I came across an essay that my daughter, Emily, wrote while in high school about eight years ago. She shared why she thought Farm Bureau was important.
First, since its founding in 1919, Farm Bureau as an organization gives voice to its members and all of agriculture on local, state and national levels. As an organization made up of farmers advocating for farmers, who better to fight for the right to farm?
Emily also saw the importance of farmers sharing with consumers what they do on their farms and why they do it. Again, Farm Bureau helps them do that through events like drive-it-yourself tours where the public is invited to visit several farms in a single day to explore local agriculture.
A third area that Emily touched on was the social aspect. Farm Bureau member and their families often would get together at an ice cream social during dairy month or have a Christmas party. The events always provided a lot of fun and plenty of great food.
I’d like to expand on Emily’s observations. I can list local, state and federal issues where the voice of agriculture needed to be heard. Broadband internet access, the Farm Bill (Food and Agriculture Bill), water quality and protection, personal property rights, Current Agricultural Use Value for the taxation of agricultural land. Maybe you remember the effort to prevent children of farmers from working on their farms until the age of 16. No? Probably because it didn’t happen largely because Farm Bureau and its members spoke up.
It’s so important, critical even, for there to be transparency in the production of food in this country. Connecting consumers with producers and their farms is the best way to do it. Through events like Emily mentioned, our buy local directory of local producers, our website, and even this column, Farm Bureau and its members strive to provide that connection.
Emily hit the nail on the head when she said there was a social aspect of this great organization. I have met and worked with people from other counties all over the state. I’ve shared with you before how much I appreciate the staff at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and what they do to keep members informed, educated and equipped to deal with issues facing farmers. Farm Bureau is definitely about advocating for farmers and being proactive to protect the farmers’ right to farm, but it is more than that. It’s a family.
I would like to dedicate this article to Yvonne Lesicko, a member of this family who passed away unexpectedly a week ago today. As part of our state staff at OFBF, she managed the legislative and regulatory team and represented the interests of Farm Bureau members with Congress, the General Assembly and with federal and state regulatory agencies. Her co-worker, Ty, shared, “Brilliant, thoughtful and kind. She pushed us all to be better by just being herself. Her passion for every aspect of life is something we all should strive for. Thank you, Y.” I, and many in the family, I’m sure, agree wholeheartedly. As the Trumbull County Farm Bureau president for the last six years, Yvonne has mentored me to be a better advocate. And along the way became a great friend. Goodbye for now, Farm Bureau sister.
You may say you don’t have to be a Farm Bureau member to advocate and share your farm life with others have a positive impact for agriculture, but you would be missing out on being part of the family. Individually we are strong, collectively we are even stronger.
Submitted by Mary Smallsreed, a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau, who grew up on a family dairy farm in northeast Ohio.
OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.