Each fall, Trumbull County Farm Bureau holds an annual meeting, and this year was no different. What I mean is that the meeting was held last month — but there were some distinct differences.
Like most events and gatherings, COVID-19 has dictated some changes and precautions. Social distancing was achieved by meeting outside and making available a way to participate from your car, like at the drive-in theater.
Much stayed the same though, because the business of Farm Bureau must go on.
Many local political candidates were in attendance and shared briefly who they were and why they wanted to be elected or re-elected.
Three local youths were awarded scholarships to help with their college expenses.
Elections were held for bureau positions on the board of trustees and for delegates to the 2021 Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting. Local, state and national policies of our organization were voted on and adopted.
Local policies help guide our organization at the county level. These policies have been proposed because of a need in our communities. The challenge then is to create programming or activities that will see these policies to fruition.
Adopted state and national policies have been sent to the OFBF policy committee. This committee is made up of 10 county Farm Bureau members from across the state and 10 district trustees that serve on the state board. This committee is charged with the responsibility to gather and organize all the state and national policies adopted at each county’s annual meeting. Each of these policies is examined to see if it already exists in policy or conflicts with existing policy. If it is a new policy, oftentimes, more information is gathered as the policy is prepared.
It is at the OFBF annual meeting that the policy committee presents the proposed policies and any policy changes. Delegates from each county have the opportunity to discuss and then vote on these policies to determine if they will be adopted by Ohio Farm Bureau. The approved national policies are then submitted to the American Farm Bureau and voted on by delegates from each state.
You may be thinking, “So what?”
The mission of OFBF is to work together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities. Having established policies, which are voted on annually by a delegation of its membership, is powerful. When issues come up, Farm Bureau staff doesn’t have to poll members to see what they think: They go to the policy and see what it says.
For example, when there were hearings at the Statehouse on changes to CAUV — Current Agricultural Use Value — OFBF advocates acted right away. Another issue that Farm Bureau recently acted upon was the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR).
As a member of Farm Bureau, I am glad that this organization takes action when necessary to protect and advance agriculture.
Some readers might conclude the next logical step is for Farm Bureau to endorse candidates. STOP. Farm Bureau does NOT endorse candidates.
There is a Friend of Agriculture distinction given to elected officials and candidates. Criteria consideration for incumbent officials include their voting record on agricultural issues and their overall engagement: Are they easy to contact and get a response from? Do they contact Farm Bureau when they have an agricultural question?
In the case when no incumbent is running for re-election, county Farm Bureau leaders conduct interviews / open seat screenings of candidates.
This distinction is not an endorsement but a tool or guide to help build working relationships with every elected official.
Farm Bureau has never told me how to vote, but I have certainly been a more educated and informed voter on issues and candidate races because of Farm Bureau. Do your homework and go vote.
One more word about our Trumbull County annual meeting — we had an awesome speaker who shared with us his passion for Farm Bureau, agriculture and The Ohio State Buckeyes. Thank you, Ty Higgins.
Submitted by Mary Smallsreed, a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau and grew up on a family dairy farm in northeast Ohio.
OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.