Katie Share

On a crisp December morning, AgriPOWER Class XIII began its fifth session in Wilmington, Ohio. We covered a gamut of diverse topics this session from policy proposals, challenges faced by meat processors, agritourism, and solar fields to name a few.

Dale Arnold
Dale Arnold

During this session, our class cohorts presented on state and national policies, and it was amazing to see the breadth of proposals introduced from agritourism, road and highway maintenance, and county fair dates. We were fortunate to have Dale Arnold, OFBF’s director of energy, utility, and local government policy, to ask questions and offer encouragement during several of our proposals. His great reminder for us when creating policy and presenting our ideas to others is to ask ourselves, “Why? Why this policy.” It was a wonderful reminder to bring us back to why and who we care for when creating policy. We want to design policy to help Ohio farmers and advocate for them so they always have a voice at the table.

We also heard about mental health issues facing Ohio farmers and their families. It is so important to remember that farmers are under more pressure than we think. They do not have work-life balance because their jobs are year-round and most of them do not have the luxury to travel and take vacation due to their work, especially livestock farmers. I was encouraged by all the resources available to farmers and challenged to become a better mental health resource to those I serve.

Brown County solar panelsLater, we were able to visit a solar farm in Sardinia and learn more about what they do and the issues they face. I have never been to a solar field before and it was really interesting to see one in-person and how large a reach one solar field in Ohio can have across the state and many others. At this particular site, they could harness electricity and send it to other states around Ohio as far as Maryland. They shared more about solar power and how it works, as well as some issues they are facing today. Similar to other businesses, they struggle with supply chain issues, employee turnover, and weather. They have everything ready for solar panels to be placed, but only around a third of the panels have been delivered so far due to issues with U.S. Customs and their place on the “waiting list” for receiving solar panels. I thought it was great they have been hiring local for personnel working at the solar field. My hope is this project will strengthen the local community as it creates more jobs.

This session covered so many informative and crucial topics in the agricultural industry today. Now that I have a better understanding of these areas, I hope to become a better advocate for agriculture and share both sides of view when it comes to these topics. I am excited to share my policy proposal with my county Farm Bureau and see what changes we can make to better Ohio agriculture and farmers.

Online extra

AgriPOWER is an elite leadership program designed specifically for farmers and agribusiness professionals. This yearlong program focuses on public policy issues confronting agriculture and the food industry. It helps individuals develop the skills necessary to become effective leaders and advocates for agriculture. Applications for Class XIV open in Spring 2023.

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

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
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
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
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
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
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.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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