Across the Table: 2020 annual meeting going remote

I think I speak for many Ohio Farm Bureau members when I say that our annual meeting is one of my favorite events.

It is a culmination of a lot of hard work, dedication and successes over the past year that have made our organization even stronger than it was before. It is, usually, a chance to gather together to share and celebrate our accomplishments and gives us the motivation to continue to make our mark at the county, state and national levels by doing what we do best: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.

This year’s annual meeting will, without a doubt, have a much different look and feel than we have all become accustomed to. Instead of shaking hands we will be waving to a camera. What would normally be a celebration in a room full of friends will be replaced by a screen filled with squares of familiar faces. It is surely not what we are used to but, for now, it is the world we live in.

We often hear the word “virtual” when events have to be adjusted from an in-person meeting to one that is hosted online. We have decided to use the word “remote” to describe this year’s annual meeting because we are giving members the chance to meet in smaller local groups across the state if they are comfortable with that option.

Interaction between members has always been an intricate part of the business and policy sessions at our annual meeting, and setting up these smaller meetings will help develop the important conversations needed in order for our grassroots organization to properly get our policies in line for the next year.

Although this is not the annual meeting we were hoping for, there are some positive things that can come from these unprecedented changes. For instance, anyone who is a Farm Bureau member can take part in this year’s event from the comfort of their own home and on their own schedule, all free of charge. This means more members than ever before can see not only how policies are made for their organization, but also all of the great accolades being given to deserving members and county Farm Bureaus for the outstanding efforts they are making in their communities.

The “remote” format of this year’s annual meeting is not the new normal, but the challenges of a global pandemic have helped us discover many new technologies that will make Ohio Farm Bureau more versatile and efficient in ways we have never thought of before. Just like our members, our organization is resilient and we can adapt to solve difficult tests put in front of us.

For most, 2020 will be a year to soon forget, but from the farm fields to the Statehouse to Capitol Hill, we all continued our work and reached many of our goals. Through all of the difficulties, Ohio Farm Bureau and our members have so much to celebrate, and I look forward to doing just that with all of you in December.