Mike Videkovich

Happy Spring, everyone. I’m Mike Videkovich, District 15 trustee, and Jenny Cox is your regional trustee.

Ohio Farm Bureau has prepared this summary of key topics covered during the April board meeting. It is our privilege to represent you on the board. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to me or to Jenny.

Board guests
Nationwide Board Member Terry McClure joined us for the last time in his role with Nationwide (Terry retired from the Nationwide board this month). Devin Fuhrman and Dan Durheim with Nationwide Sponsor Relations joined us, too.

Every board meeting, a group of county Farm Bureau presidents are invited to attend. This time, we were joined by Evan Davis, Highland County; Lynne Schultz, Fairfield County; Robert Beekman, Lorain County; and Jim Hefner, Allen County.

The Young Ag Professionals State Committee members who joined us included John and Sarah Bolte, Seneca County and Jonathan and Alyssa Zucker, Marion County. We’re proud of this group. They raised over $800 for the ExploreAg program through merchandise sales at the Winter Leadership Experience in January. Want to get involved? Members ages 18-35 who would like to help guide the future of this key program are invited to apply to serve on the 2023-2025 Young Agricultural Professionals State Committee. Application deadline is May 13.

Strategic Plan advancement
Each board meeting includes discussion and action regarding new ways to advance our Strategic Plan. We have goals related to advocacy, value creation and delivery, engagement and organizational strength. The Strategic Plan is based on significant member input, informed by the work of the Membership and Financial Strength Task Force and the resulting Code changes adopted at last year’s annual meeting. The following actions are under the authority of the OFBF State Board of Trustees to act upon. These actions were the culmination of a two-year process that involved many county leaders and the state board of trustees, and they were part of the informational meetings held last September for our annual meeting delegates.

Based on this significant input, here are the decisions we made this month, which align with actions of the delegate body at the OFBF Annual Meeting in December:

  • The Agriculture for Good Government PAC (AGGPAC) supports state and federal candidates who work to support agriculture. Upon the recommendations of the Financial Strength Task Force as well as feedback from numerous local meetings, we will be implementing an increase in the AGGPAC contribution to $6 statewide to align with the dues increase effective Dec. 1, 2022, and $12 effective Dec. 1, 2025. Remember that AGGPAC contributions are voluntary and this increase is only a recommended contribution for members to make.
  • Another action that aligns with the work of the Membership and Financial Strength Task Force and delegate decisions at the annual meeting regards our statewide dues amount for those who participate in our Group Membership program. The dues amount for group memberships and Health Benefits plan participants will be increased to $90 per member effective Dec. 1, 2022, and then $108 per member in December 2025.
  • We will be launching a member service delivery model pilot in eight counties in northwest Ohio that we believe will address significant issues that counties and members have raised over the last few years through the task force, feasibility study, and county leader and member feedback. These include:
    • Volunteers want to try new ways to maintain and grow membership.
    • Members want us to engage with them on a more individualized level.
    • Staff talent is key to our success and we want to foster a workplace that attracts, retains and develops exceptional talent who can provide the best service possible to our members.

Advancing legislation
While the board meeting was happening, Farm Bureau made some significant progress on legislation that we support and with which we have been actively engaged:

HB 95, heavily supported by Ohio Farm Bureau, passed the Senate and is one step closer to becoming law. This bill creates a tax credit to assist the next generation of farmers while helping the current generation transition their operations. Since 2019, Farm Bureau members have testified in support of this legislation and we appreciate State Rep. Susan Manchester for championing it to the governor’s desk.

Handshake lease agreements are often used in agriculture, and HB 397 gives those types of agreements some added protection. Under this bill, notice must be given by Sept. 1 to terminate a farm lease, and the lease will terminate at the conclusion of harvest or Dec. 31, whichever comes first. These guardrails would be applied in situations where the parties to the lease have not otherwise addressed the issue of termination notice in writing.

HB 440 gives Ohio’s AgLink Program a boost in funding to help farmers keep up with the rising costs of doing business. The $150,000 cap has been removed from the program to give farmers an opportunity for more working capital at a discounted interest rate and allows farmer-owned cooperatives to take advantage of the program.

