting scheduled in March was canceled due to public health guidelines. Plans are being made to resume the group’s work in the near future.

LEBOR update
In a major victory for Ohio’s farm families, U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary ruled that the Lake Erie Bill of Rights was invalid in full on Feb. 27. Unfortunately, the City of Toledo filed an appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mental health
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to greatly impact daily life, there is an even greater need to take care of not only physical but mental health. Agriculture is an essential business, but the extra stress of the pandemic and the coming planting season can weigh heavily on Ohio farmers. Resources are available to the farm community. Please share this information. Let’s have each other’s backs during this time!