Corn field

Ohio has new leadership at the top of three U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies that play a significant role in the day-to-day life of farming operations in the state. Earlier this year, Jonathan McCracken was appointed Rural Development state director, John Patterson was appointed Farm Service Agency state executive director in Ohio, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service recently named John Wilson as the new state conservationist. All three recently spent time in the studio with Our Ohio Weekly host Ty Higgins.

Jonathan McCracken

Jonathan McCrackenMcCracken is a native of Wilmington, Ohio, and most recently served as a senior advisor to Sen. Sherrod Brown prior to being appointed as Ohio’s Rural Development state director. Throughout his career, he has held various legislative positions related to agriculture, rural development, food, nutrition, energy and environmental policy.
As state director, he serves as the chief executive officer of Rural Development in the state and is tasked with carrying out the mission of rural development to the benefit of everyone in rural Ohio.

“Our first mission that we’ve been focusing on is to make sure that rural communities have the tools they need to bounce back from the past two years,” he said. “The way (the office of) rural development works is we actually have an office here in Columbus, but then we have four area offices across the state. Those offices do amazing work, and these folks are going out into the field. They’re meeting with small businesses, they’re meeting with mayors, they’re talking about these great (USDA) programs. They’re on the front lines, and we want to make sure folks know about these programs (and how) they’re able to invest in their communities.”

John Patterson

John PattersonPatterson is a former state legislator and retired teacher whose work experience spans over 40 years. He recently completed eight years in the Ohio House until term limits prohibited his continued service. During his time in the House, Patterson served on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, including two terms as ranking member and was co-author of bills supporting H2Ohio and the beginning farmers tax credit.

As state executive director of the Farm Service Agency, Patterson will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of FSA programs to agricultural producers in Ohio. These commodity, conservation, credit, and disaster assistance programs ensure a safe, affordable, abundant and nutritious food, fiber and fuel supply for consumers.
Patterson spoke about building relationships, water quality, conservation and farm succession planning during his interview for Our Ohio Weekly.

“For a young person to get started with equipment, with livestock, with land or with rental, it’s an enormous undertaking,” he said. “Unless we incentivize the older folks to come alongside the younger ones, to raise them up and to give them a pathway forward with succession at 57 or average age 57-and-a-half, we’re going to have a major problem down the road.”

John Wilson

John WilsonWilson is the new Ohio State conservationist, and most recently served as the deputy state conservationist for NRCS in Arkansas.

In his role, Wilson will provide soil, water and natural resource conservation leadership, overseeing programs and partnerships that provide both financial and technical assistance to private landowners to improve the health of their operations while protecting natural resources for the future.

“We really focus on providing technical expertise on the voluntary efforts,’’ he said. “We have quite a few newer employees in Ohio. A lot of them have come on since COVID hit, so we are going to be introducing ourselves to some folks. We’ve tried to do as much virtual training as we can, but there’s nothing better than having that face-to-face training. So we’re intending to really work on that as one of the priorities.”

Learn more about these new leaders through Our Ohio Weekly podcasts.

I'm eternally grateful for the support Ohio Farm Bureau scholarships provided in helping me turn my dreams into reality.
Bethany Starlin's avatar
Bethany Starlin

Hocking County Farm Bureau

Available scholarships
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
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton 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
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
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
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.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
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