Ohio Farm Bureau also actively advocated for the Ohio Meat Processing Grant, a program to help small and medium-sized livestock and poultry processors expand. The Ohio Controlling Board recently approved an additional $18 million to be allocated to this program as a result of a very strong response to the initial $10 million.

Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative
The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative is something we all should be proud of. This coalition of 18 agriculture and environmental groups are working together for water quality. The first ever OACI Assessment Report was recently published. The report displays farmer decision-making choices and conservation efforts on 450 random fields in the Lower Maumee watershed. We have a great story to tell about Ohio agriculture’s efforts to improve water quality.

U.S. EPA lifts Enlist herbicide ban
Here’s a big win for agriculture: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has lifted the recent ban on the use of Enlist One and Enlist Duo in Ohio, providing growers with additional weed management options for the 2022 corn and soybean growing seasons. Your Ohio Farm Bureau weighed in quickly and clearly on your behalf and made this happen.

Future of the Ohio State Fair/Expo Center
If you value the Ohio State Fair as an opportunity that should be preserved and improved for 4-H and FFA youth, consumer engagement for agriculture and well, fun for everyone, then you should be aware of our work to encourage controlling entities and state government leaders to invest in the Ohio Expo Center. Farm Bureau is leading the work of nine major Ohio agriculture groups and released recommendations to modernize the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair. This year, a full Ohio State Fair will kick off July 27 and the Land and Living exhibit will be back, too. We’re actively recruiting ambassadors to host visitors (and make a few dollars during a great summer job experience).

In the courts
The role of the courts in making decisions that impact agriculture are more important than ever. We had an opportunity to visit the Ohio Supreme Court, where we heard from Justices Sharon Kennedy and Pat DeWine. With critical supreme court races occurring this year in Ohio, the visit was timely to broaden our understanding of the courts and their importance to Ohio agriculture.

At the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Sackett v. USEPA, which will reconsider the status of wetlands as waters of the United States. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case against California’s Proposition 12 filed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council.

Engagement opportunities
Recognizing the reach our court system has on the agricultural industry, look for opportunities with Farm Bureau this summer in your respective counties to interact and learn more about the impact of Ohio’s Supreme Court. Too often we voters overlook the significance of our Supreme Court, and we look forward to joining with you to discuss the importance of engaging with our judicial branch.

Get to know new staffers
Kaitlynn Hodges is the new organization director for Morgan, Muskingum, Perry and Washington counties. Kelly Warner is the OFB Foundation’s new director of donor engagement and giving. Jana Mussard is our new ExploreAg and Ag Literacy Specialist. Jana’s work to lead our ag literacy efforts is a result of member feedback we’ve heard over the years about the importance of staff leading this effort. We’re also proud that part of the funding for this staff position is from the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation. Your donations make a difference!

Select Partners
Want to do business with insurance and financial services providers who know agriculture and support Farm Bureau? Check out our new Select Partners program. With 35 agencies designated, and 41 county Farm Bureaus giving at least one endorsement, we’re proud to partner with these businesses.

Do you have an example of top notch customer service from Nationwide? We want to know! Please share your experience, and if selected for a feature story, Farm Bureau staff will reach out to you for more information and offer you a $250 gift card.

AgriPOWER
Reminder, applications are now being accepted for AgriPOWER Class XIII. Deadline to apply is April 22.

Enjoy Spring in Ohio and best wishes for a safe and timely planting season!

Having opportunities to attend leadership institutes, advocate for rural Ohioans on the state and national level, facilitate young ag professionals events, and serve in a variety of leadership positions have helped my skills grow exponentially.
Sara Tallmadge's avatar
Sara Tallmadge

Ashland County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Business Solutions
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
I was gifted the great opportunity through an Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Youth Pathways grant to run a series of summer camps here. That really expanded my vision of what ‘grow, maintain, sustain and explain’ could actually be.
Jim Bruner's avatar
Jim Bruner

Mezzacello Urban Farms

Farming for Good
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
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