Membership and Financial Strength Task Force notebook

Across the Table: How should Farm Bureau evolve

Having a long-term plan in place for the direction of Ohio Farm Bureau and how we will continue to meet the needs of our members is critically important for our organization’s success. With the creation of the Membership and Financial Strength Task Force in 2019, we took a proactive approach to find ways that Farm Bureau may need to adapt as Ohio agriculture continues to evolve.

In 2018, when our organization’s strategic plan was created, a key goal was to balance the budget every year. That has been accomplished, and today our bottom line is in a good place, but in both the short and long term, we need to raise more revenue, while continuing to manage expenses and maintain key programs.

The task force, made up of county Farm Bureau members, Ohio Farm Bureau trustees and staff, worked tirelessly, taking part in numerous meetings and devoting countless hours to take into account Ohio Farm Bureau’s current state and what actions need to be taken to keep our organization on the right path. They considered the membership structure, our relationship with Nationwide, growing alternative revenue, reducing costs and expenses, the increasing cost of doing business and membership dues.

Recommendations from the task force include having one member class, defined as “anyone who supports the mission and vision of the organization.” The task force also suggests that the state board consider findings from Farm Bureau Forward, a data-driven project that looked at current and future members and how we best serve and deliver value to them.

Another of the task force’s key findings is that by the end of 2021, a dues increase will need to be considered. Dues have remained the same since 2015.

The task force’s proposals were shared with county Farm Bureau leaders this past December, and are being continuously shared across the state in local county Farm Bureau meetings. The organization’s state board of trustees and OFBF Code Committee will consider these proposals next. Ultimately, voting delegates at our annual meeting would need to vote to finalize any of these items.

Every year introduces more challenges for Ohio agriculture, and every one of those challenges confirms the value of Farm Bureau to our members. After an exceptionally difficult 2020, 2021 is chock-full of demanding issues for agriculture. From strengthening the food supply chain to connecting rural Ohio with reliable broadband, protecting landowner’s rights to fighting against federal efforts in Congress to tax the simple intergenerational transfer of farmland, there is plenty of work to be done.

We appreciate your membership, and we look forward to your input as to how we can continue to be a strong voice to find solutions for your most important challenges today, tomorrow and for many years to come.